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!
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.