70 Days in Buenos Aires

It’s a rainy day in Buenos Aires, and the homesick blues have started to creep in. I have found refuge in Grey’s Anatomy, but the pile of homework is growing alongside the due date on this blog. I have torn down another month on my calendar, and now, directly across from my bed, I can see October, November, and December looming. Tomorrow is my 75th day in Buenos Aires: the halfway point. I’m missing my best friends, my family, my dogs, and my routine in Lincoln, NE. I miss being an English major and reading a new book a week, and it is difficult to find the same satisfaction in my homework here.

Push aside the melancholia, and I am still so happy to be in Buenos Aires. There are many museums and restaurants that I have yet to visit. Trips to Mendoza, Uruguay, and Patagonia are in my future. I have had a great last ten days here, despite this rainy Sunday dragging me down. Overall, I have been in high spirits everyday, so do not be deceived by my current state of being. drum roll…I am now happy to present 10 Days in Buenos Aires: Part 7.

On Monday, September 19th I woke up and headed back to my early morning workout routine. I hit the elliptical at Omnia Fitness Center and finished with a small set of weighted exercises for my arms and abs. I returned home to take a quick shower and get ready for another day of volunteering. After complaining to my host mother about the length of the Subte journey the past weeks, she insisted that I learn to take the bus. Via Subte, the journey to Almagro lasts nearly an hour with two line changes. By bus, the ride lasts 30 minutes directly there. On this past Monday, I successfully took the bus for the first time alone without error. Once off the bus in Almagro, I grabbed Subway for lunch and jazzed up the sandwich with an avocado. I brought my lunch with me to CLAYSS, along with a cookie, orange, and dessert yogurt. Once on location, Maggie, the other intern, and I sat researching for three hours. We have been researching Service-Learning based organizations and university programs in the United States. I have included pictures of CLAYSS, it is a non-profit located in a very nice old building in Almagro. Following my volunteer work, I headed back on the 151 bus to Palermo Hollywood. I spent the evening finishing up the homework that I had put off and eating dinner with my host family.

On Tuesday, September 20th, I headed to FLACSO, after a breakfast of eggs and toast. I began my morning in Service-Learning class with a presentation regarding the dictators of Argentina and resulting human rights organizations in the country. Following this class, I walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant to satisfy an overdue craving for tex-mex. My eyes nearly filled with tears when they brought out the basket of complementary fried flour and corn chips. The salsa tasted like watery Sriracha, but overall, I felt a strong sense of joy. I then ordered chicken fajitas for myself and was ecstatic when the waitress brought out my tower of rice, beans, pico, sour cream, guacamole, and more salsa. Stuffed to the brim, I returned to FLACSO for five straight hours of class: writing for two, and gender, bodies, and sexuality for three. I took a quick detour on the way back and stopped into a plastic store. Shopping in BsAs can be a strange and trying experience when looking for something in particular. I was not in the market for anything, but I thought I would share an image from the odd store.

On Wednesday, September 21st, I had another day full of class. I woke up in the morning and prepared my egg-in-hole breakfast. I then headed across town via Subte to FLACSO for three hours of human rights class to be followed by two hours of grammar. Human rights class passed fairly slowly as my hand cramped from constant note taking; however, grammar class is much more interesting. Everyday, I feel that I am learning very applicable things: more verb tenses, vocabulary, sentence structures, rules, etc.. Following my afternoon of classes, I headed straight back to Palermo Hollywood so that I could go to the gym before dinner time. In the evening, my host sister had a sleepover with her grandmother and my host mother had a date. I enjoyed having the house to myself and made myself a dinner of left over beef stew with a small zucchini quiche. I finished the evening with a little homework, The Good Wife, and packed for my trip the next day.

On Thursday, September 22nd, I woke up and headed straight to the gym. I was leaving in the evening for a trip across the country, and I wanted to be exhausted by the time the fourteen hour bus ride rolled around. Following the gym, I got ready for the day and finished packing my bags for my trip. I headed out for lunch to a cute cafe down the street, Oui Oui. I had been checking their specials regularly on their website, and I gave the restaurant a try due to their particularly good menu on Thursday the 22nd. I began with Lemonade with mint and ginger. Next came zucchini soup, followed by a spinach strudel, and finished off with the banana split. After lunch, it was already time to head across town for my conversation class. Class consisted of watching movie scenes and trying to write out all of the dialogue. Trying to decode the rapid flow of spanish was difficult but great practice for my comprehension skills. Following class, I met 30 other students from my program in the lobby of FLACSO. We boarded a bus headed toward the Chilean border to La Rioja. Everyone had a chair that could recline into a bed so the journey flew by after a Dramamine and a couple empanadas.

I woke up on Friday, September 23rd still on the bus headed to La Rioja. I had slept 10 hours straight on the way there, and I enjoyed the last few hours watching Silver Linings Playbook and eating a peanut butter cliff bar straight from the motherland. The bus stopped at a hotel in San Juan where the whole group enjoyed a breakfast of medialunas, fresh fruit, and dulce de leche. Following breakfast the group headed a few minutes off to a hiking route. Our guide led us for three hours through cacti and artifacts left by indigenous peoples many years ago. The hike was not too difficult, but a few took some big spills on the sandy terrain. Following the hike, we returned to the same hotel, where we ate breakfast, for a lunch of gnocchi served in way too much oil. Full of gnocchi and dulce de leche, we boarded the bus again to drive a few more hours to our hotel. The hotel was very nice, and located between vineyards with views of mountains in all directions. Once settled and showered, we all headed down the street for a dinner show with live folk music. The meal began with bread and olives. Shortly after, a plate of asado was laid in front of me. This included chorizo, blood sausage, a small cut of steak, and a fatty slice of ribs. I ate the chorizo, a small bit of the blood sausage, and as much of the steak that wasn’t laced with thick fat. For dessert, I was served a thin slice of cheese covered with coconut. Much of my food remained untouched, and my craving for an Omaha steak only grew. The band that played during the meal was very interesting. To begin, the volume was extremely high and the lead singer demanded way too much crowd participation (he even tried to kiss me on the cheek). After the first hour, my ears were ringing. The music was fun to sing and dance along too, and it fit in the genre of rock. But the loud noise after a long day was too much for all of the students. We headed out as soon as the meal was over. Once back at the hotel, I went straight to sleep.

On Saturday, September 24th, I woke up very early to grab breakfast before a full day of hiking. There was another full spread of medialunas, other bread products, and dulce de leche. After the meal, the whole group headed out to a bus that drove us an hour away to a new hiking trail. The bus stopped at Talampaya National Park. In just a few minutes of walking down the road into the canyon, I shed my jacket and applied a layer of 100 SPF sunblock. Deserts are strange places because in the shade, I would quickly start shivering, but in the sunshine, I was at risk for a bad burn. The hike continued for about six hours. There was a small break to eat milanesa sandwiches before continuing out of the canyon. The day was truly spectacular. The majority was just hiking but there were a few moments that required climbing. I took in a lot of amazing views, gained a lot of color (especially my scalp which got burnt on my part :(), and destroyed the grips on my running shoes. After 8.5 miles, blood (small scratches), and sweat, it was very satisfying to accomplish something after so many days in the city. I returned to the hotel in the evening covered in dirt, sunblock, and sweat. After a good scrubbing in the shower, I enjoyed a dinner of steak and potatoes at the hotel.

On Sunday, September 25th,  I packed my bags and checked out of the hotel after another breakfast of medialunas and dulce de leche. The students of my program filled up the bus that we would be occupying for the next 24 hours, and we headed to one more national park: The Valley of the Moon. This park was a couple of hours away and offered really cool geological features. The only downside of the park was that we drove from point to point and there was no opportunity to hike around. Following five stops around the park, the group headed back to the hotel where we ate lunch on the first day. We had a fantastic meal of roasted chicken breast with flan for dessert, complete with a big scoop of dulce de leche. There were a few hours to charge up cell phone and soak in some sun before boarding the bus for the long journey home. Once on the bus, the whole group watched Jurassic World and then passed into a deep sleep aided by Dramamine.

On Monday, September 26th I woke up on the bus headed back from La Rioja. The morning traffic into the city of Buenos Aires is crazy, and it took over an hour to reach downtown. Once the bus stopped, I made a bee line straight for the Subte. I was home just over thirty minutes later. I hopped straight into the shower and got ready for my volunteer work at CLAYSS. I grabbed lunch on the way to the bus at my favorite grab and go and had another positive encounter with the bus to Almagro. Once at CLAYSS, I continued my research of service-learning organizations in the United States. I ate lunch for the first hour, and then snacked on tea and cookies for the remaining two. Following my three hour volunteer shift, I headed for the bus and then straight to my gym. After so much time spent on buses, I needed desperately to stretch my legs and get in some exercise. In the evening, I ate dinner with my host family and caught up on homework before a week of classes.

On Tuesday, September 27th, I made myself the favorite egg-in-hole breakfast before heading to FLACSO for a day filled with classes. In order to deal with the stress of such a long day, I treated myself to indian food for lunch. I went back to my normal restaurant Delhi Mahal, and had a pretty mediocre experience with the chicken curry. The other aspects of the meal were great though, so I will return again, and try something different next time. At FLACSO, I sailed through a day of Service-Learning class, Gender, Bodies, and Sexuality Class, and Writing Workshop. I zoomed home at the end of the day to return to the comfort of The Good Wife and finish my homework due the next day.

On Wednesday, September 28th, I woke up to repeat my egg-in-hole routine and head to FLACSO for five straight hours of class. I began with Human Rights and finished with Grammar. Directly following class, Grace and I headed to Palermo Park in order to buy tickets for Drakefest at the club Crobar. The park was GORGEOUS. The rose garden had began to bloom and the grass was bright green. After buying tickets, we headed to Santa Crepa. Grace had a wrap for lunch, and I ordered the “oreogasm” crepe. It was a crepe full of white chocolate and oreo and was a let down. The cafe blasted Adele’s newest album the whole time we were there though, which put me in high spirits. Following a very late lunch, I returned home to Palermo Hollywood. In the evening, I treated my host mother to a birthday dinner at Fukuro the ramen bar a few blocks from our house. Alexia ordered the “Steph” Curry bowl, and I ordered the veggie. Once again, the food was delicious. We also ordered a pork bun which was amazing. The meal was delicious and it was fun to hang out with my host mom outside of the house.

Seventy days have come and gone. At this moment in my journey, I feel very comfortable in this city and as if I have joined into the normal lifestyle of my host family. I am trying to stay motivated to do homework and study and not watch too much of The Good Wife (but its just so good!!) Thank you for the moral support and love. I miss the united states and my close family and friends. It is difficult to be so far away, but knowing that I am in your thoughts helps so much! Sending love, hugs, and kisses!