Hello to all! Wow, it’s been awhile since my last update. Sorry for the long absence!
I have now been in Argentina for 2 months. Classes have finally been decided upon and I have settled into a regular semester schedule…well, regular for Argentina. I have class Mondays and Wednesdays from 1pm-5:30pm. Tango: Culture, Identity, and Gender, Cine latinoamericano, then Avanzado A, a spanish grammar class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have Arte Argentino Contemporaneo at 1pm, then only on Tuesdays a Tango dance class from 2:30-4pm. The classes are tough, mostly because all but one are in Spanish. I’m doing really well at understanding people speak in Spanish, but I am struggling a lot with speaking still. I’ve gotten to a wall in my spanish. I am neither getting better or worse, and both my English and Spanish skills have become quite basic. I can barely even speak ONE language now. Everything is all mixed up. For example: I was walking with my friend who has a beautiful little peace sign/heart tattoo on her shoulder. I was walking behind her and said, “Sam, I keep putting my eyes on your tattoo. It looks so cool.” Yea, I forgot the word “looking.” It was bad. So as of now, I am still struggling through the barriers of learning a language and taking each day at a time. Some days are better than others though. Some days I don’t speak Spanish at all, others I can’t stop thinking about it and speaking to people…it’s a very exhausting and strange experience.
We do get Fridays off, which is Awesome! Last Friday, the roomies and I went to explore a little part of town La Boca (the colorful buildings part).
However, the bus ride took almost an hour and half. So we had a lot of time to think and look out at the beautiful city as we drove by it. I think during this bus trip, I realized that I could live in Buenos Aires. Not just study abroad, but actually stay here. The city is so full of history, passion, life, new and old, colors, nature, and every kind of person and thing imaginable.
One thing I noticed about this city is that there are very few laws. I mean, I’m sure they’re there, but I have yet to see many cops, let alone one pulling someone over or giving a ticket. The driving here is absolutely CRAZY. They are really Good drivers, but they drive Super fast and however they want. There are no lanes and yellow light ALWAYS means speed up. Sometimes even a red is just a caution sign to be weary when driving through it. The sidewalks are all broken with chunks missing and sticking straight into the air. I usually trip about 4 or 5 times just walking on the streets. There are also just panes of glass on the sidewalks…some broken. Not sure where they come from…but basically, I keep my eyes down and watch my feet as I walk. We’ve started rating each other and how good are trips are…that’s how common it is. There are also skateboarders, dog walkers, and wires poking out of buildings or hanging from above. However, even though it’s a Very dangerous city in these ways…I LIKE it that way. I feel like in the U.S. people are kind of babied by all the rules and caution that is taken. We have such an anti-injury, sue anyone that hurts us mentality, that no one is responsible for themselves. Here, you HAVE to watch out for yourself. You have to be smart and Aware. No one walks and texts because you CAN’T. No one just steps out into a street because you WILL be hit by a car. No one doddles about getting on the bus because the driver will LEAVE, even if you have one foot in. You have to be aware, smart, and quick in this city. And even though the lifestyle is fast, and yes, dangerous, they also know when to slow down. Friends go out for coffee in the afternoons to just sit and chat for hours. Meals usually last 2 or 3 hours because people are enjoying each other’s company while enjoying their meal. They get up late and start work maybe by 10am? They stay out late and party for Hours. These are the things I LOVE about Buenos Aires. I also love its enormity. It really is HUGE. I could spend years here and explore every weekend and still not see all the parks, cafes, and shops. There is no way anyone could get bored here.
Back to weekend activities…so Friday we went to Boca, and Saturday was a quiet day. I was feeling a little homesick and missing friends and family, so I walked through the city to the Cat Gardens (the Botanical Gardens…but it’s where all the cats live, haha). I sat down on a bench, listened to my music, and had a cute Calico friend jump on my lap and stay with me for awhile. It was very peaceful, and I made a new little furry friend!
Sunday, however, was quite the eventful day! It was Dia de la Memoria. It is a celebration of the end of the dictatorships of the 1970s in Argentina. During this decade, thousands of people disappeared from school, their homes, even the streets for speaking out against the government. This day was in memory of the missing people, or desaparacidos. I have NEVER seen so many people in my life. For several miles, one street was blocked off, going from Plaza Congreso to Plaza de Mayo. When we first walked into the crowds, I was overwhelmed by the smells of food, smoke, and humans. The sound of drums, trumpets, and stomping filled my ears and shook my chest. Bodies were pushing past me and papers were thrust at me. All I could see were painted faces, costumes, masks, and COLOR all around me. Our little group had to keep looking back and counting each other because we kept getting separated. And it was so Loud! We could barely talk, so we had to keep a close eye on each other. Here are a few photos I have from the event (they don’t quite capture the Grandness of it, but they say more than I could explain):
It was just another once in a lifetime sight to see. I seem to be having a lot of those. And this was one that I will never forget and that touched me greatly. To see such passion and heart from a people is a rare sight. And I don’t think anything like this happens in the U.S. The amount of people here in support for the desparacidos, who for many are unknown, but for others, still remember the horrors of those times was unbelievable. These people remember.
Sunday ended quietly…but definitely spurred something inside of me. It was an amazing day and showed me again why I Love Argentina. I hope by reading this…you too can see what an amazing place this is.