Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming soon! I promise!

Hey all,

I arrived in Argentina 151 days ago, and now I have less than 48 hours left before I head to the airport. Crazy!

So the blog is coming to an end...but not quite yet! I still plan to post my final reflections, a post about my family's visit, how I've been spending these last couple of weeks, and my personal guide to the city :) Most of that won't be up until I'm home, so stay tuned!! The blog's not over until I say it's over!! Which will be sometime before 2011...I think.

Anyway, thank you all so much for reading, and I apologize for the lack of updates lately. I've just been living the life, cramming in some final cultural experiences/Christmas shopping, and lazing in the heat.

I'll be writing to you soon!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Acción de Gracias en Uruguay

Another November thing I skipped writing about - Thanksgiving! I felt very thankful for many things that day, one being my study abroad program, IfSA. Not only did they provide us with an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, they made a whole vacation out of it! We spent three days and two nights in beautiful Colonia, Uruguay, where we got to relax, explore, go to the beach, etc. Yes, Thanksgiving on the beach. Incredible. I didn't take many photos, but here are a few:

Approaching our program director's house, which is also a B&B and a lemon plantation (!!!):

The beautiful house, where we did not actually stay:

The delicious spread:
My plate:

Somewhat odd, yet definitely delicious, pumpkin pie for dessert:
Exploring the town:
Uruguayan flora:
It was a really lovely holiday. As always, it was nice to get away from the city for a bit, but nice to return as well.

My family, meanwhile, was chillin' in Bs As, feeling thankful that they did not have to cook a turkey this year, and I thankfully returned to them on Saturday night for another week of Batts family adventures. All of which I will write about. Eventually. Stay tuned!

21 añitos

I turned twenty-one down here! Since I've been able to legally purchase alcohol since I got here, it was a somewhat anti-climactic experience compared to what it might have been in the States, but a birthday nonetheless. And this was my first time turning years (is that okay to say? cumplir años? I just don't know anymore) during summer, which was quite lovely!

So instead of "having a party," I celebrated in smaller ways, and did other cool non-birthday-related things that I decided would count as part of my birthday anyway.

1) The fantastic Patagonian adventure overlapped a tiny bit with my birthday, so I count it as part of the birthday package. The weather we got while down there was the universe's birthday gift to me.

2) Monday: My host-mom and host-sis took me out for a great birthday dinner!

They created this beautiful cake-display for me:

...and they took a bunch of pictures, some of which came out re-copadas:

...and some of which just look like me being, well, myself:

3) Tuesday: Jamie and I had an adorable lunch at La Salamandra before she took off for Chile, and I insisted that it was very much part of my birthday and made us take food pictures.

4) Wednesday: I invited my yanquis out to teatime at Tea Connection. It was Robyn's idea for each person to take a turn telling their favorite story about me. Zoé of course chose some winners, including the one about the time I got "trapped" in the bathroom.

My guests:
I'm gonna miss these folks!
More cake and wishes for me:

5) Friday: Hot Festival, a pop music festival, was going on, so while my family was in a plane on their way, I was seeing Girl-Talk, Scissor Sisters, Mika, and Phoenix perform! I liked Mika by far the best, and his Spanish was great, which I know the audience appreciated. Seeing so many concerts one after the other was pretty exhausting, but it was definitely a fun time.

Chillin' in the heat at Hot Festival:


7) Saturday: To conclude my birthday week, my family showed up! More about their visit soon :) I am actually still receiving cards from my mom in the mail – she sent twenty-one of them before coming here. Sneaky.

Well, there you have it. A birthday abroad well spent, if I do say so myself. I realize there was actually zero alcohol involved, which may disappoint some U.S. readers, but cake is way yummier in my book.

Now before I drop dead of self-centeredness, I shall close this post and move on to the next one!


21-year-old Isa

Here I am!!

Well hello readers!!

Sorry I've been so incredibly m.i.a. lately. As several people (well, one person, whose voice surely speaks to the desires of many) recently pointed out, I got a little lazy in November. 3 posts? Pathetic!! I've got just shy of two weeks to make up for that and then it's blognomore. BuenosAiresnomore. Let's not even talk about it.

So here come a few little blogposts about what I've been up to lately. One right after the other. Ready?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reflection at 80%

The Batts clan is here! They arrived Saturday morning and are settling in nicely. Family fun times have caused me to neglect my blog (and my homework*), so I’m actually a few days late for 80%. This means that I have a few days shy of a month left in Argentina. Freakout, as my dad would say.

These reflections were a good idea, and I’ll surely appreciate them someday, but they’re getting more and more difficult to write. I guess I really don’t feel like reflecting right now, at 80%.

With all of the pretension I can muster, I’ll declare that my reluctance to reflect is a perfect reflection of my current state of mind. It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. November has brought some great adventures so far, and I’m ready for more! Soon, I’ll be THERE, not HERE, so I’m just trying to be here now.**

Coming soon:

-my fabulous yet (somewhat accidentally) substance-free 21st

-The Wild Battsberrys discover Argentina

-Thanksgiving in Colonia, Uruguay with the entire herd of yanquis

-leaving, probable reverse-culture-shock-related trauma, the end of this blog.

SAD! I promise I’ll do some fun final entries, with lots of amusing photos. Suggestions are welcome!

Thanks for reading, it’s been a pleasure ;) And continues to be!! Because it’s NOT OVER YET.



*I still have homework for Spanish class, as there is still (and always will be) Spanish to be learned. But I’m writing this first, of course – my priorities lie with you, dear readers.

**I have not read this book. Have you?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Las Aventuras Patagónicas de las Trillizas Nórdicas

Hello lovely readers!

Sorry I've been M.I.A. for a couple of weeks. Here comes an epic post about my trip to Patagonia. Ready?

To sum up, Gwen, Zoé and I trekked down South for five days of adventures! We did everything. It was awesome.

Me experiencing Patagonian bliss:

Here's the day-by-day version, with pics!


We board our bus at 3:00 pm, bracing ourselves for eighteen hours of semi-cama travel. It ends up being not only the longest, but also definitely the strangest bus ride I have ever experienced. After just a short while on the bus, a movie begins to play – “The Ten Commandments,” dubbed into Spanish, no less. We fear this will stir up some intense religious conflict, because about half of our fellow passengers happen to be Orthodox Jews, and as such would probably not appreciate Charlton Heston’s take on Moses. The movie stops after a few minutes, and we begin to hear yelling from the bottom deck of the bus. There is a man screaming about el infierno! It turns out to be the bus driver’s favorite fundamentalist preacher on the radio. Joy! With the radio still blaring, a new movie appears on the tv screen:

“Fireproof,” a delightful film which illustrates the importance of staying married even if you hate your spouse so much you’ve stopped sleeping in the same bed and have started hanging out at your parents’ house every day (starring Kirk Cameron, no less).


After nineteen hours on the bus, we finally arrive in Puerto Madryn. It’s a confusing town: picturesque shoreline; tiny, modest houses, some in bad shape; hostels everywhere; and several stores selling high end athletic equipment, furniture, etc., scattered among the panaderías and kioscos.

We’re transported via complimentary taxi to our hostel, which turns out to be (a) quite clean and adorable and (b) full of French people!

Hostel giddiness:

We buy some provisions from the supercompras across the street and make PB & J for lunch. A delicious rarity! Then, we board the van to go on our first excursion, to Punta Ninfas.

The landscape is beautiful and bizarre. There are no trees, only small bushes (which reminded me of Iceland) – Zoé informs me that the writer and illustrator of Le Petit Prince was inspired by his time spent flying over Patagonia, and I can see it!

The Patagonian sky is UNBELIEVABLE. I fell in love with that sky. This sounds silly, but you would have, too! I took a lot of pictures of just blue.

We trek down the cliff (?) and get up close and personal with the sea lions! Our guide informs us what to do in case we see one charging at us. We soon observe that they hardly move, and when they do, they sort of just jiggle and flop. We are left wondering what a confrontation would entail.

We return to the hostel feeling surprisingly wiped out. We microwave milanesas de soja and frozen broccoli for dinner and eat alongside our new French acquaintances, who have prepared beautiful culinary masterpieces for themselves. We are embarrassed.


We wake up at 6:30 am to head out to Peninsula Valdés! It is a full day of exploring, with much time spent on our tour van in between. Zoé and I keep falling asleep in our seats, resulting in our guide laughing at us and Gwen taking an excessive amount of unbelievably unflattering photos of us, none of which will ever be featured on this blog.

Our first stop, around 7 am:

We went whale-watching! Whales are huge and look like dinosaurs:

The rest of the day entails more sealion-spotting and more van travel. On a more exciting note: I ran into some Finns! It was great and bizarre to speak Finnish with strangers on the opposite side of the globe.

Despite having eaten PB&J’s on our excursion, we are starving when we get back to the hostel that evening, and being around marine life all day has given us intense seafood cravings. We go to a restaurant down the block and eat an entire breadbasket before the waiter even takes our orders. We get arroz con mariscos. We’re unable to identify most of the mariscos, but eat them anyway. Yum.


Switching to past-tense. I hate grammar sometimes.

Another 6:30 am wakeup, this time for a trip to Punta Tombo! Even more time on the van this day, which made us go a little stir-crazy, but it was worth it. First, we went on a boat ride, and there were dozens of dolphins that came right next to the boat! They were so playful and lovely. They reminded me of dogs and made me miss mine! We could hear their breath sounds when they surfaced, which was cool.

So excited to see dolphins:

After the dolphins, we went on a walk through a huge penguin colony! Penguins are the strangest. When they’re not doing their famous waddle, they’re napping in shallow burrows or just standing there like statues. We saw some dead penguins as well. They just die right there out in the open! This was clearly not the Disneyland version of penguin life.

Identifying with our new species of pal:

All three triplets:

That night, after three straight days of PB&J for lunch, we cooked ourselves some actual dinner. Still not up to French traveler standards, but we felt proud.


We sleep in until 8:30. What luxury! With only a few hours left before bustime, we spend the morning enjoying the town. We buy colitas de ballenas – made of chocolate, filled with dulce de leche – and eat them on the pier in bliss.

Chocolate in our bellies, we take a pleasant barefoot walk down the shoreline in search of flamingos, which we eventually decide are mythical.

Then, we head to the BUS STATION. AGH.

The second bus trip was so awful, the sheer memory has made me unable to write this blogpost until now. The bus was about two hours late, for one, and the bus crew somehow thought it necessary to play movies continuously: some of the most god-awful romantic comedies I’ve ever seen, along with a couple of delights about cancer and gang violence. The tv screen was right next to our faces, and the sound blared through the speakers. At 1 am, they were somehow possessed to turn on all of the fluorescent lights and start playing some horrible boxing/prison movie. Our seats were also right next to the bathroom. Delightful. I turned 21 on that bus.

Bus horrors aside, it really was an amazing trip. Bountiful beauty, wonder, and laughter of the best kind! A wonderful way to welcome in a new year of my life. As for my 21st, the celebrations continue...more of that to come!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cosas buenísimas

LOOK, a new post!!
Mafalda & me in San Telmo :)

To those of you who check this blog regularly for updates, I’m sorry that lately you’ve been confronted again and again with the article about Kirschner’s death. The week and a half since have been quite unique: his passing seemed to both unite and divide the nation, and definitely made people think and reflect about both their personal political views and the future of Argentine politics as a whole. Now, though, the high emotions seem to be winding down, and things are returning to normal.

Because of the official mourning period, a lot of events in the city were cancelled, which means I haven’t been to the theater in ages, and this past week was (relatively speaking) academically heavy for me. But here I am, posting again!

I ended October on a very homesick note – Halloween hit me with nostalgia and made me feel very far away from my family, my childhood, and my culture (an odd feeling, because I tend to dismiss the idea of being connected to “American culture,” or even the notion that it exists in the first place.) But here we are in November, and I’m feeling positive all around! The weather is beautiful, and lots of good things are happening now and in the near future. I’ll share some with you:

1) As of yesterday, I’m a real resident of Argentina! I can stay here through January if I like, says the Government. I’m not going to, though, but now I have a piece of paper that lets me leave the country if I want to and makes my grades real instead of pretend.

2) After escaping from the delightful place that is migraciones, I turned in the final fruits of my labor to USal! That means that, aside from a few more sessions of Castellano Mantenimiento, I’m on SUMMER VACATION, BABY.

3) On Wednesday, a bunch of U.S. gals and I are heading to Puerto Madryn! I’ve felt the urge to leave la Capital for a while, and I’ve wanted to go to Patagonia ever since it first occurred to me it was more than just a brand name.

4) My 21st BIRTHDAY is NINE DAYS FROM NOW. The celebration plans are lining up. Lots of classy fun. I can't wait!

5) My parents and little sis are coming to visit in two weeks!! I can’t wait to see them after all this time, and I’m really excited to play tour guide!

6) I also have a camera again. AGAIN. I’m hoping it will last at the very least just a bit longer than the last one did so I can successfully capture the bizarre, the beautiful, and the ordinary from my last month-and-a-half on this side of the equator.

A blogpost without photos is like a s’more without the chocolate (how’s that for some American culture?), so here’s a couple from our census-day picnic:

Note the PB & J.

Just look at all those beautiful yanquis! Everything was closed that day, so we stayed outside for hours. I got a super unfortunate facial sunburn that is finally mostly gone.

Also, we found yummy Armenian food on Halloween:

Okay, that’s it for now.

Stay tuned!



P.S. I think word-of-the-day is coming to a halt. It's not that I've stopped learning lunfardo, it's just that the words I'm learning are less bloggable these until further notice, that's over.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Un duelo nacional

A change from the usual lightheartedness...

When I started this blog, I had the intention of posting about current events in Argentina. Although I've stayed quite informed, I haven't done any political or news-related posts. Compared to what we have in the U.S., Argentine politics are extremely complicated, and although I have opinions I think it would take years of living here for me to really form a stance.

Right now, however, I feel inclined to post, because the country is in a strange, sad, historical moment. Yesterday morning, former president Néstor Kirchner died unexpectedly of heart failure. He was the husband of the current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and continued to be a highly influential political figure until his death. In the news, the two are often referred to as el matrimonio presidencial ("the presidential marriage").

To honor the former president's death, the nation entered into an official three-day mourning period. The flag is at half-mast, and several events have been canceled. Today, people waited for hours in a seemingly infinite line outside of the casa rosada to pay their respects to Néstor and to offer their condolences to Cristina, who stood solemnly and patiently as each citizen greeted her. What an awful duty to have as a president, to be in the public eye all day immediately following her husband's death. The mourners go to show Cristina their support and solidarity, but in return they are asking her to have the strength to receive all of them and to show them things will be all right.

Cristina with Néstor's coffin.

The people's reactions to Néstor's death demonstrate the heated nature of politics in this city, a place of continuous strikes and protests. It seems that no one is apathetic, and some are incredibly moved; footage of people crying has been on the news non-stop. Some who did not support the former president's views are openly happy about his death. We exchange students have collectively seen the full range of reactions from our host families. This event, although ordinary in its gravity, seems to hold great personal significance for each person living in this country. Even I feel involved, somehow.

So that's the current climate, as far as I see it. The whole thing makes me question how we relate to our political leaders and our expectations of them on a personal level. I shudder to think about it, to be honest. What about you? How does the "political celebrity" phenomenon differ from place to place in the world?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Blog Must Go On!

I've loved keeping this blog, but lately I've found that posting isn't coming as naturally to me as it did before. As reflected in my previous entry, life feels more ordinary now, and therefore somehow less blog-able. I'm still having great adventures as a wannabe porteña, but now my life feels like real life as opposed to some imaginary version of life abroad. Also, that to-do list I posted is messing with me. It makes me feel super un-accomplished, even though I plan to do many of those things when classes are out and when my family visits, AND most of my little adventures aren't really to-do-listy. Blah, blah.

BUT I want to keep on trekking with the blog and staying connected to my beloved readers! My camera got stolen this weekend (UGH. I won't dwell on this, but WHAT A PAIN), but luckily I didn't lose any pictures. So here are some glimpses of recent life:

Valentín and I had a farewell photo shoot with Irma before she returned to El Salvador. We miss her :(

Bailee, Gwen, Jamie, Zoé, and I wandered around the beautiful Recoleta Cemetery the other day:
Next to Eva Peron's tomb:

I look way too giddy to be in a cemetery. The sun was shining, I went stocking-less for the first time while in this country...and I STILL HAD MY CAMERA (note my left hand)

Bailee admiring our strange and beautiful surroundings.

Goofy girls :)

We then ventured to the park next to the planetarium, where I shared a dramatic moment with Galileo...

...and the other girlies climbed a tree!

This is becoming long! How about that!
Some more tidbits:
I bought this journal in the States before leaving, and filled it up recently! It's mostly in Spanish. I am proud.

My new journal, front and back (I'm using the girly shoe as the front, even though the shoes I wear every day are identical to the manly one)

To complete the healthy dose of TMI you're getting in this post, here's a fruit salad I ate the other day. Because you're statistically about eight times more likely (no joke) to read/comment if I post a picture of food. I know you too well, dear readers ;)

Besos :)


Word of the day: la cana - n. Police. (also means, but doesn't have anything to do with, "white hair")

Within the near future: boliche-style Halloween, census-inspired picnics, and (surprise!) belated play reviews. Stay tuned!