Thursday, June 26, 2008
Hey, you gotta be a tourist sometime, right?
While one of my goals here certainly was to be part of the Argentinian culture and not be a permanent tourist, I of course have had a few times of going out and being touristy. Today, that involved going to downtown Buenos Aires in order to see the march of the "Madres de la Plaza de Mayo", in, of course, La Plaza de Mayo. These are the mothers of what are called the Desaparecidos (Disappeared), people who were never heard of again during the Argentinian Dirty War in the late 70s-early 80s. Without going into too many details, there was a military-run government during this time, and in order to quell subversion, there were 30,000 people or so who "disappeared", never to be heard of again. Here is a picture of some of these moms of the desaparecidos, who march every Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo, as you can see, still holding a picture of their missing loved one. The women are symbolized by the white scarf you can see some of them wearing on their head.
Yesterday we went on a little touristy boat ride into the delta of the Rio de la Plata (the huge wide river they have here in Buenos Aires). We had an hour-long boat ride through this really cool neighborhood where, in parts, there are no roads to any of the houses; they are all little islands and everyone has to get to their houses by boat. There is no potable water, so they have to bring water in from the mainland to drink/cook. It's essentially a summer house/weekend house place, and since we were here on a wednesday evening, there was no one at the houses. Discovery while riding this boat: Nothing in argentina is free. We took for granted that the water/cokes they handed out to us were free. Newsflash: They're not. My table (4 of us) ended up with a bill of roughly 68 pesos (22-23 USD). No fun. We're learning all sorts of things about how cultures work....and sometimes our pocketbook teaches us that lesson. The picture you see here is from our boat trip down this Delta.
I've also just finished my first week of classes - we don't have classes on friday! Hah! I am in a class studying Argentinian literature, and a class studying poetry, and it is NOT easy. I have a hard enough time figuring out symbolism in English poems and stories. Our class is either from 9 or 9:30 to 12:30. So, we have 3 straight hours of studying heavy duty literature in Spanish only. It's very hard to concentrate for that long; the positive thing is that I'll improve my vocabulary by having to look up every. other. word.
Right now I'm still trying to figure out my weekend plans; for now we have a group trip to an estancia (essentially a ranch?) tomorrow morning. We get to ride horses, see what life is like outside of the city...the downside? We have to wake up early on a day when we don't have school (d'oh!). It'll be fine, but a few of us were definitely looking forward to sleeping in on friday, only to find out we have a group trip.
That's all for now - I'll write in a couple days about my second weekend here in Buenos Aires...I definitely am enjoying myself, to say the least!