The Façade

My experience with Germany before this adventure was limited to two very different sojourns to Frankfurt. The first was on my very first study abroad, with Brigham Young University’s communication department. The second was while I was serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With BYU, we traversed the continent, meeting many of the leading newspapers, government agencies and LDS Church officials. While in Germany we met with the Frankfurter Allgemeine and huddled with the general authorities of the LDS Church in Western Europe.

During my mission, I contracted meningitis in the forests of Latvia. Two weeks after having been evacuated to the Baltic-American Clinic in Vilnius, Lithuania, I had stabilized to the point where I was flown to an American Army medical hospital outside of Frankfurt.

Frankfurt, 11 years ago was the pride of Germany. A glistening city, with modern skyscrapers, it served as the financial heart of the continent. I have assumed that Frankfurt was representative of the rest of Germany. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The shape and feel of cities and urban areas rarely happen by accident. After World War II, German communities had to decide how and where to rebuild. To an 18 year old from Denver, Colorado, this thought never occurred to me. The Kansas National Guard has never occupied my city, nor has the Canadian Air Force bombed it into unrecognizable obliteration. Most German cities though, had to make very serious choices as to how they would rebuild.

Some cities, like Frankfurt, decided to hit the reset button and build a new and “modern city”, complete with new city block grids, roads, suburbs and all. Others, like Munich, decided they wanted to keep the feel of the old town in tact. They rebuilt their old roads, their old buildings, their parks and their churches.

Munich today probably doesn’t feel exactly like it did pre-WWII, but I bet it’s close. I imagine that people are still walking the same patterns, to get to the same places as they did 100 years ago. This is just simply not possible in Frankfurt anymore.

I pass no judgment on which approach is best. “To each their own”, the saying goes. But for me, going back to Germany now, I saw what I want my own city to look like, to feel like, to breathe like . . . and that was in Munich.

And 11 years hence, I look forward to discovering completely new and exciting things about Germany that I will have inevitably missed this time around . . .


Late Jurassic Dreams

My age group is probably the youngest to remember anything of the Cold War. For me, I didn’t care so much about the Soviet Union or the consequences of a nuclear winter. No, what I cared about most when I was a young boy was dinosaurs.

It’s important to understand that this was before the really cool computer generated graphics of dinosaurs that I secretly still geek out about to this day. My world of dinosaurs was almost exclusively derived from books. I’m not aware of a dinosaur book that was published that I did not possess growing up.

Of all of the dinosaurs in those books, I picked the biggest to be my favorite, the Brachiosaurus. I fell in love with this giant when popular thought suggested that Sauropods immersed themselves in bodies of water to support their great mass. But no! These walking skyscrapers lived on land, ate at the tops of the trees and had no natural predators once they reached their teenage years . . . (I know, I know, I still get excited).

In all of my books, they teased me with the fact that the only fully mounted Brachiosaurus skeleton in the world was in the Humboldt Natural History Museum in East Berlin.

Yep . . . East Berlin.

I remember pulling out an atlas and finding East Berlin on a map. When I learned what this meant for my chances of visiting, I was devastated. It was then and there that I became staunchly anti-Communist. Communism was the diabolical enemy that was keeping me from seeing this amazing creature in person.

As we grow up, we often forget about our life’s major dreams and goals when we were 5 years old. By the time I was 25 I had already seen a Brachiosaurus skeleton in Orlando, one here in Utah and yes 2 count them 2 in Chicago alone. Who doesn’t seek them out when on vacation or traveling for work?

So, as I was sitting eating a wonderful Russian lunch, under the tracks of the SBahn in Berlin this past October, this whirling rush of clarity came into my brain. I pulled out my map of Berlin only to discover to that the museum that held my Brachiosaurus was only two stops away.

This was too good to pass up. I was scheduled to go and tour the newly remodeled Reichstag with my group. Thankfully my professor sensed that this was a profound moment in my life and gave me his blessing to take off like a bat out of hell toward the museum with three of my friends in tow.

It’s hard to describe fulfilling a dream that has been tucked away in a dusty corner of your mind for the past 26 years.

When I entered that hall and looked all the way up at my Brachiosaurus, that longing adventure of my 5 year-old self was satisfied.

I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t blink, all I could do was stare and smile and my friends gave me my moment with my friend from the books of so long ago.

And so I ask you . . .

What . . .

are your . . .

. . . Late Jurassic Dreams?



“Many things, which appear to be a luxury today, will be accepted as the norm tomorrow.”
-Walter Gropius, 1930

Dessau is full of discordances. It is a city that seems to be a reunification afterthought for infrastructure investment, yet has the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 10-year old headquarters that serves as a model for the E.U. and the world on how creative architecture and planning can conserve energy and reduce unwanted structural waste.

Dessau is the city where the Bauhaus finally settled nearly a century ago. To compare the ideals of the Bauhaus with the outer rings of Dessau itself, you feel yourself entering into a bipolar world that has deep feelings of resentment and self-reliance.

The Bauhaus today is merely a shell of its former glorious self. Run by a non-profit that has done an excellent job of restoring the complex, with meticulous detail, to the way it looked when its founder Walter Gropius graced the halls. It was a place to dream, to push boundaries and to promote social equity.

Within the context of post World War I Germany, these ideas were indeed radical and were on par with what we think of in the United States as the roaring 20’s. It is no surprise that this institution functioned for a total of 14 years as successive Nazi and Communist governments found the ideas espoused by the Bauhaus too threatening to their own agendas.

So why the conflict in the built environment of Dessau? Dessau has always been an industrially strong city. After the Second World War the Communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) government took full advantage of the infrastructure already there. With every Eastern Bloc Communist government, hubs of industry were designated and specialized and in Dessau’s case it was oil.

With communism comes a very high quality and level of city planning. With the idea of everyone being equal it is fairly simple to design neighborhoods and entire communities. The execution of the designs was of poor quality and poor materiality. The communists left cities across Central and Eastern Europe scarred with unimaginative residential and commercial neighborhoods that have proved too costly to renovate even 20 years after the fall of the wall and the reunification of Germany.

The opportunity to stay in these old communist buildings 10 years after I had spent two-years living in the former Soviet Union was bittersweet for me. It brought back many wonderful memories of my time in the Baltic countries. It reminded me of the hopefulness and idealism in the original ideas of Marx and Lenin that the older generations still wistfully talked about the (not unlike the Bauhaus).

In the 60 hours that I spent in Dessau I can only guess as to the development of the city after World War II, but I think I’m close. The future leaders of the city still have the task of reconciliation on their list of missed accomplishments. As the Mecca of architecture students and professionals around the world, the city must demand more out of their visitors and themselves. They must do more to entice people to see what life is like on the other side of the tracks. To venture into the outer-ring neighborhoods and see what life was like when East Germans were not able to choose where they wanted to live.

My thoughtful and hopeful wish is that we all can channel the spirit of the Bauhaus movement to encourage groundbreaking ideas that are transformative for the citizens of Dessau. Once this begins, hopefully the divide (both physical and mental) can start to be bridged and the process of unification can finally be referred to in the past tense.


Sharing Spaces

In beginning art classes you learn the concepts of positive and negative space. In architecture and planning, these spaces can have tremendous impact on the psyche of citizens and visitors alike.

During our time in Berlin, two places (one example of each) stands out in my mind. The first is an example of positive space. There is nothing like it anywhere in the world. 10 years ago the Nordic countries of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland agreed to create an embassy complex that consisted of six buildings. One for each of the countries and one commons building where they can gather with public, hold seminars, produce exhibitions and simply eat and drink together.

This shared embassy space is symbolic not only for the physical design in which the embassy’s buildings are arranged in the order they are seen on any map, but for the materiality of the structures and the energy efficiency in which they espouse to the global community at large.

This is no ordinary complex. Ambassadors are at eye level with one another, effectively letting one another gaze into the workings of their neighbors and the relations with their largest trading partner, Germany.
Water features are incorporated into the complex with the representation of the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea separating the buildings.

Inside the public exhibition space the Danish embassy was sponsoring an exhibit entitled “Building Sustainable Communities”. This was an exhibit that showcased Danish architects and their work around the world. The only architectural model that was displayed was the Massar Children’s Discovery Center, which is currently under construction in Damascus, Syria. Ironically, the Syrian embassy was right across the street. I asked our tour guide what relationship the Nordic complex had with the Syrians and she answered “none”. While this was not surprising on the diplomatic level, I found irony in the proximity of the embassies and that the Syrians most likely had no idea that one of the premier architectural endeavors in their nation was prominently displayed right across the street.

While the embassies all function separately with their own foreign agendas and policies, the symbolism of symbiosis this complex purports as a purposely-built positive space in the New Berlin may be lost on those that don’t know what to look for. The average citizen of Berlin or Germany most likely has no reason to visit these buildings, but for those of us lucky enough to get a tour, our sensibilities of what is possible has forever changed.


The Journey is Half the Fun

The journey is half of the fun (especially with our crew). After a seemingly quick layover at JFK in New York, we took off, scattered on a Delta 767, and 8 hours later we had put the United States and the Atlantic Ocean behind us.

Berlin’s airport is definitely not Frankfurt. It is smaller, older and could use a good German remodel. It is without a doubt designed for German efficiency though as our bags arrived not 10 minutes after we had cleared passport control.

The majority of the group has been shuttled to the hostel while I stay back waiting for another student who is travelling on a different flight. I just purchased my Tageskarte for the Berlin public transit, as we will be taking a bus and the subway to catch up with everyone else.

Two things strike me already after only being in Europe for two hours: 1, my German is rusty at best and 2, it is a real treat to travel with others that have not traveled to a foreign land.

Speaking a different language is not necessarily a must in today’s Europe, but having a rudimentary knowledge certainly garners the good will of the locals. My laughable attempt at buying my transit card in German got me some sympathetic smirks and an immediate offer to do my transaction in English (for which I was grateful). I think it is important for other sojourners to follow one simple rule when travelling in Western Europe:


This simple rule will help people to avoid making culturally insensitive comments, or have others around you view the group as typical American tourists.

It is fun to see the excitement that is so palpable with some in our group. This is a magical experience already for them and they are just taking everything in. I remember the first time I was in a country where I could not read the signs or understand anything anyone was saying. How exotic. How transformative. How poignant those memories were looking back.

So, as I run off to find Sarah (I hope she made her connection in Paris), I can hardly contain my love for travel and the sharing of this experience with so many others that I respect and admire. Their eyes are wide open right now, and it is a good reminder, for me, to view this experience in studying cities, cultures and societies in Germany with the hope of changing my life perspective yet again.


Urban Project Comparison Part II: Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails

During the middle of the 20th century, Argentina and the United States saw a significant decline in passenger rail service and the demise of trolley car systems in most of their major cities. This was partly due to the rise of air travel, but both countries experienced a powerful conglomerate of oil, tire and automobile/bus manufacturers that lobbied successfully to have their rail systems dismantled. Santa Fe no longer enjoys regularly scheduled passenger rail service, instead relying only on private bus companies and the automobile for reliable ground transportation. Rail service throughout Argentina has narrowed to one line servicing the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Cordoba. The decline of rail service left Santa Fe, Salt Lake City and Denver with underutilized rail and trolley buildings in prime real estate locations. Each city is faced with unique challenges with their facilities that include ownership of the land, land-use decisions and public support.

Trolley Stations

Both Santa Fe and Salt Lake City have taken their old trolley barns and turned them into upscale shopping areas.

Santa Fe’s Recoleta Station has been remodeled into an indoor/outdoor shopping and dining area. The station was remodeled as the city’s premier shopping destination but has since been replaced by a new and very modern shopping district on an abandoned dock. In recent years the interior of Recoleta Station was remodeled to include a Coto grocery/department store, reducing the number of retail stores.

Salt Lake City’s historic Trolley Square was similarly redeveloped into a shopping/dining/entertainment district. Taking up an entire city block, the overall footprint of Trolley Square is much larger than the Recoleta Station but the current land use is strikingly similar.

Trolley Square is a complex of storage and maintenance barns along with power transfer station that provided the electricity for the trolley system.

The interior has been remodeled into retail stores and restaurants while keeping the historic ambiance of the barns.

Under new private ownership, Trolley Square is currently undergoing a complete renovation of the interior barns, exterior public spaces, a new parking structure and, just like Recoleta Station did in Santa Fe, will be adding a Whole Foods grocery store to the property. The project should be completed sometime in 2011.

Rail Stations

The main rail stations in Santa Fe, Salt Lake City and Denver have similar histories of being the main hub of transportation activity for their cities. All three had declined steadily in use and each city has (or will) take a very divergent path on how the former rail stations will be used.

Argentina’s rail infrastructure was built and operated by private businesses with a British controlling interest. After Juan Peron’s rise to power in the 1940’s, the British were forced out of the country and the railroads were nationalized. Santa Fe’s two main stations, Mitre and Belgrano fell under the ownership of Argentina’s federal government.

In the early 1990’s Santa Fe was no longer receiving passenger train service and the train stations fell into disrepair. The municipal government was faced with a delicate situation, as they had no jurisdiction over the properties. However, since the stations were causing blight an urban decay in the heart of the city, the new mayor decided to start rehabilitating the areas without the permission of the federal government.

Mitre Station on the West side of Santa Fe is currently used for fairs and bazaars, however the station itself is in bad need of repair after suffering from a fire earlier this decade.

Belgrano Station is a much more handsome building and sits prominently on the Boulevard in the middle of the city. It is currently undergoing renovation and is occasionally used for concerts and other public gatherings. The municipal government has decided that the primary use for the structure and the surrounding area will be a new commercial business park with public recreation and trails running the length of the tracks.

Salt Lake City chose a different path for its former train station. The Union Pacific building has been remodeled and now serves as an anchor for two-block redevelopment area called The Gateway. The Gateway was a project that was completed before the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City in 2002. It is a mixed-use development that includes shopping, dining, residences and business offices.

While the main floor of the Union Pacific building sits mostly empty, the upper floors of the building have been turned into an events center that hosts a nightclub and a venue for concerts and business events.

While generally regarded as a successful catalyst for the redevelopment of the area, critics claim that the two-block district has harmed other downtown retail areas and that the city was shortsighted in selling the rail right-of-ways that accompanied the Union Pacific building.

Denver has recently decided to utilize their historic train station in a different way than the leaders of Santa Fe and Salt Lake City have chosen.

In 2004 voters in the Denver Metro area approved the largest sales tax increase in state history for a project called “Fastracks”. The tax, along with federal money is going to construct a regional network of light-rail, commuter-rail and bus rapid transit corridors around the metro area.

At the nexus of the completed system is Denver’s Union Station, which will regain its former glory as the ground transportation hub for the city. The new intermodal hub will also include long-distance passenger rail, an express bus terminal and a bicycle facility that includes lockers and showers.

The existing historical building could not accommodate all of the future uses that are planned for the intermodal hub. A master plan has been developed for the area, which encompasses almost 20 acres of land, and will include retail, commercial and public open space. Union Station’s redevelopment is scheduled to be completed in late 2012 with the entire Fastracks program being completed in 2016.

While the approaches of Santa Fe, Salt Lake City and Denver are vastly different, the concern for redevelopment of these critical areas of their cities have and will continue to be positive agents for change in their respective communities. All three cities have found ways to preserve and honor their building’s historical significances in a way that is unique and appropriate to the needs of their citizens.

Urban Project Comparison Part I


Everyone has a different traveling style. I have discovered over the years that, depending on where I am and how long I have, my travel habits change. If I have only a few days, then I pretty much play the role of tourist, hitting the major sites and taking as many postcard photos as I possibly can. If I have time though, I disappear from the beaten path.

A significant amount of time is not a privilege that most traveling are granted. Study abroad programs, if designed properly, are an excellent chance to gain insight into a local culture.

You begin to feel the rhythms of the community.

You settle into a weekly pattern of life.

As you slip away from the frenzied pace of a tourist, you sink, slowly and softly into the profound appreciation for what makes each place so uniquely special . . .

. . . it’s people.

At first glance, the commonalities between Santa Fe, Argentina and the Rocky Mountain West would seem superficial. However, there are similar urban projects and challenges that resonate in both areas.


To understand some of the unique challenges that Santa Fe faces, it is important to know the background of the city and why it has grown into the modern city that it is today.

More than once, I was told that there was no good reason for Santa Fe to have been founded. There are no minerals or oil, just an abundance of flat land surrounded by lots and lots of water. With the Portuguese staking claims of territory to the North, it was prudent for the Spanish colonialists to found as many outposts as they could to secure their territorial claims.

Santa Fe was originally founded in 1573 some 85km northeast of its current location but was relocated due to severe flooding. During the Spanish colonial period, the city life was concentrated around the confluence of the Salado River to the East and the Parana River to the West. The main hub of social, economic and religious activity occurred in what is now known as the Plaza 25 de Mayo.

The city began to grow toward the north during the 1800’s after Argentina declared independence from Spain. The new ruling aristocracy made a conscious effort to change the hub of social life away from the old colonial plaza by constructing the Plaza San Martin in honor of the General who liberated Argentina from Spanish rule. The aristocracy also constructed a new boulevard that became the new northern border of the city.

Santa Fe relatively stayed within that footprint until the rise to power of Juan Peron in the 1940’s. Along with his wife, the famous Evita Duarte, their social and economic policies for Argentina forcibly redistributed the wealth away from the aristocracy into the hands of the lower classes.

This pushed the city’s growth patterns to the West and the North where they continue to this day. The following is a map illustrating the basic historical growth boundaries for Santa Fe.

Recent Planning Projects & Rocky Mountain West Comparison Projects

Flood Plains

From 1976-1983, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship. During this dark chapter of their history, Santa Fe’s development was pushed across the Setubal Lagoon to the East. The military dictatorship decided to build a new campus for the Universidad Nacional del Litoral and a high-density, low-income housing complex called Barrio el Pozo across the Colgante Bridge for fear of a student or lower class uprising.

In the mid-80’s as the country returned to democracy, a massive new project was begun to encompass the Western side of the city with a continuous dyke topped off with a new freeway. The Salado River to the West has historically been a severe flood threat to Santa Fe. In 2003 as major rains hit the area, disaster struck. As the Salado River rose to record high levels, the new bridge connecting Santa Fe with neighboring Santo Tome did not allow for adequate water to pass underneath it.
As the pressure grew, the water backed up to the North of the city and spilled into the low-lying areas where the dyke construction had not been completed. The water was effectively trapped inside the city and sections of the dyke had to be blown up to allow the water to run off. The flood killed 24 people and displaced over 100,000 residents (which represents over 1/5 of the city’s population. After the flooding subsided, the bridge was redesigned and reconstructed along with the incomplete portions of the dyke/freeway system.

In the Rocky Mountains, the city of Denver, Colorado is no stranger to floods. Denver was founded at the confluence of the Platte River and Cherry Creek in the 1850’s in conjunction with the discovery of Gold and Silver the same decade. The Platte River was notorious for flooding and in 1965 the largest recorded flood in Colorado history occurred killing 9 people and inundating the entire downtown business district along with 600 homes. In response the United States Federal government funded the construction of the Chatfield Reservoir system to control the flow of the Platte.

Valley Highway (I-25) section of flooding

In the decades that followed the Denver flood of 1965, massive redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley has (and is) occurring. In what was once land that was considered unfit for construction, huge new infill projects are occurring thanks to the flood mitigation projects of the 1960’s and 70’s.

As with any historic flood plain, land values rise as the threat of flooding is mitigated. Denver has gone through the re-planning process for the Central Platte Valley as is evidenced by the new infill projects. Santa Fe’s municipal government is starting the process of future plans for its West side of town, although their approach is much less market-driven as they are restricting land prospectors from displacing a large portion of residences that are in the lower-classes of the city.


Final Project Outline and Invitation

The following is the project outline and the invitations I sent out for participation in the project:

Dear Friends,

For my final project I have decided to create a film about Santa Fe and the exchange program. The audience will be directed toward the urban planning department and its students at the University of Utah to encourage future participation in the program.

Instead of hearing me speak about my experience (which would be very boring), I feel that it would be much, much more valuable to the audience to hear from citizens from Santa Fe. So I am asking for your help in participating with this video.

I would like to schedule a time in the next week to meet with you and ask you a series of questions that will be used in the video. You may not be an expert in the areas that I am covering, but that does not matter. What matters for this project are the opinions and thoughts from everyone.

As for language, you all know that my Spanish is very limited, so I will be asking the questions in English. However, you are more than welcome to answer the questions in either Spanish or English. It will be no problem for me to add subtitles for this film.

The location of the interview will be up to you. I would like to have each set of interviews done in different places to add some variety to the film. I am happy to arrive at whatever destination and time is most convenient for you.

I have attached a list of questions that I will be asking for the film. Please look them over and start thinking about the responses you might give.

You are; of course, welcome to not answer all of them if you feel that they are too personal.

Please let me know what day and time will work best for you. I would like to start filming on Monday if possible and have everything done by Friday.

Thank you in advance for your help on this project. I am confident that through each of you, the people in Utah will be able to see why I have fallen in love with your city and your country.


Nate Currey

Questions for the interviews:

· How has the history of Santa Fe helped shape its development?

· What are successes Santa Fe has had in planning throughout its history?

· What are mistakes that have been made with planning in Santa Fe?

· I will ask questions about specific projects going on in Santa Fe (if you do not know about them it is no problem):

- Redevelopment of the flood plain area

- Redevelopment of the rail yards

- Redevelopment of the docks

- North to South tree-lined avenues

- Regional municipal cooperation (Santa Fe – Parana)

- New Dock/Autopista to Parana

· What is your view of the rivers surrounding the area (Parana/Salado)?

- How can the water in the region be turned into an asset for:

§ Tourism?

§ Transportation?

§ Recreation?

· What are the barriers/dividing lines in the built environment of the city?

· How has your generation helped to shape Argentina/Santa Fe?

· How much did you learn about Argentina’s history in school?

· How has the military dictatorship affected attitudes in the country today?

· How has the military dictatorship affected your generation?

· Have your family or friends been affected by government kidnappings during the military rule?

· How do you think the period of military rule has affected current politics in Argentina/Santa Fe?

· How much power do you feel citizens of Argentina have over their government?

- Federal?

- Municipal?

· What do you love about Argentina?

· What do you love about Santa Fe?

· What are your hopes/dreams about Argentina’s future?

· What are your hopes/dreams about Santa Fe’s future?

· Why should planning students in Utah come to Santa Fe?

· If you could say one thing to students in the USA what would it be?


crucible of events

Sometimes it’s all just a little too much.

Too much to process . . .

Too much to feel . . .

Too much to experience . . .

. . . to take it all in at once.

This has been my experience so far in Argentina. For now, it is so difficult to express my thoughts in way that would do my emotions justice.

It is one of those kinds of experiences.

After 5 weeks in the country I have finally determined what my final projects will be. Along with the art project that I am working on (see last blog post), I will be interviewing an array of beautiful people, both old and young, men and women, students and professionals, straight and gay about their perspectives on life in Santa Fe and Argentina as a whole.

I hope to capture the joy and the pain, the victory and defeat and the overall attitude about what makes Argentina this incredible place that I have fallen so deeply in love with.

I would be curious to know what questions you would ask the people down here. Send me an email with your thoughts and I might include them in the film.

If you have not signed up on Facebook yet, my pictures are all uploaded there of the trip thus far. I hope you enjoy.

More soon . . .



“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

-Miriam Beard

Expectations can be a bitch.

I like going to movies having heard from all of my friends that it wasn’t very good. This has a tendency to lower my expectations and normally I am pleasantly surprised. When I have high expectations though, my chances for disappointment are increased substantially.

In life, when we experience new things, generally there are expectations attached. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to expect, nevertheless, we hope for the best.

Traveling to a new place is loaded with expectations. Normally they are high or we wouldn’t be traveling there. Different places come with different expectations. I would not expect to have the same experiences in Paris as I would in Mexico City. For me, some places come with high expectations (New York City), others, relatively low ones (Cleveland).

Sorry Ohio.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect heading down to a new continent. I tried to keep an open mind and low expectations. I have not been disappointed.

Santiago, Chile and the coastal towns of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso were magical. The climate and topography are South America’s equivalent of the bay area in the U.S. With the Andes as the backdrop, Santiago is breathtakingly beautiful on a clear day (which was one out five due to pollution while I was there). The people were kind, attractive and more than willing to help a couple of American guys out that generally looked lost and bewildered most of the time.

This is also the heart of wine country for Chile and if you know anything about wine, Chile has really come into her own on the world stage. There is a sophistication about the Chileans that was a welcoming surprise for me. After all, Chile is the country that produced one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, who’s home I was proud to visit.

When the Chileans learned that I was going to spend two months in Argentina to study, there was an instant expression of sibling rivalry. When I arrived in Santa Fe, I discovered quickly that the rivalry goes both ways.

The bulk of my time in South America will be here in Argentina, so I have a feeling that my opinions in the end will be biased a bit toward this land. But Chile will always have a special place in my heart for the experiences that I had, the people that I met, and for a brilliant travel companion that succumbed to the high level of expectations in his own mind. (I love you buddy.)

I have quickly and easily slipped into a comfort level here in Santa Fe that has allowed me to befriend the youths of the city, my professors and their associates and most importantly the urban fabric and rhythms that create the atmosphere of a city that is gently waking to discover her true beauty and potential.

Much, much more to come . . .