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.