Day 18: Painting a Pretty Little Picture of Life on Rio de la Plata / by Sarah Kakusho

[…I think I need to start giving myself a word limit on these blogs] XD

I had one of those days where you have nothing to do, but something in you is telling you to just get out. So, I did. I went walking around a few blocks around my street. I stopped by a nearby kiosk to add pesos to my phone [both national and international]. It’s a pretty neat system. You just give them your number, the service, and the amount you want added, and they type it into a computer and voila, a text message saying you’ve added pesos to your phone.

Afterwards, I went to the nearby park near the cemetery and read a book. It’s interesting how much can happen while you’re sitting down on a bench in the park for an hour, reading a book.
1. I was approached by a Red Cross guy who was so into talking about how “ugly” his picture was on his Red Cross badge, more than talking about the hungry children he was trying to get donations for.
2. I was also approached by a girl from a nearby café trying to sell sandwiches around the park. The way some street vendors sell here is interesting. They hand you something, randomly, and then come back to pick it up, or the money if you decide whatever they’re selling. This particular girl didn’t do that, but it reminded me of that. It happens a lot on trains.
3. There was a girl selling ribbon. It looked like she had just cut a roll of ribbon and she was selling it. You can find anything for sale on the streets, I swear. Talk about convenient store.
4. I think it is pigeon mating season. The male pigeons were courting the female pigeons. How do I know? Their hooting is so loud.
5. I saw a cat run by me, and a rush of dogs chasing it. It ran into a hole in a wall, and the dogs were barking at it for a looong time. The dog walker had a hard time getting all the dogs together [there is no leash law that I’m aware of, so there are always dogs running around the park]. I saw a few people trying to help the guy gather all the dogs, clapping at them and shooing them away from the wall. What happened to the cat? It came out shortly after the dogs left as if nothing happened.
6. I swear I saw the same guy walk by a million times.
7. The clouds move by faster than in Florida or California, even when there’s barely any wind. I found this peculiar.
8. I saw two Asian [I’m pretty sure they were Japanese] men walk by, and it still surprises me when I hear them speaking Castellano. I keep forgetting that immigrants and foreigners don’t know English here [or at least I can’t assume that]. They know Castellano instead!

While I was reading, I highlighted all the words I didn’t know and couldn’t understand in context. It reminded me of the remedial reading classes they used to put me in back in grade school. It’s served me well. XD So far, I can only get the gist of the book, but hopefully, when I re-read it towards the end of my journey here, I will understand every detail.

After my hour there, I went back into the city and walked into a café to have lunch. It was the same place that gave me the wrong drink, but I didn’t hold it against them. I remember when I first walked into this place, I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford it because it looked fancy: wine glasses set up on the tables, crisp white table clothes, glass bottles of water sitting on occupied tables, nice food setup, all the customers in suits. But then I realized that’s with almost any café that serves entrees in Buenos Aires.

I sat by the window. I had eaten out by myself only a few times. I didn’t know where to look, so I looked outside. I never realized just how towering the buildings are here. It made me feel small. I’d imagine this is what it’s like to live in any city, channeling through the streets like ants, enclosed within all these buildings. I’ve noticed that it’s much warmer in the city, than in the parks [I think that’s just my lack of science on that one].

Anyway, I’m beginning to see the difference between Argentines and Americans. When I first came here, I couldn’t tell them apart. But after some extensive observation in my 18 days here, I’ve noticed that [generally speaking… I’m not saying everyone is like this]:
- American men have a distinct heavy walk. Feet outward, uses whole body to walk
- Americans are loud. They talk loud. They laugh loud. Loud.
- Argentines dress better. They have style. Period. Even the homeless dress better.
- Argentines know how to use silverware properly [probably cuz they use it regularly, and not only on special occasions like most Americans]

I’ve also noticed that from afar, you can tell if someone is speaking Castellano or English. One clue is in the lips. The lips move one way when someone speaks English, and the lips move another way when one speaks Castellano. Yes, it sounds weird, but I rely on lip-reading sometimes, especially in class when I happen to sit next to someone who can’t shut their mouths. But, I guess, the way things are enunciated are different. Second hint is in the gestures people use. This is no doubt, a no-brainer. I’m going to find a book called Che Boludo that has all the slang and gestures of Buenos Aires so I understand everything that’s going on around me.

Yes, it’s interesting the people you see around you [that’s why I love people-watching]. After lunch, I had to go to an appointment for my visa. I needed to go the central part of the city to the office where they take fingerprints and all that jazz. I got SOO lost. So, it was a pretty straight way from the subway, but because of all the construction and all the people that was there I completely got lost for 45 minutes and I ended up getting there late. But, I didn’t care about getting there on time. “LIFE” by Kimaguren came on when I was looking for the place, and it kind of fit well with my situation. It was funny.

Luckily, when I got there, there was barely a line, only 15 people in front of me [the process was expected to take an hour and a half]. I was out in 20. Fashionably late is good sometimes. I love how, no matter where I go [except Japan] people will always freak out when they realize that my parents’ names are something they can’t just type in without making a mistake. I had to write out everything on a piece of paper for the lady to put into the computer.

Afterwards, I walked around the city a bit. It was very busy, and there were street vendors everywhere. I wanted to buy everything, but I didn’t have any small bills on me. It’s a nice place. Walking around a bit and looking at all the things that were out on the streets, it got me thinking of a project I want to start. No details about it yet, but I think it’ll definitely be something “Rioplatense” [anything native to Rio de la Plata area aka Buenos Aires].

My mind is starting to move in some direction again. Finally.

“To be human in the full sense of the word is to lead a creative life.” – Daisaku Ikeda

Viviendo una vida creativa.

P.S. My internet connection is…less than good, so it hasn’t been sending the emails that I have been sending, but thank you soooooo much for keeping in touch.