Wow. The days are getting away from me. I can't believe it's Sunday and my last entry was Wednesday. It doesn't feel that long ago. It's weird how I can already feel time speeding up. The first few days here were unfathomably long, but now that I'm more comfortable and I'm off doing things, the days are much quicker. My four-month stay here, which used to seem daunting, now seems brief. I am falling in love with this city, and I can already tell how terribly I'm going to miss it when I go back to the U.S., as thrilling as it will be returning home. The main reason I've been thinking long-term is because yesterday Maria and I spent almost the entire day trying to get a handle on what big trips we were going to be able to make and when. Machu Picchu got knocked off the list very quickly-- I think I already knew it was pretty impossible. But it looks like we're going to hit Iguazu Falls and the Jesuit ruins in Misiones; los Esteros de Ibera in Corrientes; San Antonio de Areco; Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay; Bariloche, or depending on the volcanic ash situation, Puerto Madryn, both a bit south; and Mar del Plata. We might also make it to the city of La Plata as well as Mendoza (wine country). It's all very daunting and complicated right now, but we're zeroing in on concrete plans for our first trip (Corrientes and Misiones), which will happen within the month.
Today we finally made it to the fair at San Telmo. We left the Resi around 1:30 and met up with Maria's high-school Spanish teacher, who is in Buenos Aires for a week to take an intensive Spanish course, as well. He won it in a contest, or something. So we met up with him in San Telmo at Habibi-- does this translate? Comida arabe = Arabic food? I'm not sure exactly what type of food it was, but it wasn't Argentine. We had falafel and this thing that I think is called shawarma or something, as well as a plate of what were essentially shish kebabs. It was all delicious! I was a little iffy when we got off the colectivo (#59, something new for us) and had to walk a few blocks through this neighborhood that I guess is still part of San Telmo. I was a bit uncomfortable, even when we found the restaurant, but it was excellent and afterward we walked through the street fair, which led us to more populated, commercial streets. Maria and I already know we're going to return to San Telmo at least once because we saw some booths where we might like to buy souvenir gifts for family and friends. Today it was just fun to meander through the streets and browse. After we'd wandered for a bit, we stopped at a cafe where Maria and her professor got coffees and I got dulce de leche ice cream...and a Coke. I'm very concerned about eating healthy, you see. We had to ask the waiter which colectivo to take back to our Resi (it was the #29, and the stop was just outside), but we made it back without any trouble. Now I've got some homework to do.
But first, I need to recount Thursday's trip to the theater and Friday's excursions to the Dept. of Justice and boliche #3.
Thursday morning we had to get up early to go get our certificados de antecedentes penales-- the document proving we haven't committed crimes in Argentina-- since we had to turn it in to the exchange office Friday morning. We had intended to go Wednesday morning, but I was still sick. So we got up, hopped on the colectivo, and managed to find our way to the office where we stood in line, paid our money, had our fingerprints scanned, and got receipts telling us to come back the next morning no earlier than 9:35. Then we sat in a cafe for four hours, finishing homework and people-watching. Maria and I agreed that people in this city are just generally good-looking. And everyone dresses well. It's a great place to people-watch, that's for sure.
After class we had a few hours to head home and get changed before we had to meet back up at the Teatro del Globo to see Codigo de Familia, a drama set a few years before the war over the Falkland Islands/ Islas Malvinas. Everyone in the class settled in and proceeded to concentrate for an hour and a half, and we all came out of the show understanding the gist of what had happened. We even caught some of the jokes. We were all very proud of ourselves. After the show, Marina (one of the professors) recommended that we go for dinner at Banchero, a popular pizza place. I'm so glad we did. The pizza was excellent; we shared a bottle of wine, and we all just generally had a great time.
We had to get up early again to head back to the Justice Dept. (I guess that's what it's called?) to pick up our certificates. After hitting a kiosco to make a photocopy, we dropped off the necessary documents and hit another cafe to do some homework. We finished earlier this time, as planned, and headed to Avenida Santa Fe for some shopping. We didn't actually find the store we were looking for, but we stopped in several places selling the beautiful boots that are everywhere in this city, and we also hit El Ateneo. This bookstore is in a remodeled theatre, and is the most beautiful, amazing place I've seen. They still have the painted ceiling and the molding on all the balconies. It's incredible. When we walked out of there, you couldn't slap the smile off my face. The place just made my day.
After class we headed back to the Resi and I was dying to get out and do something, but we couldn't figure out what. Luckily when I was eating dinner a few girls from my floor invited me to go out to a boliche with them ("early," at 1:30). Maria and I were both sort of undecided about going, but one single exclamation of "Están en Argentina!" persuaded us, and we went. It was only a few blocks away, so we walked over. We danced for a while, but we were both tired, and left by 3:30. The thing about the boliches is these girls here can naturally dance. They're not spectacular or well-versed in particular steps-- they just naturally dance better than I can. I don't know if it's cultural or genetic or what, but when the average American tries to move to the music, it's pretty awkward. Not the case in Argentina.
Saturday was gorgeous, so we went to the park for a bit to look through travel books, then to Casa de Gretha to get submarinos and alfajores-- so far, the alfajores there are my favorite-- and continue planning. Planning and scheming continued until late, then we tried a new pizza place for dinner, hit McDonald's for dulce de leche and Oreo McFlurrys, and watched a movie before calling it a night. Then this morning, before we went to San Telmo, I finally got to Skype with my family-- all of them!-- during family breakfast. It was almost like being there, except I didn't actually get to eat. So, you know, that was pretty disappointing. But I ended up eating loads of delicious food today, so I'm not terribly upset.