Sunday, May 23, 2010

I made it all the way to Machu Picchu only to realize I had left my camera's memory chip in Buenos Aires

Time has flown since my last post about my ill-fated trip to montevideo. Because I feel like I may have been a bit too negative and because I would rather do anything than my Castellano homework, I thought a new blog post would be a nice thing to work on.
Highlights from the last 3 weeks of my life:

1. Melanie's visit, which included Beauty and the Beast on their form of broadway


Two day trip to Bariloche in Patagonia. Heaven on earth.

loving having ten days of straight up sister time. do it.

2. Machu Picchu:
Katherine took lots of pictures, ones I plan to post as soon as I figure out how to work a flashdrive and get them from her computer.
Words cannot describe. I fell in love with Peru. Their culture, their sweet smiles, and pure spanish. Machu Picchu was a world away from everything I've known. It took Katherine and I an entire day to travel there, a day that included every form of transportation possible outside of a donkey. Exhausted but excited, we hiked Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, collected Machu Picchu passport stamps and took pictures with llamas and their droppings.

3. Discovering chocolate peanut butter ice cream:
Thank. You. Lord.
In a country where dark chocolate and peanut butter are two of the hardest things to come by, I couldn't believe the combo!
Discovered it is best eaten while watching back to back episodes of glee illegally online. Finn, Marry me.

4. A journey to Salta and Jujuy, the northwest of Argentina.

My friend Nick, also a fellow sconnie, and I decided to spend our time off of school from the national holiday backpacking in the rainforest like northern part of argentina.

Thank you national park Calilegua, we did enjoy our stage

Nick and I explored the salt flats of Jujuy, tried and do not reccommend llama jerky, finally located the national park (3 days after we had intended)and dominated it with salami and cheese sandwhiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Low lights would include staying in two of the shitties hostels I've ever experienced in my life, which I will forever blame nick for, and brushing my hair with a fork because I decided that I didn't need to pack a hairbrush.

Things I'm really looking forward to:
1. Excitement over the world cup here.
2. Michaela! Michaela! Michaela!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Montevideo; Uruguay's armpit.

My study abroad program sponsors different activities for students to do throughout the semester. The lastest was a field trip to Colonia, Uruguay where the director of my program, Mario, and his do-rag wearing partner, Sergio, hosted us for an afternoon at their gorgeous bed and breakfast. We spent the afternoon strolling through Mario's lemon grove and eating asado, argentine bbq. Mario poured the wine while Sergio scolded us for eating from the fruit platter before eating our steak - apparently that is NOT how an asado is eaten. My apologies, Sergio, let's put this behind us, your do-rag and tight t- shirt have me wishing you were my gay friend forever. After a night tour through the cobblestone streets of Colonia, I was feeling excited aobut having a break from busy Buenos Aires.

Mario and Sergio's B&B

Mario was reppin Wisconsin on our trip - and you know that I was too, to the embaressment of my peers. whatevs.

Since we were already in Uruguay, My friend Katherine and I decided to take a bus to Uruguay's capital city, Montevideo.
Like Singapore to Malaysia (Michaela and Paul), as soon as we stepped off the bus in dirty Montevideo, shit hit the fan.
If the Asian men following and hollering at us through the city's main square or the perpetual smell of urine weren't enough to convince me that montevideo was nast, Katheirne being mugged by a gang of 8 year old boys in broad daylight pushed me over the edge.
Katherine chased little Juan Carlos and Co. down, though, after they had ripped the leather strap of her purse off of her shoulder. Her long legs and crazed eyes had the hoodlems wishing they had never been born. They tossed her purse to the side of the street and scattered. Katherine grabbed her bag containing all of her belongings back, and rejoined me silently on the street. Neither of us knowing what to say or how to feel after she had just rocked getting mugged - by 8 year olds.....
The rest of the afternoon and evening passed according to Montevideo manner, sketchy - including piropos (catcalls) from the bartender at the restaurant we had dinner at. umm?? we're in your restaurant...
We arrived two hours early to catch our bus back to Colonia the next morning.
Montevideo, see you never.

Mallory and Katherine, pre Montevideo

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dear Melanie

As an ode to my sister's upcoming visit, I've decided to create a blog post type letter, if you will, to let her know just what it is that she's gotten herself in to.
Melanie, baby girl:

1. I've stolen your identity. sorry. Apparently "Melanie" is easier to pronounce than "Mallory" in Argentina. My conversations with new aqcuaintances usually go like this:
Como te llamas?
No, Mallory.
Mal.... yup, Melanie, perfect.
If Dad and Grandma Peggy don't know the difference, why would my spanish teacher?

2. Despite the fact that I have been here for 6 weeks, I still have no idea what I'm doing. I average 4 pretty embaressing things a day. Latest one? Not washing the fruit I ate and getting sick for the third time this month while I was out running. I had 3 construction workers laughing at me as I barged past them to use their port-a-potty.

3. They eat beef the way we eat chicken, wine and beer are both cheaper than water, and that's mayo that they brought you with your bread, not butter.
In fact, that's mayo that they brought you with everything you ordered.
Their concept of a vegetable is potato puree and you´ll be hard pressed to find something that they don´t eat with Dulce de Leche, their form of carmel.
My lastest purchase was Dulce de Leche Oreos, and that´s just the begining, my friend.

4. Please bring me the biggest jar of peanut butter you can find.

5. It´s winter here, pack a longleeve shirt

6. If you think you hear Glee or Mama Mia coming from the next room, you do, compliments of the CD I made for Mirta.

7. We now share a bathroom with our host brother who just got back from his vaction in California. He has longer hair than you, so a smart woman gets her behind in the shower before he does or risks bathing in agua fria. This lesson was learned the hard way. twice.

8. Foam party todos los viernes y sabados. It´s so wrong, but so right.

9. I miss you and love you and can´t wait to have you here!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

La Semana Santa

To my delight, Argentina celebrates Easter starting on holy Thursday. To take advantage of the time off of class, I headed to El Calafate and El Chalten for some Glacier sightseeing and Mountain trekking in Patagonia. Two fellow Sconnies, Dan and Zach and our friend Emily and I headed for the South of South America where we had the chance to experience some of the greatest things of our lives.

El Calafate: Known for its access to glacier Perrito Moreno, one of the largest glaciers left on Earth (and still growing!). We met up with two of our friends from the program and spent the first half of our trip glacier loving and drinking cheap wine.

El Chalten: After a 3 hour bus ride, we arrived in El Chalten. Here we spent 3 days trekking and camping at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. For anyone who knows how much of a baby I am when it comes to the cold, you would not believe that I actually slept on the mountain in a tent in close to 0 degree whether. I did it in 8 layers and a hat, but nevertheless, I think I've made progress on conquering the cold!

This is the mountain we slept by! Our second morning, we got up to hike to the best viewing point to watch the sunrise.

Wanda, let the good times roll.

View of the town of El Chalten

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The smell of comfort

Everyone has a smell. That's how it works. You know you're rockin the right smell when you can't smell yourself. If you can, something's up.
I can smell myself, and I am not diggin it.
To my new friends in Argentina: this is not how I smell, please come find me in July after my clothes have been laundered in Diane's laundry room and my hair has been washed with brillian brunette, a shampoo the Argentines apparently aren't feeling in their farmacitys.
After four weeks in Buenos Aires, I still don't fit in. That's ok, I don't think four years here would make my freckles and pale skin blend with the natives. I have, however, come to rely on a few things here that offer a sense of familiarity and comfort in a city as giant and eclectic as Buenos Aires. The first being that the kids from my study abroad program have inflitrated the streets. So, while most of the time I am anonymous, occasionally I'll be surprised with a "hey Mallory" on the street from a fellow study abroad-er. These brief encounters are nice in helping me remember that I'm not the only one struggling to manage all of this change at once.
Aside from gringo encounters in the barrio (neighborhood) I've found many points of familiarity and routine in a run I like to take though the city most days of the week:
2 miles into my run, I can count on seeing a man manuevering his brother in a wheelchair through traffic, asking for money. I know I'm half way when I pass a hamburger and sausage stand that smells like summer bbqs in minnesota(again, the smell....). I know I'm almost done when I pass the museum of fine arts. No run is ever complete without accidentally stepping in dog shit, and having a few close calls with colliding into pigeons.
When I'm finally done, I can't smell myself. My pheromones seem to have taken over the foreign laundry detergent smell, and I'm grateful.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

University of Buenos Aires

Classes! eek!
I thought registering for classes on Madison's student center was tough, before I came here, where the concept of efficiency seems to have been lost. A two week "shopping" period started this last week, we can try whatever classes we want and then choose the ones we want to keep. Problem: You spend more time high tailing it across the city to the different campuses of the 4 universities we can take classes through than you do "trying" classes. Problem: Making it to the campus on time is one thing, finding the classroom is another. Problem: When you do make it to the right room on the right campus, the professor probably isn't going to show up.
Amount of classes I tried to try this last week: 5
Amount of classes I sat through: 2
Amount of those classs I'm going to take: 1
Hopefully next week's shopping period will be a bit more successful?
The class I did like is at the university of buenos aires (UBA), their goverment funded school with more than 100,000 students. The buildings are spread across the city, but each one looks like the other: A scary hell hole. A huge contrast to the two other smaller private schools that I had tried a class at. The first time I walked into an UBA building, I just about threw up from how nervous and vulnerable I felt. It's not scary in a dangerous way, but scary in a "I'm so lost right now" way. Students swarmed around me, graffitti painted the walls. Broken desks and doors and missing professors define UBA's atmosphere. wow. this will be an experience. If nothing else, it makes me appreciate my own public university at home, where a classroom without a.c. is considered torture.

Taller de Radio (My class at UBA)
This last tuesday was my second attempt to take a clss at UBA, the first one was met with no professor and a confused classroom. My teacher walked in 30 minutes late to a two hour class, but surprised me with her readiness and determination to tackle the semester's material. We even got a syllabus!
My teacher immediately pointed me out "ahh we have a foreigner, ok, great... now break up into groups of 5, unless you have the foreigner, then you need 6 because she doesn't know what's going on." The rest of the class she kept pushing my group members to make sure I knew what was going on. I would have felt offended, if I wasn't so grateful to have the extra help in such a huge place.
When I left the classroom, I was met by a girl from my class, Clementina. She stopped me with a "hey". I looked at her confused. She ignored my facial expression and continued in english:
"I know this must be hard for you, I'm Clementina, if there is anything you need, let me know."
Wow. Would I have done that for a foreigner at Madison? Probably not.

Tigre, San Telmo, and Iguazu

A few highlights from the last two weekends:

1. A day trip to Tigre, a town about an hour from Buenos Aires where sunbathing and river rides were enjoyed by all.

2. A day in San Telmo, a town south of my neighborhood that has a more traditional buenos aires feel and their own version of an arts fair. I also discovered Volta, gelato better than I've ever had in my life. In fact, while I was eating it, I was thinking that it deserved it's own post.

My friend Katherine and I flew to Iguazu falls this last weekend and spent the last 3 days exploring the national park and waterfalls. I had my first hostel experience in Iguazu, which included meeting loads of hard core travelers, making friends with a few irish peeps, and swooning over all of the different accents around us.