Before I launch into my experience in
Argentina's countryside, I want to clarify my last blog post. There are two
places you can take classes through IES--at the IES center itself and at local
Argentine universities. My last post was referring to my trial run of classes
at a local Argentine university (USAL). While I will not be taking classes at
USAL, I will be taking a full semester's worth of classes at the IES
center--all in Spanish. I'm not just taking an incredible four-month hiatus
from the real world.
Now that that's out of the way, I've got to tell you all about my taste of Argentina's roots at La Estancia--a ranch in the countryside. First, a little background: Argentina has a blended identity--one part "civilized" immigrants and the other native cultivators of the land. The gauchos are, in essence, the quintessential cowboys that lived along the frontier. Two weeks ago, we got to experience this more serene side of Argentina.
It was great to escape the smoke-filled airs of the city for a day and relax in the sunshine at La Estancia. We watched the animals roaming around the farm, listened to traditional gaucho music, and sampled the typical Argentine "asado." The music was passionate and melancholy, and seemed to evoke the national sentiment of the gauchos. The food was...an experience. They had a lot of bread, of course, and A LOT of meat. There was chorizo, chicken, beef, pork, and the one I had been waiting to try...morcilla, a.k.a. blood sausage. Three years ago, I wouldn't even have allowed that to touch my plate. But, I turned over a new leaf a few years ago, and now I'm on a mission to taste (almost) everything once. I apologize to anyone who likes morcilla, but it was definitely one of the most disgusting foods I have ever eaten. It tastes a lot worse than it looks in this picture. Bleh! The texture was like paté, and the taste was indescribable. I'm glad I can check that off the bucket list, because I don't intend to repeat that experience.
To close out the day, we watched the Doma India, who is, in essence, a "horse whisperer," do acrobatics with his horse. It was very intimate and intense--the connection this man had with his horse. Apparently, he's world-renowned, so it was a privilege to see a private performance.
While the day trip was wonderful, I continued my string of embarrassing touristy mishaps that night: It was 11 PM, and my friend and I were hungry. We just wanted a quick, cheap dinner, so we decided to check out a cute little Italian place near her apartment. We sat down, opened the menus, and then immediately looked at each other wide-eyed--"Uh-oh." Thinking that we were grabbing something cheap, I had only brought about 150 pesos--the equivalent of $15 in the states. Everything on the menu had three (Argentine) dollar signs. But, we couldn't just get up and leave--that would probably be a faux pas. We were stuck, so we ordered one meal and one water bottle to share (yes, you pay for the water here), and laughed our way through dinner. I'm pretty sure our faces were as red as the sauce by the time we left. Stupid Americans. Naturally, we drowned our embarrassment in delicious gelato and retreated to our beds.
Sorry that this post was so long, but there is even more to come! I finally started my internship and spent a wonderful weekend by the waterfalls of Iguaz