50 Days in Buenos Aires

Fifty days have passed in Buenos Aires, and after celebrating with sushi and gelato, I began contemplating why I’m not going to school to be a food blogger?! My desire to photograph food for the rest of my life may be a sign that I am having way too much fun or that I do not have enough homework. But regardless, life is treating me so well. I’m basking in the spring sunshine of Buenos Aires, and reality seems far off.

50 out of 150 days are over. I am officially one third done! While the momentum and joy continue, I would like to share Part 5 of the 10 days in Buenos Aires series.

On Tuesday August 30, I endured another 7 hour day of class. Tuesdays are my longest day, but once over, it’s all smooth sailing. My first class of the morning was Service Learning, and the class consisted of a guest lecture by my professor from human rights class. The lecture gave background on the development of Argentina during the twentieth century, including the era of the beloved Juan and Eva Perón and Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. After class, I went to a near by pay-per-kilo lunch stop and filled my container with a very random assortment of foods. After a quick chow down, I returned to school for Body, Gender, & Sexuality in Argentina. This class was three hours long, but a quick medialuna and coffee break, time really flies by. The class focused on motherhood in twentieth century Argentina. My profesora is extremely engaging, energetic, and organized. The class is a conversation between the students and the profesora, who constantly offers present day examples of life in Buenos Aires regarding sexuality, gender, and sex. My final class of the day was writing; the lesson was focused on describing places and environments using different verb tenses, even the pesky subjunctive. Following class, I headed straight home on the Subte. I was home just in time for dinner with my host family. Exhausted, I ate dinner and went straight to sleep.

On August 31, I have five hours of class straight. I left my homestay an hour before class starts in order to arrive on time. After a packed Subte ride, I arrived in Human Rights class. The class was focused upon different generations of human rights, and there were also three student presentations regarding a similar topic. The three hour class passed by very slowly, and the professor rapidly lectured in spanish as the students struggled to write down everything on the powerpoint slides. It is exhausting and coffee is required to make it through the morning. Following Human Rights, I went straight to my grammar class. I ate a quick tortilla and apple to tie me over as my lunch. Grammar class was extremely helpful, we focused on subjunctive in the present perfect, past preterite perfect, and imperfect. I have not focused on the correct uses of these verbs since senior year of high school, because college professors assume it has already been learned. In reality, most students in my program struggle with the subjunctive; it is a very difficult concept to fully grasp for non-native speakers. After class, I convinced Erin, Megan, and Penina to come try Rapa Nui with me. Rapa Nui is my favorite ice cream EVER. All the flavors have Italian meringue on top, and are rich flavors like Dulce de Leche or Chocolate infused with more dulce and more chocolate. I indulged myself and ordered two different cones. The treat yo’ self mentality is strongly ingrained in me.

On the morning of Thursday September 1, I slept in (until 9), went to the gym quickly, and then treated myself to a nice lunch. I headed to Sushi Pop, a restaurant only a few blocks from my house. I enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey (my favorite) tea and sat at the bar alone. Eating alone is really a treat. Something I had rarely done until this semester. I ordered the Alaska Platter, which the waitress promised me had the most salmon. The platter had a nice variety of pieces; however, the sushi was not made in a style that I am used to: the texture of the rice was very gooey and some of the pieces were so drenched in creamy or sweet sauces that it took away from the salmon. The meal was average, and I will look elsewhere for sushi in the future. Following lunch, I headed to conversation class. My profesora Lucia is young and hip, and she has a great energy throughout the whole class. Together, we practice pronunciation and colloquial phrases. The class is a great place to practice my speaking skills, and overall, a very fun two hours. Following class, I went back home to Palermo Hollywood. I treated myself to some cookies and cream ice cream near my casa. The ice cream was subpar, and confirmed that Rapa Nui has won my heart. Once home, I ate dinner with my host family and cleaned up afterward. While I did the dishes, I was talking with host mother Alexia about all of the stray cats that live near the planetarium, where she works. She told me about how all the cats need to be taken to the vet to be spayed and neutered, and this could be done at the public veterinary hospital. I was shocked; I had learned a little about the free public hospitals in the city, but I had never heard of public healthcare for pets too. She explained that simple surgeries, procedures, medicine, and shots where all free for pets. Alexia takes her cats to a private vet because she is able to pay for their care and public hospitals are normally busier, but the idea that there are free care options for pets is a foreign concept to me.

The weekend starts early for me because I only have class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So on the morning of Friday September 2, I started my morning with breakfast and a workout before meeting Grace for lunch. Grace and I went to a little café very close to my home called Dulce Charlotte. We ordered the daily special which was veggie wok. The meal came with Lemonade infused with ginger and then a shot of espresso following the meal. I walk past Dulce Charlotte every single day multiple times, and I had been eyeing the brownie torta, with dulce de leche, fresh cream, and a giant meringue on top. I finally caved and ordered a slice for myself. I was extremely excited to chow down, but after only four bites, I had surpassed my sugar tolerance for the day. The cake tasted as good as it looks, and I packed up the rest to enjoy later. In the afternoon, I worked on my homework and took a nap. Following dinner with my host family, I went over to Grace’s house in Alto Palermo to meet her, Haley, and Hannah. After a few hours of hanging out and getting ready, we headed to Rosebar, one of our favorite clubs in Palermo Soho. We ran into a lot of people from our study abroad program and we were up till the early morning.

On Saturday September 3, I slept in and went to the gym after breakfast. I spent the afternoon working on homework for my Human Rights class, because I had to give a presentation to the class. I also fit in a few movies on Netflix. My host mom and sister also spent the day bingeing on Netflix and watched the entire first season of Stranger Things. The day was very relaxing, and all three of us, Tony, Alexia, and I caught up on sleep after a long week. In the evening we ate a dinner of spaghetti before returning to Netflix.

September 4: Sundays are for brunch, es obvio. At one in the afternoon, I met Hannah, Grace, and Haley at Bedford Station very close to Plaza Italia in Palermo. I ordered smoked salmon on a bed of scrambled eggs, with toast and a croissant. My meal came with fresh squeezed orange juice. The bistro was very cute, and the food was delicious. After lunch, I walked home from the restaurant about forty-five minutes to get a little exercise in for the day (all gyms are closed on Sundays here). I stopped by a grocery store on my way home in search of bacon, thinking that I could make BLTs for my family (a fairly simple dish of the united states). Unfortunately, there was no bacon to be found. Overall, the small grocery stores here have a lot of drinks like sodas and wine, small produce sections, and a lot of packaged snacks. When it comes to cooking or baking, many grocery stores have no spices or ingredients other than sugar and flour. I have realized that if I decide to cook or bake, I will have to plan ahead and search many grocery stores for specific ingredients, including China Town where there are more products of the United States. The rest of my afternoon was quiet and filled with black tea, homework, and Netflix. Overall, a calm and yummy Sunday Funday.

On Monday September 5, I began my first day of volunteering on the other side of town. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable. The temperature was slightly above 40 degrees, and there was constant rain and wind all day. Regardless, I was very excited to try a new restaurant that I had discovered on TripAdvisor. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try a new restaurante in the Congreso district because it was on my way. The restaurant that I visited is called Chan Chan, and it has one of the best reputations for traditional ceviche in the whole city. Additionally, the restaurant was very reasonably priced. It costs about ten US dollars per entree, whereas other ceviche restaurants are 20 and up because Peruvian Japanese fusion is in such high demand. At Chan Chan, I ordered the Ceviche Mixto, which was a large variety of seafood including white fish, calamari, mussels, and a few others in a creamy white lemon sauce. The fish was served with potatoes, corn on the cob, and bread. The food was absolutely delicious, and I will definitely be returning. After I ate, I headed to my first day volunteering at the NGO CLAYSS. Once arriving, I was introduced to the staff and given a tour of the facilities (I will take pictures next time). The organization is located in Almagro on the first floor of an older building. It is a very nice place to work because it is very relaxed and friendly. Normally, I will arrive for one three hour shift per week. My job for my first three hour shift was to brainstorm for my service learning project. I will give more updates once I have decided; however, I am still undecided. I researched organizations and projects for three hours while munching on cookies and drinking tea. At the end of my shift, I ran back to the Subte in the drizzling rain and began my hour+ commute home, using three different Subte lines. Once back in Palermo Hollywood, I treated myself for surviving the weather and commute with a cake pop. After a quick dinner and warm shower, I went to bed hoping that the rain would go away.

I woke up on September 6 to another chilly drizzling day in Buenos Aires. I ate a quick egg-in-hole breakfast and headed out the door to my morning class at FLACSO. My Service-Learning class was sort of a brainstorming session for possible project ideas. The class only lasted and hour and a half, and immediately after, I left in search of indian food. I had found a restaurant about ten blocks away with wonderful ratings online called Delhi Mahal. I was immediately served naan with two dipping sauces: one a yogurt mint, and the other a sweet glaze. I ordered off the menu of the day which included appetizers, rice, an entree, dessert, and more naan. The appetizer was pakora of fried veggies. My entree was coconut curry white fish, and I enjoyed a single gulab jamun for dessert. Stuffed to the brim, I headed back down Cordoba Av. towards FLACSO, just in time for Bodies, Gender, and Sexuality class to begin. The topic of class was Machismo culture and the term’s history (created in the United States as a critique of the increasing Latin American immigrant population). We began to discuss the role of feminism in Argentina, but ran out of time. We were assigned to watch the TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie along with our other weekly readings. My last class of the day was writing class. We focused on discussing weather and celebrations, once again utilizing all different verb tenses. Class passes by quickly because we are actively working through our workbook as a class. Normally, there is a lot of conversation and storytelling, so we are constantly laughing and sharing. After class, I headed straight to the Subte since the sun was already down. I arrived home just in time for dinner with my host family. We ate raviolis and laughed about our days. Tuesdays are always long days, but also very satisfying.

On Wednesday September 7, I woke up and ate a quick breakfast with Dharma while she did her morning stretches. I headed to the Subte in order to arrive on time for Human Rights class, and also made a quick detour to pick up some fruit. On Wednesdays, I have class from 10-3. There is no opportunity for me to leave and grab lunch, so I normally just snack on fruit and granola bars throughout the five hours. Once at FLACSO, I started off Human Rights class with a presentation to the class on a required reading from the book Open Veins of Latin America. My presentation spanned from the the moment Cristobal Colón arrived on the shores of the new world to the present day ruin of cities, like Potosí, deserted once the gold and silver mines ran dry. Following my presentation, two more students had required presentations on similar subjects, and then the rapid fire lecture of the professor began. Again, the students struggled to keep up and write everything down in their notes. We all walked out relieved when the three hour class was over. I went straight to my grammar class afterwards only to be stumped by temporal subjunctive. I am extremely appreciative to be learning every single use of the subjunctive; however, it is still very difficult to wrap my mind around all of the different situations needing subjunctive and indicative verbs. Sometimes it seems arbitrary and impossible. Oh the joys of studying foreign languages! Following two hours of the subjunctive in grammar class, I headed straight to the gym. I fit in a quick elliptical and weights before returning home. On Wednesdays, my host sister Tony sleeps at her grandmothers, so dinner was just Alexia and me. I was very glad to hear that Alexia had been craving red meat, because she brought us home two steak sandwiches from a restaurant across the street. We chatted about work and school and then went separate ways to do some work and watch Netflix.

On Thursdays, I only have one class in the late afternoon. So I took advantage of my free afternoon on September 8, and I met Grace and Hannah at Kanú Sushi in Palermo Soho (see below cool street art under the train bridge between Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho). At Kanú, I ordered a Sushi Salad off the menu of the day. My salad included salmon, seaweed, and sushi rice. My meal came with delicious passion fruit lemonade and an appetizer of salmon with cream cheese and avocado. Following lunch, headed towards FLACSO for my conversation class, but because I was about 30 minutes early, I decided to detour to Rapa Nui my favorite ice cream shop in Recoleta. I ordered, once again, dulce de leche and chocolate ice cream with meringue and natural dulce de leche. I then marched back over to school for my two hour conversation class. Class passed quickly as normal because Lucia is a seriously cool profesora. We watched different film trailers and had to answer questions about their content, and we finished class with a crossword puzzle full of Buenos Aires slang. As class ended and the weekend began, I headed home to my host family. We hung out around the house together and shared tartas for dinner.

Once again, a very sweet ten days have passed in the amazing city of Buenos Aires. Life is treating me so well, and I am very happy to be exploring so far away from home. Thank you to the friends and family who continue to support my travels. It is so easy to be thousands of miles away when I feel so loved. Thank you for the love and for reading my blog. I’ll be home before you know it!