Buenos Aires, Argentina
This post is a mix of writing that I did over a month ago. I seem to be a big fan of writing little bits of stories and never the whole thing. However, given that I haven't posted a blog since I was living in Cordoba (two months ago) I figure I'd better post whatever I have even despite its still being rough and insufficiently edited. Oh well. More coming soon... (but for real this time.)
Yesterday Phoebe and I decided to visit the Botanical Gardens in the Palermo Barrio. We’ve been planning on making this trip for a while but have been putting it off until the weather improved a bit. Yesterday, despite the cloudy sky was warm and the wind was only strong in contrast to its usual vicious so Phoebe skyped to let me know that I should look sharp for an afternoon trip to the gardens. Now I know it may come as a surprise to anyone who knows me even a little bit, but I wasn’t feeling very excited about going to the botanical gardens. It’s true that I’m generally very happy that Phoebe keeps on me to get out and see new parts of the city on the weekends and also that the botanical gardens have been my most anticipated tourist destination. That said, when I woke up on Sunday, I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to make breakfast (not even my favorite- plain yogurt with a whole banana, apple and granola), I didn’t want to skype with my friend, didn’t want to hand wash all my undergarments, and I most certainly didn’t want to get all the way to the Botanical gardens. This, my friends, is what I’ve elected to call the traveler’s slump.
Now for anyone that reads Phoebe’s blog, it’s old news that we did end up going to the botanical gardens and even spending the whole day with a computer programmer from Mexico who asked me directions on my way to meet Phoebe. The day was incredible, and apart from stabbing myself in the hand with a pocket knife, turned out way better than I could have anticipated.
There are so many wonderful things about this trip. I love the picnics in the park with Phoebe, the people we meet on the street, and the totally unanticipated adventures. Still the inevitable frustrations also occur. One of the things I was looking forward to the most about this trip was the opportunity to immerse myself in Argentine culture. I realize that the phrase “the opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture” is probably the most abused slogan in the business of international travel and even more overused with study abroad and exchange programs. Still, cliques are cliques for a reason, and this stilted mantra was still a big motivator for studying abroad. Sadly, it seems that meeting Argentines and getting away from American popular culture and people is a lot more difficult than we ever expected. Our classes are all taught in Spanish, but the percentage of Spanish speakers in them is very small and none of these people are from Argentina. Instead, the vast majority of my encounters with hispanohablantes have been completely accidental. I’ve met these people at bars, looking for bars, asking directions, giving directions (yay), or crammed on the subway. With these people I’ve played Spanish card games, gone to cafes, discussed LA politics, had picnics, and attended the Buenos Aires Fashion week. Each time, no matter the topic of conversation, I always leave with a lovely feeling of accomplishment. It’s amazing how in English a conversation that hit the basic small talk topics can make me fall asleep, while an identical, if somewhat sloppier, one in Spanish can fill me with a bubble of satisfaction so big I could burst. The problem is, these conversions, the ones that last over 20 minutes and can make me so gosh darn happy, don’t happen very often. Additionally, when they do, they are generally one time events where after a nice talk the stranger needs to fly to Mexico, head back to their house on the outskirts of BA, or back off because they’ve gotten the wrong idea of what it means when an American girl has a conversation with them....
Don't worry, I'll post again much sooner, with the happy news that I've left the traveler's slump. Whoop whoop!