Monday, March 23, 2009

late summah days

So I said that classes began today, but that was all lies. Classes at UBA began today, but I decided not to take the Monday-Wednesday seminar that I had originally planned to take because it was twice a week from 9-11pm all the way across town. Not only would I not get home until midnight, but the idea of wandering around Caballito in the dark alone didn't sound that appetizing.

I tried to go to bed early last night, but couldn't sleep until 2 or 3. I woke up at 8:30 to go to the Santander Río bank to get monedas. Thankfully it is close, because it turns out they only give you 5 pesos worth at a time. I see myself going multiple times per week in the future. However, it was a wonderful feeling to have shiny, brand-new two-tone monedas jingling in your pocket...the key to being able to move freely throughout the city. I love the bus system here - no schedules, nothing complicated. You just go to the stop and wait a couple minutes until the next bus comes. Obviously this system is not always foolproof - plenty of times you wait for 15 or 20 minutes only to have two buses come right next to each other. In general, though - I really like taking the bus, and using my Guía T (i.e. the bus bible, and the most important item I own here in Buenos Aires) to plan out a route from anywhere/everywhere in the city. Arriving successfully makes me feel really accomplished.

Since I had another free day and no museums are open on Mondays, I had a leisurely breakfast after my moneda run and did a little shopping while waiting for my friend Amy to finish her errands. It was hot and humid today. I'm ready for this weather to be over. I checked the promedios (averages) for the week on Español and we are a good 10 degrees farenheit above where we should be. We took the Subte (Subterráneo i.e. "underground" i.e. subway...i.e. sweat central) down Santa Fe, a street near-ish my house to go to a museum (i.e. the only museum open on Mondays) dedicated to Ricardo Rojas, the educator/writer that the cultural center where I will eventually take my weaving class is named after. I figure that if such an amazing thing as the Rojas Center (which offers weekly, 4-month long art classes in every imaginable subject for less than $100) is named after him, I should know who he was. Obviously the museum was closed for maintenance, because this is our luck. However. We walked from there to the Recoleta Cemetery, which may be the coolest thing I have seen in Buenos Aires thus far.

Latin American cemeteries are just a special breed - I spent quite a few hours poking around the gorgeous cemetery in Urubamba last summer, which is when this fascination started. Instead of being grassy and full of headstones, they are like small towns built for the dead. In the Recoleta Cemetery, the tombs are all squished next to each other with front steps like houses. Some are shiny and well-kept with glass front doors and lace curtains, some are cracked and cobwebby. The cob webs were so stereotypically intricate and dusty that they almost seem fake. Compared to the rest of this loud city it is a quiet place - you can hear the birds chirping, the breeze rustling the leaves. Feral cats wander and sleep on the bases of the polished marble statues. If you peek inside, you can often see the actual wooden coffins - old, cracked, warped. What is even more interesting is that if you have spent the last five weeks learning to navigate Buenos Aires the way my friends and I have (indeed it has been my main/only activity since arriving), you know who all the important political and cultural figures of Argentine history were, because the streets are named after them. Buenos Aires does not have number streets, which is frustrating from a navigation point of view but good from a cultural point of view. I might not know all the history, but I know the names. And walking around the Recoleta Cemetery, where all the rich and famous are born, you see a lot of these names. Makes them into people.

Things are just so much better - as Buenos Aires moves out of late summer (the worst time to be in a city) and into fall, I'm just feeling so much more comfortable here. OVERWHELMED was the sentiment of February and most of March, but that is slowly going away.


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