Wow, I can’t believe that it’s already my 3rd week here in Buenos Aires. In fact, I must say, I have two very different feelings about here. At times I feel that I am very much used to everything and that I have lived here for quite a while and some other times the fact that I am so faraway from things that I am used to, family and friends frightens me. As much as I miss all of my friends and ‘peeps’ (), I needed some time off my life in the US. My mom always tell me that people sometimes need to be away from what they have to be able to appreciate their life again. Enough of me and my feelings… Let’s talk about Argentina, the language and my experiences as an exchange student:
First of all I have to tell you some funny stories:
1) So here there are VERY many locutorios all over the place. They are kind of like internet cafés and you can also make long distance phone calls in these stores. They also sell gums, water and juice and some snacks. Believe it or not, they are also sometimes Lavenderia, which is something in between laundry rooms and dry-cleaning places. So yeah, all of these things go on at the same time and in the same place. Using the internet is very cheap in these places, something like 50 argentine cents for half an hour. Yeah, so I use these internet cafés a lot, especially because you could find at least three cafés in every block. The first time I went to one of these locutorios, I used the computer for about 45 minutes and the whole time I was scared that it will be very expensive. When I went to pay, the guy at the cashier said, “70 cents” and the retard that I am, I thought he said 70 pesos. So I got nervous and started to dig into my bag, looking for more money. And when I realized that I didn’t have enough money, I started to talk to this man in a VERY broken Spanish. I tried very hard to tell him that I have to go to the ATM and get more cash, that I am from Iran, that I live in the United States. I told him how I am very new in Buenos Aires and that I am clueless about everything in this city. The whole time this young man was looking at me without even trying to understand what I was trying to say. So, finally while I was still talking in broken Spanish (as they call it here, Castellano), he looked at my hand that was full of all sorts of coins and took 70 cents from my hand. I stopped talking, looked at him blankly. He looked the other way and said, “Chao”. I left the locutorio cover in sweat….I was embarrassed, tired and disappointed with my Spanish and yet happy that I didn’t have to pay 70 pesos for having checked my emails.
2) One of my friends from Oberlin is in this exchange program with me and the two of us have been hanging out a lot. So one day, my friend, J and a few other friends and I decided to go to the zoo. Of course, the zoo had closed by the time we finally found the zoo. Instead, we went to the Japanese restaurant which turned out to be the size of the backyard of a house. Though, we had a lot of funny being all ridiculous about what we had encountered instead of a Japanese Garden. We decided to go to lunch and after having walked for a long time we found this place that had all sorts of food, salads, pizza, pasta and etc. So the waiter comes to get our orders. J wanted to order appetizer, but she couldn’t remember how to say ‘appetizer’ in Spanish. She decided to ask whether they have something for ‘picar’ which is something like snack. Instead, she said to the waiter confidently, “tenes algo para pescar?”. You had to see the waiter’s face. A girl asking him whether he has anything for fishing in the restaurant. Finally this other friend of ours who is fluent in Spanish intervened and fixed the situation by apologizing from the waiter and explaining to him what J was trying to say.
3) Last weekend, we went to Pinamar which is beach city 5 hours away from Buenos Aires. Ten of us in the program decided to get on the bus at 1am on Friday (well, Saturday morning) and we got to Pinamar at 6 am. So I came home Friday night, told my host mom about the trip and very quickly got ready for the trip. While I was walking towards J’s house to get her and go to the bus terminal with her, I passed by a 24-7 pharmacy and remembered that I need lotion. I walked in the pharmacy, passed by a security guard and went to look for lotion. After a while, I realized that someone was tapping me on the shoulder. I turned around and sure enough it was the security guard. He pointed to the big red bag pack on my back and said something. Of course I did not understand what he said. I only understood the word ‘mochila’ for bag. I smiled at him, nodded and pointed to my mochila just the way he had and kind of tried to ignore him. But he tapped me on my shoulder again and walked me towards the entrance door of the pharmacy and left to talk to the cahier. Well, here I was standing at the front of the pharmacy, which my bag in my hand. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t really know. He turned back and pointed towards something. He was clearly trying to show me something. I walked towards the shopping baskets at the door and slowly put my bag in the shopping basket and started to look it, thinking that what I did, putting my own bag in the shopping basket at the entrance door, was not making any sense. “This is not sensible. Why would a security guard ask you to put your bad here? It will get stolen this way. It will be more work for him….”, I thought to myself. Finally I gave in, took my wallet out and left the bag in the basket. I walked towards the security guard, pointed to the basket and my bag and said to him, “ senor, mochila alla, esta bien?” and he said, “ no, claro que no” and of course both the cashier and the security guard thought I was a crazy person having escaped from an asylum or something. He grabbed my bag, took it to the locker at the corner of the store that was especially designed for customers so that people don’t walk around with big bags in the store. Once again after buying the lotion, I walked out of the store all sweaty and embarrassed, but then I told the story to my friends in a very theatrical way and we laughed so much at ME that we couldn’t breathe anymore…Oh, Espanol…definitely not my strongest skill in life! So now whenever my friends see me, they say, “hola ¿Mochila? Si?” (hi. Bag pack?yes?) and laugh…
4) Also, people make out A LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT on the streets of Buenos Aires. It’s unreal. I feel like such a dogmatic and conservative person for saying that, but honestly it’s not the most pleasant thing to see random people make out so openly. People make out everywhere…on the bus, in metro stations, every single corner on the sidewalks of main avenues…not just that, but they also decide to stop in the middle of the sidewalk during rush hour and make out. I swear, I am all about pubic display of affection. Why not? But seriously what I see here is toooooooo much. It’s not only me. My friends who are in this program with me are not used to seeing this many people make out everywhere in the city either. It might be that America is, in fact, pretty conservative in that sense.
That was an informative digression… I was going to tell you a story related to this make out situation here. Last weekend when we were in the bus terminal to go to this beach city, Pinamar we saw two dogs making out and being all touchy touchy in the terminal. They were kissing hardcore…So, when J turned back and faced this scene, she said loudly in English, “oh my god, even dogs make out here. That is crazy”. And all of a sudden people in the terminal, especially couples who were watching these dogs and being all romantic looked at us, the group of young American who were laughing at the Argentine dogs. I don’t think they liked the fact that we were so amused by this scene…But I actually really think these two dogs were madly in love.
We were getting on the bus to go to Pinamar
Hmmm, I left this entry unfinished and went to a bar with my friends. I just got back. It’s 4 am and since I have been walking under the rain for the past hour and that I am kind of tipsy, I will peace out and will tell you the rest Mañana. Chao…
p.s. My first class of this semester starts tomorrow at 8:30 pm and ends at 23:30. How odd, no? Also they use military time in here. What time is it? It’s twenty three o’clock. Haha, I can never get used to this military time business.
p.s. my dear friends, I miss you all MUCHooooooooooooooooo.