Needless to say, we’ve made it safe and sound to our new (temporary) home in Argentina. After more than 15 total hours of flight time, one 7 hour layover, and a looong taxi ride, we arrived at the home of Julia Massero, a lively single (divorced) mother of one 13-year-old adopted son, Emmanuel. There is also another international student here from Switzerland (the German-speaking part) named Michael. There’s no pet kitten, but, they do have a pretty cute dog named Catalina (“the fat guard dog” as Julia calls her). We’re on the seventh floor of a building with one tiny, very old, elevator, and our room has a large balcony. We also have a tiny TV, just enough closet and storage space, and, our favorite feature: wifi!
After finding our very friendly, pre-reserved taxi service, eventually we pulled up to our home-stay where Julia, our host mom, was waiting outside at the door with Catalina to greet us each with the standard kiss on the cheek. She immediately had us set our bags down and join her for a cup of coffee (unfortunately a Nescafe like substance seems to be the standard here unless you get espresso from a café). Apparently they told her word for word everything we wrote on our home-stay questionnaire – including my comment about Tyler loving lots and lots of coffee! We talked about our families, Tyler too tired to really comprehend much (he slept maybe 2-3 hours total in route, poor guy) and I was struggling to remember tenses and irregular conjugations after an entire month without using hardly a word of Spanish. However, Julia speaks decent English, so when I struggle so far we’ve been able to communicate a sort of improvised Spanglish version that gets the point across.
After a bit of time to unpack, organize our things, and get oriented studying maps, we were off to the Road2Argentina office for our orientation that afternoon. There we met two other young folks from England also doing their orientation, and some of the Road2Argentina staff. We got ourselves acquainted with many of the customs in Buenos Aires (we hope to gather enough coins to take our first bus ride this week – it should definitely be an experience worth blogging about – the bus system here is insane!), had our first “real” mate, and were invited back tomorrow to learn the proper mate customs and have some pastries (medialunas) with other students at the student residence, which is next-door to the office.
After our orientation, we just sort of walked around in search of our perfect first snack in Buenos Aires. Dinner isn’t typically until 8:30 or 9 here (and that’s the earlier version) so it was a necessity. After making our way back to our neighborhood via metro, or subté as they call it here, we spent a good chunk of time wandering the streets of neighborhood, seeing what’s around us. Apparently in Buenos Aires hardly anyone owns a washing machine or does their own laundry. They take their bags of dirty clothes to the neighborhood lavandería, wait a few hours, pay a few bucks, and get their items back, cleaned, dried, and folded in a neat bundle – I know I am going to love this! There are at least 3 laundry places within 2 blocks in any direction from us, so it should be quite convenient. While wondering, we stumbled upon a semi-chic section of blocks with numerous shops, an organic café, a giant Catholic church/school, cafes, and so forth. The shops included several dangerous ones: including no less than three adorable, reasonably priced shoe shops (I left my boots behind and am feeling very left out here as everyone, I mean everyone, has a great pair of boots), a North Face store and a Columbia Sportswear store. We also finally found our first snack: a hole in the wall empanada and pizza place. We each had two different empanadas, once that was sort of spicy beef and onions, one that I swear was grape leaves, another chicken, and another labeled “roquefort” but it was actually brie. Having no other empanadas to judge them by, I’d say they were about average, but for US$ 0.50 each, we can’t complain much. After some more wandering I braved myself to go purchase the cheapest hair 220 volt straightner I could find, and ended up with one that I’m pretty sure is nicer than the one I have at home.
After that we returned home for our first dinner, which was a tuna salad with eggs, carrots, cabbage, corn, peas, and tomatoes, with a potato fritter-type thing. Julia is very nice, full of energy, and very talkative, so meals have been pretty fun, and it’s nice to have to plan two meals a day.
After dinner, despite having two cups of coffee, we happily, finally went to sleep.