Saturday, May 9, 2009

life in BsAs

Wow, has it really been a month since my last post? I blame it on a combination of busy-ness and laziness and I'll try to get back in the swing of things. 

The past month has been interesting, wonderful, thought-provoking, frustrating, anxiety-inducing,'s been up and down, and just about everywhere in between. It's life in BsAs, and in my third month here I'm getting used to this range of experiences that have come to define my experience as an English teacher. 

As for the wonderful and breath-taking...
...paragliding over the Andes in the outskirts of Mendoza. Ever since I went bungee-jumping last year in Italy I have wanted to try another you-have-got-to-be-crazy extreme sport. Mendoza, a city located in the shadows of the Andes near the Chilean border, provided the perfect opportunity. After spending a day biking through the wine country, visiting several bodegas, and tasting wine and olive oil (also wonderful) my friend and I decided that we wanted to see the mountains; we soon found ourselves in the back of an old truck, barreling up a narrow mountain path. My fear of heights was mitigated by the breath-taking view of the Andes, which I tried to focus on - rather than look over the side of the truck into the abyss.
Once we reached the mountain top, we were quickly thrown into the harnesses and ready to go, or at least our expert guides (with whom we would jump) thought. Needing specific instructions, I began to drill my guide in a mix of broken Spanish and English made incomprehensible by the 'what the fuck am I doing about to run off a mountain?' thoughts running through my head. "When I say run, you run" was the only instruction we received. Ok, fair enough, I can do that...
Though it took us about ten minutes to get the perfect gust of wind, eventually we were off. I immediately understood why more specific instructions were not necessary - you pretty just run until you hit the edge of the mountain, and then you are swept off your feet - literally. Then it's just a matter of sitting back, relaxing (as much as that is possible) and trying to take it all in. The ride itself probably lasted about 15 minutes, my favourite part being the end, when we did some "acrobatics" in order to lose altitude. Being a novice and huge clutz, and I fell forward on my knees on the landing. But lack of grace aside, it was truly amazing. Indescribable. If ever you have the opportunity to go paragliding, ignore the rational voice in your head and run off the side of a mountain. You're not likely to regret it. 

As for the interesting...
I almost have a full-time teaching schedule - ideally I would like to teach between 20-25 hours per week, and right now I'm at 18 or so. In addition to the two institutes I have been working for since April, I have started working for a new, small tutoring company started by an American. My boss, Lindsay, understands the frustrations and limitations of working for a big company - namely the travel time needed to get to classes, low wages, and lack of connection between students and teachers - and has started her own company based on her own philosophy of teaching, one which I agree with. So far I have three students through her and hope to start with more in the near future. Most of the students come to my home for lessons, which is brilliant - though I have conquered the collectivo (bus) system, the lack of monedas sometimes makes a bus trip impossible. As for my students themselves, I'll have to save that for another post. 

As for the frustrating...
I don't want to dwell on the negatives too much; I'll preface this by saying that after living abroad for several months you begin to notice the many little things that bother you, the cultural differences that just don't seem to make any sense, and a certain nostalgia always seems to lurk in the back of your mind. For me, it's a nostalgia for things that never were; or rather, I, like so many others, forget all the things that frustrated me, that were suffocating, about life in the 'burbs. Really, when I stop and think about it, I'd take Argentine idiosyncrasies over the humdrum routine of Phoenix, MD any day. Yes, I'm not as comfortable as I was back home, but what was so great about that comfort anyway?
But enough with the ambiguity, the generalisations. 
The most frustrating thing in the past weeks has been my house. Remember how I said that considering the low rent, there were bound to be many little surprises along the way? Well, occasionally not having running water has been one of those surprises. Ok, so it's only happened twice, but in both instances we were without water for an entire day. It's never to good to start your day seeing several workers in your kitchen, dirty water everywhere, and when you ask, "¿Hay un problema?" they respond, " tenés agua." My response, "Motherfucker!" I'm pretty sure they understood that. My other big concern is the lack of heat in my room. I could not ask for better weather right now, but as it's fall, the nights are starting to get chilly, and I've already woken up several nights shivering. Ok, so I exaggerate. But a space heater is needed...and soon.

As for the thought-provoking, anxiety-inducing...
...I've been thinking about my future. I've realised that sooner or later, I will have to move back home and find a job (easier said than done) to save up money for my next big step (which, without going into too many details, involves getting back to Italy and studying gastronomy...) So I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for this while at the same time thinking in the present and enjoying my time in Buenos Aires. Because, despite the downs, life in Buenos Aires is good. 


  1. This is a great blog! I'm currently in college and thinking of spending a year in Buenos Aires after graduation. Your descriptions of the city and your life in Argentina are informative and interesting to read. Please post more.


  2. I really enjoy reading your blog. I've listed it in my blogroll. Hope that's ok!