110 Days in Buenos Aires

I have finally passed the milestone that I had been counting down since the start. 100 days have passed, and finally, I feel as if I can stop counting down. I’m not sure why 100 was so important. It might have something to do with counting the days at Sheridan Elementary School, which concluded with a big celebration on the 100th day. Whatever it is, I am living now without so much pressure. I know that I’ve made it so far into my study abroad and that there is still a lot left to experience. I also know that I am just a few weeks away from seeing my family again, and that makes every day spent in Argentina a little more sweet.

The last ten days have been full of planes, wildlife, history, and new foods. I now present part 11 of 10 Days in Buenos Aires.

On Saturday October 29th, I woke up in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, End of the World Territory!! After a breakfast of bread and bread, Paige, Brendan, Maggie, Rosa, and I headed in a shuttle towards the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. We made sure to take pictures with the End of World sign so that no one would be able to deny this travel accomplishment. In the park, we walked down gorgeous trails into the arctic springtime. The wind picked up quickly in the afternoon, and unfortunately, we were unable to finish the last leg of our hike because a storm was rolling in. We were still able to spend the majority of the day hiking around before the weather turned sour. In the evening we went out to a crab dinner and made a necessary stop at our favorite chocolate shop. Additionally, all over the country, museums were free on the 29th of Oct. We took advantage of the offer, and we headed to the Ushuaia Prison Museum. Even in springtime, the prison was dreary and freezing. I can’t imagine that Ushuaia was a prisoner’s first choice. Something about building railroads in the arctic sounds ominous.

On Sunday October 30th, I woke up to my final day at the end of the world. I spent the morning attempting to shop with Maggie, Paige, and Rosa before we realized that all stores were closed on Sunday mornings. We grabbed a quick lunch with Brendan, and then we headed to the airport in the afternoon. The airport only contains one café/bar and one convenience store, so I occupied myself in the hour before boarding with Skype calls to the whole family. Once situated in my window seat, I enjoyed the ham & cheese sandwich and alfajor dinner provided by Aerolineas Argentinas as I journaled and admired the world down below me.

On Monday October 31st, Halloween!!, I headed to my volunteer work at the NGO CLAYSS. I spent the afternoon working on a little translation, eating lunch with the team, and interviewing the founder María Nieves Tapia. In the evening, I returned home to hear of trick-or-treating from Tony. She had gone on the hunt for candy at her aunt’s house, less than an hour outside of the city. The loot was mostly made of hard candies, there was a disappointing ratio of chocolate. Halloween is on the up and coming in the Buenos Aires area, give it ten years, and I can image their pumpkin totes will be overflowing with chocolates, dulce de leche packs, alfajores, and Oreos.

On Tuesday November 1st, I headed to a long day of classes at FLACSO. After my morning service learning class, I grabbed lunch and worked a little on my 100 days blog. In the afternoon, I headed on a wonderful field trip with my Gender class to El Olimpo a site where a small portion of the disappeared people were taken during the military dictatorship. Most of the evidence has been destroyed, but there are still clearly marks of where walls used to be. With the accounts of the survivors, the center has marked where the torture chambers and sleeping chambers would have been. Today the space is dedicated to memory and education. The tour was very interesting but also very unsatisfying. Without the few signs explaining what the purpose of space had been, it seemed only like a covered parking lot. This tragedy occurred only a few decades in the past. It is unsettling that there is so little evidence or knowledge regarding specifics. Part of this may still be due to fear. In the afternoon, I returned to FLACSO for writing class before headed back across town for dinner with my host family.

Wednesday November 2nd was a rainy day in Buenos Aires. I was tempted to skip class to stay out of the humid and clammy public transit, but I overcame the urge and got ready. I arrived at human rights class for another long morning of lecture. After three hours of reiteration of the same few ideas we have been lectured about all semester, I moved down the hall to grammar class. This class is always one of the highlights of my week because it is full of the most essential content to improving my spanish. After class, I headed home and fit in a trip to the gym before homework and dinner time.

On Thursday November 3rd, I spent my lazy morning with the cats and headed to my favorite shawarma restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, I met my conversation class at a historic cafe on Rivadavia. We sat chatting, reading newspapers, and eating snacks. Conversation class is a wonderful mix of six different students. We have so much fun together and there is never a dull moment, which is definitely a result of our wonderful teacher Lucia.

On Thursday November 3rd, I spent my lazy morning with the cats and headed to my favorite shawarma restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, I met my conversation class at a historic cafe on Rivadavia. We sat chatting, reading newspapers, and eating snacks. Conversation class is a wonderful mix of six different students. We have so much fun together and there is never a dull moment, which is definitely a result of our wonderful teacher Lucia.

On Friday November 4th, I walked all the way from my house in Palermo Hollywood to ChinaTown. The walk is very pleasant through part of Colegiales and into a very wealthy part of Belgrano. Once on ChinaStreet, if I am being honest about the magnitude, I stopped into my favorite Thai restaurant because my craving for Pad Thai had gone unsatisfied for much too long. After lunch, I searched through seven or eight of the largest Chinese supermarkets for Sriracha and had absolutely no success. I also had plans to buy ingredients to make my own pad thai, but gave up once I realized the price of the ingredients was much more than what a restaurant charges. Before passing under the ChinaTown walkway on my way home, I grabbed a Melona strawberry popsicle after hearing such rave reviews. I also grabbed a fried chicken kabob for Tony because she had told me that they are her favorite the night prior. On my way home, I stopped into a flea market just a few blocks from my house. I quickly realized the market specialized in furniture, but I enjoyed  window shopping regardless. In the evening, I hung out with my host family and turned in early.

On Saturday November 5th, I enjoyed breakfast and headed to the gym in the morning. In the afternoon, I ventured to the local supermarket and bought myself a rotisserie chicken, lettuce, avocado, and strawberries. I enjoyed a very cheap and healthy meal before heading up to the terrace to catch some rays and read. Summer came quickly to Buenos Aires, and on a cloudless day, I can stand about 20 minutes in the sunlight before I must return to the shade: sweaty, exhausted, and with my freckles a little more prominent. In the evening, I began to prepare for the final essays, presentations, and tests looming in the weeks to come.

On Sunday November 6th, I headed a few blocks over to Palermo Soho for the feria (market) at Plaza Serrano. There I enjoyed my first pulpusa stuffed with chicken, avocado, and cheese as I shopped around past the artsy stands of wallets, mates, and knickknacks. I ended up finding a few presents for family and friends, and something for myself as well. As I walked back to my house, I passed by a new park that has just been finished. It feels crazy that I’ve been living here long enough to see the start and end of construction projects. At this point, I’ve called Palermo Hollywood home for four months already, and I have watched new restaurants, hair salons, and apartments pop up all around me. In the evening, I continued my homework and hung out with Alexia and Tony.

On Monday November 7th, I headed back across town on the 151 colectivo to Almagro to volunteer at CLAYSS. I continued working on translation projects and also began creating a Wikipedia page for the founder of the organization. The afternoon passed quickly especially because I normally spend an hour eating lunch and chatting with the team. Following my volunteering, I returned home and made a quick stop at the gym before dinner with Tony and Alexia.

I have been so lucky to spend 110 days in this amazing city and to have the opportunity to jet off to cities thousands of miles away for the weekend. Although I continue to miss home, I am realizing that I have a home in Palermo Hollywood now too. Someday soon, I will be missing this home with my host mother Alexia, sister Tony, domestic worker Anita, and the cats Dharma and Om. Thank you for tuning in for another update into my life in Buenos Aires. I am sending love to friends and family far away, and I so look forward to being reunited soon.