Sunday, December 7, 2008

a touch of culture shock- day 14

(Saturday, December 6, 2008)

dinner last night

i went out with my two roommates to a 'parrilla' (pronounced - pair-ee-sha). I couldn't find a definition for it on the net, but it's where everyone goes to get some good Argentine beef. Even though I don't eat it, I wanted to check it out. I got some pasta and i TRYED a very small piece (not even the size of my pinky finger). Yup, still don't like it. It tasted ok, but I really didn't like the texture. So, there you have it...I ate some beef in Argentina.

A bottle of wine for our table was 38 pesos ($11.50). I think my pasta was around 20 pesos.


(photo below: I was a bit confused when I went to the ladies room. 'M' no no, mujer (woman)

this morning
i woke up, took a shower and packed, all within an hour. it was only 10:15 when i went over to my roommates rooms. they were almost packed and ready to leave. by 10:30 they were saying their good-byes while i lugged both 58 pounder suitcases out into the hallway. yes, i should have said my good-byes, but i still have an ol' chip on my shoulder.

alejandro followed the girls out of the apartment into the hall where i was standing. i said hola and gave him my keys with some money for the broken wooden shutter. he kindly refused the money, i tried again and he said no.

leaving the host family
we each took a separate elevator down (the elevators are small and with all our stuff we couldn't fit). alejandro took the last elevator. he had to come down to unlock the main door. before opening the door he spoke to the german about me (in spanish) and told her to translate. something like 'my wife wants 100 pesos for the broken shutter'. I'm thinking, huh? i just tried to give you money and you said no, now your demanding it! for real?. i responded with 'i want to give you 50'. luckily he didn't yell at me and took the 50.

taxi to the hotel
the german and the chinese girl got in the first taxi and drove away. that left me standing on the side walk with ol' alejandro. crap, i wish he'd just go in and leave me be. i flagged down a taxi that came to a stop, but when i went over to my bags the taxi drove away. at this point alejandro went to wave down a cab. this did not feel very good. i'm aware that there are shady taxis in buenos aires. the taxi that pulled up was reputable, but old. alejandro put my bags in the car, which was kind of him, but then started yelling something quickly at the driver. crap, is he telling the taxi to rip me off or drive me to get mugged...crap this doesn't feel good...

the taxi pulled away and i gave him my hotels address. i asked him if he spoke english, he didn't so i asked him in spanish what alejandro said. he said something about the taxi's number. the ride to the hotel was nerve racking. i was still worried alejandro was up to something.

safely and securely i arrived at the hotel. the taxi didn't over charge me and helped me with my luggage to the front door of the hotel. taxi from alto palermo to recoleta was 10.60 pesos ($3.20)

the hotel is old, simple, but clean and charming. after i checked in, the man at the front desk helped me with my bags up to my room. when he opened the door to my room, my first impression was 'this sucks'. it's an inner room, so no windows, just a single bed, night table, wardrobe and desk. (*my opinion has now changed. all the furniture in my room are antiques and in good shape. the floor is hardwood and the location of the hotel couldn't be any better. I'm happy to be here and only 110 pesos a night ($33))




(photo below: my floor is stone, marble and wood)

(photo below: they tried to fancy it up with a ting piece of artwork on a huge wall)

hint of culture shock
i had my first hint of culture shock. once i was in my room i felt so alone. i was afraid to go out (not really sure why because it's a nice neighborhood), and i just wanted the day to be over (it was only noon). knowing that i needed to snap out of it, i set out to have a cup of coffee and some croissants. i also wanted to find the Recoleta cemetery.

the afternoon
the day was sunny and warm (82 degrees). i sat outside at a tea house and studied. the tea house was on a corner. there was a police patrolling the whole time i was there, not sure why or if it's typical. but i did notice that nobody came up to beg for money or tried selling anything to me. a pot of tea, oj and two croissants were 14 pesos ($4)



recoleta cemetery
what a beautiful enchanting place. my words can't describe how beautiful the old mausoleums are. i will surely go back...

(photo below: outside wall of the cemetery)









(photo below: this one is my favorite. click on it so you can see it larger.)

another tinge of culture shock
i came back to the hotel and fell asleep, once i woke i had no desire to get up, so i fell back asleep. again i was wishing for the day to be over. i didn't like feeling that i was in transition and that i didn't have any plans for the day. i didn't want to go out, i just wanted to stay in and sleep. again, knowing it was some culture shock, i made myself get up and get out.

just a couple streets down is an avenue with many shops. i just went browsing to waist some time. there were a ton of shoe stores and i like to look at shoes, so that ate up some time. it seems like all the window displays in B.A, no matter what the store is selling, consists of the store putting everything they sell in the window. it's not attractive from a design perspective, but it is helpful. if you don't see what you want in the window you keep moving. even the hardware and underwear stores have everything they sell in the window.

i finally splurged and bought some sandals that seem to be popular here. since i had the time, i kept holding out for a better price. the guy who went to the back to get the shoes for me kept winking at me, i'm still getting used to how forward the men are and while working too! when i tried them on i noticed 'made in argentina'. i liked them, so i bought them. 80 pesos ($24)

grocery shopping with a touch of culture shock.
typically i love going into foreign grocery stores and trying new things. not today. nothing looked tasty, so i bought a big bottle of water, 10 oreo cookies, 2 apples and 6 croissants for 8 pesos ($2.40) i had no desire to try anything new (not like me)

going to the movies
once i came back to the hotel i asked the woman at the front desk about seeing a movie. the theater was just 2 blocks away and in a busy/popular spot. i read online about the films showing there, many american. then i read about the theater online and read that all american films are shown in english with spanish subtitles so, i chose an argentine film.

i walked to the theater. it was directly in front of the cemetery. it was in a new complex with restaurants, music and of course a mc donalds. the complex looked like it should be in arizona. i walked into the theater and there was no ticket booth. hummm, ok? what's the drill? the sign pointed up stairs. i stood in line and ordered my ticket in spanish (very basic) and was caught off guard with one question... the girl then said in english "middle or back seating", but when i walked to my theater only 3 couples were there, so i just took a seat. the seats were very very comfortable. the theater was very new and modern. 20 pesos ($6)

the film.
i really didn't understand a lot. i expected i'd understand more. i zoned out a couple of times, but i tried to pay attention. for not really knowing what was going on, i can't judge the film, but it was shot in B.A., so it earns some points there

back at the hotel.
i'm feeling much better and more happy. i've warmed up to the hotel and i'm liking it. tomorrow i'll meet with a friend to study spanish in San Telmo (neighborhood). i also talked to moira for an hour and a half (*big smiles*)

the culture shock thing
i know i'm going to get it, nearly everyone does. i'm prepared, or as prepared as i can be for it. so, if i sound a little down and out about things at times, its the culture shock taking it's toll. i want to use this blog to remember my journey, stay in touch with friends and family and to give a real perspective of moving abroad. if i just painted a picture that everything is perfect, than it wouldn't be real. overall, i'm glad i'm here and i don't regret the decision to move.

good night B.A., I love you.


barebumbear said...

Hey it sounds like a little bit of homesickness. Hang in there. I really enjoy your blog, I have been reading it in preparation for my own trip to BA and find it very inspiring. It is very helpful that you write down all that you spend. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy said...

The cemetary is amazing! It almost looks like a street. The pix are great! Maybe you felt in a funk because of the whole host family stuff. Good for you for getting out and doing stuff even though you felt "blah".

Once you are in your apartment and settled, you'll probably feel alot better. Have a great week!

yillabean said...

the cemetery was amazing!! i have no perfect words to fully describe how it looked and felt to be there. so far, it's the most amazing, enchanting place i've seen here. i'd like to go again, but not on a weekend.

yes, i know i'll have ups and downs here, just like anywhere else. looking back, i'm soooo glad i made myself just get out and do something, anything. i think if i would have stayed in, i would have felt worse and worse.

these past two days have been really good, so it makes up for saturday's slump