The Funny, the Awkward, and the Deadly Experiences of Argentina
For anyone that knows me, they know that I am easily the most clumsy person that has ever walked this planet. And by clumsy, I also mean that I find myself in situations that I unintentionally put myself into that tend to be more than.. interesting. Throughout the past 4 months in Argentina and South America, I have been keeping track of many of these instances where I felt like "this would only happen to me."
Back home in the United States, I generally have a very strong directional sense. This skill has been a saving grace many times, but during my first few weeks in Buenos Aires, it took a while for me to understand the layout of this city. I was no stranger to getting lost somewhere on the daily, but it was the timing of these occurrences that was typical of my life. The perfect example would be getting lost on my way to my first, and the most important, Argentine Visa Appointment downtown in Retiro. Of course, the address that I had was incorrect, and I was led in the wrong direction not once, but twice in a matter of just a few minutes. As it turns out, leaving an hour and a half early for the appointment was not enough time, because I was still 30 minutes late.
With any study abroad program, students that are in the process of learning a new language always encounter difficulties with the new words and pronunciations. Because Argentines, at least those from in and around Buenos Aires, have a distinct accent when they speak, some words were impossible to comprehend in the beginning. Just for instance, after the passing of my host family's dog, Donatella, they chose to cremate her and save the ashes. One night a few weeks after, Edguardo was visiting us for dinner and was speaking about Donatella and pointing to the yearn. At the time, I did not realize that it was the yearn, so stupid me.. I picked it up to see what it was and my host family was relatively mortified. Just like a scene out of the Ben Stiller movie, Meet the Parents.
To go along with the theme of language barriers, my second trip outside of Buenos Aires was to Iguazú, Argentina. There, many of the people speak with a more native accent of the Guarani people, an indigenous tribe to the area. Normally my Spanish is very good, especially when in times of need. My friends and I were looking for an ice cream shop in the area, so we stopped into a small convenience store hoping to get a location. When I asked the gentleman at the counter, the words that came out meant "I have the ice cream shop", and what I meant to say was "where is the nearest ice cream shop." And the priceless look on this man's face was enough of an indicator that I messed up without originally realizing it. And needless to say, that instance has been a running joke since.
I hope that some of you can remember my story from the day that Ben, John, and I visited La Plata to see one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the world. This one is a chart-topper for both Ben and John, but I still find it horrifying. That day, we were surprised to see a Colombian festival going on outside of the church in La Plata. I had yet to eat but was feeling well. After trying the greatest mixture fresh-cut fruits and juices imaginable, and gloating about its glory to Ben and John, it came back to haunt me. I threw up not only in the bathroom of the most beautiful church that I have ever been in, but also in the middle of the Colombian festival. I can still certainly say that I left my mark on La Plata.
Another classic moment of "this could only happen to me" in Argentina was the night my friends and I were forced to dance the Tango in an Empanada Shop at 4:30 in the morning. It had been a long night with some of my friends at El Alamo for the first time. As with anything else, we were hungry and opted to head to any place to eat on the way back to our houses. We were greeted in the Empanada Shop, called Don Vito on Sante Fe in Palermo, by this woman who seemed to be enjoying her own Tuesday night dance show. she insisted that we dance with her, and of course, it was a story to tell. However, I am still bitter about someone telling her that I knew how to dance the Tango perfectly. Haha.. my friends are REAL jokersters.
Now on to the things that were actually more serious, specifically the ones that I believe could have killed me while down here. To top this list, it would have to be going skydiving in a foreign country that has MUCH LESS liabilities for its citizens. With the experience of a jumper, my nerves were assured that all would be fine, which it was. Just the thought of flinging yourself out of an airplane is still crazy to me, but I did it!
And I would be remiss to forget to mention that nasty fire at the University of Belgrano that no one ever managed to let us know about. Once again, running down 10 flights of stairs through bellowing black smoke was exactly how I wanted to remember my time spent there. Classic.
How could I forget a classic Argentine past-time that is as famous as the Tango or hiding Nazis post-World War II? This of course would be their rioting, as it occurs even in the most unlikely of places. My mom memorable experience with that would be the River Plate Game that I went to back in October. Argentines love their soccer, and if anything gets in the way, their best defense mechanism is rioting. That was a sight to see.
Most recently, last weekend when I was out of Buenos Aires with my program, we went to the hot springs. Of course, I left my dry clothes in the van, so running out to grab all of them in the pouring rain while wearing just flip flops and a towel was definitely another one of my brightest moments. Again, only me.
I have too many other stories to share that will just have to wait until I get back to the US. Today is Monday, November 10th and I am down to just hours left in my second home. Over the next 24+ hours, I will be doing all that I can, revisiting my favorite places, and saying some last "see you soon's". As usual, I hate saying goodbye, just because goodbye normally is associated with a negative connotation that you may never see someone again. For this, I know that I will be seeing Buenos Aires again, hopefully in 2016! Thus, the classic "see you soon" or nos vemos in Spanish, is the best way to say it. My family and friends, you have just 2 more days until you are graced with the presence of your favorite redhead, so get ready for it. Chau!
"Traveling is not something you're good at, its something you do. Like breathing." — Gayle Foreman