Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas time and the sun never sets

It's a week into summer and Christmas is inching closer and closer. The street performers and a throng of tourists have returned. The girls are thrilled to see the fortune teller again. He dresses as a black and white jester and stands very still like a statue until you drop a coin in his tin. Then he springs to life and gives you a little scroll with a fortune written on it, and after a bow of thanks returns to his statue pose.
Mike's been very sick with the chickenpox for the last two weeks, but is finally doing much better. Chloe just returned from sleepaway camp a few days ago. She arrived home very tired, but seemed to have a great time. They played "Narnia" games for the duration of the camp, and her team, "Team Peter", came in second place.
We've been spending a lot of time at the pool for swim lessons and "free swim" sessions. Just trying to stay sane and get our work done with the girls home from school. Mike and I have created a new web comic together. It's called "The People that Melt in The Rain".

It's up at
SmackJeeves.com

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To see a video greeting from the girls go to
Feliz Navidad
To see the second take go to Take 2

Chau!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Phoebe's big day!

Yesterday was Phoebe's birthday party, and we hosted 23 Spanish speaking seven to ten year olds at a children's play place called "Crucijuegos" (I think it means Toy Junction)

Here she is .... The birthday girl, before her guests arrive.

Chloe and a friend in the ball pit.
This is Phoebe's best friend Valen (short for Valentina). She's one of the best English speakers in their school and is only in second grade. She really helped Phoebe adjust here and learn Spanish.
Her other best friend is Eric. Eric just joined Phoebe's class two months ago and is from Colorado. Phoebe has been helping him adjust to school and learn Spanish. She's become completely fluent and speaks like another Argentine kid to all her friends!

Here's the kids riding a tiny car.

Look at the pretty cake!


Make three wishes and blow out the candles already! She sat and thought and thought while wax was melting all over it!



Naomi lost her first tooth last week. It was surprisingly traumatic. She was eating a cookie and began crying that her tooth was bleeding. We quickly realized her tooth was gone but couldn't find it anywhere. After twenty minutes of searching we finally concluded she must have swallowed it while eating the cookie. That night we wrote a note to the "The Tooth Mouse"or "El Raton de Piedras"(we're out of "Tooth Fairy" territory here), and he came through with 10 pesos!

Here in Argentina we've been living without a car. I love living in the city and being able to walk to the grocery store, the art supply store, the bakery, and to almost everything else. When we first arrived the girls would walk incredibly slowly and get tired after just a few blocks. Chloe and Phoebe are like regular city dwellers these days, walking several paces ahead together talking animatedly. Walking with Naomi is still a bit like pulling a stick through the mud but she's also gotten a lot better, she's just easily distracted by flowers, store windows, wandering dogs, and shiny things.
A couple of weeks ago Chloe and I packed ourselves into a friend's car on our way home from yet another birthday party. I pressed myself into the corner against the door as Chloe and three other ten year olds sat with me in the narrow back seat. Another two kids and two adults were in the front, and they drove house to house all over Bariloche dropping kids off. Finally at our apartment we climbed out and Chloe made an interesting observation as we made our way to the front door.
"In Argentina everyone carpools, even though they have really tiny cars, but in New York no one ever did even though they had huge cars!"
Out of the mouths of babes......

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Under the Southern Sun

As I write this it's Halloween night in the United States. Halloween is not celebrated here (though the girls had small parties in their English classes), and dressing up in scary costumes and going door to door shouting "Trick or Treat" will likely terrify our neighbors and possibly get us arrested.
It's beautiful outside and the sun is shining... all the time. It rises at 6:15 am, shining in my face through the window and sets at 8:45 at night. Every Saturday all hopes to sleep in are dashed.
Summer is rapidly approaching and school is wrapping up for the girls. Every day I spend about 40 minutes translating their communication notebooks from their teachers and discover a plethora of school functions we need to attend. School picture day is next week, which would have been great in the beginning of the year, but now their uniforms are very worn out and in Naomi's case hopelessly stained.
I spent most of this month assisting Mike by drawing backgrounds for the Boxcar Children comic books. He was working on a very tight deadline for them and needed all the help he could get. I did get tired of drawing with a ruler, though.
This week I've started working with my spanish tutor, Betina, on translating a comic book series I wrote, called "The People That Melt in the Rain". Starting next month we'll be launching the English and Spanish versions as web comics. It's the story of a girl named Laura who moves to a small town in the mid-west, that happens to be under a terrible curse. Mike drew it and has done a beautiful job. Meanwhile my comic strip "The Horribles" is off to a great start!
I've found a place where the girls can take swim class for the summer. They offer a number of summer camps as well... so no laying about driving Mommy crazy! Unlike school these activities will be totally in spanish, but the girls are ready and have amazing comprehension now.
November is here now and Phoebe's birthday is coming soon, then Christmas and Hannukah and summer break all at once! Chau todos!



Be sure and check out the upcoming chapter of "The Horribles"
at http://www.TheHorribles.SmackJeeves.com

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nightmares and Ghosts


I met a ghost hunter once. At the Saratoga Springs mall, of course. He sat in the bookstore wearing a plaid cap and had a neatly trimmed white beard. He was signing his new book, The Ghosts of the Hudson Valley.
Being a resident of the Hudson Valley (at the time), a fan of the supernatural, and a fellow author, the man was like a living magnet for me. My kids were crying, my in-laws wanted to leave, but I was going to talk to this guy.
He told me of electrified fields, of visiting sites that were totally unremarkable, until he returned with his psychic. Then the place would instantly become repulsive and would make him feel so sick he had to run out. He said his work was dangerous and every day felt lucky to be alive. While he spoke to me, Phoebe came running over with tears in her eyes. He looked at her and said, "She's a scorpio isn't she?" Inwardly I groaned, while I find ghosts fascinating, I find astrology annoying. Reluctantly I said, "Well, yes."
"Poor girl. She has very vivid dreams. They're probably very scary at this age."
I was surprised, Phoebe was having nightmares and kept coming into bed with us at night. I bought his book, but that didn't really help Phoebe.
It's three and a half years later and Phoebe still has nightmares. She can't stand movies with scary parts (much to the chagrin of Mike, me and Chloe- who love a good scare). Taking a Benedryl before bed only seemed to make it worse and now she won't take one even when she really needs it for her soap allergy. Last March we bought her a dream catcher at the Artisan's Market. It's really a beautiful one with a large shiny stone in the center. We polish it each night before bed and she took it with her on the bus to Buenos Aires. She hooked it to the luggage rack over head where it swung wildly for the entire 20 hours of the journey.
The dream catcher helped for a while, but the nightmares continue. This week I started a dream diary with her. She told me her dreams. There were aliens, paintings in a museum that oozed a gooey liquid filling the room she was in, and one about the president blowing up the world( I'm hoping that one's not a premonition). Usually everyone died except her or she would die. We rewrote them and gave them better endings. Then she drew pictures. So far this is working really well, though any advice would be welcome.
This coming weekend she goes camping with her school. This is a big step for her, to sleep away from home on her own. I'd better pack her dream catcher though.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where's the sushi?

Well, the flowers are blooming here now and "Mother's Day" is being advertised in store windows (oddly enough next to many early Christmas products). The children were in their school play,"Mary Poppins" , last week which was really cute and well done.
Now that we've been here ten months I've started to really miss some things from the United States that we just can't find. Clam chowder is I guess regional to New England, as is maple syrup. For some reason we can't find corn chips or tortilla chips of any kind and the children really miss marshmallows (though I could care less). Sushi is just not available here in this city, though another American mom we met said she knows a place to get the ingredients (I may just get desperate enough to try that... or maybe I'll be sure and have some when we go to Buenos Aires!) Peanut butter was a real issue for us, but the same Mom pointed us in the right direction and now we know of a store across town that charges extortion level prices for a jar.
When ever I really start to miss these things I think of the things I would miss if we left. Fondue is really popular here and the kids love it (chocolate and cheese flavored). The ice cream is the best I've ever tasted anywhere, as is the chocolate and there are many shops available to serve these cravings. In the States I couldn't drink the wine as I seemed to be allergic to whatever they were putting in it to preserve or enhance flavor. Here the wine is all natural and excellent. Last be certainly not least is dulce de leche, which is a popular Argentine food that is in all their desserts, cookies, cakes,etc. It's like caramel or butterscotch and sold in jars in the supermarket. There seems to be endless varieties of it and it really quite good on toast.
I've been busy lately assisting Mike. He's the artist on "The Boxcar Chlidren" comic book series and has been faced with a mad deadline on four books at once. Also I've begun a webcomic called "The Horribles" for age 6 and up. I post a new page every Monday.

http://www.TheHorribles.SmackJeeves.com/
It's the story of Horrible monsters. Sylvia the vicious torments Creature, the monster from under her bed.
Also Mike has started a blog of his sketchbook and about his own impressions of our life here. To take a look it's at www.TheMikeDubischSketchbook.blogspot.com
Last but not least we're keeping an eye on a volcano that's on yellow alert (not sure what that means, but it sounds alarming). It's about 50 miles southwest of us and is making some noise. Hasta luego!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Secret Garden closes as spring arrives

It seems as though spring is here. Some days are cooler but many are warm. Last weekend we even took the kids to the waterfront and were rewarded with sunburns. Our spanish teacher says it will probably snow again, and the weather can be unpredictable at this altitude. I guess we'll see.

Thursday was the final performance of "The Secret Garden". The cast did an amazing job. It was a great experience for all of us, but I know I was getting tired of repairing puppets and props between rehearsals and shows. The girls did really well and all the puppets found good homes with various cast members. (Thank god! The last thing I wanted was to deal with 20 marionettes and all the other props filling my sun room!) Next week is the wrap party and we're looking forward to having some fun with our new friends here.

It's can be a strange experience learning to live in another country. When Mike first met our friend Betina, he asked her what part of England she was from. It turns out she's Argentine, but most people here learn "The Queen's English". They say things like "trainers" for sneakers and "trousers" for pants,( though if they ask me for a "rubber" -an eraser- I still act surprised). Anyway I have been trying not to be presumptuous. So Thursday night at the show, when I met the English director of the school they were performing at, I was impressed with her command of the language. Respectfully I said, "You really speak English well, have you spent time in the United States?"
She laughed and said. "Well, I'm from Canada."

Yesterday was Mike's birthday and we went out to the local Mexican restaurant. The food is good, but not like Mexican food in the States. There are peas in the bean burritos and no beans, but they have great salsa. Anyway, it's always full of "Gringos'" from out of town.




This morning a festival for world peace set up down in the square.





Nothing represents peace like Itchy and Scratchy!



The giant gun was really impressive when you stand in front of it.



An article I wrote will be published in Escape Artist Magazine's October issue. It's called "Learning To Live in Spanish". It's an online magazine and this one's in English. Also my brother Duncan just started a blog. It´s called Duncan's Brain :)
Chau todos!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Naomi Turns 5, Opening Night, and snow...Lots and lots of snow

Last weekend we celebrated Naomi's fifth birthday at a children's play place called Barilochicos (which literally means Bariloche Kids). As the kids came in I greeted each child with a kiss while Naomi unceremoniously ripped open the gift... as you can see in this picture. When I mentioned to a mother that in the United States gift opening is a big ordeal done all at once with a careful list of gifts and who gave them, she stared at me in shock.


Here you can see Naomi and Phoebe sharing a ride on the train.


This is the girls with a friend at the end of the party. All in all it went quite well, except that the next day I awoke with a miserable sore throat and a horrible head ache. As Jocelyn (Chloe's teacher from Australia) said later on "All those little ones can be a bit germy!" I guess I shouldn't have kissed them all, but I think I was supposed to.



After the party I had only two days to finish everything for the play. I painted a portrait for the hallway of the mansion. I repaired all the puppets that have been damaged from rehearsal and transport. I sewed the backdrop and drew a flower border for the program. By Thursday morning I'd lost my voice and felt awful. That night we went to the big production.
It was a charming performance. Chloe and Phoebe are two of three kids in the play and they did great. There was a director of a bilingual school in the audience, and she has asked the cast to perform it again in two weeks on their stage. The kids are really excited. This is a lousy picture of the girls onstage.


Here is Chloe puppeteering Robin.


This is a scene where they are driving to the mansion.


A slightly fuzzy picture of Mr. Cravin and the blue jays.


And here's a shot of the flower garden onstage.


On Saturday it rained all day, by Sunday it turned into drippy, wet flakes of snow, and here it is Monday afternoon. Schools have been cancelled and the snow is still coming down hard. The gray clouds block out all the mountains that surround the city. For all the snow we've had, I have yet to see a single plow, and only a few stores have bothered to sprinkle out sawdust on the sidewalk.
The kids felt cooped up so we took them to the park.


This is their snowman, christened "Hermes" by Naomi. (We bought Chloe season three of "Futurama" for her birthday, so of course they gave their snowman a brain slug).


Today I'm feeling better, so I guess I'll get started repairing the puppets for the next show! Chau...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Come on down!

Well the sun seems to be rising earlier now, which means the days are finally getting longer, though it's still quite cold and snowy most of the time. Mike and I (and Naomi) managed to sneak out, while Chloe and Phoebe were in dress rehearsal last Thursday. We went to an art opening of contemporary art at a really beautiful hotel called the Design Hotel Suites. It was the first opening I ever went to that had a children's room for Naomi to play in while Mike and I walked around sipping wine and were actually able to enjoy the art exhibit. It was nice to go out, dress up and be adults.
Speaking of being an adult, I recently got my official "You are now old!" notice. My high school class is having it's 20 year reunion this November. Now that I can't possibly make it, I'm kind of interested in going.... Oh well.
I seem to have become the face of the American mom living in Bariloche (I can't say Argentina, as there are several American mothers with blogs up in Buenos Aires.... Some of them are really informative and interesting too). This has led to a lot of questions regarding local schools, public and private. As far as the public schools here in Bariloche, there are no resources to help a foreign child integrate unless you chose a bilingual school. With little or no spanish they will either turn you away or suggest putting your child back a year. If your child speaks fluent spanish this is a possible option for you, though you will need to determine if a DNI (similar to social security #) is required (this is likely) and then go about getting one.*
Our priority was getting all three kids in the same school. For us, with our limited language skills (yes, still limited, unfortunately), dealing with the school can be the biggest challenge. There are many english speakers there (teachers, students, and the school head) but also many, many people who speak only spanish. The kids' school is the most complicated part of our life here. Getting uniforms, school events, days off for unfamiliar holidays, dealing with more than one school at once, in spanish, is more challenging than I'd want.
Schools at the primary level all have a jardin (pre-school/kindergarten) , so having the kids in one school was easily achieved. Also my girls were comforted knowing their sisters were nearby... especially my youngest who hid under a table the first week of school. They have all made friends and adjusted now, thankfully.

Some bilingual school options are:
Colegio Del Sol: This is my daughters' school so I put it first. It's a very small school with an intimate setting. One class for each grade. The teachers in the jardin ( this is 3,4, and 5 year olds, though 5 year olds are in a different class) are excellent and loving. All teachers here (in Argentina) are very affectionate with the students, hugs and kisses! This school will work with your kids' individual needs.
The morning is in spanish and the afternoon is english. They take a school transport to a local club for phys. education twice a week. They have art, music and computer once a week and do drama in english class. Twice a year each class goes camping over night together... at the jardin level it's a family camping trip! School hours are 8:30am-4:30 pm Mon.-Thurs, on Friday it's a half-day and they are dismissed at 12:30pm. The school goes up to 7th grade. it's located at km4 on Ave de los Pioneros in Melipal #243. The phone # is 441-057.

Woodville: This is an excellent option with a good academic program. They also have spanish in the morning and spend the afternoon with english. They cover all grades from jardin up to 12th. Their hours are similar to Colegio Del Sol. This school is a bit closer to the center, at km 2 on Ave de los Pioneros, # 3000. I was told that this is the most expensive private school in Bariloche. The phone # is 441-133 and they have a website www.woodville.org

Colorin Colorado: This is a jardin that goes up to 1st grade located in the
center of Bariloche. They have a nice facility and is a feeder school for Woodville when their jardin is full up. The school starts at 9am till 1:30pm, and has only an short english class. The phone# is 429-160 (be prepared to only speak spanish when calling). My husband just showed up and was able to talk with them this way.

Instito Primo Capraro: This school is from jardin to 7th grade. An excellent program with the best facilities I've seen. They never seem to have vacancies, but it's worth checking. They teach in spanish, german and english. The teachers are great, I'm good friends with one of them. Learning german and spanish at the same time may seem like a bit much... but the other kids are learning german and english at the same time so it's certainly possible. They are conveniently located in the city center at 40 Angel Gallardo, and phone # is 422-608. www.capraro.com.ar

There are other bilingual schools that I know very little about, but this is a start. Something that helped us when going to interview with realtors and school officials who only spoke spanish was signing on to altavista.babelfish.com (automatic translator) as an aid on their office computer or our laptop. Arranging these things takes more spanish than eating in a restaurant or buyings items at the store. We showed up here having studied spanish for only three months. We are doing better now, but it's still a challenge.
For anyone who's feeling up to it, I was recently interviewed about my books, my life here and my work on the play," The Secret Garden" , by a Bariloche online newspaper. The article is in spanish, por supuesto (of course), and the website is: www.nuevobariloche.com
For those of you in the States, a piece I wrote called "Jump Rope Songs" was published in the June issue of Hopscotch magazine. I believe you can find it at any Borders or Barnes& Noble.

This weekend is Naomi's birthday (our second party here) and then on the 27th and 28th is the big production. August is zipping by ...... Chau!

*I have since learned that a DNI is NOT required for Argentine public schools.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Shin-dig for Chloe

Last Sunday we celebrated Chloe's tenth birthday at a local bowling alley. We invited many of our friends here and I made my first cake in Argentina. This wouldn't seem like that big a deal, but the cake mix directions are in spanish and all measurements are metric. Also icing doesn't come in a can, it's a process of melting a rock hard bag of it on the stove top in boiling water. Then squeezing it onto the cake. In the end it worked out great, though and we loved having everyone we knew all together.

Here's the kids at the pool table,



Phoebe playing air hockey with Camilla.



Chloe with the cake (here in Argentina you get 3 wishes!)



Here are a few more pictures on our progress with the play.








When I lived in New York City I worked for a sculptor named Ellen Rixford. We were building a giant vegetable garden for the children's museum in Washington DC. I was sculpting a giant head of lettuce (the size of a small car) on the roof of an apartment building on the upper east side ( children from the building next to us would crowd at the windows every day and cheer!). Ellen's husband was Japanese so we had to remove our shoes in their apartment. Every 10-15 minutes I would have to run down two flights of stairs into the apartment. Take off my shoes and put on slippers. Run to the kitchen take a portion of hot wheat paste off the stove. Go back to the door and take off my slippers and put on shoes. Then run upstairs and hope the wheat paste didn't cool off too much. When something isn't part of your own culture it can sometimes be incredibly hard to deal with.

This is how it's been for the director of the play. The girl who is playing the lead in the Secret Garden, just informed her that she has to be in Buenos Aires for her cousin's graduation the day after the last performance so she can't make that one. There are no understudies, so this is a crisis. Of course from an Argentine point of view she can't miss (or even be late ) to her cousin's graduation, even though they live 20 hours away and may have only just found out about it a week ahead of time. Family is of supreme importance here. The director, Brooke, is from Florida, so it's difficult to understand that there can be no compromise. She's trying to change the dates...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Healing thru Papier Mache

Well it's been an intense month, but I'm doing much better. Right now we're a week into winter break for my kids with only two more weeks to go.... Aack! I've been spending most of my time up to my elbows in papier mache, building sets and puppets for "The Secret Garden". This is some of what I've been working on:


This is me with two of the blue jay puppets and the ladybug.


This is Naomi with ladybug.


Here's the flower bed with two of the flowers that grow and hook onto the wire.


And Chloe holding up the butterfly with Phoebe holding the bees.

I've been getting some e-mails from different people who are interested in moving from the States to this region. That's great! As Jackie O said, you owe it to yourself and the rest of the world to do what makes you happy. Most of the misery in this world is caused by unhappy people.

Some questions included the cost of living, the quality of schools and some other concerns that I will try to address. Let me just say, if you don't know any spanish, get started. It's a catch -22, the best way to learn a language is to live in a country where it is spoken, but the only way to feel really comfortable in a country is to speak the local language. First of all when you arrive here to rent an apartment avoid the following months; December-February, and June-August. This is high season and you will pay through the nose trying to rent at these times. As for food, $200.00 (pesos) worth of groceries is about the same as U$S 200.00 of groceries in New York ( if you know the exchange rate, you'll find that's a great deal), gas here is $2.069 (pesos) a gallon at the YPF, and tuition at my kid's bilingual school is U$S 500.00 a month, for all three of them combined.

Some parents may be concerned about sending their kids to an english as a second language class, but for my girls it's been an opportunity to help out their friends after a difficult morning in all their spanish subjects. For Chloe in particular it's been great as her english teacher is from Sydney, Australia, and she's learned a lot about Australian life and culture. Her class even tried vegemite, (only Chloe liked it), and a number of other Australian treats.

I've been meaning to post some photos from our trip to Buenos Aires. It's such an incredible city and I can't wait to go back. The pictures don't really do it justice, perhaps next time though, hasta luego!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Argentine blood in my viens

I'm writing about the brain I guess, my brain. I convince myself that all is well. Things are looking good, and ignore all the signs and signals that there's something wrong. How can it be? Things did seem great, the kids were happy at school, Mike was busy with work, and my work was also going well.... Meanwhile I was bleeding to death inside. I really was. I was pregnant inside my fallopian tube for two months. The baby was growing and I was bleeding into my intestines and stomach. It's called an ecoptic pregnancy.

After surgery I came to, as they wheeled me into my room. I saw Mike and my heart leapt. Then they moved me off the stretcher and onto the bed. The pain coursed through me and I wished for unconsciousness. I whimpered through that night unable to move or shift from my miserably uncomfortable position, if I tried I was rewarded with agony. They came in and out checking my blood pressure, giving me pain medication, taking my blood and checking the drain that was attached to my stomach.

It was hard to think straight. I couldn't read or draw at first. I learned new words in Spanish though, "Mucho dolor", "duele acca", and "Adelante". That last one means "Come in!" People would knock on my door all day long and I lay there saying "Come in!" and of course they wouldn't because they don't speak English. Finally our wonderful friend, Betina, gave me the words to say and it made a huge difference for me in the hospital.

Our friends here have been very helpful, especially Betina who came to the rescue and watched the kids while Mike rushed me to the emergency room on Tuesday night. I'm so grateful that we've managed to make such good friends here.

When I was a child I lived near a moderately busy road in Northport, New York. The lawn was next to the road and ended with a steep short hill right into it. It was an unremarkable day that my brother and sister and I decided to play freeze tag. My brother, Duncan, was "it" and chasing me. Without thinking I was rushing towards the road in an effort to stay "unfrozen". With a burst of speed my brother tackled me and pulled me back to the edge of the lawn as a white sedan zipped past my toes. It happened in an instant and was over an instant later. This time it was happening very slowly and took more than one quick thinking person to save me. It took my doctor and his team 2 hours of work in surgery, it took the hospital staff and last but not least two Argentines who took the time to donate blood at the local hospital. I received two liters of blood and now I'm happy to say I have Argentine blood in my veins.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kissing in spanish in the dark

The days are getting shorter and shorter as we approach the winter solstice, June 21st. I knew it would be this way of course, that our winter solstice here is the summer solstice in New York, and just like in New York, the days are getting shorter. What I didn't know was that it meant the sun doesn't rise till after 9am. Every morning we get the children up and off onto the school transport in the dark and it's still hours before the sun comes up. It sets around 7pm which is better than the 4:30pm sunsets we used to have in the winter, but every morning it feels as if we're waking in the middle of the night.
The girls are the ones on the front lines of cultural immersion. Every morning they go to school, greet their friends and teachers with kisses, (on the cheek), and a "Buen dia" (good morning). They call all their teachers by their first names, are learning songs in spanish that hail Argentina, and say a "pledge of allegiance" to the Argentine flag at the end of every day. Chloe knows the names and locations of all the countries in South America, and all of Argentina's provinces. Phoebe is starting to read, in spanish, and Naomi, ... Well, she tells me all the time that her teacher loves her.
Stopping in at the kid's school is a frenzy of kissing. We kiss and say "hola" to the children who we've met, we kiss the teachers and any parents we've been introduced to. Mike's taken to shaking hands with other men, but he knows it's seen as very formal. Sometimes it's helpful to lean on the fact that we're foreigners from a more formal society. People here seem to understand. The strangest thing for us is when we meet other Americans who live here, they want a kiss as well.... It does make everyone more friendly! I guess Argentina is contagious!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Volcano update,and life goes on....

Hola otra vez from Bariloche. The volcano in Chile continues to erupt spewing ash, well, everywhere. When we looked out towards the lake on Monday the mountains were completely hidden by the ash in the air. It's the rainy season here and most of the ash has been washed off the streets and buildings but the ash in the air has closed the airport for almost a month now. The border into Chile is closed and many people have been evacuated out of that region. I recently heard that lava has started flowing and there is a great concern that these eruptions will trigger an earthquake.


Life here in Bariloche continues, mostly unaffected by the events across the border. The girls are very involved with life at school, and brought home some very impressive report cards two weeks ago. Naomi's class in the "jardin" put on a circus performance for the parents. As you can see she was a tightrope walker( una equilibrista). One of the fathers is a magician and helped the children put on great show, he also performed for the parents at the end.

Phoebe and Chloe auditioned for a play with a local theater group and both have parts in "The Secret Garden". I'm working on sets and props and am involved in making numerous puppets. It's nice to be doing some 3-D work again as my work on my graphic novel is at a rather dull stage (just adding text on the computer). Here you can see a picture of "Robin", one of the main puppets in the show.


Mike is working on so many projects at once it's hard to keep track. There's a project for Star Wars, a comic book about zombies and cowboys, and several children's books. Here he's working on an illustration for "Tyr" a children's book about the norse god .

In three weeks we'll be heading up to Buenos Aires to process our residency visas. Unfortunately we'll have to take a 20 hour bus ride instead of a two hour flight, due to the ashes. Still it will be nice to see more of the city this time and perhaps it will be a nice drive through the Pampas and see some of the country between here and there.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

parade in town and a big surprise from Chile

Fall is here in Bariloche. Every morning's pretty cold and all the leaves are almost off the trees. Last weekend the girls marched in a parade through the city for Bariloche's birthday. They marched with their school and joined their classmates at 10:30 across town. They marched in parades in Greenville, but those were very small and in fact so many people were marching that there would hardly be anyone to watch. This was a HUGE parade in a city with thousands of people milling around in a huge array of costumes. My kids were awestruck.

Phoebe as we gathered to march.

Naomi looking ready to go.

Phoebe's class posing with their teacher.

A dragon passing by to march ahead of us.

This is a band that was great.

Here is the school starting to march. "Rayitos Del Sol" is the name of the new kindergarten, which Naomi is a part of. They asked all the parents to submit a name and vote on it, but we bowed out. It's hard enough to fumble our way through a conversation in spanish let alone come up with clever titles. It means "Little rays of the sun", which is cute and works well with the school's name.

This is the Tolkien Society of Bariloche. They had great costumes!!

This is a very tall couple on stilts that Phoebe liked a lot.

This is one of the dragons after the parade.

Here are some Gauchos (Argentine cowboys), walking by in traditional dress, unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of the 20 or so on horseback.

When we brought the kids down to meet the school van early on Thursday morning, the street, the ground and trees were all covered in what looked like snow. I used this as an excuse to force winter coats on the kids, who adamantly refused every freezing morning previous to this one. Today they couldn't argue and trudged off to school wearing their coats.
It wasn't until Mike and I went out later and noticed the dusting of snow wasn't melting and wasn't cold to the touch, so like an idiot I touched a little to my tongue and discovered it was ash from the volcano that exploded in Chile on May 2nd.
Here you can see it covering a car outside our apartment.


Here you can see all the ashes covering the square outside. Fortunately for us, here in Bariloche, the volcano eruption only means a bit of street cleaning. Sadly it's much more of a problem over in Chile, where many people have had to evacuate.
For anyone keeping up with my blog, the money Phoebe found on our trip to Chile during Easter is from The People's Republic of China, it's a 1962 one Jiao note. Muchas Gracias to my cousin Nancy and my Uncle Kent who both looked into it for me. Hasta luego.
"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut

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