Paola's school, Costa del Este, and some In's and Out's of Argentina
As I pass the stretches of wetlands and grassy knolls inhabited by horses, and a distance sign that reads "Buenos Aires, 249 Kilometers", I am reminded that my last trip in South America is now over. I'm on my way back to BA from Costa del Este, a small beach town located about 4 hours south of the city. This past week, amidst the "stress" of preparing for finals, we went back to Paola's school to speak to her class and then had a great weekend in Costa del Este.
On Thursday (10/30), Ben and I went back to the school where Paola teaches English to students from ages 11 to 18. This was the second time that we were able to visit and we genuinely enjoy talking to the kids when we go. What I found most interesting this time around while talking to the kids was their desire to do so many of the things that we take for granted in the US. In particular, the things that they mentioned were celebrating Halloween and going to prom. For a country like Argentina that has an extremely diverse culture that separates it from anywhere else in the world, hearing the kids say they wish they were from the United States was kind of depressing. They see things like college parties, prom, and sporting events in US movies and wish that they could enjoy those things too. Basically we tried to explain that they should appreciate the things that they have because they are what makes Argentina unique. As dumb as it may sound, it's nice to have people from a foreign country take such an interest in our lives back home, to a point where they asked us to explain everything about our lives in high school and college. Needless to say, I will miss that and I'm thankful that Paola let us come to the school twice to see what she does every day.
Costa del Este was intended to be a relaxing weekend before the last week or so in Buenos Aires and it certainly lived up to that plan. Located within the Province of Buenos Aires and on the Atlantic Ocean, the town is actually one of the most unique places that I have visited. With sand-swept roads and unusual trees engulfing much of the shoreline, it was not what I expected it to be like. The town is mainly populated only during their warmer months between the end of November to the middle of April, so it was not as populated while we were there.
We stayed in cabins that were located within the forests of the town, and it was one of the nicest places that I stayed while in South America. Fully equipped, spacious, and secluded were exactly the things we hoped for. I sound like I should be doing a real estate ad for this place, but they really were nice. After a dreadful early wake up on Friday morning (10/31) and meeting the group at UB at 7am, the ride to Costa del Este was nothing but sleep. And upon arriving at the cabins later that day, we were glad to relax and check out the beach and town for a little while.
On Friday night, the hotel staff organized a classic parrilla dinner for us, including steak, chorizo, salads, and dessert. This is just another example of why I could stay here because Argentines, in general, are very giving and would not think twice and surprising us with all of that. Hospitality is very customary of their culture so we're always grateful for everything that we are given. Since Costa del Este does not have so much of a nightlife, our nights were just spent hanging out in the cabins; which was fine by me. The strange thing was seeing the date and realizing that it was Halloween. Not celebrating it with my friends from school was a little bit of a bummer because I always enjoy the holiday, but I'll see them soon enough.
Saturday (11/1) we enjoyed the comforts of the cabins and hotel a little bit more by hanging out and "studying" for our finals that we have this week. One of our plans for the weekend was to cook a homemade meal for all of us and it came out amazing. Surprisingly I channeled my inner-Italian routes and managed to make an awesome sauce for our pasta, and we also had pizza, salad, and cheese and crackers. It was enough of a process figuring out how to start our gas stovetop and oven, and I managed to avoid burning off my eyebrows doing the two.
Sunday (11/2) was an earlier start to the day because we had an excursion to the thermal hot springs park in the area. This was cool to see because I hadn't been to one since Costa Rica in 2011. As relaxing as the hot springs were, I think the highlight was having to run out to our van in just a towel and flip flops to get my extra pair of pants that I packed. Needless to say, I got plenty of strange looks from those who witnessed this sight. All in all, this weekend was a great way to spend time with everyone in my program before we go our separate ways.
Since I discover new things about Argentina every day, I wanted to share some information that I've learned over the last few weeks. My International Economics Professor, who has worked for various organizations and taught all throughout the world, always has a more than interesting anecdote for our class every time that we see him. The current jokes about Argentina always tends to relate to their government corruption or poor finances, but Professor Roger always takes it to the next level and shares a new perspective with us about the issues plaguing this country. As some of you may know from hearing about it on the news or reading my previous blog posts, Argentina owes a US hedge fund and it's creditors a significant amount of money and defaulted on it's loan repayment back in August. From this, the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has proclaimed that the US and it's people are nothing but "vultures" and have done nothing but cripple their country following the original agreement to lend Argentina money in 2001. Kirchner, who is nothing but hated by a large majority of Argentines, has been suspected of money laundering and stealing money from the government throughout her years in power.
However, a report recently surfaced about some world organization, that remained anonymous, threatening to leak blackmail about Kirchner if she does not agree to pay the United States for it's debts. Although it is currently only speculated, my professor thinks that it is most likely true and the president will pay back the US by January 2015. This was the supposed deadline for Argentina to pay it's debt without having the blackmail leaked. This is because beginning in 2015, the members of the American hedge fund who already agreed to accept a lower compensation amount will lose the ability to demand for the original amount that they were supposed to get. It may seem confusing in theory, but there is a minute clause in the original agreement that allows for this. Anyway, in case anyone keeps up with world finances or the corrupt Argentinian government, this is the latest revelation in their saga story.
I included a link below to a funny video explaining the problems between Argentina and it's economy, and it's the easiest way to understand the situation. So fijanse! (Check it out)!
This week will be a busier one for me with classes finishing up and a long list of things that I still need to do and see in Buenos Aires. I'll be sure to keep you all updated, and the countdown for my return to the States is now 8 days. Talk to y'all soon!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver — Argentina Default
"Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow." — Anita Desai