Today was my first day in downtown Buenos Aires. I took a private car called a Remis (safer and more expensive – still only US$15 for a half-hour drive) to the headquarter office of my program. GIC is located in a famous old building in downtown BA of which I cannot wait to take pictures. The coordinators were nice and walked me through all sorts of details about my stay. I also received my cell phone, in which Nik has already programmed phone numbers of everyone in my host family. From the center, I went exploring for the afternoon.
There is a pedestrian mall – La Avenida Florida – which extends for blocks and blocks through the city center. After trying my first ATM I went immediately into a beauty store next door to look around. Apparently I am less likely to be robbed if I take a detour after the ATM for a while, so I was browsing to make sure no one was following me (as if I’ve ever needed an excuse to window shop). As I strolled along – it got much colder yesterday – I heard a huge protest and could see flags and people en masse coming up La Avenida. No one seemed to notice and I was prepared because I knew elections were coming. The utilization of noise bombs was a little scary – it honestly sounded like buildings were exploding – but again, I understood what was happening around me and no one else thought much of it. This crowd was probably more violent than I realized at first, because as I was in one bank, the guards rolled down the metal gates to cover windows and I was ushered out a back door with other patrons. After getting off the avenue it was fine. I also visited la 9 de Julio, the world’s widest road. It is basically four alleys of 7 lanes of traffic in each. Very big. Impossible to capture with a camera.
I made it back safely in the afternoon via taxi and watched the Champions Final soccer game with Carla. It was a ‘full circle moment’ as Barcelona played England/Manchester because the last Champions Final game I saw was the Barcelona/England-Arsenal game when my Dad and I were in Paris during the final match. After the game we lolled around and Nik&Nike came over to go out to dinner. As we were leaving, Carla called to Ani to schedule her mani/pedi appointment. It took me a minute to understand that the manicurist comes to the house… once a week. And I thought I lead a charmed life!
Carla and Nik took me to my first Argentine barbeque en una restaurante se llama “La Vaca” – the cow. It was one of their favorite places and we split seven strips of short-ribs (Dad and Julia – se llama ‘Asado de Tira’). I ate one, they each ate three – I have no idea how. We also had piles of potatoes fried in different ways covered in handfuls of an amazing ‘topping’ – chopped garlic and parsley, nothing else. It was delicious. I’ve never seen meat as rare as these tiras – they could have told me it was beef sushi. This was a ‘kids dinner’ as los doctores could not join us, so we broke the ice further with stories from back home and questions about what its like to be twenty-somethings in each country. After dinner we went to ‘El Rio’, the rio de la Plata, or “Silver River”. It was very cold but the big park will be beautiful to see again. Way, way across the river was Uruguay. We also saw amazing stars, most of which I’ve never witnessed, as they seen only from the southern hemisphere. Carla, the physics student, promised to take me out with a map on a clear night and go over them.
Another fun, successful day! Te amo Chicago,