I've only been in Buenos Aires for two days, but already I'm getting accustomed to the city (Spanish comes in handy). I live in a residencia, kind of like a student boarding house, with the 7 other students from CofC who are here. Other international students will come soon, but it's nice for now with just us here because it allows space to get to know each other. The beds are clean, the water is hot, and the food is cooked by three Argentine women who smile brilliantly like the poor, but happy people in Anthropology and Sociology videos. When we go in to the comedor (dining area), they greet us: "Buenos, mi amor," for example. That's one thing I've noticed about the people I've met so far: they are content. For example, yesterday evening I introduced myself to the night watch lady (yes, we have one here, even though we have keys to get in) and I was trying to be laid back with her, so I asked how long her shift is, and whether or not it gets boring. She said something like, "Oh, que no! It's a pleasure to be here with you all." The people here are calm; the go about their lives without the types of life-concerning thoughts Americans have. Of course I only say this from the porteños (dwellers in BA) I've observed, and the few I've talked to. I went to the kiosco to get a gaseosa (soda), and ended up in conversation with the owner, Luis. He asked me about Massachusetts ("How far is it from Philadelphia?"); "Four hours? Five hours?" I said, not really knowing. He said his English is poor, I disagreed...I won't say what he said next, because you would probably misunderstand the tone of the interaction......okay, fine, I'll tell ya. He said that he needs "una linda chica" to practice [English] with.
I've been to Argentina before, so I often incorrectly expect that others are familiar with it. A few tidbits: Argentina has Ushuaía, the world's southernmost city. Think glaciers, penguins, whales, and Darwin. The clothing company Patagonia is named after the region of the same name that stretches from Chile to Argentina.. This is what Patagonia's website says about the region:
"To most people, especially then, Patagonia was a name like Timbuktu or Shangri-La, far-off, interesting, not quite on the map. Patagonia brings to mind, as we once wrote in a catalog introduction, 'romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors.'"
I want to go to Patagonia because of its incredible scenery, outdoor sports, indigenous peoples, and on-the-edge-of-the-face-of-the-earth reputation. It would take 36 hours on the bus from BA to Ushuaía, and the cost of the fare is $60/way. TO GET TO THE END OF THE EARTH!!!! (Besides Antarctica, of course.) We (some students from the group) may go during Spring Break...vamos a ver (we'll see).
Anyways, it's 1:51am here, and I have to get up in the morning to meet the authorities from the Jewish soup kitchen.
P.S. More to come soon! Thinking of Massachusetts and Charleston...