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La Boca, TEGOBA, and Politics

La Boca, TEGOBA, and Politics

La Boca

The Buenos Aires government has a really nice offering of free walking tours around the various barrios of BA, and I finally rolled out of bed early enough to make it to my first one last Wednesday. Well, kind of...I got there 15 minutes late but it's completely the bus's fault and not mine at all. Luckily, it's easy to track down a tour guide in a bright yellow jacket surrounded by Gringos (they hadn't gotten too far). 

La Boca is very different from many of the other barrios around Buenos Aires, at least ones that tourists might visit. It started as a shipyard many years ago, mainly due to the location on the mouth of the Riachuelo River. In the mid-1900s, upon his return from Europe to Buenos Aires, artist Benito Quinquela Martin devoted his time and money to improve his boyhood home of La Boca. He added vibrant colors to many of the buildings, as well as built a school and a dental hospital for the children of the neighborhood. Due to his paintings, La Boca is easily identified by the colorful buildings and outdoor murals. It's also home to Argentina's most famous soccer team, Boca Juniors. We walked by the stadium, but it's hard to really get a good look. I definitely plan to return for a game if possible. Today, La Boca is a very working-class neighborhood with a lot of petty crime. It wouldn't be a place where any tourists or expats would want to live, but it's a nice visit during the day to see a different side of Buenos Aires

Another Weekend of Late Nights

Friday I met up with TEGOBA (The English Group of Buenos Aires). I was introduced to them by a friend from my Tuesday group, which has some overlap. It was nice to meet some new people (especially several local Argentines who have been going to the group for years as a way to socialize and keep their English fresh). We met at a local cafe, went for dinner around 11, and stayed out til 2:30 or 3. They were a really fun group, and I look forward to meeting with them again. Saturday was another night on the town with my roommate, and when we left the bar the sun was coming up. Obviously this means I logged about 30 total minutes on Sunday not laying in my bed. Everyone needs an occasional rest day.

A Few Things To Come

A question I am asked often - "Trump or Clinton". I usually simply laugh, to keep from crying. But I've had a few discussions with Nestor about American politics, and I'm excited to let him see the circus firsthand as we watch the debate tonight. It will be interesting to hear his first impressions. 

I'm also in dire need of a haircut. I've held on as long as I can, but it's getting a wee bit mullet-y for my tastes. Since my listening comprehension in Spanish is still a struggle, I have a few options - A) I can walk in with a picture of what I want, or B) I can just tell them to surprise me. Leaning option B. If I see her pull out the trimmers I'll get nervous. Updates to come later this week. 

Mini Vacation is over

Mini Vacation is over

As of yesterday, Ken has left to return to the real world, which sort of marks the official start of my solo voyage. It really was great to have a friend along the way as I got settled, greatly reduced the number of panic attacks I'm sure. Weekend was great. Ken and I befriended several South American bros from the hostel, pregamed til about 3 in the morning then went to get hogwild in da club. We needed to stop at the ATMs to get some cash, which as it turns out, is a real problem in this country. They run out of pesos a lot. Of course that night was no different. I borrowed enough from my Chilean buddy NoNo to get cover, hoping to buy drinks with cards inside. They didn't take cards (which honestly was probably a good thing at this point), so we took a lap or two to check the place out then went back to the hostel. The night ended probably around 5:30 or so, which is fairly normal down here. I'm not built for that type of schedule without an adjustment period. I felt the consequences of that night for several days, but it was a hell of a good time. And as a nice cherry on top, one of my new friends from the hostel needs a place for the same time as I do, so we can look for a shared spot, save some cash, and actually have some camaraderie at home. As Michael Scott's a win/win/win situation. 

On Monday night before Ken left, we took in a complete Argentinean tango experience. We started it off with a quick 30 minute group tango lesson to learn a few basic steps. The instructors were great, but I could tell by the end of the 30 minutes he was pretty nervous of how quickly I picked everything up. Understandable. This was followed by a candlelight dinner (very romantic) where I finally took a break from eating beef. The night was capped off by a 90 minute professional tango show with live music, singing, and dancing. A good send off for Ken and a great introduction to the tango culture for me. 

As of yesterday, I've moved into an AirBnb and out of my hostel for 2 weeks until Nestor and I find a place for longer term. You really take things for granted like sleeping in a queen bed without 5 roommates until it's gone. It's so refreshing to have some space to spread out and sleep comfortably. The guy who owns the joint is out of town on business, so his parents, who are staying here for two days, let me in and welcomed me with open arms. While their son speaks good English, they aren't as fluent. But they're such nice people. We'd speak in Spanish, and I'd get the gist of our conversations. But two things were consistent: 1) every time the mother would come home, she'd give me a big 'HELLO!' in her best English and 2) our talks would always end in a smile. Somehow a language barrier has the ability to bring out the true kindness in people. When communication isn't easy, it forces you to become a better listener and put forth the effort that you may otherwise not give in a common conversation. The experience is certainly impactful for me, and hopefully I can make an impact on others as well.