Club of Great Missenden
The GSE Team in Argentina
22 May 2007
A bumper report from Kirsty
covering the penultimate week (15-22 May) –
presentation of lessons learnt and dancing at the District Conference in
Resistencia, tons of ice cream, Sheila’s favourite Chippas, visit to
slaughter house and tanning factory and continuing with the bed-time of 3 am.
e-mail dated 22 May 07 from Kirsty
Hello one and all,
Yes it is time for another update. I have forgotten what day we are on - so
will put the dates instead - sorry! We have just arrived at our last
Province - Formosa in the north and are here until Monday morning - very
early when we leave to go back to BA and then home!
Thanks for all the messages, I have been passing them on, but I am not sure
who will have access to the internet this week. So please be patient with us.
I can pass on messages and I am sure they will try and get in touch as soon
This is a long one, sorry - It´s a week’s worth of stuff! Sorry about any
spelling mistakes. Normally one of the others checks it before I send it but
I´m on my own today!
Tuesday 15th May - Resistencia
Last time I wrote we had just had lunch and visited a biodiesel factory and
Liz and I had found an internet cafe. That evening we started a week-long
series of presentations - every evening a different club. The presentation
is going down well but we do find the mealtimes can be difficult not only
because of the language but also because it is so late - normally 10pm
onwards, and we are shattered. Luckily this one was short and sweet and we
were home and in bed by 11.30.
Wednesday 16th May - Resistencia
A different rotary club was in charge of us each day. Today
was with Hector!
A real star, he went out of his way to help us and the next few days and
most of the vocational work was down to his organisational skills and
dedication to help us find something useful.
We started the day with a meeting with the Vice-Governor of the Province.
He was very interested in our work particularly in Su and Sheila´s areas.
Recycling and supporting carers is not something that Argentineans know
about so it is sometime difficult explaining the concept to them, but he was
very interested and immediately was giving Hector and his secretary names
and numbers of people with whom we should talk to. It was a great meeting
and we all enjoyed it.
Lunch was in a supermarket which had every food that you
want. Sorry Pops I failed to try every ice-cream on offer but we are trying
as many as possible!
The early afternoon was free and we rested - well watched some Pride and
Prejudice on DVD!
Then we had a trip to the cultural centre and saw a group of native Tomo
Indians singing, we also were given a bit of history about their culture and
way of life. We then went to the shop and bought most of the things in it!
Our bags are not twice as heavy as before.
The evening was another presentation at Hector´s club. It was a small room
with lots of people but the best food of any rotary club! They loved the
presentation and we were each given a small present.
Thursday 17th May - Resistencia
To our disappointment the vocational day planned by a
different rotary club
was cancelled so we had the whole day free. So in the morning we went and
found an internet cafe and caught up with everyone, then had lunch with one
of the Rotarians and our host. Again - great food. Plus interesting
discussions on poverty and self-perception.
The afternoon was free and we relaxed - well actually we
did an exercise DVD
which caused great hilarity - the disco crab particularly!
The evening was another rotary club who took us to an arts
centre for dinner
and tango music and dancing. The centre had been somebody´s home who was
very into the arts and had had an open house policy to artists, it was
covered in art - paintings, sculptures and other artefacts. The owner had a
sense of humour so some of it was funny but in a rather odd way - an
Egyptian mummy with a gas-mask, a blowfish lamp and the button from Rita
Heywood´s bra! The music was excellent and it was fun to watch people
tangoing but I was disappointed that we did not get an opportunity to try it
Friday 18th May - Rotary Conference, Resistencia
The first day of the conference, but luckily we didn´t
have to go until the
evening! The morning was full of great surprises, Hector had been pulling
strings left, right and centre. First a meeting with a group working with
Addicts for Su (I went along for support) but she was superb, they were keen
to know more about her work and why in Britain we support the carers too.
They were very impressed by her knowledge and want her to send them lots of
information. I have great photos of Su in charge of the meeting!
Half-way through the meeting I was whisked off to visit two
schools. The first for 0-14yrs and the second for 14yrs + (an adult
education college). The lady showing me around was very interesting and full
of information about the education system in Argentina and in particular the
Province of Chaco. The school was brand new and had a great system. The
children were engaged and happy and we had lots of discussions and
interactions. The second school for adults was more of a skills training
college, deaf adults were taught lessons in the morning and then skills in
the afternoon. The range of courses was limited - carpentry, gardening and
computers for the boys, cooking, sewing, knitting and child care for the
girls, but it is the only college in the whole of the north of Argentina
that works with Adults. Both schools offered free sign language lessons to
people who wanted to learn. I really enjoyed the visit and found it very
I arrived back and we all went off to find some luncheon at
Then it was Liz´s turn for work. She had a meeting with an
in the Beef industry and they discussed the differences between Britain and
Argentina, although the photos look like they are sitting sunning themselves
in the garden - I can vouch that actually they were talking solidly for 2
hours, drawing diagrams and making notes! We then all worked on our
presentation for the conference, we had decided to change it and make it
into more about what we have learnt since we were here, so luckily we had
the help of Cielo (Eduardo´s wife) with the Spanish.
The evening was taken up by the conference. The youth exchange teams did
short presentations and then we all went for dinner, again with a display of
tango from two 8yr olds! Liz and I tried to even the balance by showing our
table how Morris dancing went using tooth-picks, I am not sure our
explanation was that clear!
Saturday 19th May - Rotary Conference, Resistencia.
We did our presentation this morning, 2 hours later than
Argentinean time! It went down really well, people were impressed by our
efforts and interested to see what we had learnt.
The rest of the day was free and we went home. I went
straight to bed as did
Sheila, the others sat in the sun for a while and then went to bed I think,
Gavin went and explored the town. About 3 hours later I woke up and Liz, Su
and I went off to buy Su some clothes and me some ice-cream. Sheila slept on
- we have been having a mixed time with sleeping and tummy upsets so are
making the most of any time available.
We walked into town, found some clothes for Su and then
found what must be
the best ice-cream shop in Resistencia.. You will be pleased to hear that Su
and I sacrificed ourselves and tried the ice-cream... it was fab!! We then
bought Sheila´s favourite - the chippa! A small cheese dough ball best
served hot - she has been living on these as there is sometimes a lack of
vegetarian food. These kept my pocket warm all the way home, via another
great leather shop were we spent more money. We got back just in time to get
ready for the dinner dance that evening - Sheila delighted by the chippas!
It was our first evening off - ish so we all got our glad-rags on and even
though I say so myself we looked rather glamorous! The evening was in a
marquee with a DJ and dance floor surrounded by tables. The food was good
but our dancing was superb - We danced every dance and surprised them all
with our dance style and talent! We were the last on the dance floor at 3am
teaching everyone who was left YMCA. Everyone finally left about 3.30am back
to the house were we had hot chocolate and chat till about 4am. Not
surprisingly we weren´t our freshest the next day.
Sunday 20th May - Rotary Conference, Resistencia
We arrived at the conference and were congratulated by many people on our
dancing they had enjoyed watching us enjoying ourselves and were pleased
that we shared their love of dancing. The morning again 2 hours behind
schedule was followed by lunch and then bliss - siesta! Although the trip
back from lunch in the back of a pickup was amusing, we sang and waved
Following siesta, we were taken on a city tour looking at
and entertainment. We ended up in the Ice-cream shop again and had yes -
more food and ice-cream. This time we bought some to take home with us as
well as more chippas and facturas (pastries) Unfortunately I managed to ask
for two lots of 12 rather than one so we ended up with 24 pastries, 1kg of
Ice-cream and 200gs of Chippas - just enough for breakfast! We went home and
then ate ice-cream and watched.... Dirty Dancing! What a great film!
Monday 21st May – Resistencia
Liz and I had an early start today - 5am. We were off to see a Matedero or
Slaughterhouse. Those of you who know me well will know this is not on my
top 100 list of things to do, those of you who know Liz well will know that
is probably in her top 2! I went along to assist in translation. We met the
Minister of Meat (a bit like our health inspectors) and he took us to the
Matedero. It was about 2 1/2 hours away, I managed about 30 minutes and then
fell asleep! We arrived about 9am. The Matedero is for pigs and cattle, it
was a co-operative. We were togged up in whites - coats, wellies and green
hats. (Amusingly a calendar on the wall typical of calendars in male
dominated factories was there when we arrived and had been removed by the
time we got back into the office!). Then the tour began. I won´t go into
details but I made it through, although the minister did have to hold my
hand a one stage to take me through much to everyone´s amusement! Liz was in
her element though and asked lots of questions and explained everything to
me in great detail - I even managed to ask if they castrated the pigs - in a
mixture of Spanish and sign language!! It wasn´t as horrendous as I thought
it would be and although I have eaten meat since I am glad that we have a
better system in Britain so Liz assures me.
The trip back was punctuated by sleep and beautiful
countryside - even my
snoring didn´t disturb things! We arrived back about 2pm just at the same
time as the others - they had been to a Tanin factory. It sounded very
interesting, the company in question has been fined for polluting the river
and Sheila did question them about this and also how they disposed of their
waste produce. But they evaded the question and said they didn´t pollute
anything. They had then gone for lunch and met with the Governor, Sheila
had managed to talk with him about the Province´s policy on recycling and
gave him some advice on how best to proceed. She has been very good at
talking with each of the municipalities about their policies and offered advice
and suggestions on how to proceed.
The afternoon held another event for me, Liz and I visited
a school for
Teachers of the Deaf and took a class. They asked lots of questions and I
answered them, they were very keen to find out about the differences and
what I thought was better here and why. Also they were very interested in
Liz´s PhD on pigs! We swapped signs and both really enjoyed it (Well I did
and I think Liz did).
The evening was the final presentation in Resistencia, it
was followed by
about 30 mins of questions - for the others! I thought they answered them
extremely well, they were a difficult audience and there were some hard
questions but the responses were clear and well thought out.
Tuesday 22nd May - Resistencia --> Formosa
The last region! We were taken to the bus, but before we left Hector turned
up with another lady to give me a copy of the sign language dictionary of
Argentina!! Not available in the shops! Very pleased with that!
The bus was about 3 hours, during which we.... yes slept!
We were met by Rotarians, some of whom we had met at the conference, our
fame had come before us and they talked about our dancing! We are now with
our host families, Liz and Su together, Sheila with a family, myself with a
couple whose children have moved away and Gavin in a hotel. We are all
meeting up again for a city tour at 5pm and then dinner which looks like it
might be in an Indian restaurant but I´ll let you know in the next
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