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Feeling Like a Local

Girls Manicure day, birthday party to remember and my first day of school

sunny 66 °F

It seems like time is spinning out of control and we are spinning right along with it. We have been keeping ourselves busy, thanks a lot to Kevin and Shanna.

Let me start with the girls day that Shanna proposed after a failed museum visit with her. First, the museum day was funny because we got a late start (which is to be expected around here) and had about 4 hours to get across town (not an easy feat, well, quick feat) to see this museum of national pride that she had read about in her Argentina tour book, and get back in time for her Tango class. I was totally down for the adventure, no matter how much my gut told me it wouldn't work out as planned. We caught a cab and about $40 pesos later we were across town in a not-so-pleasant-looking area, walking up the steps of an old colonial style building. We walked past the guards and the antique cannons in the front yard, so it seemed pretty legit. However, when we entered the lobby there didn't seem to be much to it. The best part was the fact that absolutely everything was in Spanish, so Shawna had to translate everything to me. After about 10mins we had had our fill of paintings of men. Literally the whole museum was paintings of generals and important men, which wasn't surprising considering the Argentinian machismo that is prevalent in the language and everyday culture. Which brings me to another interesting tidbit from that girls trip. We realized that Argentine men are very respectful to women while they are walking with a man, but, ya, not so much, when they aren't. This was the first time we weren't with our guys and we were serenaded, whistled at, waved at through store windows and practically caused an accident. I swear we weren't anything special that day, just two girls on our own which is the only pre rec for that kind of attention, evidently. We were pretty ready to go back after an hour or so, so we found our way to the subway and fought* our way back to Palermo. Once back to Palermo, we took a breather and grabbed a bit. The museum was a bust, but the day was a cultural lesson of it's own. We much enjoyed!

  • Interesting sidebar about the subway system: try to avoid rush hour! There are so many people trying to pack onto the subway from about 4pm to 8pm that it's just nuts. You litterally feel like cattle hurding through the station to the train and once you are there you feel like a sardine being shoved (seriously, shoved) into a tiny can. Thank goodness I have a bit of hight, because some people on the shorter side get all booties and armpits, no bueno. There is an art to this time of day, however. You need to position yourself in the middle of the car, if possible, so you are able to easily disembark at your stop and are guaranteed to get on without being shoved into the far door or smooshed against the closing door. It's an adventure!*

A few days later we decided to pamper ourselves with a mani pedi. Shawna got a recommendation from her family who lives in the city for a very posh nail place in Belgrano, a very nice barrio next to Palermo. I took a cab and met her there. The place was packed, all three levels! The first two floors were dedicated to hair and the third to nails. The women here are very much into looks. The majority of women on T.V. have had some kind of plastic surgery and judging by the amount of women getting their hair died and extensions added at this salon, they care deeply about their looks. We made our way up three levels past all the women waiting for their newly died hair to dry, and found the tiny room for nails, also packed. Shawna checked us in and we were called shortly after. I was taken into a tiny white stall-like room where i laid on a table and two women promptly started working on my hands and feet. The language barrier was interesting to say the least. They were very sweet and we carried on a very level 1 Spanish conversation. I was proud of my conversation skills, however explaining what i wanted done to my nails was another thing. Needless to say I ended up with white nails, although I love it, it wasn't the plan. Haha. I know you are probably thinking, "why didn't you just say 'no'," but it was one of those things where if I said no it would lead to trying to explain what i did want and that wasn't happening. Overall it turned out great, but there were a few awkward 'no entiende' (I don't understand what you're saying) moments on both ends. It was a great experience and actually gave me a bit of confidence in my Spanish. I mean if your in a tiny room with two native speakers, you kind of have to jump in. The manicure was ok, nothing special, but the pedicure was interesting. She placed soaked cotton squares on the balls of my feet and heals to soften them, then took an electric buffer and buffed the rough spots (which was probably a lot after our travels in Peru). It was definitely different, but my feet were so soft afterwards. It was a nice afternoon that was also educational. :)

The weekend came and went pretty quickly, and then Monday was Kevin's birthday. We called to wish him a happy birthday and he invited us to join them at Shanna's Aunt and Uncle's house that night for a celebratory dinner. Of course we were super excited to spend the evening with our friends and enjoy dinner at a locals home. We made our way over to their apartment building where they own an entire floor just to themselves. It was a pretty cool apartment created by the architect for the building for himself. It has thick blown glass doors and 80s wood paneling. We kissed our way into the door (a custom here is to kiss on the cheek with anyone and everyone when coming and going) and met Shawna's Aunts, uncles, cousin and 92-year old grandma. They all speak English well, except for her Grandma who is perfectly fine with speaking a bit slower in Spanish so we can understand. Gram and I became fast friends discussing what we like most about Buenos Aires, how it's similar to San Francisco and how she reminds me of my Nana. We made our way into the kitchen to help make dinner, sushi! Odd Argentine dinner choice, but we were excited. We jumped in to make some rolls with her uncle, who funny enough, learned to make sushi on You Tube. :) We rolled anything and everything in the kitchen; salmon, cucumbers, cream cheese, avocado, onions, even strawberries (which surprisingly tasted good!). One word about the salmon, it's SO good here. It melts in your mouth and doesn't have the slightest hint of fishiness. After we were finished we cracked open a few bottles of wine and sat down to a big family dinner. The rolls were fantastic and the company even better. We finished the meal with an awesome cake and sang Happy Birthday. It was a very different birthday celebration, very cool to be a apart of.

Last, but not least, i started taking Spanish classes at a studio 3 blocks from our apartment. There are two other students in the class, one of which rarely shows up and the other is a sweet Indian girl who is here to intern with a fashion designer. So, ya, the classes are very small, making it a more personal learning experience. In fact, no one else came Friday so I had a private lesson. The teachers change depending on availability, but the woman I had for the past few days has a more conversational teaching style, so she'll teach something then we'll use it in conversation about Buenos Aires, California, our boyfriends and families. It's a cool way to learn. It also helps that the minute I leave the class I am using what I just learned to buy fruit from the fruit stand, or a sweet treat from the kiosk on the corner. I feel I have already learned a lot and it's just my first week!

Next on the list: Tango lessons, china town for cheap sushi, Japanese Gardens, museums, and maybe find a yoga class or two. I'll keep you updated!

Posted by JAM2010 18:27 Archived in Argentina

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