Saturday, August 21, 2010

Caution: Long post ahead......

We had this day off of school because it was El Dia de San Martin (look it up if you're interested, I'm not freakin Wikipedia). Steffi, Talia, Kate and I decided the night before that we would wake up early and meet at the train station at around 8:30, pick a place, and go there. Monday came, and claro, the obstacles began: first of all, none of us wanted to wake up that early. Turns out, none of us are actually as ambitious as we'd like to think we are. Finally, after mutual cohersing, Talia, Steffi, and I- all relatively in the same area- shared a cab to the station. When we got there, and called Kate, we experienced about 20 minutes of "Wait.... you're on the first floor too?? We're standing in the very middle..... Why don't you see us??" until we figured out she was at the wrong station. Go us. Kate then hopped in a cab and, finalmente, we were all together. While we were waiting at a train station cafe, Steffi whipped out her Argentina guidebook to help figure out where we should go. As it was a holiday, there were less options that on a normal day. Above the ticket booths was a GIIIAAAANT board with a bunch of names. The ones which were available to go to that day had a red light next to them. We then sat checking the glossary one by one trying to find a place which was actually listed in the book. Then, we found it: Merlo. We read in the book that Merlo, a resort spot, was home to beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and regular hiking tours. Done. We got our tickets, and were off.
Let me just quick made a side note that- out of all the trains I have been in worldwide (London, Chicago, Tokyo, etc.)- this was by far the shittiest. There were no maps listing the stops; the cushioning for the seats had been ripped out or worn down on most seats, so it was mostly just seats painted like they had a cushion; there were wiring components ripped out of the walls; and when you got to a stop, the doors only opened slightly, so you had to push them the rest of the way open.
Moving on. 45 minutes later, we were there. Granted, we had to ask a bunch of people because there were no signs actually saying the name of the stops. We got off the train platform and noticed that we couldn't actually see any mountains.... this was observation #1. Secondly, this "resort" town looked more like a small, village-like version of Buenos Aires. There was a little park with a Merry-Go-Round, little stores all over, and- oh yeah- there were dogs sleeping EVERYWHERE. It looked like a plague had hit and all the dogs had fallen over dead, sleeping on the side of the road.... in the middle of the parks......
It was weird.
We walked down the street and saw there was a kind of travel/bus business front, so we went in. After waiting our turn, and getting past the language barrier, we discovered we were in
That's right. Apparently there's more than one in Argentina. This clearly was not the more exciting of the too. When we asked what there was to do around here, the guys working there looked like we had asked them where we could find the Chupacabra. No matter, we thought. We're four, enthusiastic, sleep-deprived, hungry girls. We could figure something out to do. To keep the story short, we basically spent the next couple of hours eating pastries, eating pizza and drinking beer (around noon, mind you) and then getting ice cream. And walking around laughing at ourselves of course. Oh right, this is probably picture time:

We headed back, very confused that our return trip only cost about a quarter in USD when it deeefffinitely was more than that on the way there. The rest of my day pretty much consisted of sleeping.
I don’t quite know how to start this section except by saying the week was sort of a blur of switching classes and boredom and syllabi and the same shit you experience in the states, except Argentine. That fact only applies so much as the pace was considerably slower in a few of the classes I sat in on. Whether it was the language barrier or a cultural different pace of academics, some of the classes were downright PAINFUL. One of my classes was two hours of information which could have been summed up in one page. One double-spaced page. Here are the classes I’ve ended up with:
Spanish 250: This class is actually pretty good. Rather than a specific regimen, a lot of the class is just TALKING and asking questions about things we’ve encountered in our day to day lives. That combined with the fact that he’s funny and has such good homework assignments (slang, etc.), it makes for a pretty good class. Too bad I won’t get any credit for it....
Cultural Icons as Global Commodities: This pace is kind of slow, but the teacher seems fun and the course work seems interesting. We’ll be studying things like Peronism (Eva Peron), the Tango, etc.
Argentine Poetry of the 20th Century: This is taught in Spanish, which I was kind of concerned about, but the teacher talks pretty slowly and I understand just about all of it. Plus, he seems just super passionate about the material which makes it even better. Visual Arts in the City: If you’re in the Intermediate Spanish Level, which I am, technically you’re only allowed to take one class that’s taught in Spanish, but I thought all the other classes in English kinda sucked, so I sat in on this class, and was allowed to stay. This class seems really awesome. We’ll be doing lots of fieldtrips studying the arts in Argentina, including the graffiti culture which is VERY big here. Only down-side is that the teacher talks SUPER fast. Like, the Advanced Students ask her to slow down kind of fast. I can understand most of it if I’m paying attention 110%, but I’m very prone to spacing out.... sooo..... we’ll see how this goes? Either way I figure my Spanish is gonna get way better.
Techniques of the Tango: This one-night-a-week class was a last-minute add on, taught by a local University. And yes, it is a dance class. A FOUR HOUR dance class. While those who know me are reading this and picturing me doing some weird robotic meets did-you-just-take-muscle-relaxant? dance moves, I figure if there’s going to be any point in my life that I try to take a dance class, it should be in the Tango capital of the world, right? I’ll be taking it pass/fail. Hopefully I’m not being too optimistic about my ability to avoid failing.....
After an evening nap and a delicious Milky Way (which sounds soooo good right now....), my night began at midnight. I took a cab to this bar called Miloca in Palermo, which, before 2, has free drinks with a 35 peso ($9 USDish) door fee. Or 50 pesos if you’re a dude. (Hehehe) Clearly as a ploy to not lose money, there was only one bartender, so only so many drinks could be distributed at a time. Some people there had clearly been utilizing that special for all it was worth....
It was a pretty chill bar, but, since all the natives usually go out at around 2am, it was mostly Americans there. Once it hit 2, though, the free drinks were gone, which clearly meant it was time to go. From there we walked to Necito, a club just several blocks up the street. The door fee was 40 pesos (10 bucks) which we thought was kinda high, but once we got in I forgot all about it. The place was packed, and as our eyes wandered around the place, we realized we had gotten way more than we expected. On stages and elevated poles around the room were dancers in Vegas-like ensembles. One woman even had Chinese Lanterns attached to her head. Suddenly, while dancing to AC/DC and watching performance after wonder, unexpected performance, I realized I was there. Bellwoar knows what I’m talking about. It’s that place that you always want to go to when you hear about a party or a club but are never quite at. It’s that place in the back of your mind that makes you want to throw parties to get just a little bit closer to that euphoric chaos you feel in your gut every time you think of the world freedom, or fun. It’s like Mardi Gras and New Years Eve somehow falling on the same night. There were rappers, and sensual dancers, and drag queens, and break dancers. And let me TELL you, I was so freaking glad I had brought my camera with me. So enough blabbing: let me show you....

Yesterday, about all of IES was exhausted at our Spanish classes. Apparently Thursday is the new Friday? After class I went home and slept the whole day. That evening some friends and I just hung out drinking tea and cafe con leche, while a large amount of the kids from the program went out and did it all over again. Going out here is so cheap that it's costing us a fortune. I gotta figure out some other evening activities in this city. There are like 12 million people here. What's a gal gotta do to find a scrabble club? Today, I think my mission is going to be finding a thrift store. Oh yeah, and homework at some point......

Besitos a todos,

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