WARNING: This will probably be a Long post. There have been lots of things happening lately!
Ok, so this week ended well with class and lazy afternoons. Class is getting a little more advanced and I’m definitely learning new vocab and understanding more of certain tenses. However, I think I am more advanced than some of the other students, but so far, the review has been helpful and I have been keeping a good vocab list! My roommates and I have decided that the best way to adapt to this late night culture is to stay calm during the week nights. So after school, we usually end up doing homework, sleeping, or hanging out at a cafe. On Friday, we had our first adventure to the lavenderia(laundry-mat). All we had to do was drop off our clothes and pick them up later. Very convenient! That evening we decided to adventure out and meet a group of our friends at a bar in Palermo…a nearby neighborhood. So Friday night was definitely the “bar/club” scene. Which was…interesting. People truly do go to bars, sit down with their drinks for hours, then go dancing until 4 or 5 in the morning. It really is hard to keep up with the locals. But the dancing is really fun here! People were circling up and just doing their thing. Dancing til the wee hours! So with our small group, we explored the nightlife and then decided to get home…which felt Really nice to come back to and fall asleep in my cozy bed.
On Saturday, we slept in until noon…which is also a normal Porteno tradition on the weekend, and we got ready for a day of exploring! We stopped at a cafe to get some breakfast and coffee, then headed to the “Subte” or underground train station. The train was like a little business area…people were coming up to us left and right handing us little cards or trinkets they were selling. There was also a singer who brought in his microphone and boombox and preformed a lovely spanish version of a sappy, romance song from the States. He was really good too! And everyone seemed very nice about giving him a little money. We got off right on the edge of Plaza de Mayo, which is the Most famous plaza here. You can learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_de_Mayo.
Basically, this plaza is where every famous protest has taken place, and where Evita and Juan Peron gave their famous speeches to the descampesidos. It was amazing to be in such a historical place, and I especially appreciated it after reading my “Evita” book. After walking around we decided to explore the nearby neighborhood of San Telmo. We walked about mile around the area and then stumbled into the cutest, busiest little neighborhood we have found so far. We found lots of antique shops, hipster music shops, clothing stores, and local cafes. One store was called “Walrus Books” and it has the biggest collection of English books in Buenos Aires. It was the Best little shop…especially since I LOVE book stores! Even with a great English section though…we all decided to get interesting Argentina story books in spanish. So that will be a fun task to accomplish! Also, at one hipster shop, we met the nicest lady, who could’ve been from San Francisco. She kept taking artsy photos of us and was playing the coolest music! She said it was this small little Argentine band named “Valeu!” So everyone should look them up!
Here’s a link to a playlist…http://www.myspace.com/valeucara/music/songs?filter=popular They are AWESOME!
We stayed in San Telmo all afternoon and probably walked around 3 or 4 miles. Other adventures of the day included a Huge marketplace with leather, vintage clothing shops, meat and cheese vendors, and helado cafes…which is where we bumped into our group of friends with CEA! And of course I had to take a picture with the local kitty!
We were on our own adventures, so we didn’t join up with the other group though. The streets were made of cobblestone and the buildings were old, beautiful historical places with graffiti art all over…which looked really cool! Our feet got VERY sore though, so I had to sit down a couple times. As the evening got darker, more people came on the streets and at the cafes while the shops closed up. We were walking along a busy avenue when we started to hear music and loud voices down the way. We decided to follow the sound and stumbled upon a busy, fun, dance party with a stage full of guitar players and singers who were all dressed up in sparkly, silly costumes. The sign above them said “Carnevale 2013.” This is a big fiesta for Latin Americans, especially in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This was a small thing, but it took up the street and the dancers and singers were Amazing!!
We stayed there for over an hour while people from 3 to 50 years old danced in the streets while onlookers clapped and moved along. Children ran around us spraying each other with soap from spray cans (at first we thought it was silly string…but it was just foamy soap that didn’t stain clothes or anything). It was quite the party! After enjoying the festivities we decided it was dinner time and looked to our guidebook for suggestions. One place was closed, and we ended up walking in several different directions and finding different places before settling on a local, family owned restaurant called “Manolos.” (There was a picture of Manolo on the wall and he looked Exactly like Jay Leno…our waiter laughed when we told him that). It was a cute, family-friendly place. We all decided on different chicken dishes with a bottle of Malbec wine to share. Best meal so far!! Great conversation and great food. Sarah, Tajel, and I have grown close this past week. We get along so well that things are very easy with us, and very fun! It was almost 12:30am by the time we finished dinner…with the restaurant still crowded for dinner! We made our way back to the bus stop, laughing the whole time. San Telmo is across town from Belgrano, so we got a great tour of the city at night on the bus. Casa Rosada in Plaza de Mayo is covered with pink lights at night and the City Bank across the street has blue lights that shine on it. It was beautiful. On the walk back to the apartment, we were also bombarded with cat calls and shouting as a bus of rowdy boys rode by. Almost 30 guys were Yelling to get our attention. It was quite amusing. Haha…but also normal here. It is not uncommon for men to simply yell at women to get their attention. We just laughed at them though. Haha. After our long, hot, walking day…we quickly went to bed and fell asleep.
We kept to the theme and had a lazy, sleep in morning. We got out of the house around 1/1:30pm and went to Belgrano Park where we were checking about bus tickets, but also to see the big festival for Chinese New Year. There was a BIG stage set up with lots of tents around the area selling trinkets and chinese foods. The place was packed! It was VERY hot, so we didn’t stay for long. We wanted to go the Sunday street market in San Telmo. So we took our now familiar bus to San Telmo and stopped at the cutest little cafe called “La Poesia” and had cafe con leche and relaxed in the air conditioning before heading out to explore the overwhelming sights, smells, and feelings of San Telmo’s market.
They had closed off the main street of San Telmo…which is probably 3ish miles long, all made of cobblestone with the cutest little shops running down it. On both sides of the streets were stands full of jewelry, clothes, shoes, mate cups, fabric…and every little tourist and locally made object you could think of! The place was packed! We walked for hours! It was SO fun! By the end of our adventures…the light was fading, and the sky smelled of rain and huge gusts of wind were blowing by. When we were just reaching Plaza de Mayo, we started feeling raindrops, and then out of NOWHERE, it started POURING.
Everyone scrambled to get things packed away while others ran for cover. We ran under a building cover looking out on the Plaza. I have never seen so much rain! It was crazy and we were soaked! People were gathering underneath the overhang and were just waiting. The SUBTE stopped working because it was getting flooded and the streets were starting to flood. We wanted to find a cafe to sit in and wait it out, but we didn’t want to leave our safe spot. We decided to look for a street with our bus to get home. Sprinting to another overhang, where poor Tajel fell and scraped her knee and where we were drenched by the time we got there, we decided to wait there for a bit. The storm was crazy! Lightening and thunder…pouring rain. At one point, it lightened up enough for us to walk to the parallel street and find our bus stop. We waded through the small lakes of water in the streets and just as we made it to the stop our bus was driving by!! How lucky! We hopped on and watched it as it waded through the pools of water in the streets…where shop owners were pushing it away from the entrances to the buildings. Making it home, we changed clothes, sat down and breathed a sigh of relief. A little later, we went out and got a small dinner when it stopped raining. Now I am back in my room, dry, and sleepy! We have a big day tomorrow because it is a holiday here in Argentina. Tomorrow AND Tuesday are holidays. But I am going to surprise everyone with our adventures tomorrow…its a secret! So goodnight and thanks for reading!!