Like the Texas State Fair

My last day in Cordoba (Saturday) was spent with Danny, Paula, and Roman wandering around the Exposicion Nacional Agropecuaria, Industrial, y Comercial.

There was a big tent with people selling local goods, like plants, chocolates, pastries, knit items and a lot of animals displayed for auction.
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BZ, this one is for you!

Danny and I liked the plane shell, though we weren’t actually sure the point of it.
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We watched one of the horse exhibitions and then the opening ceremony, with a police brass band and releasing of doves.
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Once we got back into the city, it was time to pack up and grab a ride to the airport. Adios Cordoba! It’s been fun and I hope to return some day. Thanks to all who helped make my experience here amazing!

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Last days in Cordoba

The IBM CSC Argentina 1 closing event was today (Friday, August 23), where all the IBM sub-teams presented our final work and results. It was a great opportunity to see our clients again and what each team has accomplished. Roman and Isa did a great job presenting the work we did with ADEC this past month. The ADEC team was incredibly kind and presented Henk, Jayan, Roman, and me with traditional Argentine mate cups as thank-you gifts.
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We then had the first free afternoon in the 4 weeks since we arrived. I took a nap and packed; fairly certain I’ll be overweight again. We had an IBM team dinner at La Nieta, a favorite spot, and then headed to Antares for a drink. Here are the IBM CSC Argentina 1 team girls on the last night, me, Gina, Tarja, and Tina. Sorry for the poor picture quality.

Dinner was a lot of fun, but also bittersweet. I am looking forward to going home, but will miss spending time with the IBM team. The CSC is really a once in a lifetime experience; our team of 12 will never be together in once place again. I could not have imagined that I would make such good friends in only one month. I am lucky that I will at least get to see Henk and Edwin again in the near future during my travels to Taiwan and Australia!

Side note: I get a knock on my door Thursday. Look at what my wonderful husband sent me! Flowers and chocolates (no nuts).

P.S. Happy Birthday Erin!

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Hard at work, all times and places

The final presentation to ADEC and the IBM closing event are quickly approaching, and Henk, Jayan, Roman, and I have been working long and hard to get all the deliverables completed.

Today we completed the slide deck for tomorrow’s presentation to the ADEC board of directors and reviewed it with Raul, translated and reviewed the four slide decks we are providing, and completed and submitted the final external presentation slides and the knowledge transfer document. Tomorrow morning will consist of some clean-up and organization, printing materials, and burning all the deliverables to a CD for the ADEC team, while tomorrow afternoon is filled with the final results presentation meeting and a demonstration of the recommended document management system. I cannot believe how quickly this past month has passed!

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More on Mendoza

Eight of us from the IBM team, Desh, Edwin, Jayan, Roman, Gina, Tarja, Tina, and I, travelled to Mendoza for the long holiday weekend. The city is beautiful, with a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It is definitely a ‘hot’ tourist destination, proven by the very large number of hostels per area. Though the weather is dry in the winter, Mendoza has an interesting irrigation system consisting of trenches along the city streets, creating relatively green park spaces. (I would have liked to learn more about the irrigation system, but unfortunately did not have the opportunity). We arrived in Mendoza mid-day on Saturday, and headed out for a very long lunch, where I learned what real ‘Maryland’ chicken is.

Roman and I then continued our tour of the city, walking down to the huge Parque General San Martin. Similar to nice days in Cordoba, it seemed like the entire city was out enjoying the beautiful weather in the park.
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Later in the evening, Tina, Gina, and I wandered through the Plaza Independencia on the way home from dinner.

On Sunday, the team split up to go our different ways, with Desh and Jayan taking a bus tour of the Andes high mountains, Edwin, Tarja, and Tina experiencing life as a gaucho for the day, and Roman and I doing some hiking and rappelling next to a waterfall. A good day was had by all.
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We met back up in the evening for some drinks, dancing, and dinner. Here’s Edwin, Jayan, Gina, Desh, Roman, and me eating a very late dinner.

Monday was spent on a bike tour of wineries, a small olive oil producer, and a beer garden. Typical for me, I enjoyed trying the olive oils and products more than the wine or beer. Edwin and Roman are enjoying the weather on the deck at the first winery, while Tina and I are taking in the great atmosphere at the beer garden.
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Mate, trees, and Mendoza

Have I talked about mate yet?  I don’t think so, and it’s definitely worth mentioning.  Mate is like a bitter green tea.  The leaves are placed in a special cup and hot water is poured over them.  The tea is then consumed through a special straw with a strainer in it.  This is a very common drink in Argentina to share with friends and co-workers.  For example, at our workshop on Thursday, there was one cup of mate.  Someone would fill the cup with hot water and pass it to a co-worker, who would drink it.  That person would then pass it back, to be filled up again and passed to another co-worker.  I cannot quite imagine passing around one cup with one straw in a work meeting for everyone to drink out of, but that’s how it is done.

Friday was the volunteer event at Veronica’s alma mater, Universidad Siglo 21.  The day started with a tour of the university, followed by presentations by four IBM team members to the students.  Edwin, nominated as the class clown, had the crowd up singing and dancing to break the ice.  During lunch, we viewed a presentation on the university’s environmental and sustainability policies, and the day concluded with tree planting on the university campus.  Here are some shots of Tina, Roman, Edwin, and Gina planting their trees.
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The long holiday weekend was spent in Mendoza, an absolutely beautiful city near the Andes.  I still need to go through pictures and will post more details soon. We had a wonderful time wandering around the city and the huge Parque General San Martin, hiking (and repelling) in the Andes, dancing at a hostel bar, and taking a bike tour of wineries and olive oil producers.  Quick teaser: Andes mountains in the background and up close and personal with a llama.
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It is going to be a very busy week as we prepare all our final materials and presentations for ADEC and the closing event.  Henk, Jayan, Roman, and I worked until about 10pm tonight on the slides for the ADEC internal presentation on Thursday, calling it quits around the ‘proper’ Argentine dinner time.  More on that also to come hopefully soon in another post.

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Workshop success

The past two days have been very busy prepping for today’s workshop on impact assessment. There was a great turnout from the ADEC team, with Jorge, Rodolfo, Paula, Daniel, Isabel, Silvina, Lidia, Marcela, and Guadalupe all attending. We were also grateful that Veronica was able to join. She translated a lot of information into Spanish for us prior to the meeting and acted as translator during the workshop itself. Veronica has been absolutely invaluable throughout this month.
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Jayan did a wonderful job as presenter, concisely communicating the relevant information, and facilitating the hands on activities.  Henk, Roman, and I also pitched in useful comment here and there. The ADEC team members were all very involved and enthusiastic. I hope the content we have provided is actionable and can be implemented in an effective manner to help them in the future.

Off to a dinner to celebrate birthdays of two CSC team members. Happy birthday A.J. and Gina!

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Vegetarian lunch and chat with a Missourian

We walked to work this morning to find out that the ADEC conference room we have started calling home was going to be occupied all day.  After a mile walk back to the hotel and some more coffee, our team setup in the hotel restaurant to work most of the day.  At least the day started out with a nice walk; I am definitely enjoying the short trek to and from work.  For lunch, Henk, Roman, and I finally made it to the vegetarian restaurant two blocks from the hotel.  Upon arriving, I asked the woman behind the buffet if she spoke English, and it turned out she was from Missouri.  Occasionally, it’s nice to run into someone who speaks English and not have to guess at what we are ordering to eat.

After lunch, we headed back over to ADEC for afternoon meetings with Felix and Jorge.  Guadalupe, the communications lead who just returned from vacation, sat in the meeting with Jorge to translate.  The meeting went very well, concluding with us running a workshop on Thursday with the ADEC team to put the impact assessment methodology into practice.  Our entire team is excited that we can work with the ADEC team to actually implement the recommendations being provided.  Tomorrow will be spent working at the hotel, prepping for the workshop.

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Sunday funday, easy day today

After a crazy but very fun few days, Sunday was nice and relaxing. I was able to sleep in and do some laundry in the morning. The rest of the day was then spent wandering around the city and the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, people watching in the park for a long while (2 guys were juggling, reminded me of the old RIT room), and breaking for café con leche on the outside deck of a restaurant with some live music. The weather was again beautiful. I could definitely get used to this Cordoba winter.

Yesterday was also the day of primary elections in Argentina. Voting is mandatory, and the voting age was recently reduced to 16. Everything was shut-down by about midnight on Saturday night in prep for the elections. Roman and I tried to visit Paula, who was working at one of the voting locations checking people in, but it was an absolute madhouse. Definitely no calm line with senior citizens working the check-in, like most voting locations in the U.S. Here are some articles on the Argentine elections if anyone wants to read more: Election information, Interesting commentary on the primary election, Election results.

Today we had a meeting with the ADEC team to review and brainstorm themes and metrics to support the ADEC strategies. Overall, I was very happy with how it went. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I couldn’t get a good read on Raul and Jorge during our Friday presentation. Today I think Jorge was happy with the information we have put together so far. The suggested metrics sparked a lot of interesting discussion (most in Spanish, so I unfortunately couldn’t follow it all) and contained content the ADEC team had not thought about previously.  We have a lot more work to get done in the next few days!

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Playing catch-up

I had a great night out on Friday night including dinner and dancing at a disco with the ADEC team. Overall, it relatively similar to going out at home, except everything is pushed back by about 2 hours. Dinner was at a place that reminded me of Friday’s, and the disco was comparable to a dance club. Anyone in Austin remember what the inside of Oslo looked like? That’s what I thought of in terms of décor, except the disco here also had strobe lights going all night. I’d say about 75% of the music I knew, with a few Latin American songs thrown in. I also learned how to do the Cumbia! Unlike the Tango, Cumbia is a dance that I might actually be able to learn.
Daniel, Paula, Roman, Isabel, and me at the disco

Saturday morning started out with some confusion about the trip to see the condors at Quebrada del Condorito. We thought we had reserved a guide, but it appeared we only reserved the transportation. Ooops. Luckily, the hotel was able to find us an English speaking guide on short notice. In the end, it turned out we didn’t need a guide at all and could have taken the public buses. We really lucked out though; the weather was beautiful, the hike was just the right amount of exertion, and we actually saw some condors!

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Attila and Roman                                                  Tina

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A.J., Henk, Roman                                              Tarja and Henk

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Henk, me, Roman                                              Henk’s famous jumping pose

Colorful birds, maybe a red-breasted blackbird, but I haven’t figured it out yet

Tarja got us all tickets to the Cordoba Banda Sinfonica for Saturday night at the Teatro Del Libertador General San Martin. The theater was beautiful inside and we had great seats for the performance. The show itself was fine, sort of funny actually, going to see an orchestra in Argentina perform songs from American movies including Braveheart, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars.
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Tangible deliverables

The past two days of work have been very productive as we start to put together more concrete deliverables for the document management system and impact assessment methodology.  Our second weekly meeting occurred this afternoon.  Roman did a great job presenting again, referencing the slides that we had translated into Spanish for the ADEC team.  It was a bit hard to get a read on Raul and Jorge’s thoughts today, but they indicated that we are still proceeding in the right direction in terms of what they want.  They both asked for an example of the impact assessment methodology, which further confirms to me their interest in tangible and very functional deliverables from us.  Here are Daniel, Raul, Rodolfo, Veronica, Henk, and Roman in discussion during the meeting.

Last night Edwin, Gina, Roman, Tarja, and I went to La Social Milonga to tango!  The evening began with an hour or so of lessons, learning the basics, and then there was open dancing.  The event was held in a great looking old ballroom, with wooden floors and hanging chandeliers, only two blocks from the hotel.  Paula is a regular, joining us after the lessons, and was amazing to watch dance.  She also explained some of the traditions, of the man asking the woman, that a ‘dance’ is really 4 songs, with small breaks in between, and two people only dancing together for two dances during the night.  It was a little intimidating to dance during the open dancing because all the people out on the floor were so good.  Edwin and I gave it a go, mostly staying in the middle of the floor and just trying not to run into other people.  Roman also gave it a try with Paula for a short dance at the end of the night.
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A busy weekend is in store, heading out again tonight with Paula, going to Quebrada del Condorito tomorrow for some hiking, and then a show tomorrow night, before finally collapsing in exhaustion on Sunday.

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