11 Things People Say When They Learn I’m from Wisconsin

This summer I had the pleasure of spending one month in my home state of Wisconsin. This is where I’ll always “be from.”

lake chetek kayak wisconsin

But for the rest of the last 11 years of my life, excepting a few holidays here and there, I’ve been somewhere outside the state. I don’t know what it’s like for people from elsewhere, but when traveling or living outside of the Midwest and I say I from Wisconsin, the reactions are almost always limited to the following. 

1. Oh. Followed by a blank stare. This typically comes from two groups of people.

Group one is the group that doesn’t care to follow up. Expect this from East or West Coasters who consider the rest of us fly-over territory. Don’t get me started on how incredibly annoying their condescending I-never-needed-to-know-much-about-your-state ohs can really be. This is the worst.

The second “oh” group are those people who simply don’t know anything about it. And don’t care to learn or get into a discussion at the moment.

2. That’s in the north, right?

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In my experience, this is often uttered by Canadians who have typically made fun of how bad my fellow “Americans” are at geography. Sure. Wisconsin’s “in the north, right?” Just like New Brunswick is, like, in the east, right? Sure, I’m happy that they’re at least in the right geographic ball park and they did express more interest than the person from Providence, Rhode Island, who didn’t care enough to clarify.  But that’s probably just them being “Canada-nice.”*

If they’re from a different continent and haven’t just made fun of everyone in the US for being dumber than everyone in their more-evolved (yet currently Harper-run) paradise, I cut them some slack. And am simply happy they care enough to pinpoint it. And then do confirm that it snows a lot.

Numbers 3-8 usually come from people who have a little bit of background about the state. This tells you what the state is known for.

3. You’re a cheesehead!

DSC_0865If someone says, “Oh, you’re a cheesehead,” they could be simply referring to anyone from the state, or more specifically, the fact that I’m likely a Packers fan. Most of us are. I like to say I’m a Packers fan by birth. I haven’t strayed, except for one year when I supported both the Steelers and the Packers. My grandmother was upset with me, and when I decided to put an end to my Steelers fling, she welcomed me like a prodigal daughter. We did, sadly, lose one of my sisters to the Patriots during the Bledsoe years. She’s never returned. Prayers are welcome on her behalf.

4. The Dairy State!

deep fried cheese curds colby wisconsinYes, we produce a lot of milk and cheese. I maybe only lived on that dairy farm for the first ten years of my life, but much of my family members were also dairy farmers. I’m proud of this one. And, yes, I do have to often confess that I eat more cheese than I ought to. Sometimes it’s even—can you believe it?—fried!

 

5. Beer Comments

new glarus brewery tasting glassesYes, there are a lot of breweries. And consumption levels are high. Often, people continue on to tell me “Yeah, they make a lot, but it’s all gross commercial beer.” I don’t really like Pabst (sorry, hipsters) or Old Milwaukee that much, either. But there’s a lot more offered at this point. I will sip on that New Glarus fruity Serendipity beer or Great Dane Emerald Isle Stout. Also, I hate when people assume that my being from Wisconsin means I want to do a keg stand. I don’t. I never did.

6. That ’70s Show!

193px-That_'70s_Show_logoThat ’70s Show logo“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“Hello, Wisconsin!” has been screamed in my face countless times in several different countries. Still, the show was funny and so many cultural references seemed to be spot on. At least we can follow this up with a conversation about how funny Fez was or Ashton Kutcher’s career. Not the best, but not the worst.

7. That’s where Frank Lloyd Wright is from!

fallingwater-108-480x640I’ll take that, too. Being known as the home to one of the most intriguing architects of the last century is not bad at all. Review a couple life facts before traveling, just in case someone springs this one on you.

8. Wiscahhhhhsin!

The thing is, they didn’t hear the Wisconsin in my accent at all until they knew where I was from. I do not deny that we do have accents (especially after being away and then returning), but if someone had thought he had so clearly pegged my accent, why was he asking me where I was from in the first place? And beyond that, I spent 17.5 years in the state and now have spent 11.5 outside of it. My accent is a bit watered down. I do not say Wiscahhhsin. And if I don’t, they shouldn’t either.

9. I love Wisconsin!

lake chetek kayaking, wisconsinOh, bless these people. They have visited the state as tourists. They maybe have cousins or grandparents there. They have been in Madison on Halloween, gone sailing in Door County, tchotchke shopping in the Dells, or fishing Up North. I love it, too.

 

 

10. Ah! Cool, I’m from Minnesota/Iowa/Michigan/Illinois!

july corn wisconsinWe might be rivalries within the Midwest, but when find ourselves in Québec or Argentina together, we bond over all things Midwest. Think euchre, puppy chow, summer sweet corn, and the hilarity that is the Jell-O salad.

 

 

11. Me, too!
IMG_2164 (3)And then we hug like long-lost sisters and brothers and rejoice about all things Wisconsin. Because people from Wisconsin are so friendly. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but it’s usually a pretty cool surprise, and there is an instant understanding between us. Even if there’s no hug, there is still talk about what part of the state we’re from and how interesting it is to meet wherever we find ourselves. There is, of course, always an exception. You will, maybe once in 11 years of travel/living outside the state, bump into some guy who acts like a d-bag, doesn’t care that you share a home state, and seems to only wants to talk about how much he agrees with everything Ayn Rand writes.**

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Okay, Wisconsinites! What am I missing? How do people react to you when they learn where you’re from?

Others are allowed to weigh in on the conversation, too. What do people always say to you when you tell them where you’re from?

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*Canadians often tell me that “everyone always says Canadians are nice.” Mostly, I hear Canadians talking about how nice they are. I’m pretty sure northern Minnesota and southern Manitoba are comparable in the nice department. I do not usually mention this in conversation, however. Because that wouldn’t be very “Midwest-nice” of me.

**Oh, purely hypothetical, I assure you. He was a hypothetical jerk. Not because he reads and likes Ayn Rand, but because he hypothetically asks you why you haven’t more, hears your answer of simply not making time to read any and not being sure that is what you have prioritized in your reading list, and says, “Yeah, some people are afraid of reading Ayn Rand.” I guess I’m hypothetically too scared to read more of her stuff. For those who have known me since my middle school years, Ayn Rand has become my new “Hobbit.” I refused to read it for years because someone used my lack of having read it as an insult. Was really my loss in that case. This case, I’m still holding the grudge. And prefer Sartre.

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Featured image photo attribution: “Flag of Wisconsin“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

All images not attributed elsewhere are property of www.restoflhistoire.com and subject to copyright regulations.

Misty Morning | A Visit to a Chaco Farm

This is Part II of our camping trip to the Chaco in Santiago del Estero, Argentina. Click here for Part I.

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The land we camped on really was great. Remote, but not too remote. Quiet and interesting. All that. It was full of photographs. But the farm that we were able to visit the next day for research purposes was nothing short of mystical with the morning mist and pasture grasses. Just look at it.

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A beautiful office, yet again. We were definitely thankful to the farmer for letting us explore his place. The guys for research purposes. Me for my usual reasons as well.

As mentioned in the last post, there was work to be done. And I pitched in a wee bit. More timing and location of observation points, naming the five Chaqueño trees I know (and then verifying if I was correct…wasn’t always :/), taking notes and photos for the husband. I also had the very important responsibility of marking the end of the tape measure with yellow tape. A task which proved to be nearly pointless in the end but made me feel slightly more important that the days before. Our comrade below, though definitely a fan and supporter of nature conservation, is not hugging the tree, but measuring it, I swear.

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Particularly during the ten minutes of bird observation at each point, I was able to explore my surroundings camera-in-hand. There were cattle and horses roaming through the pasture with us, peeking over the grasses. I also spied on what I believe were intimate relations of locusts. You can see for yourself. The pastures were a bit easier to make our way through than the forests, but still full of thorns. Really full. And you could even see where the farmhands had gone through and chopped and/or burned some of the worst offenders.

These pastures may have been easier to walk in, but both groups still ended up getting lost, even with GPSs. Once you get into these misty fields with clouded skies, there is no longer a north.

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Kind of a magical place. The farmhands looked like, dare I say, modern-day gauchos (I really didn’t think the hat was still worn, but I was mistaken),* the land was muy lindo (said the Argentines), and we were never given a proper tour of the place, adding just the air of confusion to make something mysterious.

We’re not sure how many actual farms we will have the privilege to set foot on during our stay (we’re just stealing many of their GPS points from the side of their fields…ha), but I would be thrilled if we’re able to find one with pastures that could be called más lindos.

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*I really have no idea how Argentine farmers would take being compared to the romanticized gaucho figure by a foreigner. But I truly mean no offense. I’m just going to cash in all the naivete that they’ve cast upon me as a gringa, apologize, and hope that makes up for it.

To Hell with Glamping | Our Visit to Argentina’s Chaco Region

-1 tube of Benadryl, a pack of alcoholic swabs, and a pair of teezers: 12 dollars
-3.5 days worth of groceries: 50 dollars
-Gas to Santiago del Estero and back: About 30 dollars
-3.5 days in the Chaco with these three guys: Priceless. And dusty. Really dusty.

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I don’t always know what I’m getting myself into. This might have been one of those cases. No one asked me if I wanted to spend four days in a dusty, dry forest with three guys and limited supplies of chocolate. No one specifically asked if I wanted to pop-a-squat among communities of bees and other creepy crawlies. No one specifically asked if I wanted to pull thorns out of and ticks off of my body for four days straight. No one specifically asked if I wanted to go 84 hours without a shower all the while applying alternating layers of sunscreen and insect repellent on top of fresh layers of dirt.

But they did ask me if I wanted to join for a four-day/three-night camping trip in Santiago del Estero. I love camping.  And I love visiting new places. So it seemed like a no-brainer at the time.

Jordan and I joined two other people for a university-approved visit to the Chaco region of Argentina. The other two gentlemen were on the look-out and listen-out for bird species, particularly in something called silvo-pastures. Jordan was out for GPS points, particularly of pastures and crops.

Now just to clarify, I like bird-watching as much as any senior woman, and I can point out your usual orioles, jays, finches, etc. But I know now that I can’t even call myself a proper amateur/hobby bird-watcher. My contributions were primarily limited to scribbling coded field notes for the husband and taking photos of the fields for verification purposes. Still, I was happy to help (as much as my limited knowledge of birds and trees native to the Chaco would let me), but let’s be honest, the work was my means to an end. The end? Learning random facts that I hope will at least make interesting dinner conversation later in life and taking photos of new and intriguing things. And in that respect, this trip did not at all disappoint.

We left from good ol’ Horco Molle on the first morning. Naturally, there was mate consumed on the way. Because we wouldn’t dream of going more than two hours without it.

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By afternoon, we arrived at our destination outside of a city south of Santiago, the capital of the province. For a good portion of the afternoon, we were given a sort of orientation to the area by an employee/researcher from a government agency that manages the land we were staying on. This all went down in Spanish, so I missed, well, a solid majority of what was being said. By the time I figured out a sentence, we were walking again, and I was newly distracted by a thorny plant that had decided to take me as its prisoner.

And yes, there was another mate break during this orientation. Hehe.

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Night fell. Camp was set up.  And then snacks were consumed. And even though we had no artificial light to extend the evening, we still stuck to eating on the Argentine schedule (and by that I mean later than God intended). There was an asado one night and a couple pasta nights. Viva Argentina!

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The daylight hours were about work for the others. Except for when we did as the Santigueños do and took our siestas. During these work sessions, there were apparently 93 species of birds observed. I saw some, really I did. But they moved too quickly for my camera or were simply a bit too far for the pitiful zoom we have on our Nikon. Besides bird observation, there were also tree surveys done.

As for Jordan, many points were taken. The proof is in the pudding photo.  Here’s proof that he and the others worked. And please note the amazing list of bird calls. These fools be serious.

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bird calls

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dry chaco argentina cactus

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This environment makes for a tough office. In order to work, battles had to be fought. I typically lost them. During the “work” times, we wandered through dry forests, pastures, and grasses. I was attacked by thorny trees, thorny bushes, thorny I don’t-even-know-whats. Thankfully, our leather shin guards saved us much of the time.  The rest of the time, we carefully pried ourselves from the grasp of the enchanted dry Chaco forest.

And later, the husband surgically removed the thorns from my hand at the picnic table. That’s real love.

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leather shin protectors for hiking

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chaco santiago del estero cactus

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All this trouble was worth it. And we were taught the perfect proverb to use in this case.

El que quiere celeste que le cueste.

This translates roughly to “there’s no easy path to heaven,” or “If you want heaven, it’ll cost you.” Yes, indeed, that dry, dusty, thorny environment is harsh. But it can be beautiful and is full of little photogenic treasures.

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but the locusts and the turtle were definitely noteworthy. Also, be sure to look more closely at that photo of “harvested corn.” Do you see it?! It was so weird to watch.

Also, the flowers and plants were all entirely new to me. For the first time in my life I considered a seed show-stoppingly beautiful. (You’ll see three photos of that beautiful–and huge–seed below). I clearly had fun taking photos, as evidenced by the number in this post.

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quebracho blanco leaves

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algarrobo árbol tree santiago del estero argentina

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tree branch chaco santiago del estero argentina

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quebracho blanco santiago del estero seed chaco argentina

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tree dry chaco santiago del estero

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quebracho blanco seed

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quebracho blanco tree leaves with spider santiago del estero

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tree seeds argentina

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So, no, no one did specifically say this was a little bit more intense than family camping. And I do prefer running water, a supper without bugs, and comfortable bed in a temperature-controlled dwelling. But if that’s what we had to sacrifice for our little slice of heaven on Earth, so be it.

dusty truck dry chaco

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At the end of this trip, we were granted permission to visit a nearby farm. Photos of our first Argentina farm visit coming your way on Friday!

 

My 10 Favorite Quebec Moments

I, dear reader, am a lover of lists. And a friend of Québec. And that is where today’s posts comes in. Whether you’re thinking of moving to, visiting, or simply learning a bit more about the Belle Province, I hope this post helps you see a bit about what makes this place worth doing so.

Since leaving, I still get a bit nostalgic for the pastries drizzled in maple syrup, the [in my opinion] endearing accent,  and ubiquitous cup of perfect coffee. I didn’t do everything I’d have liked while there, but even still, it was hard to narrow my list down to “my ten favorites.” There were, of course, countless dinners and meet-ups with friends that made our time in Québec great, but if we could move those people with us, those same nights would be great anywhere. But I wanted this to be a list of things that are specific to Québec and our time in Montreal. Without further ado…my favorite Québec moments.

10. Sunday Stroll/Jog in Parc du Mont-Royal

Sunday strolls in Montreal’s most well-known park are best between May and October, when temperatures aren’t frigid. It seems like everyone’s joining the party, picnic, drum circle, or joust on Sundays. I can’t tell which specific Sunday I enjoyed the most, just that it was a favorite activity while we lived there. And a must if you spend any extended period of time in the city.

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9. A Girls’ Night

I know, I know, I told you friends’ nights weren’t going to make the list. But this is different. I got invited to a girls’ night with several Québecoises, while my knowledge of French was just budding. I learned so many words in one single night that my brain was ready to explode. Even more than this, I learned so much more about Québecois culture. More precisely, this evening cemented how much I didn’t know and how what I did was only scratching the surface.

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8. Visiting a Cabane à Sucre

Visiting a sugar shack is a must on anyone’s Québec list, even though it can be really bad, extremely commercial, and a real gimmick. We were patient and waited a year before finally acting upon the suggestion of friends. We found ourselves (with a couple friends) at an organic sugar shack. The food really was great, the farm tour worth sticking around for, and the host was full of personality. Still, the best part was the car ride home when we were finally able to let out all of our laughs about the hipsters who morphed our experience into Cabane à Sucre a la Portlandia.

red roofed farm building

7. Winter Retreat

I like seasons. All of them at some point. But by the time March rolls around, I’ve generally had it with snow and slush. I was starting to get seriously antsy in March, and this winter retreat was exactly what I needed. Snowshoeing, woods, an iced-over lake, good food, and a bottle of scotch. 

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6. Whale Watching in Tadoussac

Whale watching tours can be expensive. They can also turn into crazy puke fests where everyone on board is saying goodbye to their lobster lunches (Oh, beautiful Boston). So when we learned that you can spot whales along the beach and the rocks in Tadoussac, we were in. We picnicked on the rocks and passed the binoculars back and forth for a few lovely hours before even thinking to look at our watches.

tadoussac rocks

5. Crêpes de Bretagne with a Frenchie

Quebec is not a little France; Montreal not a Paris wannabe. I get that. Still, there are a lot of French immigrants in the metropolitan area. Thus, crêpes, breads, and pastries abound. It’d be a shame not to take advantage of it. While the husband was out of town for our anniversary one May, my adorable conversation-partner-turned-friend took me out to drink cider from bowls and eat crêpes while sitting on the patio. With French food, a French friend, a French waiter, and an evening filled with my broken French, it almost felt like an evening in—you guessed it—France.

dessert crepe sainte felicite qc

4. Hanging out with Mama Moose and Spotting Caribou in Parc National de la Gaspésie

I saw caribou in a natural habitat. Oh, j’aime ça. I was thrilled. Despite that, the next day, I found myself under a rain shelter, unable to cook over the campfire that could not be started. As I dipped my chunk of stale bread turned soggy into tomato sauce, I couldn’t help but think how great our kitchen or bed (okay, the floor at that point) sounded. I was ready for our road trip to be over. Then Mama Moose and her baby appeared from the forest and pranced over to us. We literally could have reached out to touch them at one point. (Mind you, we didn’t. We aren’t stupid. At least not usually. I digress. This time, we backed away toward the other side of the rain shelter). Watching mother and baby tear their supper from the nearby trees was quite the experience. I guess that one meal of stale, soggy bread was worth hanging around.

parc national de la gaspesie

3. Percé Day Trip Bonaventure Island Boat Ride and Hike

This was just one of those days where I felt like life was spoiling me. I guess we call that blessed. :) The birds, seals, and scenery of Bonaventure Island and Percé’s small town atmosphere made for a low-key, yet exceptional day.

bonaventure island quebec

2.Camping in Charlevoix (Meeting the Neighbors)

Sure, our hiking and sightseeing in the Charlevoix region were great. But the highlight came one quiet, camping evening. We offered a some of our skilletful of blackberry grunt to our neighbors, two brothers, both of whom are Harley Davidson-riding plumbers. They accepted, but only on the condition that we accept their offer of whiskey. I managed to swallow a gulp down and then spent the night translating for them and Jordan between my bouts of hearty laughter. There in the woods, over Crown Royal and Martha Stewart’s recipe, we became friends. A motley crew that’d have never existed if I hadn’t made that effort to really learn French.

camping charlevoix

1. Coffee Date on the Plateau

There were of course many coffee dates (with friends and the husband alike) on the Plateau, and like, #1, maybe it’s not a particular day that made the experience, but having an electronics-free conversation over a caffeinated beverage of my choosing became my favorite thing to do. The Plateau’s architecture made for a lovely backdrop. And almost anywhere you’re walking on the Plateau, you can find a really quality cup of joe nearby.  These experiences pretty much defined my Montreal experience.

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If you’ve visited or lived in Quebec, what were your favorite experiences? What else should have been on my list?

 

This Argentine Home

Bienvendios a nuestra casa. Welcome to our humble abode.

I thought it might be fun to give you all a brief house tour. Full of photos of course.

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Our house is pretty legit, actually. Humble would be an undersell. The inside is clean, more than sufficient for our needs, and bright. The decorations consist of biology charts, maps of Argentine* animal life, maps of people groups found in the neighboring province of Jujuy, and little homey accents. It didn’t take long for us to feel comfortable. We’re also pretty lucky, because at present, we’re the only people staying in the guest house.

We spend most of our time in the dining room/living room area. We haven’t actually turned the television on yet, so I cannot say if it works at all or what channels we might get. Mostly, we spend time on the mini couch by the window or reading or using electronics at the long, wooden table.

The kitchen has more counter space than I’ve had to work with in years (like seven years). The oven and stove top are gas. Everything is as you’d expect in your home, with a couple exceptions. Those of you who travel often will probably recognize the bidet, which I so oddly am posting to the Internet. Also, that round cylinder thing you see next to the refrigerator? That’s our washing machine. Ha. Not exactly convenient, but still much more so than hauling laundry into town.

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That’s it ^! The washing machine, I mean. I should mention that this is rare for Argentina. Most washing machines are just like yours. And the bidet below.

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The house itself is great, but to me, the outside of it is the most interesting. If we actually lived here, I would set up a ping-pong table and actual dining/sitting area on the back patio. It’s basically the patio of my dreams. And has a view of the parrot tree.  And an electricity-free dryer. Our other outdoor spaces aren’t bad, either. There’s a front patio and a deck along the side of the house that overlooks the yard. We’ve seen the visitors (pictured below) on the wall between our place and the neighbors’ on a couple occasions. Other visitors include the horses, as mentioned before, and crazy amounts of birds. Neighbor dogs from time to time as well.

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Basically, we’re happy as clams here. I already know I’ll feel a twinge of sadness (maybe more) when we need to leave and return to Canada.

Thanks for attending our virtual housewarming party. Did it look like you expected?

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*A note on Argentine/Argentinean: We have asked everyone, read forums about this, and switched back and forth. We believe with 70 percent assurance that Argentine is the correct adjective, but we have also seen and heard the adjective Argentinean used here. And people who use it are as sure as the people who tell you it’s redundant. So if you take issue, I promise that I’ve considered your argument and sympathize.

Puerta del Cielo | Hiking in Parque Sierra de San Javier

We lived here about a day before we decided to go on a hike. This was partially out of a sense of obligation, nearly as much as exploration. Let’s call it a two-pronged obligation. One: I know that my time living in a park with hiking trails is limited. Two: this country runs on dulce de leche.

We had picked out this tiny little hike that we’d seen a sign for as our introductory, work-your-legs-up-to-it sort of hike. It would have been about 45 minutes; respectable as an introduction to the park hike. And then someone asked us what we were doing for the weekend. When we told him, he canceled our mini hike for us and gave us a new hike. I am now grateful for this, though I still plan to sneak that short one in some calm weekday soon.

Come Saturday morning, we were groggy, but excited to get outside. Before we started, we drove on by the sugar cane to one of the university’s agricultural experiment sites, where we tried our first bites of yacón. It was the first I’d heard of it. It’s a tuber, a sweet root. You can even buy its syrup online. Apparently, it’s supposed to be a good sweetener option for diabetics. I make no claims here, but am going to investigate further and see if the market grows. It certainly tasted good. In fact, amazing if you consider I ate raw tuber and enjoyed it.

horco molle town

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yacón root

 

yacón root

After a short while, we continued on down the rode, making our way to the trail head. At first, we took a detour, along the funicular trail. We were on the first leg of the hike with scientists who grew up in the area. If there were two guys you wanted explaining what you were seeing, these are probably the guys.

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We never actually finished the funicular hike. Instead, once reaching the bridge, we backtracked until reconnected with the Puerta del Cielo trail. Here, Jordan and I left our guides, heading up the hills on our own. I say on our own, but certainly there were many other hikers on the trail with us.

Along the way, there weren’t many views, but it wasn’t much of a concern, since to us, the entire forest was new. The butterflies, the birds, and the trees, like those at the housing compound, might not be special to those from here, but are new to us. Actually, forget what I said. Clearly many people from this province come to the park to appreciate these things.

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butterfly parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

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flowers parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielotree parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

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parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo trees

After a while of huffing and puffing and water breaks, we reached the clearing at the summit. Here, we bumped into another group of hikers. We’re not 100% sure, since our Castellano (Spanish) is iffy, but we heard something that may translate to the following “We don’t see gringos up here very often.” We had a giggle at that. Okay, well, maybe it was an internal giggle. My lungs were still recovering.

summit parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

summitparque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

summit parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

We hung out around the top for a bit,  trying to see how much of the city of San Miguel de Tucumán could actually be seen from the park.

wildflowers parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielowildflowers parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

summit parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

While we were exploring the top, another hiker joined us and assured us that we were heading in the appropriate directions. We had crossed paths with him earlier during the hike and exchanged the typical Holas, Qué tals, and Buen dias. At the top, there was a bit more rejoicing, as he met us with a Lo hemos conseguido!

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After reaching this point, we walked along the highway which runs through the park. We walked by cattle and horses, forests and fancy [some less fancy, too] homes, but all had that great, rugged mountain backdrop.

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cow parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

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ruta 340

parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo ruta 340

parque sierra de san javier puerta del cielo

parque sierra de san javier  bosques de la memoría

parque sierra de san javier views

parque sierra de san javier views

views parque sierra de san javier

From here, we chose to descend along a different path to see a bit more of the forest. The path looked generally the same as the one we’d climbed on, though the newness still hadn’t worn off. Most intriguing of the hike down, however, was this little altar along the way.

parque sierra de san javier altar on trail

Once reaching the dry river where we started our hikes, we simply returned along the river to the trail head.

parque sierra de san javier rio dry river

A great hike. Easy to navigate. Well worth the effort. In fact, so worth the effort that we did a very similar one this past weekend, catching some of the same sights. That said, we’re excited to get to know the rest of the park and the park’s trails during our stay.

Thanks for reading and happy trails.

Lost and Found | A Snapshot of our Life on the Compound

I don’t exactly know what I expected when we decided to come stay in university housing. Well, scratch that, I had many ideas wandering through that gray matter of mine. In some ways, the university-owned compound we’re living on here in northwestern Argentina is exactly what I was hoping for. It’s verdant, scenic, bucolic, idyllic–all those words that travel book writers like to overuse. This, we anticipated and longed for.

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But there was so much more that we didn’t expect, and really couldn’t have even thought up if we’d tried. (I swear we didn’t try; I tried not to!)

For example, I didn’t think that I’d be fighting off urges to make Lost and DHARMA Initiative references three times per day. To me, this place holds just the right air of mystery, complete with a morning and afternoon haze.* The compound’s raison d’être is research, but many of the area’s families have been here for generations, previously farming the land. Throw that together with the remote location, the squawking parrots, decade-old buildings fallen out of use, and the living forest behind me, and I challenge you not to talk about smoke monsters and polar bears. (Confused? Read a bit a http://lostpedia.wikia.com/).

I’m not entirely sure of the history of this plot of university-owned land, though we have been given some tidbits of information from our [/the husband's] host here. The lab he works in (a building which he tells me deserves its own post…I take his blogging requests seriously) was meant to be a hospital, but didn’t quite make it. The houses, scattered among the hillsides of the compound, are filled with others associated with the university, its agricultural or ecological research, or park management. There are recreational areas that look as though they once saw their time, but upkeep may have been impossible after the Hanso Foundation cut funding.**

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horco molle university residence

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I mean, for reals, keep emailing us on the weekends. Just so we know we haven’t been “left behind” or, in the spirit of Lost, aren’t the only survivors of a second purge.

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Okay, all kidding aside, the university compound is beautiful. The bird watching, even from our dining room table or back yard, is outstanding. Who knows, maybe we’re seeing the Argentina equivalents of the robin, but they’re still new and exciting to us. The trees are tall and play hosts to several other species of plant life. Most endearingly, not all trees appear to be green. Since it’s spring here, the lapacho trees are in pink and yellow bloom. They are beautiful up close, but just as alluring from a distance, when they dot the hillside with splashes of color.

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There are horses that wander around, and we still, even after asking, haven’t discovered who, if anyone, actually owns these horses. On our first morning here, the horses even wandered right up to the door, grazing on the grass. The grass has since been cut, but our run-ins with the horses haven’t been any more limited since. You’ll no doubt see more photos of these creatures in the near future.

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Neighborhood dogs bark loudly in morning, serving as the compound’s gang of roosters. Most of the dogs belong to families staying on the compound, but typically, they have free reign to roam with one another. The occasional stray can also be found, but I’ve actually seen more of those in the woods while hiking than around our house or the lab. The neighborhood dogs, though full of growl and bark, have absolutely no bite. Though I’m not tempting them either.

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Just as interesting as the horses, maybe even more so, are the ants. They work tirelessly. What an indefatigable group! They are there every day in thousands, carrying leaves or pieces of matter that are at least the size of their bodies.

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I also can’t get over the fact that there is citrus growing in the same place I am living. Okay, California and Italy, I get it. This is no big deal to you. But after two years in Québec, the fact that I can pick an orange or a lemon from a tree growing 100 meters from where I lay my head is thrilling.

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The remoteness of the compound hasn’t been alarming or disorienting. Only mildly inconvenient when groceries are needed. Generally, the tranquility is nice. Even the lack of Internet in our house has been kind of nice.  Here, Jordan’s able to get some work done; we’ve read some books that have been on our To Read lists for way too long and spend time connecting in conversation. I can cut out a portion of my mornings for daily quiet times and I’ve even actually started that one project that I’ve told so many of you I would start.

So, we’re not really Lost. Not at all. Maybe just a little more deeply found.

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But just in case, there is a bus that swings by the front gate every hour.

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*It’s not the smoke monster or even fog. It’s most like a combination of the smoke from the burning of sugar cane and the pollution from the city.

**That’s just another Lost reference–not an actual funding organization.