Day 5

17 05 2010

It’s been five days already since we touched down in  Buenos Aires. So far it’s been surprisingly easy (bordering on too easy). It might be harder for Katie, who is the one who has to answer all my questions, act as a translator, and decipher my terrible attempts at the language. The Spanish here is pretty easy and I can generally get the major themes of conversations. Details are harder, but I will be going to a Spanish school every day for the next couple weeks to speed the process along.

Katie started working on Friday and was able to meet the country director (Maria), and both Program Coordinators (Nancy and Fabian). Fabian speaks great English and seems genuinely excited to help us. He is just starting to get into tennis, so I might be able to win a match or two. The office is comfortable and seems more like a residence than an office. (There’s a couch I plan to nap on.) There aren’t any interns here now, so Katie will have some time to get the basics of the job down this week before they get here on Saturday.

The past few days have been great, as we accepted every sightseeing suggestion that our host mom gave us. We went to the bosque (forest) section of the city yesterday, where we went to the natural history museum and saw the two 200,000 seat soccer stadiums that are a block away from each other. The museum was really interesting and had a skeleton of any animal you could imagine.

We’ve been wandering around every day at least for a couple hours to see what the city has to offer. La Plata is one of the only cities in the world that was completely planned before being built. It is a near perfect grid with no hills (take that, Pittsburgh!) and is 100% walkable. So far we haven’t seen any evidence of enclaves of anything, besides more stores being on major roads. Housing and commercial properties, students and professionals, the poor and rich all seem surprisingly well integrated. There are so many luxury businesses, be it high-end fashion, home improvement, salons, or video games.

We managed to meet up with Anne Marie Thursday night for dinner at 9, then had to have dinner with Nelly and Gaston at 10:30. Dinner is usually around 10, lunch is at noon, and a snack is at 5. Although Nelly always wants us to eat more, there isn’t as much pressure from her to force food down as we experienced in other host families. It helps that all the food is delicious, if not particularly exciting. The cycle seems to be empanadas, milanesa, pasta, beef, pizza, repeat. All of which has meat in it, on it, or oozing out of it. The sweets are everywhere and come with every meal (including breakfast). Dulce de leche (basically smoother caramel) is stuffed into anything too small to stuff meat into. The only particularly exotic thing I’ve had so far is pickled octopus with dinner last night. Delicious, tender, briny, and much too expensive to develop a habit for.

The week to come: apartment hunting, Spanish lessons, a game like tennis called Padle, interns, and job hunting.

Pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2417178&id=21700391&l=c7936f90e8

Tim

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