Mendoza

One thing that has definitely shocked me about Argentina is how incredibly large this country is! Not since I was in Australia in 2006 have I been surprised by the distances as much as here. For example, how about reaching the famous waterfalls in Iguazu, on the border to Brazil, by bus in only 21 hours. Or head the other direction, south, and expect to reach Patagonia in about the same time.

This past weekend me and some friends did a “much shorter” trip to the west, heading 14h away from BsAs to the small city of Mendoza. It is located at the foot of the Andes, literally where the flat plains are abruptly interrupted by one of the tallest mountain ranges in the world. Obviously, the scenery is just as impressive as one might expect.

I don’t wanna rant too much about the trip; I think a photo post sometime this weekend will speak for itself. Basically, the trip was a combination of great food, fabulous scenery, a horrible hostel, lots of wine, plenty of nature, not enough hiking, 28h of bus riding, a fair bit of argumentation, and very different likings.

The last two things on the list were also a good reminder of why I generally don’t like traveling with more than one person at a time, especially if I don’t know their traveling habits.

Nevertheless, it was very nice to get out of the city and see the mountains again. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go back there with one friend for some hiking in the area, but on the other hand this country has so much more nature to offer, so it might be a waste of time returning to the same place twice.

image

Not much progress being done with the handstand, so in the meantime I need to pimp my headstand photos with beautiful surroundings.

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Blog estivation

I have been very infrequent with my blog posts lately, and I have been looking for a good excuse. Luckily, the Swedish news provides me with everything I need to know about life, the universe, and everything, and today also provided me with a plausible explanation to my infrequent blogging, namely estivation.

Estivation (sommardvala in Swedish) is the exact opposite to hibernation (vinterdvala), which might be somewhat more familiar to people. I.e., to estivate is to enter a dormant or slower state during the hot summer months, whereas to hibernate is to enter a dormant state during the cold winter months.

Now, what the Swedish news taught me was the definition of summer. Apparently, summer is defined as having five consecutive days with a daily average temperature of at least 10°C1. Note that we are talking about the average temperature here, not the minimal temperature.

You might be thinking that this should not affect me, since I’m currently on the southern hemisphere, rapidly approaching winter2. But the fact is that by the Swedish definition of summer, autumn hasn’t even started here yet… and probably won’t until at least a month from now. So don’t expect any more active blogging from my side for a while still.

PS. I will in fact post something more serious very soon, but  for the moment I am busy preparing for some less important stuff, such as presentations, a journal club, and a progress report.

1 This definition presumably only applies in Sweden, although they didn’t explicitly write that.
2 Obviously not winter by Swedish definition.

On being naive…

I’m well aware that I’m a relatively naive type of person. My friends may not agree with this, but that is (ironically enough) because they know me. Once I know a person I am usually quite good at reading his or her intentions. Similarly, if I’m familiar with a situation I am not very easily tricked.

Instead, my naivety shows when I meet new people, or when I encounter new situations. My problem is literally that I always think the best of people before I get to know them. Perhaps because I’m very honest myself, I generally assume people around me to be honest as well. Unfortunately, we all know that is not the case. As a result, I have a phase of a few days up to a couple of weeks when I’m very vulnerable to being cheated or tricked, after which my rational mind takes over and analyzes the person or situation more correctly.

I have been told several times not to trust anyone; usually by my father, but sometimes from much less expected people. In the less expected cases, the advise followed after the person had been cheated or used by a person they really trusted. A very sad experience, but probably the only way to learn not to trust people… unless you are a dishonest person yourself.

Until now, my naivety has never led to any serious or bad experiences. Usually, all it leads to is me feeling incredibly stupid for not understanding a sarcastic joke, or perhaps not understanding that this person was perhaps not really telling me the truth the first time we met.

A more recent and clear example happened to me this week. Since a few days I have a bicycle which I have been given by a friend at work, so now I can finally put an end to the horrible rush hour commuting, with overcrowded buses that won’t even stop. However, it took only until the second day before my bicycle was stolen from the university’s bicycle parking garage, which has both security people and surveillance cameras. I had locked the bike, but not to some other object, so it could relatively easily have been carried away. The security guys had not seen anything, and when I asked them if I could see the video recordings, they told me to go to the security office the following morning.
I did so, and to my joy I found that my bike was safely stored in the security office! Full of gratitude I thanked the guys for what I though was a very nice gesture, namely taking care of a bike they considered not safely locked.

It was only later, when telling the story to a lab mate that I realized what had really happened. The security guys had obviously made an attempt to steal the bike themselves, but upon me asking to see the security video, returned it as if they were the good guys. If I hadn’t made the effort, they would just have waited a couple more days to ensure that no one is claiming the bike, and then cut the lock. But I only realized this after my lab mate expressed her disbelief in the security guys.

Again, my naivety probably didn’t change much this time, but only made me feel incredibly stupid for having showed such gratitude towards the douche bag who was obviously part of stealing my bike in the first place.

The question is whether it is actually possible to trust people without automatically being naive, think the best of people without necessarily being a victim for being cheated. To me it sounds like a paradox. So the question is what is more preferable: always assume people are nice and honest until they prove you wrong, with the occasional risk of getting cheated; or distrust people until they prove they are worthy of your trust, with the risk of missing many (if not most) chances of getting to know new people.

To my naive mind, the first option is clearly the best.

Let’s talk about…

… sex. That’s right. And some of you are hoping/fearing that I will talk about my own sex life in BsAs; but no, that is not the case. But there is so much other sex going on here, so I will have enough to fill a blog post anyway.

I’ve so far had my stereotypes about Latinos both confirmed and disproved here in Buenos Aires. For example, I expected the Latin Americans in general to be very homophobic and macho, constantly making homosexual jokes and afraid getting mistaken for being gay. Turns out that Buenos Aires in particular is somewhat an exception. In fact, the city is very gay friendly, and somewhat the gay capital of Latin America. And the young generation is apparently very liberal and experimental when it comes to sex, exploring all types of spectra. You might wonder how I know that, but I’ll leave that to your imaginations…

Nevertheless, the Latin Americans (think they) are very macho, and my American ex-girlfriend’s favorite quote “he is not gay, he is just European” springs to mind quite often when my Nordic behavior contrasts the Latin American standard too much.

One thing that I find quite disturbing is the generally very questionable morals of people when it comes to sex and relationships. I know that cheating happens everywhere, and Sweden is by no means an exception to this. But speaking to people here, it seems like cheating on one’s partner is commonplace. Since my sample size is not huge, and my population is rather homogeneous, it might not be a statistically significant observation, but it has been enough for me to react. Once again, the Argentinians seem a bit “better” than other Latin Americans. Whereas it elsewhere is widely accepted (and high-fived by their friends) for guys to cheat on their girlfriends, while completely unthinkable (but no less common) the other way around, in Argentina it at least seems to be equally good or bad for both genders. However, if that is one step forward or two steps backwards is less clear…

Writing this post, I noticed that my tablet’s autocorrect function just wouldn’t suggest any words related to sex… such as the word sex itself. Android is clearly not a Latin American product.