I made it to Argentina! My flight finally arrived in Buenos Aires at 3am after being delayed another 7 hours (supposed to take off at 8am, but didn’t end up leaving until around 4pm). There were three other girls from my program on the flight with me, so we were all able to take taxis (organized by IFSA Butler, even at 3am!) to the hotel, sleep for a few hours, and then get ready to start two days of touring through Buenos Aires!
One of my favorite stops in Buenos Aires was the Plaza de Mayo. This central area of the city features La Casa Rosada (similar to The White House, except that the president does not live there). Our guide also explained that this plaza is important for the political culture of Buenos Aires because it is so near to gubernatorial offices. For years, Argentines have come to the Plaza de Mayo to protest. Two symbols of these protests still exist today — a camp run by unrecognized veterans of the Malvinas War and painted outlines of Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, women who walked (and continue to walk every Thursday) around the plaza lamenting their disappeared children (desaparecidos) who were murdered by the Argentine military.
A more light-hearted feature of the plaza is the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, where Pope Francis held mass before he became the Pope.
Another favorite was a neighborhood called La Boca filled with colorful buildings (They were painted with leftover paint from construction sites around the city) and kind-of-creepy/really neat models of historical figures from Argentina, such as Eva Perón (Evita) and Pope Francis.
My third favorite stop in Buenos Aires was La Recoleta, an eerily beautiful cemetery filled with mausoleums (both ornate and modern). Eva Perón, a beloved figure among many Argentine people, is buried there.
After our trip to La Recoleta, it was time to head to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires to catch our flight to Mendoza. Like true Argentines, our bus arrived just as the flight was scheduled to board, so the plane ended up waiting for all twenty-something of us to check our luggage, pay for our overweight bags (you can only check about 33 pounds of luggage flying within the country), and clear security (which only involved putting our bags through a scanner and stepping through a basic metal detector…very different than in the US).
Overall, the two days in Buenos Aires were exciting and jam-packed with sightseeing, listening and speaking Spanish, learning about Argentine customs and culture, and meeting new people on my program. My days were so full that I didn’t have too much time to be homesick (which for me is a very good thing).
Now, on to Mendoza!