Hey everyone, now that I have officially been in South America for two weeks, I figured its time for another addition to my blog. These past two weeks have been nothing short of incredible, and I know that will continue to say the same.
With school still just beginning and basically the equivalent to "Syllabus Week" in full-swing, I have not had a very difficult workload thus far, and I definitely am not complaining about that. All of my classes this past week seemed interesting; especially my Economics class where the professor does nothing but speak of the troubled Argentine government and their continually corrupt leaders. He also refers to people from the US as "Yankees" and always has some interesting take on America's successes.
On Tuesday, July 29th, I had my first Tango class at UB. Surprisingly enough, it was not as much of a mess as I expected. Thankfully that class is only once a week, so I'll survive. In the spirit of Argentina and trying new things while abroad, my friends recommended that we try something different and go see a show at the famous Teatro Colón in downtown Buenos Aires. Once again I tried to step outside my box, as my friends and I saw Rodin, which is a ballet that travels to only the most popular venues throughout the world. For $10 tickets, I thought I could bare through it. Needless to say, it was arguably the worst 2 hours of my young life. Teatro Colón itself is one of the nicest buildings that I have ever been in. It was constructed by three different artists that all had very different styles. If you look on the outside of the building, you can see the different styles of the artists by each floor of the building. The ballet.. not my cup of tea. At one point I was praying that someone would strike me with the nearest blunt object and save me from the misery. Then again, it's all for the experience and you never know when you will get an opportunity like that again.
Wednesday, July 30th was a big day for the citizens, government, and economy of Argentina. As many people may know, the Argentine government was going through a court process in New York City that ultimately did not end in their favor. To sum up the situation, in 2001/2002 the Argentine Government defaulted on major loans and suffered one of the worst recessions in modern history. Many Argentines wanted to store their wealth in stronger monetary denominations to secure their assets. Because of this, they were taking all of their wealth that was stored in the bank and holding the cash; with hopes to eventually transfer it to US Dollars or Euros. The government was then forced to limit the amount of bank runs that Argentines were doing to only a maximum of $250 Argentine Pesos per week (which is equivalent to $25 USD today..not very much). Looting and stealing then ensued because people did not have access to their funds, thus leading to the overthrow of their president at the time.
Now New York comes into play because famous venture capitalist and hedge-fund CEO Paul Singer bought some of the Argentine debt from their government in 2001 and made arrangements for them to pay it back. To make a long story short, the Argentine government failed to make the proper payments, tried to renegotiate some of their contracts, were unable to do so, and now have defaulted on their loans for the second time in 13 years. What are the impacts on the defaults today? Aside from a lot of nervous people, the effects will not be anywhere near as dramatic as the 2001/2002 Crisis. Basically the value of the USD to the Argentine Peso will likely increase more than it already has (which is great for Americans), but it just adds to the woes of their economy.
Interestingly enough, the hedge fund firm of Paul Singer has about 300 employees, yet it has managed to force Argentina, a country of 41 million people, into a position where it now has to contemplate a crippling surrender. This is where Argentines get frustrated the most, given the fact that they see this hedge fund firm and the greedy American Banks as vultures, or "buitres" as they say.
Aside from that nonsense, I have no class on Fridays. And my weekends are devoted to intensive hours reading my textbooks and going to church every Sunday morning. (If any of the aforementioned statement were true, then I'd be the one to tell you..) but Thursday-Sunday in Argentina is a different culture. Awesome nightlife, which just about only starts at 2am every night, and plenty of interesting people, So doing that in conjunction with my schoolwork, working out, and seeing the city will be just enough for me.
On Thursday, July 31st, all the students in my program and I had a guided Tango lesson and dinner at a local place in the city. The lesson was very dry, but the food afterwards was totally worth the trip. We also tried this wine-flavored ice cream that was quite possibly the greatest thing I've tried.
After waking up at 1pm on Friday, August 1st, my friends and I got brunch at this place called Oui Oui in Palermo. It was entirely worth the 30 minute trek over that way, and we will be going back. Once again, another awesome day of exploring the city, and we found a few shops where you can buy plenty of things for cheap prices. I bought an Argentine National Futbol Team Jacket for $219 ARS (or about $20 USD, and it would have been about $60 USD in the US). I also found my favorite piece of graffiti that I've seen thus far and there is a picture of it below.
On Saturday, August 2nd, my friends and I went down to Recoleta, another popular neighborhood in the city. The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the main attractions, as countless Argentine leaders were laid to rest there; including past presidents, military heroes, and Eva Peron. A picture of her site is also below. There was also a nice church right next to the cemetery, as well as other shops and street vendors. Since I am also fighting off a cold, I figured that this night would be a good one to stay home, so Ben, Sarah, Christi, and I watched "Silver Linings Playbook" and called it a night.
Finally today, Sunday, August 3rd. We ventured down to one of the furthest barrios (neighborhoods) from our house with hopes to see a different side of the city. the area is called La Boca and is well-known for its vibrant colored houses, Italian influence, and the Tango. It had a lot of Italian similarities, including some awesome Italian food at a local restaurant. There is also a lot of noteworthy graffiti art along some of the walls of the barrio's buildings. This is always interesting for me because the graffiti is always much more elaborate than anything I've ever seen. We also saw La Bombonera, which is the name for the Boca Juniors Futbol Stadium. I will definitely be going back to the stadium for a game once the season gets started in a few weeks. And last but not least, we were standing outside the La Boca
Fire Department and were asked if we wanted a tour of the building. We gladly accepted, saw the old machinery that the firehouse DID use, and enjoyed our time talking to the locals.
Plenty more to come, so keep checking back!
"I haven't been everywhere, but its on my list."| August 3, 2014