¡Que te cumplas feliz!
Wow. Today is May 25, el Día de la Declaración de Independencia Argentina. Time has FLOWN BY. May has flown by. Now I only have 45 days left in Argentina, and it’s scary… I don’t want to leave. It’s going by way too quickly, but instead of complaining about it, I’ve enjoyed every day and I have had an incredible time during this past month.
My birthday was May 10th. I celebrated two separate days since it was unfortunate enough to fall on a Tuesday… but I guess that ended up working out for the best. Since dinners aren’t provided for students on Saturdays, a friend planned a dinner for that night, three days before my actual birthday. Now, instead of just rambling on about how great it was, I’ll try to throw some culture in there too. There’s this running feed on our Facebook group that begins with, “You know you’re in Buenos Aires when:” and then everyone proceeds to post his or her argentine happenings. Well, this is the perfect time to use one of them. You know you’re in Buenos Aires when: you show up for your birthday dinner twenty minutes after the reservation and you’re one of the first people there. Friends continue to trickle in for the next two hours, and no one really seems to take notice. Dinner ends up lasting three and a half hours, and it ends with champagne and the traditional “que te cumplas feliz” happy birthday song. It was a great dinner, and ended up being a great night. My host parents’ grandson who I’ve become friends with invited all 14 of us over to pregame before going out to a boliche. Awesome night! He lives a few blocks from 9 de Julio on the 10th floor, with a great view. It was picturesque. It was incredible, a great way to bring me into my third decade. Then on Tuesday, four close friends and I celebrated my actual birthday at a bar called Magdalena’s and then a boliche, Kika, which is known for its Tuesday night parties. Once again, you know when you’re in Buenos Aires WHEN… It was another incredible night. One of my best friends here was so generous and bought us a table in the VIP section with 2 buckets of champagne and drinks. There were 5 of us…. so you can imagine how that night ended. Let’s just say I didn’t really feel like stopping in Plaza Miserere on the way home to get my usual 4-peso superpancho to end the night.
The next weekend we had an IFSA- planned trip to Rosario, Argentina, the third largest city in the country, located in la Provincia Santa Fe. It is about a 4-hour bus ride from BsAs to the city that’s on the edge of the Parana River, and we had two full days and one night to enjoy it as much as possible. Well, we started immediately. We found a place to get some lunch and were told to be back to meet the group for a walking tour of the city in 40 minutes. Well, this is Argentina… we were at lunch for 2 hours, and therefore decided to take a walking tour ourselves, litros in hand. It was a blast, so much so that I needed to recoup with a nap before dinner. Now, dinner… we decided that IFSA had a plan with the dinner that they took us out to. That plan was to stuff us so much with great food that we wouldn’t want to go out that night. Success. Now, let me break down this dinner. We were all SO hungry, so the breadbaskets came out and were demolished. Mistake one. Then we all got served an empanada de carne, followed by a lettuce and then a spinach salad. Delicious. What came next confused all of us. Huge platter with brain, intestines, blood sausage, and chorizo. Damnit IFSA! Why would you feed us these things? Needless to say, they were accompanied by platters of papas fritas, so everyone wolfed down the chorizo and the fries. Mistake 2. Sitting with what seemed like half a ton of fries in my stomach, steak knives were brought out to all of us, and we were served red wine. Then platters with all different cuts of steak, and more papas fritas. Well, at that point I could barely fit any more food into my stomach, but I had to eat some of the great Argentine meat. It was delicious and we were all about to explode. So of course after that, ice cream followed. Then we were all asked if we wanted some after-dinner coffee. It was great, but there was no way any of us were in the mood to go to one of Rosario’s many heavily talked-about boliches. Damnit IFSA, got us again. Now, don’t think that we didn’t take advantage of having a night in a new city, all put up in hotel rooms. We went to the store and bought the necessary beverages, and partied in one of the rooms. It was so much fun, a great mix of people, and a craaaaazy night. Yes, we stayed in the room and started off by playing charades, but it was an awesome time. The next day, we had a lunch from IFSA, which seemed to be more of a recovery period, and then a tour of the Parana on a ferry. It was really nice, the river was huge, and it was something that I had never seen before. Horses waded through the water at every turn, people had raised houses in the middle of the river, with boats to get to the city… it was really something amazing. Something different, something Argentina. We all left Rosario completely wiped out after an awesome weekend.
Now to prevent complete boredom with my drawn-out stories, I’m going to give the highlights of the rest of the time since I last posted a blog…
Went to my first ‘undercover’ bar. We had to ring a doorbell, enter four at a time, walk inside a telephone booth, and then press the pass code in order to get in. It was a really nice bar with specialty drinks (unfortunately with really ‘special’ prices), but it was cool to have been in a bar like that all the same.
Got ripped off by a taxi. Big surprise, right? I asked him if he had change for 100 pesos. Stupid. Always carry smaller change for taxis (although this country refuses to print adequate amounts of smaller bills and the precious monedas, forcing people to always scheme ways to break their hundreds, but that’s a rant for another time). He swapped out my hundred for a two and proceeded to tell me that I had mistakenly given him a two. Now, despite how I may come off with all these robbery stories, I’m no moron. I now keep my hundreds in the little pocket of my jeans, so I know that I gave him a hundred. Hijo de puta. I then had to give him another hundred to ‘pay for the cab ride,’ since I wasn’t about to get shot by an angry, possibly drunk, taxista. Needless to say, I ended up spending 140 pesos (U$S35) for a taxi that was supposed to be 40 pesos. Whatever. You live and you learn, and that guy now has bad karma. Sucks for him. And me.
Telos. I’ll make this brief and impersonal. These are places, similar to hotels, but rooms can be rented hourly. In a city where it’s hard to get any personal space, especially since the majority of kids my age still live at home, it’s a convenient was to spend some time… alone with someone else. Neon blue lights, mirrored street doors, and trees in front of the already-opaque windows generally indicate that you’ve found one. Others can be entered by garage. It all depends on which telo you end up near. They’re easy, convenient, very clean, and relatively cheap.
Classes. Well… apparently I’m the luckiest guy in the world. My class at Di Tella was canceled for 2 1/2 weeks for ‘travel,’ my castellano class was canceled this week, today is feriado, and so in total I have 1 class that I need to attend all week. Tough, right? Argentina, I love you. And it ended up really working out for me since I’m now stuck in bed with what I’m self-diagnosing myself as strep throat. Let’s just hope those “antibióticos” that my host dad gave me do the trick…
Til next time,