I have something to say to everyone that has told me that 1 or 2 in the morning is too late to go to sleep: you’ve taught me wrong. I mean this in a very loving way, but so far I’ve spent a great amount of time trying to adjust to an Argentine sleep schedule which is, as I’ve come to find out, is more universally common than I’ve been led to believe. I know I’ve already touched on this a bit, so I won’t dwell, but it’s largely to blame for my 2am* posts because even when I don’t go out I still find that my schedule is whack.
So being immersed into another way of living pushes me into a lot of eye-opening situations that I find endlessly interesting and can’t wait to write about, but there are some, arguably less significant, things that make me so freaking excited to document that I can’t focus on those other stories until I get these down. That’s more or less the organization of this entry, so one could expect this to start off more emotionally charged, with the possibility that it may eventually morph into something more intellectual. I make no promises, there was a lot of wine tonight.
Firstly, I’d like to calmly share that an Argentine local told me thAT I DON’T HAVE MUCH OF AN AMERICAN ACCENT WHEN I SPEAK SPANISH AND THAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT SOMEONE COULD HAVE EVER GIVEN ME. I may forget the most basic of words periodically, but dammit I can sound like I belong.
Also regarding my emotional state, I hit my week and a half mark of homesickness. This is normal, at least for me, and it usually comes some time after the subconscious realization that this isn’t a week long vacation. I have to spend some time finding the balance between experiencing anything and everything I can, while also giving myself permission to opt out of some things for the sake of making my time here livable. This is kind of more difficult for me to talk about with people because there’s an expectation that comes with traveling that one should be open to all cultural experiences, and I am. The best example I have of this is my experience with the Argentine boliches or discos. At home, I’m happiest at someone’s house drinking beer or wine, or even doing the same at a moderately crowded bar. Basically anything that involves friends, drinking, and conversation, I’m there. I had an idea coming to Argentina that there was more of a party scene in the city, just as any big city in the US, and I wanted to see how it all went down. The last entry goes into more detail about it all, but the clubs here have to be some kind of an acquired taste (I’m assuming). Something I’ve learned about myself over the last 4ish years is that crowds are about the only thing that give me anxiety, which is the primary ingredient to an Argentine boliche. Add into the mix a language barrier and music loud enough that I can’t understand English or Spanish, and you’ve created a recipe for anxiety. There’s also the 6am factor, but I’m trying not to dwell.
Some will read that and say, “sounds like you didn’t drink enough!” Well, they’d be right, but I’ve realized that being in a different country isn’t going to make me enjoy something that I already know I don’t enjoy at home. It took a number of conversations with friends at home and friends here to become at ease with all of this, and I’ve yet to pinpoint exactly why this caused me so much stress when I’m normally able to go with any flow. But giving myself permission to accommodate my needs really lifted a lot of that homesickness. So last night I went with Fernando to one of his girl friend’s apartments for her birthday, and around 3 when they were all going out to the club, I said my goodbyes and took a cab home. It was a little strange, and I caught some lighthearted heat for it, but I was so very happy when I got in bed.
I say all this to shed some light on the harder parts of traveling, and also to remind myself next time of what to expect. The hard times tend to fall into the background as time goes on and the happy times are really what you remember, thankfully.
OKAY so that’s off my chest. Let’s talk politics. Argentine politics. The fact that Argentina is a politically charged country is no secret. On any street in the city one will find any available surface plastered with political campaigns and propaganda. This likely stems from political disrupt caused by the Dirty War of the 70s and 80s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_War) and the sketchy aftermath that followed. Today, even the people least interested in politics still have an opinion that they can defend, the extent of which I don’t know due to an annoying language barrier. That night that I went to a friend’s apartment until 3 actually got a little tense following a badly received political joke involving who is either the president of the Santa Fe providence or just a candidate in the upcoming election. (To try and keep this short, there’s a lot of flooding going on in certain areas as a result of illegally dug canals by farmers trying to keep their crop. This funneling of the water is unregulated, obviously, and as a result there is standing water in some buildings in Buenos Aires, aka the capital of Argentina, and roads have been destroyed all over the affected area. During all of this, the president(?) happened to take a trip to Venice, which you will recall is largely a city on water, and now people are saying that if he wanted water for streets he could have just stayed in Buenos Aires. Ha ha ha. Now on with the story.) So Fernando mentioned this joke to one of the girls at the apartment, and things went from Bambi to 300 real quick (there were tears.) After asking a third party later, I found out that the girl and her family were big supporters of the political party in office right now, which was news to me because everyone I’d talked to until that point had consistently called the standing president insane. The situation resolved itself, and everyone is friends again. But, as many of my stories end, wow.
As one would expect, I’m learning a lot of fun facts about Argentina. For example, they generally don’t use petroleum to fuel their cars, at least in the cities. They use an actual gas of sorts that goes into some chamber under the hood (I know zero about cars, so this is my beyond basic description.) Some time ago, petroleum got too expensive, so they sought out a different energy source. But get this: because the “fuel” is an actual gas, apparently it makes the filling up process more dangerous, so everyone has to get out of the car when fueling up. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how standing 5 feet away from the car is any safer than sitting in the car in the event of an explosion. I’m just speculating here.
Another fun fact about Argentina, albeit one that I knew beforehand, is that it’s winter here. I was told to expect a temperature around 65 degrees on a regular day, and obviously cooler temps at night. I get that. But the thing is that it’s very difficult to remember what 60 degrees feels like, let alone pack for it, when it’s 110 degrees outside. It’s also been gloomy and rainy nearly every day. Yes, the general conclusion everyone should be making right now is that I did not use good judgment while packing. BUT that does mean I got to go shopping. Yay! And also Simmons Bank thinks my card has been stolen. The opposite of yay! Luckily my angel of a mother sorted that situation out as well. As a short breakdown of prices, nearly everything is cheaper – think food and some common household items. Clothes are not cheaper. They’re anywhere from the same to more expensive because most are imported. That made shopping less fun.
Lastly, my first asado. Think BBQ without the sauce. It’s a traditional meal that consists of a lot, a lot a lot, of meats, largely beef and pork. Stephanie and Claudio (owners of the language school) had everyone over for dinner Saturday night, during which mostly English was spoken(which I very much so needed.) We talked about a lot that night, but something that really made me think was the question, what is a traditional American meal? I’m happy to announce that the general consensus was, with the Ron Swanson stamp of approval, the American breakfast. Argentinians kind of skip over breakfast, which makes it all the more drool worthy to think about.
That’s another (long) wrap. I’m not going try to make any more excuses for how long these are because I’m realizing that’s just how I write. So that being said, this is the end. L8r g8rs (I also heard someone stole 13 alligators from the Alligator Farm in Hot Springs. Another WOW.)
*Okay so it’s 2am here, so anyone reading at home will be seeing midnight posts on the reg. But I’m operating differently here so bear with me.