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!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflection at 60%

I'm feeling uncharacteristically reluctant to write this entry, because I'm reluctant to summarize. But seeing as I have exactly two months left, I'd best get this done now. I suppose I'll just use my nearly-full Buenos Aires journal as a guide and write what jumps out at me.

This past month was very much a middle month. It brought Spring, but not real heat yet; preparations for exams, but no exams yet; and traces of homesickness along with the fear that my JYA time is flying by. I feel that I've really settled into daily life here, which on one hand makes me feel great - independent, confident, able - but on the other hand, brings the possibility of boredom and the challenge of making life interesting. My Spanish has also gotten to the point where I don't NEED to improve, but I still COULD improve plenty. To summarize (oh no!), I need to remind myself to make an effort now that life isn't demanding it from me.

I've been reflecting a lot about the ways in which I've changed - or perhaps better said, the things that Buenos Aires brings out in me. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, and they're all positive, but I feel like I should wait until after the experience to reveal them! It blows my mind that I still have two months of change coming, because I already feel a profound difference. One thing I'll share is that I've been learning to be more present, conscious, etc., which goes along nicely with this middle month and will continue to serve me for months to come. ForEVER, I dare say.

I wrote this sentence at the beginning, but don't know where to put it: I feel secure enough in my porteña-ness to make myself PB&J. I feel that's very telling of this moment at 60%.

Thank you all so much for reading, it's super cool to be sharing this experience with all of you!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Amante del amor"

18 of Shakespeare's sonnets, newly translated into Spanish. A black-box theater, five actors, two small tables, a chair, and a small proscenium-arch set piece. Quite lovely!

I had the privilege of attending an interview with the director, Helena Tritek. She talked about "using the images that the sonnets awakened for her" instead of sticking to "correct" interpretations of what the sonnets meant to Shakespeare. The result was beautiful. Seeing this performance made me reflect on "I burn, I pine, I perish," a Shakespeare-based project I directed last Spring at Vassar, and gave me some new thoughts as to working with good ol' Bill.* What impressed me most about this performance was the sense of play throughout. There was a tangible Commedia dell'arte influence, and the actors fully committed to the silliness and the sorrow alike.

*Bill. As in William. Get it? So as not to repeat myself within sentences. Heh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Estado de ira"

This show was one of my favorites so far, and definitely got my teatrista brain going. It took the play-within-a-play concept in a direction I'd never thought of: the entire play is a rehearsal for another play, Ibsen's "Hedda Gabbler." An accomplished actress arrives to play the title character, and the play charts her (humorous) emotional transformation from being extremely composed and sure of herself at the beginning to being on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the end. Literary parallels! Beautiful.

"Estado de ira" takes place in the 1950s in Argentina (needless to say, BEAUTIFUL costumes) but I recognized many of the characters and quirks of the rehearsal process from my own experiences. I would love to know more about their process in conceiving this production - in my eyes it was very much a play by actors for an audience of actors, although I'm sure non-theater-types could get a kick out of it, too. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they just started out with ideas for characters, the "Hedda Gabbler" script, and improvised from there. I would LOVE to be a part of something like that! IDEAS...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cinco Cuentitos...

This is post #50! It's likely I'll double that by the end. So much clogging with a b.

I've got two reviews to write from the past week, but first, some little stories in random order:

1) I stepped in mierda for the first time today since being here, which is impressive considering it's just about everywhere. The concept of picking up after your pet does not exist here. Neither does the concept of moving your pet out of the center of the sidewalk when it's about to do its business. That's one thing Rosario has over Buenos Aires! ONE thing.

2) Realizing I have just a tad over two months left, I made a to-do list yesterday for the rest of the semester. It was shockingly brief and included very tangible goals such as "finish at least one of the books I'm reading" and "make PB + J for my Argentine friends." (They've tried peanut butter before but think it would taste awful with jelly. Having eaten thousands of PB + J's in my lifetime, I disagree and am set on proving them wrong!) In conclusion, I'm not running out of time :)

3) Robyn turns twenty today! Last night we partied it up in Palermo Hollywood. I got home around 5, ready to sleep for a good long while, when I realized that I had to get up at 8:30 to go to Immigrations. For further information, see the phrase of the day.

4) Sometimes, my friends and I get the urge to do very yanqui things and we feel embarrassed. The other day, for example, Gwen and I went to see "Comer, rezar, amar" and liked it a little too much. It's a chick flick with a bit of a brain! We read the subtitles to appease our guilt.

5) Continuing with the theme from #4, I've also fallen in love with Tea Connection, a yummy restaurant with actual fruits and vegetables on the menu (and amazing tea, of course.) Yesterday they forgot to charge me for this deliciousness:

That's spinach, corn, and parmesan tarta with lettuce and cherry tomatoes on the side. YUM. The karma's gonna come back to bite me. Or it would if there were such a thing as karma. I firmly believe there is not. I did pay for the tea, though:

All right, now that we're clear on my lunch preferences as well as my religious beliefs, I think this blogpost can end.

BUT not before I make it INTERACTIVE! Question: What should be on my to-do list? What would you do in Buenos Aires if you had the chance?

Okeedoke, that's all.


Phrase of the day: estar hecho/hecha de mierda - lit. "to be made of shit." Usually used to describe one's physical state or appearance after getting little sleep, having a long day, or getting an embarrassing sunburn. I've been using this one a lot lately. To say it about yourself: "Estoy hecho de mierda" if you're male, "hecha" if you're female.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rosario me hizo extrañarte, Buenos Aires...

On Saturday, I travelled with most of IFSA (my study abroad program) to Rosario, the third largest city in Argentina. It’s located 300 km northwest of Buenos Aires, on the western bank of the Paraná river. In short: the town is cute, the air is pure, the river is beautiful. I had a nice time, but it made me miss Buenos Aires.

We saw quite a bit on this trip, but didn't really do much, which was fine but makes this blogpost less interesting. I’ll keep it short. Here are some pics from walking around/our bus tour:

Me with Mario, director of IFSA, proudly representing Vassar:

We stumbled upon some outdoor theater! I wanted to stay and watch, but we sadly didn’t have the time...

Saturday evening, IFSA paid for a multi-course meal, which I enjoyed without documenting. We stayed overnight in the Holiday Inn Express*. SWANK. Zoé and I were roomies. We documented our reactions upon entering the abode:

The beds were unbelievably comfy. I wish we had had an extra day just for sleeping and watching “Harry Potter” en español, because we decided to go out Saturday night instead of giving in to my contagious lameosity.

Sunday brought more strolling about:
Me by the river:

We were good and looked at monuments:

...and ate some choripan:
To complement our bus tour, we took a boat tour, which was a serene experience, partly because we were all so sleepy. Here's a view out the window from one side of the boat:
...and from the other side:
The above image is of the island across the water from the city. A storm hit it recently, leaving the few houses in shambles. Quite the contrast.

There you have my Rosario. If you have a lot of time on your hands for exploring Argentina, I recommend it.


Word of the day: la plata - n. Money. (lit. silver. The word "dinero" is hardly ever used here)

*In spite of the cushiness, I couldn’t forget that the hotel was eerily identical to hotels in the States. I started to feel like I was in a creepy study abroad limbo. It was nice to have some time to bond with my fellow yanquis, but it was nice to come back home, as well :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Estamos en OCTUBRE

Happy first of October, everyone. I can't believe this month has arrived! It's especially surreal because I'm officially having my first year without an Autumn. I hear it's hot in Boston right now, but it'll cool down, while here it's warming up - no complaints, but it feels strange nonetheless.

So my school week diary is over. I hope you guys enjoyed the peak into my especially chilled-out week. I'll keep going with the play reviews and travel tales - I bought a camera today so I'll be able to add photos for real! - but I welcome any suggestions for upcoming blogposts. If you haven't already guessed, this is fun for me.

I'm off to Rosario for the weekend!

Thanks for reading :)


Jueves: My hair is gone!

(Note the new hair, the slightly exasperated facial expression after many photo fails, and the pots and pans that my clothes share a closet with.)

School week diary, day four:

10:00 Wake up. Laze through getting ready. Head out.

11:00 Arrive at the church around the corner where I attend the fourth years’ play rehearsals every week. Marisa tells us that there’s been a miscommunication: they’ve already started rehearsing in the performance space, and it’s too late for us to get there now. The play goes up Monday, October 11th, and will be performed weekly through October and November. You can check it out on facebook here.

I head back home. I stop in a verdulería to buy an apple. Lately, men selling me fruit always ask me about the weather. They think I haven’t understood them when I reply that no, it’s not cold outside. Then I respond with a speedy, verbose explanation that I’m not from here and thus this doesn’t seem cold at all to me.

I eat the apple on the way home. It’s delicious. People don’t usually eat outside here, but I figure that I’m going to be stared at anyway, so I might as well do what I want.

13:15 Leave the house. Get on the colectivo, head to Recoleta to meet Gwen and Zoé for lunch at Tea Connection – not the most Argentine of spots, but delightful nonetheless.

14:00 I’m the first to arrive. I snag us a table near a guy with an ironic moustache. I look up words while I wait for the girls.

14:20 The chickies arrive. We decide what to order and spend most of our mealtime in Spanish. We eat some wonderful food, drink yummy tea, and have some ridiculous conversations. Lovely all around!

16:30-ish We realize that we should maybe leave Tea Connection at some point in our lives. Gwen and I decide to go to Palermo to do some shopping, and Zoé decides to head home to study. First, we stop by Gwen’s house. Zoé gets to meet host mom Dolo and host dog Felipe for the first time!

As we’re walking toward Palermo, Gwen and I spot the Doctor Who look alike that we saw in a boliche a few weeks ago. THE SAME GUY! We feel creepy but are overjoyed nonetheless.

18:00 Gwen and I arrive in Palermo. Gwen hasn’t given up on our mission for me to get my hair cut. We find a salon called Maldito Frizz – it looks promising. I step in to inquire about making an appointment. The dude (there are a lot of very DUDE dudes working as hairdressers in this city) says he can start my haircut in five minutes. And so, dear readers, I got much of my hair chopped off by a balding 30-something-year-old guy named Leonardo while listening to some excellent jams.

So, newly rid of my “ugly ends,” we went on to do some shopping, and actually found some lovely stores that were light on the floral print. I got lucky and found a dress, a sweater, and a headband – Gwen left empty-handed, sadly, but we’ll be back. The exchange rate is too much in our favor for us to pass up the opportunity.

20:00 We start heading over to the theater where we’ll be seeing Estado de ira, sponsored by IFSA. The theater is in a weird spot – sort of inside the zoo, from what I gathered. We immediately run into one of my classmates from Voz y Canto – it’s a small world when you’re a theater kid. Once inside, we see another of my USal peeps. I’m not surprised in the least.

21:00 The show starts. Review coming soon!

23:00 Show over. The group of yanquis hovers around Mario, our program director, to see if we’ll be getting a free meal this evening. After we follow him awkwardly for a couple of blocks, he peaces out. Sad.

Left to our own devices, Gwen, Zoé, Rodrigo and I have dinner at Kentucky Pizza. There are a disconcerting number of places in this city with “Kentucky” in the title. At least Gwen feels right at home!

And there you have my jueves. It didn’t turn out to be a school day in the least. Go right ahead and burn with jealousy at my abundance of weekend, just don't hate me for being free!



Word of the day: la bronca - n. Anger. (I feel like it's almost an onomatopoiea)