On the 17th I traveled to Santiago del Estero, a province about 6-7 hours southeast of Salta. Santiago is known for a few things – mostly a really long siesta, super hot weather, and a very relaxed culture (even more so than Salta). I arrived at about 10 PM and Cristina, a Rotarian from the Club Autonomía picked me up at the terminal with her son Nacho, who is about 8 years old. We went to their house which is absolutely beautiful, had dinner, and I went to bed because everything would start early the next morning.
I woke up at 6:30, ate breakfast and the day’s events began. Cristina and Ana (the club president) had a lot of things planned for me. At 8 AM I gave a presentation, in English (to be fair it was more Spanglish) to about 50 high schoolers. They asked some good questions and one girl came up to me afterwards and said she was really happy to meet me and it was great to hear me talk about my experiences! How cute!
Next we went to Canal 7, the local TV news station. I was interviewed for TV and my segment aired later that day… which I never saw. I talked about my life in Salta, what I was doing in Santiago, etc. By this point I was accompanied by Cristina, Ana, and three more Rotarians – Silvia, Yoly, and María Inés.
After that we went to El Liberal, the santiagueño newspaper, where I was interviewed again. A short article (in Spanish) ran the next day about me and Verónica, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant who has been living in Santiago. Ironically we already knew each other, because travelled together in July in Bolivia, but it was great to see her again!
After that, it was time to visit the huge museum and cultural center in Santiago. Apparently the governor of Santiago del Estero is good friends with Cristina Kirchner, the Argentine President. So in the last few years they have gotten a ton of money from the federal government and have done a ton of re-building and constructing of different public spaces – plazas, cultural centers, the bus station, a convention center, etc. We got into the museum for free because Silvia’s brother works there.
We were surrounded by santiagueño culture and about 50 school children dressed in their little uniforms learning about the history of their city. Adorable. We had a coffee break, Cristina took me around Santiago and we met up with Ana again for lunch.
After lunch it was time for the classic Santiago siesta… most things in Santiago are closed from 12/1 until literally 7 PM. It is SO hot in Santiago in the summer time (and to me, it was scorching and it is springtime here now). It usually gets up to 52 degrees celsius, which is more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After my nap, it was time for more presentations! First I headed to an English class to talk to them about myself and the USA. Then, Verónica and I had about 2 hours to relax, catch up, and enjoy “merienda” (snack time). After that I headed to the profesorado to give a presentation to about 100 pre-service English teachers who are studying there. It is common for teachers here to study at a profesorado, which is like a community college, to get their teaching license/certification. They asked me some great questions and one of the teachers was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Florida back in 2005, so we each talked about our experience living in two cultures.
That night we had the Rotary Autonomía club meeting and asado (barbecue) at Cristina’s house. They have a quincho in the backyard near their swimming pool, which is an enormous separate space devoted to a second kitchen, huge grill, and large table for big get-togethers. It was great to meet more Rotarians and be surrounded by a ton of caring Argentinians. Verónica came too, and it was a ton of fun!! The people in Santiago are absolutely wonderful and I am so glad I was able to meet all of them and enjoy the city! At 1 AM I had a bus to Córdoba, so I said my goodbyes and headed onwards to another province, about 7 hours east/southeast of Santiago.