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Friday, May 06, 2011

La Plata

I think when I last left you Ben and I were settling into B.A. City life since then we have had a lot happen! Somehow I let Ben convince me to take Tango lessons haha. I am a horrible dancer and to be honest he really had to pull my leg to get me to go. I showed up without a partner and everyone was all coupled up and no one really looked like they spoke English (the instructors certainly didn't) and we had to pay to get in. All of that just really had me in a defeatist mood and I wanted to leave right away.

But, I stayed. Boy am I glad I stayed! I couldn't understand a word of what the instructor guy was saying (he spoke really fast) but I watched his feet. After a bit I learned the basic moves. (Left,Forward,Forward,Stop,Forward once more then Right) Pretty simple huh? I managed to get myself a really pretty girl as a partner and I was off to the races. About half way thru the lesson I was really honestly enjoying myself and not doing to horrible at this tango!

The girl tried to talk basic conversation with me and usually I can handle basic stuff pretty well in Spanish but something happened to me and all of my Spanish failed me! I felt like I had honey in my mouth and I could not put two words together for the life of me. I felt so stupid and it was frustrating.... You really should never take basic simple communication for granted because when you can't do it, it is super hard and frustrating. I think it had something to do with how pretty she was :P

Long story short, I am really glad Ben forced me to go and glad I stayed because while I hated it at first by the end of the night I really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new in the Tango Capital of the World :)

Earlier in that day I went into a pharmacy to buy some contact solution and I had no idea where to find it or how to ask for it in Spanish. No one there seemed to speak English and I just could not find it at all! But then I heard someone speak English (when you are in a country where they don't speak your language it is amazing how quickly you can pick it up when someone speaks English) So this lady was there from New Jersey with her family and she helped me find contact solution. She was very nice and helpful and I really appreciated it and not only that but, we randomly saw her again as we were getting off the subway a whole 24 hours later. In a city of 8 million people that is pretty amazing!

Speaking of the Subway, the Subway system in B.A. Is quite good and really cheap but man is it ever crowded! There is always tons and tons of people on there and there is constantly people trying to beg for money and/or sell you something that gets a little annoying. On the “Line B” of the subway (Subte is Subway in Argentina) there is one train car that we rode on that is so so old! The oldest one I have ever seen. The doors are not automatic you have to open and close them yourself and it is semi open air and made out of wood! Pretty wild huh? But it gets you where you need to go.

We have been involved in Couch Surfing here in Buenos Aires and last night Ben and I wanted a proper Argentian steak dinner (supposed to be some of the best in the world) for our last night together in B.A. We went to a restaurant recommended to us by a friend with some other couch surfers and for 25 USD I got one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life plus a side dish and some beer and I was a happy man. There is no way you could have had that meal back in the US for the price we paid and we really had a great time with great friends. Everyone in Argentina has been nothing but nice to us! I have met a really cool guy from America and a really cool girl from California here and we have also had some great CS hosts here in Argentina.

Today Ben and I split up. I wont see him again now until he comes to Texas in July. We have had a good run together, always good times him and I. He really is one of my best friends. He left for some amazing waterfalls on the border of Argentina/Brazil and I am now in La Plata couch surfing here about an hour outside of Bs As (Buenos Aires city centre. My bus was late leaving for La Plata but I had a really nice lady help me out who didn't speak a lick of English but we managed to work it out together (the bus left from a different terminal than they originally assigned) Then once I actually got to La Plata I had a few issues finding my new hosts house but I had another really nice girl help me out on the street and even though we don’t really speak the same language she actually escorted me all the way to the doorstep of where I needed to go. I love the random acts of kindness you find around the world in every culture.

In less than a week I fly to Bogotá Colombia and I am excited to continue my adventure there. I had talked to multiple people here personally who say it is one of the most beautiful friendly countries in the world and people go out of their way to be nice to you there and show you a good time to prove that the media reports don't have to be right. I will be couch surfing there as well. To jump back to B.A. For a bit I have a few last things to add. Just as in the rest of South America they have amazing Helado here (icecream) most of you know how much of an ice cream fan I am and I love trying it around the world. Buenos Aires has a chain here called Freddo and they have great ice cream! Some of the best I have ever had. Buenos Aires is also the first city I have ever been too in the world that has sponsored street signs. It will say (insert street name and number here) and then above all the street information it will say Nokia or Claro or some other company that paid for the sign and every sign has it! Weird huh?

In every country we have visited so far there has been political unrest. There was picketing signs in Chile and Peru with people marching and in Bolivia there was flat out riots. Here in Argentina there is strikes and picketing as well. South America as a continent just doesn't seem very happy right now. It is really interesting because in my experience with Thailand and other countries how this seems to go is the people as a whole get really angry over something like bad pay or something and they mobilize and stand up to the government and the government tolerates it for a while then steps in and usually crushes it all violently with people ending up dead. It is quite sad actually.

In America we have our fair share of problems and people do get angry with the government but I never really hear of riots or huge protests like they have here and certainly the government doesn't step in and start killing people. I guess generally speaking back home people as a whole don't care enough to protest in large numbers and our government never feels the need to step in or change anything so everything just stays as is. Well hopefully South and North America can work their respective issues out and everything will be peachy because there is much more to life than having to argue with your own elected government.

My new host here in La Plata actually had a party in my honour I was totally blown away! She made a cake and everything! All of her friends are really cool here and everyone was nice. There was a lot of Spanish being spoken that I didn't catch but they did manage to translate most of it for me. The Spanish here in Argentina is a lot different from anywhere else we have been and it is much harder for me to understand. They love to had a “Sch” sound to lots of words. Here in B.A. Americans are called “Schyankees” a play off of Yankees I am assuming. My new host Sole was nice enough to personally show me around town and take me on a tour.

We went to a huge cathedral here in La Plata. Also, in La Plata they have an all numerical system for the streets. No names only numbers. It is really quite easy to figure out once you get used to it and the whole city is laid out in a big grid. I have never come across this before and it was odd at first but actually quite handy! The only one bigger than this that I have seen in my life was the one in Cologne Germany. They both are massive! We took the lift to the top and the views were really impressive! She has given me a lot of history of the area and helped me a lot. It was really nice of her to do all this for me. Since being in Argentina I have had to get used to kissing men on the cheek. When I moved to New Zealand and got active in Couch Surfing there I got used to kissing girls on the cheek because there was a lot of foreign girls there from Europe who did it as a hello/goodbye greeting.

It was weird for me at first as we don't do that in America but I eventually got used to it. Argentina is the first country in the world that I have visited where men kiss men on the cheek as a greeting too. Women do it, men do it, everyone does it. It is just normal for them and and it means nothing really just a hello but I am still getting used to kissing all these men on the cheek and receiving kisses lol. I think this weekend I may leave La Plata and go to an island close to here that is supposed to be great called Tigre. If everything works out I will stay there for a few days and tour around with a friend I met back in B.A. But for now I am having fun in L.P.! :) I will be going out with Sole later for drinks with her friends and we may even see a movie.

I am still adjusting to the Argentian way of night life. They routinely as a culture just don't eat cena (dinner) until 10,11 or even midnight! Then they just party all night long until the sun comes up. You wont see anyone out on weekends until 3am at the very earliest and the clubs here don't close until the start breaks thru at 6:30 or 7:30am. Even on week days the people of Argentina stay up all hours of the night and seem to be able to function on just a few hours of sleep and still be able to go to work the next day! The only way I can deal with this as an American is to take a long power nap during the day so I can stay up late and I nibble on food all day so that even though I am eating at 11pm or later I am not starving by that time. It is interesting how different culture do things. You just have to know how to go with the flow.

That's all I have for now. Until next time,Ty

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