Wednesday, March 31, 2010

They're making a comeback!

Now, you may ask what the "they" is...and I will tell you. It's juiceboxes. They're hugely popular here and it is acceptable for any age, creed and gender of person to walk down the street drinking out of a juice box. Now, personally, I am a huge fan of this trend, and I fully intend to bring it back into the states with me. I will most certainly walk down the streets of New York City in my four inch heels, drinking a juice box. And then Erik will take pictures and we will laugh and people will look at me strangely, just like they did at the models walking across the crosswalk on ANTM (anybody, come on?). I even had one today (and I had one yesterday), they are super cheap and super refreshing. Yesterday, I had one of the orange juice variety and today, I became bolder and had a multifruit. Hot dog! Anyways, this is something that I actually really like about Argentina, so simple yet awesome as hell. I mean juiceboxes, way to be a little kid, oh so refreshing!

Moving on, I do nothing with my life. Today I woke up, earlier than I had planned. I think I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday during yoga and my calves are still doing that cramping thing while I sleep, making my sleep subpar. Ick. Anyways, I ate some breakfast which consisted of the normal bowl of "Cereal Mix" with milk, two pieces of wheat toast and a cup and maybe a second of coffee. However, today, I decided to add some spice to my life. I decided to not only add a banana to my "cereal mix" but I also decided to add some banana to my toast WITH dulce de leche and raspberry jam. It was both delicious and satisfying and fattening as all get out. I mean I ate a lot today, this just started off the calorie intake and eventual weight gain. After breakfast, I piddled in my room and then i lolligagged a bit and then I decided it was time to leave. So I left my house and IT WAS UNBEARABLY HOT TODAY, it was like walking outside into dante's inferno, really miserable shit weather. I cannot even tell you how humid it is here, oh wait, my hair frizzes here. I walked to the museum with the class I'm interested in, to find out they were close and then walked the study abroad office to handle some administrative tasks. And by the time I arrived, I was too tired to do anything except print. So Lindsay and I went to grab some lunch and wait for Greg and Ami to get out of spanish class. We met them back at the office and then went off to see the Steve McCurry exhibit (a.k.a. the guy who shot the "Afghan Girl" photograph of National Geographic). We got there, paid 8 pesos and saw all these amazing pictures, some of which were truly sad.

After the exhibit, Lindsay and Greg both went home, they were tired. Ami and I went back to the museum to find out yet again that we are in Argentina and no one here is helpful. They're all nice, but in the end, I learned nothing useful. We then went back to the purple café where we saw the "61 year old piece of plastic" as Sean calls her and we order two desserts and split them both. This is what Ami and I do when we're alone. We order numerous desserts and eat them all. We read every magazine in the place, even the one in french (of which I understood much more than Ami did). We had excellent service and literally, we love being there, they love us and the service is just epically good. Example, the owner went out and bought us a new magazine when we read all the ones they had. I mean AWESOME SERVICE. woot.

Then, how exciting is this, we walked home. And here I am, at home and gross too, because it was so damn hot today.

So, at this point, since there is nothing going on in my life, I am going to provide some commentary on Argentina and how I am liking exactly 1 month, 1 week and 1 day into my trip.

1. I hate meat with a passion now. It is starting to make me nauseated to look at meat. Now, don't get me wrong, the meat here is very good, but I was never what you would call a "meat person." And now I'm quite the opposite. I am planning on giving that whole vegetarianism thing a whole hearted try when I get home, except that I will still be eating fish, because can anyone imagine me cutting sushi from my diet? I can't even imagine.

2. I am getting fat, not only from the amount of carbs and meat I eat in a day but also from the dulce de leche, the alfajores and the eating schedule of "hey, let's hibernate for eight hours and then pack on the food and then not have another meal for another eight hours, how healthy!"

3. I now want a dog, so I can walk it and we can look cute. I do not however want to live in a city with so much dog shit. It's all over the sidewalks, everywhere all the time, and in addition to being gross, it smells. It smells so much. Now, combine that with cigarette smoke and bus exhaust and you have the delicious odor that is Buenos Aires, Argentina.

4. Yesterday Greg and I, and then today Ami and I were talking about how nice it is going to be to return to american universities. The benefits of returning are numerous. The first is that 1 hour and 15 minute classes (and most certainly 50 minute classes) are now going to seem so short, and I mean so short. Classes here range between 2 and 4 hours. Second, it will be really nice to be able to walk to class in 5 minutes, hell even 15 minutes will be nice. Right now, it takes me around an hour to get to any of my classes and each commute includes a 7-12 block walk and then a 25-35 minute bus ride. Oh to return to the life of a non-commuter. Next, it will be so easy to control my ADD and focus on what the teacher is saying when I return. I won't have to pay nearly as much attention, mostly because they will be speaking in my native language. Awesome. The last thing is a little simpler, imagine getting to take notes in English again, wow, how nice will that be?

I truly think I am out of things to say which doesn't happen very often. Mother arrives tomorrow, she is currently in Atlanta with Patty and they are waiting to leave on their daunting 10 hour flight. I think she leaves at 8:35 and she is due to arrive on my continent at 7:45. She then has to do customs and pay fees and take a remise all the way here, and I will meet her at her hotel. I also have chocolates for her and Patty and am planning on buying flowers for them on the way there, because I can. And I am telling you people because she's in an airport and hopefully won't read this until much later. And then on Friday, we travel to Iguazú Falls which should also be super exciting and beautiful.

One last thing, I am most likely going to a club tomorrow night for transvestite night with some Australian friends and I'm quite excited. And really, now, that's all.

Peace out

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finally, classes and not much else.

Let's see. Last time I wrote was about my big trip where I also happened to hemorrhage money all weekend. Anyways, I am sitting here skyping my future husband and I thought I would start typing because the internet has gone out once again. Also, it doesn't seem to want to restart. Ok, so moving on. Yesterday was Monday a.k.a. Kristin's first day of classes with Argentines. I woke up and finished writing my last blog and started captioning pictures and as you all know, that took all freaking day. My own damn fault.

So at 1oclock, I had to be about a million blocks away in Caballito for my class at UBA. Remember that epic university I told you about that was super intellectual and has like 300.000 students, yeah, that's it. The class is called "El ser humano en las literaturas estadounidenses con visiones de mundo no occidentales" or for the english translation (which is still long and convoluted) it's "The human being in United States Literature with Non-western world views." So, man this must be a hell of a class. I walked about 11 blocks to catch a bus and then rode the bus for about 25 minutes. And then walked another 5 blocks to get to the class. As I was waiting for Greg to get there, I stood outside the main door, which is epic in itself and ate some leftover beet salad. I really do love vegetables. When he arrived, we went to find our classroom and proceeded to find seats. The teacher came in, she embodies UBA. She is a hippie, she has long uncut hair, she wears large handmade jewelry and she most certainly does not wear a bra. Greg says she is liberal AND liberated. You have no idea how distracting this can be in class. So we started class and at first it was really hard to understand her but with time, it got better. Class was going well, she explained what we would talk about in class, how we would be evaluated, and what we would read. She then started talking about some background for the class, she explained affirmative action and how americans don't think hispanics are white, which is weird. She then proceeded to explain and give examples of american stereotypes such as asians are intelligent and black people are sexually potent. Those are direct translated quotes, people. This is going to be an interesting class. There is one problem with the class though, it's four hours. It's four long hours and for those of you who know me, which is most likely anyone reading this blog, I have ADD. It's pretty severe and I will have you know that 4 hour classes are torture. Today, Greg and I were talking about how nice it will be to return to short little hour and a half classes and to be able to walk to class in only a few minutes.

After class, Greg and I went to the place where they give us photocopies of our readings and then we went to a café at the end of the block, called Socrates. I got cake, Greg got tea. I asked Greg after class to go over everything we learned, to make sure that I had gotten everything and that if I continued with the class that I wouldn't fail it due to not knowing what was going on. (Run-on, sorry). So we sat down, I ate, he drank and we discussed. And it turns out that I knew exactly what was going on the whole time, I just didn't know I was so apt. Hehe. Because of this, I decided I was taking the class, I happen to really like it and so I decided not to go to the other class (another four hours) called The Theatre of Samuel Beckett.

I came home. We ate dinner, I became nauseated because I'm starting to hate meat. I've decided to become a vegetarian for a year when I return (the wimpy kind that eats fish) and that's about it. I went to two more classes today and learned some stuff about Martín Fierro but nothing all that interesting or worth nothing and then went to yoga which was awesome. Afterwards, I went to Pura VIda and tried the Kiwi California and a cacao muffin, both delicious.

Tomorrow, I am going to the study abroad office to handle some administrative things, like financial aid forms and transfer credit approval forms. Then I will eat lunch with Lindsay and then I have convinced Ami and Greg and Lindsay to go to the Centro Cultural Borges to see an exhibit by Steve McCurry who if you don't know is the photographer who shot the very famous "Afghan Girl" of National Geographic. Awesome dude.

Also, I am thinking about taking a seminar at another art museum called the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Issac Fernández Blanco called Passion and Power and which reviews six different artists including Frieda Kahlo, Van Gogh and León Ferrari. Is this too dorky? to take an extra class and to take money to do it? I need your opinions, it sounds super fascinating to me.

Last point, today is tuesday, tomorrow, my mother leaves the United States to come visit me for 10 days in good old Argentina. She won't arrive until Thursday morning, but I'm excited and I have presents for her that she doesn't know about. Haha, except now she does, because she reads this more religiously than anyone else.

Anyways, with lots of love and besos and nonsense,
Kristin (or Christen as the people in the hostel spelled it)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are you ready for this? Oh and I hope you like ice.

So, even though you are probably not ready for this. I am going to tell you anyways. This posting is going to tell you about my last five days, which were epically awesome and which I think make my life pretty awesome. I know I am blessed to have these experiences and I want to share them with you, my faithful followers.

Our flight is supposed to leave the Buenos Aires domestic airport at 5:50. So I get up at 3 to get ready, finish packing and to eat before Lindsay and Greg come to get me in the taxi shortly after 3:30. I join them in the taxi and there is no traffic but there are a ton of people out partying because Wednesday is a holiday, so no one has to go to work. We drive along and at one point, we pass about 500 people standing next to a golf course, somewhat in the road. This was on the airport road, apparently there is a disco there, which is weird. Anyways, we continue to the airport and proceed to check in. There is a really long line and we don't care for it until Lindsay or Greg, I've forgotten, see a machine where we can check in. We can do this because we aren't checking baggage, go us (although it's free in argentina). We get our boarding passes and proceed to the food court. Lindsay and I order coffee and I get a medialuna. It was overpriced but we really needed coffee. We then proceed to what one could call security, although it was the most lax security I've ever seen. We walked through and were done. They did pat us down, a woman for me and a man for Greg. Go Argentina! So at this point, we've got time to kill. We find seats and wait for the plane to load. We cut in front of the old people by pretending we don't speak spanish and get through. We then proceed down to a bus. As everyone loads the bus, I wonder where exactly we are going to go. The bus leaves, we drive literally 50 meters and stop. The bus unloads, we board the plane. Welcome to Argentina.

We arrive in El Calafate at about 9ish. It is the smallest airport I have ever been in. There are two sets of bathrooms, four gates and one ramp. We try to find a taxi and we learn that the taxi into town is 80 pesos, which is a freaking lot. We get one anyways and I ask how long the ride will take. The driver says 15-20 minutes, we now understand the fee. We ride into El Calafate and I attempt to explain to the driver to drop us off anywhere in town because we have 3 hours to kill before the bus leaves. He does while pointing out some very obviously American-ized english-y cafes that we ignore. We walk around and find some benches to sit on because most cafes don't open until ten. We make a friend, it was a dog. Her name is Scheherezade. I named her. I took pictures of her and at ten, when the cafe next to us opened, we went in and I took pictures of everything for Ami, since she didn't get to come with us. In this little area, there was a also a sushi bar, we were curious as to what the sushi in this tiny town was like where there are no japanese people or even any asians of any type other than Greg. We sat down, wasted time and had coffee and I had a medialuna. Greg had tea. Eventually, we got up left and went to look for some place for lunch, we settled on some place called La Esquina. And I ordered a milanesa sandwich, which I will never do again, please refer to the picture. We walked to the bus station, got on the bus and we were on our way. I dropped my water bottle on a Russian couple and took lots of pictures. Oh that canon noise. There was also some sleeping.

We arrive in El Chaltén and walk around, it doesn't take long. Before we got to town, we had to stop at the park ranger station and they gave us information about some hikes in the area. We decide to walk to a waterfall about 3km away when we get to town. He also told us that if we saw the endangered species called the huemul living in the park that it would be like "the cherry on the cake." Did I mention that El Chaltén is completely within a national park whose entrance fee is nothing? Anyways, we get into "town" and walk to pay for our Ice Trekking trip the next day and learn that we have to rent terkking boots (for the crampons), and gloves and waterproof pants. We go grocery shopping and then to our hostel, which smells and is cold. We leave and hike to the waterfall, and the wind in all parts of El Chaltén is quite fierce (you may refer to facebook pictures of my hair for example). It's not a long walk, we enjoy it, take pictures and return. We put our things away and walk to a vegetarian restaurant we had seen.At this point, we were epically exhausted. As we were falling asleep at the table we ate the most delicious food of our lives. I had a roasted butternut squash with honey and walnuts and blue cheese and assorted other vegetables. We paid, we returned to the smelly hostel and slept.

Day 2:

Ok I know I talk a lot, I'm trying to cut back, sorry.

Alright, we wake up and eat breakfast with groceries we bought previously, we waited for the bus to come pick us up and we decked out in many many layers because we were going to a glacier, guys. We get on the bus with the whole crew, all of whom are sharing the same mate cup as Argentines do. We ride out of El Chaltén to a dock where we get on a boat and ride the boat to a glacier. It was awesome. We go on the top deck and take tons of pictures and get blown all around. We then dock on the side of the mountain and leave some stuff sitting under rocks to return to for lunch later. We start off with just our cameras and all our layers. We hike on the rocks for a bit, getting some geology lessons on the way. We are making our way towards the glacier and it looks awesome. Also, it's not really all that cold. I actually got hot and had to take off some layers. We get near the glacier and they hand out crampons and we all sit down and they help us put them on correctly. We then get a crampon walking instruction time thing and it was awesome. We proceed to the ice, awesome. I know I am saying this a lot, but guys, I WAS TREKKING ON A GLACIER, that's AWESOME. Anyways, we start off and it's a lot harder than it looks, my calves are still cramping. Ick. We basically walk around a ll day, there are rainbows, we are level with the clouds and the mountains. The weather is beautiful. We stop at epic views to take pictures of ourselves being epic and the day is epic. At one point we stop and the guides tell us that they have a special surprise for us. They pull out their ice picks and start chipping away at a section of glacier, then they chip out ice and put it into cups and hand them out to every one. Then they pull several bottles of Bailey's out of their packs and share with everyone. TALK ABOUT BAILEY'S ON ICE!!! Ahh, Lindsay and I split Greg's portion, due to that whole milk allergy thing. Anyways, it was epic. Eventually, we climb back down the glacier and settle on the rocks to eat lunch and then get on the boat to return. Oh and by the way, it is called Viedma Glacier and it is the largest glacier in the Argentine Ice belt thing. We get dropped off back at our hostel and we get our stuff to go. We return all of our equipment and head to our vegetarian restaurant for a delicious snack before we have to get on the bus to go back to El Calafate (it's a 3 hours bus ride). I got a piece of pumpkin cake and some chai tea, that Ana (the lady who owns it and runs it by herself) had to cook upon my ordering it. Awesome.

We waste time, go to a locutorio (internet cafe) where some backpackers that obviously haven't showered in days come in. We walk past the welcome to El Chaltén welcome sign and take pictures, like tourists and get on the bus (after paying the unexpected bus terminal usage tax). We get on the bus and sit down and I drop my water bottle on a German guy this time and then sit down to nap. Napping wasn't going too well, and so the german and I started chatting. We became friends and now I have a german friend. We arrived in El Calafate at around 10 and went to our hostel, checked in and I showered. We then went to go get some food and met the german for dinner. A really wonderful day.

Day 3:

So, this is friday now and it is day 3 and today we were supposed to go to Chile. And we did, but we had to get up and be ready to leave at 5:30am, oh we were all so tired for all this time. We got on a bus and rode over 3 hours to the Chilean border. We got stamped out of Argentina, got on a different bus and rode 7km to the Chilean immigration office, where we got stamped into Chile. Legit, yo. We exchanged money in order to pay the entrance fee to the park for Torres del Paine and I made another Australian friend. Her name is Erin and she's from Melbourne. She speaks no spanish and the money exchange lady spoke no english, I decided to help out, now we're friends. Erin is traveling for two years, by herself. She's awesome. Anyways, we ride the tour bus into Chile and do really stupid touristy stuff all day. We didn't expect this to be the tour we signed up for, but it is what we got and it's okay because we go to go to Chile. This made us very happy. Anyways, every time we would see wildlife, we would stop the bus and get out to take pictures, which was simultaneously a little cool and annoying as shit. There were many other nationalities on this bus including an Argentine man with a purse and fat, I mean really fat, french woman who was wearing crocs and would climb fences to get pictures of condors. She loved condors and she didn't fit through the aisle of the bus very well. She also had some french friends, one who was the worst chainsmoker I have ever seen. Every time we got off the bus, she would smoke, this was about every 5-10 minutes. We rode around, we had the chance to hike or rather walk around a few times to see a waterfall and some more mountains. And to an extent, I'm glad we were on the bus a lot because I was exhausted and the weather was utter shit. Oh well. Anyways, we rode around the park all day and took pictures and it was beautiful and we were in Chile, did I mention we were in Chile? We then returned to the border, got stamped out, rode to the Argentine office, got stamped back in and our Chilean adventure was over. We all slept the whole way back to our hostel which is called America del Sur and which is pretty much the best hostel in the world and if you ever get a chance to stay, do, for your own benefit. When we arrived, we all showered and went to sleep immediately.

Day 4:

This was meant to be our easy day because at this point, we were all super exhausted and unable to walk more. We slept in relatively until about 9 (as breakfast ended at 9:30). We then chilled at the hostel for a bit and I chatted with Frederico, who has the same taste in music as I do. We traded artists that we must listen to and he told me how to legally download music while I'm in BA. Victory. We were scheduled to go on a tour of Perito Moreno (the hometown famous glacier of El Calafate) a little after 1. So we walked into town and went back to the same cafe as before and I had some pie and Lindsay had coffee and Greg had orange juice. We also bought postcards and went to the grocery store to buy some snacks for lunch-ish and also to get some eggs to make ourselves in the mornings. As much as we may try to deny, we are Americans and we love eggs for breakfast, ehh. We got back and the bus picked us up, and we soon realized we were on a less severe version of a tourist trap like the one we were on the day before. There were tourists being obnoxious with cameras who would switch sides of the bus for the best view. We stopped once to take pictures of Argentina Lake, which is the biggest in the area and massive in general. We all took about 3 serious photos and then started making fun of tourists and Lindsay and Greg took pictures of me doing cartwheels in the road. Super fun. We stopped once more for pictures and then made our way to the boat tour that went right up to the glacier and guess what? we took more pictures. Go us! After the boat, we rode up the boardwalks that walk all around in the forest on the mountain in front of Perito Moreno. Lots of ice. We took pictures, sort of, we were tired. We made jokes and acted loopy, you know the sleepy ha-has. We hated the stairs and walked like old people. We also at one point went to bathroom in the lodge and found that there was a remix of Barbie Girl on repeat in the bathrooms, both genders. Lindsay and I sang. We walked and walked and walked and walked and took a few pictures. We figured out that Greg is a non-stoner who says stoner things and that he is also a less-depressed Eeyore. Lindsay is Kanga, I am obviously Tigger and Ami got to Piglet-at-large. After walking a bit, we got back on the bus and rode back to our hostel. We slept pretty much the whole way. And we had already signed up to eat the all you can eat barbecue at our hostel, which was awesome because we were too tired to walk to town. We ate and checked our facebooks and went to sleep.

Day 5:

Our very sad day of departure. We got up in an attempt to watch the sunrise. We failed. We tried to pay, and realized that there was a 7% charge if we used our cards, another fail. We had to walk to the ATM and withdraw lots of moneys. We paid and attempted to make some eggs. We couldn't turn the stove on, another fail. We got help, made eggs with a pepper in them and ate them partly burnt but still delicious. We're learning. We finished packing and headed to the airport. We got hit by another hidden fee, this time an airport tax. We boarded and we were off. We returned to BA and got a cab where the driver thought we were tourists until I started naming the streets we were on as we passed them, he changed his mind. And our trip was over sadness.

Trip Count
Glaciers: 2
Mountains: 45000
Racists Germans: 1
Lakes: 100001
Dogs: 29000
Pictures: 1729

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm making friends.

That is to say, I am making friends with the people who work in Pura Vida.

Yesterday was an average day. It had really good moments and really awful moments, averaging out to be average. I found a new all natural restaurant called Pura Vida. I had their mediterranean pita sandwich and it was awesome. It had hummus and tabouli and lettuce and love. I loved it. Mmm. Their primary purpose is a juice bar. Yesterday I had the Fiji, which has pineapple, blueberries, bananas, coconut milk and orange juice in it. It was delicious, I plan to try all the flavors before I leave, this should be easily possible.

After Pura Vida, I went to my castellano (aka spanish) class with the program. It's a grammar review and is epically boring. I had to leave this early because I was going to "shop" my first class. I was a bit excited because I had yet to shop a class. Lindsay had gone to the earlier section and I found out that some americans had been kicked out because there were too many foreigners. So I went to the class, knowing that this was a possibility. I got there early and sat down, waiting. People kept pouring in and by people I mean, more and more americans or extranjeros as we are so kindly known as at the Universidad de Salvador. So the professor noticed all of us and sometime after class was supposed to start, a small blonde lady came in. Her shirt was completely see through and she was wearing a white bra. Besides this fact, she started yelling at us violently. She made it very apparent that we were not welcome in there and so four of us left. I got kicked out and that was done with. I went and met Greg and Lindsay at a cafe while waiting to go to tango. So then I ordered a hot chocolate and the waiter brought me a glass of hot milk with a chocolate bar, this is not what I ordered. I'm quite certain of this. Anyways, I got my hot chocolate eventually and then I had to leave to go to tango. I got there just on time and the professor never showed up. That was exciting and then he emailed us today to tell us that we were at the wrong place. He had never mentioned this before today. Whatever, there were five of us who were wrong.

So then today, I got up and went to class and sat in class for like five hours, literally. Then I left and went to yoga and it was fabulous. After yoga, I had many errands to run. I had to go to the ATM because there isn't one in El Chalten, where I am going. And I had to buy tickets from El Calafate to El Chalten and back. Then I had to meet Ami to borrow a backpack and go to Pura Vida again. I got a apple muffin which was amazing. I also got the Berry Berry Good juice blend which has blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana and it was supposed to have to apple juice but they were out, so it had orange juice instead. It was delicious. Then I realized they had yogurt and I bought some and then put some honey in it and ate it. It was also delicious. Also, while we were all sitting there, we made friends with Sebastian. He works at Pura Vida and we are bffs now. After this, I had to go pick up my freshly laundered clothes and then go home and shower and pack. I also had to run back out to buy small packets oh shampoo and conditioner because apparently they don't sell freaking bottles for airplane travel in Argentina. What the hell.

Anyways, I'm all packed. I am currently skyping Bekah and I need to go to sleep because I have to get up at 3am tomorrow to fly to El Calafate. I will be there for five days, we are also going to El Chalten. Both of these places are worth googling and I will tell you all about trekking on glaciers and return with pictures on Sunday. I will most likely be out of commission on the blogging front until then.

Peace love besos and hummus,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How to make a waitress hate you.

So today was a fairly uneventful day. I woke up at 1 (because I had gone to sleep at 4). I went to the kitchen to get some breakfast and Ana (host mother) walked in on me. I was sitting at the table eating some granola with a banana on it, that I had cut up. This is weird only because argentines don't do this. Not only do they not eat real breakfasts, I doubt they would ever put a banana on cereal. After this, I sat in my room for a while watching America's next top model, not wanting to do anything else because it was raining so heavily outside. It rained and it rained and it rained today. It was incessant, but eventually I knew I would have to leave. So after skyping the fam, I texted Ami and we decided to go to tea connection again.

I braved the rain in a rain coat and with an umbrella. I got there before Ami and sat down at a table. Then a snotty waitress with too much makeup on, asked me how many people there were going to be. I told her two and she ever so rudely asked me to move, because this table was for four people. Ick. So I get up and I may have been muttering under my breath to her in english, which I think she fully deserved, but I don't think made her like me all that much. So we Ami arrived and we were full on stalking the people sitting at the tables with the comfy chairs, we also only had one menu. Snotty waitress didn't think we deserved two, so I asked another waitress if we could have two and we didn't see snot face for a while as the other waitress had realized I was annoyed. It took us forever to figure out what we wanted and in the meantime, snot face asked us if we were going to order or if we were just waiting for another table. Ick again. We finally ordered, we decided on a pot of tea each and splitting two different desserts. We're awesome. We sit for forever and at some point, they ask us to move because they have a big party coming in. It was okay this time, because they asked us to move to the cushy chairs. I really like the cushy chairs. We sit and we've been there for about three hours now. Snot face keeps looking over and glaring at us, as we are bothering her, when in actuality, we're just sort of doing some homework and goofing off. Some time around the three hour mark, we decide we want something else. We wanted a menu, but we didn't want to ask snot face. So we avoided her glance and I (Ami would never be so childish) would make faces at her, because I was feeling like a four year old. We got the guy waiter to bring us a menu, he likes us, of this I am sure. And we ordered a third dessert to split. We ate and it was delicious and then we decided to go eventually. Snot face never looked so happy.

It had finally stopped raining and I made it home without using my umbrella. I had soy milanesas and like half a butternut squash for dinner. Ana could only eat broth, I think she's having a colonoscopy tomorrow, not really sure. I then had some flan stuff covered in dulce de leche (which makes me fat). That's about it for my day. Tomorrow, I class laundry and tango.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm going to get fat.

For many reasons,

#1, I just discovered through experimentation that if you spread dulce de leche on shortbread cookies with cream in them, that it's really delicious and also really really bad for you, but oh so delicious

#2, the eating schedule here throws me off immensely. Usually I am the type of eater you would call a grazer, I eat a lot of little things all day long, that is not how it works here. You sort of prepare for hibernation, argentines eat a whole lot about every 8 hours, so my body can't handle this change and is packing it in for winter.

#3 Medialunas, are like the argentine versions of croissants except for they are sweeter because they are glazed with butter, they are delicious and conveniently available at every single restaurant in Buenos Aires, also, they're really cheap making them more awesome but no less fattening

#4, dulce de leche, I know that I have already mentioned some of the affects of dulce de leche, but it does deserve its own category. people here put dulce de leche on everything and I literally mean everything, I have had dulce de leche ice cream, about 5 different types of pies and cakes with it and even a dulce de leche empanada which was damn good. anyways, the point is that it is unhealthy and i am going to get fat.

On a slightly lighter (*pun*) note, I have also been researching the all natural healthy organic restaurants available in BA. They exist but its pretty much an american insertion in argentine culture. I have also been researching other nationalities of food that are available in BA. I have figured out that many Argentines just don't eat the foods of other nationalities. This depresses me because it means you can't find any good restaurants and I am getting a little sick of Argentine food. All the food is good for about the first month and then, well at least for me, you really want some sushi and some pad thai and some hummus and to eat something purely organic. Mmmm. So, in my research, I have found a couple of options. Yesterday I went to a place called Tea Connection which is completely americanized. This doesn't mean for a second that Argentines don't go here, because there was about an even number of Spanish and English speakers in the café. But what it is, I realized is that its just not something Argentines would do. Just like other things I've found that I like, like yoga studios and juice bars, really good tea places aren't in the culture. And here enters the americans. There are english menus available at Tea Connection and literally one of my favorite parts was the Iron and Wine playing in the background. Glorious. I had really good tea and a medialuna that was just perfect and I'm happy.

In addition to my natural searches (which I plan to continue to test this week), I have been searching for some sushi. I have heard tell that there isn't any particularly good sushi in BA. Well I went to one of the top rated restaurants in my barrio last night and it was only subpar. But it was however really nice to eat wok noodles and raw fish. It was most certainly something other than the regular Argentine food.

I have also been in search of some hummus. I dared to ask my host mother where I could get some hummus and after several minutes, she sort of figured out what I was talking about and recommended an Armenian place not too far from our house, which has pretty awful reviews online. Then however a friend from the program suggested another place, which I had intentions of trying today, but it is raining incessantly and far away, so sometime later. As I was asking my host mother about where to find some other types of food (and this entire question obviously astounded her, because I don't think she's ever eaten good chinese and she probably thinks it's weird that I will eat sushi but not onions), she tried to tell me about all these "chinese" places she knew of. She said I was most likely to find chinese in Chinatown, which makes sense. However she also told me about a place near our house that is a buffet and serves all types of chinese food, like sushi. I no longer trust her opinion on food.

Anyways, this is my spill on food and now I can appropriately move on to other things I have done since my last post, which is not a hell of a lot. On friday, I did approximately two things of note. The first is that I went to register for classes at the university of BA in their philosophy and letters department, UBA Filosofia y Letras. This is last of all the colleges to have registration for us foreigners and it is also the most daunting and notorious. every single academic advisor tells students not to take regular classes in UBA FyL but only the seminars because apparently the final exams require something of you similar to Odysseus' journey. Actually, we don't know exactly what happens in an UBA FyL final exam but we know to avoid them. UBA is the public university which has 300.000 students, in case you don't remember me telling you that. It is also completely underfunded. Greg told me that the Social Sciences section was really ghetto and that I should probably expect something similar at this other UBA. Well when we arrived, it was like stepping back in time or at least that's they way I imagine it. It is ghetto, it is underfunded, it does look like a place that has strikes every two weeks where the professors don't come to class. It also is the most intellectual place I have ever been which I know sounds ridiculous but I can think of no other way to describe it. It was what I had always imagined attending a university in the 60s and 70s in the US to be like. There is graffiti everywhere. There was a used book sale going on in the front door and upstairs there were booths of people selling stuff and handing out political pamphlets and ideas. I signed up for a few seminars there and then we left, but I cannot wait to go pack. You can feel it in the air, UBA is not like other places.

Friday night, I also went to the theatre. Our program sponsored a trip and I decided to go and it was really cool. The theatre is gorgeous, it was in the Teatro Nacional Cervantes (which as I always tell you is worth a google) and we saw a play called Marathon. It was quite strange and the whole thing was a metaphor for life and the final prize is death, when you finally get to stop dancing. The inside was just epically beautiful and the chairs were just epically uncomfortable. But besides the chairs, I really enjoyed the play, and I actually understood a good part of it. Of course, I didn't understand everything because it was quite fast and bit dramatic and there was some vocabulary that I didn't know, but I got the idea of it and that makes me very happy. I would strongly recommend it to anyone, you know who's in BA and speaks spanish.

Anyways, that's about it for me. Oh except for that I actually have class tomorrow with actual Argentines, about which I am very excited. Also, I am thinking about taking tango lessons, can you please provide your opinions on this? Do you think I should or that I shouldn't? Also, on wednesday, Greg and Lindsay and I are going to El Calafate for sure and I am quite excited about this as well. If you haven't already, you know what you should do (hint: google).

Muchos besos,


P.S. After this upcoming weekend is semana santa, which is easter and which is when mom will be visiting and we will be going to Iguazú Falls. Woot.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The last few days.

I have been in a continual state of meaning to post on my blog for several days now, basically since the last one. Especially since I have told you nothing of this week. I had had intentions of posting yesterday but got distracted while talking to Cassidy for the first time in a month. Then this morning, I meant to as well, but the internet would not turned on. I tried everything and nothing succeeded and eventually I had to leave.

Moving on, this week seems to have been as pointless as last week with the exception of the trip to Bariloche. Since Argentina is so disorganized and carefree as a whole, I have still not started most of my classes. I did however have class on Tuesday. I had two, the same teacher is currently teaching both although one will eventually have another professor. Since it was the first class, we did nothing. I was however almost late because my alarm clock decided to move back an hour, so I woke up an hour late and somehow miraculously made it across town in time. Anyways, he talked and we listened and I took some notes and then we went to the next class and he talked and we listened and that was about it. I then left there with Lindsay and we walked to the subte bypassing a California Burrito Company. I wanted to try it, because our program director told us that this was the awful place all the americans liked and for who knows what reason. I got a burrito, just like chipotle but smaller and completely different from all argentine food, which was a nice change. Then I hopped the subte to yoga, which I chose to go to instead of spanish grammar review. Yoga was awesome, I love it, I am yogi through and through and then I came home and showered and did nothing else.

Yesterday, I was going to go to a class at UCA but it was a five hour class that started at 7:45 in the morning and somehow I just decided I liked life more than I could ever like that class. So I met Ami and Lindsay and Greg for lunch at 1:45 and we went to a parilla recommended by the Lonely Planet. It was slightly sketchy at first, but we decided to give it a try. I had a choripan and a salad and it was very delicious. We then walked to get some ice cream at volta because we thought it would be delicious. We were right. They left at some point and I stayed and read for a bit and then came home. Woot exciting.

Today, I woke up and the internet wasn't working. Therefore I couldn't check the weather. I had a long breakfast again, where I read and ate and all that jazz. I finished the book I've been reading today which was Middlesex and which was awesome. Then I had a meeting at some very well known and very old café in BA called Las Violetas for an internship. It wasn't really an interview, more like the opposite. They were trying to convince me to work for them, but they or rather he, Patricio, the guy from the magazine, didn't need to convince me. I was hooked from the second they handed me the magazine. It's an independent literary arts magazine run out of BA. It is in its seventh year, which is apparently quite a life span and while I am here, they will publish their 20th issue. It comes out three times a year and I still am not exactly sure what I will be doing there, but I am excited nonetheless. Also, feel free to google, they have an excellent website, the magazine is called Otra Parte. After that, I came back to the study abroad office with my lit professor and he suggested a restaurant for me to go to for lunch. The restaurant turned out to be delicious and very well priced for the amount of food I got. I sat for a while, reading and doing my spanish work and then went to spanish class. Afterwards, we all met at a cafe to sit and do nothing.

And then I rode the subte home and had dinner, and here I am.

I know that wasn't particularly exciting but I am going to the theatre tomorrow, and to UBA for my first initiation into the massive school, so hopefully that will be interesting.

Also, we found out we have a 5 day break next week, so we may or may not try to go to El Calafate in that time.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Section 2: Bariloche a.k.a. time out of BA and time to party

So, finally, I have returned. I know that I promised that I would continue my sagas this morning but for some unknown reason, my alarm clock a.k.a. my blackberry went back an hour. If anyone can explain this to me please do, but because of this I woke up an hour late and had exactly one hour to get dressed, pack my stuff, eat breakfast, brush my teeth and get basically halfway across BA. I panicked and started freaking and inhaled a bowl of granola. Ana made me some fresh squeezed orange juice and washed my dishes. Somehow, I was only five minutes late.

Anyways, back to Bariloche, which was amazing.

On Thursday, Ami and Greg and Lindsay and I (from here on, we will be known as "we") had tickets to go to Bariloche. We had chosen a company called "Rapido Argentino" based solely on the fact that is was cheapest. We went with the cheap seats that don't recline quite as far and have about 6 inches less room in the seats, also based on money. We were to leave at 4oclock on Thursday and arrive in Bariloche at 11:35 Friday morning. Bariloche is in the lake district of Argentina which also is in the Andes and sometimes overlaps with what is known as Patagonia.

Anyways, we had everything planned. Ami and I would share a taxi from her house and Greg and Lindsay would share a taxi from his. I was to get some food on the way there, some fruit and a kiosco sandwich and I already had some granola (quaker oats natural granola, if any of you had any doubts). We hopped a taxi ("the taxi door was open wide", points of love for anyone who can identify this?) and went to the terminal de omnibus. We finally figured out how to read the ticket and then got asked for directions by some Australians. I think they picked us because we spoke English, happy. Anyways, we met up with the others and were confused by south america's system of everything as often happens. We finally got on the bus. We chilled. I ate my sandwich, got food poisoning and almost died (this last clause is a slight exaggeration) but it was pretty miserable anyways. They showed The Guardian with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner and Funny People and Avatar dubbed in Spanish. I took a muscle relaxant and a melatonin and like three motion sickness pills and slept as much as I possibly could. It hit 11:35 in the morning and we were still 4 hours from Bariloche. We were starting to see signs of the Andes but as I may be stating the obvious, the Rapido Argentino was not rapido.

We checked into our hostel which was on the top floor of a building in the middle of town. It is called Hostel 1004 and it was gorgeous. We shared a room and were right next to the bathroom. They let us borrow towels and let us rent locks. We asked the lady if there was anywhere we could still go since we had arrived so late. She told us to get a bus to some place called Campinario. We first went to reserve our rafting spot for the next day and then went to the bank. I got some gatorade and some granola from a kiosco, as I was still recovering and a bit weak. We got on the bus and rode for way longer than we expected, it was about 10 miles out. We got there, didn't know where to go and followed the other tourists. We attempted to climb this mountain and eventually made it. But somewhere between being completely exhausted and dehydrated from being on a bus for 24 hours and my having had food poisoning and Ami, who it would turn out would be sick tomorrow, it took a while. We stopped a lot, also I have asthma, that doesn't help. We also had a doggy friend helping lead us to the top. We make lots of doggy friends because there are more strays in Argentina than pretty much the whole rest of the world. When we made it to the top, it was so worth it, I mean so worth it. I will post pictures tonight to go along with it, but oh my lord, this is natural beauty. I want to live there. We climbed down the mountain, made it back to our hostel. We went out to eat and at some point had had intentions of attending the wine party in the hostel, to make friends and such. We all basically slept through dinner, there was no way we were staying up for wine and we had to be up early for rafting. We showered and were gone.

Day two in Bariloche. We wake up and eat breakfast at the hostel, although we know we will get a second breakfast with rafting. We went outside, to where the company was going to pick us up. When the van got there, I got on and sat down in the front row. There was already a person there, there were about 6 people on the bus. I said hi, and quickly found out that four of our companions were Australian. Hell yes. I made a friend, his name is Daniel. We chatted for a bit on our two hour ride to the place where we would get our gear and then head to the river. It was mostly me talking, he talked back, but he's not as talkative as I am, imagine. We got to the camp. They fed us our second breakfast, I ate three medialunas and drank a really bad cup of coffee. We put on wetsuits, booties, jackets, lifejackets and helmets. We looked awesome, well at least I did. And of course, I acted like I looked like an idiot because it was fun. We got on the bus again and went to the river where we learned what to do and what not to do. We then got in our rafts, I was with Greg and Ami and Howard, who was British and with Daniel and Tom, they're Australian. Woot. We got going and Mariano, our guide, was trying to teach us how to be safe and not crash the raft, we sucked a lot. He would give us commands and every one of us would sit for at least 10 seconds and think about which side was left and which side was right. I just cannot describe to you the epic failure. Our guide started giggling at us. We were doing pretty well and then we hit this one big rapid whose name I cannot remember (although I know all the names were dirty) and we went in sideways. My side of the raft all fell out, Daniel was out and then me behind him and then Ami behind me. I panicked for a second and then found air and then someone yelled swim at me and thank god they did, I had forgotten. I started swimming to the left and was trying desperately not to lose my contacts which were basically floating in my eyes. They pulled us back in the boat and being the masochists that we were, we paddled back into the rapid twice more. Daniel fell out once more and Tom who was across from him pushed him out once. Then we decided to keep going. When we got to the next rapid, our guide told us that we could jump out and swim it. Tom had been dying to jump out, I followed, pulled Daniel out with me. Howard then followed and we coerced Greg out. Ami stayed in the raft. We swam the rapid which was completely awesome. The weather was on our side but the water was like a smack in the face cold. It wasn't really raining, a slight mist occasionally, but we were rafting through the Andes, who cares if there's a mist? It was majestic and beautiful and every single positive attribute I can think of. The water was so clear you could see solidly down for 10-12 feet, it was the cleanest water I've ever seen. The best rafting trip of my life. Anyways, we continued, I got pushed pulled and nudged out of the boat at least three more times that I can remember. We got to the end, sadly, as I could have stayed on that river forever and had to climb a small bit of mountain to make it to the buses. Oh and did I mention we were in Chile at this point? Yes we were, Ben called me a Chilean wetback and proud of my illegal trip, I will tell you I most certainly am. We took pictures, our group forgot to jump and we returned to relatively normal clothing. We rode back to the camp and they fed us the most amazing meal with lots of meat and lots of salad and endless wine. It was delicious. We watched a slideshow of pictures and videos of our awesome rafting skills. And then it was time to head back. We rode the two hours back, all attempting to sleep and all failing. We made plans with our new australian best friends for dinner that night and going out afterwards.

We got back to the hostel and sat, used the internet and sat some more. I put on the most normal clothes I had with me and we went outside to meet the Australians. We went to dinner at some place and had a good time. I accidentally ordered fried empanadas and gave them away while other people gave me their food as charity. It was really quite nice, we sat and chilled. And then when dinner was over, we went to some place and then we left that place and went some other place and then left and went some other place. It was a whole lot of fun. I didn't sleep as much as I should have.

Sunday, we went shopping for chocolate and went by the grocery store for supplies. We stopped, had decent coffee and some medialunas. Greg and I took pictures again. We chilled at the hostel for a bit and then got on the bus, which was on time, thankfully. We went off and Bariloche was very sadly behind us. We watched Invictus and Avatar, this time in 3-d without the glasses but in english and we realized that we'd been watching bootlegs. We arrived in BA only 30 minutes late. Ami and I shared a taxi back and our first trip and the best time I've had since being in Argentina was over.

But that's okay, because it was amazing and I loved it you should go, all of you.


P.S. Now at some point I must catch you up on things since Bariloche, I'm trying to keep up, but it's hard.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I have too many words and not enough space.

Just to warn you, this post which is quite delayed is going to be in two sections, pre-bariloche and post-bariloche.

Section 1: Cabaret and Casseroles.

So last week was quite a bust for the most part. I had no class or anything to attend to all week. So on Wednesday, Lindsay and Ami and I decided to go to our favorite cheap vegetarian place in BA. It's called Lotos and they give you free water. Let me repeat, THEY WILLINGLY GIVE YOU FREE WATER. This is a rarity in this city, like finding a nalgene bottle. Anyways, the food was good and we ran into three people from our program and one of the directors of our program. One would think that in a city with this many millions of people, you'd never run into four people you know in one restaurant, fail.

So we were walking around afterwards looking for coffee and something delicious and sweet. We were having no luck as we usually don't when we wander. We ended up losing Lindsay who went home to nurse her mosquito bites from hell. Ami and I kept walking, no luck. Finally we decide to return to a cafe that we had gone to sometime in week one. On the way to this cafe, we pass a purple cafe, we decide it's cool and walk in. Completely painted a royal purple (yes this is how we judge places), we sit at a table. I order a coffee and we split a piece of cake. The coffee was super tiny, as most here are, and also increasingly strong and delicious. I have a problem. And the cake was so good that even if the service was bad, we would go back, luckily for us, the waitstaff was awesome. So, we're sitting, just chilling, you know and this lady sits down at the one table outside (this was after the two beautiful, like descendants of the gods beautiful that were sitting beside us left). I looked at this one woman, took one laugh, and turned to Ami and pointed to the plastic that was her face. Only counting the really apparent jobs, there were at least five surgeries. Cheeks. Lips. Eyebrows. Nose. Breasts. It was hilarious and then a group of guys walked up and asked if they could take their pictures with her. Then a guy walked up and asked for an autograph and then Ami and I realized something was up. This was no ordinary Argentine plastic surgery queen, this was a famous one. We sat there, contemplating and finally, I got up the courage to ask the waiter who it was. Turns out, it was a woman named Graciela Alfano. All I got from the waitress was that she wears little clothing and that she lives on the 26th floor of the building at the end of the street. From googling later, I learned that she is an actress/model/sometimes doesn't wear clothing and like being seen with much much younger men. She looks a plastic-y 40, turns out she's actually 61, which I suppose is good. So Ami and I walked around for like 45thousand blocks and for the most part I don't really remember anything else that happened on Wednesday. But then came Thursday...

Section 2: Bariloche a.k.a. time out of BA and time to party

seems like I am going to have to get up in the morning and finish this one, my eyes are drooping, hasta manaña

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Failed Blogger.

I have so many things to tell you. But I am already running late to go to Bariloche. So, I promise to catch up when I get back on Monday.

Sorry I suck


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nothing to do, part II.

So, today was a pretty mediocre day as well. There were some good pieces in it, but this sense of restlessness that I currently have is killing me, like I soon predict death (woah, melodrama!). Anyways, since I'm pretty sure no one has time to read my blog anyways, as even my mother does not, I will just endlessly ramble for today's post.

I went looking for a water bottle today, any of the reusable sort would have pleased me. A nalgene or a sigg or anything really, I'm not picky. I just accidentally left all mine at home. When mom comes to visit, she can bring one, but I figured if I could find a reasonably priced one, then she wouldn't have to worry about it and I would have my bottle. After looking in the fourth sporting goods store, Lindsay and I realized two things. 1) Argentines don't recycle. 2) Argentines don't drink water. After realizing these two things, we realized how fruitless our search was. (We did find one bottle, it was way overpriced and in the back corner of the last store).

We then went to Aroma, got some coffee, orange juice, medialunas and even some yogurt today. It was delicious, and then we sat and judged people for an hour because we had nothing else to do.

We finally parted as it was time for me to attend my first yoga class here. I was dying from not having done any yoga in about three weeks. I was so excited, I got there and it was wonderful but oh so warm. Oh humidity! Anyways, at one point we had to do something that required other people and I was talking to my people. They were looking at me funny and it took me several seconds to realize that although this was an english class, english was most likely not their first language. I talk very fast and very colloquially, so I think that's why I got funny looks. The instructor is from Wisconsin though.

After yoga, I showered and met Ami and Greg and Lindsay at Volta (happy ice cream place where we saw many other people from our group) in order to plan our trip this weekend. There were some last minute details to get in order.

Oh, also of note, I did my laundry today which for study abroad students in Buenos Aires entails taking your dirty clothes to a place around the corner and leaving it there. They give you a slip and you come back many hours later to a bag full of freshly laundered clothes. I had a full load but also a half load of whites. This cost me 20pesos, about $5. This is something I could get used to. All I had to do was hang up my clothes, so exciting.

Other than these few things, I am a disappointment to my host mother. She was very obviously unhappy with the fact that I did not eat the fatty nasty shitty part of the pork she served me this evening. And to disappoint her even more, I did not eat the onions. I tried, I most certainly did, but I don't like onions because they are nasty. Why this is a foreign concept to her, I do not know. But I also don't like tomatoes, as they are also nasty. I fail. She also made it clear that she does not like the fact that I plan to sleep in again tomorrow. I do not have class this week, or orientation as I have told her numerous times and therefore will be doing nothing, another concept she cannot grasp. I really think I do like her, but to be constantly judged for my actions is quickly becoming old. I will sleep in and I will not eat nasty food, I really do think that's reasonable. This has turned into a rant and for that, I apologize. I tried to talk to my mom about it, but she needed more importantly to video chat with her daughter and grandson that conveniently live only 30 minutes away.

I'll try to be in a better mood tomorrow for the lack of readers, sorry. You didn't really have to read this I guess. I'm going to go read now, that should improve my mood.

With a bit of love and also some disdain,

Hourly Motels don't have a seedy reputation here.

So, this week is really boring. None of my classes start this week and I have having difficulty finding one thing to do each day. And of course, this would be the super slow week of death, because this weekend, we are going on our first foray in the rest of Argentina. I am epically stoked and just simply cannot wait for this week to pass.

Katie asked me yesterday if I had posted to my blog and that led me to think about why I hadn't, so I will recount for you what I did yesterday. I woke up at 11, ate some breakfast. I then went and bought my ticket to Bariloche. I met Lindsay at a café where I got the sweetest bit of food I have ever eaten. I have made a habit of eating second breakfasts here, breakfast foods for lunch which eludes the dear Argentines, but nonetheless I do. Anyways, I got "pancakes" with dulce de leche in them which were actually dulce de leche crepes with about a bottle of dulce de leche on them. They were unbelievably sweet and it took me like an hour and a half to eat 1 and 1/2. Anyways, after relearning the concept of addition, Lindsay and I went to our last stint of orientation. It was supposed to be a female chat, we were curious. It turned out to be a question and answer session of common sense tactics. We learned where to get the morning after pill (and were recommended that the minute after would be better) and also where to go if we felt the need to have random sex. It seems that since the program forbids us from bringing people to our house and since it is dangerous to go to someone's house whom we don't know all to well, that the only option is an hourly motel. Apparently, these types of places don't have seedy reputations. What a relief, I tell ya.

Anyways, after that, we went and sat in the park, got more mosquito bites and talked about our trip because neither of us have anything else going on. We went to the pharmacy to buy tiny shampoo bottles and cream for our mosquito bites. This is an adventure in itself because those aren't the words they teach you in spanish class. Has anyone ever been taught the word for anti itch cream? Me neither.

Oh, of note. Sunday night I saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D (and in english with spanish subtitles) and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. It seems that my friends did not like it as much as I did, but in addition to now wanting to worship the ground that Tim Burton walks on, and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter etc. I also want to make a shrine the costume designer of that movie. Whoever it is, deserves my first born child (which will rule the world in case you don't know) and I am simply obsessed with everything everyone wore in that movie. If I show up for Halloween one year dressed as the Mad Hatter, I will still need you all to be my friends.

Anyways, I have to get to yoga now. I'll be back later today, it's not like I have all that much to do.


P.S. I was trying to throw you all off with a midday post.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Just because I have a blog now and can do things like this. Also, I need her to smile. Just accept it.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some Brits and a house painted mauve.

Dear Adoring Fans,

I know I missed a day and I know you all check this religiously and for my tardiness, I apologize. This is the first time I have been able to sit down and do nothing in my house since Friday. The only other times I have been in my house, I have been sleeping or on Skype with Erik and Nani (which was thoroughly wonderful on both accounts).

Yesterday was a quite a full day. I slept in, because I was tired and I am an old lady. Got up around 11 and had some breakfast, talked to mom a bit and then went to meet Ami, Lindsay and Greg for empanadas. This was better in theory than in execution, so we just went back to Cumaná when all else failed and had empanadas there. They were delicious. We were all dead tired although we shouldn't have been. Greg wanted to go see La Casa Rosada (The Pink House), which is like The White House except for that is only a place of business, it's not residential.

So we went via subte, but before we went to do the touristy thing, Greg insisted we get coffee. Apparently I was so dead, he thought I needed coffee. We consulted the Lonely Planet (and then made a shrine and sacrificed a cow). We went to a place called London City in Microcentro. It was apparently where Julio Cortazar wrote his first novel. I think I can believe this, it was a cool place. When we sat down, we were skeptical as the prices were quite high. Then we got our coffee cups which were definitely small enough to take on a plane in a plastic quart size bag. The skepticism was high and then I sipped my coffee. WOAH, HOLY MAN WAS I AWAKE FOR LIKE 10 HOURS. It was the strongest tiny coffee I have ever had. We decided it was worth the ten pesos we were paying. Then we got the check, it was only 7.50 pesos. Lonely Planet wins again.

We walked to the Casa Rosada. We took pictures of the protesters. I think they were protesting something to do with Las Islas Malvinas (the Falkland Islands), which is a big deal here, it's all over the news. We took pictures, I was wearing pink, the house was pink, we clashed. We went inside and toured. It was not really nice at all. The tour was free and they showed us where all the construction was taking place. There were a lot of nice rooms and some awesome looking guards, but there was a lot that was more ehh. It was a quick tour and then we escaped, sadly into the heat. Greg decided that he wanted to go to Puerto Madero, which is near the water and apparently has the most expensive houses in the city. We went, we sat on a bench for ever which annoyed Greg, but the rest of us were happy. We then walked down to the Bicentennial Bridge, which the Argentines are quite proud of, 2010 is the year. We got tired, wanted to return our cameras to their safety and needed to rest. We returned to our respective houses having previously made reservations at a restaurant in Palermo. We got a suggestion from some book I have.

We went to Palermo via bus that we sort of had planned to take. The Guia T is still sometimes incomprehensible. The place was called Lelé de Troya and it was an international restaurant, according to the book. We split a bottle of wine and had some amazing food, which was a little more than we usually spend. I got vegetable risotto, mmmm delicious. Greg and Lindsay got fish, and Ami got a really good pasta dish. Oh and each room was completely decorated from floor to ceiling in a different color. We sat in the red room, there were nice cushy chairs and Ami and I sat on the couch, which was actually a bed. It was really nice and it costs me 67 pesos, which is about 15-17 dollars. Yay conversion.

I cam home and skyped with Nani for a bit, but was mostly asleep, so I talked to her again this morning because she is going to Atlanta to be an overachieving indian for spring break and build someone a house.

Sunday, today, we decided to go to the Street Markets in San Telmo. These are really cool but become progressively more touristy as the day progresses. Ami and I met Lindsay and Greg there after successfully riding a bus. This is an achievement for the record. We walked around fair #1 for a bit. It was all this amazing vintage stuff. People were selling everything from stamps and money to old jewelry and posters and newspapers and records. There were hats and art and purses and just awesomeness. We then walked a bit and walked in and out of stores. We saw some more tangoers, this time they were old and adorable. I saw some awesome stuff including tape with Evita and Che on it and different Che, Evita and Michael Jackson paper doll magnets. Please look at the pictures. We went to lunch at this really awful restaurant that was both a tourist trap and greasy dirty hole. I ate like four bites of my food and was done. We left quickly.

After having not used the Lonely Planet for lunch and failed, we went to an english book store in the Lonely Planet called Walrus Books. It was heavenly. It was super tiny and super cute. It has a bunch of used and new books, all in english and will be my source while I am here. It also has an entire bookcase full of first editions by Updike, Vonnegut and the likes. AMAZING.

We then went to the other street fair. By now it was really hot and the tourists were out. AND I mean EVERYWHERE. It was like a Nikon/Canon store in the street, there were so many cameras. And half of them were just waiting to be stolen by the kid who juggles on the D-line subway. We walked through, expect all souvenirs from here. Took the subte home, there was a kid juggling for money. This is the second time I have seen him on the subway, I have taken it less than ten times.

That's pretty much it for the exciting things in my life. I took a nap and had empanadas for dinner, I ate 5. I skyped with Katie and Luke and thankfully, she bought a mic, so that she doesn't have to write notes on paper and show them to the webcam now when she loses the chat box. Luke was wearing the soccer jersey I got him in Italy. Katie had tried to explain to him that I was in Argentina, and he told her he wanted to go to Argentina's house to see me. I LOVE HIM.

Alrighty, I have been writing this post for like four hours off and on now. I have been skyping and trying to upload pictures. So everyone expect an invitation to the pics soon. Like tonight. Now I have to go get ready to go see Alicia en el país de las maravillas. BALLIN.

Love love love today,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The train station and spanish class.

Yesterday was a completely subpar day. I went to my last spanish class for orientation and then Greg and Lindsay and I went to a café because we got out early. It was only two blocks from where orientation is and everything there was pretty cheap. The service was fairly awful as the waiter seemed bothered by our appearance. We sat there for two hours, drinking coffee and eating mini alfajors (which are heavenly and like 45 billion calories). Then we went back to orientation where I felt sick the whole time, partly because I was nauseous and partly because it was about politics in Argentina. I then had a meeting with the director of the literature concentration and although he is beautiful, he's quite awkward as well. Somehow, it took him forty minutes to tell me that he would email me next week with the options for an internship.

We then had the bright idea to go to Palermo to eat a restaurant that was recommended by the lonely planet. We took a bus all by ourselves and made it there. Turns out it is the sister restaurant to our favorite restaurant in Recoleta. Buenisimo. We walked around a bit, took a bus back and then tried to go buy bus tickets. Unfortunately, we went at the busiest part of the day and it was confusing and people were staring at us weirdly for speaking in english. So we left with the intentions of buying tickets elsewhere at a later time. We took Ami back to Circolo because she had to go to spanish. I went to the park and finally finsihed reading my New York Magazine (and on the last page there was something about helvetica cookie cutterssssss!!!!!!!! hint hint hint birthday in july). Ami met me after spanish and we walked home together.

I had dinner with Aná and then went to meet mis amigos to go see a movie. Ami and I walked together, we live pretty close and went to the movie theater. We had all wanted to go see Alicia en el país de las maravillas 3d (Alice in Wonderland, but it was sold out. We waited in the 300 person line anyways and bought tickets for Sunday night because that was the first time they had available. Go us! So we left, walked around a bit and then sat down at a café. Ami and I split a giant piece of cake and Greg got a peach smoothie and Lindsay got a coke (in a glass bottle).

I came home sometime right after 12. Aná was just going to bed, she asked me, "Oh, you're home already" and somehow I managed not to snap at her. Yes I was home, Yes I was tired, Yes I am trying to save my money to go travel all around Argentina, Yes most of the time I prefer to sit and read as opposed to go and prove to myself once again that I have no rhythm and cannot dance.

Anyways, that's that, I'm off to have empanadas and indecisiveness.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

That's how I walk with intention./I accidentally ate no meat today.

I lost an earring today. The person who will be saddest about this is mom, because it was one of the pair she always steals.

Today, we had Visa orientation, which is a long and complicated and expensive process. Luckily, Argentina decided to raise the price of visas last Monday. And by raise, I mean double from 300 pesos to 600 pesos, such dolls. There are also like 50 pesos worth of records that I have to get including a clear criminal record and residency papers. This process will take somewhere between a month and month and a half and the people from the program feel the need to accompany us to some of the things we have to do. This scares me because they have basically just let us out on our own since day 1, how complicated can it be if they have to come with us. Oh boy. Also, today at orientation we had a diplomat from the US Embassy come and speak with the group. Her name was Shannon and her goal in life was to scare us out of doing something stupid or careless. She did a damn good job. She was nice and chatty and adorable. The places she happen to mention she had been included Israel, Afghanistan. Haiti, Peru, Spain, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Turkey ....I've forgotten the rest. She was so awesome, it made me want to apply for the state department internships. Anyways, as we were asking her questions about how to be safe in Buenos Aires because people die here every day, people get robbed here everyday, people get .....insert terrible thing here every day, she was telling us how at night when she is walking by herself, she tries to talk with purpose. Then someone asked her how to walk with purpose. She picked up her purse, clutched it at her side as all women here do and began to walk with intention while glancing back every three steps. She is awesome, she also taught us how to yell at taxi drivers in spanish. Buenos Aires is big and scary but her last assignment was only a few miles from the Iranian border in Afghanistan, so she feels pretty safe here.

Other than that today was a pretty average day, it was crazyhumid. We had lots of really long weird breaks and so we went to Aroma, our new café (because it is so cheap) and ate some medialunas. In the next weird break, I decided that Ami and I should eat about a pound of ice cream at Volta (because it was a better deal). And for some godforsaken reason, she agreed with me. I had to finish it. We sat in a park and got solicited by a lady who didn't seem to know words, that was disconcerting.

In the larger scheme of things, Ami and Lindsay and Greg and I have intentions of traveling all over Argentina. It is a good thing that we have decided to not leave the country, because it turns out we're not allowed to go to Chile now anyways, imagine.
(Non sequiter: It seems that seismologists have predicted another and more horrible earthquake than the ones in Haiti and Chile because basically once the earth starts shaking, it keeps shaking. They are predicting that the next one will most likely be the San Andrés Fault. This means that we will no longer have California. And don't forget that the Richter Scale is logarithmic, so each number is really ten times worse than the last number. Also, it seems that the earthquake in Chile was so severe, it changed the shape of the earth by the movement of the plates. The result is that the earth rotates faster (like when you are spinning and pull your arms in) and we seem to have lost about a millisecond off of our days. This is not relevant to my study abroad experience all that much, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.)
We are planning to go such fabulous places as San Antonio de Areco, Montevideo (Uruguay), Bariloche, Salta, Mendoza, Tierra del Fuego and El Calafate. (This is the point where you pull up a new tab for googling). And also when mi madre comes to visit we are going to Iguazú Falls (google google). And don't worry, of course I will take pictures. Anyways, we are planning to go to Bariloche next weekend and it seems that it is a 20 some hour bus ride. We tried to book tickets online, only we forgot, we're in South America. Everything is complicated and incomprehensible. My host mom says even she can't figure out their online system, we are going to go to buy them in person tomorrow.

Also, we should be keeping tallies for our trip and it goes like this so far:
Lonely Planet: 10
Ami, Lindsay, Greg and I: -3
South America: -456

Anyways, I also managed, in some strange manner, to not have eaten meat today. This befuddles me if only because they love their meat here. Usually I can assume that even if I do not eat meat in a day, dinner will bring it to me. I made this assumption today and had spinach ravioli for dinner. It was delicious and I ate three portions. I'm getting fat.

Hasta manaña,

P.S. I got my spanish exam back today that I had to take last week. Turns out I forgot the subjunctive existed. Oops.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If I were ever to turn orange.

Today was an interesting day. It was a day of many firsts (all days here are really that, but today was even more so). Today, I rode the subte (subway) for the first time. Today it rained and then poured for the first time since the day I arrived (and which I did not leave the apartment). Today I saw more priests than I have ever seen in a single day. Today I listened to my iPod for the first time wile walking around the city.

Never choose a really humid, muggy day to try out the subway. It only makes it more oppressive and uncomfortable. The subte here seems fine, but it's not that extensive (not nearly as extensive as the bus system) and so I don't find it to be all that convenient. Anyways, we took the subte which led to our next adventure. Finding our way to UCA (Universidad Catolica Argentina) in the pouring, and I mean pouring and blowing every which way even my eyelashes are wet) rain. It finally stopped a bit after we were passing the Casa Rosada (The Pink House, where Kirschner lives) and could attempt to find our way a bit more successfully. We arrived at UCA to a fully air conditioned room, which is seemingly nice in heat until you realize you are soaking wet from the torrential downpour and the chill sets in.

After the session, which was of little to no help, we returned to the subte, apparently taking the long way. Ami and I stood in line to pay for a ticket and a worker waved us through for free after unlocking the gate. That is one way to save monedas. We rode, went to Aroma for a bit, which is a really cheap café and one of our new spots (along with Cumaná and El Ateneo) and then went to listen to Mario Cantarini talk about politics. This was particularly boring, so I didn't listen all that well. And Mario is the director of the program, I think he's gay and he has the most wonderful shoes.

Then, another win for the Lonely Planet (I am never again traveling without a consultation to lonely planet first), we went to find a vegetarian restaurant in Buenos Aires, because we thought it would be fun. Turns out we (and the lonely planet) were right. We found the restaurant, ate, and for the first time since I have arrived, I drank free water. HELLS YEAH! Lindsay then abandoned us for our academic advisor Darío and we went to the grocery store. In this store, we found dulce de leche oreos. The package was too big to buy and eat, so we were forced to settle for the half dulce de leche, half chocolate oreos. Mmm Mmm Good.

Then we went and sat in El Ateneo for like five hours. They have AC and it's awesome.

For dinner, I had fish milanesas (holy man delicious) with roasted butternut squash and beet salad with pears and avocado in it. Actually awesome, I'm getting fat.

Also, I didn't mention my lunch which was a lump of rice and a soybean milanesa both covered in butternut squash sauce. Which returns me to the title of this post, I were to ever turn orange, it would be today because I am eating a whole bunch of squash.

Love love love

P.S. If I do turn orange, I will dye my hair green. I promise.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Different Kind of Shopping.

Today has been, not so much stressful, as just busy. I'm trying to plan and know and figure because that is what I do and that is almost impossible when it comes to academics here. Thankfully, I have chosen to participate in a literature concentration through the study abroad program I am in. This covers 9 of my 15 credits. However, there are restrictions by Duke, by the program, and by each of the four universities I can choose to take classes in. I have to pay attention to all of these.

Anyways, there are four universities from which I can choose classes. Universidad de Torcuato di Tella, Universidad de Salvador, Universidad Catolica Argentina and Universidad de Buenos Aires. The first three are private and the last, UBA, is public and free to everyone. I keep hearing different numbers but somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people go there. This is approximately the same or bigger than about 50 of the places you can consider countries. MASSIVE and a bit scary. They don't have schedules, there is no accountability, there are final exams that apparently beat the shit out of you and leave you for dead. I'm rewording and summarizing what my academic advisor said, he went to UBA.

Anyways again, I met with my advisor today to see what classes I wanted to enroll in for the shopping period. Each school has a different academic calendar and different drop/add dates, different methods of registration and different methods of dropping a class. It's a plethora of information. We met, I told him where my interests lie and he gave me a pathway of things to do. So, I am enrolled in 3 classes that I think may already be approved for Duke and I am shopping for 9 classes, maybe more, 1 of which I know is approved but which I will not necessarily take. For the most part, all my academics are about halfway taken care of. And on that note, you shouldn't ever really end a sentence with a preposition.

Other Buenos Aires news. This is the city of dogs and noise. Everyone here has a dog, you literally see dogs getting walked several hundred times every time you are outside. And these aren't tiny purse dogs, these are every type of dog. Well, if you are an intelligent person, as I imagine you are if I'm friends with you, then you know what comes along with dogs. Dog Shit. Everywhere. This is a contributing factor to the smell of Buenos Aires which I will address later, but it's everywhere. Pedestrians in BA, in addition to dodging the puddles, dodge dog crap. It is literally all over the place and yes, I find it to be disgusting.

The other day, my spanish teacher asked the class what things we hated most about BA. My answer was the lack of free water. It literally pains me to pay for water all the time. I'm starting to get cheap and just not get beverages in restaurants. This is the only thing I hate, but there are things that bother me that I think I will come to hate. The most important is the previously mentioned smell. There is so much pollution from exhaust and cigarettes and every other type of fume emitting entity that fresh is something to be desired. There is also the smell of the dog feces to combat and to avoid it, it is sometimes necessary to breath exhaust. You see a vicious cycle forming. Another thing that is not so much bothersome as simply very different from anywhere I have lived before is the noise. I have lived in small town suburbia or close campuses for all my life and now I am in a massive city. Ambulances, horns and people yelling a games of futbol echo off the towering apartment buildings. The windows shut and keep out an impressive couple of decibels and it quiets down at night, at least where I live, or maybe I've adjusted, but there is most certainly a lot of noise. In addition to being hard of hearing, the noise from the street requires my host mom to keep the television volume on something like 30. It's a bit ridiculous.

I feel like there were lots of negative things to be said in this post and that was not at all my intention, so I apologize. There were some things that were irking me, but overall this experience is wonderful. I do like Buenos Aires although I am not sure I could ever live here. I've had no trouble eating which is amazing.

Also, I've been slacking on telling you about my dinners:

Monday: Milanesas (breaded meat) with cheese and tomatoes with beet and carrot salad with hard boiled egg in it, actually delicious
Tuesday: Chicken (the part I like to eat as Aná put it, the breast) with broccoli and mushrooms with green peppers and rice

I am so well fed at meals. I think I'm getting fat from the weird eating schedules though.


Punctuality is not something you see too often.

As the title of this post forewarns, punctuality is not something that Argentines necessarily appreciate. There are times when it is necessary to be timely, in cases where you need to be respectful, but at other times, it is perfectly acceptable to be 20 or 30 minutes late or even an hour. My point being that this is a post for Monday on Tuesday. I am falling into the trap, and I already had problems with this before Argentina, so when I return, there may possibly be no hope for me.

Anyways, I walk a lot in Buenos Aires. For example, I walk 20 blocks to get to orientation every morning by 9am, this is actually a short distance as I was attempting to explain to Mom. Buenos Aires is massive, seriously look at a map, the city is not a whole bunch of people shoved into a tiny place like NYC. It physically covers a large space. Mom will be staying 17 blocks from me when she comes to visit, this is quite awesomely close. The point here being that I have a lot of time to think when I walk and notice things that don't really affect the outcome of my life. I don't feel comfortable enough to listen to iPod while walking, because one it could get stolen and two those stories about people getting hit by buses. It's like mean girls but in real life. Holy mans. So I began to think about what identifies you as an American off the bat. There are the obvious ones like gym shorts and tshirts and the likes, but there is also something when it comes to women's attire. When you show too much skin during the day (this rule doesn't seem to apply for going out), it is obvious that you are an American. Women here dress in all types and where just about everything you could think, there really is no identifying feature except for that the most part they are covered up. And yes before you ask, it is hot, I've been sunburned and it is supposed to be in the 80s all week. You can wear short skirts with a covered up top and a tank top with pants but if you pairs these together, you are American.

Another thing, which makes me glad I listen to my mother sometimes, is that young women here, say under 30-40 don't have short hair. They just don't. All these women have long hair that reaches at least their shoulders. Every color, style and maintenance level, they just don't cut their hair. Older women however may have whichever hairstyle these choose from quite short (but still feminine, machismo) to long just like their younger counterparts. I almost chopped my hair before leaving and Mom made me keep it. I'm quite glad she did because I don't need anything else to identify that I am a UnitedStates-ian, I already have plenty going for that cause.

Anyways, I probably need to go. I have to go to my intro (remember all the things you've forgotten and learn words that Argentines made up ) class. I then have a meeting this afternoon with my academic advisor. When this is over and I have picked some classes, we will talk about that because Argentine University Systems are on a completely different field than anything you've ever seen.

That's all for now, and remember if you can't hear a dog barking at all times, you're not in Buenos Aires with me. Sadness.