Today was my last full day in Buenos Aires! It was a really really great day. I woke up about 8:30 after a really great night. I got ready and went upstairs and had a delicious breakfast and finished “Leave it to Psmith”. I had a really big breakfast and it was free, so that was nice! I also had a really nice chat with Professor Larrea, just about reading and Buenos Aires. So that was a very nice morning. Then I came downstairs and Lisa straightened and styled my hair so it looked really nice today, which was very fun! She curled out the ends, which I love. We then ran out to the ATM to get some cash, and then across the street to the grocery store for provisions for the day (like, water.)
At 11:30 we met a bunch of people, including Santiago, in the lobby and then took a taxi to the San Telmo Antiques Fair. Ahhh so much fun! It was about 5 full blocks of people laying their wares on both sides of the street, and the prices were great. Most of this stuff was handmade and new. After that, there was a block or two where people played instruments or mimed or tangoed (San Telmo is the tango neighborhood of Buenos Aires.) After that was a square where there were a lot of actual antiques being sold- rare books, horse-stuff, clothes, knick-knacks. It was very good. Beyond that was one more street that crossed the other one where there was more “new stuff” venders. Lisa and I wandered around for a bit and just saw what there was on offer, which was a LOT of GREAT stuff, and then we met back up with the group and got food. I had chocolate ice cream and it was heavenly. So so heavenly.
Let me see… after we ate, I shopped like a mad-woman and finished off my Christmas list and got a couple (or more, hee.) things for myself. Extreme amounts of success! I also had the most confusing ATM moment of my life, which I felt bad about but was able, with the help of Nancy, to get past. Lisa bought an adorable clock, and I came really close to buying one too but decided not to because what would I do with it? I got a terrible sunburn, and I saw a hug with a “Free Hugs!” sign and took and picture of him and then gave him a huge hug. It felt really good. I’m excited to show the picture to Kara. Anyway, overall, the fair was a lot of fun and I really wish that we had more stuff like that in Chicago. We have fairs, of course, but they’re not every week and also they’re not so much for making and buying creative things like this one was. The performers were awesome too. San Telmo is a great are.
What else, what else? Amanda, Lindsey, Lisa and I left the fair and shared a taxi to the Recoleta area. They went to visit the Museo de Bellas Artes, and Lisa and I intended to run to the movie theater, grab tickets for one later in the afternoon, and then go back to the Museo and hang out there. Unfortunately once we got to the theater we realized that the times didn’t really work, so we decided to go see the movie. I would have liked to do the museum a lot, but Lisa had been talking all along about how she wanted to see a movie here, and I wanted to as well so we did that. We decided on Beowulf since any Latin American movie wouldn’t have subtitles. The movie was pretty good and it made me really want to re-read and/or Wikipedia what the actual story is as opposed to the movie story.
In Argentine movie theaters, or at least this one since Santiago’s girlfriend says it’s not all, you get assigned seats! That was badass. Also, you can’t go in until like 5 minutes before the movie and most people don’t show up until the middle of the previews. Before each preview they show a screen with the rating, but it also says that exact law number that gives the rating information. This is something that I’ve seen in both Chile and Argentina- every time a sign says you can’t do something, or whatever, they give the exact law that says it. I don’t know this has anything to do with their history of military repression, or if it’s just a cultural thing. There was also a commercial for a credit card that offered 10% off gas at every gas station in the country every time. I wonder if gas is nationalized in Argentina- I need to find out. Anyway that’s interesting because very very few people have credit cards in Latin America, and I think that the companies must be getting pretty aggressive, though this was a local bank and not Visa or anything. Hum.
On our way back, Lisa and I decided to walk. On the corner by the theater, there was a huge crowd of people watching a mime. This mime was, literally and completely, insane. He was wandering in the middle of traffic and lying down in front of cars and pretending to be dead. I kid you not. Crazy crazy man! And this in Buenos Aires traffic, in which the lanes are mere suggestions and every pedestrian has a death wish. Good times.
Once we got back to the hotel, we chatted with Lloyd for a bit to find out what was going on tonight. After that I ran up to the bar to talk to Shawn, who owns the Austral Group. I showed him how to use bittorent to download movies and tv shows illegally. :-p He is very excited. He’s been in South America for 7 years and is very behind on pop-culture, so hopefully this will help him. :-D :-D I have done a good deed by showing someone how to do something illegal- I hereby rock.
After that, I packed with a great deal of assistance from Lisa. I shoved all my dirty clothes into Camille’s duffle bag, and put my clean-ish clothes and presents in my suitcase. Good times. Lisa and I then went downstairs and met the group for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. It was in a little place in the Palermo neighborhood, which is a place I’ve been wanting to come ever since the first night when I read about it, but never got a chance to go to. We had too many people so we had to split up, and I sat with Lisa, Maggie, and Mirelle. Lisa and I ordered an Ojo de Bife to share, which is basically a Ribeye, and it was literally the size of my head. It was 2 inches thick and probably 7 inches around, lord. They also gave us all sorts of side dishes and a huge (and FREE! Due to Santiago’s bargaining skills!) dessert platter. Also we got free champaign. It was pretty glorious and completely comfortable and nice- of course, I have only been absolutely and completely comfortable in these people’s presence for the past three days, which is of course happening now that I’m about to go home. Ah, life.
Travelling. Travelling, travelling. I have been giving a lot of thought to this. I have felt completely fine being here for the vast majority of this trip; any nervousness was due to the fact that I was with a large group, not that I was in South America. This is a very very good thing! Because it means I can travel a lot in the future. Of course, what are the circumstances under which I am comfortable? Hum hum. I foresee many an update about this in the future.
It is my goal in life to live outside the United States for some period of time at some point. For me, this is a pretty lofty goal. But the experience I’ve gained just studying other cultures this trip has been incredibly eye-opening, and it’s absolutely impossible to do that without going there. Also, I have been musing on this and I think if I were to stay in Buenos Aires or Santiago for a couple months, I would pick up Spanish *so fast*- even these two weeks have made a huge difference to my confidence, if not necessarily my skills. :-p So that is going to be something to think about in the future.
Tomorrow: bookstore to purchase the motorcycle diaries (CHE! Che is EVERYWHERE.) and possibly an Argentine short story collection or something, and then to the Presidential Inauguration of Cristina Kirchner. At 6:00 PM, to the airport. L I am going to miss South America; the culture and the people and the climate and just everything. I need to come back for more than two weeks, soon. It will be nice to get home, I suppose, but I’m just going to get back into my habits and schedule and rut and that just doesn’t seem that appealing to me right now. I want travel! Life! Living!! Changes and Experiences! Alas, alas. Chile, Argentina, I will miss you!
-drink of Chile: Pisco Sour- tried, ick
-drink of Argentina: Fermet Blanca (Fermet and coke)- didn’t try, heard it was ick. :-p
Things I did not get to do but really wish I did and must come back for:
-the Palermo neighborhood boutiques!
-any and all museums!
Mucho cariñoso y amor!
Today was my last day in South America. As I type this, I am at the airport waiting for my flight. The day was really great, though! I woke up about 8:30-ish and hopped in the shower. After that, Lisa woke up and I ran upstairs to get breakfast but the dining room had been overrun by the other groups that checked into our hotel yesterday- I think they were Italian and Dutch- so there was no room for me to eat and I went back down. Lisa styled my hair again and it still looks great, and at about 10 we both went upstairs for breakfast and this time there was a table for us. They had some weird breakfast-keesh thing which I ate, and that was good.
After breakfast, we went out shopping in a fruitless search for Che Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries.” You think Che merchandise is huge in the States? It is HUGE (as a tourist thing) in Argentina. He would be rolling over in his grave. Anyway, I still really want his book and it’s so much more bad-ass to find it in Argentina. Unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish quite well enough to get it in Spanish, and nowhere at all had it in English. Even the English bookstore. Failure! Dismay! But on the upside, we got to travel across much of the city in search, and I did find a nice history book about his time in Bolivia which Lisa bought me for my Christmas present.
As we were walking along, on Florida Street, I saw one particular shoe store of the many that actually looked like it might have a pair of sandals I might like. If you know me well, you will know that I have a pair of Sketchers sandals that I have had since I was 12 and love immensely. Unfortunately, in the past two years, they have pretty much died. I’ve been looking and looking for the appropriate sandals to replace them, but not having any luck in the States because the styles are all wrong. I was hoping to find a nice pair in Argentina, but didn’t have any luck until this store. On the last day! Hurrah and hurroo, they are absolutely perfect and they’re leather and comfortable and only cost about $60 US. So I am very happy.
Lisa and I sat down for awhile because she has asthma and the air was particularly bad today. We went into a coffee shop called “Havanna” which is sort of the Starbucks of Argentina, in that it is all over. One thing about Argentina is that it pretty much doesn’t exist that you walk into a coffee store, order a coffee, and leave with it. They do have this in Chile, but only because Starbucks is there. Starbucks is not in Argentina. Anyway, Havanna just started offering coffee “to go” and evidently it’s a huge thing and it’s advertised everywhere. Good times! Anyway, we went in and sat down and I ordered a “Café Moka”. Basically what this ended up being was a shot of espresso with chocolate pieces in the bottom which I mixed in. No milk or crème. But it was surprisingly good with some sugar in it and with the chocolate all stirred in! Adventure and good times!
Lisa and I then headed back to the hotel, where we met up with the professors and everyone. Originally we were going to head down to the inauguration, but Professor Masud wanted to see it on TV first to see where she was and what was happening, and to watch her speech which was given inside the Congress and which we wouldn’t have seen other than on TV. So we sat up in the bar and watched her inauguration. Her speech was REALLY good- I didn’t understand it all, of course, but she talked a lot about human rights and the need for justice for the perpetrators of the Dirty War, and she also re-claimed the Malvinas and called the British and occupying force. This is SUPER interesting give that the Malvinas War is still a huge open wound in the country- the taxi driver on my first day even talked about it. She also basically bitched out the president of Uruguay (they’re having some conflict or other right now). Anyway, she came out very strong so we’ll see if she lives up to it.
After her speech, she took a bunch of pictures and then did a motorcade to the Casa Rosada by Plaza de Mayo. Lindsey and I decided to run over there and see it, which we did. I got empanadas on the way. There was a huge crowd and drums and it was very invigorating and great, and we talked to some guy who doesn’t like her because he thinks she’s too liberal (many human rights people think she’s too conservative- she’s got a huge balancing act). Unfortunately we were only able to see the beginning of the motorcade and not her because we had to run back to the hotel in order to make out bus to the airport. When we got there, we filled out questionnaires about the Austral Group, who have been really wonderful. (The Group is made up of Mariecruz, Lloyd, Santiago, Mauricio and Shawn- how could you POSSIBLY go wrong?) Then the bus arrived and we got on and I have Lloyd a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and Santiago a hearty clap. He told us to facebook friend him but we can’t poke him because “he pokes back”. So that was really sad. L Lloyd is coming to Chicago in October, though! I’m going to keep him out ‘till 3 every night and then make him wake up at 8 and dress in business formal. Hah.
Anyway, the airport was surprisingly easy to navigate, although you have to pay an airport tax here which sucks. I am now at the gate anticipating nearly 24 hours of travel. Fun fun!
It will be nice to get home, I guess. I’ll miss South America. It’s just enough the similar to the US that I’m comfortable, and just enough different that I feel like I’m doing something new and being adventurous and expanding my horizons. I love it here and I’m definitely coming back. Santiago I think I liked a bit more than Buenos Aires, and Mendoza was last- but they were all great so that’s not saying much! I fell in love really with Buenos Aires as the craft fair yesterday, and I was in love with Chile the second I saw it. Ahh, I’m definitely coming back. And I’m gonna get myself fluent in Spanish!
I am now on a mission to find someone who will give me Chilean paper money so that I can give it to Garrett. Toodles until Miami or Chicago!
ETA: I am now home. The flight was really really hellish. I got about an hour/hour and a half of restless sleep on the plane to Miami, and the plane to Chicago was even more claustrophobic. I made it ok though! Customs was easy, and security was a bitch just due to the long lines. I got to see them puffing people with air to check for explosives, but I did not get puffed myself. The pilot on the flight to Miami was possibly the best pilot ever- the landing didn’t feel like anything at all! The flight into Chicago was rather creepy because it was so foggy that we literally did not see the ground until it was 10 feet below us. Scary scary.
Saying bye to everyone at the airport was sad. L I am going to write a post tomorrow that will sum up the experience for me, or maybe I’ll give myself a few more days distance, but I will do it soon. In the meantime, I’m going to bed!
This blog ended up being 36 pages, single spaced. Woooow. I am long-winded.