Merry Christmas!

Things down here are still going well. Iยดve been eating a LOT of food, and everyone I meet gives me compliments on my chubby belly. I guess I’ll fall part of everyone who does a New Year’s resolution saying they’ll get in shape.

At any rate, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We’re having a big dinner tonight, since it’s also my older brother’s birthday. We’ll be partying all night, and I hope that you’re having a nice one too.

Travel log: Day 1

Just to continue the ongoing theme, I figured I´d post a happier update about my trip.
I´ve made it home safely, and I am right now sitting in the living room of the house I grew up in. It´s nice to be home!

I had a nice reception at the Mendoza airport. My mom was there, with my 2 brothers, my grandparents and aunt on my mom´s side, and my other grandma and my godmother-aunt from San Juan. The weather also welcomed me with a lovely 35 °C, which translates to around 95 °F.
We came to the house and had some lunch, and what better way to start than with some home made tartas, which would be something like a quiche; not to mention the dessert: ambrosia – a family recipe of a dessert that can cure cancer. That´s right, it´s that awesome.

Right now I´m about to go take a nap. A lot of sleeping for short periods of time and seating down was ok, but I long for a real bed and the lack of interruptions. Stay tuned for more, although the updates won´t be coming as often while I´m here having a good ole time.

Christmas break destination: Mendoza, Argentina

I can’t believe I forgot to post the news! I’m going home for the holidays!

Home, just in case you didn’t pick up on it, is Mendoza. I haven’t been there in a couple of years, so it’ll be nice to be back home. I’ll be there from the 20th of December to the 3rd, so I’ll get to spend Christmas and New Years there.

One small detail: it’ll be summer! Oh yes, long days, warm nights, fun times. Although I don’t have too many plans other than hanging out with the family, I’m sure I’ll be enjoying being outside, checking out some wineries and the outdoors. There are quite a few things to do in Mendoza, and it’s always refreshing to go home and see things from an outsider’s point of view for the first couple of days.  Not to mention that now that I’m picking up my photography hobby, it’ll definitely be a cool subject to explore!

Juggling – Devil Sticks & Diabolos

One of my hobbies is juggling. It’s fun, keeps my eye-hand coordination going, and it’s an excellent way of entertaining children.
But juggling with just balls is a thing of the past, and that is why I’m posting about my 2 preferred methods of this “art”: Devil Sticks and Diabolos.

My first diabolo was purchased by me at a bus station in Mendoza, Argentina, and I learned a lot of tricks from watching juggling troupes in my high school back then. I still have this diabolo, it’s quite beat up, but it works great.
Since this guy is almost 10 years old, I’m going to retire it at Burning Man, a honorable farewell for such a device. I will paint to glow in the dark, and hope to be able to amaze people with my amazing tricks.
After that, I’ll be getting a new one, probably from the Higgins Brothers. Heck, I might even get two! ๐Ÿ™‚

The other toys I have are known as Devil Sticks, and I’m not too good at them yet. I bought my first set a few years ago, in a store in Boulder(Colorado) called “Into The Wind“. I had seen them in action before, and I decided to invest in them, and I still have the bad boys. They are quite hard to master, but I’m getting there.
The version of Devil Sticks that I have are called LunaStix, but that’s just a brand. The name of the game is the same, and that name is fun, just in case you are having a hard time keeping up.

One of these days, when I’m feeling saucy, I shall make some videos of these hobbies of mine. In the meantime, you should trust me when I say that they’re great toys, for children of all ages (I’m almost 25!), and you should definitely look into them if you’re into developing these kind of skills.

Burning Man!

I’ve decided to finally take part of Burning Man. This will be the year, and it might just be the beginning of something that repeats yearly, or it might be something I do once and I get to say “I was there”. We’ll see.
I first heard of Burning Man when I was an exchange student, in 1999-2000. My counselor/liaison Nicole was a burner at the time ( and probably still is, I wonder if I’ll see her among the masses! ), and she told me a little bit about it, and it sounded really awesome. Of course, I was 17 at the time, so rumors of drunken naked people and a plethora of drugs were really attractive at the time.

I’ll be buying my ticket shortly, at the Melting Pot. It’ll be a whopping almost $300, but I’ve been saving up for this, and every year I’ve chickened out because it was a lot of money. But now I’ve decided to say fuck it, and go for it. I hear it’s worth it, and I don’t want to wonder what I’ve been missing anymore.

If you don’t know what Burning Man is, I can’t explain it yet. But I hear that even people who’ve been there for years and years still can’t explain it, that his why I like this quote from the FAQ: “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.” Whoa, deep! :downs:
There’s always an entry in the trusty WikiPedia, so read up over there if you’re interested, and maybe I’ll see you there!

AFS Pre-departure at Elko

I spent my weekend with a dozen exchange students, in Elko, Nevada. I also drove us there and back, in a minivan that the Northern Nevada International Center kindly let us borrow… When I returned the van yesterday, it said I had driven for 835 miles in 3 days. Yikes!

Anyway, the orientation was great. We had a lot of fun, with the main event at the TS Ranch, learning about Cowboy life. All the exchange students really liked it, as they got to learn about this very particular lifestyle, and they even got to try some things for themselves.
I also took my camera and took a bunch of pictures. Most of them can be found in the AFS Album.

Of course there was also a serious part to the orientation, and I was in charge of leading it. We talked quite a bit about how one gets ready to go back to their home country after having been here for almost a year. The hot topics were separation anxiety, reverse cultural shock and logistics of how things work, and I think that it all went pretty well. Some things were brought to discussion that I really hope most of them will keep in mind as they spend their last month as an AFSer.

I probably won’t see these kids until “Departure Day”, the day that they get dropped off by their host families, and they go to the airport to catch a plane heading home. I will be there to once again give a little orientation, and to try to make their experience end on a high note. It should be fun, intense, but most of all, rewarding, for this is when I really get them to think about how their year has gone, and it’s usually pretty awesome to hear everyone’s insights on their own experiences. ๐Ÿ™‚

Latest toy: Canon Rebel XT

I came across a great deal for a camera I’d been wanting for a while: a Canon Rebel XT, with a much better price than any retail store, be it brick and mortar or online, so I decided to go for it, and get the camera that I’d wanted for a while now. I also caught onto a great deal at CircuitCity for a 2Gb CompactFlash card for $30, when everywhere else they wanted at leat $70 for one. Last thing I needed was a nice bag to carry it all around, and I found a great one at Gordon’s Photo Service, that fits like a glove and was a great deal.

Since then (last week), I’ve been reading and playing a little bit with the camera, but it has so many options and settings that I still have a lot to learn. In the meantime, however, I’ve posted a few of the pictures I’ve taken so far, and they can be found in the Photos section of the website. Tell me what you think!