Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cemeteries and Tango Dancers

I thought I would share some pictures with you peeps.

I have created an album on Picasa for my first set of pictures from Argentina.

I have used Google and it's privacy settings to their most effective level. So I have invite people to see my pictures, I am obviously quite secretive. I also don't like sharing, hence why I don't just offer them to facebook for free. Anyways, send me your gmail account in some manner and I will invite you, if I know you of course. They're quite beautiful if I do say so myself.



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Also, I was provided 12 empanadas for dinner, I ate 5. When asked again by my host mother if I went out last night, I again disappointed her.

I saw tango dancers on the street. But that's for the pictures to tell. The one man with the microphone I like to call Cassidy's husband. You're welcome

With more tomorrow y muchos besos,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

When your president looks like Janice Dickinson....

I thought today would be a wonderful day to make my first social commentary on Argentina and things I have learned so far. It has been interesting and I know that this is only the beginning of my cultural experience.

NumeroUno: The one and only Christina Kirchner. For those of you who don't know, she is the president of Argentina. Also, for those of you who don't know Buenos Aires is the plastic surgery capital of the world. Therefore, Kirchner looks like Janice Dickinson (this is worth googling). I had heard that no one really liked Kirchner and there was a segment on the news the other night about her. I asked my host mother Aná if she liked her and she very definitively said no. I asked why and she because she made decisions only for herself and not in the interest of the country. Then they put up a picture of Kirchner, I turned to Aná and said she has had a lot of surgery, yes? She just laughed. I then said, well you voted her in, right? Someone must like her. Aná's reply, No one I know. For the record she leaves office in 2011, there is no such thing as reelection here and her husband was president before her, so that's not a possibility anymore. Kirchner doesn't like Obama and I asked Aná why, apparently, Obama doesn't like her, so she doesn't like him, how middle school of her. The very next segment was about how the Argentine government is having problems with Great Britain. I turned to Aná and said, Kirchner doesn't like many people does she? No she doesn't.

NumeroDos: Tránsito=traffic. Approximately 8000 people die per year of traffic accidents, the same amount as people who die from cancer. Learning to cross a street here is something quite different. The whole college student bit, where you walk in front of a car assuming that it will stop in order to avoid a lawsuit concept does not apply. You walk in front of a car or a taxi or a bus, you get hit (as have two students from past years in this program). Anyone who thinks are a good driver doesn't really know how to drive until they drive somewhere like Buenos Aires. It is a constant battle for your life and horns are honked more often than stop lights are obeyed. Crossing the street takes epic skill and I have had numerous Argentines explain to me how to do this properly. I'm getting pretty good, but I believe most americans would say I walk far to close to cars for safety. Oh well, I live on the wild side.

NumeroTres: It is always raining in Buenos Aires during the summer. This does not mean that there is always rain falling from the skies but rather that there is always water dripping from the air conditioning units in the 10 story apartment building you are walking next to. If you see a puddle on the ground, walk around it not to protect your shoes but to protect your hair.

NumeroQuatro: Last week, in a café that Ami and I went to, there was an interesting sight to be seen. We were having a café con leche in a pretty nice part of town, pretty much the nicest part of town. In the café, there were many business men and people who obviously had money. Also, in the café, there was a man walking around with a stool and a rag. He was shining people's shoes, in the café. Ami and I inappropriately stared at this situation for a few seconds before he offered to shine my sandals, to which I declined. The point of this story, this man was a shoe shiner, in the 21st century.

NumeroCinco: "You go here, you get robbed. You go here, you get robbed. You go here, you get robbed. You go here, you get killed." This is a direct quote from the director of the program I'm participating in. Now, I do think much of what they are telling is exaggerated because it is their job to keep us safe, but for the most part I listen to everything they say anyways because I know that I am a stupid American. I have accepted this and I think it is keeping me safe. For the past week of orientation, we have been given diagrams and handouts of "No man's land" and the train stations and other such places in Buenos Aires that no one should ever go unless they are hoping to get robbed, most likely violently. And now before any of you worry, I avoid these areas, I'm a wimp. Welcome to South America!

With Love,

P.S. I am perfectly safe and did not feel any earthquake or earth shaking of any kind. You should ask Lester Holt how his son is, he's in Chile. Also for those of you who don't know, I am on the east coast, I can walk to the Atlantic Ocean from here fairly easily. Don't fret, there is a mountain range called the Andes between me and Chile.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I think I'll have the Salmon Ravioli, please.

Today was a very long day, it was day five and I have walked probably a million blocks since Sunday. I was just tired all day. I woke up, ate and walked to Circolo Italiano. We had some sessions about spanish grammar Y EL VOS TAMBIEN. I think I have grasped how to use this verb tense now, thank god it's only in existence in Argentina. I've also started to pick up what one could call a Argentine accent which sounds unlike any other accent in Spanish and which requires you to pronounce both a Y and a double L as a J. Imagine.

Anyways, my Lonely Planet had not yet failed me until today and today, we had the most grievous of errors. The place we walked 15 blocks to was closed and required us to entire a tourist trap known as El Microcentro. There were many people attempting to hand me papers that would no doubt never be recycled. In this area of town, I no longer felt the need to watch my bag, I felt the need to clutch it, to hold on to it with my life if only for the safety of the banana inside. After this adventure, we found a place where we could eat. I ate a butternut squash pie which happens to be the least interesting thing that touched my palette this day.

We had more sessions, Ami unfortunately was placed into some other group. But Greg and Ami and I made a friend today in spite of this separation. She appears to be a old person, like the rest of us and her name is Lindsay. She's from Wisconsin, apparently it's cold there. Lindsay has also chosen to be a part of the literature concentration I am in and we had the first meeting with our academic advisor/spanish teacher today. The notorious Argentine accent I spoke of earlier can be found with this man. His name is Darío (please note the accent as it is very important) and I cannot accurately portray his accent in the written word or as an imitation but only as an absurd variation on the spanish we all know and love.

Now you may ask, Kristin, What is it that you do on a Friday Night in Buenos Aires? And I will answer you this, you, the average teenager/young adult do nothing on Friday night, you leave to go out after midnight and the festivities begin. Welcome to the Saturday Morning Party! Fiesta time. Mis amigos y yo made plans for la noche and they go something like this:

Would you like to get drunk?
No I barely feel safe walking around sober during the day in a group of 12.
Well, then what should we do?
I don't know, what does the Lonely Planet say is good?
Oh there's this bookstore/café....
Oh let's go there!

These were our plans, so I proceeded to walk home in order to nap for my BIG night on the town. The thing I did not realize is that it was finally time for me to become lost. Now this lost was not an utterly lost as in Flight 815 but midly lost. I never got onto a street I did not know and the numbers get bigger as you leave the city's center. With these helpful hints, I soon (as in 30 minutes later) found my Peña, mi hogar por la cuidad de Buenos Aires. At this point I was supposed to nap, then the ADD kicked in. I called Mom on skype to ask whether or not I should shower before going out a dazzling 30 minutes before I was supposed to be 6 blocks away.

The place we had intended to go was having a show and we didn't have reservations. We walked, we felt skecthed out, we walked back and we stopped to eat. In this restaurant we ordered the wine of Argentina, un Malbec, a bottle for four lightweights and who said old people couldn't have fun? I ordered the Salmon Ravioli with pesto and for your own benefit, I will not say anything further. Nevermore.

?Donde está, I mean, hay una Volta? ?Qué? La heladería... Oh sí, hay una dos cuadros allí. Gracias Señor.

This is how we found four different Freddos, or gelato places when all we wanted was a Volta, voltas are supposed to be better. WE finally found after walking for an hour in a group of four americans at 11:00 at night. We walked in and paid and I found myself a husband, apparently he was in love with me and I him (he was holding an ice cream scoop). I got 5 free samples. Take that as you may.

Con todo mi amor,

P.S. I intend to marry my Literatura professor. Does this seem wise?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

4 Days in and still going strong.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to create a blog about my experiences in Argentina, just like those 300000 other people who have (which also happens to be the number of students who attend La Universidad de Buenos Aires). There are several reason I wanted to share what's going on in my life and they are as follows:

1. Someone else in my program is doing the same thing and I decided it would be cool.

2. I love to talk and this way I can tell many people all about my trip at one time.

3. I am the first of my friends to go abroad, and consequently the youngest person in the entire program, and I thought it would be nice to share what most everyone will at sometime experience in one context or another.

Es decir, it is my fourth day in Buenos Aires. I arrived on Monday after traveling for about 20 hours and sleeping a mild 4 hours on the plane. I was exhausted and forgot the word in spanish for plane when I was talking to the Assistant Director of the program. The people who were there to greet me at the airport then proceeded to push me into a taxi (that they called first of course, because it is never safe to hail a taxi in Buenos Aires, unless you want to be a desaparecido). I was handed a piece of paper with my address on it and off we went. The airport for Buenos Aires is in a province south of the city and for those who don't know, the south part of Buenos Aires is pretty much like South America. But from what I have learned from watching the news, I am living in the equivalent of the 2nd and one half world, I have wifi in my house and a tv in my room, but if you leave the city, you are in what people generally think of as South America.

Anyways, I arrived without any previous notice and was overwhelmed beyond belief. I may have cried, but I generally cry quite easily, so that's nothing new. I went and got a phone card, a notebook and some cash from the atm. I showered and I napped. I got on facebook. I ate beef and potatoes and coffee and toast and some type of squash. I slept in hopes that tomorrow I wouldn't be scared to leave the apartment.

Day2: I followed my host mother to a bus stop. We got on, I had no idea where we were going, we got off, we walked, I tried to ask how to get home, she tried to explain, damn language barriers. I later realized that I could walk but that we took the bus because she is older. I tried to make friends, I think it's working. I ate some pasta with some funky cheese in it. Eventually I walked home, I don't really remember all the details.

Day3: Ami and I became friends. We had a thing in the morning and we tried to find some place with some empanadas from the lonely planet, but it was closed, so we had some medialunas and café con leche, they also serve gaseosas con esto y no me gustan las gaseosas. At lunch, Greg and I became friends, we walked to the COOLEST BOOKSTORE IN EXISTENCE. It is an old theatre converted into a bookstore. It basically has the amount of material as a B&N but it has a local café feel. This may come from the fact that the old stage is a café, where people actually serve you and it smells like coffee and someone plays the piano, this place is heaven. That is most certainly the most important part of that day. Oh except that later, Greg and Ami and I went back to El Ateneo, aka heaven on earth.

Day4: This was today. I had to get up super early, which was actually no early than the day before but I had to go to Belgrano which is two barrios away, While in actuality, this is not really that far away, I had to take a bus by myself, for the first time. I had to talk to a place I didn't know to catch the bus and ask the bus driver to make sure I got off at the right stop. To shorten the story, I made it and while I was waiting at the bus stop, I was asked what bus number we were waiting for, and I knew. For lunch, I went to a kiosko type ting and had a 5 peso sandwich (super cheap) and a lady both toasted it and coughed on it for me. After orientation, we went to get some empanadas at that place from the lonely planet. And mmmmmmm, let me tell you how I love some empanadas. We then went to the recoleta cemetery of which I took pictures and which I will later post for all to see (along with some pictures I got of a manifestación, muy intersante).

Breakfast: Coffee, granola, milk in a bag, toast with jam of membrillo (a fruit we don't have and is called a quince in english)

Dinner1: Beef with some squash and potatoes
Dinner2: Fish with roasted butternut squash and some potatoes
Dinner3: Pork with roasted potatoes (sweet, but not like our sweet) and roasted apples
Dessert1: Weird texture sweet fruit thing with some cheese
Dinner4: Chicken and rice (the chicken was on a bone, my host mother had to cut it off for me), delicioso

more tomorrow of course, for now I must sleep