We’re down to the last two weeks in Buenos Aires and boy has it been quite the adventure! So much so, that all of these photos are old (like one week) and out of order because I’ve been backlogged from all of the adventures I have around the city each weekend.
The cultural director person for API is a wonderful lady who gives us tours around the city on Fridays of different neighborhoods and museums or monuments and can answer pretty much anything we have to ask about the city; and when she speaks in English (which happens less and less often these days as she has decided we’re all much too fluent in Spanish to need the assistance) she has the most elegant accent ever. It’s a mix between a British accent and a South African accent and it’s awesome. We always end up torn between wanting to practice our Spanish and wanting to hear her Spanish.
These characters are from the incredibly popular comic strip, Mafalda. They stand on the corner in San Telmo which is one of the older neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and hosts the weekly San Telmo Feria that I talked about weeks and weeks ago. Our guide brought us some comic strips to read while we waited for the rest of the group to show up and they were in credibly funny, I was pleasantly surprised that I could understand most of them with little translation help. The little girl I’m standing next to is Mafalda, the star of the comic strips and the other two are her friends. The blondie might be her little brother, I’m not one hundred percent sure.
It turns out there’s an old prison that they’re renovating in San Telmo, so, after visiting the prison in Ushuaia, we were able to see the courtyard to this prison. Unfortunately it’s still under construction so we could only see the courtyard. Apparently before it was a prison, it was used as a hospital. This was the main courtyard of the prison.
We also visited the Museum of Modern Art which is located in the back end of San Telmo. This room seemed to be an exhibit on materialism but all of the exhibits blended so I can’t be one hundred percent sure. But, the cool part was that there were a ton of bookshelves that looked incredibly disorganized and at the end there was a small room that was all white. Because the rest of the room was dimly lit, this little room seemed incredibly bright in comparison. I’m still not sure what it’s purpose was, but it felt like a flashback to the Infinite Experience exhibit in MALBA from my last post. We all piled into the room, ducking our heads, and kicked around a soccer ball that was in there before continuing on.
The Californian in me can’t resist a good march, so I was excited to hear about a march coming up where folks would be demonstrating against violence against women. The only problem was that I had class during the march. Our teacher was fine with us hurrying through our presentations though, as she understood how important the march was, so we finished class half an hour early and then raced home to drop off bags before attempting to get to the march. For some reason all public transportation was incredibly slow so we ended up taking a combinations of subways, busses and just walking to get us there as fast as we could. The normally twenty minute trip stretched on but we made it to the end of the march. There were still folks marching down the street, police hadn’t bothered to close down the streets so cars intermingled with the marchers, and people holding signs occasionally passed. We joined the tail of the march, heading toward the obelisk in the center of town and passed a street sign flashing the hashtag for the march. I assume they’re going for the #notonemore campaign, though it literally translates to #notonefewer.
Speaking of public transportation…..Here’s a fun story about bus stops! You gotta love the bus stops in Buenos Aires. The bus will only pick you up or drop you off at a stop (or as near as they can get depending on traffic), that means it’s important to know what is a stop, and what isn’t a stop. And not all stops are alike in Buenos Aires. Some are those great bus stops with roofs, and three sides and a bench to sit down and they light up with the numbers on top. Those are great (except of course when it’s all lit up and still out of commission but that’s a story for a different blog post). Some bus stops are just signs on poles, quite official looking still, but sometimes the poles are a little difficult to spot. Nonetheless, these will show the route of the bus and the busses always stop at them. Then it gets a little harder, and the bus stop is just a sticker on a telephone pole. And you have to pretty much know that it’s there, our bus stop to come home from school is at a light pole. It has two signs that are tied to the pole so they stick out, and one, which is my bus, is just a sticker on the pole. So when I first arrived and took the bus home, I literally circled the pole trying to make sure the bus would, actually, stop there. But then you’ve got expert level, and that’s when the bus stop is actually just a tree with a sign on it. Such as the one we took today. No words, guys, I have no words.
On our last visit to ESMA (you know, the former clandestine detention center with the Las Malvinas Museum) we spent a lot more time outside wandering the center rather than inside the museum. This was, of course, because we’d mostly seen everything inside of the Las Malvinas museum and wanted to explore the detention center. So we wandered through the buildings, went inside the ones that had exhibits or small museums inside of them and even examined the tank and machine gun that they had on the grass. Very surprisingly, both were somewhat functional, obviously they couldn’t shoot, but the barrel of the gun could be turned and lifted up and down (as my friend is doing in this picture).
#datcitylyfe: Speaking of awesome public transportation stories, I’ve got a great one to prove that, unlike before when I just said I was the master of the public transportation, I actually am now. To get to volleyball there are two busses I can take. One of them stops near my house (the 29), and one of them stops about ten minutes up the road from my house. The stop near my house actually has two busses that run similar routes, but the other (the 64) doesn’t go to volleyball. Generally I opt to just hang out at the stop near my house and assume it’ll drop by eventually. On this particular day, I was across the street from the stop when I watched the bus I need pull up, stop, and then continue on. Obviously, it’s one of the saddest feelings in the world when you have to watch your bus drive away. But I raced across the street anyways thinking I’d wait and take the next one. When I got there, I realized that the other bus, the 64, was just sitting there. And that’s when I had a stroke of brilliance, I’d take the 64 and see if I could catch up. The traffic lights were on my side that day, and I waited near the window, watching as we caught up with and then passed my 29. Near Plaza Italia, where the two share bus stops once more, I exited the 64 and raced to catch the 29 which had stopped right behind us. And that, ladies and gents, is the day I used the 64 to catch the 29 and truly became a master of the bus system.
#datcitylyfe: Because it’s close to the end and I just have so much to say, you get two of these this week. Because I just have to talk about kissing on the cheek (if I’m accidentally repeating this topic read it anyways because it’s a great story). Like most of the world that isn’t the United States, it’s customary to greet people by kissing them on the cheek. We learned that the first week we were here and became accustomed to greeting our host families and directors with a kiss on the cheek. But this is hard to remember sometimes and I’ll forget, and other times, I won’t be sure if it’s culturally appropriate, because why would I ever be kissing the ER doctor on the cheek? But after you get your ankle examined and it’s time to go fill all of the prescriptions that the doctor gave you, you don’t say goodbye by shaking his hand. No, no, you give him a kiss on the cheek. That is also true of your physical therapist, and her co-physical therapist. And I’m telling you know, don’t forget to kiss someone on the cheek, it becomes far more awkward for you than them. When someone puts out there hand to greet you, and you don’t respond, they end up just sitting there with their hand out. Maybe they’ll turn it into pretending to bat a fly, or pat you on the shoulder. Either way, it’s no fun. It’s the same experience when you forget that you have to kiss someone on the cheek, they end up leaning towards you with their cheek out (I really think that’s the greatest way to phrase this) for half a second longer than is culturally appropriate before you remember and lean in hurriedly to touch cheeks. But then of course, you have prepared and your hair swings forward and you just have to pray that they didn’t just get a face full of hair. All in all, I’m a huge fan of greeting people by kissing them on the cheek, it’s so nice, it’s a very sweet gesture. I just need to remember that it’s for everyone, not just friends. I think so far this has been the hardest part of the culture behaviors to remember, it was always easy to stay in line for busses, letting people off the subway before getting on is just common sense and I have finally mastered eating with both hands on the table when company is around; but it might take me a little longer to remember that I have to kiss my doctors.