argentina throwback: overdue

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 
This should have been my first post, but oh well, it is now time to meet my family!
 
Silvia and Gustavo (mom and dad)  

Remiro and Soledad (sister and her boyfriend)
Ro and Agustin (brother and his girlfriend)
also, my grandma and her sister.
(my grandma is the one with white hair.)
mom and me.
pops and me.
Brittany (my other american roommate)
she is freaking out about reading 50 pages in spanish.

Yeah! I love my family.

argentina throwback: put your cheese on the necky

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

With a holiday on April 1, three of my friends and I decided that since we had no Friday classes, we would take a mini-vacation, Tuesday through Monday in Bariloche! Bariloche is a touristy ski town in Patagonia, surrounded by the Andes mountains. So ready for a 20 hour bus ride, which might sound painful, we begin:
Tuesday: Board the El Rapido Argentino for a 20 hour bus ride. Discover we are the only passengers on the huge double decker bus except for the second driver and a policeman who gets to ride free. PARTY! We make friends with the second driver, Daniel, and he lets us watch three movies in a row. Strange Relatives. Mr. Woodcock. The Break Up. A steak dinner (airplane food style), then it was bedtime. Fully reclining seats and 8 hours later, we wake up around 10am with two hours left.
Wednesday: Two hours full of beautiful Andes mountain sights. We arrive at the bus terminal without a real idea of where we are going to stay the night. I had sort of made a reservation at a cabin, but when we had the taxi take us there, we decided to stay elsewhere along the lake. So after a 20 peso taxi ride, we walked with all our stuff 3km back in the direction we came, asking prices at places along the way. After two hours or so, we decided on a place called Bungalows La Caleta, a beautiful little establishment overlooking the lake at the perfect price…a whole cabin with 5 beds and a kitchen for only about $40/night so $10 per person. Our view:
Great to be in Argentina. We settle in and venture into town. We discover many tour guide stands and MANY chocolate places, including a small Swiss restaurant, Chalet Swisse. Overpriced, but the fondue was worth every penny.
After indulging ourselves with every fruit dipped in endless chocolate, we found a grocery store and bought food for our cabin and sandals for Katie. We also booked a rafting adventure for Thursday. Since we were on vacation, we purchased some vino (wine) and retired to our bungalow for the night. Luckily, a movie was on in English, so we curled up and fell asleep.
Thursday: Up at 8am to catch the rafting bus by 9am. Four of us and six other travelers head out on a two hour van ride to private land owned by RaftingAdventure.com. A two hour van ride full of a language barrier. The guides were great and were trying to tell me jokes in Spanish. Man oh man, humor is so hard to translate. I made friends with the girl who was the photographer of the trip. We talked about art in Argentina versus the US. Then led by Damien (a crazy Argentine guide) and some other cool rafters, we reach the meeting lodge.
We eat a small breakfast and then get fitted for our wetsuits. Yes wetsuits. We all looked like whales.
We also got red windproof (not waterproof) jackets to wear. Load into the van again. Then we are at the water’s edge. The Manso River. We piled on more and more equipment before boarding the raft with Geranamo, our guide.
We were in the English raft. Although his English was humorous at times, as I am sure my Spanish is. He taught us the commands. And taught us to put our “cheese” on the “necky” if we fell out of the raft. Necky is the name of the kayak brand (there were two kayaks who came with just in case). Cheese meant chin. We told him cheese was queso. He said he had only heard one American say it one time. Thought they said cheese. He laughed. We had way too much fun with it. We also had way too much fun with the names of the rapids…Flinestones, Devil’s Intestine, Deep Throat, Ecstasy, Relax, Vaseline. They just kept getting better and better. We were mostly going over class II and III rapids but we had one IV that was pretty amazing. After each rapid encounter, we would put our paddles in the middle of the raft and cheer. Success. We also went swimming. I happened to be pulled in by one of the kayakers who thought I looked “too dry.” The sights were beautiful. Breathtaking rock formations caused by years of water. When we went, the water was at its low. It is about 5m higher in October. It was still so fun. Water crashing over your head. Paddling faster and faster to make it over the holes and rocks. Enjoying the moments of tranquility. After two hours, we reached the edge, literally. Chile was right there. But we had to stay in Argentina, so we got out and hiked up a very steep hill, took a picture with the Chile sign, then changed into dry clothes. We got in the van and went back for a traditional asado (BBQ). Meat and more meat. Amazing! Lots of bees though. Difficult to enjoy steak and sausage while attempting to kill many bees. Full to the brim, we board the van and sleep the two hour ride back to town. We buy groceries and retire. Another English movie. Bed.
Friday: Too tired from rafting, we wake up around 1pm and head to town. What to do… we decide to get some more chocolate and explore the town a bit more. We make some purchases and discover a small market. We meet a woman from South Africa who was studying in Chile, got bored and is now traveling and selling her crafts. She was sharing a table with a woman from Salta, north of Buenos Aires. All her necklaces were made from shells and seeds and rocks. I told her I loved the natural things she used. She said that she thought I might be an artist after I told her I was majoring in art and English. I bought two necklaces from her for only $7. We went to a locutorio (internet cafe) and registered for our Fall 2008 Michigan classes, then sat by the lake. We discovered an ice skating rink, but it was small and boring looking. We book a trip to Tronador for Saturday. We buy groceries and retire. Another English movie. Bed.
Saturday: Up by 8am to get the 9am van ride. One hour ride, then a break to take pictures. One hour more, then another scenic sight.
One hour more, up and up we go. Up to the top of Tronador.
Wikipedia: Tronador is a stratovolcano in the border between Argentina and Chile near Bariloche, separating two National Parks: Nahuel Huapi in Argentina and Vicente PĂ©rez Rosales in Chile. It is covered by seven glaciers (Frias, Alerce, Castaño Overo, Manso, Peulla, Casa Pangue y RĂ­o Blanco) and it is 3,491 meters high. It was named Tronador (Spanish for ‘Thunderer’) by locals in reference of the sound of falling seracs. It was first climbed byHermann Claussen solo on 29 January 1934, after several attempts.
Although the van tour was entirely in Spanish, so we could only catch some of the touristy facts, we did get to see some amazing sights. One: the Black Glacier. We were there to witness global warming at its worst. A chuck of the glacier fell off into the river right before our very eyes. The glacier is huge and black from the dirty water.
Two: a paradise of waterfalls near the top. About 10 different waterfalls line the mountain on the backside of the glacier. Amazing. Even though it was pouring rain, we trekked up a stone path to capture the waterfalls at their best. Green made greener by the rain. I looked up in awe at this natural paradise. Mouth open wide catching raindrops. Shielding my camera from the rain, mostly unsuccessfully. Basking in the beauty.
Then, after the best hot chocolate known to man, we board the van and sleep as we drive back down the mountain and into town. We make the worst concoction of spaghetti, spinach, white beans, peas, and not enough tomato sauce for dinner. Then, we write a song. A rap rather. It is good. We are going to make a music video. I watch American Idol results. Then we listen to music. Watch a movie. Go to bed.
Sunday: Wake up. Realize that in a fit of OCD-ness, I had ripped up and thrown out my return bus ticket. Take a moment to freak out. Clean up. Check out. Walk to town. Bum around. Buy chocolate. Best chocolate store…Mamuschka.
Drink coffee. Attempt to eat at Friends, a restaurant with a real American breakfast, but service takes way too long, so we leave and get empanadas at Crocodile’s. Get a taxi to the bus terminal. Ask the desk what to do about my lost ticket. They tell me to go report it to the police. I walk over to the police desk. It is closed. I tell the ticket desk. They finally ask for my ID. I show them it. I show them my friends’ tickets. They make a note for the driver to let me on. Man oh man…language barrier break down. When the police station was closed, I was near tears. Would I be stuck in beautiful Bariloche? Would I have to spend even more money on another ticket? No No No. I boarded the bus, and there was Daniel, our friend from the trip there. All would be okay. We get situated. I write in my journal and calm down. Explaining you ripped up your ticket and threw it away thinking it was the old one is difficult to explain in Spanish, but I survived. We drove past the most amazing cliffs and mountains and sunset and sunrise.
Monday: We arrive home to Buenos Aires at 11:30am. Home sweet home. Returning to my house makes it feel more like home than ever. I kiss my mom hello. I hug my dad hello. I unpack and rush to get to class. I learn how to use a professional videocamera to make my documentary film, then I go home and breathe. In and out. In and out. Join the gym three doors down from my house. Catch up on my 50 emails. Blog my adventures. Smell dinner. It is good to have a starting point. I feel grounded. Buenos Aires is home now. Bariloche is a vacation.
Tomorrow I start painting. Last week I started dance. It was great. A good work out. Although the choreography was a little, um, childish. It is great to be dancing again though. Classes are great. Life is amazing. Patagonia is paradise. But sometimes, Ann Arbor seems so far away…
Oh and also, I learned that even I can make Guacamole. Oh yes. Oh yes.
How I long to be back in Bariloche already…

argentina throwback: RENTed espacio

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 

trouble in paradise. find the news. if you can read spanish…

if not…
the argentine president has raised the export tax on all goods to 45%. the response: lots of protests consisting of banging pots and pans up and down every street while walking towards plaza de mayo where the casa roja (congress) is located. all the while encouraging cars to honk honk honk into the wee hours. newspapers have shown fights. it has become an endless topic among the city. my spanish teacher’s response: argentina is crazy. you thought the tango was what we’re about, wrong, insane political protests! no worries. i am safe. but it is quite a sight.
on the bright side.
i saw RENT in spanish last night. amazing. amazing amazing. luckily i knew all the words in english by heart, so translating the plot and songs was easy. the actors and singers and dancers were absurd though. so energetic and convincing. voices just sound prettier with a hispanic accent. it was opening night. it cost 25 pesos…less than $10. it was a beautiful display of everything i love.
the night continued with amazing steak for free. for my friend noah’s 21st celebration.
the day started with an amazing argentine poetry class where we spent 1.5 hours discussing only the first two stanzas of Jorge Lois Borges’ “The Art of Poetry“. click to read it in english of course. but we compared spanish and english. translations damage the words. sort of fed up with english translations of the brilliant Borges.
following poetry, mia, kevin, robbie, and i headed to the museo nacional de bellas artes. national art museum. great huge collection. a statue i am obsessed with by Rodin called “Hand of God”
and a photographer who created beautiful mapped images, Georges Rousse. a brief pause for lunch, then more museum, then a continuation of lunch conversation. the ability to define and uphold unconditional love. leading to a discussion with mia and kevin about christian science later on the walk home. leading to conversations about liminal moments and contradictions.
agreeing that you cannot have answers without questions.
walked home. got asked for a cigarette by a seedy character. i said no fumo. he asked for money to buy some. i said no tengo monedas. he asked for a cell phone. i walked faster. do not worry. mia and kevin were close ahead.
then clang clang clang pots and pans the whole walk home. then stuck in traffic of protest in a taxi trying to get to RENT. arrive. back to beginning.
tonight. perhaps a repeat performance of the jazz club. with Loli Molina. our new young voice to ease the pain.

argentina throwback: semana santa y mis visitantes

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 

Well apparently after only one week of classes, my program decided we needed a break, an Easter break! I had Thursday through Monday off. Monday was not off because of Easter but because it was memorial day for the war over the Falkland Islands. But since I do not have classes on Tuesday either, I had a very nice break, during which my favorite fake-Chilean and her Australian roomie came to visit me. Kelly and Sam. I was not much of a tour guide due to my March 1 arrival. Two weeks did not make me a professional. They, on the other hand, were prepped and ready with Kelly’s Lonely Planet guide book to discover the city. So I tagged along offering whatever help I could.

Tuesday: Kelly and Sam arrive and eat meat. I meet them in some small restaurant on Lavalle where it is apparent that the workers are eager to close. So we travel back to their hostel near San Telmo and get a recommendation for a fun bar. La Puerta Roja. The three of us hang out and drink a beer while I learn how to decipher Sam’s Aussi accent. It took me a day, but now I have the hang of it. Words to learn from Sam: jumper = sweater, runners = tennis shoes, fanny = vagina. Good to know.
Wednesday: I have classes, but then I meet them later in the park. We attempt to go to this sushi club and dance show on the water in Puerto Madero, but apparently our online reservation does not make it through correctly. So instead we walk a bit further and eat sushi without the dance show. It was a very nice dinner with very nice people haha. A storm erupts and we get to watch all the people eating outside scramble for cover. The storms here are amazing. Brief and loud. Beautiful streaks of lightning and thunder and loud downpours of water all calmed within the half hour. I think we call it a night and head home, but I could be wrong because it is hard to remember.
Thursday: First the largest bookstore in South America, El Ateneo.
Then, San Telmo baby. We head to the hippies. We stare at all the goods laid out on blankets on the street, tour a small store with lots of treasures, and make friends with a toothless, dreaded man playing the guitar and some other instruments. He sits down at our table and asks me if I like Bob Marley. “Por supuesto.” So he begins…no woman no cry…I think those were the only lyrics he knew in English because he hummed the rest and then randomly transitioned into everything’s gonna be all right. He introduced us to his friends and we gave him some change. Then another band set up on the Plaza and we enjoyed an amazing drum solo along with a blues voice that unexpectedly came out of a hippie looking man. We sifted through some antique shops and took the subte back to Palermo so we could catch our reservation at Thelonius, a local jazz club. It was amazing. The singer apparently performs there Thursday, and now my roomie Brittany is obsessed, sooo we are going again this Thursday. She was pretty amazing. Although the percussionist was a bit cheesy with his t-shirt displaying a chain necklace on it. Brittany’s friend Zac and his gay uncles who were visiting came also. Tons of fun. Talked of art and music and San Francisco, my home away from home. After the club….it was
Friday: We headed to Plaza Serrano for more partying and ran into my friends. We hung out with them and got some nachos at Nativo. Then headed back to meet up with some other friends. Around 6am, I went home. Kelly and Sam went back to their new hostel in Recoleta. But despite our distance, we all watched the same sunrise around 6:30 or 7. I finally stayed awake for a sunrise… After many hours of sleep, I met them at their hostel at the time they decided, 2:30pm, but not to my surprise, they were both passed out still. The front desk woman told me to go wake their butts up. By 3:30pm, we had begun our “American” day in BA. It started with a quick lunch at McDonalds. Then off to the amazing tourist site of Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried. It is a city in itself. And so bizarre to be able to see all the mausoleums with coffins within hand’s reach. A crazy tradition we have….keeping dead bodies in wooden boxes surrounded by cement buildings, where the bigger they are the more important you are or were I guess.
Next, off to a photography exhibit to the Borges Cultural Center. Rene Burri. Interesting images. My favorites were of people, like Picasso and Che. His work seems very documentary but with this edge of leaving out the truth at the same time. Then we tried to go see The Bodies exhibit, but after traveling to the ticket sales place aka the mall, we discovered it is now in Santiago, lucky for Kelly and Sam, not for me. So we went back to my house to regroup since our plans were foiled. Decided to go to a theatre work, got there, computer was broke… typical South America…. so they would not sell us tickets. So again we returned homeward and decided to see a movie. Darjeeling Unlimited. Very good if you like Wes Anderson films. We were a bit early so again we burned some time at McDonalds. They are ridiculously nice here. Cafe section. Ice cream section. Then the normal food section. Finished film. Went to sleep.
Saturday: The weekend markets. Recoleta. Then Plaza Serrano. Lots and lots of shopping and people. I still have not bought anything. I do not know why I have not been in compulsive shopping mode like usual. Maybe I have finally learned how to save… probably not. After a day of shopping and finding the infamous bookmaking store we were searching for all day, we had dinner. Then Sam and Kelly went to the theatre work we couldn’t get into the night before, but I rested. Too much for me for one weekend. But, I think I will have to go see it now. Because it was blind theater. In complete darkness. They tell the whole story through smells and sounds and touches. Crazy. While they were gone, Brittany and I watched Across the Universe. My obsession. When everyone returned, we headed to Plaza Serrano once more to grab a drink before Kelly and Sam caught their 6:45am flight. Hoesgarrden. Look it up. Good stuff. Lucky Sam.
Sunday: Visitors gone. Easter here. CHOCOLATE EGG TIME.
My “mom” gave me one before she left on vacation. But my “sister” said I could not eat it until Easter. Turns out, it was worth the wait and was filled with chocolate covered peanuts. Yum. For the long weekend, everyone left the house. I was all alone. Scary at first. Very nice at second. Spent the day relaxing. Calling the family.
Monday: Recuperation day number two. A lot of Dawson’s Creek, my other obsession. Some homework. Then a headache. Then a bath. Then sleep.
Tuesday: Errands. Picked up my Media and Society (documentary film class) coursepack. Lots of reading to do before next Monday. I still need to come up with more in-depth film themes. My classes are going great though. My schedule is as follows:
Media and Society (film class)
Argentine Poetry (Borges and other amazing poets that I cannot wait to read)
Spanish (required, but sounds fun and lots of group projects)
Painting (doesn’t start until April 4, but at an Argentine art university)
Jazz (doesn’t start until March 31, but at an Argentine dance university)
So, overall an amazing schedule in my eyes. All of which will transfer back to Michigan and be applied towards my majors! Meanwhile, I am also trying to organize my Fall 2008 schedule for Michigan which I have to register for on April 3. Craziness.
A list of noted cultural differences for you:
everyone wears shoes inside. brittany and i still don’t. i like barefeet.
you have to ask for the bill when you want it. they do not bring it unless you ask. so you can sit there all day and they will think you are still doing fine.
children all wear uniforms that look like lab coats to school. different colors and styles mean different schools and grades.
dinner is at 9:30pm.
no one sleeps until around 2am.
they love the simpsons. (i guess that is a cultural similarity)
cigarettes and coffee are accepted as an essential part of everyone’s lives.
boys and girls cannot be just friends. you either are dating a boy, or you have all girlfriends.
plastic surgery is like a right of passage.
converse all stars are golden!
Okay. Homework calls. In Spanish. Get out the dictionary….

argentina throwback: mar del plata

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 

This past weekend, I traveled a five hour trip to Mar del Plata, a beach bum town resembling Santa Monica, CA. The bus ride there was great. Reclinable seats that almost laid flat. A bathroom. A movie. A beautifully scenic ride of lots of flat fields. And then we arrived.

Friday: We got to the hostel by cab around 8pm. Playa Grande Hostel. The eight of us, one guy and seven girls, shared a room with four bunk beds. Each of us had our own locker to keep our belongings safe. We got situated and then went in search of sweaters because at night the weather gets windy and chilly around the ocean. Some people were unprepared for this. On our search, we found an amazing ice cream shop that sold anything you wanted dipped in chocolate. They of course had my favorite, chocolate covered bananas. I got one each day I was there.
We also befriended a stray dog who continued to randomly appear around us the rest of the weekend. We then ate the biggest hamburgers ever at this restaurant called NetPoint. These burgers were literally the size of a dinner plate. The special was a beer and burger for about $4 USD. We could not pass it up. Two people got all you can eat pizza for cheap also, which ended up being very beneficial for breakfast and late night snacking on the leftovers.
After dinner, we headed to the beach. Where else would we go? We hung out on the rocks until it got too cold for us to bare. Also, until we began being followed around by the security guard for sitting on the private beach furniture. It is so odd. All the 8km of beaches there are covered with chairs and clubhouses and playgrounds and such that is for members only. Then in front of all that stuff is the public sandy beach. It is really bizarre to look at from above. After the beach, we threw ourselves our own dance party on the plaza overlooking the ocean. Around 3am we called it quits and retired for the night in our very uncomfortable bunk beds.
Saturday: Up around 11am, we ventured in search of the perfect beach. After a 30min bus ride, we arrived at la playa de los pescadores. A beautiful beach with lots of sand and crashing waves. There is not much more to say here. We laid on our towels until around 6pm with intermissions for running into the cold water and lunch.
Then we bussed back and took a short nap. We met two other Americans in the hostel and we all went to a seafood restaurant a short cab ride away. The seafood was pretty good. I had “ramas” or calamari, but we think they snuck in some onion rings… and some white salmon which was delicious. After a two or three hour dinner (eating out in Argentina is the slowest process ever), we decided to walk home instead of taking a cab. On our walk, we passed a circus, a naval base, and then came across the best thing ever, illegal drag racing. Walking walking and then all the sudden we see three cars stop, one person get out and do the Grease-style start. And away they went. So we kept walking and came across the beginning…a plaza filled with cars and people and music. We made friends with some locals who told us this happens every Saturday night. There is motorcycle races also, but those are on hold because two weeks ago a bunch of the racers got arrested. Crazy Argentines! After hanging out on the plaza until 2am, we went back to the hostel. I crashed along with two of my friends while everyone else went out and came home the next day at 8am…
Sunday: We all woke up sunburnt. VERY sunburnt. It was just as beautiful and hot as Saturday, but there were a few clouds luckily. We got a breakfast of yogurt and medialunas (croissants…the Spanish means half-moons, cute huh?) and then headed to the beach. We went to the close beach this time, only 2 blocks from our hostel. Slept on the beach until around 3pm when we grabbed some lunch and our last chocolate dipped deliciousness and headed for the bus ride home. 5 hours of sleep then a taxi ride from the bus station and ready for bed.
Monday: I started classes. They were great. I placed into the Advanced Spanish class, which is great because that means I only have class two days a week. Our teacher is Silvia, a very fun woman who studied theater and literature in college. I think it will be a blast. That class is every Monday and Wednesday from 11-1. Then I had my Media and Society class, which is a film class where we get to make our own documentary film. It sounds amazing. The teacher, Julian, is a painter who has studied here and in San Francisco. He is really down to Earth and driven. The class is going to be a lot of work, but it will be great to leave with a product of my own, my own film about an aspect of Argentina. I have already had to start thinking about what I want my topic to be. I am thinking something to do with dance or art of course. I went out last night with my housemate Brittany and her friends. Celebrated St. Patty’s Day…they close off two blocks here! Learned about the famous beer here: SCHNEIDER!
Tuesday: Today. I do not start my classes at the Argentine universities until the end of March, so until then, I have Tuesdays free. I took advantage of my day off by running some errands. I figured out the post office. I used an ATM for the first time and found out it only costs $3USD to take out money from my account at home. I bought envelopes and discovered an art supply store, which I will need in a few weeks when I start painting class. I went grocery shopping. And I bought a lighter so I can start the stove whenever I need to (it requires you to light the gas manually). An overall amazing, relaxing day. Tonight, Kelly (Michigan friend currently studying in Chile) and her housemate are coming for the holiday weekend. Got to love Semana Santa (or Easter). I plan to have a great weekend exploring with them! Enjoy your holidays! I wish I could be there for my Aunt Karen’s good cooking.
Here are some pictures from the Estancia I mentioned in my last post also:
P.S. For the technologically impaired, if you want to see the pictures bigger, right click and save them and then open them, or just drag them to your desktop.

argentina throwback: muchas mĂĄs cosas

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

Yeah! I figured out how to load pictures…just needed to downsize the file size. So…

This week has been filled with mini-adventures.
Sunday: The neighborhood Recoleta has a market on the weekends which is amazing. There are many stands for jewelry and leather and food and clothing and such. It is located right outside the famous Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried. It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were laying in the plaza and enjoying the surroundings. My friend Nora and I plopped down just in time to watch a Capoeira show, an art form that is a combination of dance, fighting, and acrobatics. There were flips and kicks…it was very impressive. Maybe I will take a class while I am down here. I did not tour the cemetery, but don’t worry, it is on the list. It is surrounded by big brick walls and the tombs are small buildings with beautiful architecture. A must see photo stop.
Monday: We visited the Obelisco, which is a large fallic monument much like the one in Washington D.C. It is the symbol for the nation and for Buenos Aires. There is a small plaza surrounding it with plaques displaying the provinces of Argentina. Nothing too special, although we had to fill out this worksheet by asking the locals walking by, and one man told me that the Obelisco was the symbol for the masculinity of the city. “Look at it, can’t you tell.”

 

Tuesday: Our orientation Spanish class take a trip to Plaza San MartĂ­n, a beautiful park overlooking Argentina’s own Big Ben, or el torre de los ingles (the tower from the English). San MartĂ­n was the general for the Argentine army during the war over the Malvinas islands with the English. The plaza has many benches and monuments and beautiful, sunny areas to relax. There is also a memorial for the soldiers that died. It is guarded by two guards at all times, sort of like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the US. The Plaza also has a special area fenced in just for dogs. Dogs are EVERYWHERE here. In the mornings, there are dog walkers with about 12-15. A great sight to behold. Although, this also means lots of dog poop on the sidewalks. You definitely walk with your eyes down here, unless you have a good nose. Plaza San MartĂ­n also has great trash cans! There are made of recycled bottles and papers.
Wednesday: I visited the two Argentine universities that I will be attending, IUNA-Danza and IUNA-Artes. I will be taking painting at the art school and jazz at the dance school. The students seem very chill, and it felt great to be around people who share my passions. The art school is an hour bus ride away to the neighborhood of La Boca, which is supposed to be pretty dangerous on some streets after dark, but I am told we will be fine because the bus stop is right outside the school. The dance school is about 30 minutes away on the Subte A line, which is the only subway line that still has historical wooden railcars. Classes do not begin at these places until the end of March/beginning of April though, so I will just have to wait!
Thursday: Today was the LAST day of orientation. We took our Spanish placement exam. I will find out how that went tomorrow when I go to register for classes, BUT to celebrate, my program took us to an estancia or to the farmlands in the outskirts of BA. It was an hour bus ride, and then we arrived at luxury. It was like an Argentine country club. There were two pools and lots of delicious food, including 5 different entrees of meat that kept coming. Steak, then chicken, then ribs, then the traditional asado, then something else that I could not eat because I was WAY too full. After the ridiculous lunch, I spent the day sunning and hanging with my friends. We played on the playground, rode wild horses, saw llamas and sheep and cows and ostriches, played volleyball and fĂștbol (soccer), and had an amazing day! The bus ride home was full of sleep, mainly because sun and the Argentine favorite, Fernet, are not a good mix. I will post pictures of El Campo Rodizio (la estancia) later in the week when I load them onto my computer.
Now I must pack for the beach. This weekend some friends and I are hitting Mar del Plata, a five hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, to spend the last weekend before classes start chilling on the beach. Ciao.

argentina throwback: en la vida

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 

Well, a week has gone by. So far, I have learned how to use the “vos” form which is an Argentine language specialty. I have met some cool people. And just last night experienced nightlife as an Argentine. I went out at 11:30pm and came home around 5am. Which then meant, I slept until 3pm today, woke up, realized I had missed the bus for the city tour that was scheduled for today, so I went back to bed, then finally got up and did some grocery shopping. You may be thinking that I was hung over or something, but I did not even drink much. One fruity peach wine spritzer thing. We did go to a private party of a friend of a friend or something where it was all Argentines and us 6 Americans. That was fun. It was difficult to understand the Spanish because it was loud and they were all drunk and speaking fast. But once they gathered I was lost, they would slow down for me. It was quite an experience.

 
Hmm also, I have already witnessed the crime scene. An old woman’s necklace was ripped off her neck by a bicyclist riding by on a busy street in broad daylight. So now, I hold my belongings close at all times. But I still feel safe. Just don’t wear fancy things to show you are wealthy. The residence hall was robbed also because people let in strangers. Tisk tisk. My house is really nice though, so no worries. I am trying to figure out how to post pictures, so bare with me. It currently takes forever to load them online.
 
Next week, we go to a Estancia or classic country living…horses, gauchos, outdoors, hiking, canoeing, all that jazz. We also go on a bike riding tour of the city. Tomorrow I am trekking over to San Telmo (a neighborhood) to visit the Sunday flea market. I have mastered the colectivas (buses) and the subte (subway). They are quite an experience, especially during rush hour when things get pretty intimate. Or rather amazing, when trying to squeeze whoever fits in before the doors close. But since Buenos Aires is a huge city, walking only gets you so far. Although, yesterday, I did walk about 100 blocks. I have been walking a lot. It is a great way to get oriented and see the street life. 
 
Last night, I went to my host mom’s friend Gabbie’s house for her birthday. It was me and 12 Argentines. We sat around eating pasta and bread. Then the wine, then lots of jokes. It took all my energy to figure out the punch lines. One I had heard in English so when they asked if I had gotten it, I was proud to say yes! There was a long conversation about gays and transvestites also, although I did not grasp exactly what way they were leaning in that discussion. The conversations always seem pretty in depth here. Lots of politics. At the dinner table the other night, Brittany (housemate from South Carolina) and I were talking about infidelity with our family. They were saying how Argentines are so jealous that you cannot really have friends of the opposite sex. And how the jealousy probably stems from the extreme importance placed on appearance here. Everyone gets plastic surgery. Everyone is beautiful. Brittany and I were explaining how we both have many guy friends, and Sole (my 26 year old sister) said that if she went to coffee with a boy, her boyfriend would dump her. Yikes. Silvia (my mom) also said that she would prefer to not know if her husband cheated on her. He should just break it off and deal with his guilt without adding to her pain. Cultural differences. Interesting.

argentina throwback: the urge to speak in spanish

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

 
Today was my first day at my program and there a lot of people so it was very overwhelming. Lots of English, which is a huge contrast to my host family who is continuously having to slow down their rapid Spanish for little old me. The first day was nothing special. In fact, a few girls and I cut out of the last presentation and walked around the city and got lunch. I was the typical American and got french fries and a coke. Boring I know. But the “papas fritas” were real potatoes and very good. The ketchup here is very different though, which was disappointing because I love my ketchup. It is sweeter I think. After many presentations and a lunch of empanadas.

 
La Bomba del Tiempo. The Time Bomb. A group of girls and I went to see this amazing drum show. It was 12 guys and a conductor or leader and they were ripping out improvisational rhythms. There was a lot of dancing and a lot of people. Lots of “free spirits” as I like to be refer to them as. I danced the night (or rather the evening) away until I had to be home for dinner at 9:30pm.
 
It was Jane’s birthday party tonight. Jane is a past student that lived with my family. She is now getting her Masters at a university in Argentina. Her two friends and she came over to celebrate with us. Lots of Spanish. My day was filled with English, but I had to hold my own over the dinner table. Tonight’s topics of discussion: Polo and the horses raised to play it, the politics of the US, how the education system is in a downward spiral and kids don’t have respect anymore, the horrible crimes that have happened in South America, my studies, and much much more. After two hours of full concentration, I am proud to say I understood about 60 or 70% of what was being spewed. I am still a bit shy when speaking, but my host father makes jokes about it all the time. When I speak, he jumps out of his chair and yells, “ÂĄSara habla!” Since it is only the second day, I am pretty comfortable with my level.
 
Tomorrow, we start pre-classes Spanish classes. We are going to learn the slang and the Castilian (or Argentina) way to speak. Here the double L is pronounced like a j not a y. And the y is also pronounced like a j. I like it. It is beautiful to listen to my family rattle off the musical language. Soon I will be able to join them. Currently, I stick to speaking in present tense where I can speak as quickly and coherently as them. Orientation is two weeks long and we start official classes on March 17. Until then, I have early mornings, 9am. I have to take the bus. Bus 60. My host mom keeps reminding me. 
 
I am already getting a good feel for the city. It is set up in blocks just like any other city. Once you figure out the major streets like Cordoba, Corrientes, and Santa Fe, it is easy. We did use the map a lot today though. We walked about 30 blocks to get to the drum show. Some things look closer than they actually are…like objects in the side mirrors of cars. But the walk was nice, minus my heavy bag. We got to know the area and how to use maps. I got to practice my Spanish a lot because the girls I have been hanging out with are not quite as vocal as I am yet. Soon I will have it. I am already getting the urge to type this all in Spanish, so maybe my transition into thinking en español. My family, especially my host brother and his girlfriend, have been very helpful in my transition. 
 
Today I did not bring my camera, but I will post photographs of my adventures soon.
Paz para ahora.

argentina throwback: mi casa es su casa

note: these argentina throwback posts are migrated from an old blog. please ignore all the formatting issues that may have occurred. i don’t want to go through and fix them all. 🙂

Hola all!

I made it safe and sound. No problems at all, although there was a lot of waiting in lines through immigration and such. But I am here with my new family. They are all wonderful! I have my own little room. It is no bigger than a large walk-in closet, but it is very cozy. There is a small door that leads to a patio also. My apartment looks out over Parque Las Heras, a beautiful park with paths and green grass. I have a cute little desk and bed and closet and book shelf. It will feel like home in no time.

I am slightly jetlagged because attempting to sleep in a middle seat is near impossible for 11 hours. But I took a 2-hour nap after shopping and coffee with toast with my “mom”. Tomorrow the real excursions begin… I have to be at the IES Center bright and early at 9:45am. I know that does not sound too early, but when you have not gotten up before noon for 2 months, it is. Although I am tired, I am heading out tonight with my brother, Augustin and his girlfriend, Ro (short for Rosana). Time for the fiestas to begin. Supposedly, we are seeing the opening of a new band.
Augustin: “You like live black music?”
Me: “Pardon?”
Augustin: “You know, R&B y soul y rap.”
Me: “Ahhh sĂ­, black music.”
SO that is where I am off to.
The night is still young here in Buenos Airrrrres!