Pictures pictures pictures

I finally learned a joke in Spanish: How many stars are there in the sky? Sin-cuenta. HA. Hahaha. Ask your Spanish speaking friends about that one. Or ask me later. Or don’t, it’s really not that funny.

Overall, this week has been pretty laid-back, which is largely the reason I haven’t written anything. BUT today was super cool, so now I’m behind again. I’ll start from last weekend.


Last Weekend

Last weekend was my first experience in the Argentine pueblo Arteaga, which is basically a small town. How small? Think the size of Mt. Ida, and I’m sorry that reference will be lost on a number of people. To sum up last weekend, it was overwhelming in the language department. It was one of Fernando’s cousin’s 2nd birthday, as well as Children’s Day, which is actually a big deal here, comparable to our Mother’s and Father’s Days. So we’re talking 40 people in one house, 15 of which are under the age of 8. My head nearly exploded, true story. Not only that, but the birthday girl wanted nothing to do with me and cried every single time I tried to get a kiss from her or really even talk to her(there’s more to this story later on). But it was fun to goof off in a small town because reminded me a lot of home, and as a personal victory, I drove! The rules of the road are all the same as the US, so this really holds very little significance. My last day in Arteaga I went to a Flea Market that is held every few months, where another cousin sells wooden toys that she makes. Cool experience overall.


Last Week

As I said, this past week was relatively low-key. Monday was a holiday (I’ve yet to figure out exactly why), and my teacher was sick on Wednesday, so no class on those days. As I’ve had some extra time on my hands, I started on a rigorous running schedule, meaning I’ve run twice. I basically run as far as I can along the river and when I feel like I’m about to die, I walk home. My workout and diet videos come out next week. That’s obviously a joke.

What one can take from my exercising outdoors is that we’re finally having some beautiful spring-like weather! It feels like a sin to not be outdoors, I’d watch grass grow if it meant I got to spend the day outside. As I’m spending a lot of time outside, usually in the parks, I’ve taken notice to something that appears to be commonplace here, but is very, let me emphasize, very different than anything I’ve seen in the US: PDA. This goes far beyond hand-holding or butterfly kisses that one might find in a park in the US. I’m talking full out spooning and cuddling in the grass, girls straddling their significant others on the benches, possibly a make out sesh next to another couple having a make out sesh. I’m not making this up. On a pretty day, I can pick any spot in the park and point out 5 couples doing any 1 of those 3. Again, I realize this is likely very normal here. Still totally different than anything I’m used to seeing. Regardless of all of that, here is a pretty view from the park, in which I coincidentally captured 2 pairs being very couple-y, but that was unintentional.

park

Side note: remember the 2 year old birthday girl who was brought to tears at the thought of interacting with me? Well before the end of the week we had an exciting turn of events, and at dinner on Friday I found out she had started using the word “okay” in conversation (!!).. Which means she’d actually been listening to me the weekend before and picked up on an English word that I use (probably too much)! Later on she even played with me and gave me a kiss goodbye, so we’re basically homies now.


This Weekend

Since the weather has been beautiful the last couple of days, I got to do a lot of fun outdoorsy activities that have been more or less restricted due to cold and rain. But no more! Saturday (yesterday), Fernando and I went to a museum(I know, this is indoors. But there was a lot of walking before and after, so it still fits in with my story,) where I spent most of my time trying to read descriptions to figure out what exactly it was that I was looking at. I also enjoyed a variety of setting off hidden alarms and meandering into off-limit areas that were lacking sufficient signage. That, or I just wasn’t looking hard enough. Take it as you will. But I also looked at some art, two of my favorite pieces being this super fancy mate (see previous entries, I can’t stop talking about it) and this painting that might be the most beautiful work of art I’ve ever seen:

museum 2

museum

Okay yeah, I made Fernando take a selfie with me in a fancy mirror.

After walking what was probably a thousand miles, we finally ended up at the Rosario Jockey Club. Very cool, and also very open to the public. We walked in the front doors and there were a few people chatting over what I’m assuming must’ve been horsey things. I thought they were going to stop us, but neigh(lol), we walked right on in. On the infield there was a futbol game, some people walking their dogs, and a couple of horses walking around on their horsey way. Much more casual than the Oaklawn Jockey Club of Hot Springs, which would (probably) never let me frolic with the ponies on the infield ūüė¶ .

Rosario Jockey Club

Race track

After all of this, I got a headache to end all headaches, thus causing me to sleep for over 12 hours and miss any fun Saturday night activities. The good news is that when I woke up this morning, I was headache-free and fully rested for a day full of AcTiViTiEs.

Every Sunday, the city of Rosario closes the main street that runs along the river and park for recreational use only, meaning one will find runners, walkers, cyclists, roller bladers, dog walkers, really anything. Especially when it’s a beautiful day like it was today. Fernando and I hopped on our bikes and took a ride, partly because it was a beautiful day and partly because I wanted to know how to get to my school without using the bus.

recreation sunday

You can’t see it, but we were heading straight toward a mass of people around that corner. I nearly ended the lives of no less than 100 kids today, it’s really hard to maneuver through a crowd on a bike with no brakes.

After lunch back to the apartment, we caught a bus to what would become my favorite place in Rosario thus far. It’s an old, abandoned military compound(base?). I’m not sure what to call it exactly, but we went because Fernando’s sister-in-law was putting on an event for kids with special needs where they got to play and ride horses and do other outdoorsy things. I’m going to go ahead and apologize to my mom now, because the rest of this is one of those stories that I usually wait a few months before telling her. Moving forward. We got off the bus and had a bit of a walking distance ahead of us, as the compound is encompassed by a 9ish foot wall and we had to walk around it to find the open entrance. Well, we would have, but a car stopped and asked us how to get to the same place we were going, so they offered us a ride and off we went.

As the event was held in the old army compound, we were heading to the place they used to keep their horses, so there were a lot of old barns and pens outside, holding around 15 horses and ponies.  This part is relatively tame, aside from the occasional dodging of spooked horses. Fer did get stepped on, though. Sorry about that :/. We started to explore the rest of the compound, which Fernando knows pretty well because his dad used to live there when he was in the military, and he had explored the place for years after it had been abandoned.

street view abondoned town view of tower

The first place I wanted to explore was that tower, obviously, so we started to climb with Fer in tow saying “your mom is going to kill me…” (see mom, he knows) and from the top got a pretty spectacular view of Rosario and the rest of the compound. Worth it.

view from tower 3 view from tower 2 view from tower

After the tower, we spent a lot of time exploring other abandoned buildings in the compound, including this one.

abandoned building

Walking in this one felt like how I imagine it must feel to scuba dive around the Titanic, maybe slightly less significant, but I have nothing else for comparison. It has beautiful marble stair cases and a big ballroom downstairs, with soldier’s rooms and things of that nature on the other floors. Not only was Fer telling me how beautiful this place was, but I felt like at any minute ghosts would start dancing out of the walls in ballgowns like in Anastasia. His sister even had her quinceanera here, meaning it hasn’t been abandoned but for less than 15ish years, but it was sad to see such a beautiful building going to ruin. Honestly, I should have gotten more pictures of the inside, but since I didn’t know we were coming to the coolest place ever, I didn’t think to bring my phone. The one time. Sometimes I’m not so smart. Luckily my good pal Fernando let me use his.

Like I said, we explored a lot of old buildings, and eventually we both admitted that we were expecting to find a dead body or homeless person eventually. Thankfully, we never did. We did, however, find some other interesting things, like this room full of empty cots,

room with beds

and dark scary hallways such as this one,

inside building

and the occasional horrific prank  to make it look like there were bodies lying around.

scary shit

All of which were enjoyable and not unnerving at all.

After a couple of hours of exploration, it was time to leave the compound. To avoid walking a hundred miles to the official “exit,” I suggested we jump the wall. Which was a great plan in theory, until I fell flat on my back in front of enough traffic to make it embarrassing. Such is my life. But it was a great way to end the day and the weekend. That about wraps it up, now I’m just going to leave my favorite picture from the day here for any to enjoy. Toodles.

fave

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Making use of an abused sleep schedule

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.

Already a week behind, so I’m playing catch up

A lot has happened since I arrived (almost) a week ago, so hopefully everything will ramble on smoothly and I can knock it out all at once. I’ll preface this by saying how thankful I am to have been placed with a host near my age that pushes me to do something challenging every day. Little things, like figuring out a bus system. But I’ll get there. I’d also like to apologize for the poor formatting of this post. I’ve yet to figure out how to create new paragraphs within my beloved numbered lists. As for the writing, no valid excuse comes to mind.

My transition in Rosario has been much smoother than my transition last summer in Costa Rica. Maybe it’s my better grasp of the language, maybe it’s that the culture here more closely parallels that of the US, I don’t know exactly. But I can say this has been an entirely different challengee for the simple fact that I’m entirely immersed in Spanish. Yeah, sure, last summer my family didn’t speak any English, but I was still able to speak English with the incredible friends I made at school. Here, I’m making friends from Argentina, Germany, Lebanon, France, Italy, all in the first week. The main thing we all have in common is that our main language of communication – in most cases – is Spanish. I’ve been able to speak English people here and there, but I’ve only met two people from the US so far, and that’s the game changer. This whole thought process is still developing in my head, so I’ll probably touch on it again in the future.

Onto the things I want to actually remember when someone asks what I did in Argentina instead of babbling incoherently. First and foremost:

  1. Mate. And my love for numbered lists (see previous entry). But mainly, mate. I’m not exactly sure what’s in it, but I have to guess it’s a lot of herbs and other green stuff. We’re not talking psychedelic or hallucinogen types of greens, to be clear. Think the contents of a tea bag, but less fine in texture. Or use wikipedia, I’m learning from experience here, and I’m still not so sure about the contents. What I do want to say is that I like mate, and I’m going to make my friends drink it with me when I return. Get. Excited. That’s in the top 5 things a local will ask me after learning I’m from the US. “Do you like mate?” My answer is yes. There’s also an awesome social aspect to it that I know I’m going to want to replicate when I return. Don’t blame me for being hopeful. Edit: After speaking with Stephanie, I now know mate has something similar to caffeine in it. It gives you as much energy as coffee, but the effects taper off instead of a 2pm crash. The more ya know.¬†

  2. The buses, or los compartidos. This is a normal thing for any city person, but being from Small Town, USA, I still have an underlying fear that a bus is going to take me as far from my destination before I realize something’s wrong and I’ll be forced to a life on the street for the rest of my life. And that’s in any city. It’s a valid concern, just humor me. So Fer (my host brother, for those keeping up), did an excellent job making me use a map to find the bus stop, which bus was the one I needed, and deciding which stop I needed. We did a full day of practice on this. Then I got some news, all the bus drivers in the city were going on strike the the next day starting at 3. Sigh. I got an extra day of help (I uttered not a single complaint), and Fernando devised a plan that would allow us¬† to take a bus to my language school, but afterward we were going to take a scenic, 35 block stroll by the river, which was cool I have to say, but it annihilated my legs. On this walk we went to this small museum, ate some churros, and I gushed as every single dog I saw in the park that stretched along the river. I probably came off like a crazy person, but come on. So many dogs. Then came the next day, my solo day. I was nervous to say the least, but I’d be trained for this bus ride. I was ready. Then I got some bad news, some of the bus lines were still on strike, including the one from my route to school. Fernando had already gone to work, so he sent me instructions of what I was going to have to do, aka figure out another bus stop, find a new bus, and get off at the right place. All mundane tasks for a well-seasoned city-goer, but I don’t fit that description. By the grace of God I made it in one peace, and after a 20 minute bus consultation with my teacher after class, I was also able to maneuver my way home. First day in the books.

  3. Night life. For my first night out I decided to forgo the advice that I should take a nap at 10pm, which was very, very stupid of me. We left the apartment around 12 to go to a friend’s house, and didn’t leave there for the bars until 2. As in a.m. As in anyone who knows me will vouch for me when I say I’ll be home eating a Tony’s pizza by 2. But no, the night continued on till the wee hours of 5 and 6 in the morning. No rahgrets, but my sleep schedule is still suffering.

  4. Bar-lingual. Once a month, Stephanie (the owner of the language school) organizes an event called Bar-lingual, where Spanish-speakers can come to practice English and other language speakers can come practice Spanish. Afterward, everyone went to the apartment of this guy from New Zealand and this included 3 people from France, 1 girl from Spain, a handful of locals, then myself, all trying to communicate with Spanish. The accents and languages that were flying around the room were BLOWING MY FREAKING MIND. And don’t even get me started on how hard it was to understand Spanish with a French accent. But still, so cool.

  5. The Language School. I’ve been inspired to open my own language school in the states. I’m only 90% kidding. But really, this school is operated by what I’m convinced is the cutest family in the world. To give their greatly abbreviated story, Stephanie met her now husband (who is from Argentina) on a trip in Machu Picchu. They fell in love, she moved from the US to Rosario, and they now have the 2 cutest kids I’ve ever seen and they’re at the school every day. They opened up a language school in the city, and now my 2 hour class is my favorite part of my day. Freshman year Hannah takings elementary Spanish would laugh at that sentence, but thankfully I can say my Spanish has come a long way since then.

  6. More cool things: Sunday, Argentina was essentially shut down as a result of their primary presidential elections. I went with Fernando to stand in line and see how all the political madness went down here, and I found out they¬† receive an envelope with the signatures of three “officials” working at the table outside of the room where they go in one-by-one to vote. I put “officials” in quotes because it’s the Argentinian version of Jury Duty, basically chosen at random and obligated by law to carry out certain duties. Side note: voting is also mandatory of all citizens. When I asked what would happen if they didn’t vote, I was told that they would have to go to the police station to explain why they didn’t and then receive some repercussions. (PS I’m told the police here are corrupted. Apparently a police officer robbed a Chinese supermarket yesterday. Very wow.) When I asked what would happen if they stayed on their couch and vegged out all day and didn’t vote or go to the police station, things got shifty. So I’ve drawn my own conclusion: NoBoDy KnOws. One example I was told was that you might not be able to leave the country for a period of time. But I kept pressing, because I’m relentlessly curious, and it seems like the government has instilled a lot of paranoia into the people. Now, I’m in no position to say nothing happens, all I can say is that I’ve yet to hear anything that’s set in stone. Moving on. So the officials sign the envelope and give it to the voter, who takes it into a room alone with “votes” that look like brochures.Voting in rosario

Also, I was pretty shocked they let me in the room. Point, Argentina. What happens when you go in the room is you pick the “vote” of the person you want to vote for, put it in an envelope, and take the envelope back out to the officials and put it in a cardboard box. Aaaaaaand you’re done. Later that night, I went to my first Catholic mass here. It wasn’t my first mass in Spanish, as my family is frequently late to mass, and when you do that on Easter you end up at the 3pm Spanish mass at St. Mary’s, but I digress.


As a final note, those closest to me have heard my embarrassing story from last summer, and I assure you there is another. But I’m not quiiiiiiite ready to put¬† it out there for anyone to read, because I need another couple weeks or so¬† to get to the point where it’s more funny than embarrassing.

So that’s a wrap. Next post will be sooner, and therefore shorter, God willing. Till next time.

Little Rock, Rosario, and every mishap inbetween

So I’ve up and gone to Argentina, and boy has it been an awesome/weird/embarrassing trip already, as I’ve come to expect when I’m alone. I’ve already been here 3 days, and I want to remember as much as I can from this trip – hence, el blog. So let’s start this off with the 22 hours of travel it takes to get from Little Rock to Rosario.

My plane leaving Little Rock was scheduled for 3. My mom walked with me into the airport and we immediately hit a bump in the road. Already. I’d tried multiple times the night before to check-in to my flight, but it wasn’t allowing me to do so, so it was an old school check in for me. The lady asks for the normal things, passport, confirmation that I’d paid the reciprocity fee for Argentina, etc. But then she mentions something about a travel visa for Brazil, in which would be my last connecting flight that would land in Rosario. Honest to God it felt as if the world stopped spinning for a second. I can really draw out this part of the story because I was on a time limit and this felt like this was taking hours to work out, but I’ll make this quick: you need a travel visa if you’re going to be in a country for more than 7 hours (which I was not), so I merely had to prove that I had no plans to stay in Brazil and was trying to go on my happy way onto Argentina. Sounds simple, but this took FOR-EV-ER. There was another hiccup in Little Rock, for which I will claim 99% of the responsibility, but I remembered that I forgot to pay my reciprocity fee only seconds after setting foot in the airport. That wasn’t the hard part, I was able to whip out my computer and to take care of it. The hard part came when I needed to print this confirmation. Now, I may be optimistic here, but I figured there would be some place in the largest airport in Arkansas – I realize this isn’t saying much – that one could pay to print if necessary. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I’m still angry about this. Not for the simple fact that there isn’t some kind of business center for travelers to use (maybe a little upset about that), but because when I* asked the man at the customer service desk if there was any way I could pay to print, all he said was no. No explanation to follow, only a shoulder shrug and a no. Why did this make me so angry? He’s sitting at a computer next to an effing printer.¬† HE IS THE 1% TO BLAME. You’re on my list old man.

Obviously, this was also resolved. Some asking around sent my mom and I to the administrative offices where we begged this nice lady at the front desk to print one sheet of paper for us. God bless khubbard at the Clinton Airport, it’s because of her I was able to even begin this journey.

I know that might not seem like the short-hand version of that story, but it is, and I still have a lot of feelings about it.

All of this ate up about an hour and a half of time. No I’m not joking and yes I wish I were. But I was able to say goodbye to my angel of a mother, walk through security, down the terminal, and straight onto the plane. So if you’re asking how close all those mishaps put me, that close, my friends.

Now is a good time to present the layout of this travel plan. What I was looking at was a 1 hour flight from LR to Houston, 3-4 hour layover in Houston, a 10 hour flight from Houston to Sao Paulo, Brazil, another 3 hour layover, then a final 3 hour stretch that would finally spit me out at my final destination.

LR to Houston: Easy. Even the 10 hour stretch from TX to Sao Paulo wasn’t bad (United had some kickass movie choices, I’d planned to sleep during that flight, but only ended up snoozing 2ish hours because I’m the worst at travel sleeping and I had a case of middle-seat misfortune.) Moving on. My second round of problems really started as soon as I landed in Brazil. And I shall now make an orderly list to explain my difficulties are entirely all my own fault:

  1. I had no idea if they were actually going to let me in the country (see travel visa above).
  2. While skilled in English and proficient in Spanish, I know absolutely no Portuguese. Not hello, not goodbye, not “where do I need to go to find my frickin plane,” the basics. I was in for a rude awakening when everyone and their mom tried to talk to me during that 3 hour layover.
  3. I discovered I have a 5-10 second delay of intelligence when it comes to hearing the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. I’m never quite sure if it’s actually Portuguese, or some Spanish accent that I should be able to understand but my Spanish isn’t at the level it should be. I’ll never know which happened more, but I got very good at the smile and shrug.
  4. I did finally find my gate, it was in a room with a million people (more likely a couple hundred) and a glass wall where all I could see was a line of buses. Of course my stupid brain’s first thought was, “Oh I thought I had a plane ticket, not a bus ticket.” In my defense, I was recovering from that 10 hour, middle seat flight, but I’m still an idiot. So I made it to my gate, but then….
  5. … I had a feeling I was forgetting something. I remembered that I needed to check in at the front gate or some simple task like that, but in that moment of panic I chose to instead sit perfectly still and pretend I didn’t exist for the next hour and a half, all the while airport personnel are on the intercom slinging Portuguese like there’s no tomorrow. Then I recognize something that’s said. I listen closer, and I can vaguely hear what sounds like “Anna Hi Heis.” Somehow that sent off alarms in my head, so I start going counter to counter trying to figure out what it is that I need to do and eventually I find an English speaker and get all checked in and what not.
  6. Remember those buses? Well I put my faith into following other people and luckily the bus took me to a plane that I was hoping would end up in Rosario, fingers crossed.

As luck would have it, that plane did take me where I needed to go, but not before I got to experience three more hours practicing my smile and shrug with the adorable older couple from Brazil that insisted on speaking Portu-nish to me for most of the flight. I can’t really complain though, they were really cute.

So I finally arrive and fumble my way through customs, which seems to be guaranteed awkward encounter when there’s even somewhat of a language barrier. I’m not ashamed to admit my Spanish was beyond rusty, but it’s already gotten better even in the last few days. Thus was the end of the 22 hour journey. I was excited, intimidated, exhausted, and a thousand other feelings, but I’m finally here and having the time of my life.

Until next time

*This was not actually me asking, because I have this unbearable habit of uncontrollable frustration tears, and the only way to ward them off is to not open my mouth and speak. S/o again to my superhero mom for picking up my slack (like always).