Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sweet Home: Chicago

Dear Buenos Aires,

I cannot believe I am back in Chicago! This trip was better than I could have imagined. I learned so much: a great deal of Spanish and the workings of a new city. I walked, ran, bused and taxied all over Buenos Aires for over 2 months, and in the process I gained a new sense of self and a sense of the city. Going to a new corner of the world opened my eyes to a completely new landscape. What an experience.

A few days before I left, the Buenos Aires News covered the new glass cubes on the SkyDeck of the Sears Tower. The story was in the paper and magazines - people couldn't believe how tall the building was and what it must feel like to be in one of those little glass rooms. In castellano, Christina looked up from her magazine and asked if I had ever been to the Sears Tower. I smiled - just as I will if someday, someone asks if I've ever been to Argentina.

"Yes," I said. "I've been there".

Ciao, Buenos Aires. It was a pleasure.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Home Is Where...

Dear Chicago,

I only have a few hours left in Buenos Aries, and there is a lot I need to say before I go. A lot of what I learned I owe to Christina. The woman was so generous and helpful and patient with me. We discussed everything over meals – everything from recipes to her mother’s health to how much of a picky eater she is. She gave me a scarf as a going away present – this after 2 months of giving me the use of her hairdryer if I needed it, coins for the bus when I needed them and total access to her kitchen. She was actually so concerned that I wasn’t going into the cabinets for snacks that she sat me down and showed me how she takes spoonfuls of dulce-de-leche at a time and sits with the spoon in front of the TV. (Another thing I love is that she only buys ‘low-fat’ dulce-de-leche). She made extra food on days she knew I would be in the house during lunchtime.

Christina is a very different than most of the women in my life, and I learned a great deal from her. My last request this morning was a handwritten recipe of the tartas she made - and the recipe maybe my favorite souvenier from the trip. My going away lunch was FOUR milanesa steaks (yep, breaded and fried meat – and I have to say I love them) with a little salad. It was served on her TV tray with a mini tablecloth, it was adorable. [This was funny – she had packed up the dining room table because the condo-association came over this afternoon for a meeting. They use her place because its gorgeous and she’s single. The group met to discuss how best to fire one of the doormen! I got the whole scoop – sad really because I got to know the guy – but I guess he refuses to retire. It was a scene that captured my time with Christina in her home very well – a high energy situation with a bit to gossip about.]

Views from my bedroom in June:

Fish and vegetable rolls with calabaze (squash):

View of my bedroom:

Christina, Maria Eugenia and I:

I really had the best time living with Christina. Hopefully, Maria Eugenia can translate this post for her! The note I left was insufficient to express my gratitude - my Enlglish vocabulary isn't big enough to communicate my feelings; my vocabulary in Spanish - not even close. I did my best to thank her for her help, her cooking, her generosity and patience. I also left a box of chocolate. If there's one thing I know about this woman, I bet she has already eaten them by now!

Gracias Cristina - muchisimas gracias a vos para todo -

Home tomorrow Chicago,