Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Argentina trip ended! I can still imagine those flaky medialunas in the morning and the delicious empanadas that we shared. Often times, it seems like yesterday that we were laughing in the rain, stomping in the mud, and building the school out of ecoladrillos. You’re probably back in school (or starting college!) but we wanted you to know that here in Buenos Aires we are still thinking of you and the impact we made this summer together.
Our time spent together here truly did make an impact. You should all know you left Buenos Aires a better place than when you came. Gustavo and Flor’s garden will continue to be a place of shelter and community for the children you met during our first days here. The adobe classroom and garden beds we built will stand longer after our time here is just a memory, making the environment of those sites more comfortable for the people that live there. And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip we hope will serve you and the communities you go on to be in for the rest of your life! We now know how harmful plastic is to the environment, and some ways to reduce and reuse it in order to lessen our impact on the environment.
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together here! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so fun by being a really close knit group. We experienced Argentine culture by learning to tango, to make the traditional Argentine dessert chocotorta, and meeting real life gauchos on an Argentine estancia. We also got to visit a local market and buy our own mate cups and other goodies to take home with us. We also got to explore the city and see the beautiful neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. And no one can forget the giddy feeling of laughter from galloping on a horse together in a group of friends that we will never forget!
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether it was playing games at night, ninja with our community members, figuring out riddles on the bus, throwing mud during service, watching Colton do the Tango, or exploring new places together- it was that much fun because we got to share it with all you guys — the 2016 GLA Argentina group! Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place.
10 special moments from our trip:
Learning about ecoladrillos and making an impact by recycling used plastic into the building blocks of our service projects
Laughing during the colorful play at the community theatre performed by many talented children!
Getting to see the amazing art in Hospital Borda
Learning about Permaculture with Gustavo, Flor, and Tomas
Taking a tango class and watching Colton and Evan exhibit their newfound skills in different places throughout the rest of the trip
Watching the wall of the third classroom grow as we applied the adobe we made
Celebrating the three special birthdays
Exploring the city of Buenos Aires and having an asado feast there
Playing ninja with Gustavo and the rest of our group
Galloping our horses into the sunset at the Estancia!
Summer Blog Posts
June 30, 2016
Today we all had a smooth landing in Buenos Aires and got settled into our home base in Tigre, about an hour outside of the city. Greeted by the staff at home base and Lola, the dog, we warmed up by the fire and got our roommate assignments. We all remarked on how lucky we feel to have such a lovely place to stay! After resting we played some name games and got to know each other and reviewed house rules. We all shared that we are excited to get immersed in Argentine culture and excited about our upcoming service projects. Team “Rock, Paper, Scissors” woke us up from our sleepiness and made us laugh. Dinner together was a highlight with a delicious three course meal. We look forward to tomorrow with a visit to the Tigre art museum and getting introduced to our service projects! Chao until then!
July 1, 2016
The second day of our GLA trip was the best! My name is Lisander and I am writing today’s blog because I am the “Leader of the Day” today. I got serenaded in the morning by the mentors with the happy birthday song because it is my birthday as well! It was really fun! I was given ballons, a card and cake.
Our group woke up and we had a great breakfast. We are all getting used to the Argentinian food here and are excited to try new things. We then learned how to make eco-bricks (eco-ladrillos in spanish). We learned how to recycle plastic trash to contribute to our community. These ecobricks will be the foundation and building blocks of the houses we will make. From there our groups eyes were opened to what we could do to reuse, reduce, and recycle plastic trash and for the rest of the day saved our trash to contribute to the ecobricks.
We then headed to the Tigre Art museum. Me being from New York, I have been to many art museums, and being in the Tigre museum opened my eyes to the different types of art. The building itself was really beautiful! We walked back to the home base and bought some supplies at the local market. The supermarket was similar but also had some interesting differences.
We went home to await the mayor, and while waiting for him we played some card games and did activities together. Unfortunately the mayor did not come but our group appreciated the time to bond and get to know each other. The mayor sent us gifts which we loved! He rescheduled for later this week. We continued working on our eco-bricks, and then proceeded to dinner. We then learned how to drink mate, a cultural drink. We all enjoyed our second day very much.
Today as leader of the day I woke everyone to get ready and prepare everyone for the day planned ahead. Followed by breakfast we all piled on the bus to go to the service site. Once we arrived to the community center we went around in a circle and introduced our selves with our three days of Spanish skills by saying our names, where we are from, and what we like to do. Our introductions were met with smiles and laughing from the young children and people of the center. We helped them with serving breakfast to the children, hot coco and cookies. After breakfast we talked with the children we went outside and played jump rope and soccer. We also split up into different groups and took tours of the community garden. Gustavo the community leader showed us the garden and went through all the plants along with explaining some facts about compost and gardening effects on the environment. As we played soccer it started to rain and got very muddy. During our time there we met the kids of the community and made lots of new friends. We made friendship bracelets with the girls, got blue chalk in our hair and sang lots of songs. A tradition at the community center is that every first Saturday of the month they make a cake and sing happy birthday to all the people that have birthdays that month. So we did that and sang to everyone with birthdays. Following service with went to Gustavo the community leaders house where he told us about permaculture. After, we had lunch and watched a video called “The Story of Stuff”, which is a very informative video about how the stuff we buy affects the environment.
Hello again from Argentina. After our first few days of jetlag, today was a major turning point for most. We were all super excited to get to the school where we were going to help construct some much needed extra buildings with the guidance of local leaders. Following our theme of sustainable cities, these buildings are going to be made out of recycled plastic bottles filled with trash and covered with adobe clay. Making the Adobe was the big project of the day. The minute was got to the site, we unloaded supplies, introduced ourselves in Spanish, suited up and got to work. We first dug a hole and, as a massive team, we added and stirred the ingredients to make the adobe. Some of us opted to bake sunflower seed bread inside for lunch but quickly finished and decided to join in the fun of making the clay for the walls. It suddenly started pouring but that just made us more motivated to get the job done. We had a blast stomping in the mud to blend the adobe a final time. We took a quick break to have some homemade empanadas and lemonade. When we got back to work, we started putting the adobe on the stuffed bottles that were already stacked for the wall. The rain was picking up and when we started seeing flashes of lightning above us, so we called it a day. Before we headed back, we had a hot meal of rice and our sunflower seed bread. We finally changed out of our muddy clothes ( a lot of tripped and fell in the mud, one of them being me) and headed back to home base. The whole 2 hour ride, we were annoying the bus driver with our loud singing, but we have a theory that made him drive faster. We finished the day with yummy dinner of vegetable soup and ravioli. We are super excited to finish our work at the school and today was definitely a great bonding experience for all of us.
Today we woke up at 8:30 and had a lovely breakfast however unfortunately we missed the croissants. We then went outside to wait for the bus, which then took us to the service site. The service site was at the community garden where we helped fixed the plant beds. We successfully replaced one of the plant beds and have five more to go. Between working we played some competitive ninja. For lunch we had tuna sandwiches and then continued to work. After the community garden we came back home and got ready to learn some tango. Our teachers Gisselle and Georgia taught us some fancy moves and in a matter of time we were all having fun and dancing. Todays dinner was probably one of the best dinners we have had thus far! We all enjoyed it and many of us wanted seconds. After dinner we watched some mind blowing videos that talked about the amount of plastic that is in the world, which definitely left us all thinking about what we could do to fix it. After the videos we went to bed!
Welcome to the city of Buenos Aires. Being the leader of the day, I woke everyone up at 8am to start. We got on the subway, and took it all the way from Tigre to the city. In the morning we got to ride on a tour bus that showed us many sites. Our first stop was the Bosques de Palermo, which was a park that had a pond in the center with a pretty bridge over it. We saw many geese there and tried chasing them. After the park, we went to the Recoleta Cemetery, which was cool but creepy due to the fact that we were walking through areas filled with tombs. Next, we went to La Boca, which is the town where the tango first originated. There were many colorful buildings and many places to shop. We got dropped off to a restaurant for lunch known for its meat, and it turned out being a buffet with many different options of it, although the empanadas were the best part of the meal in my opinion. After lunch, we had to walk off all of the delicious food we consumed so we went to the Puerto Madero, which was a big, white draw bridge that looked like a needle that was placed diagonally. As a group, we took many awesome pictures on this bridge with the great view of a river underneath. We kept on walking and ended up in the Plaza de Mayo which contained the Pink House, where the president works. After, we went to see the Obelisco, which is a tall pencil like monument, a look alike to the Washington Monument. By the end of the city tour, everyone was exhausted, and to top that off, we had to stand on the subway which was packed to the brim. When we finally got back to the home base we had a nice dinner and then passed out in our beds.
Today we continued our project in the community gardens to help them rebuild boxes around the plants. We were able to complete two more today, in total rebuilding three different plant boxes for the community garden. We also bonded over trust fall games with members of the community and spoke to them in Spanish. Later in the day, we took the train into Buenos Aires while dancing the Tango in the subway car to pass the time. Once we arises in the city, we walked over to the bus terminal and took a 3 hour ride to Gualeguaychu. Upon arriving in the town, we settled in to our hippy-Buddha themed hostel and went out to dinner at a local restaurant, eating delicious traditional argentine breaded beef called ternera milanesa; a nice way to end a day of awesome service and traveling.
July 6, 2016
Hello from Argentina! Today we all woke up early to go to the hospital for service. We made more Adobe today and continued building the walls of the planters with the ecoladrillos. We all planted the first tree together. After service we all got the chance to choose between kayaking on the Tigre river and chilling out at home. Once everyone got home from kayaking, we all started packing for our trip to Gualeguachu.
July 9, 2016
Today, after all the droopy eyes and tired yawns faded into laughs and bear hugs, we hopped into taxis and drove off Reserva el Potrero. There we watched an educational slide show of the native species living in the reserve, given by well respected community leaders and activists.
After that, we strolled through the wilderness and learned about the different ecosystems that the different elevations represented. More importantly, we learned about how invasive species were harming them. Walking around, we saw incongruous plants stealing light, water, and nutrients from the local trees. Then came the machete part.
We found an invasive pine tree and learned about the different, and correct, ways to kill it. Our tour guide then took out his machete and cut a long ring near the base of the tree and told us how this, accompanied with a nice dose of poison, would end the tree and its destructive effects.
After, some broke off for a peaceful round of bird watching, but most stayed behind for a boisterous round of Mafia. We sat on tree stumps in a large circle as we screamed over each other, accusing friends of murder while desperately defending ourselves (or, in Sam’s case, breaking down laughing.)
Mafia screams were soon replaced with dance party screams and throwback music, as well as exhausted sighs from sleepy kids. When everyone was rounded up to leave for dinner, those dance party screams were replaced with catchphrase screams and the sleepy sighs were replaced with soft spoken suggestions.
Then we walked to dinner down the block. We were served a delicious spaghetti, followed with pies and cakes for birthday desserts.
To finish off our day, we walked around town to check out the local shops and buy ice cream. During this, we met a friendly dog who followed us around, and was eventually named Steve.
After the long day, we walked back to the hostel, where we took note of the day’s ups and downs, then left for bed when the happy smiles once again turned into droopy eyes and tired yawns.
-Brenna and Megan
July 10, 2016
Today we took an early bus from Gualeguachu back to Buenos Aires. In the bus station we took a break for empanadas and then took the train back to Tigre. On the train we had a group jam session led by Evan on the guitar. Upon arriving home, we had a “photo scavenger hunt” activity in the town of Tigre in our mentor groups. We had to use our Spanish to navigate the town and take pictures with monuments, people, and random items in the town such as: an Argentine flag, street art, the tigre symbol of Tigre, the Museum of Mate, the river, and more! We had a great time running around the town and seeing more of our homebase of Tigre. We also had to take a jumping photo and a human pyramid photo. We then rested for a bit and had dinner, followed by reflecting on the day with activities and giving each other positive feedback.
July 12, 2016
Today was a day we have been looking forward to- a day full of horseback riding! We went to an Estancia, a traditional Argentinean ranch where we got to horseback ride, see a traditional gaucho give us a horse show, and eat a huge Argentine BBQ while being serenaded by a guitar player. At first the gauchos taught us to ride slow and carefully, but by our third time out later in the day, they finally let us trot and go a little bit faster. We had so much fun!