Thursday, September 8, 2011

Karps Abroad

Not even a full week after I returned from Cordoba, my parents arrived in Buenos Aires.  I can't really describe how incredible it was the day they arrived.  Once I got word that they had landed, and spoke to my mom (via Katia's MagicJack phone contraption), I made my way to their hotel immediately.  I was shaking as I walked to the stop, boarded the bus, watched for my stop, and got off directly in front of the Marriott Plaza Hotel.  I was already smiling when I got in the elevator.  I knocked on the door of their room and waited.  As soon as my dad opened the door, I burst into tears.  Skype is great, and Facebook, and every other type of technology that lets us keep in touch across oceans and time zones, but you realize what a joke it all is when you finally see the people you love in person.  Skype, ooVoo, all types of videochatting-- they're super impressive and I would be miserable without them, but they're just...they're just nothing.  They're a Band-Aid, they're the best we can do for now, but really?  They're nothing.

So despite the fact that they had been traveling for days and were exhausted, we jumped right in and walked from their hotel in Retiro to the Recoleta market.  I kept them going at a quick pace all week; we saw (and ate in) all of the major barrios: Recoleta, Puerto Madero, Palermo, San Telmo, el Centro, and La Boca.  They even made it out to Colonia in Uruguay by themselves on a day I had class.  I was so proud.

On the balcony of their hotel room

Of course, I introduced them to mate...


El Caminito

Puente de la Mujer

View out the porthole of the ship-museum in Puerto Madero

Flamenco show in San Telmo

It was sort of a parent-child role reversal the entire week: since neither of them speaks the language or knows the city, I was leading them around, teaching them vocabulary and Argentine history, and telling them where we were going and what we were doing.  By the end of the week, I was happily exhausted.  They were exhausting only because we had to cram in a run-through of the entire city in only a few days.  It's the kind of place you know you might never come back to, so we didn't want to waste time.  We did, however, take a break every afternoon to relax and share some Malbec-- after the majority of our activities but before dinner. They had a little trouble adjusting to the Argentine dinner hour: no earlier than 9:00 and often as late as 11:00. When we ate at a steakhouse in Puerto Madero, we left the restaurant at 1:00 a.m. and there were still plenty of people there eating.

On Friday, we left the city-- people in my family are generally more inclined toward the suburban or rural lifestyle (although my mom insists she wants to move to a city when they retire)-- to spend a relaxing day in the countryside of San Antonio de Areco.  We participated in the "Dia del Campo" at an estancia called La Portena.  It was beautiful, and the perfect escape from the city's insanity (which, as I have admitted before and will never deny, I am in love with).  We learned about gaucho customs, ate asado, rode horses, and, most importantly, got to play with the dogs that lived there.  God, I miss my dogs.

Gaucho music

Gaucho skills
 The above picture is from the gaucho skills exhibition.  The gaucho rides full-speed toward, goal post thing, where there's a small silver ring that he has to hook onto a wooden pencil sort of tool.  If he can hook the ring and hang onto it, he wins.  He then presents the ring to a woman.  Traditionally, if the woman accepted the ring with a kiss, the two became a couple.  These days, though, many female visitors to the estancia receive rings and leave without a new boyfriend.

My mom conquers her horse fears

A lovely carriage ride

Those lambs were only a day old!

I saw this guy on the radio!

It was a really great week.  I was sad to see them go (tears again, of course) but I'll be home in less than two months!  I can hardly believe it.  The two major things left on the agenda are Puerto Madryn and Mar del Plata.  Also on my list are: show at the Teatro Colon, futbol game, Montevideo in Uruguay, possibly La Plata and/or Tigre, and, perhaps most importantly, one of these Thursdays I want to go down to San Telmo to see the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Disappeared.

As always, exciting times on the horizon.  Stay tuned.

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