Monday, April 25, 2011

Cemeterio Recoleta

Up until yesterday afternoon, we hadn't done much exploring except for the few blocks around our house. We've had...traveling sickness. So any potential excursions were on a strict time schedule and we couldn't move too far away from the bathroom. Not to mention dehydration and only eating bread and water for 2 days. Easter dinner was bread from the panaderia with butter and jam. If you're a glass-half-full-type, you could say it brought us to a new level of intimacy AND we lost a few pounds. There was one moment of hilarity that came from this, though, and that was at the pharmacia. We, of course, forgot the Spanish word for lower intestinal tract problems, so we had to resort to describing it (ha!). At this point, all 3 people in line behind us were in on the conversation trying to help pinpoint the word we wanted to use before the pharmacist figured it out.

So yesterday we felt human and ventured out to the famous cemetery in Recoleta, the barrio we live in right now.

Sidebar, here's a map of Buenos Aires with Recoleta highlighted just to give you an idea of where we are in relation to the rest of the city.
The major "downtown" barrios are Belgrano,  Palermo, Villa Crespo, Congreso, Recoleta, Almagro, Retiro, Montserrat, Puerto Madero, and San Telmo. Boca is also in there but we've been told it's dangerous, a little dirty, and kind of sucks in general.
Anyways, we walked down to the cemetery (not before walking the wrong way for, oh, 10 blocks), which is near a big plaza with a park. This cemetery is HUGE, and it's also where much of Argentina's famous people are buried, including Eva Perone and Alberto Lavalle. There really isn't any room in there for new graves, but families who want to make some money or can't afford their grave at Recoleta anymore can sell their plots easily starting around $20,000. These pictures don't really do it justice, everything was absolutely beautiful.
There's skeletons in there! Or vampires or zombies.

Evita's grave

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Crap I Thought This Day Would Never Come

FINALLY. We are actually in Buenos Aires. Yesterday morning we left our house in Mukilteo at 4am (reasonable hour).

In Mexico City airport...waiting to board.

 We took a flight to L.A. Then to Mexico City - which is the biggest city I have ever seen or even imagined. Then took a 8 hour red eye south to Buenos Aires, where we landed at about 10:45am. We were packed into our plane like sardines and if we weren't already feeling closterphobic enough, the people in front of us immediately reclined their seats ALL the way back. However, Jesse and I decided that South American airlines kick-ass because they actually serve you food. No, not peanuts and pretzels. Believe it or not, we were served dinner AND breakfast on the flight to Argentina. When you travel for 28 hours, this is indeed a highlight.
Somehow we managed our way through customs speaking mostly Spanish. And by that I mean Jesse did most of the talking and I contributed "Si" and "gracias."
A car from our program picked us up and we were introduced to how Argies (as Reid calls them) drive; like crazy people. There were lanes on the freeway, but they were more like suggestions of the general area where cars should be.
Finally we made it to our student residence, called the Road House. We were disappointed to find out there isn't some sort of shrine dedicated to the Patrick Swayze movie and they don't offer free classes on how to perfect your round-house kicks.
When we got to our room, I startled myself looking in the mirror, because I thought I saw a ghost or a zombie. Upon further investigation I realized it was actually my own reflection. It's safe to say we looked like hell. Jesse and I collapsed into our single beds that we pushed together. There's still a 4 inch gap between the mattresses though, so we're living like a sitcom from the 50's. We slept for 3 hours, and I think the aroma of our un-showered bodies woke us up.
We showered in the bathroom we share with all the other rooms on our floor and then unpacked. It's a little strange showering somewhere anyone (male or female) can walk in whom you've potentially never met. It's also strange walking through a house where you don't know any of your housemates wearing only a towel. I also discovered the bidet when I foolishly turned the switch ("what's this do?") and sprayed bidet water on my shirt. Also, Jesse and I are feeling right at home because the floorboards outside our room are such that you could be tip-toeing, and it would still sound like a herd of elephants walking by. So everytime someone walks by, it sounds just like my mom, Kathy, or my sister, Sara stomping by with their giant feet at home in Mukilteo. 

After some much needed sleep, unpacking, and showering, we decided to go explore our neighborhood, known as Recoleta. Stepping outside and looking around was a huge reality check for us. We made our way down the street, noting that we were wearing flip flops, and also noting how dirty the streets are. There's lots of trash that accumulates in certain spots, and people in Buenos Aires love dogs, so there's lots of dog shit on the sidewalk as well. It's not what I expected, especially in one of the nicest areas of the city, but c'est la vie! We had some espresso and a tostada sandwich at a cafe one block from our house. The ladies in there were very patient with us fumbling through ordering in Spanish.

At the cafe down the street

Outside the school and the Road House

We got directions to a little grocery store down the street and bought some cheese, eggs, and wine. The essentials, right? 
We're back at the house listening to some of  the ladies and the nightime house manager talk upstairs in the kitchen. One of the girls invited us out to the bars with them, which was very nice, but they're not leaving until around 1:30am - which is a pretty common time to go out. People in Buenos Aires are night owls, and we're not going to dinner until about 10:30pm. Our goal is to make it to midnight tonight...

Enjoying some internet and wine in the common area

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Gettin' Real...

The countdown is officially on!!  Mere hours stand between Lindsay and me and boarding a flight southbound, finally resting in a little place called... Argentina (you have to say that last part Lloyd Christmas style- Dumb and Dumber? c'mon people).  Crazy right?  YEAH!  Tell me something I don't know.

Anyway, as we have been running around buying voltage adapters, making rigorous cuts on which t-shirts to take down, and cramming my brain with pertinent spanish phrases, I noticed I have been naturally focusing on what is ahead in our lives.  All the focus on the future did not allow me to think as much about the here and now until things started getting real.  How I knew this adventure is getting real:

- my Mariner attendance record will remain a paltry 0-2 for the 2011 season
- driving an automobile for the last time and to all places in the world, Radio Shack. Lame
- hugging our dog, Tucker, one more time as he shacks up with our good friend Nick for a year of spoiled life (love you Nick, thank you!)
- taking one last bite of delicious wild King salmon at Ivar's for Lindsay's grandma Fran's b-day (good-bye salmon, hello STEAK!)
- paying my last bill- suck it Macy's, Best Buy, rent, car insurance, etc...
- watching the toilet flush clockwise (I may get to see that once more before we go though...)
- sweating my ass off one more time at Crossfit Advantage and knowing from now on, Lindsay and I may be writing our own WODs using rocks as weights- getting primal with it!
- taking one last drink of Bud Light
- leaving my valet buddies to park all those cars without me (actually, I'm cool with that)
- saying good-bye to my brother and my parents (that one hit home hardest)

All our worldly possessions for Argentina to the left.  We trimmed down quite a bit of crap, but ready to rock.  We should have enough room in our suitcases for someone to stow away... Think about it.

As I stated before, this is wild!  We are excited, pumped, and ready.  We are going to enjoy one last night in the U.S. with Lindsay's family before we shove off to the vast unknown.  More to come from folks, so stay tuned...