2.25pm - Growing
Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
8Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Portal del Sur Hostel Buenos Aires
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
I am sitting right now feeling as pitifully non-Spanish as one can feel – there are two Dutch girls, Dorus and Jessica, doing their homework at the dining table, and Mike, an Aussie version of my friend Kris Bloom, is teaching his fellow Aussie Jack at the coffee table next to me. Over the last month here in Buenos Aires, I have picked up more and more Spanish, and now I can understand a lot of conversations as I overhear them, but I'm still not in the place where it has clicked in my head and the words just come flowing out. But it’s okay, it will keep picking up, I’m sure. I just need more and more exposure.
So my timetable has changed slightly, as my credit card expired and I am waiting for a new one to come from the UK. Thanks to Easter and the royal wedding, it seems that working days are in short supply back in Blighty, which has delayed everything rather, and now I am just spending my days hanging around here until I have the wherewithal to move on. The situation is good though – I’ve got a good hostel, the staff are ace, my Spanish is slowly improving, and most of my favourite people are long termers like me.
Then of course, you meet someone like Jessica, who speaks half a dozen languages flawlessly already, and is now tacking Spanish on top of those. (And we're not just talking the usual Dutch language expertise - she studied things like Greek and Latin as well, the swine.) She was teaching me some Dutch pronunciation last night – I brought up Amsterdam on Google Maps and tried to pronounce some street names, which amused her greatly, and then she told me how to say it properly. I still don’t think I’ll be able to bring it all back next time I’m in the Dam, but it was terribly good fun at the time.
As I briefly said the other day, it’s very strange being back in Buenos Aires, since it was the first non-English-speaking city I ever visited when I first started travelling alone. I found it pretty intimidating when I was here before – I didn’t understand what people were saying, I didn’t understand the vibe of the place, and it all seemed a little bit scary. I knew there were certain streets I shouldn’t walk on, that hanging around at night could be dangerous. Coming back now, having dealt with the trauma of local buses in Korea and ordering food in Mandarin and getting told off on the Japanese subway, it all seems a bit tamer. Not sanitised by any stretch of the imagination, but a lot more manageable. I think it’s hard to judge any kind of growth within yourself when it is not contrasted against something else. You can’t compare one experience to another when each experience is so different. If I had been going back to the same places over and over, or spending more time in one particular place, maybe I would be able to see something like that, but since I’m always just looking forward to the next step on my journey instead of reflecting on where I’ve already been, I don’t think too much about such things. (What can I say – I’m a deeply shallow person.)