Language is a funny thing.
The course of living here with the modest Spanish ability that I possess (which is a bit less in practice, relative to what 45 hours of audio lessons had led me to believe) has given me a profound appreciation for my fluency in English and the free flowing self expression that it affords. So it made my day today when I chatted with the butcher at his counter in the fruitteria this morning for about 15 minutes during the course of ordering some bacon, 2 hamburguesa patties, and another delicious Argentinian steak. We talked about learning languages, what I’m up to for my two months in Argentina, and some of the finer distinctions of why Argentinian beef is the best. It was all in Spanish.
On a related note, I had my first Spanish lesson yesterday! It appears to be working. For me it is becoming clear that connecting with people is a huge part of why I’m here, and learning the language is the foundation for that. So onward I am diving into a few hundreds pesos worth of lessons! Money well spent, perhaps even more so than that great Argentinian beef.
I went with Liz to explore famed Ricoletta Cemetary. Before getting there I wasn’t sure what could make it so noteworthy. Then I got there and saw: it’s like a little spooky village of little/big tomb buildings on perfectly straight little streets. The effect was amazing and I kept thinking how heavy the whole place must be, what with all those huge slabs of granite, stone and marble everywhere. About 20 minutes through my wanderings of the aisles, my brain got the brilliant idea to play Micheal Jackson’s Thriller on a repeating loop. I don’t think it stopped until we went for ice cream at a place right outside the cemetery, some 45 minutes later. Rad.
Last Saturday I think I OD’d on empanadas: if 1 is a tasty power up, 4 is a belly ache. For it I wussed out on going to a tango milonga starting around 11pm with the gang, so no tales of tango to speak of yet. In an effort to get myself back into the Argentinian social rhythm (this whole being tired around 10pm just isn’t cutting it) I slept until about noon today. I actually woke up at 7:30am, and then decided to make use of these wicked sweet wooden slats that serve as industrial grade blackout curtains and are ubiquitous here in BA: our mini-blinds in the states seem paltry and weak by comparison. Instant cave effect in my humble abode. My body is a bit banged up from the Aikido lesson last night (I learned technique for a graceful rolling way to take a fall–not yet mastered), so sleep came easily.
On firm recommendation I found a place to watch the soccer (or futbol, as it’s known in these parts) match between Boca and River, the two teams of Buenos Aires and one of the great rivalry games to experience. I wandered far down Avenida Corrientes in search of a pub packed with rowdy Argentinians watching the game: but in fairness I hardly know how to find such a thing back in the US, so I shouldn’t feel surprised that I utterly failed to find one here. I settled on a nice restaurant/bar with about 20 people seated and staring at the flat screen above with the game on. I was pleased to see that River was up 1-0 when I first started watching (having learned that that is the team I’m supposed to root for), and I don’t mind confessing that I didn’t know which team was which until a goal was scored by one of the guys in black, and the score turned 1-1. By then I was settled in with beer (served with a try of 3 salty items–good move, Cafe de la Ciudat) and empanadas, so it was starting to get good. By the end I had enjoyed 1.5 liters of beer, and those who know of my comically low tolerance will tell you that that has me fairly giggly and tipsy. Soccer seemed like the best damn thing in the world, and I was bummed to see the game end. That, and Spanish seemed much easier to speak. :)
What adventure is next for me? I’ll let you know what has transpired in a few days!