Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rainy Day

The rain is coming down in Bariloche today. It isn’t light rain either. It is pouring and whipping around from the gusty winds. Big drops are falling off buildings and rooftops and steady streams of water are running down streets forming big puddles everywhere. This all sounds too familiar to those of you back home I’m sure! The rain has confined the group of us here for work to the inside of our hotel. I did manage to get a walk in this morning, however. I brought a rain jacket with me just in case, and I am glad I did because it allowed me enough time to get from the hotel to the church downtown without getting completely soaked.

I went to mass at the church I spoke of last week. It's hard for me to believe, between the two times I’ve been to Bariloche, that I’ve been to mass at that church four times now! I think that is more then I’ve been to my actual parish in Seattle over the last several months with all the traveling I have been doing. Maybe I should just join this parish? I still can’t understand Spanish, though. I did however manage to turn to the right song book pages today and, thanks to my field work last week, I could understand the word “ceniza” during the prayers of the faithful. It means ash and I recorded a lot of it on my field notes last week. At this rate of progress, I could be speaking Spanish fluently by the time I turn fifty!

On the way home from church, I went to a panadaria. They have so many wonderful pastries to choose from. Most of them are like danishes with some kind of burnt sugar glaze. Sometimes they are filled with fruit or custard. I bought a few churros and also a chocolate covered cake rolled with, what I can only imagine is, dolce de leche. Dolce de leche is similar to caramel and is very popular here. For instance, you can order flan and get dolce de leche on top. You can also buy it in jars, in chocolate, or even in or on ice cream. I think I bought about ten pastries to share with the group at the hotel and when I went to pay it was only 20 pesos, or about $5 dollars. Wow, what a deal! If I haven’t gained ten pounds from this trip, I surely will if I stay any longer.

The week ahead will be busy again. Tomorrow we are doing the same field work we did last week, but with the purpose of training sheep farmers in how to do it so they can take the methodology back to their farms and monitor the health of their own grasslands. This is all an effort to get private land owners excited about conservation and also interested in selling their wool at a premium in the marketplace. I am excited to meet these farmers!

Tuesday and Wednesday I will be inside for much of the day in meetings, but the meetings are very much focused on data and mapping work, which is right up my alley! I suspect we will be going out after the work day for dinners (which I will of course tell you all about!) and I’ve also heard a rumor that we might do a float trip down one of the local rivers on Wednesday. I hope so! That would be amazing!

At the end of the week (on Friday), I will be taking a bus back to Chile and will be traveling to Pucon. Pucon is a small town nestled along a big lake on the west flanks of the Andes Mountains. I will be returning to a temperate forest, which gets lot of rain, so I am looking forward to seeing a whole new landscape once again. I will be staying there for six days and then I will be flying back home. I am soaking it all up while I can.

Time is flying!

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