Leprechauns and Waterfalls

Trip Start Jan 31, 2009
1
4
Trip End Aug 12, 2009


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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Alright everyone-I am here once again, with many more updates to give. To start where I left off: That Sunday we went to the Recoletta Cemetery, where Evita is buried, and did some wandering with Nahuel giving a running commentary of all the strange stories surrounding the people that are buried there.
Besides Evita's grave, which is the most famous in the cemetery, we saw a monument for the men who died in the war with Paraguay, the tomb of a girl
who was buried alive in the cemetery, and many others. Monday was rather uneventful, but was
followed by Tuesday, el día de San Patricio. St. Patty's day isn't as big of a deal here as it is in say
Boston, but everyone donned their green after class and went down to the
neigborhood with all of the Irish pubs.
By the time we got there, it was after 10:00 pm, and it was completely
packed with rowdy Irish and want to be Irish. The streets were packed with a sea of green, and the lines
to the pubs seemed to be miles long.
We wandered a bit, left and went to a non-Irish but non-crowded pub in
the neighborhood, then went back for a last meander through the Irish-flavoured
madness. As we were leaving, we
came across a radio van that was playing music, and we joined in dancing in the
streets before escaping the rowdiness and heading home. The rest of the week was a little on
the boring side, with a few highlights: Thursday was my friend Allegra's
birthday, and we rented a party train (which is like a party bus at home, but
10x crazier!) and rode around Buenos Aires making spectacles of ourselves for
far too long. That Saturday, we went on a successful and simultaneously unsuccessful library hunt. Kait, Amy, and I decided we wanted to go find a library, since we were all book starved. We decided on the National Library, and I had my second ever bus ride (the first one was to Recoletta) and found it without any problems. It is one of the strangest buildings I have ever seen-ridiculously ugly, but charming and fun to explore at the same time. It is all concrete, with twisting ramps and pillars and pyramids
scattered around it. The downside to our adventure was that it turns out the library is strictly a research
library, and so we were not able to actually see, touch, or check out any
books. It does look like a wonderful place to quarantine myself if I need some quiet homework time. There is also a pretty little park right outside it, where I spent the rest of the afternoon homeworking (that's
right everyone, I do still have to do homework down here!) drawing and thinking
and enjoying the sunshine, of which I think I will never tire.

The next day, Sunday, Nikki, Kait, and I went to the Fería
in San Telmo, which is one of the biggest, most popular street markets in all
of Buenos Aires. There were a ton
of crazy things made by really, really talented people. There was a lady who made all sorts of
jewelry and other things from silverware and precious stones, and they were beautiful. After a great deal of wandering, I
found everything I could ever, ever need: a glass of fresh squished (that's
right, not squeezed, but squished--they did it right in front of me!) orange
juice, a FANTASTIC llama sweater that I think I might wear every day that it is
below 60 degrees for the rest of my life, a ring so I can pretend I am married "lo
siento, tengo un esposo, ciao!"
and a blue
and brown opal from a Peruvian man we had met in Bariloche. I had promised him that if we found him
in the market in San Telmo, I would buy one of his stones, so I decided it was
fate. Monday was full of class, but Tuesday was a national holiday-the celebration of the beginning of the end
of the last military dictatorship-so we had no class, and a free day to do as we pleased. I slept in a marvelous amount, ate some ridiculously inexpensive but good sushi, and decided to go seethe manifestación that takes place every year in the Plaza de Mayo on the 24th of March. It was crazy. I took the subway down to a station close to the plaza, and before I was even above ground I could hear the pulsing of different drumbeats and the chanting of people's voices. When I reached the top of the stairs, I was immediately immersed in a swarm of people who were lining the streets and overflowing into them. In the middle of the streets there was a march of all sorts or people. Different political groups and social organizations gathered with signs and drums and flags and took over the streets singing, shouting, celebrating, mourning. It was incredible to see the amount of passion and energy the people had, just being there rejuvenated me. There were many things that I did not
understand due to the language barrier and entirely different politics, but
other parts I did understand, and that really felt good-like I was really
becoming part of their culture. I
stayed at the plaza for a long time, just absorbing it all and taking pictures
when it felt right. Eventually I
went home and went to bed fairly early, because the next day, Wednesday, I was
supposed to go get my student visa.
I went with all the hostelers, but we were about 15 minutes late for our
appointment, and were not allowed to enter. Our group had an appointment, but the line for those without
appointments was honestly at least six blocks long-many people had to wait in
line for two days before even being allowed into the building. Nahuel told us not to worry, and that
we could come back the next morning and try again. That meant waking up at about 5:45 in the morning Saturday
morning, getting to the Visa place at 7:00, and sitting, standing, leaning, and
dozing until 2:30pm, when, after jumping through about ten hoops, standing in 3
lines and waiting in two different waiting rooms, I was fingerprinted for a last
time, and given my visa. After all
of that, I headed back to the hostel, packed my bag, and went to get on a bus
to go to Iguazu falls with my CEA group.
After doing some more waiting for the bus, it finally arrived, and we
were on our way. We drove all
night, and I am quite pleased to say that our bus did not leak, our food was
quite edible (or eat-able, if you are a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fan)
and, most of all....there were no creeping bus attendants! Our first stop was at the ruins of one
of the bigger Jesuit missions, where we were given a tour and told a bit of the
history of the area. It was really interesting, but incredibly hot, so it was a bit of a relief to get back on the
bus. Our next stop was early in the afternoon at an estancia, which is basically a tea and yerba farm that was
open to groups like us for a day of relaxation. It was really great for me, the country girl, to be able to
be out of the city, it felt so much like home out there! They fed us one of the most incredible
meals I have ever, ever eaten, and just let us relax and swim and play all
afternoon. That night we checked
into our hotel in Iguazu falls, had another delicious meal, and (I) went to bed
at a reasonable hour in order to be ready to hike around the falls. The next morning, we set out at about 9
am, and took a guided tour of the falls.
They were indescribably beautiful.
It is kind of funny, I took hundreds of pictures, but I know that not a
single picture can come close to capturing how incredible it is there. There is so much water, and it is
moving so fast, with so much power.
It really feels like you've left our lowly planet at moved on to
something far more spectacular.
After hiking around all afternoon, we got to do the grand finale of the
whole trip: a boat ride around and under the falls. The boat first took us around to get a closer look, and then
brought us right under the falls, so we got soaked! It was perfect, since everyone was hot and tired by
then. The next day, our last in
Iguazu, we went to a native Indian village outside of the city. It was really interesting, but I was
definitely torn about how I felt.
I know that they subside mostly off of tourist money, but I really
regretted the fact that they were forced to change and make their lives into a
show for us in order to be able to live the lives they used to be able to
live. After spending a few hours
there learning about the way their village works, we went back to the hotel and
promptly hopped on a plane home.
The ride back to Buenos Aires was decent, almost everyone fell asleep. I
had a window seat and caught a glimpse of the falls as we were leaving, which
was beautiful. Sunday night was a
night of homeworking, followed by a Monday and Tuesday full of classing. Wednesday after class, Alyssa, Kait,
Amy and I had bought tickets to a BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional
Cine Independente-or something similar-it is one of the biggest international
film festivals in the world) show, and saw a film called En Nuestras
Corazones Para Siempre
. It was, well, quite strange, but quite
an interesting experience to have.
We expected with a title like that, that it would be a romance, but it
turned out to be more of a creepy dark comedy that was borderline
slasher-film. Like I said, it was
strange.

I think that is about all that has gone on in my life for
the past few weeks, I miss you all!

Besitos--

Larkin
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