The first few weeks in Argentina
This is a picture of my group at a rancho in the Pampas where we went to re-coop after the trials of airplane travel and gather our creative forces.
The rancho consisted of a large square of grassy land with a cluster of low-lying white buildings where we slept. Each morning we woke up early to eat breakfast at Las Clavelinas, a restaurant just a two minute walk from our abodes. Then in the afternoon there were placement tests and hours of free time to read, hang-out or head to the gym. The gym offerred free yoga and cycling classes, and to the right of it was a soccer field where local women played pick-up soccer games. (It´s very uncommon for women to play soccer here. The game is considered a sport for men, and in our pick-up games for women, men were not allowed to play, even nice socially-aware boys like the ones in our group.)
The rancho was, we decided, a somewhat strange place--kids in my group could never quite
be sure what exactly it was. Our instructors never gave us a straight answer, and we guessed it was a fat camp because there was nothing to do but eat in a restaurant with regulated portions and work out. Fat camps, for anyone who missed this dubious development in American culture, are the newest rapid weight-loss technique, and recently they´ve even become the topic of a number of shows on reality TV. So maybe our SIT group has a chance at fame yet...
After a few days we left the rancho, busing into the city in a big rusty rental bus and arriving in time for lunch. The streets in Buenos Aires are so wide--at one point I counted at least 12 lanes of traffic going in various directions. We visited IDES, the school where we will be attending classes during our time in Buenos Aires. There I checked me e-mail and found a wonderful surprise--a message from Laurel Barkan, my old friend from choir who I´ve been out of touch with for almost five years!
In the evening we got dressed up and went out on the town for tango lessons. I was surprised how easy the basic step is, and the music is just great--serious and dramatic. One of the boys in my group, Will, is a great dancer, and one of the girls, Ali, likes to dance as much as I do, so the three of us are planning to go out dancing regularly.
We headed back to the hotel around 1 am which is just when the parties are starting in Buenos Aires. Back in their hotel rooms, kids chucked their dancing shoes, grabbed an extra sweater and headed straight back out for the bars (which I later learned meant downstairs to the bar in the hotel lobby). I almost went ¨out¨ with them, wanting to explore the city, but decided at the last moment to stay in, shower and get some sleep.