News from Bariloche, Argentina

I write here a few notes on my stay in Bariloche, Argentina. A few people wrote me asking how I am, and what are my impressions of Argentina. I am very grateful you remembered me, indeed very grateful, and that you were interested to know. When one is far away, the touch of a friend is always felt deeply. I will answer here some of the common questions, and the more personal ones I will have dealt with directly.

I am borrowing some space from this blog, which otherwise is dedicated to sporadic thoughts stemmed from life in the Czech Republic.

So. I am here. The farthest place from Europe I have ever been. It’s far indeed! I write you from my flat in the campus of Centro Atomico Bariloche. It is a normal evening, I have cooked, and the sun has long set behind the Andes, which are near and well visible from my window. Beyond, not far at all, is Chile.

bariloche_flat

I suppose that the first remark I should make is that this is not a journey as usual. At least so far –  and it is intentional – I have not been so enthusiastically and energetically open to the newness as I have often been in my previous trips or experiences. Considering my rather reactive (and in its degenerate form, destabilizing) attitude to new and stimulating situations, and considering that the recent months have been already extraordinarily rich of events, my attitude here has been rather to absorb quietly what occurs, be focused on my new duties, and, especially see my life in perspective, from a new angle, and from far away. I do have many a thing to consider and ponder upon. For once, I have the feeling that my life does not have to be re-challenged from the roots, but rather looked at. Quite incredibly, there is now a sense of progression in my life, so from a trip I do not feel the need of radically new inputs.

So, with this in mind, perhaps it will sound more understandable to you that I have passed the first 10 days with focused dedication to the research project, long solitary evenings contemplating in silence, reading, writing, praying. Practicing kung-fu and tai-chi in the expansive green of the campus.

campus green

But slowly by slowly, having overcome also all the practical difficulties of reorganizing life in a new Country, having discharged positively the first duties in the research lab, having held the first seminar, having entered into the experience gently and in focus as I planned, now I am beginning to relax, raise my head a bit, and look more around, at this Country, at these people. Which is something which I must and want to do to the right extent that it deserves.

cnea

labs

As I said,the work at the research lab has been my main focus – as it should be – because after all I am here on a scientific mission paid by taxpayers of the Czech Republic and Argentina, so one must have some sense of responsibility… and decency )) .  I am at Centro Atomico Bariloche, which is national a center of excellence for physics research in Argentina. I have been invited by Javier Luzuriaga who is a professor of low temperature physics, and I am working with him and Elisa, his PhD student. After examining their work on superfluid turbulence, I have decided to contribute by writing with Elisa a new software to automatize analysis of videos of helium turbulence. The work started well, and I am rather enjoying it. I also held a seminar on my research, and it was very participated. In the department of low temperature physics there are some 20 people among researchers and technical stuff. People are extremely warm, friendly and helpful. I have a nice office on the top floor, and when I want to relax I can go to the coffee area, but not so much for a coffee, but for a cup of yerba mate, of course! – the quintessential Argentinian drink, ritually drank together.

The campus is 10 Km from Bariloche, a 100,000 people city. It is on the side of a stunning 100 Km long lake. The scenery is absolutely wonderful. It is a mountain landscape which mixes the high Andes peaks, still covered in snow, with the tortuous branches of the lake, a rich forest, which gradually gives way to a fascinating drier, more desertic, landscape as one moves further East towards the pampas.

lake

The weather is unpredictable, changing from warm and luminous 23 degrees afternoons, to ghastly 5 degrees winds in the evenings.

This past weekend with Javier and his wife Karin we have explored some of the most scenic parts of the landscape near the lake, and you can see a picture of us three in this page. Javier is a very soft and gentle man, of kind manners, of very pleasant company, and with a remarkable knowledge in many areas. He is also a true scientist with a very inquisitive and curious mind. He is a good talker, and we do not seem to run out of topics. Karin is an extremely polite, enthusiastic, and very warm lady, originally from Brazil, a biologist.

three

I do not want to grab your attention for much longer. To close, I just want to reassure you that I am gradually becoming more interactive with the environment here. Today I had the first full conversation in Spanish with Diana, a Colombian researcher here (well, it wasn’t really Spanish… just my bad guess at it…); tomorrow evening I will meet the only family from the movement of CL present here in Bariloche, and we’ll have a mini School of Community – for those who know what it is; and, and, most importantly… the first tango lesson is already in sight.

I suppose that at the next update I will take it from here, but I am not planning to write regularly or much.

Please know that I am well, in good health, and, in the sense explained here, having a good experience.

I wish you all the best,

Simone

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