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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ravaging & Salvaging Sudan

War Child- Emmanuel Jal (Trailer) from Dal LaMagna on Vimeo.

As all of you out there know, I feel like everything I have has been given to me for a reason. I have been so blessed with an incredible platform of influence that I have through this blogsite. And I'm about to use that platform once again to create awareness about an issue in our world that we urgently needs to addressing ASAP

On January 9th, war torn Sudan will have a referendum between North and South Sudan that will determine the fate of this nation. Southern Sudan is going to vote to be free from an oppressive government that has resulted in nothing but violence and bloodshed. To make a long story short, both sides are preparing for civil war. Though the plight of Sudan has been for the most part left out in the media, they are no less important. It makes my stomach turn to think that in the 20th century, genocide is very much a possibility.

Emmanuel Jal is a former child soldier who fought in the first civil between North & South Sudan, the same civil war that took the life of his mother. Believing that he survived for a reason, he now uses his hip-hop to become a voice for the millions that do not have a voice in his home country of Sudan. And for the millions of voices that have been silenced by war and will be silenced by this next war. Join artists like Emmanuel & Alicia Keys by raising your voice and becoming a soldier for peace....


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: JAI HO!

This is part 10 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series. The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

Jai Ho! You probably recognize that phrase from the movie "Slumdog Millionare". The phrase means "May victory be yours!". And that is what I am wishing for you as I tie up this blog series. Writing the blog series stretched me in ways that you can never imagine. It took every skill I had ever learned as a writer to pull this off. As well, doing the project challenged me on an emotional level.

Even though I knew that the things we learned from our friendship could help many people, it still made me nervous to be writing blogs on our relationship and putting them on the internet for all the world to see. It was a project where I had to allow myself to be vulnerable. I kept have to read what I was writing over and over again before I published it to make sure that I was giving an accurate portrayal of our friendship. Because all this didn't affect just my life but Marisa's as well.

Little did I know that doing this project would also really make a difference in my relationship with her as well and cause me to be able open on levels that I had only dreamed of. Sitting here spending all those hours thinking and writing about our relationship really put things into perspective for me. The greatest gift doings project gave me was that in the midst of doing all this writing, I got a revelation of Marisa's heart for me.

You see, I've been in so many relationship where ego or self motivation was involved and I ended up getting hurt in the end. But at one point while working on this project, I realized that Marisa's heart for me was that she really wants to support me and do everything she can to make it work between us. I genuinely have a friendship where I don't need to worry about her being angry, offended, or hurt at me because I accidently stepped on her ego. And although this project and the blogsite and the series was all new for her, she would truly go to the ends of the earth for me to accomodate me if this is project was special and important and meant something to me.

Having Marisa's blessing was vitally important to me on this project. The thing I love most about her is that she has such a big heart and she fully supports me sharing things we had learned from our relationship knowing that it would help others. To all of you out there, no matter where you are in the world or whatever language and culture you are dealing with or even what kind of relationships may be in your world....JAI HO!

"Love can increase your creativity"


Monday, December 27, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Asado

Thanks to my video camera, you can now experience first hand the day in the life of an asado....


Cross-Cultural Caring: Extreme Makeover

This is part 9 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series. The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

Last year when I landed in Buenos Aires for the first time, everything was new and exciting. I spent the first 6 weeks enamored with the city as I participated in a whole host of tourist activities. There were feelings of excitement all day everyday in my first few weeks here. But feelings don't last forever and as you know, things begin to change when you settle in and things are no longer new for you.

After those weeks here, my relationship with the city began to change because like an onion, I was going deeper in and experiencing the city no longer as a tourist but more or less like a local. And as that happened, my feelings changed, my expectations and the things I wanted from the city changed. The experiences I wanted to have changed. I didn't feel giddy feelings of delight all the time living here. In fact there were moments that things about the city annoyed the living daylights out of me!!!

But I continued to open my heart and when I did, something even more amazing began to happen. Love began to take root. I began to actually love the people and pay attention to the issues that affected Argentines. As I spent time time with ordinary everyday local folks and engage in conversations, I could feel my heart grow a little bit bigger each time with each conversation. A desire began to grow in my heart to make a difference here in the city. What happened? Love happened :)

What in the world does this have to do with relationships or Marisa? I'll explain it to you. Relationships happen the same way. When you meet someone for the very first time, everything is new and you feel excitement and anticipation. Some people may mistakenly call it "love" but it is not. It is feelings and sensation and they always happen in a new relationship whether it would be friendship or romance.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Little Drummer Girl

Alicia Keys live in Frankfurt

Merry Christmas everyone! Here in Argentina, families gather together on Christmas Eve to have dinner. This year, I'll be spending Christmas in the house of Diana, my friend from Peru. As dinner draws to an end and the clock nears closer to midnight everyone starts counting down, just the way we do for New Years Day. Then at midnight fireworks go off and the dancing begins until 2 am in the morning. But the actual day of Christmas is nothing huge here in Latin America, it's basically treated like any other day. How's that for a different holiday tradition?

Giving gifts are not a really big thing over here. In reality, only kids get presents. It would actually be out of the norm for adults to give presents to each other. But I still love giving gifts and I feel so blessed this year to be able to give a gift to all my visitors. And the gift that I get to give you all is the magnificent voice of Alicia Keys. This was Alicia's Key's first recording.....ever. So without further ado, here is "Little Drummer Girl", remixed and remastered for your listening pleasure. Happy holidays!

Alicia Keys - Little Drummer Girl by RCA Music Group

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: One Big Messy Family

This is part 8 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

We see it all time on television these glowing ads of happy families smiling and laughing together. However, in reality I think that when you get thrown together with someone in a cross-cultural relationship, the experience is more like the one the Solomon's are having in this episode of 3rd Rock. When the Solomon's first arrive to earth, they begin looking for a one word answer to all their questions about what it means to be human, only to find that there is none. And thus propels their mission even further and deeper in their quest for knowledge and wisdom.

When you bake cookies, the final product is these perfectly round smooth looking cookies that are coming out of the oven. However, the process to get them that way was quite messy. You had to get your hands dirty with batter, eggs, flour and during the process you wind up with these ingredients smeared all over your kitchen and yourself! The end product was smooth however the process was anything but smooth.

Probably my greatest tool for working out the process of this relationship turned out to be my spanish-english dictionary! Imagine a relationship where you not only have to figure out what was actually said, but there is a second level of understanding where you have to pick up emotional cues from someone in another culture. Why did they say what they said? Does it have any cultural significance? What does this phrase tell me about the emotional state of the other party? And even if I get everything right and figured out what they were saying and why, how do I respond? What is the response she is used to or is expecting of someone in this particular culture?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: To Bite or Not to Bite?

This is part 7 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series. The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

To bite or not to bite? That is the questions of today. It is no secret that the first world society is far from innocent. I believe that is why there seems to be such a fascination with my friendship with Marisa. There is quite a level of innocence that exists in the dynamics between us that is just not seen in relationship between people in North American society. And I would really like to keep it that way! Unfortunately, that can be challenging at times especially when I have to leave Argentina and go back to a society full of snakes.

This blog deals with what you can do if you feel like you've been "bitten" by a friend or someone from your own culture and not only are you wounded, you feel that venom is trying to get to you. I got "bitten" when I got home after my first trip. In fact, I got bitten by more than one person and in one case it affected me greatly. I could feel that there was this venom inside of me trying to get to me and affect all that was good. I didn't want to come back to Argentina a different person than the person Marisa knew and loved.

So what do you do if you've been wounded and you're afraid that what is happening in your world is going to affect that person that you love from a different culture who has no idea of the problems that exist in your culture? You do what any person does when they've just been bitten by a report it. Tell that person as soon as you feel comfortable. That is what I did, I shot off an email to her as soon as I felt OK. I wasn't expecting her to have an answer or even a response. At this stage in our relationship, all I wanted for her was that something had happened.

To tell you the truth, I think I tell Marisa just about everything if I think it's going to affect me. I don't allow myself to keep secrets from her and on her end I don't think that is a problem because she doesn't have any secrets! I've told her openly about this blog and that I am writing about our friendship and putting it on the internet and in the email I told her all my feelings and all that I was going through internally. It's really important for me to do this because I do have the type of personality that internalizes everything and then when I react, people have no idea where I am coming from.

But I don't just talk with her recent situations where I have been bitten, I have a difficult past and because of that, I get scared of letting people too close to me. And I get scared that I'm gonna hurt someone that I love. I have my own baggage that I've had to work through but I decided that there is nothing that she can't know about. I've let her know that I have issues that I have to work through so she understands my reactions sometimes and that in all things, I do love her and I would never hurt her. In fact, if I knew that I couldn't be a safe friend, I would rather that God remove me from her life. But apparently God does think that I'm a good friend so it looks like I'm not going anywhere!

This is her first ever friend from North America and I wanted her to have a really good experience so I felt really protective. I try my best not to bring any issues into our relationship and when there is stuff that is affecting my behavior towards her, I let her know. Part of me doesn't want to talk and keep things private. But like venom, those things will become poison to my soul if I don't talk, destroying every good thing in it's path. Yes, I do have a right to my privacy, but I waiver that right to protect the safety of my friend. I don't think I could live with myself if one day I ended up hurting her because someone hurt me and I didn't deal with it properly.

Our relationship is alway evolving. She is growing so fast and I am beyond proud of her! One day soon, she will be at a place where she will have a good enough understanding of the complexities of relationships in my culture to be able to take action if something that should happen that will affect our friendship. But no matter how long we know each other, we always have to adhere to the number one rule. And that is to keep in mind that the first step is always to report a snake bite....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: Leggo My Ego!

This is part 6 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

This article is all about egging your ego because that's what you're gonna need to do if you want to see the survival of a cross cultural relationship. Marisa & I are so blessed that ego has never been a factor in our relationship. I believe that one of the key to the success of our friendship is that right from the beginning we alway had the same vision and goal. That being that we loved each other and we wanted to grow. It may sound really simple to say something like that but having the same goal really makes all the difference once you are half way into the relationship and you are trying to work things out with the other person.

For her and I, our first consideration is always the needs of the other person and to make sure they are happy and well taken care of. We do that to each other and it has produced amazing results. Because it's actually increased the level of security each other feels in this relationship. She knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that I love her and I'm not going to walk out the door the first time that I don't understand her or her culture.

Instead, I make it a point to look, listen, think, pray, research, ask questions until I find the answer. The Bible says that if you seek wisdom with all your heart, you will find it. I badly needed wisdom in my friendship with her so I really put God to the test in fulfilling this promise in the Bible. And guess what? God as usual came through and brought people into my world that explained things to me and helped bridge the gap between our two cultures.

Taking out the ego factor is even more important than you realize. Perhaps in a relationship with someone of your own culture you could afford to have a little bit of the ego thing going. But in a cross cultural relationship, you absolutely CANNOT afford it because you are dealing with so many differences already and other potential pressures. There are already a million ways for us to misunderstand each other. Things like being defensive or not wanting to admit mistakes or putting pressure on the other person to make you happy is gonna be a relationship killer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Erupting a Chivito Volcano....

On Dec. 15th, I went to Uruguay to celebrate my birthday. I needed to renew my visa by leaving Argentina and then returning. Due to the scheduling of my round trip tickets, I wound up with about 2 hrs to kill in Colonia, Uruguay. Which gave me enough time to do the one thing I love more than anything else in the world.......EAT!

From my last trip, I remembered a restaurant called "El Porton" where I could sit in the sun and enjoy traditional Uruguayan cuisine. I headed back to that restaurant and ordered a coke and a Chivito. A Chivito is....well, you'll just have to watch this video of me getting cheeky with a Chivito to find out what exactly a Chivito is :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Andy Spandy's Award Winning Entry

Check out Andy Spandy's award winning entry....


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

This is part 5 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

As this cross cultural friendship with Marisa progressed, I began to notice abit of a phenomenon. Sometimes we would mimic each other's moves or have the same mannerisms or gestures. I didn't think much of it until I stumbled onto some articles on the internet on a behavior psychology and body language experts called "Mirroring". When someone "mirrors" someone and copies or mimics their actions and gestures, it is actually to create rapport between the two of them.

I cannot describe to you the wonderful feeling that went through me when I found that out. My friend has subconsciously been trying to create rapport between us through "mirroring". And "mirroring" can actually help when you and the other person come from two very different cultures. Her culture is more open, loving, and demostrative while me as a Chinese Canadian tends to be a little bit more reserved.

Sometimes I do sense that she does hold back and be a little bit more reserved towards me when my behavior is reserved. I think she does it because she wants me to feel comfortable and doesn't want me to feel uncomfortable in any way shape or form. And on my part, I am learning to be a little bit more open and loving because I know that she needs it and it makes her feel comfortable and it's what she's used to. Bit by bit we are striking a nice balance and finding a happy medium between a culture that is tends to be more reserved and a culture that tends to be more open.

Quite frankly, this first year of friendship has really been alot of experimentation on both our parts. The friendship can't be Argentinean style because I'm not Argentinean. And it can't be North American style because she's not from North America. Our friendship really is a combination of a little of both cultures. I really had to try alot of different things to find out what parts of the North American culture sit well with her and what parts she could live without. And it goes the other way as well with her trying out stuff from her culture with me.

You never know whether someone is going to like something or take to it if you don't try. Some days I have to "mirror" her and do things Argentinean style and some day she has to "mirror" me and be OK with things being done the North American way. And I gotta hand it to her because I'm actually a mix of many cultures and she's doing a wonderful job, considering that she's only been exposed to only Argentineans her whole life :)

Learning to mirror someone is one of the keys to a good relationship. Watching and observing actions and reactions and responding accordingly is vital. It can mean life or death in a relationship and in the case of these Cirque du Soleil performers it could mean life or death literally!

Mirror, mirror on the wall....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: One Size Does NOT Fit All

This is part 4 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

Growing up in North America where culturally people are taught to be expressive, it is easy to take on a "One Size Fits All" mentality. What I mean by that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we all deal with things like stress, anxiety, loneliness, fear, embarrassment in a very similar manner. But as my friendship with Marisa progresses, I am learning that one size does NOT fit all and in fact, her makeup as a person coming from this culture here in Argentina is entirely different than someone from North America and it is something I have to take into consideration all the time.

What this means is that her definition of friendship, ways of bonding, her needs or wants as a friend don't resemble anywhere close to what our idea of friendship is in North America. And even her way of dealing with things intangible like emotions and communicating her feelings manifests itself completely differently than anything I am used to.

Granted, we have established in our friendship that she will always talk to me if she ever wants or needs something from me as a friend and I would happily do anything I can to support her....however there is a second level of challenge that I'm just beginning to see. Can she actually recognize when she is feeling that something is lacking? She can't communicate something that she doesn't know that she needs. As a North American, I know when I am feeling that something is missing and I can easily write it out in an email and articulate it to her but I am not sure she can do the same.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: So You Think You Can Love

This is part 3 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

This one friendship has taught me is the many ways that love can be manifested from culture to culture. A key thing to remember is that sometimes someone is trying to show me love but it may not come in a form that I recognize or am used to and to acknowledge the person's efforts to offer comfort or love. For example, Diana and Marisa both have ways of showing me support. Diana's way of showing me love is more or less in a form that I recognize and am used to.

If I need comfort, Diana's way of showing me support is by telling me a story about her life that I would be able to relate to. That is what I am used to and what I recognize. Marisa's way however took me abit longer to recognize. The nite that my flight was scheduled to leave Argentina, that very days Marisa and I were using SMS to chat abit and try and tie up loose ends. I was telling her that I was gonna miss her and that it's hard to leave her here. She text me back by telling me "Oh but you must think of all your friends and family abroad that haven't seen you". Diana would have probably said "Oh, I'm gonna miss you too, it's gonna be hard" which is more of what I would be used to.

But Marisa said the absolute sweetest thing to me that someone in my own culture and background would never have said. Her comment reflected who she is and how incredibly unselfish this woman is despite how much she was gonna miss me. She text me back and said "We all have to share this one person that everybody wants!" She was saying that Canada's got to have a turn in sharing me. I will never forget that comment as long as I live.

There were other times that I had to really research and gain an understanding of her culture to understand her mentality and point of view. One thing that I found out is that love in this culture is something that is freely given and is shared and is for everyone. But in the North American and European cultures, your love for someone is special and a little bit more exclusive for those whom you trust. Here in Argentina, friendship is friendship but in other cultures, there are many levels of friendship and connection.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Andy Spandy Watches U2 Make History


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: Clash of the Cultures

This is part 2 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

The blog today is about "clash of the cultures". It was half way into my friendship with Marisa that I began to realize that the way Argentines are set up is very different from the way that North Americans are set up. The way that we show love, deal with stress and anxiety, communicate frustrations....ALL of it was different. And it took a tremendous amount of love on both our parts to make this friendship work and get past both our language and our cultural barriers. But I feel so blessed to have a friendship where the other person is just hell bent on making it work and I truly believe that in our minds there was never any other option other than to end up with a successful relationship.

One of the challenges was the Argentine cultural values and the North American cultural values are very different. And there were times where we couldn't understand each other and didn't know where the other person was coming from. It wasn't until I read some articles and had some chats with people that I understood more about Argentine culture and her mentality and point of view. But I will tell you that there were times that it would have been VERY easy for me in that moment to have been insulted or feel offended by comments made that weren't intended to be an insult at all.

For example, I was chatting with her one day online and said that I wanted to get to know her more. She commented back "Oh, there is no reason to get to know me more. There is not more to see that what you already see." A North American hearing a comment like that might think that this woman does not have a good self esteem to say something like that. But they would be getting the wrong idea of my friend because in fact she is very healthy and does have a good self esteem. It's just that Argentines don't think of themselves as these deep complex spiritual beings who are ever-evolving. The truth is that we all are but they don't sit around and seek the meaning of life or go on a journey of self discovery. It's more like "This is me....what you see is what you get!" Her comments are a mere reflection of her culture.

As my understanding of the differences in our cultures increases, I am beginning to have tremendous revelation into how we are shaped culturally. From the day we are born, our cultures begin to teach us lessons. Lessons on proper behavior, dealing with emotions, making friends, cultural values and taboos. What makes things difficult is at times the lessons that I've been taught culturally are almost opposite to the lessons that she's been taught culturally. What is important in one culture isn't important in another culture. What is considered taboo or inappropriate behavior may be behavior that is welcomed, valued, and encouraged in another culture.

None of us really knew how much our cultural beliefs had been ingrained into us until friendship with each other shed light on our differences. It was only when learned to flow together and made our two cultures live in harmony with one another that our friendship really began.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Rock & Vida 2010

Rock & Vida this year would serve a very different purpose for me than what I was intending. My original intention was to cover the event thoroughly like I do with all major events in this city and write an in-depth blog about it. That was before the idea for a blog series popped into my head. After spending almost a week of doing nothing but drafting, writing, rewriting, planning and organizing for an 8 part blog series, I was tired but happy. Seeing as I worked so hard on the series for all my fans and readers, I decided to let Rock & Vida be for me to relax, have fun, and kick back abit as a reward.

I still managed to get fantastic footage of the event. As you can see from the pics & the video, our team came up with some creative ways to get people's attention to our event. It was kind of hard not to miss these guys! And Diana, my friend from Peru, makes her debut apperance trying out her english skills....


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cross-Cultural Caring: Listen Up!

The inspiration for this blog was sparked the other nite by a conversation with a friend here who is latino and is in the same situation as me where she has made friends with a foreigner to whom she feel there is strong potential in their relationship. A year of friendship with Marisa has taught me so much and I was glad to be able to share some pearls of wisdom with my friend here on how to maintain a relationship with a foreigner. While chatting with her on MSN, I made a joke that Marisa and I should write a book and we would sell millions.

It then occurred to me today that why not start a series of articles here on my blogsite that deals with this very issue. I know for certain that I am not the only one in the world who has a cross cultural friendship. There are thousands of other people in the same situation and now that Marisa and I have figured out a way to navigate through our cultural differences, I am sure that others would love to hear how we make it work.

It may sound sweet to have a cross cultural connection but the truth is that to maintain it takes a tremendous amount of love, commitment, and patience. When you meet someone for the first time, (whether it's a friendship or a romance) there is excitement in the air and lots of feelings and emotions. That's awesome but what do you do when the newness starts to wear off and you are more used to that person? And if that isn't enough, what do you do when it is clear that your friend wants a relationship with you but doesn't even know one word in your native language? As well, comes the stress of having to deal with the fact that not only do you have two different cultures but you also live in two different countries and you spend part of the time abroad.

What I was explaining to my friend last nite is that love goes beyond feelings and emotions. Love is what stays when the newness and the sensation of meeting someone begins to die down. A great example is her first message to me a few days after I arrived in Canada. Remember that our friendship was still fairly new and this was a whole new situation for us. She messaged me on FB and a portion of the message read "I hope that you are quick to return communication because you know that you have lots of friends back here". Translation: "Angelina, I don't want to wait months and weeks for a response!"

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"Digital Death"

Today is "World AIDS Day" and is a day dedicated to create awareness on the spread of AIDS and encourage people to take action. Here in BA, we are dilligently preparing for Rock & Vida which is set to happen Saturday, Dec 4th in the Plaza del Congreso. As well the church has some events planned that are set to happen today as we join with others around the world in the fight against AIDS. One of the people who will be joining us in his campaign to stop the spread of AIDS is Bono of U2. World AIDS Day 2010 just wouldn't be complete without some "bits & bites" from Bono as well as watching the "Digital Death" of some of our favorite celebs.....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Spanglish.....the event where two world collide. I first heard about the Spanglish Exchange when I saw an ad while surfing on LandingPad BA during my last trip. And the moment I saw it, I knew my day would come to have my Spanglish experience. So what exactly is Spanglish?

It is an event that happens 3 times a week in 3 different places here in the city. How it works is that you check into the location where Spanglish is being held that nite. It cost 25 pesos which includes your very first drink. You get assigned to a table with someone where you will converse with them for about 10 mins. 5 mins in english and 5 mins in spanish. After that you will switch to another table and do the same thing with another person. The event lasts about 90 mins with a 10 min break known as "Happy Hour".

Having the first drink included as well as "Happy Hour" really gave a nice touch to the evening. It was really fun to be able to bond with others over drinks before the whole event started. 25 pesos = new friends, new vocabulary and a drink for good measure. There is no doubt in my mind that I got more than twice my money's worth that Weds nite down at the Indie Bar in San Telmo.

I must say that in a city where hardly anyone speaks english, it was quite refreshing to see that there are quite a number of Argentines from different walks of life that are quite eager to improve their english speaking skills. Not only that, I found Spanglish to be a fantastic way to meet people and make friends. In one nite, I found myself talking to a medical school student, a musician who promotes & produces rock & roll events as well as a whole host of quirky characters. Kinda of like the game of "Clue" except that nobody is getting killed. And if somebody is, it certainly wasn't me Miss Scarlet with the revolver in the billards room.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Andy Spandy's Journey

Andy Spandy reflects back on his journey.....


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bohemian Boedo

If you go on the internet and google "San Telmo", you'll probably come up with hundreds of result. Being one of Buenos Aires trendiest and popular neighbourhoods for tourists and locals alike, there is instant recognition at the mere mention of "San Telmo". On the other hand, if you googled "Boedo", you would end up with signficantly less results. You won't find glowing reviews of the barrio Boedo in many travel guides to Buenos Aires. And if you ask a tourist about the barrio of Boedo, you are most likely to see questions marks appear on top of that person's head.

Boedo at this point is what I would probably call "Buenos Aire's best kept secret". It is a bohemian barrio with historic buildings, restaurants, cafes, parks and so much more. The barrio has an authentic argentine feel and is almost completely unspoiled by tourism. I'm also finding that there are several advantages to choosing to live in a barrio that is off the beaten path. The prices for services and utilities are slightly less than when I had stayed in the city centre the last time. There is plenty of space and privacy without the noise that often accompanied living in the downtown area. And when I do need a little bit of action, the city centre is a subway ride away. Not only that, Boedo boasts it's own little mini strip full of shops, cafes, restaurants and museums.

Tango is very much part of the history of Boedo and living here, I get a real sense that the local residents are proud to call this barrio their home. I even walked out of my building one day to discover that the neighbours had organized a block party to repaint some of the walls and structures around the neighbourhood. Also there have been quite a number of events put on by locals to promote and celebrate tango as part of it's roots historically. Probably my most memorable moment was seeing a 6 yr old sing tango songs with a voice like Carlos Gardel. It's really hard to believe that God doesn't exist when you are sitting there listening to a 6 yr old sing with the voice of a god.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dial "M" for Maternal

As all of you who read this blog know by now, one of the subplots of this story is that I am dealing with a relationship in which there is a strong connection between me and that person but I wasn't quite sure how to define our relationship or what exactly connection was. To make things even more complicated, Marisa is from a culture that teaches her next to nothing about energy and connection. It's so obvious to me that forces unseen do influence her behavior and mine as well but at times I felt at loss at how we were going to get good understanding on this connection between us.

For months now since my last trip, I have been trying to find out what exactly this connection is. During season 1, you could easily see that she is being drawn to me. Everytime in her cellgroup, she would sit specifically by me. She always wanted to give me hugs and kisses, more than what is the norm for Argentine culture. Everytime I walk into the room, I can feel a reaction from her. Did I also mention at least 4 or 5 moments where she would look at me with complete love and adoration in her eyes?

 I began to wonder alot about our relationship and was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery to what exactly this connection was. I know from reading the description above, you're probably thinking what I first thought having an adult female who wants to hug me, kiss me, and be with me all the time. Through trial and error (I'm not going to say what kind of trials or what kind of errors!) I found out that my our relationship wasn't exactly what I was thinking :) So I had to go back to the drawing board. There is still a connection between us but what was is it?

 Dial "M" for maternal, that's all I can say.  She has a deep motherly affection for me, so deep that her actions and her behavior could easily be mistaken for something else. It seems to me that her behavior towards me is alot closer to what goes on in the animal kingdom between a mother and baby. In the animal kingdom, after a baby is born the mother will sit very closely with the baby and allow it to stay close to the mother's body to help it bond. Sometimes the bonding process can go on for weeks or even months.

 A very interesting thing here is that the verb for "bond" as in when people or animals are sitting closely together and creating a connection actually does not exist in spanish. So it added a layer of complexity that something was happening between her and I that there is no word in her language for. But this to me explains her behavior and wanting to sit with me all the time or be near me, we were going through a bonding process like animals in the wild. She was making me her own even if she didn't know it consciously.

 Sometimes when animals in the wild encounter another animal that has been lost or orphaned, they will take them as their own. This behavior has been documented several times and on some occasions, the mother is a different species from the baby and there have been cases that the species of the baby is actually a species of animal that the mother normally hunts and kills! The power of the maternal instinct is still one of science's greatest mysteries.

 Thinking back to Rock & Vida last year, it somehow worked out that I ended up at her side following her while she walked through the crowd selling sandwiches on a tray to the attendees. I collected the money and while she sold the sandwiches. Come to think of it now, the sight of us does look abit like a mother sheep with her little lamb skipping merrily along beside her. Hmmm.....

Spare Rooms BA

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Andy Spandy Shows Humility.....

Quiz time! When is the last time you've ever seen a candidate dress up in blue and dance a Bollywood routine in the streets of New Zealand just to gain your vote? Watch as Andy Spandy shows humility.....


Leaving the Land of Legalism

Promo R&V 09 from Video CCNV on Vimeo.

This is going to be a very brief post but i just want to share that I had a really neat moment with the leader of my cell group on Friday nite. As all of you know, I am in a new cell group and I am just getting to know people. And coming from North America, it's really hard for me to trust other Christians for fear of judgement or being preached to. But the leader of the cell group and I were talking about how in this church, their idea is that they are here to change the world and bring justice and things like people's personal lifestyle is people's own business.

The cell group leader actually told me that she came to the church 6 years ago, has been a cell group leader for 5 years and has been married for 4 years. Before that she and here husband here living together and they already had kids when they joined the church. When they first joined the church, the church never insisted that they get married. Instead they just felt that their marriage would happen at the right time.

I thought that was pretty incredible that they joined the church and the church let them be and even put them in a place of leadership. One thing's for certain, this church is all about leaving the land of legalism....


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Surfing the Waves of Life

Two people surfing on a beach in Brazil.Image via Wikipedia

The new spanish teacher sat in front of me. She had straight blond hair and eyes that sparkled with life and curiousity. And in that instant I knew that there was something different about her that seperated her from other Argentineans. She had us introduce ourselves as well and in the midst of the introductions, I found out that she was passionate about surfing. Her eyes would just light up as she talked about the sport and how it was unique in the world and there was nothing like it.

We ended up having a good discussion in class about, surfing, energy, connectivity and the Argentine's relationship to energy and those forces unseen. And I was very pleased to find out that I was right in what I wrote in my other blog "Energy Star Award". Argentines do not talk on the subject of energy nor is it something that they really think about or are aware of. But in this culture they just go with the flow and allow those forces to play a role in their lives and influence them.

I cannot tell you what a pleasure this discussion was. Talking with her only served to fuel in me a greater desire to learn to surf. The Vamos Spanish Academy actually has several different types of excursions that students can go on. One of those excursions is a surfing excursion where the school can arrange for surfing lessons and transportation to some good surf spots. Surfing is both an amazing sport and an experience. It's been said that surfing is the only sport in the world where right there on top of the waves, you are in both the past in and the present. It's a moment in eternity that can never be replicated or recreated.

But the chat with her gave me even more valuable insight. As you know, I have a friend named Marisa who I feel in our friendship that energy, connection and unseen forces are an influential factor. Her being Argentinean, it's a concept that is difficult for her to grasp when I try to talk to her about how I think that there is a strong connection between us and this is something we need to take into consideration. Now that I've had a talk with this teacher as well as Diana, I now have people who understand both side. They understand the way Argentineans would think or view things and they understand my point of view and experience as well when I am talking about energy and connectivity.

Marisa and I are absolutely hell bent on making our relationship work. It really isn't easy at times and sometimes some complicated factors come into play that there is just no easy answer to. But once again, just when I wasn't sure how to reconcile our two cultures, the resources are being made available for us to help bridge the gap between our two worlds.

Surfing the waves of life or relationships is never easy. We cannot control the kind of challenges that crash against the shore. But at the end of the day there is no wave that she or I cannot conquer together with God as our guide and our "surf instructor". One of my greatest comfort is in knowing that no matter what kind of waves crash against the shores of our friendship, she'll be right there by my side, ready to grab her surf board and paddle beside me all the way....

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"I Survived a Japanese Game Show"

Was sitting here preparing for a full day that included teaching english and learning spanish all in the same afternoon when I unexpectedly caught some inspiration for this next blog while watching TV. Sometimes I like to have the TV on in the background as I am going about my day and making preparations. This morning the show "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" came on. For those of you who don't know, Japan has got a reputation for having probably the most humiliating game shows in the world. Contestants who participate often have to do stunts like dress up as giant babies with diapers and run obstacle courses that look like a nursery room...

On the show, there were two teams that are competing against each other. During each round, the winning team would get a reward (like a shopping spree or a day cruise) while the losing team would be sent to do menial tasks such as cutting bamboo for hours upon hours to make it into chopsticks. On this one episode that I was watching, two members of the losing team who were up for elimination were sent to a secluded temple near a forest with a group of monks.

The monks proceeded to make the two contestants participate in some ancient rituals. The first bit began when they got the contestants outfitted like the monks and had the sit in a circle and do deep breathing exercises and chanting. Next the monks had the two contestants run laps 100 times in circles on this concrete while chanting out loud. The contestants said later in an interview that their feet were burning and worn out because the cement was hot and hard and they had to run laps 100 times each.

Next the monks took the contestants down to a river here the water was freezing cold and had them go deeper and deeper bit by bit while chanting things like "Megan will always be the winner!" When this one contestant Megan went into the river, there she was freezing cold and being made to chant this mantra. The other guy that was with her had to do it too and he thought it was a stupid and ridiculous as well as humiliating.

Megan on the other hand had a very different experience. She said that there, in the water stripped of everything she was, she felt this incredibly calm peace and oneness and this strength. There would be no words that could describe this powerful, intense experience that she described as purifying. The Monks knew what they were doing the whole time. What was striking to me is that there were two people there that day that went through the exact same rituals and one came out thinking that it was stupid and the other came out forever changed.

Later they met the other team who had won and had gotten to go to one of a premier arcade in Tokyo. They met the two contestants who had been sent to the "punishment" and the two groups caught up with each other. Of course the guy told them that it was just ridiculous, stupid, exhausting, and humiliating. But when they asked Megan, she just started to cry and talking about what a deep spiritual cleansing it was.

I think this is such a great analogy for life. God sometimes allows us to go through rough patches that are tough and even humiliating. Life throws curveballs. Although we can't help or change that, we can decide how that experience is going to shape us. Watching that episode and seeing one group sent to a reward and the other sent to a punishment, I wonder if Megan's "punishment" really ended up being a "reward" after all.....

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Energy Star Award

Energy Star

The more time that I spend here, the more I'm beginning to see differences in the behavior and the makeup of people from different parts of Latin America. For example, my friend Diana is Peruvian and like me has grown up near the ocean in a very similar environment. So if you talk to her about things like energy, spirituality and connection she can converse with you on subjects like that. She has that kind of a sensitivity to the spiritual realm and the things unseen. It's interesting talking to her because she has only been living here in Buenos Aires since 2006 and since she's not Argentinean, there are cultural huge differences between people who grew up in a background that is similar to her and I and people who are native porteños or porteñas. What is even more interesting is watching how people from this culture deal with the realm of the spiritual or unseen.

The only time you'll every really hear Argentines talk about energy or connectivity is when you are taking a tango class or maybe in a milonga. Outside of that, it daily life Argentines are very literal and this is a culture where they do not talk about feeling, sensing, or intuition or energy. It is not a culture where they have a fascination with paranormal activity nor are they accustomed to it. But it doesn't mean that those things don't affect them or aren't part of their lives. And this is where things start to get REALLY fascinating!

You see, although Argentines don't discuss or intellectualize on the subject of energy and spirituality, it seems to me that when they feel a pull towards something or someone, they just go with it and they don't even realize it. Marisa is a prime example of this. If you try talking to her about energy and connection, she has no clue what I am trying to tell her. Given that we've only been friends about a year and we are from different cultures, it will take her awhile to understand my background and where I am coming from.

But when she first met me, I could feel like there was some kind of reaction from her. I remember having my very first cell group with her and I felt that something about me caught her attention. Then almost every cell group after that, she made sure that she would sit specifically beside me. And even when we weren't in a cell group, I really felt that when I entered the room there was some kind of emotional response from this woman.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hugs & HIV

The other day I introduced to you the filmmaking genius of Andrew Strugnell. Today I will be introducing to you a filmmaking genius of another kind. These are spots created by my church to create awareness about the causes and misconceptions in our society about AIDS & HIV. The first video is a terrific ad that is put out to make people aware that sharing maté, a kiss or a hug does not spread HIV. The second video features different people sharing statistics on HIV & AIDS in Argentina.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Andy Spandy is WORTHY!!!!!

Remember that cool dude who filmed and cut those videos of Chile & Argentina while I was on my last trip? His name is Andrew Strugnell and he is a fine young filmmaker from New Zealand who has entered into a contest for filmmakers. The lucky winner will get sent overseas for a whole other 12 weeks to do some filming around the world. There were many entries but Andrew has made it into the top 3 by sending this amazing entry video that I have posted on my blogsite. Now it's all up to the public to vote for who they want to send overseas. Voting will continue until November 19 and on November 19, the winner will be announced.

Please vote for Andrew! He's already told me that if he wins, part of his schedule will be in South America and it looks like there is a good chance that he will be able to arrange to be back here in Buenos Aires to do some filming of this amazing city. The first time he did some a great job capturing South America on film and we want to see more! Vote for Andrew! This will be the first and only time I'll ask anything of my fans and readers. To vote you have to go to the facebook fan page of "Downunder Worldwide Insurance" and vote for Andy's entry. Here is a link that will take you directly to the page where you can vote.

The Downunder World Challenge

Andy Spandy is WORTHY!!!!!

strugsnotdrugs youtube channel

Friday, October 29, 2010

Consoling Cristina

As you know, I went down with my camera and video camera to capture all that was happening at the Casa Rosada and put it up on my blogsite. But there is a second part to all this, after coming back to my apartment to edit the footage and write the blog I actually went back again to the Casa Rosada to line up to view the body of the president that was lying in state.

It was about 11:30 in the morning when I arrived back at the Plaza and the lineups were insane. What you saw on the video was only the tip of the iceberg. The lineups went from one end of the city to the other. Originally when I asked how long the wait in the lineup would be I was told 2 hrs. That turned out to be a SEVERE miscalculation. It would be actually 9:30 at night before I actually reached the Casa Rosada.

Many times during the lineup I really wanted to leave. But I had to keep telling myself that this will happen only once in my life and I don't want to regret for the rest of my life that I had the chance to be a part of history but I didn't because I was tired. It is not often that you get to be a part of something that everyone else gets to see only by watching the news. It would be an experience in itself and something that I would be able to talk about for years to come.

Being in the lineup itself was an experience. There were vendors walking up and done past the line of people calling out "Ice cream! Drinks! Sandwiches!" and selling food and drink to people in the lineup. As well there were people selling flags and patriotic items with pictures of Nestor & Cristina as well. Amongst the items being offered were also roses available for purchase that people could lay at the Casa Rosada when people reached there.

It truly was amazing to see how many people were willing to turn up at wait 10 hrs in line just for those few moments where they were able to pay their respects. 10hrs in line may seem long and it was long but I can tell you that time goes by alot faster when there is a high spirit of patriotism in the air and people are singing and chanting. And before I knew it, I found myself ushered by security to the front entrance of the Casa Rosada.

The presidential palace never looked so beautiful as it did that nite. It looked proud & strong, like the spirit of the people in this country. As I entered in, there were hundreds of gigantic boughs of flowers that were sent by ambassadors from different countries and organizations in and out of Argentina.

The lineup moved at a moderate pace. Every so often the line up would stop and I could hear cries and applause coming from ahead of me. People were exclaiming "Cristina! Fuerza Cristina! Strength Cristina!" followed by a round of applause. I could not see what was ahead of me so I didn't know what was happening......until I reached the main hall.

In the main hall there were a multitude of diplomats. In the centre of the hall was a closed coffin and there beside the coffin dressed in black was Cristina Kirchner herself. People were being ushered quickly through the hall but just before being leaving the hall, they would take a second to speak words of strength to the president and applause for her. It was really touching to see the people's efforts at consoling Cristina :)

I was in that hall for about 30 secs before being ushered out but those 30 secs were worth those 10 hrs in the lineup. Sometimes when you watch the news, it is easy to become desensitized and not realize that these events are real. But when I saw that coffin and Cristina dressed in black with glasses, it really does hit home all that is happening in this country.

And I wasn't the only one who felt that way, many Argentines began bursting into tears the moment they exited the Casa Rosada. Argentines are not your stereotypical latinos and are actually not prone to dramatic displays of emotion. So to witness them beginning to cry uncontrollably the moment they got into the open air again upon exiting the presidential palace is really something else.

I will end this blog by saying that we need to give honor where honor is due. Many tourist are coming to Argentina now and enjoying the benefits of this wonderful country. What many tourist and visitors do not know is that this country would be a very different place without Nestor Kirchner and his presidency. It was his leadership that made the difference between life and death in the area of politics & economy here in this country. None of us would be enjoying all that we are enjoying right now without the sacrifice of this great man. For him, I would gladly have waited in line a week.....
"The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases." Proverbs 21:1

Spare Rooms BA
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't Cry for Me Argentina

October 27th saw Argentina's first national census in 10 years. By law every person (including non-residents like myself) was required to stay home so that they could be counted by the census workers. A census as well all know is to for the purpose of counting how many people we may have gained or lost within the past few years. Unfortunately for the country of Argentina, they would have to count ex-president Nestor Kirchner as a loss.

Shockwaves went through this country as it was announced that the president had passed away due to a heart attack. Not only was his passing a complete surprise for all but his death ushered Argentina into a new political era. Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner were equal to Juan and Eva Peron. Together the couple worked as a team to accomplish much social work and ensure that the middle class workers and poorer families in Argentina were receiving proper assistance. Nestor Kirchner was also a significant leader in Latin American political scene and now with him gone, there is a huge vacuum that needs to be filled now as Cristina has to run the country alone with nothing but the help of some close advisors.

Today it was incredible to go down to the Casa Rosada to get a first hand look at what was going on. There was an incredible spirit of support for Cristina's government coming from the public. With Nestor gone, the coming year is going to be a challenging one in the area of the economy and political arena here in this country as well as in all Latin America. But Nestor Kirchner left such an incredible legacy on this country and if he had the chance to speak to the people before passing, I'm sure that he would have left us with those same words that Eva Peron spoke from the balcony of the Casa Rosada.....
"Don't Cry for me Argentina"

Spare Rooms BA

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twiddle Dee & Twiddle Dum

This week begins with the introduction of two new characters to the plot. Things started when I was in the church cafeteria chowing down on rice, chunks of meat and washing it down with coke. A lady and her sister came by and asked me what I was eating. It must have looked good because she decided to order the same. After I had done my meal and was just leaving, the sisters started up a conversation with me. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a series of life changing and eye opening events that afternoon.

As I began conversing with the sisters, there were several things that set them apart from any other person I have ever dealt with here. They spoke fluent English and were educated and cultured. Their mannerisms were quite European. And if that wasn't enough to set them apart, the sisters were identical twins. Their accents to me sounded a little French and they explained to me that they do have some connections to french ancestry but the accent that I was hearing was that of one you would find of people who are upper middle class with education. Both women live in the higher end parts of the city. One lives in Retiro while the other lives in Palermo.

It would take volumes of books to write about all the things that we talked about that afternoon. But what caught my attention most is these women's involvement in social work in the city. They are involved in many things like shelters and transit homes for kids as well as working against human trafficking. The sisters are using their education as a means of finding ways to make a difference in the city.

They were headed off to a parador (that's spanish for "shelter") to do some work with kids that afternoon and they invited me along. I was feeling like this is another adventure God had hidden up his sleeve so I couldn't resist the opportunity. Before I knew it, I was in their car driving deeper into the outskirts of the city towards what you and I would term a transit house. It is a youth centre with some kids who have been removed from their parents home due to circumstances. And what is happening right now is that they are awaiting the judges decision to what will happen to these kids. In the meantime, the kids live here until the court decides on a verdict.

The twins decided that they would like to introduce me and have me participate in a little english class that they do for the kids at the shelter. But there would be one catch, I could let on that I knew spanish or the kids would speak to me in their own native tongue. So when I went in, they introduced me and said that I didn't really know spanish, forcing the kids to speak english to me. It was really hard at times not letting spanish fly or that I understood what was being said. But it worked and the kids looked at me with wide-eyed curiousity and began trying to speak english phrases.

To make things even more interesting, after we were done with the kids and were cleaning up, one of the sisters gave me a free tango lesson. She actually dances tango and teaches tango as well. She spent a few minutes working with me on my embrace, my ochos and practicing the basic. As well she has invited me to a practica about 10 blocks away from my apartment. How bizarre my life feels like sometimes dancing tango in the middle of a transit house with a woman who has an identical twin. I feel like Alice in Wonderland who has just gone down the rabbit hole and is now at the part where I have met Twiddle Dee & Twiddle Dum. I sure do hope that a "mad tea party" is just around the corner...

Spare Rooms BA

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Blind Leading the Blind

A blind man is led by his guide dog in Brasíli...Image via Wikipedia

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision"
Helen Keller 

The other day I stumbled on a very interesting article about an event that is happening here in Buenos Aires. It was on the website of Landing Pad BA and it was about this theatre group called "Avitantes". I'm not going to describe what it is about because the article explains it clearly. Instead I'm pasting the link to the article and I encourage you to read it before continuing on with the blog because there is a theme here that I would like to tie in.

It is a fact of life that people who are blind have actually developed their other senses beyond that of an average human being to compensate for what they lack. I can relate on some level because I was born with alot learning disabilities and because of that, I've had to work extra hard and develop heightened awareness beyond that of my peers in order to survive in this world

But it's been interesting seeing how things that I thought would be challenges or hindrances to some of my relationships here actually have caused us to want to work harder in our friendships. This has been true of my friend Diana and my friend Marisa. Within the past few days, Marisa and I had to work out some cultural differences that were affecting our friendship. Originally I thought that our relationship would be more difficult than my friendships from my own culture but it seems to me that the opposite is happening, our friendship is actually better because of all the challenges.

You see, in this friendship she and I have to compensate for the fact that we speak different languages and are from different cultures. And I think that it's actually resulted in her becoming a better listener when she and I are ironing out the wrinkles in our friendship. I can feel when I am talking to her that she isn't just hearing the words I am saying but she is listening extra carefully so that she understands exactly what I mean. I do the same for her and it is making all the difference! I am truly amazed that a friendship where we have next to no time and are from different cultures and languages is turning out so well.

I think one of the reasons is because in my friendships with people from my own culture, it is easy to get spoiled. It is easy to assume that just because we are from the same language and culture that things will turn out find and that we understand the person. As a result, there is a tendancy to talk more and listen less and still think we are being a good friend and an active listener.

This relationship is teaching me so much and I am finding that she has an amazing natural ability when it comes to dealing with foreigners. One day soon I'm going to let her know because out of all the people that I've dealt with, I've never seen anyone who knows how to deal with foreigners the way Marisa can. As we all know, in our society people aren't as open and it takes a much longer time for someone to open up.

Coming to Argentina I think people here are used to openness and I think that it is what they expect of you. Once you become friends, they tend to be really innocent and think that you're just going to open up and speak your heart because that is the way Argentineans are. But in our society, there are levels of openness and I've been in friendships where the other person won't open up to me immediately and I have to kind of work the friendship before I get to that level where they will talk about stuff and to be fair, I do it to other people too, I can be extremely tough to get to know when I want to be. This side of me has not been easy for my friends down here who sometimes are not sure what to do.

Someone both Diana and Marisa have a way with me where they understand that friendship is something that is developed and over time with hard work and perseverance, they do see the fruits of their labor as I start to open up. What makes it interesting is that these girls are both born in the year of the Ox and in Chinese culture, that is the personality of the Ox. People that work hard towards their goal and know that slow and steady wins the race.

 In our friendships there are moments where in our struggle to understand each other it feels like it "the blind leading the blind". But in the same way that a blind person has heightened senses, these things have only opened our eyes so we see each other clear as day :)
"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read"  
Mark Twain

Spare Rooms BA
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

The other day I wrote a blog on how the movie "Blue Crush" was symbolic of my life and journey. But if I had to choose a book that symbolizes my experiences right now, I would say that it would be "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". A journey through Wonka's chocolate factory where there are surprises waiting around every corner. And speaking of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", that is the book that I'll be using to be as teaching material for private lessons in my home with a 12 yr old girl.

I really need to thank God right now for the little ways that he looks after me. I totally want to acknowledge that while I was packing and deciding what to take to Argentina while in Canada, it definitely was God that put the idea in my head to pack this book. I originally packed it for my reading pleasure because it is hard to find literature in english to read down here but this book gonna become the perfect tool for one of my students in helping her in reading, comprehension, & pronounciation etc

The other area where God constantly surprises me and comes through for me is with this spanish course I am wanting to take. I signed up for courses through the Vamos Spanish Academy They have several different type of courses available. One is a 20 hr a week intensive course that has classes Monday to Friday from 9:30-1:30. The other is a course designed for expats and people who live and work here who may not have as much time to study spanish but still want to take lessons a couple times a week.

After completing their spanish placement test to determine my level, I informed them that the expat course would be best for me because my schedule is quickly filling up with people wanting lessons in english. But there is one catch to this expat course, there needs to be enough people wanting to enroll in the same course who have the same level of spanish as me in order for me to be able to start. If no other person was available at that moment, then I could be possibly waiting weeks before I can start.

As of last nite, I was informed that they found someone else who wanted to do that course who was found to have a similar level of spanish as me. And if both of us were available, we could start on Tuesday the 26th. The class would be twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 90 mins. And I need to acknowledge that again, God provides for me. I'm going to be starting as of Tuesday instead of waiting around for weeks praying and hoping that someone else of a similar level would be interested in taking a course as well.

Just like in Wonka's Chocolate Factory, there are surprises around every corner and I am learning to expect the unexpected. But no matter what, God is behind every surprise. Right now, the school and I have a big conundrum. Yes, I made it here to Argentina but it seems as if the students that showed interest originally in the program really don't want to put in the time, effort, and commitment to learn english. In the cases of some of my friends, they are simply too busy to learn english but this is a case whereI think that they are simply too lazy. I love it that Argentineans like relaxation and free time but this is a circumstance where this aspect of their culture is not benefiting me or the school.

But I have informed the school that God wants me here in this time right now and that the vision will be realized in the end but it may look far different than what we thought originally. If this were a movie, I would say that we would be finishing the first 25-30 mins that are supposed to be exciting and attention grabbing and now we are at the middle part where things slow down abit and the plots starts to thicken and unfold in more subtle ways.

I give thanks to God that my schedule is filling up with people wanting to pay me to teach them. In terms of my relationship with the school and this vision we had, I have absolutely no clue what to do. There is nothing for me in Canada and there is nothing for me here except tango english classes, spanish lessons and the occasional church event....surface-wise that is. But it's only making this plot more interesting because now the big question is "What exactly is Angelina in Argentina for?"

You'll want to stick around as new characters get introduced, curveballs get thrown and like Charlie in Wonka's chocolate factory, I find myself weaving my way through a series of twists and turns in the plot. In the same way that on a trampoline no matter how high you jump and go flying through the air, you know you'll come crashing down back onto the safety of the trampoline ( least most of the time) at the end of the day I know that I will always fall right back into the hands of my maker. It is ultimately the place where all plots begin and all plots end....

Spare Rooms BA

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

El Ateneo

So here I am sitting in my 12th floor apartment writing again about my adventures. My apartment may be on the 12th floor but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I feel like I am on the Mezzanine floor. For those of you who don't know, the mezzanine floor is the floor that is sort of between floors. And that is where I feel like I am, I'm not where I was and I'm still not quite yet where I'm supposed to be in seeing the vision realized. So I'm kind of at a funny place where I'm like "OK I'm here in what?" I'm know this is the time where I'm supposed to be here but what does God want me to do with my days because nothing has really kicked off yet. But I am trusting him that he has my whole agenda for the next few months and he knows how to fill my day.

At the same time, there is lots I can be doing to improve myself while I am in this city. Monday I found myself in the building of the Vamos Spanish Academy registering for spanish classes. As well, yesterday I found myself once again in Confiteria Ideal in Eduardo Saucedo's weekly group class that happens every tuesday. It was lovely to be tangoing again. I haven't danced tango since March and it was great to see that I haven't lost anything. With a guide like Eduardo, you are only guaranteed to get better. It happens that the Vamos Spanish Academy is located very closely to the studio where Eduardo lives and works. I am thinking that 4 hrs of spanish classes followed by a private lesson with Eduardo one day soon makes for a perfect day.

one of my favorite places to pass time is a giant bookstore called "El Ateneo". It was formerly a theatre that has been converted into a bookstore, making it the most unique bookstore in the world. It is a place I can go to sit and relax and get lost in a book for hours and hours. I could go on and on about this place but this is one case where a picture is worth a thousand words so I created an album for your enjoyment along with the mini movie that I shot of the bookstore.

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas