Monday, August 27, 2007

Salta-Cafayate Summer Challenge 2008

Since a time ago I have become a bit more active in my bike: I do mountain bike at least twice a week and during the last three weekends, together with some friends, we went to cycle around, doing on average 60km. Since I came back from Argentina last January I cycled about 1200km...

The day after of one of this trips I was on the chat with Gonzalo and talking him about this, he commented on many people doing the way between Salta and Cafayate by bike, and at that moment the temptation was immediate.

De un tiempo a esta parte me volví más activo con mi bicicleta: hago al menos dos veces a la semana algo de mountain bike, y en lo últimos tres fines de semana he salido a dar unas vueltas paseando algunos amigos en nuestras bicicletas, haciendo un promedio de unos 60km cada vez. Desde que volví de Argentina mi bicicleta acumuló unos 1200km...

Al día siguiente de uno de estos recorridos, estaba en el chat con el Pescau y comentándole esto, me tiró el comentario de gente que se va desde la ciudad de Salta a Cafayate en bicicleta, y en ese momento la tentación fue inmediata.

Besides, he sent me some images from Google Earth which more or less depict the path to follow (in the pictures the north is at the bottom):

Me mando algunas imágenes bajadas del Google Earth, que más o menos depictan el recorrido que se debe seguir (en la imágenes, el norte está abajo):

It is about 183km, leaving from Salta city at 1182masl and arriving to Cafayate in the hearth of the Valles Calchaquíes at 1685masl. The track o relief is more or less flat, there are ups and downs all the way in the path (as fas as I remember from my trip by car).

As you'd be imagining, my idea is to do it by bike. I don't know what you think about it, there is enough time for training and prepare to make an attempt. According to my newbie experience, going to a pace of 25km/h is doable, what implies that the entire trip can be made in 10 hours, including stops for resting and having some liquid. Of course, the way back will be by four wheels :P Also, a assistance team can be formed which can meet us in the middle of the route to see if we still are alive...

Obviously, I won't do this alone, but if someone of you joins me, why don't start to plan it from now on, what do you think? And feel free to distribute this announcement and find people to join us. If you've never met us, also feel free to contact us here. Suggestions are very welcome as well!

Update (08/09): It seems I'm not the only one who is crazy: In this report some guys are planning to do the route Salta-Cachi, around 157km but the altitude difference is incredible: Salta is at 1182masl, half way, Piedra del Molino is located at 3690masl and Cachi itself is at 2300masl. So, I'm not that crazy... moreover they title this as a spare time activity... BTW, here is the link

Son unos 183km, partiendo de la ciudad de Salta a 1182msnm y llegando a Cafayate en el corazón de los valles Calchaquíes a 1695msnm. El terreno, o relieve es más o menos chato, hay subidas y bajadas en general en todo el camino (por lo que recuerdo de hacer el recorrido en auto).

Y como ya se lo están imaginando, la idea es hacerlo en bicicleta. No sé qué les parece, hay tiempo para entrenarse un poquito, y hacer el intento. Por mi muy novata experiencia, a un ritmo de 25km/h promedio se puede hacer, lo que incluyendo paradas de descanso y todo, puede llevar a lo sumo 10 horas. Hay que llevar mucho líquido, y de más estar decir que la vuelta es en cuatro ruedas :P De todos modos también se puede armar un equipo técnico, que nos podría alcanzar en la mitad del camino para ver si todavía estamos vivos.

Yo obviamente solo no lo hago, pero si alguien de ustedes se anima, por qué no empezar a diagramarlo desde ya, ¿qué les parece? Y sientanse libres de difundir este anuncio y buscar gente que se nos una. Y si ni nos conocés, también no dudés en contactarnos aquí. Sugerencias, ¡también son bienvenidas!

Actualización (08/09): Parece que no estoy taaan loco, o no soy el único por lo menos: En esta nota unos chavones están pensando en hacer la ruta Salta-Cachi, cerca de 157km pero la diferencia de altitud es increíble: Salta está a 1182msnm, a mitad del camino, en Piedra del Molino se está a 3690msnm y Cachi mismo está a 2300msnm. Así que no estoy tan loco... además ellos titulan esta actividad como algo recreativo... Les dejo el vínculo

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cycling tour

In our daily chats at the university during lunch, the idea of doing a cycling tour came up a couple of weeks ago. We started exchanging some emails and putting ideas on where, when we could go, etc. This is the final email from Jan telling all details of it:

Dear all,

Over lunch we've discussed the plans for a bicycle tour this Sunday.
We settled on a tour along the "Malpie" heath to the south of Eindhoven.
Bring your own lunch, which we will have somewhere along the route.

date: 26 August
time: we leave at _exactly_ 11:00 from ******* (my address),
where you can have coffee between 10:00 and 11:00.

If you join but haven't confirmed so (neither orally nor by e-mail),
then please mail or tell me. If you'd like to include others in this
invitation, please forward this mail to them.

Address: find "********" on
it's in a black flat (one of four) called "Zomer"
(guess the other names :-)
phone: 040-########
cell phone: 06-########

Rianne, should we pick you up in Waalre?



And so did we. Let me tell you that the weather was kind of good (heavy fog in the morning, mostly clouded in the afternoon, temperatures averaging 20°C), the path we followed was very nice (some forests and heaths) and very nice routes.

We did some stops, just to drink some liquid and continue, one stop for having lunch and very in the end of the trip, we ended up into the Fiets Café near Aalst.

We enjoyed ourselves and a promise that we will do a new cycling tour in the future has been widely accepted. Of course, we will regret a bit tomorrow, as we will notice some pain after cycling about 57km...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cambio de look = Look change

Hoy fui a la peluquería. Este es el antes:
Today I went to the hair saloon. This is the before:

Y este es el después:
And this is the after:

¿Estoy loco? Seee, un poquitito :P
Am I crazy? Yeah, a little bit :P

Actualización (29/08): Algunas cosas han cambiado: está fresco allá arriba, y el champú no hace espuma...

Actualización (01/09): Aunque no lo parezca, muchos ni me reconocen y me tengo que volver a presentar... está bueno porque a veces quedo de incógnito :D

Update (29/08): Things have changed: it's cold up there! and the shampoo doesn't make any foam!

Update (01/09): It is unbelievable! many cannot recognize me and I have to re-introduce myself... it's kind of cool 'cause sometimes I'm an unknown :D

Thursday, August 23, 2007

There is a thing in my pocket...

There is a thing in my pocket, but it’s not one thing, it’s many. It’s the same as other things, but exactly like nothing else. It has an eye and an ear that shares what billions hear and see. It’s not a living thing, but if you feed it, it will grow. It can rally the masses, it can silence the crowd. It can speak a thousand words but it has no voice. It can find you the places, so you can't get lost. And it can let others feel what you’ve just been touched by. There is a thing in my pocket, but it’s not one thing, it’s many.

I'm delighted and too excited with this thing...

Update (01/09): BTW, this thing has already been in my pocket since the day I published this post :D I should say: in-cre-di-ble thing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A bad day

Today was a day quite special, everything went bad. Let me tell you what happened.

* I arrive at the university, log on to my computer and surprise: the system goes quite slow and my network wire is not working. Half an hour to solve the issues: use the wire of my room mate and reboot my computer (after almost two months up).

* I want to correct an error in the 3D acceleration of my graphic card. I follow the tutorial, all is good except the last step: my computer doesn't have graphic interface. I manage to start in a very rudimentary way, and try to find out what is going on. I get an email: I arrange an appointment at 3.

* Go to lunch, thinking what could be causing the trouble. Before I started touching anything, I have Xgl running together with Beryl. Now, I have a rudimentary gnome. It is awful! Read, google, repeat the tutorial.

* It is time for the appointment, I go to the office we should meet. It is 3:30 and nobody shows up. I go back to my office and read carefully the email: the appointment is for tomorrow. I get mad. Continue searching to solve the problem with my computer.

* Meanwhile, I try to reach by phone to my parents. The phone rings and rings, and nobody picks the call. I insist in finding the solution to the problem with the driver of my graphic card.

* I give up, decide it is time to work (it's 4:30pm). I read the paper, and meanwhile I check again the thing with the driver, and I got what was causing the problem: a conflict of version between driver and the kernel driver. I solve the problem: I leave the computer just as it was in the morning. The supposed error was just a bad understanding from myself.

* Time to work! But it is now 6pm, I'm exhausted, hungry and a music festival in front of the university, it is making noise, it doesn't make sense to stay here. When coming back home, I observe, the day is ok, 20 degrees, some rain in the vicinity which makes the air a bit humid and great to do some mountain biking. Decision made! Now, I go to do mountain bike.

* I enter the track in Best, it started to became wetter and wetter: after 5 minutes, I find out that all the rain fell here. I became muddy and wet, but badly muddy and wet. I go to the second track: it is just as wet as necessary to make it perfect. I kind of regret to have chosen this track first.

That was my day. And apart from all the above, it was Monday... a forgettable day.

Breaking news (21-08): I found out what has been going on with the cut of my internet cable: I was detected of downloading copyrighted material using e-donkey. They unplugged my cable to be sure of that. I didn't complain on that (because I exchange the wire of my roommate), but the guy from the computer facilities just came to let me know this. I got a warning: I cannot do it anymore, it is prohibited by the Dutch law. To be honest I didn't suspect on that as the reason, but anyway, let's follow the rule, apologize for not doing things right and let everybody (including me) be happy. And most interestingly, I haven't turned up e-donkey because of all problems I faced yesterday. Now, it is funny how this guy said to me: "those things you can do it at home, this is none of our business (...) The law does allow the exchange of music files but is doesn't allow videos files.". But if it is prohibited all across The Netherlands that also includes home, and why it is applicable for videos and not for movies. I'll investigate on this and try to avoid legal sanctions.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Día de acción del blog = Blog Action Day

Esta es una buena idea y la estoy apoyando. Sólo hacé clic en la imagen y leé de lo que se trata.

This is a good idea and I'm supporting it. Just click on the image and read what this is about.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Give me the money back!

Some weeks ago I went with some friends to the beach and we went by car. As we cannot go to the beach with the car we have to park it in a parking lot. After two hours of traffic jams we managed to find a place and come to the beach to enjoy. After all fun and joy we return to the parking lot to take the car and come back home.

So, after queuing a quarter of an hour to pay, I decided to do so with my credit card, just to make it fast. And indeed it was faster than we had imagined: the machine took the card and put it out in nothing of time. But the parking was paid. We were happy.

A time after, checking my financial situation, I checked my credit card balance too: Surprise! the parking had been charged twice. So, I started with all the bureaucratic circuit to claim my money back.

First I called the credit card bank. They asked me to contact the company that charged twice and ask them gently to reimburse the money incorrectly charged. If after this inquire I didn't have a satisfactory reply, we could start a formal reimbursement claim.

Second, I tried to find out which company is managing the parking lot, or at least the automatic payment machines. I googled, and googled and didn't find anything. So, as a intermediate step, I decided to make a complaint to the municipality, asking for the information I was looking for.

Some days past and no response. Some further googling and no luck, no way to get in touch with the parking company. Therefore, I asked to proceed with the reimbursement complain from the bank. They sent me by post the forms to fill in and initiate the complaint.

The days I got such forms, I got a response from the municipality:

Dear Mr. Villegas,

You posted a message at about paying for parking in the corner of the Zwolsestraat and Harstenhoekweg. The pay & display machines outdoors in this area don't accept payment by credit card. For this reason it is difficult to address your question properly.

This brings me to the following. An explanation might be that you parked your car in the indoor car park Parking Scheveningen Bad. You may find this facility on the Internet at: . The company operating this car park is:


I got a phone number to contact the company. So did I, and surprisingly I talk to a guy who was in charge of the reimbursement of all affected people by the machines. They were going to credit the money back in a couple of days, I just had to wait and the money had to get back.

And, guess what, the money got back. The credit the second (and wrong) charge and the procedure was in practice finished.

This is just an example of how the problems must be carried out.

* You have to be patient, very patient. It took me three weeks in total to get what I wanted to.

* In all moments, the involved people just tried to make me happy, especially the guy from the guilty company. No excuses, just recognized their error.

* The drawback: I spent some time searching, talking on the phone and stressing myself thinking about how stupid I was by using this automatic payment machines.

* It was only for 10€... but finally I got what it was the correct thing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

La burocracia = The bureaucracy

Desde que vine aquí he escuchado muchas quejas sobre la burocracia por todos lados de este país. También me he quejado en su momento al principio, tal vez por el choque cultural, pero de un tiempo a esta parte me acostumbré. Simplemente tenés que hacer todo a como se dice y más o menos se hará así.

Mucha gente se queja sobre esto. Se quiere más flexibilidad y que las cosas se hagan de una manera más simple, con sentido común más que aferrarse a las reglas. Esto es bueno, especialmente para mí, ya que vengo de un país donde las reglas son un mero adorno y todo el mundo hace lo que se le viene en gana.

El problema aquí es que muchas veces nadie tiene conocimiento de las reglas, y se empieza a aplicar la regla como se piensa que es. Y luego, los problemas empiezan porque generalmente la interpretación de la regla es por lejos irracional.

Ahora les contaré algo que me pasó hoy, es un simple e inofensivo ejemplo. Tenía algunos problemas con mi cuenta de usuario en la universidad así que fui a la mesa de ayuda de informática, conocido como BCF. La principal razón de mi vista estaba resuelta (como un ejemplo más a las leyes de Murphy), y aprovechando la visita a esta oficina me acordé de otro problemilla en el que me podrían ayudar.

El tema es el siguiente: tengo una cuenta de usuario que es jvillega y quería que me la cambiaran a algo con más sentido, como josevillegas o simplemente jvillegas como para tener una buena dirección de email con ese nombre de usuario. Aquí es donde las contradicciones empiezan.

El chavón que me atendió me dijo que no hay problema, que lo podíamos hacer en ese mismo momento. Sólo me preguntó que si estaba seguro porque todos mis datos actuales se iban a borrar. Le dije que no estaba bien seguro pero que me diera unos minutos para chequearlo y luego proceder con el cambio.

Ahí apareció una especie-de-jefe a quien el chavón le comentó lo que iba a hacer. ¡Imposible! dijo. Aquí es donde las hilachas holandesas aparecen: "El reglamento dice que el nombre de usuario debe estar compuesto por la primera inicial del nombre más siete caracteres como máximo del apellido". Luego de explicarle que el nombre de usuario actual suena estúpido como para una dirección de email, y que es sólo una estúpida letra la que marca la diferencia y bla bla... sólo se limitó a justificar la regla... no hay forma de saltarla. Luego de unos minutos de absurdas explicaciones y justificaciones dije ma' sí, hacé lo que quieras...

Sólo un pensamiento de mi parte: este es de hecho un ejemplo insignificante y estúpido en el que las reglas sólo generan problemas. Para ellos es simplemente apretar un par de teclas para hacerlo y todo el mundo está contento. Además no es un gran problema administrativo el que se genera como se lo estaba pintando. Sin embargo, porque el reglamento está ahí, lo tenemos que acatar. Es un ejemplo muy boludo, pero en próximos posts voy a contarles algunas situaciones vividas por mis amigos que son completamente locas.

Luego voy a tratar de nuevo: Voy a ir cuando haya otro chavón atentendiendo, pidiéndole que lo haga bien rápido porque lo necesito urgente. Nadie se va a dar cuenta luego y voy a lograr mi cometido. Desafortunadamente esta parace ser la única manera de lograrlo :)

Actualización (16/8): Obtuve un nombre de usuario más decente para mi página personal Parece que la webmaster no es tan quisquillosa aplicando las reglas...

Since I'm here I've been hearing complains from people about the bureaucracy, everywhere in this country. I have complained too at the beginning of my stay but from some months to now I somehow got used to it. You have to follow what the rule says and generally everything will be carried out according to the plan.

Many people, though, cannot stand this. They require more flexibility and that all things should be carried out with common sense more than everything sticked to the rules. That is good, especially for me as I came from a country where the rules are a mere decoration and everybody does whatever he/she wants.

The problem here is that many times nobody knows how the rules are, and they start applying them to what they think the rules are. And then, problems start, generally because this understanding is far from a rational one.

In this post I tell you something that happened today actually: after some troubles with my user account at the University I went to the Bureau of Computers Facilities, a.k.a. BCF. The main reason for my visit was solved (Murphy laws always hold in this situations), and taking advantage of my visit to that office I remember another issue on which they could certainly help me.

The thing is the following. I have a user name which is jvillega and I wanted to change it to something more meaningful, like josevillegas, or simply jvillegas in order to have a nice email address with that user name. Here the contradictions start:

The guy who first attended me told me no problem, we can do it right now! Just asked me whether in my current account I have any sensitive data (because they were going to be erased). I wasn't so sure, so I asked him to give some minutes to check it, and then proceed with the change.

Then a kind-of-supervisor showed up, to whom the guy commented what he was going to do. He said impossible! Here is where the Dutch bureaucratic felling appears: "The rule says that the user name must be composed by the first initial followed by seven letters of the family name." After explaining that the current user name for an email address sounds silly, that is only a stupid letter which makes the difference and bla bla... he just attached himself to the rule... there is no way to jump it. After a few minutes of absurd explanations and justifications I gave up...

Only a thought from my side: This is a very stupid example when the rules are only generating problems. For them is a key stroke away to have everybody happy. Moreover it is not a big administrative issue as he tried to paint it. However, because the rule is there, we have to stick to it. This is a very stupid example, I'll start in coming posts to enumerate some others situations experienced by some friends which are really silly.

After this I'll make a new attempt: I'll go when some other guy is behind the counter and ask him to do it very quickly that I need the change asap. Then nobody will realize and that is, I'll accomplish my desire. Unfortunately this seems to be the only way out :)

Update (16/8): Finally I got a more decent user name for my web page account: It's It seems they aren't so strict applying rules...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A strange star

I was with a friend at home watching the supposed star shower this weekend from my balcony. The sky was totally clear, very unusual. While trying to see any star falling in the sky we have this conversation:

-Look at this moving star
-Where?, I cannot see anything
-There, it is like a big plane, do you see it?
-There (I point to it)
-Ah, yeah, it is big, it could be a satellite
-I don't know, it is too big and it is not a plane because it doesn't have blinking lights
-Maybe it is a plane, but anyway it is so big, eh?
-I don't think it is a satellite, for me satellites are fixed from our view
-No, it depends in which orbit they are.

And we watch this light moving from west to east. As he is a bit fun of all this stuff, he checked the visible astronomical events at And this was the ISS, namely the International Space Station. So, we saw the ISS, and now I was laughing for all the conclusions we were drawing.

BTW, this web page is very interesting. It says where and when watch all this satellites and flying stuff. Very interesting, now I'll regularly check to see the Irradium satellites which reflect the sunshine at only one point, like a flash. Although I think it is very unlikely to happen: the satellite must pass along Eindhoven and more importantly, the sky must be clear... But to all curious guys, register at heavens-above and tell me what you can see in other places with better visibility...

Update (14/8): As it couldn't be otherwise, the sky was covered to watch the stars shower. See report from Expatica

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Él" Verano = "The" summer

Yeah, finally summery weather. This has been one out of a few weekends (actually 2 or maybe 3) with a really good weather to hang out and do just nothing. This time, as it couldn't be otherwise, I manage to do something. This is one email I sent over to some friends, after my proposal to do something and having got an offer from couple of friends.

Hi everybody!

I haven't received any confirmation from you about going to the beach as I individually told you. I'm going to, together with a couple of friends. They suggested to go to Vrowenpolder, it's close to Middelburg very to the south-west of The Netherlands. The trip by train is about 2 hours 'cause of bad connections :( But the sea water seems to be a bit warmer than the rest of beaches, it's more to the south that the most famous ones and closer to the Caribbean :)

So, there are various alternatives to reach there. The easiest is by car, but we don't have enough room to get there by car :( and surely there will be plenty of traffic jams on the way.

The next (for lazy people) it's to go all the way by public transport: train to Vlissingen, and then bus to the beach. We have to be careful with this alternative as this latter bus runs every 2 hours! Check for schedules.

The one that I prefer is to go by train to Middelburg, and from there go by bike to the beach. It is a short ride of about 10 kms to Vrowenpolder.

Once there, the plan is do nothing, just lie on the sand, take some sunshine to get some sun tan color! You can bring playing cards, or any other entertainment that doesn't require too much concentration. I'll bring some mate (Argentine tea), cookies and snacks. Afterwards, we can find a place to have dinner if you want, or bring our sandwiches to the very Dutch style :) And that's essentially the plan.

One thing I'll ask you is to confirm who are joining me. In case nobody comes, I can go by car with my friends (the laziest way :P), and I have to wake up early (we leave at 9am!!). So please, let me know asap. Any other suggestions are welcome, you can invite friends, and people that want to enjoy the seemingly last summery weekend of this season in the low countries :'(

Keep in touch, and greetings to all of you.

And with Natalia-tuc, Pepijn, Gustavo and Colina we went to Vrowenpolder, very to the south-west in The Netherlands. Temperatures soaring around 30°C, very mild water (not cold at all I should say), and not too many people as it happened in the traditional beaches. The drawback: the traffic jams, but despite this, we manage to find conversation topics, a good radio to listen to, and now, I'm creaming my skin after too much sunshine :)

PS. I cannot find pictures from yesterday's other beaches. They were extremely crowded!

Update (9/8): Pics available at my photoblog ;)

Another update: the good weather lasted only that very weekend and it couldn't be otherwise. It's really depressing, too depressing indeed. Some links on news about it