Hola amigos, neither I nor this blog is dead.

You wouldn’t know it from this sadly neglected blog, but I’m still alive and things are still happening. Well, almost certainly things would still happen even if I was dead, though the world would take some imperceptibly different trajectory. But, since this blog is really just a dumping ground for the aimless thoughts in my brain, and being that my brain would likely meet its end in parallel with the rest of me, the content would undoubtedly become stale were I to cease to exist. So where I have I been?

Following my time in Houston, I set off for my new appointment as graduate student grunt at the University of Southern California. I took a wandering route, visiting Big Bend National Park, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Mojave before rolling into Los Angeles. Maybe someday that adventure and its triumphs will find its way to this blog. For now, I’ve busied myself with the typical graduate student life; spending long hours in my fluorescent electrical closet office followed by long hours meeting with friends, exploring my new city, or wasting time aimlessly browsing the internet. At the expense of sleep, of course. I would like to think I’ve reached a level where I can call myself a scientist with a straight face, but I’m really more of a school kid.

Scientist!!!! F yeah!!! School kid : /
Scientist!!!! F yeah!!! School kid : /

Right now, I am actually more of a traveling guy. I’ve found my way to a small town in Argentina that is conveniently located near some cool geology that shares some structures with some rocks closer to home in California. While I’m down here studying the rocks (las rocas, or more commonly las piedras) I’m also doing my best to assimilate a little Argentinian culture. I’ll make a post about that soon. First let me tell you about where exactly I am and how I got here.

Anillaco Map

I am staying in a small town called Anillaco (pronounced something like annie-shock-oh), in La Rioja province. Anillaco is home to about 1400 people. The nearest big city is La Rioja, the capital of the province and home to one of Argentina’s universities. Even though Anillaco has an airstrip (it’s apparently neglected) and La Rioja has a commercial airport, I was not so lucky to fly into either of these places. Instead, I flew in Córdoba, the second largest city in Argentina. While La Rioja and Córdoba may look pretty close on that nice Google map above, they’re actually over 450 km apart. That translated into a 6 hour bus ride. And that’s on top of almost 24 hours of travel. Good thing I’m staying here for awhile.

Anillaco is a pretty nice town. It’s located at the foot of the Sierra de Velasco mountain range, in a line with a handful of other small towns. La Rioja province was one of the first places in Argentina to make wine, and Anillaco is no exception. The space between the highway and the town is taken up completely by trellises and grape vines. I’m staying at a research center at the edge of town. The locals are pretty used to strange faces visiting the center, but they were not ready for a person like me, who’s español es mierda. Fortunately, my host speaks english very well and he was able to serve as a buffer during my first few days here. But now, once we split up after a long day in the field, I’m on my own to explore the town and interact with the locals. I’ve asked a couple young folks working in stores if they speak english. They look at me warily, make the international sign for “so-so” and maybe say entiendo, pero no hablo. This is going to be an enlightening stay in Argentina.