Monday, December 31, 2007

Three years later

Monday 31 December 2007

One thing I like about living in a place for a while, is getting to see certain dates come more than once. This is a poster advertising the big march yesterday for the people who died in a nightclub fire three years ago. We saw the same big march pound through our neighborhood last year. The poster this year features pictures of all the kids who died, and was up everywhere.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Apple Orchard

Sunday 30 December 2007

Well, we've had a great time on the farm. There have been some frustrating moments, but the overall experience has been a positive one and we learned a lot. Here is the sun rising over the neighbor's apple orchard, my last glimpse of the farm.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tomato Flowers

Saturday 29 December 2007

A tomato flower. We've been spending most mornings weeding and mulching tomatoes, so this little flower, and the tiny little green tomato bubbles that are popping out on a very few plants, are what we love to see!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The World's Happiest Dog

Friday 28 December 2007

Patch, a fellow volunteer, holding Pacha, making her the World's Happiest Dog. You see, she is Panchito's (the adorable puppy) mom, and gets really jealous when people pay attention to the puppy and not her. She will push him out of the way, shove her head under your hand, even sit on her baby, whining and wagging her tail in pathetic, eager anticipation. So, Patch finally did what she wanted - he picked her up and cuddled her. So, who's the cutest baby in the world?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Green Spider

Thursday 27 December 2007

A not-so-little spider in a bottle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Wednesday 26 December 2007

This is Paloma (whose name means "dove"), the little girl who lives on the farm. She was helping us mud today. Those are some eyes, huh?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Rainbow

Tuesday 25 December 2007

It rained all day today, which actually helped make it feel more Christmas-y, as it was cooler and you couldn't go outside. But it stopped late afternoon, and we got this magnificent rainbow over the neighbors' apple orchard.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Monday 24 December 2007

Here is our big Christmas dinner (they celebrate the night before in Argentina - Christmas day isn't nearly as special.) We had a huge storm tonight, which cut the power. It made for a cozier, more old-fashioned candle-lit Christmas, however, which was nice.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ah, Sundays . . .

Sunday 23 December 2007

The farm was about a half-hour walk from town, so we basically only went in on weekends. Therefore, weekends became time for internet, beer, and beef. This is a lomito, a wonderful sandwich with steak, eggs, spicy sauce, and all the toppings. Washed down with Andes, the local beer, it is the perfect Sunday dinner after a week of vegetarian/vegan food!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Market

Saturday 22 December 2007

This is Anna, Azucena's mother, at the market for which we baked all that bread yesterday. She has a farm as well, which is a little more established and productive. They sell greens and veggies, fruit, apple juice, preserves and jams, spices and herbs, and other yummy stuff. All of it fresh and organic. Ryan and I went today to help sell for the farm we are working at, and had a pretty good time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Baking day

Friday 21 December 2007

This is Azucena, the mother/wife/farm manager/head cook/driving force at the farm. (She is also the founder of an organic bio-cooperative, and a homeopathic doctor.) Every Friday she would bake dozens of loaves of bread to be sold at the market in Mendoza on Saturdays. You can see the oven in the background there, which is an oil drum suspended in a mud oven, powered by firewood. Yet she somehow seems to pull out perfectly browned bread every time. I disagreed with many of her beliefs, but man, she was one amazing woman.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Thursday 20 December 2007

This is Panchito (which means "little hot dog"), an adorable puppy new to the farm. When he came a week or two ago, he was tiny and immobile, and I honestly thought he might not make it. Now, with some loving care and mother's milk, he can walk a full two meters before he needs a nap and falls over. Today, I picked him up and he promptly fell asleep. He slept in my arms for hours as I trudged around in the mud pit, mixing. Isn't he so cute???

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Making jam

Wednesday 19 December 2007

Ryan and I pitting cherries, preparing to make jam, listening to Radiolab, a science radio program. This was our third, and largest, batch of jam, this one just sour cherry.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Tuesday 18 December 2007

These are the goats on the farm. The little one looooves headrubs. (Those horns probably hurt coming in.) I dubbed her "goatito" which in Spanglish means "little goat," although in Spanish it means "little drop."

Monday, December 17, 2007


Monday 17 December 2007

This is kambucha, a live-culture drink we have discovered on the farm. Basically, you take a mother, a piece of this fungus-like thing, put it in some tea, and in a week or two you have a vinegary drink that is supposed to have all kinds of healthy, cleansing properties. It's evidently a big thing in California, in all the health-food stores. I like the taste, and if it's healthy, all the better!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chuck the Duck

Sunday 16 December 2007

This is Chuck, Chuck the Duck. Paloma, the farm owners' daughter, jokes that when you're here for a month, you get two pets, and when you're here for two months, you get two pets. Well, one of our fellow volunteers, Patch, has been here for two months, and so now has two pets. A white mouse named Sancho Panza, and now a duckling named Chuck. He's absolutely adorable (Chuck, that is) and loves cake. He had trouble sleeping for a while, so Patch put this stuffed animal in with him so he has someone to snuggle with.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another pretty dandylion

Saturday 15 December 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007


Friday 14 December 2007

This is Manteca (which means butter), the farm's mare. She was funny - if you were in her area to collect firewood or pick sour cherries, she would follow you around like a little puppy. She even got to know me and would come and say good morning when we went out to the gardens. Here she is following Ryan and I through some bush that is a little too low and crowded for horses.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Muddy Feet

Thursday 13 December 2007

I am dirty pretty much all of time here on the farm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jam! Guida y Mora

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Ryan and I went out the other day and found wild mulberry trees. And then some sour cherry trees. What does this add up to? Jam! Lots of home-made, organic jam from fruit we picked ourselves! It took a long time to make, but was absolutely delicious and did not last long on the breakfast table.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A break

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Another fellow volunteer taking a break from weeding.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Monday 10 December 2007

One of our fellow volunteers, shoveling at the end of the day.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mountain Sunset

Sunday 9 December 2007

We have an excellent view of the Andes, and the sunset is amazing nearly every night.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Garlic Flower

Saturday 8 December 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Farm Food

Friday 7 December 2007

For the first week especially, the food on the farm was absolutely fantastic. All vegetarian, mostly vegan, and sometimes organic (their own crop hasn't come in yet, so we had to buy veggies. Sometimes they'd find organic stuff, sometimes not. It's not a very big trend down here in Argentina yet.) Here is a typical lunch. You can see potatoes, beets, beet puree, greens (a kind of weed we went out and picked), olives, homemade bread, mashed sweet potatoes, and zuchinni salad. It was simple food, but really good.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Thursday 6 December 2007

In the afternoons, we usually work on building a little store for the farm to someday sell its products. The building is being made out of sticks and mud, using an age-old method. The mud is made of clay, horse manure, sand, straw, and water, and takes an awful lot of mixing before it's done. Here we are, mixing the mud!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dandylion Sunset

Wednesday 5 December 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Weeding Work

Tuesday 4 December 2007

This is the work we've been doing in the mornings on the farm. We take the completely overgrown and weedy line on the left, cut down the stuff in the middle, pull out the weeds, dig out the irrigation ditches, and surround the little plants with mulch (so no sun can reach the soil, deterring future weeds). It feels so good to look back a completed row and see it neat and clean, and feel good about working hard to finish something.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Monday 3 December 2007

Our first day of work. We worked in the vegetable garden in the morning, and were constructing a mud building (that will someday be a store) in the afternoon. As we were smacking and smoothing the mud onto the walls, a wind came up and we heard a strange roaring sound, a loud white noise that we couldn't quiet place. A little uneasy, I asked Jorge, the farm father, what it was. He said it was hail, coming up from the south. We could hear it on the pavement and cars in town. Sure enough, within two minutes we were being bombarded by huge hailstones. It only stopped work for about 15 minutes, but it was quite the storm.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Madre Tierra

Sunday 2 December 2007

We arrived at the farm today, a small family-owned organic farm named Madre Tierra, or Mother Earth, an hour south of Mendoza. Here is the volunteer's cabin, where we will be living. The vegetable gardens are beyond. For animals, the farm has a mother and daughter goat, a horse, three cats, three dogs and a puppy. The family consists of a father with a badly broken foot, an overworked mother, and two cute kids. When we arrived today, there was one other volunteer, named Patch, who is here for the whole season, and a girl on her way out tomorrow.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Soccer in the Shire

Saturday 1 December 2007

I've really enjoyed my time here in El Bolson. It's one of those lovely little towns, sleepy but full of some kind of magical undercurrent. Full of fruit, surrounded by organic farms, hand-made everything for sale at the thrice-weekly market, local beers, friendly locals. Later, we found out that in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Shire is translated as El Bolson. It seems like a fitting name to me! So, signing off from the Argentine Shire, this is one happy camper.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Friday 30 November 2007

Another thing El Bolson is known for is its locally-brewed beer. Ryan and I went to this brewery where they offer a five-beer tasting platter (which adds up to a liter of beer, so you walk out feeling like you did more than taste!) We tried a regular dark, a smoked dark, a honey ale, a wheat, and a cherry beer. They were all excellent, although the smoked dark and cherry were tied for first for me. In town, you could also get strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, hot pepper, and regular blond, red, and black beers. We definitely enjoyed this aspect of town.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Thursday 29 November 2007

In El Bolson, there is an ice cream place called Jauja, which serves the best ice cream in Argentina. No joke. Which means that this ice cream right here was the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my entire life. (And I've eaten a lot of ice cream.) It was so good, Ryan and I ate it every day we were here. They had flavors like cardamom, cinnamon, mate, black current, dulce de leche with mulberries, dark chocolate, just to name a few. My personal favorite was lemon with elderberry flowers, so light and complex, absolutely heavenly. This ice cream was practically a religious experience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mountain Graveyard

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Ryan and I went for a hike up in the hills today, searching out a hidden waterfall and some interesting rock formations. On the way, however, we stumbled upon something much more beautiful. This sprawling cemetery tucked amongst the mountains was full of wooden crosses, and the grass was covered with orange and white flowers. This probably sounds morbid, but it looked like a lovely place to rest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

La Trochita

Tuesday 27 November 2007
On our way out of Esquel today, Ryan and I watched "La Trochita," the local train, pull out of the station. It is an old steam engine, one of the last in service. Really old fashioned - think Anna Karinena, the Hogwarts Express, old westerns. It stopped for a while in town, as it has become something of a tourist attraction. I was even allowed up into the driver's section here, where I was chatting with the engineer. (Finally, an engineer who really does drive a train!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Welsh Tenor

Monday 26 November 2007
This was the star tenor at the concert last night. It was a Welsh choir, with this guy, singing mostly Welsh songs. I was really surprised by the number of Welsh people in the audience who had traveled along with the choir - family members and whatnot. They sang along for the more popular songs. All I know is, Welsh sounds funny.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Welsh Tea

Sunday 25 November 2007
We managed to get ourselves one more Welsh tea, this time in the town of Trevelin. We were here for their anniversary day, which was celebrated with a parade (which we missed) and a concert (see tomorrow's pic). The tea was just as heavy and sinful - the cream pie wasn't quite as good, but the black Welsh cake was much better. Overall, I was just glad to get one more of these special treats in! Oh, and the teahouse was full of Welsh people speaking Welsh, so that really added to the authenticity of the atmosphere. We talked to one guy later who said that the tea was really authentic, the pastries like his grandmothers, so not bad!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Saturday 24 November 2007
Another long day of traveling today. (Argentina is far too big, in my opinion.) The bus dropped this guy off down near Tierra del Fuego, and I thought it was a pretty stereotypical Patagonia landscape and farm, so I snapped a shot from the window.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More flowers . . .

Friday 23 November 2007
The whole day today was spent traveling, so I couldn't resist putting up my absolute favorite flower picture from Torres del Paine.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The end of the trail

Thursday 22 November 2007
Ryan and I on the way back from Torres del Paine, the end of the trek for us. In the background there you can see some dark spikey mountains - those are the towers for which the park is named.
By the way, you should be very glad that your computer is not equipped with smell-o-vision, as we were quite rank by the end.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Wednesday 21 November 2007

I tried very hard to find the name of this little orchid, but was unable to. We saw a few different kinds of orchids in the park though, yellow ones and white ones.

I figured this an appropriate picture for today, because I myself was staying rather close to the ground. Ryan went up the last valley today to view the torres, or towers, which are the tall thin mountains that the park is famous for. I, however, have been having some foot troubles. I wore some boots that I bought about six months ago. They were uncomfortable at first, but I wore them in, and wore them in some more, and got them comfy. Or so I thought. As it turns out, however, they were not quite ready for such a long hike. At the end of the first day, I had a few blisters. At the end of the second, I had a few more. By the third, I had about 10 blisters all in different places, each place painful in its own way. I was hobbling by the end of the third day, and decided not to join Ryan on the last day's hike, as staying at the campsite seemed preferable to having my feet actually rub off, and having to be left on the side of the trail somewhere. Ah well.

Actually, looking at my photos, I have more pictures of flowers than I do of mountains, so I guess that's a good clue as to where my interests lie. I'm not very disappointed at having to stay behind and watch the birds and the flowers, not by a long shot.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buena Vista

Tuesday 20 November 2007

A nice view in the Chilean national park Torres del Paine. The lakes are all glacial run-off, and so are freezing cold and bright whitish teal. The color is caused by the minerals suspended in the water, and is so distinctive that they actually call it "glacial milk."

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Trail

Monday 19 November 2007

I tried to take a lot of pictures of the trail itself as we hiked through the trek named "The W" (The path roughly resembles a w as it winds up three different valleys) because the trail itself changed constantly. At times it was soft earth through green forest, sometimes it was all rocks and boulders, sometimes it was through scrub desert, sometimes it seemed completely vertical, sometimes it would actually be water, as streams found a better way down the mountain.

A word about the streams. The water in the rivers was melting directly off the glaciers above. There is no pollution, and it's too cold for parasites and whatnot. Meaning, you could drink the water directly from the streams. Just bend down and take a sip. There are so few places on earth where you can do that anymore, it was a luxery I cannot describe. To be honest, the water was my favorite part of the park. It wasn't as good as Redfield water (as those of you who know will agree, the minerals add flavor!) but it was the most pure, tasteless, cold, simple water I have ever tasted. It was just plain water, but it was delicious.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Glaciar Gray

Sunday 18 November 2007

Today Ryan and I started a hike through the Chilean national park Torres del Paine. We hiked from our starting point about 3 and a half hours to our campsite, and then another hour (without our packs full of food and tents and such, yea!) up to Gray Glacier. It was a pretty impressive view, to look out over the glacier, not just up at its wall, and we happened to see a huge tower of ice fall off! It was so loud, it sounded like thunder that just went on and on and on. I know, this is technically four photos for today, but I thought a sequence should count for one.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Glaciar Upsala

Saturday 17 November 2007

Just to give you an idea of the size of these glaciers. That boat is huge. You can just barely see the people on top of it - those little black dots. And it goes back for miles and miles.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Friday 16 November 2007

Ryan and I took a boat tour of several more glaciers today. It was cold and rainy, but the clouds actually make for better viewing of the ice, as the blue really comes out. There was a ton of ice in the water - here is a particularly impressive berg. It was probably five stories tall, towering over our boat.