caution and cooking
On Saturday, IFSA gave us a cooking class at a culinary institute! It was really cute how they equipped us with chef hats and aprons, plus the staff was really nice. After we were decked out in our cooking gear, Chef Gustavo taught us how to make flan, the most amazing meat ever, sauces, and empanadas. We received tips and anecdotes while helping him roll the dough, stuff the empanadas, etc. It was slightly torturous to constantly smell and watch great looking food when we had to wait…. But finally, after three hours (at least, it felt like three hours), we got to eat our DELICIOUS meal. The sauce was beyond amazing and everything was muy rico!
After our meal, we received “diplomas de asistencia” (basically, certification of helping/completing the class), signed by the chef. Adorable!
On to a more serious note….in general, I feel safe here. While I was away in Chile and Bariloche, I genuinely missed Mendoza and felt a sense of familiarity and belonging when I returned from my trips. Although I admit that there have been several times when I should’ve been more careful (for example: walking home alone late at night), I have been very lucky. There were also several instances when we were out at bars and restaurants when we had to be extra careful of the children that kept coming up to us, repeatedly asking for money and trying to join our table. But apart from that, Mendoza is like any other city. You should stay alert at night, watch your belongings, etc. However, since I’ve encountered nothing bad, and since my time here feels like a perpetual vacation, it’s hard to stay serious and cautious at all times.
I was walking to the IFSA office last week, and I was about two minutes away when suddenly, a woman shoved me up against a wall and put a knife against my throat. Strangely enough, I was too shocked to absorb the seriousness of the situation. I couldn’t believe that I was getting attacked DURING the day, in a safe and yet one of the wealthier neighborhoods! More so, I felt like I was in a dream….unable to register that this woman, casually walking down the street, was threatening my life just so she could grab my personal belongings. It’s impossible to describe exactly what I was thinking…..but I was too scared, enraged, and unsure of what to do. I looked at her blankly, pretended not to understand her Spanish so I could buy more time. I started screaming at the top of my lungs, nearly shrieking: “Why are you doing this? Ayuda! etc.” Eventually, she looked at me disgustedly and stormed off with just my headphones (lucky for me, my headphones were actually broken, with only the left side working), nothing else. I feel extremely fortunate to have come out of that situation unrobbed and unharmed. Especially since that day, I had my wallet, camera, ipod, AND my passport in my backpack! Dios.
From that point on, I stopped carrying anything valuable. I’m obviously not going to let this incident affect my time here, since all of the amazing people I’ve met clearly outnumber the one bad person who attacked me. I’m not exactly paranoid, but this incident has definitely made me more cautious. Just some tips I’ve come up with from the situation: never carry anything valuable (if you have to, keep it hidden or carry copies of important documents), always walk on the main road, always try to walk with someone else late at night, try not to look scared/lost/confused, be alert, cross the street when you’re suspicious, and remember that if you have nothing to protect yourself, screaming helps! It’s always wise to think twice since petty theft does occur here (and like any other city). Although this was definitely a wake up call, it doesn’t change the fact that Mendoza is a beautiful and wonderful place! Could this have been because of the super luna this weekend? 😛 I swear I’m not superstitious.