I'll try to keep the posts short on words and heavy on pictures so you can quickly get a feel for what I'm up to! I'll be spending most of the semester in Santiago, Chile but I'll let you know when I check out other cool places!
Monday, November 15, 2010
I guess the name of my new blog will be... Adventures in Argentina!
PerThe view from my window in Buenos Aires, Argentina
In the Chilean airport we said goodbye to Pisco, the Chilean hard alcohol of choice, and headed off for our two week excursion to explore Buenos Aires and the Argentinian system of education.
I arrived a day later, after a traditional Argentinian restaurant, overviews of safety, life, and education, and a tour of a few important places in the city at my new home. It is lovely.
My host mom loves decorating, and what was originally a normal apartment is now full of life and art (she added that adorable brick wall to the kitchen for example). It has three rooms. This is the kitchen/dining room, you've seen the bedroom...
And here's the living room.
Claire, my roommate from last year, is also studying abroad here and showed me around the ferias, awesome street fairs that go on all over the cities on Saturday and Sunday.
My house is close to the "rio", meaning river, which is more like a giant bay leading to the ocean, between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay.
We visited schools for "re-ingreso" (re-entry) because the desertion rate between primary and secondary school in Argentina is over 50%. Schools like this one offer an opportunity and different learning environment to kids who didn't make it through the normal public school system. Most have socialist/communist political leanings.
And this one also runs a radio station and a small independent newspaper. Casey was on air for a few minutes explaining what we were doing here in Buenos Aires.
We got to meet one of the madres (mothers) from the Plaza de Mayo, who march every Thursday in honor and memory of the children who disappeared during the dictatorship, as well as run an organization that does everything from social work to political statements/organizing. She is 96 years old and very active.
And I discovered that Santiago wasn't quite that big a city after all :). Buenos Aires is home to almost 13 million people.
Nestor Kirchner, ex-president and husband of the current president, passed away during our first week here. Within hours a giant demonstration was organized and signs were posted all over the city in support of the president.
Most of the streets I walk through daily are like this one narrow with tall buildings on each side.
During class we often each got an "alfajor." A very traditional argentinian dulce (sweet/cake/candy) which is like two soft cookie-ish things with dulce de leche between and covered in chocolate.
There a lots of cute, little cafes throughout the city, this one had good cupcakes.
We went to a populist school which runs in a recuperated factory. The teachers all volunteer their time and the students are generally adults or adolescents who hadn't completed secondary school. The director who spoke to us is sporting the two major Argentinian addictions, maté (kind of like tea or coffee) and a cigarette (more than half the Argentinians I know smoke).
My host mom, Mercedes, is absolutely wonderful! And she makes wonderful food like this Spinach tart.
Her dog, Francisco, is much too intelligent and spoiled for his own good. He likes to put his paws on the table during dinner and if you stop paying attention he will steal absolutely whatever he can from you. Not to chew on it, just to hide it away. And he doesn't just snatch something, he will, for example, get into the bottom pocket of your closed bag and steal something much more subtle like a guitar tuner, or hand sanitizer. In spite of this, I love him immensely.
The academic faces of my program (SIT Comparative Education and Social Change). You've already met Roberto from Chile and next to him is Marta from Argentina. Our program directors in Argentina are absolutely wonderful, supportive, and fun.
My host mom and I dressed up and ready to go out to dinner with the group. We get along fabulously, talk for hours, and live very easily together.
My friends and I have dinner parties and try to take advantage of being able to buy good wine cheap... something I am REALLY going to miss when I go back to the states.
When we're not having cultural adventures, or going out all night (a la typical Argentina) we relax, drink wine or maté, play guitar, and chat in parks on on terrazas, the rooftops of apartment buildings.
And instead of climbing tall mountains to play guitar, I've learned to fill that part of my life by climbing to the top of elevator shafts to play guitar.
And watch sunsets over the urban world.
And yes, the italian food, like this pesto Mercedes made, is INCREDIBLE because of all the Italian immigration to Buenos Aires.
So, long story short, I've decided to stay in Buenos Aires until December to do my independent study on immigrant identity of elementary schoolers whose families come from Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay to try to have more work opportunities in the city.. You'll get to see more photos when I can steal some from my friends :).