It is finally spring in Buenos Aires and I am writing to you live from my room, wearing a dress with no tights. I was a little cold walking back from the bus at 9:30 but it was worth it. The climate here really reminds me of Southern California when it’s warm out and some of the neighborhoods have spanish-y architecture that’s very OC which I love.
Here’s what’s going on in these exciting times.
Sunday, I did something unheard of in this fair country: I made plans for 10 am to study with my friend Olivia at a café. We wanted to get there early to snag a table and to actually get work done. I had a midterm this wednesday and most of my week involved prepping for that. We did work and stayed at the cafe so long we ordered breakfast (very good) and lunch (this very weird salad in which you had to combine all of the ingredients yourself, they literally arrived on a plate on the side). Then I walked home and headed to the corner bakery to pick up a cake I had ordered for my Argentine cousin’s birthday party, which he really nicely invited me to. I ordered the torta de cumpleanos which was cake with sprinkles layered with buttercream and dulce de leche frosting and a dark chocolate top. I never eat storebought cakes but this was INSANELY good and it’s now a dangerous fact that I live two blocks from this bakery and they sell it by the slice. I walked very carefully the six blocks to Edgardo’s parents house (sidewalks here are not even and I had visions of falling cake, flying cake, smushed cake, falling Abigail and general crisis). Cake and I survived intact and I had a lovely time at the party. I got to meet more members of my Argentine family including a three year old named Augustina who knows how to say colors in English and will soon have a little sibling and a cousin who moved to Canada to be near her grandkids and misses Argentina dearly. She’s here for a month and described her life in Canada as “I wake up, put on the Argentine radio, read the argentine newspaper, and drink mate.” Edgardo’s mom is also a really good painter and their house is covered with her artwork which she bases on photos of pretty places in Argentina. There was so much food, sort of Argentine tapas and she was so worried I wouldn’t have enough to eat being vegetarian (there were literally only 2 things I couldn’t eat) that she would not stop bringing things over to our side of the table. I was so full by the end but obviously had some cake, just to celebrate its successful arrival. We talked a little bit about life in the US and they talked a lot about how much power we have as consumers in the US, the fact that you can bring an ad with a lower price to a store and they will honor it. They also said that if starbucks in Argentina let you add your own milk, everyone would steal all of the milk just because it’s free. The younger family was also complaining about their limited vacation destinations: traveling to the US is so expensive for Argentines, it’s barely a possibility.
On Monday, I got back to studying at a cafe called Oui Oui in Palermo Hollywood. It’s always packed on weekends but there was room on a monday and I spent a lovely couple of hours there, people watching, studying, and eating lunch. I had a classic Argentina moment in which I ordered a salad which promised watercress, hummus, and brie cheese. I like all of those things and leap at the chance to eat protein so I ordered it.
This is what came. Literally two piles of hummus, the lettuce (with a really good mustard dressing), and toast with brie on it. Now this was very tasty, I just literally don’t understand how anyone comes up with these things.
After lunch and a few more hours at Oui Oui, I needed a change of scenery so I walked to Eterna Cadencia, a bookstore café that came recommended. It was beautiful and even had a rooftop garden that I just need to have a drink at before I leave here. Some pictures:
Tuesday, I was back to cafe hopping after aerobics class and this time headed to Belgrano, a neighborhood I don’t spend much time in to check out Guardiola! The exclamation mark is part of their name. It’s a really cute café with very American branding, which translates to English words written everywhere. The waiters had tshirts that said “Slow!” which could refer to the slow food movement or a pace of life but is also very silly for a waiter. It was not very crowded on a tuesday afternoon so the service was not slow and my salad was very good.
Other words included “Bike” maybe to counteract slow.
I went to one more cafe near my house which wasn’t anything special but kept me studying. Then I barely slept from being nervous and took my test Wednesday morning. I hope it went okay and I felt like I had enough to write about. I left my house at 8 to be at DiTella nice and early and then had a superlong day of class, meeting friends for coffee, and then a dinner with Mario and his husband for people who’ve had birthdays in the past month or so. He was 40 minutes late because he sort of forgot about it since we planned it so long ago but it was really fun and the food was great. Mario’s also a regular at the restaurant so all sorts of freebies kept appearing at the table. Can’t complain.
Today, I slept in a bit and did some reading before heading to my IFSA castellano class, which is only three people. We knew one girl wouldn’t be there because she’s traveling but George, the other student didn’t come either. It was no big deal because my teacher and I chatted about current events for a little bit. OMG the Argentine president had brain surgery yesterday. But they didn’t shave her head for the surgery and she also had a false diagnosis of cancer last year so people are not super symapthetic. It’s also election season and her party is not looking too hot. She has two more years as president and according to my teacher, no Argentine president has ever finished two terms. Very interesting…
Then she let me leave and I had lots of unexpected time before my class at UBA. On the subway back, I decided to get off early to try this salad place that I’ve heard a lot about. It’s gotten comparisons to sweetgreen so you know I was intrigued. Well this salad place was very good but not much like sweetgreen in actual salad preparation, namely speed. The whole process took over 20 minutes, which I was expecting and it was very entertaining. There are like 8 predesigned salads and none of the workers had any of the ingredients memorized, much less the dressing that was supposed to go with each. There was also lots of commentary like when one worker declared all the avocados were too ripe so we each got to pick substitutes. I got a really great salad with zucchini, corn, onions, tomatoes, beets, quinoa and black eyed peas (?). Then, the most exciting of all, was a green juice, my first in months. It had spinach, celery, pineapple, mint, and orange juice and was just so fabulous even if they added ice cubes after blending which makes no sense. I was a happy camper and will absolutely return, especially because they have self serve froyo.
I had a little bit of time at home before UBA, which was good. The professor asked me and the other foreign exchange students to talk on the last day of class about what childhood is like in our countries, from social policies to our own personal experiences. That’s so much to think about/prepare in spanish so I was glad to have the heads up!
My grandparents are coming to buenos aires this weekend and I’m so excited to see them!! I’m also excited to have a little bit of downtime before they arrive after this crazy week.