60 Days in Buenos Aires

I’m at a strange point in my experience in Buenos Aires. I am psyched to be here. I look up, and I’m astounded at the beauty that surrounds me. But other days, I don’t even realize that I’m in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sixty days in means I’m comfortable, and sometimes I need to remind myself that everyday here is a gift. Come January, I know I will be missing the streets filled with graffiti, the responsibility of living in a city of millions, the alone time, the ice cream, and the possibility of new experiences everyday. So although I am counting down the days until I walk through the gate at the Omaha airport, into the arms of my sobbing mother and Tim holding my little shih tzus Buck and Scout, I am remembering to make everyday in Buenos Aires count. Here’s to 60 sweet days, and 90 more to come.

On Friday September 9th, I decided that I needed to get outside of the city and see something new. I headed to El Tigre with a few friends: Grace, Hannah, Haley, Julia, and Gabe. I met my friends in the morning at the Juramento Subte stop, and together, we walked to the Belgrano train station near China Town. The train fare was only a few pesos, and the journey lasted about forty minutes. We arrived in El Tigre right around lunch time and headed to Almacén de Tigre, a cute café recommended by Julia’s host mother. I ordered a chicken breast in a honey glaze with a small salad. The food was delicious, and we sat eating and chatting in the sweet sunshine on the 80 degree day. Following lunch, we all walked to El Puerto de Frutos. This is a huge shopping area for tourists directly on the river delta. We headed there in search of fresh juice and a boat tour. After passing many sub par juice bars, we finally discovered a promising stand with fresh fruit hanging on the bar and in baskets on the counters. I ordered a fresh squeezed lemon and strawberry juice, with ice and a little bit of sugar. I am a fan of eating lemons plain, so I was able to drink the juice which was about half full of straight lemon juice with a slight taste of strawberry; however, if I had it to do over, I would request A LOT more sugar. After we all had some fresh squeezed juice, we bought tickets to go on an hour-long boat tour of the delta. On the tour we saw a lot of hotels, casinos, and parks for tourists on one side of the river, and on the other side, there were boat yards and cottages slowly falling into the water. It was very clear that the residents live in poverty in this tourist town. After the boat ride, we headed back to the train station. We returned to Buenos Aires by about five in the evening, and I was back home close to thirty minutes later. My host mother had a date, and my host sister had a sleepover, so I was on my own for dinner. I made myself a quiche, rice, and an egg. While I ate, I Skyped with my sister Annie, who was eating her last supper in the United States before heading to Russia for her Fulbright year teaching English at Saratov State University. My mom joined in on our Skype date as well, and we spent a few hours talking before I headed to bed.

On Saturday September 10th, Hannah, Grace, Haley, and I decided that it was finally time to satisfy our burger cravings. We headed to Burger Joint, which is expat owned and filled with tourists. I ordered the Jamaican Burger, which included pickles, tomato, beef, cheese, egg, bacon, and pineapple on homemade bread. I devoured the burger and most of the fries while sitting next to a mural of Harambe. The walls of the restaurant were covered in artwork and sharpie doodles. Overall a good burger, but what I was really craving was a Sunday night burger straight off the grill at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Lincoln, NE. After Hannah, Haley, Grace, and I wiped the grease off of our fingers, we headed toward the massive park in Alto Palermo. The park continues for miles and miles, includes a rose garden (not yet in bloom), a Japanese garden, bikes for rent, stands of ice cream, and the Rosedal a building filled with delicious restaurants. The weather was a gorgeous 80 degrees and the sun was shining down without a cloud in the sky. We celebrated the weather with some cheap ice cream from Wendy’s after walking around the parks for a while. We then split ways and headed home. I ate dinner with my host family in the evening, and did a little homework before bed.

On Sunday September 11th, I met Grace for brunch at Möoi, just down the street from my apartment. We had spotted a different location of the restaurant at the Rosedal the day before, and we were dying to try their brunch. To drink, we ordered the lemonade and began the meal with fresh homemade bread with a pea spread. For lunch, I ordered the chicken wrap, and Grace ordered a squash risotto. Our meals were delicious, and we both finished with apple crumble for dessert. We did not realize that on top of our already pricey brunch, there was a fee just to sit at the table. Möoi brunch has been the most expensive meal of my whole trip so far. The food was great, but I would not recommend Sunday brunch, specifically because it is tied to the extra fee just for sitting at the table. Following brunch, Grace and I parted ways, and I spent the rest of my Sunday afternoon and evening catching up on homework, eating dinner with my host family, and watching a little Netflix.

On Monday September 12th, the clouds and rain revisited Buenos Aires. In the morning, I headed across the city with my umbrella to volunteer at CLAYSS. I took the Subte which requires changing lines two times to end up in Almagro. Once off the Subte, I found a Subway restaurant to pick up lunch; the restaurant was filled with elderly people drinking espresso and eating medialunas (no subs in sight). On my way to my volunteering, I also bought two oranges for about 80 cents (USD) from a supermarket to tie me over for my five-hour volunteer shift. Once at CLAYSS, I spent the next five hours translating documents on my iPad over very slow wi-fi. The work was not difficult, but my technical difficulties made it unbearable. At the end of my shift, I headed straight for the Subte. I was pleasantly surprised to find it empty at five p.m., which is normally rush hour. I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack (Satisfied on repeat) during the hour-long commute home, which makes the time fly by. In the evening, I ate dinner and completed some homework before falling asleep.

On Tuesday September 13th, I woke up and made myself the usual egg-in-hole breakfast. As I was getting ready for my 10:00 a.m. class, Dharma the cat was making a mess out in the living room. I  quickly cleaned up after her on my way out the door (see image below, she feels no guilt). After my hour long journey to my service-learning class at FLACSO, the class brainstormed project ideas for the following hour and a half. Following class, I headed back home. I normally have my gender studies class for three hours in the afternoon on Tuesdays, but it was canceled (YAY). Once back in Palermo Hollywood, I went to the gym and then grabbed lunch at a bakery near my house. I ordered one chicken empanada and one muffin of squash, spinach, and mozzarella. This meal was extremely cheap, delicious, and traditional of Argentina. Following lunch, I took a quick nap, and then, I headed back across town to FLACSO for a test in my writing class. The test went as well as it could have after the professor deemed it “a test you cannot study for (in spanish of course),” which seemed unfair to all of us. After the test, I went back to the Subte, for the fourth time that day, and commuted an hour home to Palermo Hollywood. After dinner, I Skyped with my mother and saw my precious puppies Buck and Scout.

On Wednesday September 14th, I headed to FLACSO on the Subte after a quick breakfast. I had five hours of class straight through from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. First, I had Human Rights class where I wrote notes rapidly for the entire three hours, with the exception of a quick break, when I rapidly ate a salad of salmon, avocado, mango, and dark greens for lunch. Following Human Rights, I had a test in my Grammar class. The test covered all four tenses of the subjunctive and temporal uses, which I had just learned for the first time the week prior (thanks to the 200 level college professors that assume high school adequately teaches every single verb in the spanish language). Following the exam, I went straight to the gym. In the evening, my host mother went out for drinks with her coworkers, and my host sister had her weekly Wednesday sleepover at her grandmother’s house. I took the opportunity to try a ramen bar just down the street called Fukuro. I ordered the pork belly bowl, with avocado, egg, sprouts, green onion, and pickled beets in a pork broth. The meal was absolutely delicious, and the restaurant was extremely cool, very similar to Daikaya in Washington D.C. Following dinner, I Skyped with my mother before heading off to bed.

On the morning of September 15th, I slept in and began the series The Good Wife on Netflix. My grandma Cathy has been an avid watcher of the show, so I knew that it must have redeemable qualities. I continued the slow start to my day by walking to the café next door for brunch. I brought my iPad in tow with The Good Wife on Netflix, and I sat in the café eating veggie lasagna, drinking lemonade and espresso, and watching my show in perfect peace. Following my tasty lunch, I headed toward the Subte for my last test of the week. Maybe it was the sun or the Hamilton soundtrack playing through my ear buds, but I took a little extra time to notice the beautiful city around me: the palm trees, the architecture, the graffiti. I have hit a point in my study abroad where it is easy to forget where I am, and how spectacular everyday in Buenos Aires is. It takes a little extra reminder some days to appreciate it all. I arrived at FLACSO in great spirits for my conversation exam. We were graded on our comprehension of two different movie scenes and a conversation with the class regarding gender roles. I left the test feeling great, and headed back toward the Subte. I promised myself a treat after my week of tests, and I stopped by En El Nombre del Postre (in the name of dessert) to pick up three macaroons for myself, one for each test. When I arrived home, I was told that my host grandfather was coming over for dinner in the evening. He arrived just an hour later. We ate beef and veggie stew and my host grandfather went on and on about Argentina’s geography. For dessert we had dark chocolate, passion fruit, and raspberry ice cream from Freddo. My host sister had a fever so after dinner, the doctor quickly visited to give her medicine for her virus. While the doctor visited with Tony and Alexia, I continued talking with Alexia’s father, and he told me stories of his travels through Italy and of the tragic life of his one and only pet, a dalmatian named Jennifer. With everyone full and exhausted, the night ended, and I did the dishes before heading up to bed.

On Friday September 16th, I woke up slowly and cooked myself my normal egg-in-hole breakfast. I then quickly resumed my binge of The Good Wife, which I highly suggest to anyone who has enjoyed shows like Scandal or The West Wing. In the afternoon, I had a meeting at FLACSO regarding the CIEE led trip to La Rioja the following week. The advisor Leandro gave a very short presentation which included what to pack and how much money to bring. Following the meeting, Grace and I headed to my favorite Korean restaurant Bi Won, and I shared with her the eye-opening experience of Dolsot Bibimbap. We shared one of the large entrees and an array of random veggie sides. Grace’s spice tolerance was put to the test with the chili sauce, but after consuming large amounts of extra spicy sriracha on a regular basis, I was hardly able to detect the spice. Following lunch, I introduced the best ice cream in the city to Grace, Rapa Nui. Once stuffed with rice and ice cream, Grace and I headed home. Grace took the Subte, but I decided to walk off the feast. I walked for close to an hour down Santa Fe which takes me directly back to Palermo Hollywood, and on my way, I made a quick detour into the Palermo Mall to check out the English bookstore. Once home, I shared a dinner of Macaroni and Cheese bake with my host family before heading back to my room to continue my binge of The Good Wife.

On Saturday September 17th, I woke up early and completed a little homework for the upcoming week. In the afternoon, I met Hannah and Grace for lunch very close to Grace’s apartment in Alto Palermo. After Grace let me satisfy my craving for Korean food the day prior, I promised that it was her turn to choose. She decided on Mediterranean food, her favorite. My host mother suggested that we try Demashk one of the most popular Armenian restaurants in the city. Demashk was super cheap and had a large of array of food from steak shwarma to humus to tabbule. I ordered the steak shwarma and labra for myself. The food was delicious, and I spent about five USD on it all. Grace ordered a large plate of laban yogurt sauce with bread, and once she was full, I helped her to finish the tart sauce. Following lunch, I returned to my homestay after meandering though a market in Palermo Soho. I continued watching The Good Wife. At the same time, Alexia and Tony continued their binge of the CW’s Arrow. For dinner, we ate cheese pizza with extra cheese a lot of garlic. During dinner, the conversation turned to Japanese animated films. I shared that I had seen Spirited Away and Ponyo, but never My Neighbor Totoro. Tony insisted that it was a must see film; she is a very cultured  nine-year old. She requested that her mother make popcorn for our viewing party. The popcorn was cooked with sugar instead of salt, which is very normal here, and it reminded me slightly of some good Colby Ridge popcorn. Alexia, Tony, and I all squeezed together on the couch upstairs and watched Mi Vecino Totoro (no subtitles and I was still fine folks!!) while munching on our popcorn. The movie was adorable and we all sang along to the main theme. There were a lot of yawns shared during the movie, and by the end we all crawled into our own beds for a good nights sleep.

On Sunday September 18th, I, once again, rolled slowly out of bed and into the kitchen for breakfast. Unfortunately, we had ran out of eggs in the morning; so for breakfast, I made myself oatmeal with apple and a banana. Following my bland breakfast, I did a little homework and watched an episode of The Good Wife. Finally went outside into the sunshine around 1 p.m., when I met with Hannah and Grace at Muu Lecheria in Palermo Soho, where I finally broke the Sunday brunch pattern. I made the terrible yet wonderful decicion of ordering myself The Clock Tower. This included three waffles: one layer topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, m&ms, caramel and chocolate sauce, the next layer was filled with cream and red berries, and the bottom layer was filled with straight dulce de leche. I ate the whole clock tower in the cute fifties diner with different Marilyn and Elvis decorations surrounding me. I left the diner with a huge smile on my face and an ache in my gut (most likely caused by sugar overload). The rest of my day was spent reading for class and watching a little bit of the Packer vs. Vikings game (unfortunately, a loss). Additionally, Sunday was Chi Omega Big Little Reveal in Lincolnland, so I, of course, made a photoshopped picture of my Chi Omega family including my new grandlittle Tanmayee, my little Cat, and my big Libby. It seemed like everyone had a great time in Lincoln, and I cannot wait to return and meet my new grandlittle in January.

Thank you for reading about days 51-60 in Buenos Aires! What a journey it has been so far, and I am sure that there are so many more great adventures to come. Until next time, I am sending love to my far away friends and family. Ciao!