I am so sorry all my beautiful people back in the US (and possibly The Netherlands as well) that I have totally slacked on my blog updates! Things got so busy and so exciting that I kept meaning to write, and then it got to the point where I am now that I don’t even know where to start.
But start I will!
First of all, I absolutely love Buenos Aires.
Since I last wrote:
I joined the soccer team officially. I had my first game the day after I wrote my last post, and it was amazing. To finally be able to get back into sports after being out of physical activity completely for 2 years is a feeling too great to describe in words. Sports had been my outlet for my whole life, and to have the ability to play them taken away devastated me. I never got over it (as my mother can vouch for—thanks for listening to me cry about wanting to cheer or play soccer for the past 2 years!) Soccer here is so much fun. It’s awesome because it’s a way I can get to make Argentine friends, which can be hard when I’m constantly surrounded by Americans. The girls are so sweet, and I’m so happy to be a part of the team.
I’ve also gone to a few Ferias. They are these big markets on Sundays where people sell tons of homemade stuff from jewelry, journals, tea boxes, tons of leather products, scarves, and any souvenirs you could think of, painted beautifully with scenes typical to Buenos Aires. It’s kind of the thing to do on Sundays since there’s not too much else open.
As far as landmark places I’ve been to, I visited the El Ateneo bookstore. It used to be a theatre and then they transformed it into a huge bookstore, and they even still have some box seats in there where you can sit and read for as long as you’d like. I bought two books in Spanish, one is a book full of over 250 of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and brief descriptions of where she was, what she was doing, and what provoked her to paint them. (Thanks Dr. McCutcheon for sparking my interest in her!) I also bought the book Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks in Spanish, Un Lugar Donde Refugiarse. It’s beautiful in there:
I also went to La Boca! The neighborhood of Buenos Aires always depicted in paintings and such with all of the bright colored houses. I went with two of my friends from school because we had to do a presentation on a specific neighborhood in BA and we chose La Boca. It was quite the experience. To be honest, I’m not really that big of a fan. It was packed with tourists and people constantly offering you this or that, for a tip. I wouldn’t mind if the tango dancers in La Boca danced and set out a hat for money (like the rest of the street performers in the world do), but in La Boca they wait until people walk by and then ask them if they want to take a picture with them, for money, or if they want to see them dance, for money. They’re just extremely pushy to the tourists there, to the point where it became really uncomfortable. The neighborhood itself minus the people is beautiful though. All of the houses are so bright and multicolored, and there are a lot of interesting things to see. Unfortunately, La Boca is only about 2 streets of safe area, and beyond that it’s a pretty dangerous place to be. We went to the Feria there as well but it was tiny, there were only about 20 tents, maybe less. There are a ton of shops though, some of which are inside a row of the bright colored buildings, so it almost feels like you’re walking into someone’s house instead of into a store.
My friends Zach, Aaron and I!
Zach and I!
In other exciting news—LAST WEEK WAS MY BIRTHDAY! July 4th! It was the first birthday that I’ve ever had school on, and also a midterm. But the rest of the day was amazing. One of my brothers and I went to this café called Tea Connection and had deserts and tea with two girls who also live in the house.
After that he and I went to Palermo (which is a giant, possibly the biggest neighborhood in BA) and walked around for a while. We explored a ton and stumbled across two art galleries. Both of which invited us to showings, with wine! (Not that I like wine but it makes me sound refined.) In one of the galleries, the lady who runs in let us into the back room where they store all of the paintings the will or have been shown in the main gallery. It was full of beautiful artwork, and we spent a significant chunk of time exploring.
Since I’ve been here I’ve stumbled across so many little art galleries just by walking around, and each time we’ve rang the doorbell and everyone has been so welcoming in letting us see inside.
After the art galleries we found this really awesome, borderline vintage-looking bookstore. It was pretty big inside, and reminded me of Rustbelt bookstore in Allentown magnified by 5. They had some funky sections, and really interesting books that you wouldn’t find at a normal bookstore. There was a little café in the back, and some good indie music playing. We then went an explored this store that sells the most random, possibly useless, and quirky gadgets. They have these stores all around in the city, and they are just hilarious. For example, they sell watches that have the wrong time on them, with no numbers, and giant clips that clip to a table and serve as a cup holder. They’re so fun, and every time I see one I can’t stop myself from going in. After that we went and looked around this tiny music store for a bit before heading home.
After dinner that night my host parents both walked into the kitchen and without saying anything shut off all the lights and brought out a giant lemon pie with this pretty, fluffy frosting on top with two candles in it, and started singing happy birthday to me in Spanish. The whole family (all 10 of them) joined in and sang to me! It was seriously the highlight of my birthday, not only because it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten, but because they made it a point to do something special for me—something families do for each other.
After dinner my brothers and I went out, and danced and laughed non-stop all night long with a bunch of my other friends from school and such (well until 1:30 when Nico and I got tired and went home).
Zach, Manuel (one of my brothers), JJ, and I! (Don't fret all, I was 100% sober)
Birthday (: There's water in the cup!
In conclusion, my birthday was amazing.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, on July 9th (Argentina’s independence day) my friends and I went to play… POLO! Like the kind on horses! It was a day long extravaganza.
First, we had to take a shuttle about 45/50 minutes outside of the city of BA, to a polo club. When we got there we got a little background on the game of polo, while being fed endless empanadas and wine (of which I didn’t drink, but again, just mentioning it makes me feel refined). I must note, the empanadas were the absolute BEST empanadas I’ve had here, no doubt.
After that we got to watch a professional polo game, play around a bit with the mallets, and take pictures with the players and the horses. (While we were taking the pictures the horse I was standing next to keep putting his face on me, searching desperately for my attention.) After the game we had an asado (barbeque) lunch, which is so typical to Argentina. It’s also what we have every Sunday. They had tons and tons of meat, (of which I didn’t eat) lots of salad, fried vegetables, and my favorite, BREAD! The bread here is magical.
After lunch we hung out for a while and then suited up, and got on the horses! In typical Argentinean fashion, they just threw people on horses, who may never have ridden before, or have only ridden once or twice, and hoped that they figured it out. Of course, being the nervy mcgurvy that I am, I was terrified. They put me on the biggest horse there, Gaucho, and I haven’t ridden a horse in 10 years. I didn’t know how to control him, or anything. He just started walking and I was freaking out. Gaucho decided that he wasn’t going to stay inside the polo field, nope, he was going to do his own thing, walk out of the field into a giant path of mud. We were walking slowly but I was freaking out, yelling “AYUDAME, AYUDAME, SOMEBODY HELP MEEEE!” Neither language worked. FINALLY, after Gaucho decided to just stop in the mud, someone came over to me and explained how to turn him around. At that point, I was done, and almost in tears. I told one of the people who worked there that I wanted to get off, I was so scared. But the guy just grabbed Gaucho and led him around with me on him. That I was totally fine with because we were going at such a nice, crawling, speed.
Since it was pouring out, we couldn’t play polo, so they decided to take us riding through a lagoon instead! But, the guy wasn’t allowed to lead me over there, so I had to go on my own. Gaucho and I started to get along much better. I learned how to make him turn, stop, and even trot! We trotted a bit on the trail over to the lagoon, but after like five seconds of trotting I would get scared because it felt so fast. Once we got to the lagoon, all the horses (like 20 of them) all galloped together through the water. Because Gaucho was with all of his friends, he wasn’t about to listen to me, so gallop we did! Which was terrifying, but at the same time pretty awesome. The second time we ran through the lagoon I turned him around so he couldn’t see his friends and run with them, and once they were through, him and I turned around and trotted on through.
My babe Gaucho and I!
Trying to warm up after riding!
By the end of riding, we were all completely soaked, head to toe. We huddle around a fire for maybe 30 minutes or so, drinking tea and trying to dry our clothes. It was such an amazing day. It was so much fun, slightly terrifying, but an experience I will absolutely never forget. Since it was raining (pouring) and we didn’t get to play polo, we get to go back for free and play when it’s better weather!
I think my favorite thing about Buenos Aires are the cafes. There are SO MANY cafes, one every 20 feet it seems. We go to a different one everyday. They're so nice to just go hang out with friends in, study some Spanish, and drink some really good tea. Last week my brothers and I found this really cute, kind of fancy cafe with really good Lindt hot chocolate. Here:
Nico and I!
Okay, I think that's sufficient for now! I'll update in a few days about all the other things I've been up to, and how my Spanish is coming along!
P.S. I don't have time to edit this because I have to get to a museum (for class) soon, so I'm sorry if there are tons of typos, or awkward sentences!
Hugs to you all!