Argentina: the land of carne, tango, immigrants and the lesser known – flooding! Dios mio! I think we are on the fifth consecutive day of rain. You would think Buenos Aires is the city where gondolas cruise the streets with striped-shirted men handing out roses to passengers, and not Venice. Well anyway, when it rains, it pours and it floods. (At least 12,000 people were evacuated in several provinces in northeastern Argentina because of this flooding!)
It all began the day I moved in to my new apartment. Needless to say, it took me an hour to traverse the streets in a taxi to arrive to my new home. Una locura! My taxi driver told me in English, “Buenos Aires is crazy.” I walked into my new apartment, bags dripping with water, my white t-shirt drenched, making quite the first impression with my roommates. I dropped my bags in my room and spent the rest of the night sitting in the living room, watching TV and hanging out with Natalí, Nadina, Mica and their friend, Flor.
- Mica y Natí are both students at a local university here, studying hotelería. They are both from Rosario – a little north of Buenos Aires. They are both 21.
- Nadina is in her resisdencia for biochemistry. She works at a hospital. She is from Chaco – in the very north of the country. She is 28.
- I love them.
- They are so amazingly welcoming and inclusive. We have spent many weekend days hanging out in the apartment, drinking mate, watching hilariously, dramatic reality tv. We went to una fería de comidas my first weekend with them in the Hipodromo, where there are horse races. There were food trucks everywhere and the stadium was lit very beautifully. I went to a boliche (an typical Argentine club/all night dance party) with Nadina y my amiga de Fulbright, Brin. In classic Argentine style, we left when the sun was rising – cumba beats ringing in our ears, eyes made of hearts for the Argentine guapos, and smelling as if we bathed in cigarette ash.
- EVERYONE SMOKES. This is something I’ve noticed very commonly in cities, but here it is crazy. It’s like I’m in some 1950’s time warp. No anti-Joe Camel ads here. I have some opinions on this, which basically involve cigarette companies targeting Latino communities, getting them hooked, blah blah blah, you know the gist – classic exploitation. Not to mention the fact that the same groups that are part of climate denial campaigns of today were also the same groups hugely influential in anti-tobacco denial campaigns of the 90’s…but I’ll save that for another day.
- There is a stereotype that porteños (people from Buenos Aires) think they are better than other provinces and are a little cold and closed off. It’s funny because most of the Argentine’s I have met here are not porteños, but from other parts of the country. They are so inclusive and friendly. To me, this is kind of a sign that the stereotype might not be too far off.😉
- People aren’t really into introductions here. When you’re meeting someone, names are second in importance to the beso on the cheek – which is nice, but also usually leaves me not knowing anyone’s name by the end of the night…
- At the grocery store, there is a lane that puts preference on older people who are waiting in line. I realized this when an older woman was behind me in line and the cashier allowed her to pass ahead of me. Very respectful of their elders. Also, can we talk about the lines at the grocery store? Patience, people, patience.
- Not much recycling here. Sometimes there are bins on the street, but no one picks it up in apartments which is really upsetting and dumb, but that’s why you see a lot of people picking things out of the trash to recycle it. They can get money in exchange for the recycling.
- There is an obvious race problem here. Almost all the African-Americans I have seen here (very minimal number) are people who sell things on the streets like jewelry, umbrellas, scarves, purses, etc. For some reason, I feel like I have noticed more this time around than two years ago, but there is a clear racial and economic divide regarding race… also most are men.
- Alejandro, one of the security guards in my apartment building is from Claypole – the area where my research is focused. His family still lives there. Maybe I will talk to them! He chatted with me about this and a multitude of other things, including the fact that he loves Bob Marley and even showed me his Bob Marley tattoo on his chest.
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