Thursday, June 26, 2008

¡Que Bueno!

Hola amigos. Hoy es dia siete en Argentina para mi y oficialmente he estado aqui para una semana ahora. Voy a celebrar con tratando escribir esta entrada en espaƱol- bueno, parte de la entrada. Lo siento, pero no se como usar el keyboard y obteno tilas (accentos). Con esperanza, van a comprender todavia. Voy a admitar, estoy usando un diccionario para algunas palabras, pero muy poco. Hasta ahora, estoy habiendo un tiempo fantastico aqui. Creo que mi espanol es mejor y viviendo con una familia me permiti a saber la cultura de Argentina y Buenos Aires. Aunque todavia necesito mejorar y mas rapido, estoy gozando mi tiempo aqui y viviendo la vida de Argentina.

Alright, the above is probably riddled with errors, but hopefully those who know spanish can still understand. Now in English...
I've been here a week now and I feel pretty adjusted to the Argentinian lifestyle. Especially after the stressful and fast-paced spring quarter I left behind, my days here are a nice change. I have the chance to really enjoy where I'm at and the people I'm around without worrying about some deadline, responsiblity, or how to be more efficient with my time. Sure, it's basically summer break for me, but I think it has to do with this lifestyle too. For example, we sit down to eat for every meal (except breakfast sometimes because I have to get to class) and just talk. I'm pretty used to eating on the go- lunch on the bus from Harborview to class- but here we set the table for lunch, tea, and dinner. They basically have four meals here: for tea there is coffee and tea with small snacks and then dinner really late around 9pm.

I love the kitchen, mostly because the maid Marina is in there most of the time. She's from Peru and one of the first persons I felt welcomed by when I arrived. She's this wonderfully cheery, petite woman who has an enourmous amount of patience with me. I didn't see her these past few days because I've been at school when she comes, but today when I got the chance to talk with her again I realized how much my comprehension has improved. The first couple times talking with her, I was completely lost and got by with hand gestures. But today I definitely understood her. It's nice to get some reassurance that I'm improving, especially when a lot of conversations make me doubt myself. Anyway, she and I share bits and pieces of our lives with each other and she is showing me how to cook some delicious Argentinian dishes. I'm definitely bringing some recipes home like you asked Mom! Mmmmm....

Tomorrow we're headed for the countryside to see another part of Buenos Aires. I think we'll get to ride horses, so I'll definitely let you know how that goes. Last night some of us ventured out to San Isidro and attended a tango class. Yep, you read that right. It was absolutely fantastic as we stumbled our ways through steps and tried to dance as smoothly as possible. The setting was perfect and exactly what you imagine a night of learning the tango in Argentina would be like. It was upstairs in a sort of studio/villa like area, small but cozy, with a boombox playing music on a chair in the corner. Because we came with about 8 people, the class was too big for the space inside. So we split into two groups: beginners (us) and advance, and switched back and forth dancing outside where lanterns were strung up and the stars shined above. Alright, I just had to add the stars for effect, but really it was quite the perfect atmosphere and tons of fun.
I was talking with Chichi earlier and she started telling me about a house Diego has in Cadoba in the countryside where there are beautiful views of the mountains. It sounds really nice and she asked said if I want to go with Marie, we can work something out. I'm excited if we can spend a weekend there, I really would like to see other parts of the country. Ok, there's so much more I want to write about, but I should be going to sleep. I guess it'll just have to wait until next time. The pictures below are from a boat ride we took yesterday on the Rio de la Plata, where a bunch of little islands have formed and have become 'get-aways' from the city center. It was a nice ride, but I think it'd be sweet if we could kayak/canoe like a bunch of people were doing. Bueno, ¡buenas noches mis amigos!
Casa de Domingo F. Sarmiento turned into a museum/'preserved' in glass on one of the islands

Marie and I on the boat

Have to give one picture of a view from the top Oh, and can I just say how much I love this dog?! His name is Bruno- mi amor!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just wanted to share a cool picture from the plane ride. I'll post most on picasa:

We didn't do much during the first day of class, it really begins tomorrow. Today was all introductions and a tour of the campus- which is small but really pretty. I finally saw the rest of the group for the first time and I think we definitely took advantage of speaking freely in English. Well there's not much else to say about today except that we all had a really long lunch on the water.

Yesterday I went to an asado (bbq) with Maria. We sat outside and it was sooo cold but the food was good and it was interesting to see another side of Buenos Aires. We went to her cousin's house who lives more in the country side where people basically own small estates. There was a pool, tennis court, and separate house for their grandpa but it was all very, very old- I can just imagine how grand it must have been in the past. Got to talk with tons of new people and even held my own for a while.

The day before was pretty lazy and we just stayed around the house most of the day. Spent more time with Maria and met some of her friends. Friday we went to a cousin's confirmation where the entire cathedral was packed. It was beautiful inside and the singing was lovely. Afterwards we went to their house to celebrate and I met a bunch of the family. They have tons of girls in this family and all around the same age. The conversation was silly a lot of the time and they just cracked me up.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And so it begins...

I've made it safe and sound to my host family. The trip took about 22 hours total, 15 in the air and the remaining due to layovers and delays. Still have a bit of a cough, but hopefully that will go away within the next few days...

It's raining here today, but I guess it's the first time in a while. I was told the farmers have been praying for it- reminds me of Seattle actually. The weather is very similar to what I just left behind; at least I have that bit of familiarity. As most of you know my spanish has plenty of room to improve and I have been struggling to communicate the moment I stepped off the plane. I knew this was going to be hard, especially at the beginning. Already I have already experienced moments of despair in trying to understand and be understood, but I guess the only way to go from here is up.

On the flight from Houston to Buenos Aires I sat next to an old woman returning home from visiting her family in the states. We talked for a while (yes, in English) and I asked her what Buenos Aires is like, her immediate response was: "It's dirty- it is a dirty city". I thought she would follow with: "but still beautiful" and instead, she told me "but everybody loves the city where they come from." Now I'm sitting here wondering what my impression of Buenos Aires and Argentina will be. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, no?

The house is really cute and I have a nice room. Chichi has been so patient with me as we try to communicate. I met a couple of her friends who came over for lunch and it was really fun to laugh over my attempts at Spanish and theirs at English. It's only my first day here and I've been fed so much: gnocchi, empenadas, and this sweet caramel-like treat called dulce de leche. My host sister has already told me to reserve Sunday for a barbecue with her friends where I will eat some of Argentina's infamous asados.

Well, I'm looking forward to get out and about tomorrow. Plan on going to see la universidad and buy a sim card for my phone, maybe pick up a few books. Promise to keep this updated and upload pictures too. Buenas noches mis amigos.