Argentine Adventures

I woke up one Sunday morning a couple weeks back and asked myself “what the hell am I doing here?” To be clear, this wasn’t a philosophical question; I was still trashed from the night before and had no idea how I got home. Assessing the damage, I noted some pretty important things: I was alive, mostly, and both my wallet and my phone were still in my pockets. My shirt was covered in “fernet con coca” and beet juice –don’t ask. I slowly but (un)steadily made my way to the bathroom where I found some green paint on my arm and lipstick covering the right-side of my face and neck . . . whoops.

Okay so, that day was an incredibly busy day. I had gone to Alta Gracia, a small town about an hour from Córdoba Capital, to visit the childhood home of Che Guevara to see where commies come from:

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Revolutionary, terrorist, or a chunk of stone that holds little political significance and shouldn’t make people mad?
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One of Alberto Granado’s bikes. (Not the original they used for the trip, I wish)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, I came back and immediately joined a pride parade which evolved into several people stripping naked while on LSD and running around; I did not participate in this, but I did get a hold of some really nice balloon animals that turned out to be made from condoms.

After that, I went to an international food festival with a group of volunteers from my program and got to see so many different communities cooking some crazy stuff . . . All beef related, though; we’re still in Argentina. Also, no surprise here, but the typical “Estados Unidos” dish offered was a hamburger and fries.

Then, to a bar and after to a club. You get the idea.

Every time I do anything it feels a bit like one of those stupid nationality jokes: An Argentinian, a German, a Dane, and an American all walked into a bar, that kind of thing. But it’s seriously a blast and I love that English becomes the common language because life is so much easier for me. I remember distinctly that at one point I yelled “muchas lenguas” (many languages) at my friends as they all spoke to each other in their native tounges and like MAGIC everyone was speaking English. Try that with me and German and I’ll just cry and make sounds like I’m trying to clear my throat.

I spent the whole next day relaxing and drinking plenty of water and not much else.

That’s how the days go here, they’re either jam-packed full of activity or really, really quiet. Which is sort of a good description of Argentina and the Argentinian people themselves, all in or all out, there’s no in-between.

I love it.

I’ve had a pretty amazing month, and plenty more coming right up.

Right after my last post, I went to my first ever game of any kind in a real stadium. As far as I can tell, most people are not too invested in soccer (read: “football” by the rest of the world) back home in the U.S. Here in Argentina? Not so. Soccer really is a way of life, a religion almost, to so, so many people here. I got to go to a game between BOCA Juniors (arguably the most well-known Argentinian club team) and Rosario, the definite underdogs. My great friend Emil, a major football fan hailing from Copenhagen, bought us tickets for the Rosario section (because they were way cheaper, as the majority of Córdoba supports BOCA). We watched the team from Rosario pull off a pretty decisive win, which was really incredible, but nothing compared to the absolute insanity of the fans.

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My favorite part was the 40-year-old drunk man who hugged me and offered Emil and I a free room in his hotel in Rosario just before ripping off his shirt.

 

After that, things stayed pretty mellow up until my trip to Buenos Aires, which was something else entirely.

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Here’s the view from the door to the flat.

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I stayed with my dear friend Barbara, who is currently staying in Buenos Aires to continue Spanish lessons and tango instruction until the 7th of December. Her flat was located in a Barrio called San Telmo; really nice, huge locally run market with tons of trinkets and goodies from all parts of Argentina. Tons of old coins, mate cups, native clothing, old postcards from travelers, old magazines, books, and tons more. Plus, something I really hadn’t even thought about after having been in monolingual Córdoba for so long: English Speakers.

Plenty of store workers and shop owners spoke English, which could honestly get a bit frustrating at times as every time I opened my mouth to talk they just gave me their little knowing smiles and started speaking in English. The people overall appeared to be a bit more cold and closed-off than in Córdoba, which was a difficult feeling. However, let me just add that this judgment is by Argentinian standards. I was still instantly greeted with smiles when entering shops, and kisses on the cheek when greeting and being introduced to people. Argentinians, on the whole, are a welcoming and kind people.

All that aside, the city is just such a mix of everything. It’s filled with spectacular architecture and beautiful colors; it’s a crazy mix of old and new, with late 20th-century skyscrapers jutting out from behind 17th-century cathedrals.

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My dearly missed friend Kim (who’s now back in Dusseldorf living it up) accompanied me on my adventures through the city, and it was a blast traveling with her.

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We even survived the horror that is Argentinian drivers.

Although I really, really enjoyed my time in the city, I think I am just not cut out for too much time living in one. Buenos Aires is one of the largest, oldest, and most technologically advanced cities in the Americas, and for all those things it is a beautiful place, even called the “Paris” of South America. However; I truly prefer the more cozy, more communal atmosphere of Córdoba Capital and Unquillo. The city is just too much for this young Waldoboroean to fathom.

Coming up, the First of December I’m off on a bus to Buenos Aires, where I’ll stay for a night before getting a plane to El Calafate in Southern Argentina, in the Patagonia region. I’ll be there, and traveling to Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine in Chile, until the 16th, then I’ll be on my way back to Córdoba for two-ish more weeks, then back to Buenos Aires and maybe even the Iguazú Falls (I believe they’re about twice as big as Niagra).

I’m leaving my computer at my host family’s house and I will not have much wifi while down there, so I’ll probably be out of touch until I get back! Wish me luck!

PS: If you’re reading this on your phone, all my pics should be located right underneath all this, along with some important dates that are coming up and even the option to translate!

Love to all! Thanks for reading! Salud y amor a todos de ustedes, suerte. Nos hablaremos cuando vuelvo!

 

The yankee

Hey everyone! I’m Braeden (or “el yanqui” as I’m called here because no one can pronounce my name), and this is the first post in this blog which I hope to use as a way to share pictures and stories from my gap-year here in the land of wine, steak, and criollos (both the food and the racial group)!

Image result for Map of Argentina, highlight CórdobaI’m living in the province of Córdoba in the central-northern region of the country, about 700km from Buenos Aires (yeah, I use metric now).

<—Here’s a map of Argentina with my province highlighted because I’m 100% sure you have no clue where it is and will likely forget seconds after seeing this picture.

Córdoba Capital, –thanks to that year of Spanish you slept through in high school I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out that this is the capital of Córdoba– is a city of roughly 1.5 to 2 million people and is widely recognized as the party-central of Argentina. I live about an hour and 15 minutes from the city center by bus, in a small town named Unquillo. Although a small town it may be, I really appreciate my time here as well and have made some great friends.

The 21st of October marked my second month here in Argentina, which was a shocking realization. Time here seems to go both very quickly and very slowly at the same time, because each day is so full that it feels quite long, but because I’m usually pretty busy I look back and it’s all a hectic blur.

On an average weekday down here in the Central-North of the Southernmost South American Country, I normally wake up between 8:45 and 9:15 to get to my work right on time at 9 o’clock . . . Argentinian time works differently because as long as you arrive within half an hour of the time you said you’d be there by, nobody cares because they won’t be there yet either. After a coffee or a tea and a pleading question of “what time is work today” (pronounced: get out of the house) from my host father, I groggily trudge over to the radiostation 4 blocks away.

I arrive and greet my boss, José, with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek, then sit down and prepare myself a Mate (You can learn more about this MIRACLE ENERGY DRINK here in a clip from Doctor Oz who is totally reliable and not at all a total fraud). This is an herbal tea, and it really is an acquired taste, but at this point I’m not sure how I’ll survive without it back in the U.S. It’s an important cultural tradition to sit together and share a mate; it fosters conversation and is a great energy boost. After that, I hop on my computer and start my day.

I’ve been writing articles (albeit slowly) in Spanish, then I have José check for grammar errors, which usually results in half the article being changed or completely erased, and finally once it is totally finished it is published on the Radio’s website under “Columnas de Opinión.” I have two there as of right now, but I’ve written quite a few more that weren’t published due to miscommunication. Although frustrating, that situation forced me to actually advocate for myself making sure my articles are uploaded and this is partially why I chose to start the blog; I felt I would be more likely to be successful taking things into my own hands.
PS: if you’re interested in listening to the radio program go to the website and click on “ESCUCHANOS EN VIVO” to listen live.

Work ends at 1:00 PM, and then I’m on my way back home for lunch with my host family and my fellow housemate, Barbara. Hailing from Newcastle, England, Barbara is working on the teaching project in Rio Ceballos, the town next to mine. I’ll be completely honest and say when I was first told that a retired doctor from Britain would be coming to share the house with me for a month I was definitely skeptical of how well we’d get along, but Barbara has been a great friend and we’ve had quite a time here. This is her last full week here in Unquillo and I’ll miss her dearly when she takes off for Buenos Aires on the 2nd of November.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I finish lunch and jump on the next bus to the capital to give English classes at a school on the outskirts of the city. Wednesdays are my siesta days where I get to sleep after lunch, although this doesn’t end up happening as often as I’d prefer. On these rare free days I spend time with my friends here in Unquillo, high school students who I met during their internships at the radio.

Weekends are a lot less predictable, sometimes I go to the club on Friday night, get back home at 7 in the morning on the next day and spend the rest of the day recuperating and asking myself “why did you go out last night.” Then, I head out again. Rinse. Repent. Repeat.

HOWEVER; LOVELY FAMILY MEMBERS WHO ARE NOW WONDERING WHY THEY LET ME TAKE THE YEAR OFF, FEAR NOT: I have gone to some seriously beautiful areas as well.

My first real trip was a weekend expedition to Villa General Belgrano and La Cumbrecita, two immigrant towns with mixes of Dutch, German, Spanish and Swiss descendants. The village really is gorgeous.

Plus, I got to see my German friends squirm at the sight of all the horribly inaccurate stereotypes displayed throughout the town during Oktoberfest; a 6’5″ German man’s disdainful glare at a group of Argentinian girls wearing “sexy lederhosen” and Viking helmets (complete with detachable wool beards) is a sight to remember.

 

La Cumbrecita, a small mountain village an hour from Villa General Belgrano, was my first hiking experience here in Argentina; the bar was set pretty high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My absolute favorite part was the waterfall at the top of the mountain. It was a pretty chilly day, cloudy and misty, but the fog cleared as we got to the top just long enough for me to snap this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also gone hiking in Los Gigantes, a set of mountains about 2 hours from the capital, which was absolutely amazing (although by the end I realized why sunscreen was created and why I should use it).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My most recent trip was to Mendoza, a ten-hour bus ride from Córdoba Capital and the Province known for terrible dust storms and amazing wine, a potentially deadly combination. On Saturday we had a fancy wine tour and a great dinner in the city. I thought it was Peruvian the whole time but, turns out the menu was just in Spanish slang . . . whoops . . .

 

 

 

 

On the second day we went horse riding up a mountain which was crazy for a couple of reasons: 1.) I still am afraid of horses, so I was prepared to get bucked off at any minute, 2.) I WENT HORSEBACK RIDING UP A MOUNTAIN AT THE FOOT OF THE ANDES . . . I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m a cowboy now.

 

 

Now I’m back in Unquillo, I spoke on air today about the earthquakes in Italy and tomorrow will speak as well, although I’m not sure what I’ll be focusing on. That’s all for now folks, I’ll add and share my next blog post as soon as I’ve got time! Happy Halloween- beware of the clowns.

¡Salud y amor a todos!