"Trámite" was a word that I had never heard until I got to Argentina, but now I feel like it is a vital part of my life. "Trámite" essentially translates to "procedure," but I feel like so much more is caught up in it. Procedures in Argentina seem to be way more complicated and bureaucratic than in the States, and therefore the word holds much more power.
Today was the second and final phase for the residency trámite. Instead of having student visas, international students in Buenos Aires have to apply for Argentine residency in order to stay in the country for the correct amount of time and actually enroll in our universities. This means showing up at the immigration offices at the port (next to the Retiro shantytown i.e. one of the places that most scares me in this city) at 7:45am, waiting in a massive clump to get your number called for an hour and a half, being treated like an idiot by multiple officials, paying 200 pesos, and then being herded into a fluorescent-lit room without enough seats to wait up to 5 hours for your name to be called in a thick Spanish accent (again with most of the population of Perú and Bolivia). Thankfully I had the company of some friends, but REALLY. We finally finished at 3pm (after missing the most worthwhile 2 hours of my week - my Sociology and Anthropology of Art discussion) and emerged out into one of the stillest, smoggiest days since I got here. I then took two subways over to my weaving class at the Rojas Center, which I didn't completely feel like doing because I had not had a meal all day and had only slept 3 hours last night. But I went, and weaving was nice, except for carrying my extremely large loom on the rush hour bus home and then walking 6 blocks with it hanging off my body. For once I actually had an excuse to be stared at on the street, which was kind of nice.
After a somewhat crappy weekend (friends out of town, lost cell phone, plans that fell through, class schedule messed up) I am finally back to the good feeling that I had on Friday before all of that other stuff happened. Life has been so unpredictable here, and once I finally think I have my feet solidly under me all of a sudden something pulls out that stability. But I feel like I'm really on the verge of something big.
Yesterday I wandered around to about 20 different yarn stores to assemble all of the obscure supplies for my weaving class. Not gonna lie - people were not that helpful. Never mind the fact that they keep everything behind the counter and freak out if you so much as put a toe over the counter line in order to see an item or a color better. Thankfully I was more or less successful, with the help of a really nice guy in an artisan weaving store who pointed me in the right direction for everything I needed. Who would have thought that a wooden ruler would be so hard to find? Why don't they sell more yarn in balls instead of just all tied up together? Buenos Aires, you are full of mysteries.
After yarn searches around Palermo Viejo, I went and bought a new cell phone in the Microcentro (my least favorite part of Buenos Aires) as well as had a snack and then returned home to rest for an hour or so before beginning my long journey to the facultad at Puán (that is the name of the street, but it is also how many people refer to the facultad). Total transportation for the day: 6 buses and two long subway rides. But a really successful day. Now I finally have all of my classes figured out and they are not that scary...I love Puán because even at 9pm when I have my class it is loud and spirited and bustling with cool college students who make me feel at home in a place where I very rarely actually feel that way. I emerged at 11pm to take two long buses home, which I did successfully for the first time. My professor and and American friend who happens to be from Portland were even on the bus with me. I got off at the last stop on the first bus, so when it was near the end of the line only one other girl and I were on it. The bus driver pulls the bus over, leaves it idling, hops out, runs over to a kiosco, buys a candy bar, and hops back on. So funny. The girl and I just sat there quietly, and when he got back on he said "Oh hey, thanks for waiting."
Trámite is over finally, and as one of the cool young workers in the migraciones office said through sips of mate while he was taking my finger print, "es un fin de semana laaaaaaaargo!" (It's a longggggg weekend!). Amy and I are going to Mar del Plata, a lively beach resort about 5 or 6 hours to the south to celebrate the extra days off of class for Easter.