Casona Tour

A Diem family friend, Domingo, gave me a tour of the town’s historic homes. A lover of history and an avid reader, Domingo filled me in on the dates of the houses’ construction, who originally lived there, and who lives there now. Many of the houses are now summer vacation homes for people living in the city. 

I loved the wrought iron gates. Such intricate designs!

And introducing Domingo, my tour guide. 

Teaching English

Part of the ‘’pop-in’’ visitors are students asking for help with English homework. Becky usually helps out the students, but I stepped to help this week.

Word got out that there was an ‘’English teacher’’ living with Steve and Becky. The first day, 4 kids showed up for English practice, and the second day, 5 kids showed up for help studying for an English test. They were an energetic group that reminded me of teaching my 4th graders. 

The Diem dining room table full of 3rd graders needing English practice.

An energetic bunch! 

We drew pictures of a house to help the kids remember the names of the rooms.

A college student, Lorena, also stopped by for English exam study help. She was really fun to work with, and we laughed a lot together! 


La Siesta and Té de Yerba Mate

The Argentine sense of time schedule has me completely confused (not to mention I started off with jet lag from a 30 hour trek to get here!). Here’s a look at the typical weekday schedule:

9:00am - 12:00 noon – Stores are open.

12:00 noon – 5:00pm – Stores are closed. In theory, everyone goes home for lunch and an afternoon siesta.
The ''midget doors'' on the storefronts are for letting out last-minute customers. 

The streets are abandoned during la siesta time. 

5:00pm – 9:00pm – Stores are open again.

9:00pm – Dinner.

10:00pm – 2:00am – Social life time! Bible studies, gym workouts, birthday parties, and mate tea drinking with friends

2:00am – 8:00am – Sleeping

I have not adapted to staying up until 2:00am very well… I have attempted it but then slept in until 11:00am the next morning, haha. I think the jet lag is still affecting me too.

The school schedule has two sessions: the mañana session and the siesta session. Mañana session is from 8:30 to 12:45, and the siesta session is from 1:00 to 5:15. Kids attend one of the two sessions, and teachers have at least 30 students in each session, giving each teacher a total of at least 60 students. I had the opportunity to observe in a kindergarten classroom and a 3rd grade classroom, and I was reminded of how many resources I have access to while teaching in the U.S. I was left feeling in awe of the teachers’ perseverance here and very grateful for what I have access to!

Mate tea is another daily priority for Agrentines. You fill the cup with tea leaves (yerba mate tea to be exact) and then drink the water through a metal straw (a bombilla). Then you pour more water into the cup and pass the cup to the next person. Everyone drinks from the same cup (strange for my germ-a-phobe mentality as a teacher, haha)! 
The yerba mate  aisle at the grocery store. Lots of varieties to choose from! 

The typical cup and straw for drinking mate... here I am preparing for my first taste.

Meh... I tried not to offend my hosts by telling them that I don't like bitter flavors... I'm not sure my ecuse worked. 

Culture Confusion

So obviously I know that there are many different cultures around the world, but somehow I think that everyone lives like me (contradiction, I know!) Here’s some of my revelations to the contrast of ‘’my culture’’ versus the culture I have experienced while traveling this month.

U.S. Diet: My idea of a healthy diet would have lots of veggies, lots of protein, and some carbs.
Costa Rica Diet: Lots of rice and beans with a little salad.
Argentina Diet: Meat and potatoes. Delicious, crispy, grilled meat with lots of fat makes up about half of your plate, and the other half of your plate is potatoes.

U.S. Time: Being punctual is understood as being respectful.

Costa Rica Time: I have to clarify if the starting time is ‘’tico time’’ (not punctual) or ‘’gringo time’’ (punctual).

Argentina Time: Stopping by unannounced shows that you truly are friends. Expect about 3 or 4 ‘’pop-in’’ visitors per day that will stay for several hours each.

As a result of these differences, my stomach and sense of time are very confused right now, haha. 

The Diem Family

Steve and Becky live with their 3 children in Villa de Totoral in the Cordoba province in Argentina. Villa de Totoral is a very small pueblo, and they have been able to make a lot of friends with the townspeople over the last two years of living here. Their purpose in living here is to plant a church by first leading people to the Jesus Christ of the Bible (in contrast to the Jesus Christ that the Catholic church and indigenous superstitions have created). Between leading Bible studies, teaching English classes, working out at the gym, building relationships with the townspeople and raising three kids, Steve and Becky are very busy!

L to R: Gianna, Becky, Steve, Josiah, Elliott, and the random street dog that wanted to be in the photo.

L to R: me, Gianna, Becky




All 6 of us crammed into this truck everywhere we went. 


Córdoba for the Day

Becky and I ventured (without the three kids) into the city Córdoba for the day. We enjoyed uninterrupted conversations and catching up on life. 

It is winter in Argentina right now. The temperature is like Illinois in the fall and the landscape looks like right after an Illinois harvest. 

We stopped by the ''skinniest building in the world'' for a photo. There are apartments for rent if you're interested! 

I posed for a photo with the skinny building, haha. 

The concept of siesta  in Argentina is taken very seriously. We got into the city about 12:30, just as stores were closing their steel doors for the afternoon. We managed to go into a store before it closed, and while we were there, they closed the doors. When we were ready to leave, we had to exit through the small door about half our height. I thought it was funny and had to take a picture. : ) 

The Catholic church of Córdoba has mosaics dedicated to Gaucho Gil, a ''Robin Hood'' historical figure. 

Motorcycles everywhere! (Heather Burns, I thought of you and your new motorcycle! : )) 

The cobblestone in front of the church is laid to create a profile of the church's front. 

Evidence of lots of pigeons. Seems to be present no matter what city I travel to, haha. 

This building wins the retro award for the day. Love the bonus car in front. Becky said the car is typical of Argentina. 

The streets after stores closed for siesta. We seemed to be the only people out and about! 

Since stores were closed, we went to lunch at Steve and Becky's favorite restaurant, Mandarinas. I asked for a glass of water and this is what I got. 

A delicious salad with chicken, mango, and sesame. Not typical Argentine food, but still delicious! 

And a gorgeous tiramisu! The 3D presentation was not something we expected, ha! 

Final stop of the day (probably my favorite : )) -- an art market set in a very modern, upbeat part of the city.  

Now that I am posting this on the blog, I realize Becky and I did not take a photo together... we'll work on that soon! 

Country Hoppin' and Jet Laggin'

I don't think I had ever felt so tired before in my entire life. 30 hours (straight!) of travel certainly takes its toll. I hoped to sleep on the overnight flight, but those chairs couldn't be more uncomfortable after 5 hours (and I still had 5 more hours to go until landing... NOOO!). 
Hour 1 of travel: See you later, Costa Rica! 

Hour 2 of travel: Central America, heading north to Houston. 

Hour 6 of travel: Hello and Good-bye, Houston! 

Hour 17: Hello and Good-bye, Buenos Aires! Thanks for the hectic bus ride with three suitcases! 

Hour 24: First views of the Argentine landscapes. 

Hour 26: Loved seeing how the sunlight broke through the clouds. 

Hour 27: Looks like the Badlands in South Dakota? 

Hour 30: Landing in Córdoba... ¡por fín!

I saw the sun set twice and rise once while travelling... yet it all felt like one really, really long day. I was so glad to see my friends, Steve and Becky Diem, at the airport, and even more glad to know they had a real bed for me to sleep in (instead of that uncomfortable chair United Airlines offered, haha). 

Before I went to bed Friday night at 10:30pm, Becky told me to sleep in as long as I wanted in the morning. I told her I have a difficult time sleeping in past 9 (very true!). Saturday morning, I somehow slept through the kids screaming, the washer rattling, the dog barking, the kids screaming again, etc. I didn't wake up until 11am! I can't even remember the last time I slept for more than 12 hours! Becky says I had jet lag... I think she's right! 

And now I'm on to other Argentine adventures... Even though this blog is ''Kate in Costa Rica,'' I think it's okay to post other travel adventures : ) ... stay tuned!