Monday, July 28, 2008

Ciao Ciao Argentina

One last blogspot update as I'm heading back on the plane from Seattle to Atlanta. It's been a busy couple of days, I'm exhausted from a long and busy weekend and about to be even more exhausted from 15 hours on two planes and jet lag. Wednesday night we got together for wine and dessert for Molly's send off, and on Thursday after the last day of class we had our good-bye lunch at San Andrés. That night we went to Acabar, a huge board-game bar in Palermo. They have games like Monopoly (which is "Estancionero" in Argentina," Boggle ("Coggle"), and huge Jenga. The menu is made of laminated colored cards with an item on each card, the decor is crazy, and they'll let you stay for hours and hours without bothering you (much like everywhere else in Argentina). If there were a place like Acabar in Seattle it would be a huge huge hit.

On Friday night I took a tango class at the Confitería Ideal with Michelle and her mom. The Confitería Ideal is in Evita, and it's one of the oldest cafés in Buenos Aires. They have tango lessons twice a day right in the the middle of the huge cafe and live music, shows, and a milonga (free dance) every night. The two instructors are performers in shows around the city, and there were tourists as well as argentines taking the class. Later that night we went out dancing with Tiffany's host sister and friends - everyone was so nice, I'm always surprised (but shouldn't be) about how receptive and inclusive and open people are. There's something about greeting people with a kiss on the cheek that instantly makes you feel connected, even though you might never see the person again. We were so proud of ourselves for staying at the club until it closed at 6am, and we got choripan (chorizo sausage sandwiches) before hailing a cab and driving by shopkeepers opening up for the day just as we got home. The next day my host dad said, "You got home at 6am last night didn't you? Well you might as well, I don't think you'll be able to eat choripan at dawn in the United States."  (Mark and choripan shown below).

We went to the artesan fairs and San Isidro and Tigre on Saturday for one last round of shopping, which included 4 of us getting matching llama sweaters. I predict a lot of llama sweater parties on the horizon. That night my host parents had two old friends over for chinese take out and card games. It was my last dinner with the family, and after 5 weeks I felt so comfortable just being with them and being able to say everything I wanted to say in Spanish. Now that I'm heading back home it's going to be so odd not having to respond to everything in Spanish... when I got to the airport in Atlanta I found myself approaching customs thinking about how to say what I needed to say in Spanish before realizing... everyone speaks english here!

Today, or I guess it's by now it's yesterday, I took off for the airport. I came pretty close to crying as I said goodbye to my host parents and I think my host mom was on the brink as well; they have been so wonderful for taking me in and taking care of me and treating me just like they wold one of their kids and showing me what it's like to really live in Argentina. I took a cab to Clarke's house so we could head to the airport with Tiffany as well. I even felt like I could cry when Tiffany said goodbye to her host siblings and when Clarke said goodbye to his family, because I knew that everyone else felt so connected to their families here. It's risky and you feel so vulnerable when you go live with someone in a foreign country, and equally risky to take someone in to your house, but it creates such an intense and close relationship and I am so thankful that I came to Argentina. After five weeks I feel like I'm leaving just as I got completely accustomed to everything - the language, getting around on public transport and being able to gossip with taxi drivers, knowing the layout of the city, meeting really amazing people, figuring out the best places to go out to, and feeling really close to everyone else on the trip. Every day Buenos Aires grew on me a little more, and now that I've been away from it for only 12 hours I get this nostalgic feeling thinking about all things Argentine, and I think that means that the trip was a success.

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