Oh man! Where has the time gone? I feel so conflicted about my time here. I can’t tell if it feels like we’ve been here forever, or if we’ve only just begun. Perhaps a bit of both. I feel like I’m becoming more and more accustomed to this city and the way of life here. Each morning I usually end up taking the same bus to school, and I can’t help but look out the window all during my commute, and I usually end up noticing different things each day. My bus driver is funny. He drives like a maniac to keep up with the pace, but whistles as if he’s enjoying a relaxing Sunday drive.
Well I’ll start off with Sunday, which turned out to be a sort of dreary rainy day. So a group of us decided we’d take advantage of the weather and visit some of the nearby museums. We met up at a smaller museum, which had some interesting artifacts pertaining to Argentine culture as well as some art displays from local artisans. From there we headed down one of the main streets, Libertador, to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Along the way, we stopped at a park and outside of the national library to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. There’s a lot happening on Libertador. It’s home to some of Buenos Aires’ wealthier residents and there’s an abundance of ritzy cafes. The Museo de Bellas Artes was excellent. It was free to go in and there was a very large collection. I am by no means knowledgeable in art, but it was very cool to see a variety of styles and time periods among the collection. I could have spent several hours in there just wandering, but our group was getting hungry and I knew we had to get a move on. From there, we made our way over to the Cemetary in Recoleta and had lunch just outside the walls.
Monday we don’t have classes, so a group of us signed up to volunteer at a portion of the UBA’s Agronomy school. It’s a small farm that grows a variety of vegetables, but it’s an opportunity for young adults who come from difficult families and backgrounds to partake in team building work and learning skills and responsibility. We spent a few hours there weeding, composting, pulling veggies and interacting with some of the kids there. It was so nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a while and take in some fresh air.
Later that night a group of us went to La Bomba del Tiempo, which is a show that happens every Monday night in the city. It’s a big drum circle/percussion group that improvises each show they do. It’s so cool. The conductor leads them to make different beats with a variety of hand signals. Everybody dances along to the beat and flashing colors. Apparently the group travels around the world, so it was cool to get to see them in their home city.
Tuesday after class, me, Maria, Ariel and Catie headed back to Palermo to visit the Botanical Gardens; another really nice way to escape the busy city life. The gardens are really tranquilo and a lot of people go there to picnic, study, read or nap. Afterwards we enjoyed tea, café con leche and cake in a nearby café. Word to the wise: Yes, you must order dulce de leche whenever possible.
Wednesday and Thursday I spent the evenings enjoying my first tango lessons! Wednesday night I met up with a few friends at a community center for free tango lessons, and Thursday night was an IFSA organized lesson. Both were fantastic and I loved learning this unique and fun dance. The Tango was a dance that originated in the Argentine lower class, but through the years has grown to be a cultural vitality and means of identification for the Argentine culture. On Thursday, after our lesson, we all visited a Milonga, which is a big dance hall for Tango basically. It was fun to get pulled in and be taught by some experienced dancers and mingle with Argentines, as well as watch the really talented dancers pair up.
Friday we went out for the evening for our friend Katherine’s birthday, and Saturday I got to go to my first rugby game! It was Argentina versus England. I’d never seen a rugby game in my life, but fortunately our friend Ariel plays and was able to explain to us the game as we watched it. Along with soccer, rugby is one of the most popular games in all of Argentina. At the game there were tons of club teams dressed in their uniforms out to watch. England beat Argentina but there is undeniable pride within the Argentine people for their beloved sports teams. We’ve been advised as students here not to go to soccer games just because of how crazy it gets! I’ve met some die-hard sports fanatics at home in the states, but nothing compares to the love of futbol here and the deity himself, Messi. All in all, the game was great, and although I was betraying my English roots, I had fun rooting for Argentina!