90 Days in Buenos Aires

In the blink of an eye, 90 days has passed. I’m listening to Bon Iver as I write, which seems to inspire melancholy, but at this moment, I am unsure whether to long for more days in Buenos Aires or less days until my homecoming. There is a constant bittersweet emotion while studying abroad, and I feel so lucky to be caught in the middle of it. I am now happy to present a taste of it all: 10 Days in Buenos Aires: Part 9.

On Sunday October 9th, I woke up in beautiful Mendoza. I was leaving town that evening, so I packed my bags and went downstairs to eat a quick breakfast and check out. Roberto, the mountain guide, picked up Grace, Haley, Hannah, and me from the hostel just a few minutes later. We loaded the car with all of our belongings and headed straight for the Andes Mountains. The entire ride, from Mendoza to the tallest mountain Aconcagua and back, lasted around 9 hours, including a short lunch break. The first stop on the road trip was a couple hours in. We pulled up near a large turquoise lake created by a dam. We got out for about five minutes to take a picture, and in that short time, I made a huge mistake. I took my purse off for the picture and set it down on the ground near a big rock. It completed slipped my mind, and we got back into the car and continued driving down the twisty mountain roads. About ten minutes later, I realized my purse was gone! I begged Roberto to turn around. My panic attack set in immediately. My purse contained my passport, iPad mini, portable charger, and my wallet, full of about $400 USD in cash. Normally, I would never carry my passport, valuables and that much money in my purse, but because we had just checked out of the hostel, I had packed all valuables on my person. As we drove back towards the lake, both Roberto and I were freaking out. He had even started sweating because he was so nervous as we drove back and had to wipe the sweat from his brow a couple of times. The 10 minutes back to the lake easily felt like 20. I constantly told myself that my purse would still be there. What were the odds that someone else had stopped there in the last 10 minutes?? When we were about a minute away, we saw twenty hitchhikers walking down the road. They had just passed the location where I left my purse. At this point, Robert0 and I both knew it was over. In the last minutes as we came around the bend opening to the lake, my stomach was in a complete knot. I was running through a plan in my head, how a stolen purse wouldn’t be the end of the world. I could easily go to the embassy for a new passport. I didn’t really believe it would be easy, but I told myself that and to take deep breaths. Once the lake was in view, I realized that the hitchhikers has been completely unobservant. My brown leather purse was sitting, slightly camouflaged, beside a big brown rock. Roberto hopped out of the car and retrieved my purse. What a sweet man!! Immediately, we got back on the road towards the Andes. I tried to remind myself to take deep breaths between constant thank yous. Eventually, I put on Shelby Janke’s “Chillin Club” playlist to bring me back down to earth; Anxiety and Comrade by Volcano Choir do not mix, plus its a great mountain playlist. The day continued with gorgeous views, a trip to the base of the tallest mountain outside of Asia, a natural hot spring that created some brilliant colored rocks, and a lunch of steak, eggs, and fries. In the evening, I boarded a bus headed on a 15 hour journey back to Buenos Aires. That’s 24 sweet hours of consecutive road tripping, with my purse tightly in my grasp.

I woke up on Monday October 10th still on a bus. This was my LAST overnight bus of the semester, leaving me with 6 rides totaling 100 hours. I’m proud of this accomplishment, I may even brag about it occasionally, but never again. In the morning, I ate a peanut butter cliff bar for breakfast, the same thing I had consumed for dinner the night before, yum. At 11:00 a.m., the bus arrived in Buenos Aires at the Retiro Bus Station. I grabbed a taxi straight home and arrived by 11:30 a.m. Tony and Alexia were eating breakfast when I arrived, and I joined them to enjoy an egg-in-hole. After a shower and unpacking, the three of us headed out for a late lunch at a hip restaurant in Colegiales, the neighborhood right next to Palermo Hollywood. Tony ordered chicken tenders, and Alexia and I shared beef brisket with potatoes and vegetables. The food was delicious and easily my favorite slice of meat in the country; it brought back memories of Famous Dave’s. Following lunch, Alexia, Tony, and I headed to Rapa Nui. Once there, were learned the terrible news that there was no more chocolate ice cream (absolutely ridiculous for a chocolate store that normally has 6 flavors of chocolate ice cream). We sucked up our pride and ordered dulce de leche and fruit flavors. Full of ice cream and delicious lunch, we headed home. We all relaxed, watched Netflix, and I did a little homework. It ended up being a very enjoyable holiday, Columbus (cultural diversity) Day.

On Tuesday October 11th, it was back to reality after a long weekend filled with mountains and good family time. In the morning, I headed to a long day of class from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. I took the bus to Service Learning class to avoid the subway which is becoming hotter and more humid everyday. During my afternoon break, I loaded up on some strange attempts at asian cuisine, fruits, and veggies while quickly finishing my homework. Gender and writing class filled up the afternoon, and when the day was over, I rushed to the subway to get home to babysit Tony. As soon as I arrived, Alexia left for a dinner with all of her co-workers. I spent the evening with Tony chatting, watching movies, and eating. For dinner, I made us pasta with Alfredo sauce. For dessert, Tony showed me how to use the popcorn popper, and we added a bunch of sugar to make a light kettle corn taste. We ate our popcorn as we watched El Dorado, and about an hour in, Tony was asleep for the night. I quietly cleaned up the house as she slept, and I was in bed asleep just a few hours later.

On Wednesday October 12th, I headed to Human Rights class in the morning after eating a quick breakfast. Class was long and slow, and I forgot to make myself a lunch, which made the time pass even slower. At the end of the three-hour note taking session, I moved down the hall for two more hours of grammar class as my stomach grumbled. As soon as class was finished, I sprinted out of FLACSO towards to Subte. I grabbed some sub par sushi from The Lunch House on my way home and chowed down once comfortable in bed with The Good Wife. In the evening, I fit in a trip to the gym before enjoying a dinner of steak and salad with Alexia.

On Thursday October 13th, I woke up at a reasonable hour, ate breakfast and headed to the gym. In the afternoon, I ate another box of quiche, fruit, and veggies from my favorite pay per kilo lunch spot before heading across the city for conversation class. Class passes quickly because Lucia is a fantastic and hip profesora, and all five of my classmates constantly share amusing anecdotes. Following class, I returned home on the Subte to a quiet apartment. My host mother and host sister attended the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards in the evening, because one of Tony’s friends had a few extra tickets. I always love the chance to cook myself dinner and have the house to myself. I spent the night dancing around the kitchen with the cats while cooking myself a little ham cheese and egg quiche. I also caught up on Skpying the family and, of course, The Good Wife before Tony, drenched in green slime, and Alexia returned home.

On Friday October 14th, I took advantage of my empty day by chilling with the cats and relaxing at home. I skipped the gym due to my end of the week fatigue/overall study abroad laziness and treated myself to a shawarma wrap from Casa Armenia just a few blocks away. I have had shawarma before, but this restaurant was like an Armenian Chipotle. It was absolutely amazing.  In the evening, I hung out around the house with the cats and ate dinner with Alexia. Tony had a weekend of sleepovers at friends’ houses, so the house was a little quieter than usual.

On Saturday October 15th, I woke up slowly to a quiet house. I have grown tired of my expensive brunch rituals and nights out at clubs or bars, so I’ve become much more of a home body. In the morning, I worked on a little homework before heading out to find lunch. For a while, I used Instagram and TripAdvisor to plan every meal. But I have adopted a new “roam and choose” strategy. So far it’s going great. For lunch, I ended up stumbling into a Columbian restaurant a few blocks away. I enjoyed a “Toston” which was really like a fried slab of corn (kind of like the consistency of a tamale) piled with steak, chicken, veggies, and cheese. It was delicious and greasy and reminded me of an inside out enchilada. In the afternoon, I continued hanging out around the apartment with the cats and found the motivation for a quick gym visit, knowing that it would be closed on Sunday.  In the evening, Aleixa, my saintly host mother, suggested we get food from Casa Armenia after my rave reviews of the shawarma the day prior. Together, we walked a few block over and ordered one falafel wrap (alexia’s), one shawarma wrap (I will try something new next time), hummus, and lavash (amazing giant sheets of bread). We brought the food home and indulged ourselves.

On Sunday October 16th, I woke up with a very strong “Treat Yo Self” mentality. This may have stemmed from it being Mother’s Day in Argentina, and my mother being a few thousand miles away. I ate breakfast and hung out around the casa with the cats and Netflix in the morning. In the afternoon, I headed to Fabric, a sushi shop a few blocks down. Once again, I enjoyed an overpriced and mediocre sushi experience. I tried to salvage the day with some ice cream from Freddo on the way home; it worked completely. After the first bite of low sugar Dulce de Leche and strawberry ice cream, the sun was brighter, the sky was bluer, and the flowers more fragrant. I brought my ice cream straight home and headed up to the terrace. I began reading the Goldfinch as I sun bathed and enjoyed my ice cream: paradise. In the evening, I rejoined Tony and Alexia and we ate dinner together.

On Monday October 17th, it was back to the grind again. “The grind,”starts at noon, which doesn’t seem so bad, until you add in the commute. In the morning, I headed to CLAYSS, the nonprofit where I volunteer, to continue researching, hanging with the other intern Maggie, eating cookies, and drinking tea. Overall, quite pleasant. After four hours, we packed up our things, and headed back home. I quickly went to the gym once back in Palermo Hollywood, before dedicating myself to all the homework I had put off. I took a quick break from my work to join Alexia and Tony for dinner.

On Tuesday October 18th, I headed straight for the Subte after breakfast. I was in for another 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. day of class. I decided to make service learning, gender, and writing class a little more enjoyable by treating myself to a Korean feast for lunch. Following the massive Dolsot Bibimbap, I returned to my gender class where we had a sex worker/prostitute as a guest speaker. She was the leader of the Buenos Aires union of sex workers. She talked almost solely about the union and how they are trying to legalize prostitution in the city. One of the largest discrepancies that she talked about was the difference between sex workers and sex trafficking. It was an interesting topic to discuss, leaving my classmates and myself with a new perspective to consider and a lot of doubt. As soon as the lecture ended, I headed to writing class for an exam. At the end of the day, I returned home to Palermo Hollywood. I enjoyed dinner with my host family and headed to bed shortly after eating and doing the dishes.

Another 10 days has passed in the blink of an eye. Although my schedule has been the same for the last three months, I am still finding ways to change my patterns whether it be in public transportation, eating out, or my social life. I appreciate those still following along with my blogs. Although my routine may be mundane at moments, if I don’t write it all down, the memories will fade away. Thank you for another 10 days of support and love from friends and family. More to come soon.