La Vida Salteña

I can’t believe I’ve been in Argentina for two weeks and in Salta for one week! Time is literally flying by. After flying into Salta, I took a taxi to Leigh & Noah’s house. Leigh & Noah are friends with Teo, a Spanish teacher getting his master’s in North Carolina who I worked with at Lago del Bosque this past summer. They’ve been in Salta for 4 years now and run a non-profit (NGO) called Cloudhead. They work with kids from Salta and teach media and technology (Adobe, photography, movie-making, etc). They also work with Instituto Franklin, which offers English classes here in Salta.

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Leigh & Noah live in San Lorenzo, which is a town 6 KM from Salta. Their house is ridiculously gorgeous and was featured on House Hunters. They have a pool (una pileta – oh Argentinian Spanish), 3 bedrooms, a huge terrace, and a lovely kitchen and living room area. It’s such a wonderful place to relax. The only downside is that their house is a LONG walk from the bus that takes you from San Lorenzo into Salta.

I spent 5 days here with Leigh and their daughter, Lila, their two dogs, Mani and Pipa, and two cats. Noah is on a trip to Chile right now so it was just us girls (and the animals!).

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Leigh showed me around Salta a little bit and I had an opportunity to walk around downtown, get a cell phone, and start to learn where everything is. I spent quite awhile sitting in Plaza 9 de Julio, the main plaza in Salta. I quickly learned that this was a great place for people-watching. I wandered until I found a part of the city where I’d like to live, found a couple of ATMs, and some nice cafés and ice cream shops.

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On Friday I took the bus up to UNSa, La Universidad Nacional de Salta Argentina where I’ll be getting my masters. UNSa is in the northern part of Salta — if you take a look at the map above, it’s in that area above the main downtown part of the city. It’s a quick bus ride from the center up to UNSa, though, and the busses here only cost 2.5 pesos (.50 cents) and only 1 peso (.20 cents) for students (I haven’t figured out how to get the student rate yet). Lots of undergrads were on campus when I showed up, as they were registering for classes for first semester, which starts at the end of this month. My registration process is a little different because A. I’m an international student and B. It’s a masters degree. I’m waiting for the folks in the main office in my Facultad (college) to come back from vacation so that I can register. The first thing I noticed was that the college itself has a pretty nice campus — green grass, lots of trees and benches, a few places where you can buy lunch, etc. But the buildings clearly have not been renovated since UNSa was founded in 1972. I was seriously spoiled at Marquette with all of the beautiful buildings, constant renovations due to huge donations from alumni, etc. Oh well. I also noticed the copy room (pictured above) that gave me terrible flashbacks to the copy window at my college in Madrid. I remember how we waited in long lines just to print a paper and were usually late to class because of it. I immediately resolved to buy a printer here.

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On Monday evening I had a meeting scheduled with my Rotary Host Counselor, Estela. We planned to meet for coffee at a confitería here called Havanna. Confitería roughly translates into café/candy store. I sent her a text message at 6:15 since we were supposed to meet at 6:00. She called me and apologized that she wouldn’t be able to meet me because she had a meeting with the Ministerio de Educación. Alright. Welcome to Argentina, Nicki. So she sent another Rotarian, Hector, to meet me. But I never saw him come into Havanna. 30 minutes later she called me back to see if I had found him, and I told her I hadn’t. So she sent me around the corner to the hostel Hector owns. I went into Hostal Yatasto and found Hector and we sat down and chatted for about a half hour. He’s been a Rotarian for about 10 years here and he was previously a Rotarian in Brazil. It was great to finally meet someone from Rotary here, because I was frustrated with Rotary International and the process of getting me in touch with a host counselor here (I was still assigned to Bolivia on their website as of one week ago…). Anyway, now it all worked out so I have no more need to stress.

Their meetings are at 10 PM on Thursdays at an Italian restaurant in town. Hector said dinner isn’t included in their dues, but a lot of Rotarians get dinner or just get tea or something during the meeting. There’s only about 12 Rotarians in the club here in Salta, a huge difference from the Milwaukee club meetings which take place at noon, include an excellent lunch, and fill a large room (150 rotarians would be my estimate). The first meeting I’ll be attending here is tomorrow night and I’m eager to go, meet other Rotarians, and get used to the meetings here. Now I have to figure out how formally to dress…

Anyway, on Monday night, Leigh and Lila left for a trip to Bolivia, where they’re visiting La Paz and volunteering at a Monkey Refuge. So in the meantime, I am house-sitting and hanging out in this gorgeous house with two great dogs (who are highly protective — sometimes too protective — in the event that anyone creepy would come near the house). I’ve been sitting by the pool, reading, watching movies on my laptop, and relaxing.

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I’ll be here until the 13th at which point I’ll move into an apartment in Salta and finally actually start my life here! Can’t wait.

Un abrazo fuerte,

Nicki

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