Monday, February 2, 2009

Finally there is rain in Buenos Aires...and "Internship"

I am sitting in the common room of my Residencia. The rain is coming down slower than it was earlier this evening. I want to turn on Pandora or iTunes or Purevolume, but I think it will be better to sit here and write with the sounds of water dripping down on the sidewalk and cars buzzing down the street.

I signed up for a "special assignment abroad" for credit towards a Spanish major, so today I started my assignment in the kitchen of a Jewish center. Lunch is served daily for people who qualify, for financial or social reasons. The cook Christina has fine hair and wrinkles that betray her 56 years. She was patient, carefully explaining and re-explaing what she was doing in simpler Spanish. Much of the food in Argentina is artesenal (homemade), not packaged. She made delicious rolls and pasta (not homemade, however) with white sauce. I helped with the cooking, but no one would let me wash the dishes or do any other cleaning.

Originally I was hesitant to do this assignment because the guy in charge of the CofC program wants me to go from 8:30am-1:30pm every Monday. I imagined myself very bored of five hours of cooking pasta with white sauce on a weekly basis. Luckily, Christina said that I should come no earlier than 10am (she said she would not tell anyone of our agreement). I loved talking in Spanish with Christina about Argentina and family, and it was interesting to charlar (informally converse) with the other two women volunteers, who in the dining room asked me if I minded the smell of cigarettes. I lied and told them I didn't mind. Like most Argentines, they were absurdly tan. I could guess their age as 60 or 65 because of their wrinkles, but their sun-loving bodies may have aged badly. One of the ladies said that she had been to the states 10 times with her stockbroker husband, who often had to descend the 50+ stories of NY skyscrapers to find a place to smoke a cigarette.

The recipients of the lunch program were not especially friendly or appreciative, as if they were accustomed to the daily homemade meals that were carefully prepared for them. Unlike most Argentines that I've seen (besides the ones at the "Chinese" buffets) who eat slowly and with awareness, they ate in less than 25 minutes. In the end I was glad that I had gone, even though it was not the mental health center or environmental agency that I had requested to work with last week.

The rain is once again coming down hard, and its sound softens my tired body on the overstuffed, flowery couch. The others are scattered; some live in the other residencia, some went to find food, etc. But I am just fine listening to the rain fall.


Kristen said...

"he said i should come no earlier than 10am."

i like her immediately. please keep me abreast of your conversations with Christina.

It was good to hear your voice m'dear. Im sorry the conversation was spotchy, but I'm still glad you called.

Anonymous said...

I loved the last much mood

Brooke said...

I think what you are doing (helping in a Jewish center for low income people) is amazing. How good is to have the chance to help other people abroad, learning a laguage and getting to know another cultuere. That is pretty intense to me. When I went to Argentina I rented a buenos aires apartment and knew the city as a tourist. Now I wish I had done it in a different way, like being with the people and knowing really how they feel. The good thing is that I travelled around the whole country, so the beautiful landscapes I did not miss.