Heeeelllooooo to my extensive fan base! I know you all have been desperately waiting at your computers, refreshing my blog page day-after-day, and I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to update you all on my life. Although, if you know me at all, like even a little bit, you’d expect this to be done in true Danielle fashion, aka sporadically and irresponsibly (my mom is worried about potential future employers that may read this, so, I am VERY ADAPTABLE AND CAN CHANGE MY WAYS!) (HOPEFULLY!).
Since I’ve last written, my most noteworthy excursion has been to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. We headed over the border via ferry/bus-about a one-hour ride on the waters of River Plate, and another two hours on a bus more comfortable than my bed in my homestay. We arrived just in time for Carnival, a festival celebrated before the beginning of Lent. One of the largest, most well known parades, Las Llamadas, took place on a street only one block away from the hostel a friend and I were staying in. This was basically exactly what a foreigner envisions if they have any knowledge of Carnival whatsoever- a bunch of women in extravagant sequined gowns and men playing drums dancing and shimmying down the street while onlookers gather in horrendous crowds and cheer, laugh, and spray silly string all over the place. The next night, we had tickets to see a typical Carnival show, which I later found out was a competition between a few of the most highly praised local theater groups. The show included four different acts that were virtually operas sung in Spanish about, well, I couldn’t even tell you what, but I know there were some dancing Legos involved. This really put a damper on my confidence in my Spanish, seeing as I understood literally 6 words in the hours and hours we sat in the arena. The next few days were spent at the beach, which was nice and relaxing, though I wish the weather had been a little bit better. One night, I went to a friend’s hostel just to hang and check it out and ended up getting fed a full, extravagant, barbecue meal, FOR FREE!!!!!, while getting to converse with and hear about the lives of people from all over the world. Definitely a highlight, and reminded me a lot of the stories my dad has told me about his travels throughout New Zealand. Felt proud to be following in his footsteps.
So I got back to BA after a few days and returned to my basic day-to-day life, which I now realize you know absolutely nothing about. There is so much to know about the lifestyle in Argentina, but I will try to point out some of the most significant right now.
First of all, I live with a host family in a barrio (neighborhood) called Villa Crespo. Valeria (la mama), Gabriele (papa), their 3 daughters Amit (6), Magi (6), Ada (2), so graciously opened their home to me a few weeks ago. They have been kind beyond words and the girls are amazing though they often laugh in my face at my lack of Spanish skills and ocassionally like to point out the pimples that have been popping up left and right.Those pimples are all due to the fact that it’s summer here in South America, so temperatures are in the upper 80’s everyday, it’s humid all the time, and your chances of finding air conditioning are lower than your chances of winning that billion dollar lottery from a few weeks ago (unfortunately, this includes the lack of AC in my bedroom. There ya go mom, I’m learning to appreciate what I have!).
I’m taking classes at an English language center a subway ride away from my house with other kids from my program, because schools are not in session for a few more weeks. Two out of my four classes are taught in Spanish by teachers that are so hard to understand they might as well be speaking Russian. Many people say that I can expect to leave BA fluent in Spanish, and with all things considered, if that’s not the case, I’d say I deserve a full refund.
Speaking of the subway ride, the last thing I wanted to discuss for now is the layout of the city of BA. I guess it’s a little bit complicated, as I don’t even really understand where I am in relation to other things yet, but for now, all you need to know is that it’s a huge city. Everything is extremely spread out and the other students on my program were put virtually all over the place. It’s not like Florence where your best friends are automatically in the same apartment building as you, or even one street away. I blew through a sick amount of money on taxis my first week because I was too scared to try to figure out public transportation in a city where I do not (confidently) speak the language. Luckily, thanks to some apps kinda like Google Maps that tell you exactly what bus or subway to take and when to get off, I’ve started to get a liiiiiiiitttttle bit more adventurous!
This weekend, the program has planned a trip to Mendoza- aka WINE COUNTRY! Me gusta vino and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Until next time!