Argentine: Photos and trip description

as previously blogged, Ingrid and me were in Argentina to get my cousin Robert married. (note: a wikipedia link is better than a tag, don’t trust folksonomies)

ok, the quick link to all photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/leobard/sets/863757/

We started on August 13th and came back Monday, August 29th in the afternoon, spending roughly two weeks (dos semanes) in Argentina. Our flight was with iberia and we can approva their service: everything worked, thanks. Only our damned VISA card from hell – the Postbank – failed us and we decided now to close our accounts at this bank: the credit card limit is ~800€ (cough cough, in Austria the word “limit” or “problem to extend it” was not really known). btw: Austria is known as the country where milk and honey flow, Argentina is the country where sugar flows (in all different forms).

Ok, so we reached Buenos Aires on Sunday, 14th August and we were open to everything. Before our travel, Ingrid and me had quite Angst what will happen in Argentine, we did not really know much of the country and we have never been to South-America before. Although we knew they had internet (through inkel) and we had a lot of travel guides, we didn’t have time to read the travel guides beforehand and came to the country with open eyes and open mind. Luckily, we already met Georg, Mechtild, and Robert at Madrid and were not alone on our Journey, the three would accompany us the next days (and Robert until the end).

Robert also organized the trip from the Airport to town and the hotel, which relieved us from much hassle: thank you thank you thank you and bless you. Searching for a hotel in buenos aires would have left us in the situation hotel-envy of: but the others got a much nicer hotel. Other travellers had experienced hotel-envy. The taxi trip to Buenos Aires was very nice, we got an instant impression of culture (advertisments), nature (wow, trees we have never seen before) and people (there are joggers on the highway) of Argentina. Our taxi took the Av. 9 Julio to our hotel, which is the main street of Buenos Aires.

The rest of Sunday we visited some nice places of Buenos Aires, I don’t want to list all here and we didn’t upload all the photos anyhow.

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Our first steak was on sunday noon:
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On Monday we met Inkel and Daniel, as desribed before here. Before meeting them, we were in Tigre, a little town where people go on weekends. We took a boat trip there, which was nice the first hour but then got boring.

On Tuesday, we went shopping but didn’t find much in the multitude of shops. We also saw the casa rosada and other important sight-seeing spots.
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Tuesday evening, our bus to Santiago Del Estero departed, so we got to Retiro bus terminal in the evening and were astonished by the Argentine bus system. Ok, bus riding is very convenient, you can watch funny horror movies, drink mate or coffee and get something to eat. We used the lines “Del Norte” and “Fletcha” and both were good. (del norte was a little better in details).

In Santiago we spent our time from Wednesday until Monday, with the important wedding being at Saturday. The family where we lived were very nice, but we couldn’t talk much with them, as we didn’t speak spanish neither they spoke english. But it was ok, we had our Langenscheidt poket dicionary and using the global hand and feet language we came along and could learn much about each other. We did so many things in Santiago, I don’t want to go into detail there. The main difference between Santiago and Buenos Aires is the size of town and the more rural culture, family centered, friendly, more music. Also, Santiago uses Siesta time, meaning that shops are open from 8-12am and 5 to 9pm. Schools the same, kids go to bed at about 2-3am.
We ate much dulce de lecce (another form of sugar, very sweet and nice, used like butter).

The wedding was great, the procedure similiar to european weddings. Similar to my own wedding: the bride came in a nice car, accompanied by her father, man waiting in the church, music while entering, catholic procedure (thats exactly the same as everywhere else), music, and joy. We were very happy to be there and to experience it, we also experienced some of the preperations and this was the most interesting part to learn about Argentina. The wedding continued with a banquet at a big club, where they had asada grill ready and local and international music. The couple opened the dancing by a waltz, very stylish, and then the party started. Local folk dances, all people dancing, much more vivid than in europe.
Ingrid and me had to go home at 5am due to tireness, the others (including grandparents and babies) stayed till 7am or so. Party people.

Sunday relaxing and having barbecue with friends, a very nice nice nice idea of Enzo, our host (he asked us: either grilling with friends of eating at home, but it was a kind of rhetorical question, thanks enzo, this was great).

Monday, we went with Lucky and Robert to see the northern provinces of Argentina, Salta and Jujuy. I will blog this tomorrow.

Argentine: SemWeb meeting

Back in Kaiserslautern, I finally got some time to blog the events of the last three weeks. We went to Argentine, where my cousin Robert married Luciana in Santiago del Estero. To use the time there, we also visited Buenos Aires for a few days.

Before the journey, I thought to myself: how to meet with SemWeb people in Argentine? and blogged this. Dan Brickley answered and mentioned someone called “Inkel” who might be in Argentine. I contacted Inkel (aka Leandro Mariano López) and yes – he lives in Buenos Aires and we agreed to meet on Monday, 15th August 2005 at 17:00 in our Hotel.

And thats what happened: Ingrid and me were a little late, because we spent so much time sightseeing, but when we came to the Hotel 5 minutes after 5 pm, two Semantic Web hackers were already waiting in the comfy hotel lobby chairs. Ingrid and I didn’t know if all this would work, but it did. We chatted a little about how its in Buenos Aires and then went to a little restaurant to eat – here a pic while we are on the way.

Daniel, Leo & Inkel in Buenos Aires.

In the cafe the talk was first about the work that Inkel and Daniel represent. Inkel came to the Semantic Web a few years ago and found the foaf idea, but he missed translations to spanish. So he translated a foaf primer. After a little chit-chat, the moment of truth came:

On this day I deliberatly dressed the SWAD-Europe t-shirt underneath my sweater, to impress the SW guys a little. I announced a surprise, stood up in the restaurant and showed the t-shirt. Inkel, not hesitating, pulled up his black pullover and also wore – underneath- the SWAD-Europe t-shirt. The moment was perfect – two semantic webbers trying to impress each other by wearing the same t-shirt.

Leo & Inkel

Connected together by the bounds of foaf and the same cotton on our bodies, sympathies between us went up +10. Inkel works as programmer in a company at the moment and he explained us how he plans to connect the people in Argentie, Chile and other south-american countries. He also wants to motivate people to translate SemWeb literature to spanish, so that it can gain ground there. A problem is that most people don’t speak english there, and scientists don’t publish in spanish. Daniel, the friend of Inkel, also translated a few texts and published them.

I told them about the upcoming Semantic Desktop Workshop and showed them a few papers. I had all papers of the workshop with me in printed form to read them and to know the stuff deeply. They were interested to see that we have one spanish contribution to the workshop and perhaps this may connect people a little better. I explained them our upcoming Nepomuk project and the idea of the Semantic Desktop. Actually, I used my own paper for the workshop as a walkthrough to give a little exaplaination/mini talk. I gave my copy of it to inkel, so that he can use the links and references.

Daniel has to write diploma thesis in the next months and perhaps our Jena-based GUI thing from gnowsis could help him. We have to write some documentation for it, anyhow.

After a while we moved on to a coffe-house at the other side of town (south of Av 9 Julio), a coffee house that looks exactly the same as the coffee houses we used in vienna to meet with Michael Schuster or eaon or geri all the other SemWeb guys in vienna. Astonishing how the grass-roots culture is always the same.

We sat together and talked about possible business connections. Acutally, through the weak Peso (the currency in argentine), it is quite cheap to hire Argentine programmers for Semantic Web stuff.

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Ingrid ordered a “submarino”, hot milk where you put chocolote in to make hot chocolate.

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The situation in Argentine is far from the ongoing work in Europe. They don’t have the big budgets for Semantic Web and most people can only do this as a hobby. Also, university professors don’t get paid very well and university research is not as good as in Europe. We are quite lucky to have the 4th, 5th and 6th framework programme of the EU with big amounts of SemWeb money. For example, the t-shirts that connected us were a deliverable of a EU project, SWAD.

Finally, after five hours of permanent chatting, I got a little achein my throat (a starting cold) and we decided to part ways again. It was a very fruitful discussion about deep topics and networking. Nice to meet Inkel and Daniel and best wishes to these guys!