Apologies for being so late in updating the blog! Aside from a busy schedule, the internet has had a series of vacations, which is to say I’ve had problems with it for the past few weeks, not an uncommon occurrence. So, to update, a few weeks ago, my colleague and I were asked to give a seminar to the agricultural/ecological faculty and graduate students of la Universidad Nacional de La Pampa. Raul presented an outline on Ecological Site Descriptions and State-and-Transition models, while I gave a more in depth account of our project here in the caldenal. The link below is the powerpoint presentation that I gave and below that a translation of the presentation.
Though the majority of my days have been spent doing field sampling, laboratory analysis of soils, system modeling in ArcGIS and project coordination with collaborators, a few weekends ago I also had the opportunity to enjoy a few days of wandering around down town Santa Rosa with my good friend and fellow NMSU-AGG graduate student Vanessa Prileson. Argentina has a series of long weekends that are distributed through the school/work months (considering they have summer and Christmas at the same time leaving no official winter break, each month the government proclaims one to two weekends as long ferriados, where people have four days of break, usually Fri-Mon), and two weeks ago was the ferriado for Carnaval (the equivalent of Mardi-gras).
Vanessa and I had the opportunity to see the night time celebrations of the small city and watch how quickly people can disassemble the festivities when a huge lightning storm/torrential downpour passes through. The parade had been held near a Club de Boys (essentially a soccer stadium and sports center, though not exclusively for boys) on the outskirts of town. Little and not-so-little kids ran around spraying a shaving-cream type foam into the faces of any bystanders they saw fit to spray. Scantily clad dancers (young and old) were shimmering and moving around to the beat of a large drummer troupe dressed in bright Roman military costumes. A group of doctor and patient clowns ran around with a small ‘medical unit’ in support of the local hospital. And salty, greasy, and sweet foods were being sold at two little side vendor shops.
All was fun and merriment, until a slight change in the wind occurred and what was wind became rain, and then a downpour! People started running like a herd of wild animals. The road barricade for the parade was knocked down. Mothers threw coats over there small, relatively unclothed daughters and picked them up running. People ran for their cars or any form of shelter that could be found. Vanessa and I made our way to the cover of a nearby gas station where a large group of people was forming. We stood mesmerized by the quantity of water that was falling out of the sky. Rivers were forming in the streets. Soon a few drummers joined the group and started to play. Then they played louder, and faster and pretty soon the party had started back up under our small gas station refuge! Foam was sprayed once again in the air and kids started running back and forth through the maze of people. What better way to celebrate Carnaval than a freak change in weather?