Autumn’s Adventures

Brad Pitt in Jujuy? What????
September 30, 2008, 11:53 pm
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I woke up at 7 am again this morning to go to that post graduate class with Alabí.  Last week it was canceled because the buses weren’t running so I was hoping it would be on this week.  There were only 2 students in the class and they were both adults that teach history.  I can’t believe they would keep a class open for only 2 students but I don’t want to even try to begin to understand the Argentine education system.  I actually enjoyed the class and will probably continue taking it even though I hate waking up so early.  Once a week isn’t so bad, I couldn’t do it every day.  The class translates English text into Castellano so it will be good practice for me to discover how sentences are structured and what tenses are what.

After class I went to Alabí’s for coffee and she thanked me for teaching her the word “Libertarian”.  She told me she was the second Libertarian in Jujuy, after me, she just didn’t know the word for it.  I don’t know how I manage to come to a different continent and run into 2 libertarians already.  First it was Brian, the guy I met en route to Buenos Aires and now my awesome teacher in a remote part of Argentina.  Pretty cool.  Alabí also told me that Robert Duvall came to Jujuy and met a jujeño that he later married.  Other actors that have been spotted in Jujuy are Richard Gere and Brad Pitt.  I’m going to keep my eyes peeled now…

Alabí and I watched a bit of TV together because that is what we do.  We watch American news and talk about it.  Without her I’d probably not keep up with the news in America because honestly it just angers and depresses me and reminds me why I escaped to Argentina in the first place.  I am glad to know, even if it may only be temporary, that Congress didn’t pass Bush’s proposal for the bailout.  I know this crisis is scary but I don’t see why we have to rush into something so stupid as paying off investors WHO KNEW THEY WERE TAKING RISKS just to keep the financial situation stable.  I’m sorry but I don’t want to pay taxes out of my ass for the next ten years or more. I already pay too much and I’m not the investor that made the wrong investment.  If congress does pass the bailout I may have to start stuffing money into my mattress or put it in a foreign bank account.  Now that I’m self employed I’ll just drop off the radar and hope they don’t track me down.

I went to another phonetics class tonight to talk in English but for this class I had no teacher monitoring the class (or me).  I thought it was pretty strange that the teacher left me alone with her class for the ENTIRE class period.  Also, halfway through the class another teacher came in and told the students that he was not going to be teaching his class tonight because he was leaving for another province for the week.  I just don’t get Argentine schooling at all.  The students told me that this happens often and they have some teachers that never show up for class.  At one point during the class the lights went out for about 2 minutes because they were doing maintenance.  I thought I would only have about 5 minutes worth of things to talk about and I didn’t expect the class to ask me many questions because the last phonetics class didn’t but these students were pretty responsive to me.  They engaged me in conversation and asked me questions like “have you met any famous people?” and “what concerts have you gone to?”.  We talked for the full 2 hours of the class and by the end of it I had made a few new friends.

Papá Mercadal made delicious pizza tonight and I stuffed my face until my belly cried out “no more!”  I miss pizza so much and the pizza here is nothing like the pizza in the states but papá’s pizza was better than most of the pizza here.  Mamá Mercadal taught me how to knit tonight as well.  That shit is hard to do!  I mean, the concept is easy and it doesn’t have that many steps but it takes some coordination and a lot of concentration.  My wrists hurt only after 2 rows of knitting.  Mamá, of course had done a full square in the time that I did 4 rows but I’m going to keep practicing and maybe when I’m done practicing I’ll have a cute little scarf to send to Lady (my beloved perro salchicha).

Cheese Ice Cream? Yes, please.
September 29, 2008, 6:24 pm
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Yesterday I accomplished a great deal.  I walked around Centro determined to find 3 things:  an HSBC atm, a papelería, and a map of Centro.  Check. Check. and check.  Since I found the map last I really couldn’t use it to help me navigate around to find the other 2 things on my list so for walking around blindly with no sense of direction, I did pretty damn well.  I rewarded myself with some queso untable (creamy cheese) and breadsticks.  My only failure today was my attempt to try queso frozen yogurt.  I had heard about this place called Pinguino that has the best frozen yogurt and they have many flavors, including queso.  When I looked on the menu I did not see any queso flavored ice cream so I got discouraged.  I didn’t want to ask for it in fear that they would look at me strangely because who the hell would ask for cheese ice cream?  Maybe someone wanted to play a cruel joke on me by telling me that one of my favorite foods was also mixed with one of my other favorite foods.  I must investigate further and ask more friends before I boldly approach the Pinguino counter and ask for this strange combination.

After my adventure in Centro I went home and waited for Gabi to pick me up.  We were going to meet up with her old English teacher and her 2 students because they wanted to practice their English with me.  I can’t say that I was that excited about it because I really only want to practice my castellano.  Every moment that I spend speaking English is one moment that I could spend getting better at their language.  I know I shouldn’t be so selfish (ok as a true libertarian, I should not feel guilty about being selfish) but it’s not like I won’t eventually talk in English with them.  I just prefer to get their language down first and then I will talk in English with them until the cows come home.  Regardless, I had a good time at the teacher’s house and I ended up speaking a lot in castellano anyway because the student’s didn’t speak much English.  The teacher was really nice and we exchanged information so she could invite me over for an asado.  One of her students invited me to Cordoba as well so that is also a plus because this woman is hilarious and I think I would thoroughly enjoy a trip to Cordoba with her.  Two reasons: She loves sex and hates her husband.  How that works out for her I can only imagine but it is funny nonetheless.

Last night I went to La Pelukeria to dance and drink with Gabi and the gang.  I also had the Holland girls meet up with us to create one big happy family.  Those girls turned out to be really fun and they bought champagne and let me drink it with them.  There was a live band playing for about an hour and they played all american covers.  Beatles, Led Zepplin, Queen, Bob Marley…etc.  When the band was finished playing I saw one of the band members outside of the bathroom.  He stopped me and started talking to me but I didn’t really hear most of what he said because the dance music was loud and he was speaking really fast.  Sometimes when I don’t know what people are saying to me I just make up in my head what I think they are saying so I THINK this guy was trying to tell me that he saw me in Tucuman (a city in another province).  I’m sure it was just a pickup line but all the same I told him that I was not in fact the girl he thought I was and that I was new to this town.  He was cute so I thought I would try and find out if he was local and if I should get his number.  Unfortunately he lives in Tucuman so I gave up my hopes of having a hot guy friend (or potential amante) that didn’t have a unibrow.  I should have gotten his number anyway so that I could visit Tucuman but I was drunk and not networking to my full potential. 

I lost Gabi early on in the night but the rest of the gang was still going strong until 7am.  Around 7 I started seeing my girl friends pairing off with dudes and the dudes I came with had already left so I knew it was time for me to go as well.  I ended up getting a ride home with my girl friend Vale(rie) and her soon-to-be amante for the evening.  I didn’t much care for the guy as he seemed a little arrogant and he made fun of me for not speaking perfect castellano.  His teasing, although annoying, only makes me want to practice my spanish more and become even better so I can throw it back in his face.

Gus Harper, Painter and Friend
September 26, 2008, 11:11 pm
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Here is a video that my friend Gus made of himself working on a grid painting.  HIs art is truly beautiful and I wish I had his talents.  If you like his art as much as I do, check out his website and think about commissioning a painting with him (he does smaller ones than the grids).

Rad stuff, Gus — keep it up and thanks for sharing!

Fooled by Pool
September 26, 2008, 5:30 am
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Forgive me because I am a little drunk as I write this post.  It is 5 in the morning and I just returned from a night of drinking and playing pool with my friend Alfredo and host brother Jose.  I was actually doing pretty well with my game, normally I don’t make any of my intended shots and I look like the typical girl that can’t play pool.  By a stroke of luck I managed to fake being good for one night.  I thought that I won the first game but unfortunately I didn’t.  Why did I think I won?  Well, I successfully got the 8 ball into the pocket that I had intended it to go in, with another ball blocking my shot.  It was like a miracle shot.  Once it went in I let out a victory “whoopie” and gave my puzzled teammate a winner’s handshake.  I was immediately informed that I was supposed to get the ball into the pocket of the last ball that went in — Argentine rules.  WHO THE HELL PLAYS LIKE THAT?  Anyway, from that point on my “game” continued downhill as I learned even more rules to the game of pool in Argentina.  I could barely keep the rules straight for American pool and now I have to remember all these messed up rules for Argentina?  I say to hell with all the rules, let’s just get drunk and knock some balls around.

On the third liter of beer I was good and toasted and could no longer play worth a damn so we quit and decided to talk world politics for about 2 hours.  I don’t know why the conversation always leads to politics, especially American politics.  Probably because that is what makes people so miserable and aside from romantic drama people only have drama with the GOV.  I’m glad that Alfredo thinks the way I do about governments and power because I more enjoy the company of smart people versus the company of dumb people that I have to argue with.  It makes life so much simpler and less stressful when someone is on your level with the way they think about the world.  When we had exhausted our bucket of complaints about the way our different countries are run so terribly, we decided to seek out some super panchos (all hail the mighty salchicha!) for drunk consumption.  I’d have to say that is the best way to end an evening.

Oh Pájaro!
September 25, 2008, 7:10 pm
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Today I almost lost my beloved pájaro sweatshirt that I bought from the feria my first week in Jujuy.  I dropped it on the sidewalk on my way to Carena.  Luckily I realized I dropped it before it was too late.  For those who don’t know, a feria is esentially a market.  There are specific ferias like the one I went to that is outdoors, under tents and is huge.  They have all sorts of things but the majority of the stuff being sold there is second hand clothing from the US.  It’s like a giant outdoor Salvation Army.  See the photo below — freedom is everywhere, even at the feria (on a dirty old tie)…

I had the best medialunas with cheese at Carena.  I ordered one and then ordered two more because they were so delicious.  I would have ordered five more had they not been a dollar a piece and smaller than the palm of my hand.  I’m going to buy a bunch of medialunas at the bakery and cheese from the supermarket and make them at my house.  Medialunas are sweet croissants so the sweet and the salt were the perfect combination.  HEAVEN in the palm of my hand.

I hung out at Gabi’s work for a few hours and Dani was there as well.  We chatted it up as much as I was able and we drank mate.  I’m starting to get used to the taste of mate to the point where I don’t flinch anymore.  As long as it has sugar in it I can handle it.  I tried to figure out whether or not I was going out with Gabi tomorrow night.  Last weekend we didn’t go out on Friday so I wanted to try and make sure we were this Friday.  I couldn’t really understand most of what she was saying but I think the gist of it was “I have to work all day so no.”  But when I left her store she told me to text her if I wanted to go dancing tomorrow.  I don’t know if she actually wants to go or is just willing to go if I want to go.  Maybe I’ll just see what the girls from Holland are doing and tag along with them for the night.  I’d rather hang out and speak Spanish though and these girls only speak English.  We’ll see.

Duelo sucked tonight because it was reggaeton ice-skating.  I don’t enjoy reggaeton dancing — it grosses me out (ffwd to min. 1:40 to see dancing).  It’s all fake humping and licking and grinding.  I can handle the thongs and boobs but I can’t handle them with the reggaeton dance combination.  Maybe this is a sign that I am getting older and I don’t appreciate what the young people do.  I’m hoping that is not the case and in fact this reggaeton dancing is actually disgusting to most people.

With my failed attempt to watch Duelo I tried to watch a burned DVD of Jose’s.  It didn’t work in my computer so I think this means I’m just going to bed early tonight.  I may read for a bit and write some letters if I feel inspired.

Bidet Day!
September 24, 2008, 6:54 pm
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The weather is changing here from Winter to Spring.  When I arrived in Jujuy it was pretty cold — I had to wear cuddl duds and sweatpants to bed.  I also wore socks and a sweatshirt.  I then crawl underneath two heavy blankets.  Last night I woke up at 4:30 am sweating my buns off. (If I had any buns, so my theoretic buns).  I ripped off my socks and sweatpants but I was still hot so I had to take one layer of blankets off me as well.  I like the weather in between hot and cold, so I guess my favorite seasons are Spring and Fall.  Please let me know where I can find a place with these two seasons all year round so I can move there.

I worked on my laptop for 6 hours today in a new cafe called Bonafide Express.  I watched waitresses change shifts. I watched the day turn to night and the cafe empty and fill up again.  I wonder what they thought of my lengthy squatting.  I kept buying food and drinks even though my bladder couldn’t hold all that liquid (and I hate going to the bathroom because I have to pack up my laptop and bring it with me).  I like this new place because it has nice smelling soap and the smoke isn’t as overwhelming as the other places.  Carena never has soap and always is smokey.

After the cafe I went to a phonetics class with Alfredo.  I stood in the front of the class and talked about myself in English for about 5 minutes.  I tried to speak slowly since I know how much it sucks when people talk fast (in castellano) but I didn’t want to talk too slow and seem really strange to them.  They didn’t ask me very many questions so the teacher asked a lot for them.  When I was done talking the teacher asked me if I could come to another one of her classes, a first year class, and speak again.  It’s pretty cool being one of the only native speakers of English here.  I feel like I’m on a speaking tour and everybody wants to know the truth of my foreign land.  I don’t have all of the answers to their questions but I try my best to answer honestly and to the best of my ability without leaking too many of my personal opinions.  The students watched a video about the Grand Canyon.  The video was probably made 20 years ago, it kept cutting out and going fuzzy.  I wanted to tell the teacher to put on the Discovery Channel or the series Planet Earth.  Anything but this nonsense.   They’d learn so much more with better programming.

When class was over Alfredo walked me to the bus and told me all of his girl troubles.  Some crazy girl is playing with his heart and causing him lots of drama.  Thank heavens I have the good sense not to get into those situations anymore.  I’ve had my fill of bad relationships and I intend to stay out of them for as long as I possibly can.  I’m holding out for a good man — a Super Pancho, if you will…haha.  I tried to give Alfredo some words of advice but it is hard to do that in a foreign language, let alone my native tongue so for now I’ll just let him learn from his mistakes.

When I got home I ate a huge bowl of fideos con salsa, and then went upstairs to use the bathroom.  Why am I telling you this? This is a pretty important trip to the bathroom, that is why I mention it.  This trip marks the first time I will use a bidet ever in my life.  I have been thinking about trying it for about a week but I’ve been scared to do it.  I had way too many questions that required answers before I jumped on toilet number two.  There are three knobs, which one do I turn?  What way do I face — toward the knobs or away?  How do I dry off? How long do I stay on the bidet?  All of these questions went unanswered and in turn fueled my fear of the bidet.  BUT today I googled directions to prepare myself for the big bidet day.  Now I was ready.  I have to say it was one of the most refreshing moments of my life.  I’m hooked.  I kept humming the tune, “So fresh and so clean, clean” in my head while I washed my hands.  I don’t know why it isn’t common to use bidets in America — do we enjoy stank ass?  I know I sure don’t and will most definitely have a bidet in my permanent residence, whenever I decide to settle down.  Yay bidet!

Keepin’ it real
September 23, 2008, 6:23 pm
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this is the view from my bedroom window.

I’ve been in Argentina for 20 days already.  I’m starting to get a good routine going and I’m settling quite nicely.  It no longer feels like a vacation but more a way of life now.  I’m becoming braver when taking the bus — challenging what I know of the streets to the possible bus route.  I’m not scared of getting lost because things are looking more familiar every day.

My routine is as follows:
10:30 – 11:30 – wake up and shower
12:30 – 1:30 – make myself some instant coffee and hop on the internet until lunch.  Sometimes I’ll drink my coffee on the back porch and just chill with my thoughts or practice my castellano.
1:30 – 2:30 – eat lunch with whoever is home that day.
2:30 – 5:30 – head into centro and work on my laptop in a cafe.
5:30 – 8:30 – hang out at Gabi’s business and practice my conversational castellano.
8:30 – 10:00 – walk around centro and grab food with Gabi and friends.
10:00 – 12:00 – go home and watch Duelo with the family.
12:00 – 1:00 – read, write, practice castellano then fall asleep.

Every Monday and Friday I have castellano grammar classes with profesor Alabí.  That is pretty much my schedule in total.

I met a few other girl friends of Gabi’s tonight.  They were all nice but I couldn’t really understand them and I definitely don’t remember their names…  One of the girls had a 6 year old daughter named Catalina.  Catalina knew some English words from school so she wanted to practice them with me and learn more.  For the entire night I pointed out things and told her the word in English.  She was really cute.

For dinner I had a super pancho with papas fritas.  As with most all the food I try (excluding the ensalada capresse), this was freaking delicious.  In total, including a drink, it cost me 5 pesos for dinner which is about $1.75.  Incredible!  When I got home the Mercadal’s had company over so I got to meet even more new people.  The people visiting were the niece-in-law and nephew of the Mercadal’s.  I was confused because their niece and nephew were adults and the Mercadal’s aren’t really that old.  They also brought their two small kids, ages 2.6 and 4.  Their names are Abril and Santino.  We played catch for a long time and then Santino found out that I spoke English and started asking me for certain words in English.  He was very bright.  Abril sat in my lap for a while and we looked at photos of her and her hermanito (brother).  Argentine kids are freaking cute, especially these two chiquiticos.