So let’s see, still behind a bit, but I’ll try to include everything eventually.
On Thursday after orientation they took us on a tour of the city on one of those big, double-decker buses that scream “I’m a tourist, look at me!” but hey, it was fun. We went around all the big sight-seeing spots and there was an automated commentary timed along with each stop. Buenos Aires is truly a beautiful city. The architecture is stunning and elegant, there so much green from all of the many plazas and tree-lined avenues and the profusion of houseplants on every balcony and windowsill. There are dozens of monuments and statues scattered all over the city that are gifts from various countries and monarchs and such. So anyway, I decided to bring out the digital slr for this and in the midst of all these lovely sights and perfect photo ops I was happily snapping away. I must have taken about a hundred or so photos before realizing, to my utter chagrin, that I had left the memory card in my other camera. *sigh* Yep, that’s the kind of thing I do when I travel. Whether it’s leaving my passport in a Kinkos the day I’m supposed to fly to Honduras or locking the keys in the car at the Grand Canyon, I never fail to add a bit of a challenge to travel. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photos of the city by the end of 5 months, so no big loss, but it means the good pictures will be a bit delayed.
Anyway, Friday we moved in to our apartments. The program did an amazing job of finding everyone a wonderful, comfortable living situation with either a family or in a shared apartment, an mine is truly amazing. The place is huge with high ceilings and beautiful art and decorations and apparently there’s even a maid who comes regularly. My room is a super cute split-level with the bed and some shelves upstairs and the closet/cabinets, desk, and a big cozy chair downstairs with two huge windows providing light to both levels. It’s quite a change from the “anything goes” living conditions of my student co-op in Berkeley, but a welcome change indeed.
The woman who owns the apartment is named Florencia, or Flor, and she’s a 27-year-old, single photographer who was actually away on a business trip this week but gets back tomorrow. I have another American apartment-mate too, Vina, from Seattle who’s here getting a TOEFL certification and hoping to work as an English teacher abroad while pursuing her writing career. She’s really nice and we get along better than I could have ever hoped. She says Flor is really cool too, so I’m looking forward to meeting her tomorrow.
Yesterday Expanish organized a day trip to the town of Tigre on the river delta, which I mentioned in the last post, and we had a nice time wandering around and taking the boat tour. Funnily enough, when I was on the boat looking out across the muddy brown water at the different houses and people along the banks, it was the first time I truly felt like I was in Latin America. The main city is such a cosmopolitan place with such beautiful and impressive neighborhoods that one can easily forget they’re in a third-world country at all.
Anyway, last night I went out with Vina and some of her Porteño (Argentine) friends to this fancy restaurant/club in Puerto Madero and that is an entry all in itself to be written at a later date, but some highlights include:
A dress code
Hiding that we were foreign to avoid a hefty cover charge
VIP seating, drinks included
Trying the unique Argentine drink called Fernet
Dinner starting at 11, dancing starting at 2am and finally leaving after the sun had come up around 6
Hearing Porteños sing along to Lady Gaga phonetically