Just got back from running errands with my host dad, Carlos. He’s in the middle of fixing the downstairs bathroom and needed to run to la ferretería, the hardware store, for a couple of repuestos (spare parts) and invited me along. Since it’s Sunday, not many businesses are open—but since Carlos works during the week, Sunday is often the only day he can get anything done around the house. Problem solver: this tiny hardware store about a ten-minute drive from our house, run by a widowed lady who knows just about everything there is to know. I wish I would have had my camera with me, because it was exactly like stepping into someone’s (extremely well-stocked) garage—dim lighting, gritty cement floor, no room to move, various tools and materials stacked as high as my head, ratty old shop broom leaning up against the wall, etc. At first it looked like a completely random mess, but once I started looking around it was clear that there was actually a very complex system of organization at work. Probably a good third of the merchandise was hanging from the ceiling—excellent use of vertical space!—all sizes of wheels and tires, pipe segments, hoses, etc. Very cool. Maybe if the bathroom repairs don’t go as planned, I will get to tag along again and snap a picture or two. I love random day-to-day things like this—it makes me feel more like a local and less like a tourist.
Side note: Carlos seemed impressed that I knew what a ferretería was. Psh. Based on etymology alone, it’s pretty easy to figure out. Ferre– = ferrous = from iron, and -tería/-dería is the Spanish suffix for store (example: panadería = bread store = bakery). Hence, ferretería = iron store = hardware store. I love etymology😀 Also, my dad was self-employed as a carpenter when I was little and has a workshop at home where he tinkers with furniture and other woodworking projects in his spare time, so I’m used to tagging along on hardware store/lumber yard trips and helping out with home-improvement projects and stuff.
What else has been going on? One of the CEA staff took a big group of us to a wholesale leather store on Friday, where I splurged on a gorgeous brown satchel/purse that is going to last for a long, long time. Argentine leather is some of the best there is. I’m kind of scared to break it in, but I know it’s going to hold up!
Our house was overrun by grandkids last night…I think I counted five, from ages ten to two, all adorable. Dinner was simple (read: kid-friendly); salad and empanadas. For those of you who aren’t familiar with empanadas, they are delicious little palm-sized pockets of pastry dough filled with some kind of meat or vegetable mixture; the most popular kind are de carne, which is beef, although ham and cheese, spinach, and corn (known here as choclo, which I’ve never heard before) are also fairly common fillings, based on what I’ve seen. Word on the street has it that chicken empanadas also exist, and if I ever find myself face-to-face with one of those I might explode from culinary bliss. Once my camera is up and running again, you can expect some pictures of the bakery just down the street from the university, which also makes wonderful empanadas. It’s a good thing we walk a lot around the city, otherwise I think I would put on several pounds from all the tasty food. Even so, I still might…
Finally, I caught my first cold yesterday. From a scientific standpoint, I’m honestly surprised it took this long! I tend to catch colds at the drop of a hat, and before coming to Argentina I expected that from the moment I set foot on South American soil I would be sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. But happily it’s been smooth sailing up until now, and even now I feel pretty good. I’m still kind of apprehensive about later in the spring, when all these plants I’ve never been exposed to will start blooming and shooting pollen into the air, but my allergies and I will cross that bridge when we come to it.
All for now! Hope you are having a wonderful (and reflective—I can’t believe it’s been ten years already) Sunday.
Postscript: I completely forgot until I had gone out for the day that there is a street in Buenos Aires called 11 de septiembre—11 of September. It’s named in honor of an Argentine president, Domingo Sarmiento, who is most remembered for his work with the Argentine educational system; September 11, the day of his death in 1888, is now known as Teacher’s Day in Latin America. As a United States citizen, I think it’s encouraging to have an alternate significance to connect to that date.