Yet ANOTHER rainy day…

Day 63.

Viernes (Fri). Nov 13, 2009.

Today has been an interesting day so far. I slept in this morning, waking up around 10am. It has been my first day without school on a weekday since the school was not able to fit me in with a private lesson due to a shortage of teachers. Either way it worked out well for me since they gave me extra hours next week to make up for it.

So my flatmate and I grabbed some lunch down the street at an amazing little local resturaunt.  For the most part it was only older gentlemen in the place, enjoying lunch and coffee with one another. Almost like something you would see in a movie. A truly local place. After lunch we headed out to take pictures in one of the main parts of the city. Since we knew there was a storm coming in, we decided to take the subway in order to speed things up… or so we thought. To start with we went the wrong direction on the subway so we had to retrace our steps with the train. Then we got on to the right train, made a connection with another one… and then missed our stop. After retracing all of our errors, we turned a 25 minute ride into a 1 hour ride. As we were emerging from the underground our first vision was of a dark, grey sky. I think we were able to take about 7 minutes of photos before it started to rain! We got very frustrated and grabbed some ice cream to make up for it. We wanted to feel like our 1 hour trip spent underground was for a reason… so we decided it would be for ice cream. 🙂

So now, I am sitting here in my room, drenched, listening to the rain engulf my room from every side while enjoying the light sound of thunder from time to time. This morning was frustrating but now I am content with an afternoon all to myself to work on my favorite escape, my photography.

OUtx & La Boca

Day 36-37.

Viernes – Domigo (Fri – Sun). Oct 17-18, 2009.

This past weekend I gathered my international friends together and took them out to the American Expat Bar here called “El Alamo“. I decided to introduce my friends to College Football in the States. It was the perfect game to show them… OU vs TX. We showed up at the bar to realize we were the only ones there to start with. However, about 10 minutes before the game we were outnumbered. Roughly 30-40 Texas Longhorn fans showed up dressed in their ugly burnt orange shirts. We, being about 5 people, decided to give them the large side of the bar and we sat on the opposite side. The game was a lot of fun and we drank a bunch of Quilmes (the local beer here in Buenos Aires).  I have come up with a different name for it though… I call it “Kill Me” (since it is pronounced”Kill-Me” in Spanish) because it gives you the worst hangovers, ever! Either way, we drank and watched a very low scoring college football game and yet we almost beat Texas with our backup QB. Personally I thought that for Texas being the #3 team in the nation they played a terrible game against a weak OU team. Just wait for next year Texas! I will always cheer “Boomer Sooner” no matter what country I am in and how badly outnumbered I am!!

On Sunday, I ventured out to yet another “barrio” (neighboorhood) here in Bs. As.  I went to one of the most famous barrios… La Boca.  From around the world most people think of this barrio when then think of Buenos Aires because it is the one with the brightly painted walls all along the streets.  As you walk down the streets the walls jump out at you and you become engulfed with every primary color known to man. While being distracted by the walls, you find tango dancers dancing all over the streets and performing for restauraunts on the streets of the barrio.  We sat down and enjoyed a wonderful lunch with a table in the front row of a tango stage. For about an hour we watched an amazing tango dance between some of the best dancers we have seen throughout the city (photo below). Afterwards, we walked around and took in the little barrio realizing that it is extremly tiny. Just before leaving we wandered through one of the museums to learn about the city through some of the earliest painters. From the top of the museum we enjoyed the view of the most polluted river in all of South America. Sounds pretty, right?? However, from the other side you can see the famous La Boca Futbol (Soccer) Stadium that is painted with yet another set of bright colors. It is painted just like a huge IKEA… bright blue & yellow. It turns out that the stadium was actually painted that color because it is suppose to respresent something about the Swedish coming here and those are the colors of the Swedish flag. I will have to research a bit more of what exactly it has to do with the Swedish, haha.

Alto Palermo & Galeria

So last night was ridiculous. I do not know how they stay up till 8 in the morning without stopping. I was so worn out by 4am. I almost started falling asleep at the bar and that was after a 3 hour nap in the afternoon.

Anyway, the night turned out to be really fun. I met up with 20 classmates at the La Celeste Restaurnt in Palermo. It was a very nice place and I love how inexpensive everything is out here. In the end I ordered a plate of pasta, glass of wine, and a desert for $12 USD. In the states that same meal would have cost me at least $40 USD. So far I have been here a week and I still have not spent over $100 USD.

After dinner we all headed out to Sugar in Palermo. The place was packed but yet not too bad. We were able to get drinks all night without waiting too long and had a lot of fun. The drinks down here cost around $10 ARS which is equivalent to $2.50 USD.

This morning I got up around noon since I stayed out so late. I really did’t feel very good this morning from last night so I just went shopping for some jeans. In the end I actually didn’t even buy any but I was able to check out two of the main shopping areas they have here. One is called Alto Palermo which is a very high-end shopping mall here and the other is called the Galeria. The Galeria is aimed towards the younger crowd and the punk/rock/goth crowd. I was walking through with a polo pull-over on and felt so out of place. Everyone there was wearing black clothes, chains, and had piercings and tattoos, haha.

First Cup of Coffee & Subte Strike

Day 5.

Miercoles. (Wed) Sept 16, 2009

What an interesting day! Quite a bit happened. School was fun yet again and of course I learned a ton of words, haha. So I tried something new today. I have only had coffee once in my life and I could not stand it. However, today, I was so tired I just decided to try it. Plus, I figured I might as well try it since I am in South America of all places! Turns out… I love it! I can’t even believe I just said that! As long as you add 4 pounds of sugar and 2 gallons of milk to your coffee…it tastes great! 🙂

After class I walked down one of the main shopping streets and bought a backpack. I was in desperate need of one and I knew that it is suppose to rain tomorrow so I needed to pick one up. Not bad, the backpack cost me $15 USD. Everything out here is inexpensive. I walked around the shopping area for a bit and then went out with a couple of the classmates for a coffee. The two guys I went with are both from London so we talked a bit about culture and the differences between ours and throughout the world. I love getting to talk with people from all over the world and learn first hand about their cultures.

Now for the most exciting part of the day… The Subte (Subway) union went on Strike today from 14-16h (2-4pm). They marched out on the main street (Ave. 9 de Julio) with flags and signs everywhere. There were so many people striking and setting off fire crackers and little explosions. Wait no… big explosions. Of course, being who I am, I got into the middle of it all and started taking photos and videos. It was exciting and got my adrenaline running! In one of the videos I was able to capture one of the strikers punching another one! (See video below for it… it is at the very end of the video). After the Strike was over I took the Subte home which was quite an experience. It was absolutely insane how many people were riding on the Subte since it was free. Every train car was packed like sardins. No joke. I had to actually wait for 2 trains in order to find one that I could physically cram myself into. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I couldn’t even believe I was doing it!

For dinner, I ate with my host mother Alejandra. Today was a big step for me because for the first time I talked to her ONLY in Spanish. We spent nearly 2 hours together talking back and forth about a number of topics and yet we never spoke English. I can’t believe I was able to do that after only 5 days! After 6 months of this I should be doing realllly well!!! I can’t wait to be fluent!

CLICK HERE to see the Subte Strike Video

Mate & A New Flatmate!

Day 4.

Tuesday. Sept 15 2009.

So the second day of school went really well. Still trying to take in all the words since it seems like I am learning a new word every 20 seconds! You should see the margins on my has words written all over it! During class we all decided to go out for some lunch and to try some of the local ‘tea’ that is very popular here. Today we learned more of the irregular verbs and of course more of the ‘exceptions.’ I swear, the exceptions never end!

After class we went to a local resturaunt that some of the students had gone to last week. It was recommened by our professor as one of the better places to eat. The place was called Cumana. I had a beef, peach, and sweet potato stew and it was amazing. During lunch I realized that I just might learn as many English words as Spanish words on this trip.  Five of the six students I was with are from England so needless to say…I learned a lot of new words! Did y’all know a jumper is a sweater, and that washing powder is detergent? Haha. After the meal we tried the local Mate (or gross tea as I call it). To me the Mate is similar to a green tea which isn’t good since I don’t like green tea to start with, haha. But, I tried it because I wanted to see what it was like. Maybe I will acquire a taste for it at some point?

One of the classmates (Deborah) and I decided to catch the evening Jazz Concert with the school after our meal. We walked for miles only to find out that the concert was sold out by the time we arrived. After searching around for a bit for some of the other students we gave up and headed home. Once, I got back to the house I met the new student from California that is staying with my host family. She is going to be here for 6 weeks so it should be fun to at least have one other person around here that speaks English!

First Day of School

Day 3

Monday. Sept 14, 2009.

So today was my first day of school with the Expanish/ViaSpanish school here in Bs. As. (Buenos Aires). What an exerience! The school is actually fun. I never thought I would say that about school! Haha. We started off with an orientation and then found out what classes we were placed in. It turns out that I guess I know some Spanish. They placed me in the 2nd level class. I was basically just thrown into the middle of the current lesson of the class and started learning about irregular verbs and future tenses. The harder part is the fact that the professor teaches completely in Spanish! I guess that’s the way to learn it though. After about the first 30 minutes of shock I understood almost everything said in the class and was able to participate.

The school is set up very well. They have activities for everyone to participate in and it is very active. Everyone seems to be signing up for the activities and I know I will soon… once I get settled in a bit. For the most part there are people at the school from Australia, England, USA, Brazil, and Germany. What amazes me is how many of them are from London! In my class alone there are 7 people. 5 from London, 1 from Stuttgart, Germany, and myself. The professor is young and a lot of fun. The German student from the class has already challenged him to a drinking contest with gin tonic. We shall see how that goes on Wednesday, haha. I will keep you posted.

After class I took the subway back home. The trains are extremely old fashioned and have full wood interiors. They have a lot of character for a subway train. I never even saw anything like it in Europe. Once I got back to my place I decided to do my homework and write out all the verbs that were given to us today. However, I am still working on them. I think we had like 50 verbs or so to review!

After studying I enjoyed yet another amazing dinner. I really miss home cooked meals! Every meal has been incredible. I don’t even know what we had…but I loved it! I have also learned to enjoy a little coffee or café after dinner like the locals do. I just have to make sure to add sugar in order to add some taste 🙂

So after dinner I learned that the subway will be free tomorrow. The reason for this is because the subway employees are going on strike Wednesday. They supposedly are not happy with the government supporting the bus unions and not the subway unions.

Ok, well back to my studying! Wish me luck!

San Telmo & BBQ Dinner

Day 2

Sunday. Sept 13, 2009

So I was quite tired from last night so I slept in this morning. After getting up I walked down to San Telmo which is the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It is a very lively place on Sunday afternoons with antique shops, tango dancing, and street performers all over the streets. The place in unbelievably crowded! While in the area I check out the church of San Pedro Telmo. It is a nice church with a very European feel to it. Outside the church was a group performing with all the string instruments, accordion players, and a man singing with an incredible voice. I ended up watching them for quite some time.

While walking around San Telmo I did some ‘people watching.’ I noticed that they tend to wear darker clothes so I felt like I stood out as an American. I have also come to realize that many of the Argentinians speak very fast. They annunciate very well, just speak fast. The quality of street performers tends to be a bit better than most of the ones that I saw in Europe.

Before heading home I grabbed some pizza at a local restaurant. While waiting for my food to be served I met 4 students from the States. We talked for a while and they were helpful in giving me tips about the area.

I ended up taking a taxi home since I didn’t feel like making the 45 walk again back to the house. One realization that I made is that… people are crazy drivers outside the United States. So far, out of all the 15 countries I have been in, in the last year there is no country that obeys the lines on the streets like the Americans do, haha.

At home I tried listening to the Dallas Cowboys game over the radio but instead got a broadcast of 2 guys making fun of every player on both teams. They were impersonating Aikman and Jerry Jones, and talking crap about all the players and cussing. It was quite an interesting broadcast.

For dinner this evening we had a former student that used to live with the host family come over. It was like his ‘going away dinner’ since he is moving back to NYC on Thursday. The father, Luciano, made an amazing BBQ dinner with the outdoor grill on the rooftop patio. The former student has been here for over a year and half and understands everything they say. He was able to converse back and forth without a problem with the family. This is where I want to be in the near future! I have a lot of work to do though in order to get there.

I have noticed so far that my level of understanding Spanish is not as good as I thought it was. I have truly struggled in understanding what is being said between all the family members while I sit there scratching my head. But tomorrow I start my Spanish course! It will be the first step for me to advance myself! From here on out it will be only Spanish (except for my blogs of course, haha). But seriously… It’s all going to be about my Spanish course, Rosetta Stone, my textbooks, and practicing with the family!