Alex Hart

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Buenos Aires es loco!

As we take off from sunny Santiago over the snow covered Andes, the captain tells us to fasten our seatbelts and I am reminded of, and quickly try to forget, those films where the plane crashes and the passengers end up eating each other (or was that the Himalayas?).

Anyhow I arrived in Argentina safely and surprisingly feeling fresh – LAN airlines were pretty good I must say.  Buenos Aires was bathed in sunshine and alongside the main highway, everwhere there was a patch of green, families were having picnics, lovers entwined and kids kicking footballs. I had not expected the city to be so green, or for there to be so many lush trees – until the massive thunderstorm last night that is and then it all became clear!

This morning I was impressed at the eco friendly automatic switching off of the bathroom lights in my hotel room – until I realised that there was no electricity at all! “Its the weather” the waitress said – but I did note that the lights were on at the plush hotel across the street. Ah. Thats what comes of booking a cheap hotel at the wrong end of Avenida Montevideo!! The metro was also out today. When I asked why I was told it could be the weather, a strike or just BA being tempramental. As a result there were a lot of stressed people running about in the rain and a shortage of taxis. When I did find a taxi I soon realised that everything I had read about Argentinean taxi drivers is true – they are totally loco!

Buenos Aires is a city of contrasts – beautiful architecture and clean(ish) tourist areas rub shoulders with crumbling buildings and pavements, rubbish and graffitti. “English get out of the Falklands” was a common graffitti theme. The people are helpful and friendly on the whole though which is great, especially when you are on your own.

Av del Libertador reminded me a bit of Hyde Park corner and the streets around contained plush boutiques and cigar houses oozing wealth and sophistication. However just a few streets away, the homeless with their obligatory shopping trolleys were huddled in shop doorways out of the rain. There is a lot to see in Buenos Aires, even in the rain and I wish I had a little more time to spend here. Hopefully the jacaranda trees will be fully in bloom when I stop here on the way home.

As it is, this evening I will go in search of the “blue dollar” (a decent, if not official exchange rate), a hot meal and some atmosphere. I will try not to think about the long, long bus jurney to Anatuya tomorrow or what will await me when I get there.

Anyway, for now, hasta luego!


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Argentina here I come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of people have asked me why I chose Argentina as the place to go and work as a volunteer.

In truth, Argentina fascinates me. No-one with a British background can ever forget the bloody bitter war over the Falkland (or Malvinas) Islands in which so many lost their lives, but there is so much more to this diverse and complex country.

Several years ago I was working on a project which involved me speaking to a senior officer in the Argentine Navy. Over several conversations, which often took place in the early hours of the morning due to the time difference, the officer (who was as polite and charming as Peron himself) painted a picture of Argentina that was simply captivating.

He described a country where European and South American cultures quite literally collide. A picture of stunning colonial architecture and Jacaranda trees in Buenos Aires. Away from the city, he described the country’s geographical diversity capturing both the grasslands and the dramatic Andean mountains. Not to mention the passion of the tango, the rich literature and the country’s tumultuous history.

I confess that since those discussions I have wanted to visit Argentina for myself. The opportunity to combine work with tourism and also improve my Spanish seemed too good to pass up. I should also mention that Argentina is more developed and sophisticated than some other South American countries which helped balance my husband’s concerns over safety!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to go look for an Argentinean charitable organisation – one which didn’t carry big overheads and levy huge charges or make their volunteers sign up for expensive Spanish lessons. Help Argentina fitted the bill in all those respects. The charities they support work right at the grass roots level providing assistance to people in the poorest communities.

This weekend I am heading off to Buenos Aires and from there, by bus, on to the small town of Anatuya in the Santiago del Estero province in the North West of the country. I will be working with the charity Haciendo Camino for a month – both at the Children’s home Santa Catalina run by the catholic church and also in their nutrition project. You can have a look at the projects they manage here. www.haciendocamino.org.ar I have been warned that the area is rough and hard. It has been jokingly suggested perhaps I wear a nun’s habit to blend in – hmm that could be very interesting!

So – I am all set – Argentina here I come!


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Life coaching – debunking the myths

I had always thought that life coaching was for wimps –  for people who just haven’t quite got it together rather than those with successful lives. Life coaches sounded like airy-fairy sort of people who offer a soothing voice, tissues and a nice cup of herbal tea. I was fairly certain that Crystals would probably be somehow involved too.  And yes , I realise at this point  I  probably sound like an intellectual prig!

Enter Sian Jaquet.

Sian is an extremely savvy lady with a great sense of humour and a big heart. She has that rare gift of being able to swiftly connect with her clients and communicate with them in a style they are comfortable with. (Mine is a short black with no sugar please!)

There is no hiding with Sian either. She quickly identified the pressure points in my life and the issues holding me back. Frankly my life was full to bursting and I was seriously neglecting my husband – something that was the cause of several rows at home.  At this point ‘intellectual prig’ is seen running for the hills and I am desperately looking round for the tissues!

The tools Sian uses are simple but effective. For example, by re discovering my core values and thinking about how my life would look if I lived by them I realised just how far off track I was.

Then the fatal blow – Sian asked me “if I could magically transport myself into a new career – what would that be?” I blurted out the answer within seconds and that was it- a seed was planted. Now there was no going back.

Later on I will talk some more about some of the other things I have learned from Sian. As to the life coaching process itself, I wouldn’t say that consulting a life coach is essential to try and deal with aspects of your life that arent working – but the tools and support you can gain during the life coaching process are superb.  Without Sian’s input I would not have reached inside and pulled out that part of me that had been lost.

The key is finding the right life coach to suit you and in my book, Sian ticks all of the right boxes. But dont take my word for it – check out Sian’s web page www.sianjaquet.com and see for yourself

So you want to change your career – now what?

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One thing I have discovered is that there is a huge amount of information out there and a terrific range of resources to help you get moving in the right direction.  I had a bit of a leg up (more about that later) but simply by googling you can find a whole range of information and support. Even “Wiki how to” lists a number of helpful tips to think about as you start planning. It is really important to think about the impact a change will have on you and your family. For me, the most important thing was to have the support of my partner. When there are two of you, nothing seems impossible.

I also read a great book when I was starting out (thanks to Sarah at Careers New Zealand for this one) “You dont make a big leap without a gulp” – this book is full of inspirational and interesting stories by Kiwis who have changed their careers mid life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is working up the courage to change their career.  Find out more  at www.fitzbeck.co.nz

So -what’s stopping you? Get cracking and make a plan!

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