Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Latin American adventures!

"Bienvenidos a Argentina!

These are the words that will surround me in just a short month and a half. That's exactly right. I, Allison Grainger, will soon be entering into the world of Gauchos and classic architecture, Tango dancing and sub-tropical forests! Needless to say, I couldn't be more thrilled about my upcoming adventure into a major presence in the global marketplace. 

Just as many current and past state officers have done before me, I recently applied for the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers. Not only was this the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge of the global agricultural arena, but it provided a grand opening into my field of interest. What better way to accompany my degrees of Agribusiness and Spanish and my certificate in Latin American Business than to take a journey to a thriving Latin American country? I, myself, couldn't think of a better way to prepare for a future career. Don't believe me? Then, you can check out this schedule yourself: 

January 3
     Arrive at Miami International Airport
January 4
     Orientation in Miami
January 5
     Depart from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina
January 6
     Welcome to Buenos Aires, Argentina! Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina and one of the largest in the world, with a total population (including the suburbs) of 14 million. Around 1/3 of the total population of Argentina lives in the area.
     This morning we will visit a farm dedicated to the production of corn, soybeans and wheat in no till agriculture and also a full cycle cattle operation. We meet with the manager, Alejandro Calderon, who will discuss with us the farming practices, crop rotation, fertilization and herbicide management, commercial and financial aspects of the operation. There won’t be any crops (except a winter pasture) on the field unless some double crop soybeans have not been harvested. During this time of the year, the soil is being prepared to plant wheat.
Next we visit Alejandro Calderon’s machinery shed in town, to get an idea of the type of technology which is used in the area. Most farmers don’t own large equipment, but hire the heavy labour.
      We have lunch at the showgrounds of the Sociedad Rural de Pergamino. Our host for the afternoon is one of the directors of this farmers union, and we can talk with him about the problems between farmers and government, the lobbying capacity, etc. Argentina’s soybeans are close to 100% RR. Later, we will visit a local grain elevator.
      We continue into the Pampas, entering Santa Fe province, to Rosario, the second largest city in Argentina and the largest grain port in the country. Located on the shore of the Parana River, it has several grain ports both up and down the river. Lodging in downtown hotel.      
January 7-
     Depart for Puerto San Martín for a visit to Terminal 6, one of the largest port terminals which is owned and operated by three large companies. Our meeting this morning is with Bunge Argentina. We will have a safety briefing, a classroom overview of the company, and then a tour of the soybean processing facility.
     Afterwards we take a cruise on the Parana River to have a panoramic view of the several private ports and crushing industries of the area. The region has the highest soybean crushing concentration in the world. We will have the chance to see the size of the whole complex and the names of the top players in the grain marketing of the world. Lunch will be served on board (finger foods).
     If the water level is high enough, we will make a stop on an island to enjoy some beach time. If not, then we will go to a public access beach in Rosario immediately following the cruise.
     Later we get back on the buses to travel to Melincue, a small town in the middle of the Pampas. 
January 8-
     Today we have a visit to a horse farm where we see some of the stallions and mares, and maybe have a chance to watch some of the training sessions with the colts.
     Next we go to the area of Santa Isabel where we will have lunch on a small farm (70 has). Three generations live on the property, struggling to keep the farm in the family. Due to several factors such as inheritance laws among others the farm has become smaller and smaller and the owners have had to diversify their production by farming corn, soybeans and wheat, a Hampshire Down stud, poultry and also offering group receptions. We will have lunch and then walk the property.
January 9-
     In the morning, we begin the drive back to Buenos Aires. On the way, we make a stop for a gaucho demonstration and barbecue lunch in a traditional Estancia. The Gauchos, Argentina’s cowboys, lived on their horses and worked with cattle. They had everything they needed with them in the saddle, which was also used as a sleeping bag. We will enjoy some horsemen demonstrations and music.
     Arrive into Buenos Aires in the afternoon.
January 10-
     We get an early start this morning after breakfast with a visit to a huge livestock market (if allowed) located inside Buenos Aires city limits, where 8‐12 thousand head of cattle are sold daily for processing in the abattoirs around the city for domestic consumption. We’ll have a chance to watch the simultaneous auctions that take place in the different areas of the market, and we’ll be able to inspect the cattle from above, which will give us a pretty good idea of the cattle herd of Argentina, since the good and the bad come here to be sold. The dominant breeds at the sale are Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.
     Next, we embark on a panoramic tour of Buenos Aires. We’ll visit the Palermo and Barrio Norte districts, with expensive houses and classic architecture; La Boca and San Telmo, the old part of the city, with its flea markets; the revitalized area of Puerto Madero, where old warehouses have been converted into fancy offices, restaurants and cinemas; Recoleta, including the cemetery to see Eva Peron’s mausoleum; the Plaza de Mayo, to take a look at the Cabildo (municipal building during the colonies and now a museum) and the Casa Rosada (home of the Executive). This square is where Eva and Juan Peron would address the crowds during their political rallies, and where the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, relatives of the people who disappeared during the last military government, gathered to claim for their missing. We make a stop for lunch at one of Buenos Aires’ fine restaurants.
     The afternoon is free for individual sightseeing and shopping. In the evening, we go to the old part of town for dinner and a spectacular Tango show. We’ll have the chance to see some of the best dancers in the country performing old and new variations of the dance, with a full Tango orchestra. Tango was born in the Buenos Aires port area, in the beginning of the 20th century, by a mixture of European and African rhythms.
January 11-
     After breakfast at the hotel, we go to the USA Embassy for a briefing by the Foreign Ag Service staff. We then go to the airport to catch our flight to Puerto Iguazú. This small town is located at the confluence of the Iguazú and Parana rivers, natural borders between the three countries, in a sub‐tropical forest area.
     Upon arrival, we are met by our local guide and private bus. Transfer to the hotel, crossing the town of Puerto Iguazú. We make a stop on the way at Three Borders point, to look at the confluence of the rivers and the Paraguay and Brazilian coasts. Check in to our hotel, and there is some free time to enjoy the surroundings. 
January 12-
     This day is dedicated to visiting the Argentina side of the falls. We enter the National Park where we leave the bus and get on a small train that takes us to the Devil’s Throat, the largest fall in the whole complex, which is approx. 4 miles long. We will walk to the top of it for an impressive view. Later, we go back towards the visitor center where we will tour the top and bottom of the falls, along the walkways, covered by the dense sub‐tropical forest. 
     After lunch, we take a boat ride to the bottom of the falls, into the rapids, for a very close look at the powerful river. Then we travel down the river and alongside the jungle on our return to the hotel. There is always a chance to spot some of the wildlife in the area, which includes tapir, toucans, vultures, capybara, monkeys and even jaguars.
January 13-
Return to Miami
January 14-
Welcome Home!

That's right! I am beyond thrilled about my journey to Argentina this coming January. Since I can't pack you in my suitcase, I will be sure to bring you along for the ride via my blog site. If you'd like to play an even bigger role in my experience, I am currently searching for sponsors. Sponsorships of any amount would be more than appreciated. 

Other than that, stay tuned on more updates about my trip! Argentina, here I come!!

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