Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A big Gracias to our host families in Clorinda. It was a quick trip for us, but in a short time they welcomed us like old friends. There was a conference and presentation in Clorinda when we first arrived, so we were joined by some important local Rotary officials. Below is the District Governor of 2008-09.Melia and Tonya's host dad, Walter, invited our group to eat a typical Argentine asado (barbeque) with the local coast guard. Here is Walter preparing the meat.
The Jefe.

Las Lomitas

The Formosa Rotary Club os 9 de Julio accompanied our team on a trip to the rarely visited town of Las Lomitas. On our way, we were stopped on the road by a protest. We had to wait for almost an hour for the road to open up again (the protesters took a 30 minute lunch break).
We visited a school that the local Rotary Club is helping support. The children performed a local dance for us.Next we drove to the stunning Bañados de los Estrellas. It was one of the most unique places we've ever been. It was a surreal landscape, like a mix between Middle Earth and Dr. Seuss.Finally, we ended the evening with dinner and dancing until 4 am with the Rotary Club of Las Lomitas. The woman with the microphone is the founder and director of the school that we visited and the following photo is the president of the Las Lomitas club..

Monday, May 18, 2009

General San Martin

Thank you Rotary Club San Martin for a wonderful visit! We had a great time dancing and visiting with the club that's proud to be the youngest in the district.
Our visit with some city officials.
There is a big Carnaval celebration in San Martin and we got to try on the costumes.

Melia and I stayed in a house by ourselves in San Martin. The owner was a single guy and he let us have full reign for the two days that we were there. When we first arrived we noticed that he had stocked the kitchen and refrigerator with bread, cheese, soda, crackers, meat, dulce de leche, etc. I was feeling hopeful that there might be more goodies (ice cream!) in the freezer so I flung open the door...
Welcome to Argentina! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Legend of Gauchito Gil Lives On

What can we even say about this man? We`d seen the shrines. We`d heard the name. We`d almost bought the yerba mate brand. But in Mercedes we finally learned the legend. Apparently Gauchito Gil is Argentina`s version of Robin Hood - a cattle rustler who robbed from the rich to take care of the poor. As the story goes the man who finally captured and killed Anotonio "Gauchito" Gil was told by Gil before his execution, "When you return to your household your son will be dying. He will not survive unless you return to the place of my execution and beg forgiveness." The man killed Gil and returned home to find that his son was indeed gravely ill. He rushed back to the beheaded body of Gauchito Gil, buried him, and begged forgiveness. When he returned home the second time his son had been healed. And thus the legend of Gauchito Gil`s miracles began. Now, built around the supposed execution and burial site of Gauchito Gil a strange and eclectic homage has been built up to honor this man.

People travel from all over the country to make promises and ask for miracles. Here you see the candles that are lit, and just a few of the thousands upon thousands of plaques honoring Gil. Each year, on January 8th, up to 150,000 people make the pilgrimage to this sacred place in honor of this beloved hero.

People bring all types of offerings to Gil, from wedding dresses to soccer jerseys, bicycles to weapons, and even cars!

But this place is not only for the giving, it is also for the receiving. Because who can leave this sacred place without a plastic souvenir statue, sticker, t-shirt... or perhaps some rosary beads?

Mercedes, thank you for sharing this legend with us!

Monday, May 11, 2009


The Rotary Club of Mercedes received us with a fun, warm welcome - waiving banners for our arrival!

We toured the "tranquilo", small city and walked through their cultural center, but the main attraction of this visit was a place called "Esteros de Ibera". This is the second most important wetland in the world. We got up close and personal with the wildlife - crocodiles, capybaras (carpinchos - the world`s largest rodent), and at least a zillion different kinds of birds.

A great shot of a crane snacking on a pirahna. Buena suerte con su almuerzo!

We also had our first glimpse of a true gaucho, the Argentine cowboy. Yee haw!

Mercedes is the only club we`ve seen that owns their own meeting space. It was adorned with rotary banners from all over the world.

We ended our visit to Mercedes on a sweet note - CRE-MO-LA-TI!! You scream, we scream, Rotary screams for ice cream!

Thank you Resistencia!!

Thank you to all our host families, Rotarians and new friends in Resistencia. You truly made our stay enjoyable!

Melia`s Birthday!!

While in Resistencia we had the great pleasure of celebrating Melia`s birthday with her! We started celebrating with cake and ice cream at the Resistencia presentation and dinner, when the clock reached midnight. Here she is with one of the Resistencia club presidents, Hector (better known by his friends as Flaco).

Then she went to bed, woke up and it was still her birthday! We celebrated again at lunch that day, with the owner of the restaurant we went to, Don Abel.

Then she woke up from siesta and it was STILL her birthday!! We walked around downtown, had some more ice cream, and then Sara, Miranda`s host mom bought Melia a beautiful purple scarf as a present.

We had dinner that night at a great little restaurant that was filled with all sort of art, yet another birthday cake (you can see the new scarf)...

and we even got to see Tonya`s impressive Tango skills!

Hope it was a good one, Melia, we sure loved celebrating with you!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Más de Resistencia

We've seen and done so many amazing things on this trip. Here's a glimpse of a few highlights from Resistencia.

It's fun having a team of four girls (well, at least WE think it's fun, Tom might have a different word to describe it). One of the Rotarians owns a beauty salon and she offered to give us all manicures, pedicures and have our hair done for FREE! What a wonderful and relaxing gift it was after a lot of traveling and living out of a suitcase.

Another Rotarian is the Director of a Forensics lab. They are in a brand new building, and we were able to take a tour to learn about everything from DNA testing to identifying fake license plates. We were accompanied by other Rotarians on the tour.

Another local Rotarian is the owner of a bio diesel plant. He is an innovative business man who used to be a high school teacher. Now he runs a successful business designing and manufacturing machines that convert all different kinds of oils into fuel. He has a truck that runs on bio diesel that is over 10 years old with over 1,000,000 kilometers on it and has never been repaired. Absolutely amazing. Lindsey and Tom were interview on one of the local news shows about our Rotary exchange. It's scary enough being interviewed on TV, but imagine having to do it in Spanish. Then again, Tom's a television pro and Lindsey's Spanish is great. Thanks for representing!
Finally, we visited a couple different technical high schools in Barranqueras. We were very impressed with the student projects we saw, especially taking into account the lack of resources they have.
Below is Melia showing off her mad wood-carving skills. You might not have known, but Melia is a very skilled furniture maker. Ok not really, but she looks like she could be, right?!