This week started off as just another week where I was going to class and going about my daily routine here. Then I realized that if I didn’t start doing some more sight seeing, on a daily basis, I was never going to get it all in. So, I played hooky in Buenos Aires. What would you do if you gave yourself the day off in Buenos Aires? Well, I went to the fine arts museum (el museo de bellas artes) and spent the day wondering. Then I went to the Evita museum. This was on Thursday. Friday, I went to class, but then during the weekend I got right back to sight seeing. On Saturday I took a tour of the manzana de las luces. This was originally a Jesuit part of town that was also used for city government. The exciting part of the tour was the tunnels. There are a serious of tunnels connecting government buildings and churches to the river that were used to “protect the city” (or for government officials to make a quick escape.) I thought this tour would be really great; unfortunately, the tour let you see about 100 m of a tunnel that was blocked off (real exciting!) Oh well, the rest of the tour was really interesting.
During most of the trip I have been able to escape a lot of the emotions associated with culture shock, but as the end of the trip approaches and I face the reality of having to say good-bye I am starting to get much more emotional. My last week here is going to be exciting and yet very sad at the same time.
You never think that months will turn into weeks or that weeks will turn into days, but now my time here is really starting to wind down. I again spent the majority of last week in class and doing homework. (Unfortunate, right?) However, the class is more than enjoyable and is more like private tutoring than class. Every other spare second was spent trying to get to different places around B.A. that I haven’t been to yet. Last week, I paged through my guide book to see if there was anything really important that I hadn’t seen yet. To my surprise the majority of the places that were described as a must see that I had yet to see were clubs or bars!!! (I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised considering just how great the night life is here and just how many bars there are) Well, if there is anyway to go out of B.A. in style it is by painting the town a couple more times…
As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, we spend a little bit of time every day in class attempting to learn a traditional Argentine card game that is sort of like poker…but mostly not like poker. It is called truco which means trick, or deceive. It is played in partners with a Spanish deck of cards. The game is really complex and after more than a week of practicing; I think I finally understand most of the basic principles. The game is normally played in teams with the most common number of players being 4 and 6. Each player is given 3 cards. Each card has a “value” that allows it to either beat or be beaten by other cards. The ordered list that says which card beats which is difficult to learn as it does not necessarily go in order and certain cards with the same number have very different values depending on the suit. During each round it may become necessary for the team to communicate what cards they have, to do this signs are used. However, there are so many signs that each team plays with the same signs every time making it crucial that you pass the sign to your partner without the other team seeing. Some of the signals include: raising your eyebrows, winking, twitching your mouth to one side or the other, a silent kiss, biting your lip, blinking both eyes, or leaning your head to one side slightly. To make the game even more complicated add to the mix, that certain words are prohibited and you must only say them in very specific circumstances. Also, the game comes with its own phrases and lingo. Once you have learned to play, it really is a fun game as there are so many different ways that you can strategize with your partner or try to trick the other team. I would love to teach you all how to play when I get back…but somehow I just don’t think that I am patient enough!
I had passed the last week in Buenos Aires in a pretty laid back manner. I’m feeling a little lonely considering that all of the girls that were in my life here before have seemingly vanished. There used to be 5 other girls living here with me. They have all gone back to the states. I used to be in class with at least 6 other girls…they too have all left. My Spanish class this month has only 3 students in it, myself and two other guys. The class seems like it is going to be a lot of fun. We are planning on going to the theater and some of our assignments have been things like learning traditional Argentine card games. We spend a lot of time just talking while the professor writes down things that we say incorrectly. Then we have to go back and find our own errors.
I might have been really bored this week with such a lack of estrogen, but I had two saving graces. Pilar and Julieta, the two grand kids, are on winter break like everybody else. So, they spent the week in the house and we had a blast. Julieta gave me a couple of Spanish lessons (she is very studious, so playing teacher seems like a fun thing to do…lucky me!) We played memory, which was an ingenious idea because she made me say out loud the items pictured on each card in Spanish and she would say them in English. I was surprised by how much simple vocabulary I learned. Her English is impeccable, and I would say that she writes as well as any 2nd or 3rd grader in the states. Mariana, Julieta and Pilar’s mom, kept advising me that if I found them bothersome she would force them to “leave me in peace.” I just laughed and explained that because I never had sisters my patience never seems to run out with little girls.