Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Little Things

During my week in San Lorenzo with Leigh & Noah, we headed to a Wichi village about 4 hours away to deliver donated goods, meet with them regarding the ongoing project of building a community garden, and spend some time with the kids doing a little art project.  When we told our contact that we had an activity for the kids, he said he would gather them and he disappeared on a bike for about 10 minutes.  When he returned, we headed to the "church" (made of wood, rocks and dirt bricks) where he had rounded up the kids so they could work inside and avoid the strong wind that completely coats you in dust in a matter of minutes.  We walked in to find around 40 kids sitting almost silently with eyes full of anticipation. It's a funny thing, I can't remember how many times I have stood before a room of VPs and SVPs and given presentations or led a meeting without a second thought, yet standing there with those 80 eyes glued on me I actually felt nervous. I thought about that later and realized the difference was - I cared more about the outcome in that little dirt brick building than I did in a conference room of executives. I didn't want to disappoint these kids who, having no idea what to expect, were still full of excitement.  Ok, back to the story - we separated them into smaller groups and distributed paper, markers, crayons, stickers, scissors, and glue.  I explained what to do, and no one moved. I demonstrated, and no one moved. They all sat there holding their colorful sheets of construction paper, staring at me. Given the fact that Spanish-Nancy is not as secure and confident as English-Nancy, I instantly assumed they didn't understand me.  It turns out they were just really, really shy.  Something that is such a normal rainy day activity for most kids was basically foreign to them. Once I walked away and pretended to busy myself with something, they started whispering among themselves and little by little they started drawing, cutting, pasting, coloring, and suddenly they were lost in their artwork. 

By the time we wrapped up, some of them were even shyly showing us their finished projects while clutching the new treasures of markers and crayons.

Every once in a while, it's good to be reminded to enjoy the little things.  Maybe, even if it is only for a minute, the little things can make you forget about the big things.

~ N

Monday, February 13, 2012

Iguazu Falls

I finally said goodbye to Buenos Aires a week ago and started heading north towards Iguazu Falls with a friend from my volunteer project in Rio.  To break up the long journey, we stopped for the weekend in a town called Gualeguaychú about 3 hours north of BA.  It's a small river town and was a perfect stop to break out of city mode and reset to a slower pace. The Spanish there was definitely a little easier to understand so it reinforced my hopes that the farther north I travel, the better I will manage language-wise.

On Monday night we took an overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu which is the town on the Argentina side of Iguazu Falls.  The trip was incredibly comfortable (think first class flight), but of course... yours truly did not sleep so I was a bit of a zombie on Tuesday.  Fortunately, we had planned on getting into town a day early so we were able to relax when we arrived. We took a walk to see the sunset at the point where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet, had dinner and then crashed for the night.  Feeling great the next morning we headed to the falls and easily covered three different trails, took a boat ride into the falls, had a relaxing lunch, and floated down the river at the end of the day to leave the park.  We spent 7 hours there and the time absolutely flew by.  I thought for a while about how I would describe the falls and what I would put in this post and I've decided that while amazing, stunning, awesome, unbelievable are all great words...just check out the pictures/videos. They speak for themselves. (Link is up on the left.)

We bounced over to Brazil (Foz do Iguacu) to see the falls from the other side and from there Oren would move on to Rio and I would return to Argentina with a new stamp which resets my visa for another 3 months.  The Brazilian side of the falls was worth it because you got to see the "big picture" since you are at more of a distance but we both agreed that the Argentina side was hands-down the better experience.

Headed back to Puerto Iguazu for a relaxing weekend before hopping on a flight to Salta.  I had stumbled on this fantastic little hideaway in a quiet part of the town.  Individual little buildings...the staff was great...breakfast was served outside by the pool...hammocks was a little oasis. A friend was still in town waiting on a visa so we did a little exploring and a lot of relaxing.  Absolutely great two days. 

Yesterday I arrived in Salta and I have to admit, just the drive from the airport has already drawn me in.  I'm staying with a couple and their daughter (from NY coincidentally) in the outskirts of Salta so the view out of my window is mountains and countryside. Beautiful. They happened to have a BBQ planned on the same day as my arrival so I had a chance to meet about ten other people as well, some of whom have relocated here from the States or Canada and others who are from Salta.  It was a great afternoon and I'm definitely looking forward to my time in this part of the country.  I'll be staying here at the house for about a week, during which time we plan to visit the village I mentioned a few posts back to deliver donations, etc. and then I'll move into the city for a bit.  I'm going to volunteer some time at an English institute in the city while looking into some other opportunities here as well.
~ N