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What to Expect When You’re in Mendoza

“I’ve been winding

Down the same road for days I’ve seen

The coastline going both ways

Some days are perfect

Some just simply could not get worse

Some days it’s all worth it

Some days this life is nothing but a curse

And I wonder who will break

First…

 

I am small

I feel like no more than nothing at all

But when I lose sight of daylight

And my darkness falls

I’ll be strong

And if not now it won’t be long

From when I lose sight of daylight

And my hands are week

and my soul is tired

Oh I’ll give my love from the inside out

From the inside out”

 

Hey, all!

 

I’ve wanted to create a blog post for awhile now detailing the little things that make living in Mendoza a different experience, but I’ve found it’s hard to sit down and write it all out!  But here’s what I’ve got so far,

 

When in Mendoza:

 

*Expect the sidewalk to be uneven.  And expect to watch out for acequías

 

 

 

*Expect the street lights to be no indication of whether it is safe to cross the street

If you wait for the light to be green everyone will pass you by, and if you cross when it’s green and a car is making a right turn that car will NOT wait for you!

 

*Expect to not see any strollers, parents carry their infants everywhere

That pink bundle is a baby, and a scene such as this occurs at least seven times a day.  Also, enjoy the view of the “Mr. Dog” Hot Dog restaurant!

 

*Women, expect men to stare at you honk their horns at you and even shout comments such as “¡hermosa!” or “¡Hola, bonita!” These are called “Piropos”  and are a part of the machismo culture here.  Most women I’ve talked to don’t like it but they cope by ignoring them and walking straight on by.  I’ve more or less gotten used to it by now, and I am pretty good at being oblivious to the fact that stares and honking horns might be directed at me.  However, as a modest-looking brunette, I don’t attract nearly as much attention as my friends who are blonde or asian or stand out in some other way.

 

*Expect Dulce de Leche to be in every single dessert.  Seriously, they throw it into everything!

 

Alfajores:

Cakes:

Ice cream (the best!!!):

Chocolate:

 

*Expect there to be no Peanut Butter.  Ever.  Why does this make me so sad?


*Expect there to be no freshly baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, and expect to have difficulty finding brown sugar when you attempt to bake said Chocolate Chip Cookies by yourself!

 

*Expect to be stared at if you eat food “on the go” besides candy bars and chips, it is not common to see someone scarfing down an apple or even sipping a cup of coffee on their way to work.  Eating is for mealtimes with the family.

 

*Expect to see stray dogs walking the street.  These animals know how to take care of themselves, but they can be crazy!  I’ve seen them charge at cars, and they have the tendency to follow me and my friends when we’re walking for blocks and blocks.  Mendocinos tend to feed and pet stray dogs they see but I try to stay away from them!

 

*Expect to see full families out and about on the streets at midnight and later.  I honestly don’t know if children have bedtimes here

 

*Expect to see shoes like this:


 

 

 

and this:

 

 

and this:


 

and this:

 

 

 

and this:

 

 

*Expect there not to be toilet paper or soap in public bathrooms BRING TOILET PAPER AND HAND SANITIZER WITH YOU EVERYWHERE

 

*Expect to see random protests when you’re walking down the street.  Just keep walking, you’ll never know what they’re for anyway!

 This line of policia is for a soccer match, but you could have fooled me!

 

*Expect to greet everyone with a “beso” a touching of the cheeks and a kissing sound (you don’t actually kiss their cheek) It’s like shaking hands in the US except much more prevalent.  You kiss someone hello before you even ask them their name!


*Expect everyone to have a strong opinion about politics, especially about “la presidenta” Cristina.

 

*Expect to not see people drinking regular water often.  It’s more common to see people drink  “gaseosa” soda, or “soda/agua con gas”, carbonated water

 

They look like this and are indispensable in an argentine home:

 

 

*Expect germs to be less of a concern.  People use their used forks and knives to cut off new pieces from the serving plate and don’t wash their hands nearly as often.  Also it is still rude to not kiss someone when you greet them, even if you’re sick

 

*Expect to eat dinner at 10:30 at night, and expect parties not to start until 1 or 2 in the morning and go until sunrise.  I still haven’t figured out when Argentines sleep (siesta?)

 

*Expect to hear “vos” instead of “tú” and words like “boludo” and “che” and expect to hear Spanish spoken with more intonation than you’ve ever heard before!

 

*Expect to drink mate!  It’s an Argentine tradition that has endeared itself to me.  There is a whole culture around drinking mate and many rituals around its preparation and the way it’s served.  Serving Mate even has it’s own verb in Spanish “cebar”

 

*Expect to not have a drying machine.  Most families hang their clothes to dry

 

*Expect to have a cellphone that looks like this:

 

BUT GUESS WHAT IT HAS AN FM RADIO BUILT IN!!!!

 

*Expect people to be late, or for plans to fall through.  As the director of our program said, “Time isn’t money here, anything that was supposed to happen today can happen tomorrow”  There are good and bad things about this mentality, it makes it harder for things to get done, but it also makes for a more laid-back lifestyle!


*Expect cashiers to always expect you to have change, and to be very frustrated if you give them a 100 peso bill for an item that costs 30 pesos, or ask you to buy more things instead of giving you change.  Maybe this has to do with the status of the economy, but I feel like having a lack of change is a strange problem for a country to have!

 

 

Never ever go to a kiosco with only these, they will glare at you!!


*Expect to never figure out the micro system.  The bus I have to take to and from class has two different routes, one takes me to the university, the other doesn’t and there are four plus routes leaving the university, only one of which will take me home


Check out my friend’s Tumblr blog for more typical Mendocinean experiences!  It is a true masterpiece: whatshouldwecallifsamendoza.tumblr.com

 

In other news, IFSA classes were cancelled last week, so I passed the time with some of my closest friends on the program having a “staycation week” in which we reveled in our Americanness.  It was awesome

We explored the Hiatt Hotel, the fanciest accomodations in Mendoza:

Fancy staircase


We found the only Starbucks in Mendoza, located at the Palmares shopping mall 35 minutes out of the city


Excitement!


Where the movie theater is also located; we had popcorn and saw “El Gran Gatsby”


(We were the only people in the theater, and halfway through the film got stuck in the projector and the frame BURNED away!!!  But the sound kept going… Oh, Argentina)

 

We baked Chocolate Chip Cookies (used my mom’s recipe, but we couldn’t find any brown sugar!!!  WHAT?!?!  They still turned out delicious, though!)


(For future reference: three months is too long to go without Chocolate Chip Cookies)


Chocolate chip cookies and café, a new discovery!


We baked challah on Friday, using my sister’s recipe again and it turned out amazing!  I’m turning into a pro!

Thanks, friends, for helping!  You are excellent braiders!


Forgot to get a photo of it right out of the oven, we ate it so quickly!


The past week or so It’s felt a little bit harder to be here in Argentina, part of me is ready to go home and be surrounded by the familiar places and faces in the US that I cherish.  Part of why I’m feeling this way might be because I just hit my three-month anniversary in Argentina, which is the longest I’ve ever been away from home.  Life feels different here now, I’m not eager eyed and looking for adventure and immersion like I was when I first got here, I’m better adjusted, I’ve made friends, but I’m also tired, and grateful to get through the day’s classes and come home to English on the internet.  So these next two months will be interesting because it will really be uncharted territory.  Will I get a second wind and do more than I think is possible, or will I settle into a fairly comfortable routine, counting down the days until I get to come home, or perhaps something in between will occur?  


So far it’s been a balance.  For example, Saturday, I was feeling pretty crummy.  I tried to run some errands which each went wrong in turn, I ran out of credit on my phone, I ran out of money in my wallet, and Argentina’s disorganization was getting to me.  On top of that, I realized very last minute that none of my friends would be able to go on the group trek that we’d been planning on attending, and which I had really been looking forward to. All little things, but somehow they built up into a wave of frustration and I came home and cried.  But, the next day, I moved on.  I decided to go on the group trek anyway, even though it meant navigating the bus terminal on my own and then putting myself out there (in Spanish) to meet new people on the trek.  The prospect of entering that situation completely alone really scared me, but I did it anyway, and I am so glad that I did, because I got the chance to hike in the Andes mountains and I also met some really nice Argentines and had some really great conversations in Spanish.  

In the mountains, sharing lunch with some new Argentine friends!


I consider myself to be timid and slow-to-warm to new experiences, and I’ve always really admired those people who just go out there and try something new on their own.  On Sunday, all of a sudden, I was that person, and that realization was very powerful.  Going on my own to a hike in Spanish is not something I could have done at the beginning of my time abroad; I’ve grown during my time here, in ways I’m not even aware of until a moment like this shows me what I’m capable of.  So even though I know I’ll have more moments of homesickness before I return to the States, I know I’ll have more moments of growth as well.


I leave you with the lyrics from one of my favorite Sara Bareilles songs, “Inside Out”.  It reminds me that, even when I’ve had a bad day, I’m burned out and I feel small, I have to keep doing what I always try to do, share my love and my good heart with others and making the choice to keep loving and hoping, even when I’m scared and tired, makes me powerful.  

I’m sending that love to all my readers as well, and I hope that you find the strength to give your love “from the inside out”, too!

 

I am small

I feel like no more than nothing at all

But when I lose sight of daylight

And my darkness falls

I’ll be strong

And if not now it won’t be long

From when I lose sight of daylight

And my hands are week

and my soul is tired

Oh I’ll give my love from the inside out

 

From the inside out

 

Take your best shot

Here I stand

Heart in hand

Fearless I’m not

But I am what I am

And I know what I’m not

And I know enough to know it’s never

Gonna be much more than weather

Can’t drive me away when it’s only rain

 

From the inside

 

It’s only rain

 

From the inside

 

It’s only rain

 

From the inside

 

It’s only rain

 

From the inside

 

From the inside out

 

I am small

 

From the inside out

 

 

I am small”

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