Ack! Nine whole days since I posted last? Increíble! Let me bring you up to speed…
Just ten short days from now I will be back in the States…! I keep turning this fact over and over in my mind and have yet to process it completely. On one hand, it seems like an eternity (ten whole days?! What is this madness?!) but on the other hand, it feels like no time at all (aaahhh rushing around like crazy need to do everything ONE LAST TIME). Of course I have mixed feelings about leaving, but one thing that is not currently in Buenos Aires’ favor is how hot and HUMID it is here right now. (EDIT: I wrote that yesterday when it was 85 degrees and the air was heavier than a wet blanket. Today it’s a brisk 65 with a light breeze and I couldn’t be happier.) But I’m sure when I’m shoveling my car out of a snowdrift next month I will be singing a different tune, so it doesn’t make much of a difference
On Thursday afternoon I finally made it to the Plaza de Mayo to see the Madres’ weekly march. (Refer to my earlier post on the Plaza de Mayo if you’re just tuning in.) Having read about it is one thing; seeing it unfold in front of me was another. Hearing the songs and chants (Madres en la plaza…el pueblo las abraza! / Mothers in the plaza…the community embraces them!) and thinking about what those women have gone through honestly made me want to cry. What really made me sick (and made me question my own reasons for being there) was the man who hopped out in front of the Mothers so that his wife could get a picture of him with them. The Mothers are not a tourist attraction. Felt a little conflicted that night and still haven’t come to a conclusion.
On Saturday during the day I bumbled around the open-air market in Recoleta, doing a little last-minute Christmas shopping and enjoying the sun. My best purchase might have been a plastic cup of fruit salad doused in orange juice with a huge ice cube on top…delicious! That night I went with Farrah, Suz, Iueh, and Cass to a blind theater show just off Avenida Corrientes, which is said to be the Broadway district of Buenos Aires. It’s not an area of the city I’m typically in, and luckily I was able to take the subway directly there—it’s a lot harder to get lost on the subway!—venturing for the first time off my beloved D line, which has *knock on wood* never done me wrong, and onto the much grimier B line. I made a point to be on time, since the show was supposed to start promptly at 10:30. Lies! Turns out 10:30 corresponds to about 11:15 on the Argentine timetable. No matter—the show was totally worth the wait. We were all blindfolded and led to our seats, with absolutely no clue what to expect. I was thinking something along the lines of an actual play, but there were virtually no words spoken; instead, the actors used all of our other senses to create the illusion of different environments around us. (That sounds vaguely academic and pretentious but I’m having trouble coming up with another way of saying it.) Some examples: a rainstorm (fresh-smelling incense, fans blowing cold air every which way, thunder, tiny drops of water misting down on our heads), a classroom (wordless babble, authoritative high heels clacking on the floor), a sunrise (sudden wash of heat from a lamp passed over our heads), a neighborhood dance (we were guided up out of our seats and into the arms of another waiting audience member, whereupon we swayed to the music and enjoyed each other’s company until we were directed elsewhere), a battlefield (scurrying sounds, yells, awful crashing explosions all around us. All of your other senses become sharper when you aren’t able to use one of them—and I found that it made a difference to me whether I had my eyes open under the blindfold or whether I closed them. Closing them involves a certain amount of trust; the act of giving yourself over to things you can’t see can be intimidating (sipping from a mug not knowing what’s inside), but everything you feel is so much more vivid (the tart splash of lemonade on your tongue). Such a great experience!
After the show we wandered a few blocks over to a tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza place for some conversation and food. Our waitress warned us that there was no way a pizza and five sets of plates/silverware would fit on the tiny round table we were clustered around—pffft. Details. Between the rickety tabletop, our laps, and the windowsill we got by just fine. It was probably 2 or 2:30 when we decided to head for home. The only other people on the bus home besides Iueh, Cass and me were a group of teenage boys, whose chatter filled the entire space. I have never heard the word “boludo” (Argentine-ism meaning “jerk” or “idiot”; depending on context it can have a fond connotation, closer to “dude” or “man”) so many times in the same conversation. From a language-student standpoint, I was (kind of) pleased to note that even if I don’t understand a hundred percent of what’s said, based on intonation alone I still know a dirty joke when I hear one. To be a well-rounded speaker, it’s just as important to know street slang as it is to be able to phrase an irreal past condition in discussion for class.
What else happened this weekend? On Sunday I met up with Travis, another friend from my program. We visited El Rosedal (The Rose Garden), which is the centerpiece of the parks in Palermo. Soaked up some sun—I have some kinda funny-looking tan lines, but hey, I’ve never had tan lines in November before!—and took a few pictures:
Sunday night I met up with Farrah, Iueh and Suz to go tour the Palacio Barolo, a building that’s modeled after Dante’s Divine Comedy, but it turns out that you’re supposed to go with a guide—the building also houses offices, so they tend to not let groups of random tourists in off the street to wander around. Bummer. We sprawled on a patch of grass in Plaza Congreso to chat for a while instead. Great way to pass an afternoon
As my time in Buenos Aires winds down, I’m definitely noticing a language conflict in my brain. It’s getting harder for me to remember names for certain things in English, and certain phrases spring to mind in Spanish automatically now—like “lo que te da la gana” or “como quieras” instead of “whatever you feel like”. Last week in class we went over one of my favorite things in the Spanish language: spontaneous events. In English, we say “I dropped the glass.” In Spanish, however, we say “Se me cayó el vaso”—the glass fell (dropped itself), and I just happened to be there when it did so…not my fault! Love it!
Final exams are one week from today…eek!
All for today—this post has been two days in the making, between one thing and another, and I’m anxious to put it up!