Los Madres de la Plaza, mothers whose children were taken by the military dictatorship in the 70s/80s and who to this day still have not gotten a response from the government as to whether their children are alive/ dead march around that big white statue every thursday around 4ish. So many people disappeared during this time (over 30,000) that they even made a new word to describe those taken by the military. Los Desaparecidos. (the verb is desaparecer, literally, to dissappear) I’ve got a ton more to say about this but I’ll wait till I can put up some pictures to go along with it. (This past thursday I got to see the Madres de la Plaza)
So it’s very interesting for me to observe the differences between Argentinian and American culture. One thing, here in Argentina the service is way better. For example, when you go into a cafe, you just go sit down and a waiter comes to bring you a menu. Typically when I go into a cafe it is sometime in the afternoon, around 4 or 5 and I order a cafe with milk and a medialuna (mini crosaint). Another thing about Argentina, if you just say cafe, they will bring you a tiny espresso…you have to specify you want it with milk (con leche). It is a typical menu option or order a cafe with 2 or three medialunas. Between the hours of 4-8ish cafes are full of people getting a mid-day snack and chatting with friends. It is so cute, they will also bring you a mini cup of water (like the size of a double shot glass and usually a tiny bite-size cookie or brownie thing of some sort on the saucer of your cafe or in a mini mini bowl. It is just so cute how they put so much care into each person’s cafe….all these little parts.
So I’ve been here for a few weeks now…. I can really feel that I am becoming accustomed to living here, I’m settling into a rhythm. So this video of yogi bhajan below, I think at one point he says something like, “when the storm is sooo dark, that one cannot see one’s own hand, that is when you must be like a light-house” or something like that…..well I feel that. I feel like I have no control over my life right now, and I also feel like the future is so clouded I cannot see anything. I said something similar to my mataji last time I talked to her on the phone “I feel like my future is so clouded, like I can’t even see my hand in front of my face” and it made me remember this video. It’s true what he says, the lighthouse cannot see it’s own light but for others it can be a beacon of hope in a tumulous storm.
Seriously, one of the most inspiring things you will ever watch.
So I don’t have wifi at my appartment. It is a good thing really. If I did, I would be on facebook a lot more, surfing the net, messing around, wasting time. The computer can be a black hole for my time. It has forced me to find other things to do to pass my time, such as do my homework, read, practice guitar, talk to my host-mother, write, etc. etc. I’ve realized that I feel lonely without a constant connection to the internet. I have become so dependent on this contact, but in reality it’s not a real connection with people. It’s so strange how people spend so much time on the computer communicating when they could just get together and talk face to face, over coffee, take a walk…
One tradition I totally love here is drinking yerba mate! It is a stimulant similar to caffeine but is much healthier for you and also doesn’t make you jittery like caffeine can. You can drink it alone, but traditionally it is something do do with friends. Que bueno! It is common to see people walking around with their mate cups and a big thermos of hot water.
I’m really lonely over here. I feel a bit panicked sometimes, like I’m just so far away from my family, friends, hometown, community, everything that I know and that makes me feel comfortable. People don’t know me here. They don’t know where I come from or who I am or what I’m about. I get a lot of quizzical stares on the subway everyday. I just gotta laugh but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me every once in a while. Wearing a turban, sometimes it’s hard to stand out so much… I thought that wearing a turban would help to defer unwanted attention from guys…doesn’t always work.
So another thing about Argentinian culture, or at least in Buenos Aires, the men frequently whistle or say things to you as you walk by, like how beautiful, que linda, que hermosa! Sometimes the guys say different pick-up lines…they are called piropos. Like one popular one is, “arriba las manos y dame todo tus besos”, translation is raise your hands and give me all of your kisses. Pfffffff. Puh-leeeeez. Could you be any more cheeeezy? It is kinda creepy sometimes cause sometimes the guys are like really older men. like, wtf. Also in Buenos Aires, they have a specific way of talking, specific words that are neither slang, nor necessarily grammatically correct either. It is confusing, but I have made a handful of Argentinian friends who are teaching me a lot.
I’m actually having fun in my Spanish class. I am so much more motivated to learn Spanish because it is applicable here. I want to learn because I want to be able to communicate with people and with my host-mom who only speaks spanish and with my teachers who only speak spanish with us. As far as my other classes go. We have a seminar all about the recent history in Argentina, basically in the 1900s. Economic and political history mostly. It is so interesting! At least what I can understand from the lectures, they are all in spanish. Now that my spanish is getting better I am way more interested in the class. Well, in the beginning I will admit I was close to tears a few times because I was so frustrated. How could they expect me to learn anything about the economic and political history of Argentina if I couldn’t even understand what the teacher was saying, much less understand economics and politics which are two things I have NEVER studied before. It is good I’m studying these things though, and in such depth too. My major is International Studies with a focus in Peace, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. Economic policies and political environments play a huuuuge part in all of these things but honestly I probably would have never taken a class about this stuff if I hadn’t come here. Yeah, why did I choose this program? Honestly, I just kinda had a feelin’ I really didn’t understand a whole lot about the academic part of it before I came (hehe, don’t tell my parents).