These past few weeks have been full of change and I don't want to write forever so I'll try to sum things up.... -MOVED! Finally I have my own room. And I know every night that there'll be a place for me to sleep!!! This was definitely something I took for granted. It's such freedom! I have my own set of keys! And a shared space in a refrigerator!!! It's a beautiful place in Cabellito (a neighborhood/el barrio) with sun roof that can open and close, it's got a terrace outside my window, and TONS and TONS of plants. I'm not gonna lie, I feel very Frida Kahlo. There's also a cat, but sometimes there isn't...... I share the place with three other Argentines: a dancer, an actress, and a musician. They're wonderful. Tonight we drank Fernet and Coke, and played a game called "Taki," which is kind of like Uno, but more competitive. Taki get's intense, yo. You don't know shit till you play Taki. -NEW JOB! It wasn't exactly an easy search ("um hi I'm from the United States. i want to be a waitress. no i do not have experience....") but I found a post on craigslist for a job at this bar called "Wherever." I applied and ya esta, boludo! The pay is decent- accordingly to the prices of food, etc, here- but nothing compared to the U.S. Tip is like 5%. It's dreadful. Fortunately, customers like me so I sometimes I get 10! It's in Palermo, so a fun neighborhood, and it's got good vibes and increeeeddddible music. The only down is that it's a 45min-hour commute from my house, and the buses are infrequent. That part blows, especially when I get off of work at 4am, have to wait 40 minutes, then another 40 minutes to get home..... lo que sea. It's a really cool experience to have. -Etc: a punk concert in San Telmo, hamburgers on the rooftop in Belgrano, tropical terraza party in Palermo, chill bars in Almagro, ritzy apartments Recolata, going for runs in Cabellito, fashion photoshoot in San Cristobal, a painting collective in Saavedra, drawing, writing poetry.... I'm actually kind of exhausted recounting it. It's really been somethin,' though.... to live so submerged and without other study abroad students. -The HEAT: It's absolutely madness. I take 2 showers a day, at least, just to keep from sticking to myself. The humidity is the worst part.
BLAHHH Okay I'm tired I'm gonna roll. Pictures coming. Maybe I'll write again soon, but for your own safety, don't hold your breath.
Yesterday in Buenos Aires was a feriado (a holiday), called El Dia de La Virgen (The Day of the Virgin) to celebrate La Santa Maria. A celebration was held in her honor yesterday in La Villa 21. "Villas" are basically the slums of Buenos Aires. The majority of the residences of the greater BsAs area have never and will never go there, it's "peligroso" (dangerous" reputation makes sure of that. However, when Agustin, a faculty member of IES who has been working with an organization to help La Villa 21, invited me to come to this festival to take pictures, I couldn't refuse. He told me he didn't think I should have any problems at the event, but still, he couldn't promise anything. We took the colectivo (bus) 37 to Barracas, a barrio (neighborhood) just past La Boca, the colorful neighborhood which draws in tourists, but is unsafe outside the main areas. From Barracas, we walked down a long road to get to La Villa; one lined with factories behind tall brick walls and barbed wire. Agustin tells me that the vast majority of inhabitants there are Paraguayan immigrants. As the road continues, the mounds of trash thicken, and nearly carpet the ground. La Villa is like a different country altogether. El Centro (downtown), Recoleta, and Palermo, resemble a combination of Paris and New York; urban, progressive, yuppie. Here, the expression "third-world" completely fits. Yet, I came on a very different day. Yesterday was a religious day. Everyone was there with their family, their children, their grandparents, and despite the fact that my Nikon stood out in the sweaty masses of arms holding up cellphones to take a picture of a small statue of La Virgen, I didn't feel unsafe. The neighborhood was clearly poor, but they didn't seem to see each other that way; just as family. There was singing, dancing, clapping, and praying. At the end, around 10 o'clock, after some something 0r other (it was kind of hard to see) everyone began hugging and kissing each other on the cheek, saying what I believe translates to "May you go with God." (What a way to spend Chanuka, huh?) Despite my camera, despite the fact that my skin was noticeably lighter and my eyebrows not drawn on with pencil, I was treated with the utmost kindness. It was an incredible experience. (Though, not a neighborhood I'll be returning to any time soon, and surely not by myself.)
If you care to read a little bit more, you can find an article about La Villa 21 here. Photos coming soon!! (The one about isn't mine)
I cant really keep track of days or courses of actions anymore but I'll try to recount some stuff....
(1) After visiting tons and tons of apartments I finally found one!!! It's kind of far though, in a barrio (neighborhood) called Cabellito. HOWEVER it's a way good precio and pretty so I'm excited. Below is a subte map (not all of it, I cut off some of the stuff which doesnt really apply) but to give a general idea of location:
On the green line: -The one most on top: Ministro Carranza. This is where I take my tango class. -The other one: Tribunales. This is the closet stop to where I'm staying right now.
One the darker blue line: -The one on top: General San Martin. This is the stop closest to IES (my previous semester program) and right next to Plaza San Martin -The one on the way bottom: Independencia. This is the line closest to San Telmo.
On the light blue line: -The one on the right: Loria. This is in Once (kind of a trek from IES) where I had my tango class at IUNA -The one on the left: Acoyte. This is the stop in Cabellito by where I'll be living.
From El Centro (the tangly part to the right) to Acoyte en el subte (subway).... I dont really know, I imagine it would take about 30 minutes or so. Whateverrr I'll put picks up of the place when I get there.
(2) I've been applying to jobs like crazy! I even had an interview yesterday which was kind of nerve-wrecking (how do you spell that?) but I think it went as well as it could have. I don't have waitressing experience which definitely hurts my chances of finding a place, but fortunately my Spanish was really good when I talked to him (without stumbling, or stuttering and such).
(3) Yesterday, basically my day was like this: I woke up, went to IES to use the internet, went to Wherever bar to drop off an application, went to Recoleta to do some errands, went BACK to Wherever bar in Palermo to talk to the owner of the place, went back to El Centro to the place I'm staying, walked Lara the dog, took a shower and changed (because the humidity here is unreal!) and speeeeeed walked over to Burger King for the goodbye dinner for Alli (que elegante, no?). I was late- surprise surprise- so we soon after left. I walked back to Alli's with her to say goodbye to her before she left for the airport. I'm so sad all my yankee friends are leaving :-(
After that, I walked over to Riobamba street (in recoleta) for a birthday party with a friend from Chabad. I was really glad there were snacks there, because I didn't get anything at Burger King. (It was surprisingly expensive!!!) We hung out, ate food, had cake, chatted..... etc. etc. ... and then I went to ANOTHER birthday party in Colegiales, a barrio right next to Palermo. I was kinda nervous at first because I only knew one person and it was all spanish speakers there but it was actually suuuuper fun. The main party action was on this beautiful terrace with lights and such, and loooots of liquor. I think my spanish gets better when I drink? When I'm tired it's AWFUL but when I drink.... I dont know maybe I just get less nervous. Either way. I was chaaatttttting with lots of peeeeeeopple.... it was really fun. I have no idea what time I got back "home" so yeahhh it was fun haha.
(4) Later today, I'm going to La Villa with one of the faculty (spelling?) dude from IES.... it's some community event for the holiday today (El Dia de La Virgen). I don't know what it's gonna be about but he said it was be a good foto opportunity. I think I'll have to barb-wire the camera to my hands though....
Well I'm off to drink some mate with a friend. More soon. Oh! And here's latest netbook pic:
Yay!! It's your lucky day!!! Today I've decided I'm too lazy to write anything so you get to see some pictures!!!! Woooooooo!!!!
Several weeks ago, I told people to let me know if someone wants a portrait taken of them before they leave to return to the United States. Here are a couple of photos from 2 of several photo shoots that I did.
This is a photo taken on the A line of the Subte (subway), the only line which still uses the original cars with a wooden interior. It feels like a completely different era. If you're lucky, you might catch a car playing classical music!
This, my friends, is the beautiful Sara, who has now returned to Miami :-((( She doesn't really like her picture taken but I forced her into it. She said, "What do you want me to do?" and I said "Look at me like you love me!" and she did this. My heart....
Taxista, San Telmo
Lightning stuff from Nate's rooftop in Palermo (I wrote about this night in some post before this one...)
Kasper made me dinner mmmm soo gooood
Incredible view of the Recoleta Cemetery
Danielle's.... I stayed on this sofa one night
Okay that's all for now.... why is this underlined all of the sudden? Damn technology! Tomorrow I say goodbye to Alli, hopefully finally pick an apartment, and plan on going to two b-day parties. ((Sigh)) Now if only I could find some time to sit and write!!!!!!!!!
Oooooh it feels so nice to sit down finally!!! Okay so quick recap:
For some reason I had a lot of difficultly getting to my tango class and by the time I finally got there I was HOT and TIRED and in a bad mood. So Christian (tango teacha) and I only danced for like a half an hour or something and then we went to this cafe to hang out and discuss/share poetry. It was really great. We left the cafe at 8 and then I hopped back on the subte to go back to El Centro. That morning I dropped the house keys in the lobby of Veronica's work for her, but she ended up never going to work because her mom fell ill, so I went back to the office to pick the keys back up. When I get there, there's a different portero at the front desk lobby and he says there ARE NO KEYS THERE. It just didn't make sense. At the time I wasn't so much worried about having a place to sleep (I always work something out), but more that Veronica would think that I actually never brought the keys there and had actually lost them! I ended up in this freakin lobby for like an hour trying to figure out where they went. Turns out the portero had brought the keys to her office, left them with her secretary, and the secretary brought them with him/her. In the end, NO KEYS. Lo que sea.
From there I went to a Chanuka party (arrived at 10pm) by the Recoleta Cemetery at some hotel. Outside was completely quiet, but when I got to the 12th floor todo era LOCO!!!!! Jeeeez those Orthodox Jews sure know how to party!!! I'll leave the rest up to your imagination hahahha. Entonces, fui a la terraza y comi una hamburgesa del Kosher McDonalds. The view was incredible!! It overlooked the cemetery and just TONS of Recoleta! I have pictures but I'll post them later, I suppose. Also, Mendy (from Chabad Recoleta) came to the balcony and retold us (in better detail than I had ever heard) of the story of Chanukah, while myself and some other friends sat on the floor listening and eating donuts. I MISSED DONUTS SO MUCH!!!!!! Since I didn't have a place to stay, one girl there, Danielle, who's at Shabbat dinner every Friday, invited me to stay on her sofa, so we went from there to Palermo by Plaza Italia. Danielle's pretty religious, so she had a Chanukia at her house, and we lit candles. I didn't say the prayer with her, just because at this point in my life I'm not sure how I feel about praising a god I'm not sure exists, but it felt really good to participate in the tradition. It felt really homey.
I woke up this morning ready to head off to Cabellito to visit a departamento but the address didn't show up in my Guia, so I figured I must have written the address down wrong. Entonces, I tried to call this chick but realized I was out of credit. AND for some reason in that neighborhood I could not, for the life of me, find any kiosco!!! And in Buenos Aires that's really saying something! Finally after like a half hour of running around this chi chi neighborhood, I finally got credit, called the girl, got the address, hopped on a subte, and arrived. Currently I'm hunting for an apartment to stay for a month antes de muderme entre un departamento downtown for my next semester. My basic requisites are cheap, safe, good vibes, and close to public transportation.
Anyways, now I'm just trying to organize myself before I head off to San Telmo to check out another apartment with the portero I met the other night at Jon and Richie's. We'll see how that goes hahah. Today I think is a no-lunch day, because I gotta be thrifty and tonight I'll have a big shabbat dinner. For now, just coffee for me. I picked up un cafe at the Martinez around the corner where I'm friends will ALL of the staff. I'm currently trying to convince one of the guys to invite me to his wedding. Hahhahahah. Life is funny. Like REALLY REALLY funny.
((Sigh)) Okay I gotta run. What else is new, right? Maybe sometime this weekend I'll have a chance to take a breather and put some pictures up. Happy Chanukah to everyone!!!
Hey y'all. I've got about 20 minutes before I have to jetset off to my private tango class y casi seguro perderme.
After I left the cafe.....when was that?.... Tuesday, I think..... I walked back from San Telmo to El Centro, taking some pictures as I walked. I went to Veronica's work and walked back with her from her office (she's a lawyer) to the place we're staying. It's so interesting to live in El Centro! Half the time I feel like I'm living in downtown New York. Everything is always so happening! I gathered my things and then hopped on the 39 ( the colectivo -AKA city bus) to Palermo. There I went to this place where Nate's staying to hang out with him and our friend we dubbed "Janis." The place he's staying is wonderful.... he met some bohemian woman at the Recoleta fair with an extra room and turns out it's nice as hell. He's got a way artsy room with like a queen sized bed, she makes him food sometimes, AND there's a beautiful lush patio. AND it's only 300USD a month, which is a reaaaally good deal. Anyways, the three of us just hung out and Nate played harmonica and guitar and I drew.
Here's a drawing I did of Nate while he was sewing a patch on one of his shirts:
Later on that evening, there was an incredible lightning storm! We sat and watched it on his rooftop while tomando cerveza. It was really nice. I took some really cool photos of this but am using a computer at IES right now and therefore have none of them with me. Sorry.
We ended up all three of us falling asleep in his bed at about 2 or 3 or so (me still wearing my glasses, haha).
We woke at 5:30 the next morning, went up to his roof, set up Nate's hammock, and watched the sunrise. It was wonderful. It was especially great because the weather was perfect and cool and during the day it's always SOOOO SOOO hot! I wrote a lil' poem while up there:
After last night's storm, we watch the sun rise in Palermo from the rooftop. Nate lies enveloped in a neon-pink, plaid coccoon hammock while Janis sits on the ledge and sets lilac flower petals on fire. We are above the trash, before the birds are drowned out by autos, motos, colectivos, and it's too hot to sweat without sweating. A tiny yellow bug, smaller than a sunflower seed, slowly crawls over the knotches of thread on the knee of my jeans. Everything is so clear, Boludo: the shadows of terraza railings, the tall hedges trimmed like skylines, the brown and withering leaves hanging beside violet handfuls of similies, like nothing else I know and I really don't know much. It is the first of diciembre. Sun climbs through summer branches, through dark-skinned fingers, and humbled by clouds bearing rodocrosita, I ask, What world am I in? (I will trust you with all that I own, and even more, with all that I am without them.)
When our stomach growls got annoying enough, Nate and I went out and bought some eggs and cebolla, and then Nate made Janis and I scrambled eggs with some mozzarella he had in the fridge. Janis and I ended up leaving at about 8, 8:30ish, and from there I took a bus back to El Centro. I quick got a pair of glasses fixed (I randombly broke the ones I like about a week ago - - the lens popped out) for only 10 pesos, which is about $2.50 in USD!!! That was pretty exciting. From there I went to Florida st to take care of some registration things for the coming semester. THEN I took a subte to Villa Crespo to check out a possible apartment option. After that, I went to drop off a few applications in Palermo. After THAT I came BACK to IES in El Centro to get some work done on the computer. From there, I went to the park on Montevideo y Juncal with my Brasilero buddy, Kasper. We sat at the park for like 2 hours, just talking and drinking mate. It was super nice. Dang! There's so mucfh more I want to write about concerning thoughts and such but I kinda gotta rush through this to get to tango.....
From the park, Kasper y yo fuimos a una verduleria (vegetable stand) and we bought some stuff there, and went back to his place. I was absolutely EXHAUSTED by this point so he made me dinner by himself, some delicious rattatoille type thing with tomatoes, green beans, onion, carrots, cucumber ("pepino" -- I just learned), potatoes, and maybe something else I can't remember. That with rice on the side and cerveza. It was wonderful! We ate at around 11, san on his terrace overlooking the mounds of midnight traffic, and then I walked home and went to bed.
TODAY: (phew, if I wasn't in air conditioning, I'd be working up a sweat!) This morning I woke up at 11ish, showered, cleaned up my stuff a bit, and took Lara (the puppy living at the apartment) for a really pleasant walk around the park. I brought her back, and then came here to do some computer business (there's no wi-fi in the apartment). NOW I'm gonna go catch a subte to Palermo, dance some tango, and then go to a Chanuka celebration thing. Then tomorrow, there'll be new plans, and new bus routes to be learned.
I'll be in touch!
Best of health to those of you back home reading this in your wool sweaters and socks! CHau!
PS: I almost forgot! Every night of chanukah, because I'm not with my family, I thought I'd make a drawing so they'd know how I'm spending my chanuka. Here's a doodle I did last night on a little pad of paper:
Hola! I'm going to try to update my blog really frequently because I dont really have a permanent place of residence and need to let people know I'm doing well. SO! Right now I'm at Pride Cafe in San Telmo, helping Sara with her Spanish homework. I just had a really good sandwich with celery (which I just discovered is "apio"), cheese, walnuts, chicken, and green apples. It was fantastic. I just took some pictures outside. It's the BEST weather!!! Dark sky but bright..... seriously. My favorite. I went out and took some pictures, and I'd like to take some more so I'll try to make this quick.
Yesterday I woke up, packed up my stuff, brought my huuuge suitcase to Kiosco's house to leave there (so I don't have to think about it for a while). I picked up laundry, said goodbye to Steffi (who's back in the states now) - sad face - went to do a photo shoot of becca in plaza italia/ that botanic gardens place with a ridiiiiculous amount of cats, then later brought my stuff over to Veronica's house (where I'm staying now). From there, I took a bus to La Boca, and had dinner at El Obrero, a little Argentine restaurant in the middle of an awful neighborhood. It was a good thing that I made the executive decision to not bring with my camera because I definitely was in the ghetto (I'm sure momma is real happy reading this). Anyways, I had dinner with Silvia, Chiara, and Ilya (who I already knew, Italian friends working here), a Colombian, Jorge, an Australian, I think Emily?, and a girl from Denver named Heather. We were quite the eclectic bunch. After, we went to a bar in San Telmo which was nice. We're in that weather right now that it's hot and humid during the day but the nights are just INCREDIBLE.
I got back home at around 4 in the morning to Veronica's, where I'm sleeping on a mattress on the floor. When I got into bed, her little pup Lara hopped on and curled herself into my arms. It was kind of the cutest thing everrrrrr.
Veronica is this really nice chick that I actually met through couchsurfing.org. I made an account, searched people in buenos aires with a sofa, found her, and sent her a message. Immediately, she replied, "SI!!! VENI A MI SOFA!!!" (Yea! Come to my sofa!) We met about a week ago and I just cannot believe how nice she is! We even met up the other night and went to some boliche (club) in una provincia (like 45 minutes out of the city?) with her and her friends. Seriously, I have been so fortunate with the people I've met in this country. Well, I've met some kind of icky boys, but also a lot of nice people. I met this guy a couple weeks ago and we went out for coffee and emailed yadda yadda and then a couple days ago he sent me a message, "Te molesta que tengo una novia? =)" (Does it bother you that I have a girlfriend?) Um yes. Yes it does. Whaaatever. I've still been meeting a lot of nice people. A few weeks ago I met this really nice dude named Kasper from Brasil and I hung out with him and some of his friends from Colombia the other day who are just super nice. I'm excited to meet locals here this summer, but at the same time I feel a little anxious from the lack of structure or go to people. So many of my good friends are leaving! It's weird.
So much of my experience here has felt like the twilight zone. So much- hoooold on a second..... I'm in Argentina??? I'm speaking Spanish????? These next few months I'm going to be just bumming around a lot, maybe finding a job if I'm lucky. Hopefully this time to think will give me an opportunity to make sense or reflect on this first semester, on how I've changed, and about what I want, in general. I feel like I've grown so much but I've also been feeling really off lately. Like...... confused as to what I should do with myself. Whatever. My tango professor just gave me "El Beso de La Mujer Arana" - the kiss of the spider woman - in spanish to read so maybe I'll do that.
It's 7:00 now. Veronica has an incredible courtyard/backyard so maybe I'll go there and write or read. At this time of day there's not much I can do as far as getting errands done. Tomorrow I'll try to figure some registration things out and check out a possible apartment in Villa Crespo. Also, I'm gonna try to print out more resumes.
Hope everyone is doing well! If you're a friend and reading this and feel willing to, write me a long e-mail about what's going on in YOUR life! I love letters :-) firstname.lastname@example.org Besos y abrazos a todos, Meli
PS: Here's a few photos for your blogging pleasure....
me and Sara NOT studying
... and here's me and Jon, representing our soul patch (AKA "french tickler") love
Hellooooooo!!! Tending to this blog has proved to be quite difficult! Especially because I have my own journal in addition to this and I hate writing the same things twice. Anywayssss let's see how much I can summarize quickly.....
My program ended! Woohoo! This means exams are officially over which is super exciting but it also means my contract living situation is over. SO, Saturday morning I was BASICALLY kicked out of my homestay. Thus, time to ride the wave of sofa surfin. Right now I'm staying in the ridiculously nice apartment of two guys from my program, Richie and Jon. These kids are such comedians! For their tango performance they shaved their beards into handlebar mustaches, and Jon just decided to leave his. I swear, I do not know how than guy can walk around in public with that thing. Que pelotas!!! Right now I'm siting on their beautiful terrace/balcony thing, relajandome, because I caaaaan and beccause it's not snowing like it is in Minnesnowta and that's really exciting.
Now that classes are over until the end of January, I have some time to just meet new people and make art and relax which is sort of a twilight-zone kind of concept to me.... anyways I'm gonna go try to organize myself a little bit so I'm ready to head off to the next sofa tonight.
In short, yes, I am still alive and well. Peace, y'all.
I would just like to take a quick moment to thank my beautiful parents for making it possible for me to be here in Argentina.
That being said, I'M STAYING ANOTHER SEMESTER!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Sorry I haven't been posting lately. Life is sooooooooooo exhausting! Okay I'm gonna post some pictures here real quick (to hold you over 'til next post) and then shower and then go to San Telmo and then hopefully get this Spanish presentation done. Good? Good.
In the suburb of Temperley, lunch in the backyard
Fresh arugula and oregano from the garden, eating fruit fresh off the trees
Day trip to San Isidro
Visiting house of famous Argentine author, Victoria Ocampo. Later found out that my friend Juan is distantly related to her. Small world........
San Isidro, young love
Bus home from San Telmo on Halloween. Spooooooky!
Another tango class at IUNA de movimiento
Well dressed man riding the 59 to work, Recoleta
Product! Friend Mariano made agnolotti (spelling?) and it was probably one of the most delicious things I've had in this country
PorteNo mate addiction....
In Once (own-say) neighborhood, while practicing our choreography for our tango show- which no, I am NOT telling you the date of- this beautiful couple was practicing some tango as well. Oh! By the way, tango is actually, finally, getting to be really fun. I've got once-a-week private tango classes and it's soooooooo great! Last week we danced to this tango-hiphop fusion thing. As much as I'd like to believe I'm actually getting to be really good, truth is that having a good lead makes ALL the difference. With my tango group in my class at IUNA, we have to create an 8 minute dance using one milonga song and one tango song. There are two guys (yankees), three argentine girls, and myself. For our milonga song we're using "Se dice de mi." Here's a link to see the song done by the fabulous Tita Merello in the movie "Abasto:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E82nc_sU85M