Back in the U.S.

So I have already been back in the U.S. for about a month now, and obviously I keep forgetting to write a ''closing the trip'' post. So here goes :)

I am so thankful for having been able to travel this summer (and all of it debt free!! Again, so thankful). It was wonderful to see my many friends in Costa Rica and visit more friends in Argentina. All along the way, there were lots of reminders to be very, very thankful.

I have a few shout out ''Thank You''s too :) :

Mom and Dad: Who knew that the red set of suitcases you bought me for my first foreign excursion in 2005 would get so much TLC over the next few years? Every time I pick them up off the baggage claim, they serve as a reminder of how much you have taught me and encouraged me to continue growing in what I am equipped to do.

Trish and Al: Thank you for letting me crash at your place not once but twice. I am thankful for our friendship, no matter how distant.

Melissa: Thanks for planning our beach trip. So many great flashbacks!

Familia Rodríguez: Gracias por abrir casa y por darme una bienvenida tan linda a Costa Rica.  Espero que nos veamos de nuevo muy pronto :).

Mejia Simpson Family: Thank you for sharing your vision of an orphanage! I share in your vision and look forward to contributing somehow in the near future.

Heather: Thanks, friend, for letting me borrow your mega-suitcase. Very necessary for all the gifts I carried with!

Steve and Becky: Thank you again for hosting me and so willingly and generously showing me around Córdoba.

Alright, so until next time I travel, folks. :) Now it's time to get back down to the teaching business!


Bad English Makes Me Smile

I wish I took more photos of some of the funny English I have seen during this trip, but unfortunately, I only have two examples to share with you: 
Notice how ''pretty'' is spelled...

If you read carefully, it says ''fit under your sit'' instead of ''fit under your seat''. Spanish phonics snuck into this translator's English spelling...

Buenos Aires from the Bus Window

While I was not able to spend much time touring the giant (well, it seemed giant after my time in Villa de Totoral) city of Buenos Aires, I was able to capture a few glances from the bus window. 
The highway Nueve de julio. It widens to 10 lanes in some areas of the city (5 going one way, 5 going the other)

Taxis are black and yellow (I feel a song coming on, lol). 

A ship in the harbor.

Attention Mr. Pedestrian, Cross at the crosswalk in front (of this roadblock) 

Bored on the bus :) My purse, scarf, and pants


And back on the plane I go for another 24 hours of travel... Destination: Chicago O'Hare! 


DIY Spice Rack with Becky

Becky had an idea. Becky had the $$$ to back up her idea. I enjoyed making the idea happen! 
First, Becky bought 24 empty mini-jars. She already had green chalk paint on hand.

After two coats of paint, we carefully poured Becky's spice collection into the jars and labeled them with chalk. 

Ta-da! The wire on the rack (made by Steve) holds the jars in place. 

Foreign Toilets

 Anyone who has travelled outside the U.S. will understand that foreign toilets are mysteries (ha!). These white thrones come in all shapes and sizes (and not all are white...). Here's my foreign toilet experience in Argentina:
The toilet bowl with a pipe into the wall...

...and then the toilet tank high on the wall. In order to flush, you have to pull the chain twice (an art I did not perfect during my visit... So embarrassing to have to ask others to help me flush the toilet!).

Here's a distant look at the toilet set-up. Now I know why in Spanish they say, ''Jale la cadena'' (literally pull the chain) to say ''Flush the toilet''. LOL! 


Playing the Part of Tourist

We left the Diems' house in Villa de Totoral behind for a few days to explore more of Argentina. Some of the places they had already been and others were new to all of us. 
We drove by this lake on our way into the mountains, and I just had to stop for a picture! So beautiful! 

Again, gorgeous.

We stayed in a vacation house owned by a family friend.

Our first adventure day, we spent time in Villa General Belgrano, a German settlement southwest of Cordoba. Here's a German-inspired store.

There were lots of tourists and photo opportunities in the downtown area. 

I found it funny that they celebrate Oktoberfest all the way in Argentina! This was not the only sign I saw announcing the October event. 

A view of the main street. 

At the park, there were two zip lines that were super fun! Elliott and Josiah were entertained for hours! 

Our second adventure day was in the town La Cumbrecita, also southwest of Cordoba. It was a ''pedestrian-only'' town, and you had to park your car before you could cross the bridge into the town. 

Becky and I on the foot bridge

There was a hiking map that was quite extensive. 

The view from the mountainside

Ironically, even though the city was peatonal, there were somehow cars parked at the hotels. Hmm...

Again, there was lots of interesting architecture. This house was literally nested in carved rock. 

I couldn't help capturing some of the beautiful greenery. Winter in Argentina doesn't mean that everything is gray (like it does in the States). 

We found a trail with the promise of a cascada grande (large waterfall), so of course we decided to try it out.

Josiah and I made it to the waterfall first, but it wasn't as big as we had hoped.

The trail was kind of challenging. Lots of rocks and tree roots. 

Then Gianna announced that it was her naptime. This was her way of communicating this idea: 

Her communication technique was not as effective as it would have been in a town with cars, but it was still funny to capture with photos. 

And finally we adults were just as tired as Gianna and decided some sleep sounded like a great idea. All in all, a great few days of exploring like tourists! 

Climbing a Mountain (with 3 Kids in Tow!)

Adventure time! We buckled the kids in the truck, drove for about an hour to Cerro Colorado, and chose our trail up the steep mountain.

We circled the mountain a few times in car before deciding our angle of attack.

The land around the mountain was extremely flat, which made the Cerro Colorado even more inviting to climb.

Bringing kids did not stop Steve and Becky from going as high as possible. Some of the rocks were really steep, so we were teaching the kids to stay on ''hands and feet''. 

The boys kept finding caves. Elliott wanted to stop and ''make a fire.'' A gaucho in training. : ) 

The red rocks were easy to walk on, even though the angle was somewhat steep.

I thought this plant resembled the aloe vera plant, but it was much thinner and didn't have as much water absorbed into it.  

Ouch! Stay back! 

Josiah and I held up the boulder together. We're really strong as a team : ) 

Me and the boys

Gianna on her daddy´s back. She looks so tiny here! 

Another spiny something. It reminded me of a radish... except the pokey part, haha. 

We crawled on our bellies into this cave. This is one of my favorite pictures from my visit with the Diems! 

We walked back down the mountain at sunset. Beautiful colors! (and whew! We all ended the adventure in one piece!)