Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mendoza (Wine Country)

This past Thursday and Friday were holidays (don't ask me which ones...haha) so a bunch of us took a weekend trip to Mendoza.  What should have been a 13-14 hour bus ride turned into a 19 hour bus ride because we got held up for 5 hours in the middle of the night due to a car crash in the middle of the road ahead of us.  It was alright though, because I met some cool girls (Americans) on the bus and we ended up hanging out the rest of the weekend.  One super awesome thing about the bus ride was the fact that we played bingo! and the winner got a bottle of wine!  One not so awesome thing is that the winner was not me or any of my friends.  No bus wine for us.  And apparently only that bus company plays wine bingo (so I'm for sure booking more trips with them!).  However, ALL buses thoroughly enjoy screening terrible American movies with Spanish subtitles, so we watched Plan B and Hitch.  

After FINALLY getting to our hostel in Mendoza, we found out that they were having a free dinner that night (free food = best gift ever for a backpacker).  So that night 6 of us drank 4 bottles of wine and ate yummy chorizo sandwiches.  Then we made our way to a bar that sold hardly alcoholic beverages, where we received a hand-written letter in English from the group of Argentines at the next table.  We talked to them for a bit so they'd give us some french fries.  

On Friday, we went on a wine/bike tour!  I was a little apprehensive about riding bikes while intoxicated, but it actually made the ride along the dirt path much easier, believe it or not.  First, we took a bus from Mendoza to Maipu, a neighboring city.  There we rented bikes from Mr. Hugo, who gave us wine as soon as we arrived.  Then we began our bumpy ride down to some of the bodegas (wineries).  We went to three in total, and tasted a variety of wines.  The first winery we went to was very sleek, modern and really beautiful; very different from the second one, which was much more rustic and old-fashioned.  Obviously the wine was great at every place we visited!!  The first place had some delicious breaded brie (we all know how much I love fried cheese) and the second place had really great empanadas.  By the third place, I was drunk and starving, so we skipped tasting any wines, ordered the cheapest bottle on the menu and devoured 2 plates of food between the 6 of us.  Then we were back on the road, riding along the vineyards in the beautiful warm sunshine, trying not to get hit by passing vehicles.  Mission accomplished!  [The drivers in Mendoza and Maipu are much more conscious/aware of pedestrians than in Buenos Aires]  When we arrived at Mr. Hugo's with the bikes, he offered us even more wine!  But by then, I was wined out.  So we finished the day by getting back to Mendoza, making dinner in the hostel, and crashing out before 11pm.  
Renting bikes at Mr. Hugo's

Mr. Hugo, what a guy

First bodega

First bodega, wine barrels?

Wine humor!  Get it? Instead of "bienvenidos"....

Second bodega

Leaving the third bodega

On Saturday, I decided to conquer some fears and be super adventurous... so I WENT PARAGLIDING IN THE ANDES!!  And it was awesome, relaxing, and exhilarating all at once.  It's basically my new favorite pastime.  If I could somehow travel from LA to Michigan via paragliding, I would.  But sadly, there aren't many mountains to jump from in Michigan.  
I'm saying how much I love it now, but before we actually jumped off the mountain I was a nervous crazy person.  We were originally supposed to go at 9am, but the weather wasn't conducive to paragliding, so we waited until 3pm, which gave us all plenty of time to freak ourselves out about it.  When we finally went, we had the world's bumpiest ride up to the top of the mountain.  And of course, once we got out, I decided I had to pee.  Not wanting to tell the instructors -- in Spanish -- that I needed to find a bush to pee behind, I held it in and prayed I didn't piss myself during the flight.  Once my legs stopped shaking and the instructor told me, "You have to run until I tell you to sit.  If you sit before we take off, we'll fall off the mountain," we took off and it was AMAZING.  It only lasted about 10-15 minutes, but it was still really really fun and I can't wait to do it again!
Ride up the mountain

Terrible picture... but that's me, my instructor, and our parachute!


Also, while I was in Mendoza, I stumbled upon a wood-carving exhibition in the park.  It was actually really cool.  It's amazing what people can make out of a tree trunk.
My favorite :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Unas fotos de la ciudad

La vida de los porteños

En Palermo

Hey Mommy, you have a store :)
There is some excellent graffiti here

Shoe Envy

Argentines LOVE their shoes.  The street I walk along to school -- Avenida de Santa Fe -- is lined with shoe stores, and I have to swerve to avoid the window-shoppers who just stop in the middle of the sidewalk to stare through the "REBAJAS!!"-graffitied windows at the rows and rows of zapatos.  Though lately, I've become one of these window-shoppers... seeing as I'm in desperate search of some cute (and cheap!) shoes so I can attempt to blend in a little better with these porteños (people of the port).
Try as I might, even when my mouth is zipped tight to avoid letting any English or poorly-accented Spanish slip out, I still feel like my appearance screams "Yo soy estadounidense!!!!"  I regret getting a haircut before I came here, because all the porteñas have flowing, ass-length hair that somehow manages to avoid frizzing up in the humidity.  However, I feel like I finally found a place where I can dress as weird as I want, and not look so strange.  Purple high-top Chucks paired with leopard print leggings?  Totally normal and fashionable.  Score 1 for Emily Grubman; I have found my people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bailar en los boliches

Even though I'm only 20 years old and have yet to experience real "nightlife" in the United States, I've already decided that I probably won't like it and will be very bored with it after living in Buenos Aires.  Classes start this week, which means for the past two weeks we have all been going out almost every night, waking up (sometimes) just in time to make it to the next day's scheduled orientation activities.  People (we Americans) don't go out until maybe 12, stay at the bar(s) for a few hours, then maybe head over to a boliche (disco/club) around 3-4ish and dance the night away until sunrise.  Back in the States, I don't think I'll enjoy places closing at 2am, and I will miss dancing in a mass of sweaty people to thundering basslines and seizure-inducing lights.  Le sigh...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Oh hey,
Remember in high school and even in college when we would learn new verbs in Spanish and every time, the teachers would tell us, "Oh, don't pay attention to vosotros, you don't/won't need to know that," and would continue on with the lesson as if no pasa nada?


If there's one thing confusing me more than anything here, it's their constant use of the vosotros tense instead of "tú."  I have never fully understood when/why/how you use the vosotros (gracias a todos mis profesores) and so I never use it.  While I don't think it matters that I don't use it, it matters to me that I can't automatically recognize when someone is talking directly to me.  Very frustrating.

Other new/different things in the language here (things that are not to be blamed on my teachers):

  • "ll" is not pronounced like a "y" sound, but rather a "zsh" sound.  
  • En Buenos Aires, here = "acá," not "aquí"

sooo..... Apparently I was wrong, and my teachers shall receive no blame.  Because, here, we're not using "vosotros," we're just using "vos," which is infinitely easier.  It's basically just a really lazy form of "tu" and I LOVE IT.

Primeras impresiones

  1. It is hot here!
  2. I think I've been too anxious to be hungry (or maybe it's too hot to eat?) and so I'm probably slowly losing body mass, not to mention the regularity of my bowel movements.
  3. This isn't the best city for someone who is still a bit traumatized by that time she got hit by a car.  Traffic lights? Lanes? Someone crossing the street? aaah no son importantes.
  4. I don't understand how anyone made plans before cell phones and the Internet.  
  5. I no longer enjoy being able to speak English.
  6. The "cold" knob makes the water hot and the "hot" knob makes the water cold.
  7. But so far, I really like it here!
It feels very surreal being here and living here, but I'm excited to explore the city and get to know it well.  My host family consists of un madre, un padre, y una hermana who is 29.  They say my Spanish is very good (but maybe they're just being nice?) and we speak in Spanish todo el tiempo.  The other students in the program and I speak more English than Spanish when we're together, but hopefully that balance will shift after a while; transitioning back into Spanish-mode is not that easy just yet.  I have yet to acquire any Argentine amigos, but it's only been three days.  

Yesterday I had to interact with a three year old in Spanish.  MUCH MORE DIFFICULT than with someone older.  He's very cute, but hard to understand.  I feel like I'll be encountering many men (my own age, let's hope) como eso, jajaja.  

And now... check out the soap in public restrooms!!!  (hint: the dispenser on the right does nothing)
And yes, the way you use it is exactly how you think you use it...  :)