I never really do daily blog posts just because, usually, my days really aren't worth reading about, but I thought I'd share today.
So last night I tried to go to bed "early" so that I could wake up "early" and get stuff done. The realization that I'm leaving in less than a week has really sunken in and I've made lists of things I want to do and so I'm trying to get through as much of it as I can in my last few days. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep for a while so it took me longer to get out of bed than I had planned on.
I finally got up and showered and headed to the bank to get coins. If you read my blog before when I talked about the coin shortage, you know it's a pain to get coins down here. You have to talk to a teller to get coins so I was waiting in the bank line for 20 minutes and it had barely moved. They finally opened up a window just for getting change and so I stepped over to that line which moved much quicker. But when I got up there I handed the teller a $20 knowing they'll only give you $5 worth of coins.
He hands me my $15 in bills and then two rolls of 5 centavo coins, each $2.50.
Quick math problem: If a bus leaves Plaza de Mayo heading east at 45 km/h and it costs $1.25, how many $0.05 coins does it take to ride the bus?
Answer: A really annoying amount for everybody.
Grateful to at least be able get on a bus I take the coins and go get some breakfast at a sidewalk cafe nearby. That was pretty uneventful though I did manage to get a 50 centavo coin out of that transaction which required some maneuvering of bills (you get good at it after a while).
After that I took some shirts to a tailor to get repaired and I knew roughly where it was but I looked at the wrong intersection on the bus map and so I took the wrong bus and got off at the wrong place. Qué se le va a hacer. So I walked the 10 or so blocks to the tailor, dropped the stuff of and walked the 10 back so I could catch the subte (subway). But it was pretty warm today so I made a popsicle pit stop before I went down to the sweltering tunnels.
From there I needed to get some film developed and the best place for that is downtown so I took the subte there and dropped off the two rolls. Boring.
I had heard from a friend that that A Line of the subte was cool becuase it's extremely old and I hadn't realized that I'd never taken it so I walked from the camera store down to the closest stop and realized that I'd also never walked along Avenida de Mayo which is the major street that connects the Casa Rosada with the Congress building. It's a very pretty stretch and the A Line runs underneath it a ways and then out to the more residential Caballito neighborhood. While the cars on most of the lines are pretty modern the A Line is extremely old. Old enough to where they are made of wood and you manually open the doors (usually while the train is still moving of course). Light is provided by lamps hanging from the ceiling of the car like in your house. On the other lines a bell sounds when the doors are being closed. On the A Line a conductor sticks his head out the window and blows a whistle. Classic.
I didn't really know where I was going since I mostly just wanted to see the train, but I checked my Guia T (i.e. the bible of Buenos Aires; Maps, bus routes, an alphabetical street directory with coordinates for the maps) and realized it would go by a park I had wanted to see. So I got off there and realized this was a big commercial area too, so I wandered through a couple malls making my way through the hordes of teenagers (some things are universal). I eventually made it to the park where there a bunch of stalls where they sell bootleg DVD's, CD's and used books. Considering how inoffensive these things are (aside from the fact they're bootlegs), there were a couple moments where I felt like I was being offered something much more sordid as they whispered to me as I walk by "Hey kid, you want some books? I got books here. What do you want? I got what you want. You want old magazines? Here just try one..." Ok, not quite but it definitely felt that way. I resisted the peer pressure (plus I really don't need the "best of Mötley Crüe" anyway) and went and sat in the park for a while.
I was supposed to meet my conversation exchange/Argentine friend, Natalia, to go see a movie later and since I was hungry and sweaty from walking around all day so I figured out my bus from the Guia and went home using my hard earned monedas.
I got some dinner and took a shower and headed back out. I got on the bus and since I had already spent all my other bigger coins I proceeded to try and pay my entire fare with my 5 centavo coins. I'm glad there was nobody behind me becuase it was taking me forever becuase you have to wait for the machine to read each coin before it will take the next. And right when I get to about $1.15 they all come pouring out the change spout with a message saying essentially "Too Many Coins". I tried to explain to the bus driver those were the only coins I had and he told me to just go sit down, thankfully.
So I finally got down to the theatre back in Caballito and met Naty and her friend and we bought our tickets to an Argentine film called Amorosa Soledad which, of course, was all in Argentine Spanish with no subtitles. I actually followed a suprising amount of the film and even got several of the jokes (but not all). It was interesting since it takes place in Buenos Aires, so you see very familiar things. I always wondered what it would be like to live in New York and have practically every movie take place in your city.
After, we just started walking and talking about the movie and trying to figure out what we wanted to do. We eventually ended up walking up to Palermo, which was probably at least several miles, speaking spanish the whole way. For those of you who haven't learned another language, it takes an enormous amount of energy to listen what the other person is saying (especially when they mumble like argentines do) and think of you want to say and then figure out how to say it. At that point after watching a full movie in Spanish and then having a couple hour conversation in Spanish, my brain was totally fried. I probably should have put myself in more situations like that, but it's not as easy at it sounds.
We ended up hanging out at this restaurant/bar for a while until we all decided we were tired and it was time to go home. They walked with me to my bus stop and said bye. I ended up having to wait for the bus for an abnormally long time, but while I did an Argentine kid walked up in a Sub Pop shirt. I'm used to seeing other Seattle icons like Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix on t-shirts down here becuse they've reached mythical status and it's pretty much like wearing a Che Guevara shirt, but seeing a Sub Pop shirt surprised me and really made me think of Seattle. I'm taking it as a sign that I really am doing the right thing to go back there. Plus I've just realized I don't really like this place that much (more on that later maybe).
So to wrap up an incredibly long story that probably nobody (except my parents. Hi!) will read, I'll roughly paraphrase my friend. "If you want to sleep, you should do enough in a day to wear yourself out". And with that I'm saying I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed. Chau.
PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I only took one today, but I'll leave it with you here.
I'm not usually into taking pictures of street art because, in my eyes, it has about as much artistic merit as walking into a museum and taking a picture of a Monet. But I've really started to enjoy a lot of the street art here and I thought I would share a little bit of it with you guys.
These are all from a pretty industrial part of Palermo Soho by the train tracks. It used to be the red light district and now its just a place with some pseudo shady bars, Mexican restaurants and a lot of good paintings on the walls.
This last one is in a very common style. I haven't exactly figured out what they're for, but I think it has to do with soccer teams. But they're everywhere around the city and outlying areas.