Well, this week I added another continent to the list of ones I’ve visited (with the obvious lifetime goal of visiting all seven): South America! And as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m in Argentina, Buenos Aires to be precise.
Last Thursday I once again picked up my backpack and headed on the road, flying from Washington DC to Buenos Aires via Atlanta. (May I just note that the international terminal’s SkyClub in Atlanta is very nice, with an outdoor terrace and foreign language papers?) The flight from Atlanta was an overnight flight, arriving around 8 in the morning. It was very strange to have such a long flight but no jet lag because of being almost in the same time zone (only one hour later than Eastern Standard Time).
I had packed my good luck fortune from Japan with me on this trip, and immediately had some good luck on my flight by having an interesting person seated next to me. Somehow that just doesn’t happen very often any more, but I lucked out. We chatted about books and other things, and found out that we were going to similar areas and could share a taxi. On top of all this, my new friend, Melissa, speaks Spanish so the trip to the studio I’ve rented for several days was super smooth!
I’m staying in the Palermo Hollywood area, a really nice, safe-feeling, middle class neighborhood with a lot of restaurants and bars. My studio is warm and welcoming, if tiny – it even has a Murphy bed that folds up against the wall during the day so I have room to move about! In fact, I like it so much that I am trying to rent it for July when I am planning on taking Spanish classes.
After I checked into my apartment, I did a little shopping and then read in bed and napped. I met Melissa for dinner at a great hole-in-the-wall parrilla (Argentine grill), where I indulged in grilled cheese, a sirloin steak, fries and wine – all of which came to about US$17 including tip! I will definitely go to Don Niceto again!
Our delicious dinner:
Immortalizing my food:
On Saturday, I decided to check out the location of the Centro Universitario de Idiomas, or CUI, a language institute affiliated with the University of Buenos Aires and where I want to study Spanish. I had tried to register for classes in the States but the website kept throwing errors. I was planning to register in person on Friday but discovered that it was a holiday, so I plan to register Monday (the deadline). Here’s hoping everything works out in person!
To walk to the school, I took one of the main thoroughfares, Santa Fe, east. It’s a big shopping street and it was fun looking in store windows to see the differences and similarities with the US. On the whole, prices seem a little lower here for clothes. As for food, it varies widely as to which store you go into and what you’re buying. Bread and wine can be much cheaper, but something like cheese may not be.
I was also paying attention to what people were wearing, as I heard that Portenos (I’m missing the right keyboard to spell words in Spanish, so don’t hate me, copy editors among my readers!), the inhabitants of Buenos Aires, are very fashion conscious. I was expecting something more like Russia, where the women get really dressed up, but it reminded me much more of the States. No, women don’t seem to wear sweatshirts or fleeces on the whole, but they do wear jeans or yoga pants and sweaters. It’s nice to be in a country where I can pretty much blend with the locals, until I open my mouth, anyway.
Everywhere I went on Santa Fe, there were these DVD vendors with their wares spread out on the sidewalk. I’m pretty sure they were all pirated…
Anyway, I turned off of Santa Fe towards CUI, which led me past some university buildings. It looked like there had been a protest outside the Faculty of Odontology, as there was garbage and some other detritus I couldn’t identify, along with posters that seemed to protest something about the department. It’s definitely a neighborhood that has more poverty than Palermo, as I spotted a number of homeless people on mattresses. Most of the university buildings I saw had graffiti, and not the interesting and ornate street art kind.
I walked home, stopping at a Carrefour to pick up lunch food for the next day and something tasty and sugary as I could feel my blood sugar plummeting and fatigue setting in. I guess I was still tired from the trip here.
Dinner was a foray into the world of Argentine pizza. There were a lot of Italians who settled here (I’m blocks from Plaza Italia) and there is a lot of pizza and pasta. The pizza is tasty – loads of mozzarella on it and a thicker crust.
Today I’ve been working on planning my foray to Uruguay, and trying to arrange housing for when I get back. I did take a lovely walk to and through the Botanical Gardens, which are only a short walk away. The gardens are very green, even though its winter. (It’s a lot like a Los Angeles winter, frankly. I’ve been fine with a light coat or even just a sweater and scarf.)