Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

Random Thoughts

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

To my surprise, something strange has been happening to me here: people ask me for directions. Relatively often. I don’t know what it is about me that makes people think I know what I am doing, but there must be something. Twice today on the walk home from school!

I also get stopped (or yelled at) a lot for having my shoelaces untied. It is pretty bizarre. I don’t know if I have my shoelaces untied here more or what but people seem to care about it a lot. I will be tripping on these sidewalks anyway, but thank you.

I read online somewhere that the Spanish language has about half the vocabulary as the English language. It feels true. There are a number of words I’ve tried and failed to translate properly. Of course it isn’t actually prohibiting in terms of expression, you just have to get around it. For example, there aren’t words for creepy or silly, and the one of the most frustrating: cute.

And, I have a house in Fredericksburg today!!!

Past Week

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

So much has happened in the past week… It was the bicentennial of Argentina, Anna arrived, Argentina v. Canada futbol game, and I got robbed- among other things. For the bicentennial there were 4 days of festivities where they shut down one of the main thoroughfares in the city for a big exhibition space and lots of parades. As much as the country is divided over politics and torn about their history they are still incredibly patriotic. The city was covered in blue and white and flags were hanging from every balcony. Overall, the events for the bicentennial seemed very cool but there were SO many people in one place that it was a tad miserable- you couldn’t walk or move without following the crowd. It also virtually paralyzed the public transportation infrastructure. Anna and I wound up being stranded by public transportation in another neighborhood quite a ways away from where I live in Palermo. But due to the immense number of people trying to get downtown we were unable to get home any way other than our own two legs. At least we got our exercise.

So on Monday (one the celebration days) my friends and I went to the World Cup send off game for Argentina. Argentina played Canada in a stadium in the city and it was amid much fanfare for both the bicentennial and the World Cup. People were crazy as we tried to get into the stadium. There were SO many people and just like everything here a general lack of organization. Not to mention it is an Argentine past time to attend futbol games drunk… But once we got into the stadium things were a little calmer. We had seats and could relax which was super nice. It was fun to see how passionate the people are but it also made me feel a little out of place because I didn’t know the chants and I wasn’t super into it (I was also a little sick). Overall it was  fun and I’m so glad i got to go to a game while I was here.

Thursday night I went out with a big group of friends to a bar and then a boliche (club). At some point during the night I touched my purse and it was empty. Someone had pick-pocketed me and taken almost everything I had. They took my wallet and my phone. Luckily they didn’t get my keys. Also, luckily I did not have credit cards or my camera with me. They did get a copy of my passport and about US$40. It was just surreal because I had a small, cross body purse which I thought would be the safest. The same night, at least 4 other people I know also got pick-pocketed in the same boliche- so somebody made off that night. Thank goodness for my friends as they took care of me and made sure I was able to get home as I had no money. I don;t know what I would have done without my friend Cesar. In this situation I just have to think about the big picture- yes I lost $40 cash and yes it will cost me $75 for losing my phone… but I am fine and it could have been so much worse. I said from the beginning getting robbed here was inevitable.. well 3 weeks left in my program and it happened. So close to beating the odds…

On a side note about my last post, just the other day in the Buenos Aires Herald (an English newspaper) they reported that the police chief of the city of Buenos Aires had seen an increase in violent assaults on the streets. He said this was due to an increasing use of the Argentine version of cocaine- Paco. Thought this article was interesting since I had seen an assault victim last week. I guess this warrants my usual disclaimer- Don’t worry! I am never alone and I do my best to be as careful as possible.

Winding Down

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Things are going to be pretty boring here for awhile. I’ll be busy finishing up classes, exams presentations and papers within the next three weeks. It seems very strange that things will actually be coming to a close! Marisa, one of my best friends here, just left to go back to the U.S. yesterday. Very sad!

So this all means that I need to seriously begin making travel plans! (If I can afford it and have company.) Which has proven to be very stressful. And I just called to try and change my flight for earlier and was told there is nothing available. If I can’t change it, I will be here for at least two weeks with no friends and no money! Oh well. I’ll keep calling back…

Happy 200 Years!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

It has been a long and eventful weekend! My new roommate arrived Friday, Saturday was Elena’s 21st Birthday, and Monday I went to the Argentina vs. Canada fútbol game. Not to mention all the Bicentennial events!

I guess I’m getting lazy because here is a Washington Post article on the game. And pictures:

I was downtown on 25 de Mayo to see the events in the afternoon but there were so many people and it was so crowded I decided I would rather come home and watch the big parade on TV instead.

Craziness

Friday, May 21st, 2010

So last night at approximately 6am I was walking with 2 friends in Belgrano and we came across a guy laying in the middle of the street with a hysterical girlfriend and a cop standing there. He had a gash on his forehead and was not oriented at all. He did not know his name, the date, or anything. His girlfriend was hysterical and very drunk. I got Jonny to help me talk to him just to tell him not to move his head- he kept moving it anyway.Luckily I had some napkins in my purse so I put pressure on his cut which eventually got it to stop bleeding (Don;t worry I didn’t get any blood on me).  Turns out he had been walking with his girlfriend and they had been attacked by a couple of guys and they beat him up. The cop was an idiot and did not care about the guy’s well being AT ALL. The cop dragged him over to the sidewalk by his shoulders and just kept asking him for ID which made him move to try to get it. His girlfriend just kept saying he was sick and she lived a block away so they just needed to go home. When a city ambulance finally showed up she started hysterically crying and the EMTs didn’t do anything. No SAMPLE, No what happened, No questions at all, No backboard, No nothing- at all. They just stood there, brought out a stretcher which the cop man-handled him onto loaded him up and drove away.  I know I am not all knowing or a master but they didn’t even do basic things. In this regard it reminded me off the Bomberos in Guatemala- no equipment and not much training.  Kind of terrifying when you think about it. I guess I’m glad I was there to help at least stop his bleeding but it was hard to watch them not take care of him at all when he probably at least had a concussion. Hopefully no one I care about has to call 911 while we are here…

“Excerise” and Architecture

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Sometimes I go running to combat my all carb and dulce de leche diet and my habit of eating until I feel sick. Although I will say my jeans do still fit, thank goodness. Barely. Anyway, really I should call it going for a walk because I always get distracted. Last time I went for a run it ended in me walking through Chinatown, which turns out to be a pretty happening place on Sunday nights (so I couldn’t run through!). One time I even brought my camera and took pictures of Belgrano R, an English-style architecture section of the neighborhood that I love.

This is the English bookstore (there is also an English high school):

Love the varying architecture

Av. Melian

Monday…

Monday, May 17th, 2010

It was a very busy Monday morning! My professor thought it would be perfectly acceptable to assign us a three page single-spaced paper on a book none of us had actually read. Over the weekend. Seriously that’s like 2,400 words. No way. I don’t even know 1,000 words Spanish.

Although perhaps fortunately because it was in Spanish (I can’t believe I actually am saying that) I feel I had some leeway with my less than insightful commentary. I stayed up really late and was unable to function the rest of the day.

And I just realized I forgot to drop off my laundry and don’t have clean clothes to wear tomorrow.

The exciting news is I just bought my ticket for the Argentina vs. Canada fútbol game!

Why not a 1st world country?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

So since I got here I have heard and been a part of lots of discussions as to why Argentina remains a 2nd world or developing country when it holds so much potential. The most common answer I have heard is the people. Argentines as a whole are very warm and friendly people but they have attitudes about lots of things that seem to hold them back. The majority of the Argentines I know have the mindset that you live your life for right now and you don’t worry about the future or effects of any of your actions. This is why they all smoke, why they go out every weekend, and why they litter all over the place. Argentines almost never pick up after themselves even outside or, my favorite, they will throw their cigarette butts on the floor inside a club. Does this seem wrong to anyone else? HELLO- ever heard of a fire?! But to them this is normal; someone else will clean it up later. They always say it is someone else’s job to pick it up. Overall, there is a lack of responsibility for your actions.  This is compounded by the fact that while there are laws and regulations here (a few), the police force does not enforce much of anything and thus it turns into, more or less, a free-for-all. So you are left with a population who does what they want and no one to tell them that they cannot do anything. It is also worthwhile to point out the vast area and differing geography throughout the country, the history of corruption, the scandals regarding the current President and many other factors as to Argentina’s stagnation. I do not pretend to be an expert, just giving my observations.

Just yesterday one of my friends came home very frustrated about Argentines and their mindsets. He is taking an accounting class and the Argentines in his class wanted him to make up numbers and estimate when figuring data for a major project. They did not see being right or exact as being important when really- that is the point of accounting. This just illustrates the lack of regard or caring for most anything.  While there are people here who work very hard and do their part it seems that overall the people here do not care to put forth the effort to advance.

Wednesday Is The New Thursday

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

It’s been awhile since I wrote about anything interesting…I haven’t done anything remarkable lately. Besides sleep for 13 hours. (Okay, this was partially allergy medicine induced,  leave me alone.)

All this sleep is unfortunate considering what a wonderful city I am in! I should be doing tons of things! I feel guilty about that. I suppose I am in sort of  a rut. I haven’t been sleeping normally or feeling well the past week and I hope to change that soon. Class has been boringggg.

I am also stressing out over nothing. I think recent graduation pictures might be to blame? Am I really next? Wait a second, I should have changed my major(s) 4 semesters ago! Yes, I have been thinking about education again. Which would add 2 more years. Whoops. Maybe I stayed with Business and International Affairs (which I would have had to have one of anyway) because I feel like I can do anything with them. Not anything, but they are both so broad and unbinding. If I ended up with a Masters from UMW…I’d actually be a teacher, the end. And that’s scary. (I realize I am never stuck in any profession…but still.)

Scratch that. I wrote that last night. I think I definitely maybe want my MLS now.

Why am I not talking about Buenos Aires?

I went to El Ateneo Grand Splendid today:

I’ve been there quite a few times now and like going. Even though it’s kinda far and I came home in a very very crowded Subte which is never fun. Anyway, I feel sick so maybe I will watch a movie and go to sleep.

Housing and Bathrooms

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

So housing laws and leases here are extremely strict. When I first received my info packet before going abroad it stated that you could not have guests or make any noise after 10pm- I thought this sounded ridiculous and surely was an exaggeration. It most definitely was not. In Argentina, from 10pm to 9am there are strict noise regulations and any infraction means the police will show up at your door. The strict rules are compounded by the fact that the walls here are paper-thin. We can hear every time the people above us walk around in high heels, when our next door neighbors watch tv and, my personal favorite, whenever the baby that lives below us cries. I can tell you the baby below us has a mobile that plays Christmas music and recently got a new sound machine that plays “London Bridge.” It is also listed in our lease that we are not allowed to move any of our furniture. Some of my friends moved their beds and got yelled at by their maid because it is against the rules.

On a different note about houses or just buildings here in general, the toilets and light switches are different. Light switches are not vertical on/off but horizontal. One side has a light bulb symbol and if that side is indented the light will be on. This is not a major adjustment but the toilet situation can be a rather big deal. So the toilet in our apartment has a button on the side instead of a lever you push down- very straightforward. However, when you go out and have to use the bathroom you never know what you will find. You may encounter a toilet with a button on the commode, there may be a button above the bowl on the wall, there may be a hole in the wall with a pipe sticking up that you must pull on, or my personal favorite- there may be an old school pull cord. This is usually easy to figure out- the hole in the wall took me a bit to manage but now I’ve got it down. So before you get to the flushing stage, if you are a girl, chances are you require toilet paper. This is a luxury here. Many places have a creepy lady who folds the toilet paper and you must get it from her first and she will expect a tip. For what I’m not sure- I could have unrolled my own toilet paper, Thank you very much. Or my personal favorite is places that seem to feel toilet paper just is not necessary. Usually these are boliches or lesser establishments but you never can tell. I have noticed that people here carry packs of tissues with them to combat the lack of paper products in bathrooms here. Also, even if you are lucky enough to find paper products here, they suck. Most toilet paper here is not cushy but kind of like 1 ply industrial crap. Same with napkins- like tissue paper. They do not seem to understand the concept of absorbent paper products.

Side note- In Punta Del Este there were GP toilet paper dispensers and toilet paper- Big Island is taking over the world! Haha!