These Cab Drivers, I Swear
The taxi drivers in South America are the best breed of people, I’ve decided. After arriving in Argentina on Friday, I found my cab driver holding a sign with my name on it (which would have been more exciting if it was spelled right, tbh). He helped me find the atm and then the car. On our 30 minute drive into the city from the airport, he allowed me to practice my broken Spanish with him and even complimented me on my level of competence. I legitimately could understand everything we talked about (probably because it was about accents and rain and language learning and travel, things I have words for in Spanish). It was the absolute best way to start a solo trip to an unknown place, real confidence boost.
On my second to last night, I also took a taxi. He lit up a cigarette (which apparently it’s illegal to smoke and drive in Argentina, who knew) and we got to talking about basically everything: foreigners and Argentina and food and politics and Spanish (again, because I’m really good at saying “I’m trying to learn, but it’s super hard sometimes” en español). Just meeting total strangers who make you feel special really renews your hope in humanity (and I hope the taxi drivers go home and say the same. i officially understand why my dad makes airplane friends (more on that later)).
I Left My Heart (& My Charger) In Argentina
Like wow I loved Buenos Aires. But one of my favorite things was just getting to travel again. If I had gone to Peru or Bolivia I think it would have been just as incredible of an experience, although Buenos Aires is one of a kind and definitely a place I hope to return to. Travel is just such a cool thing. I met people from Portugal, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Peru, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brasil, and the U.S. And it’s not just that I met them, I made memories with them. Memories I will not soon forget. Like clubbing on a Tuesday or seeing a movie for 50 cents or visiting a cute town in Uruguay for a short day trip.
I also learned a lot about my organizational skills. I tried to make an itinerary for this trip (which I promptly lost soon after entering the country) but that was as organized as it got. My side of the room was a trainwreck 5/6 of the days I stayed there. I checked in super last minute to my flights. I walked home from the bus port without a clue as to where my hostel was (because a taxi was 20 bucks and I am not made of money, like come on). I had to be reminded last night to pack up my ish since I was “leaving in the morning, remember?” So basically what I learned was that I must have a really special guardian angel to have survived this long in a foreign country. The girl I met from New Zealand had all 50 of her days in South America mapped out. From tours to busses to maps from one hostel to the next. And I’m sure that works for some people but I would be so nervous about losing everything I would probably end up more lost and confused that without any direction at all. If my future employer is reading this (because ayoo it’s on my resume and my linked in), please note that 1) this is now a personal blog, not a marketing blog and 2) everyone has their own style. I’m semi organized it’s just hard to explain to people how exactly that organization works.
Also I guess to explain this title, I luv BA and I left my charger at the hostel (my only casualty, not bad at all I’d say).
I Bought A Pair Of Platforms
And I have no regrets. Aside from the few times I’ve slipped a little bit. I’ll blame the rain and the super smooth floors at the metro (I almost fall in normal shoes most of the time). They’re not like extreme but what I’m trying to say is that I’ll basically be the most fashionable person in Iowa when I return.
Two Marriage Proposals
Must be because I’m so fashionable. (see previous 3 sentence short story)
Number One was at La Boca, a touristy part of town that, if you step too far to the left or the right, could turn into a dangerous neighborhood (it’s like Drake, to the east). This was not actually a marriage proposal, and while I’m on the subject the second one wasn’t either. But some guy was handing out flyers for this cafe and said in Spanish “if you want to have a coffee or something later (he was promoting the cafe there not himself) or if you want a boyfriend later– I cook and clean (he was promoting himself there not the cafe).” It was funny but maybe one of those had to be there moments. But also a moment in which I realized that I could now joke around in Spanish. So one of my favorite moments of the trip.
Number Two was on the flight home to Santiago. I sat next to a mother and daughter from Peru. I was completely ready for a nap but it was not in cards for me, because la señora to my right was an airplane talker. I only like 75% of airplane talkers (because if it gets creepy or annoying or boring, you can’t leave). But as I said before, strangers can sometimes be the nicest. I understood maybe half of what this lady said to me but I think we talked about fish at one point. She said I needed to visit Peru, which of course I would love to visit Peru someday, Machu Picchu is like a dream of mine. So she gave me her address and full name and phone number and email, in case I ever did come and needed a room. I almost cried because some people are just so open, especially down here in South America, and I love it. She continued to attempt to set me up with her son, although she became a little hesitant when she asked if I could cook and I answered honestly. We laughed about my cereal and toast joke but I could see the disappointment in her eyes.
Always Look Up
For those of you who have read some of my other posts from this summer, I’m sure you know this wasn’t exactly the trip I had planned on. I had a really hard time always finding the silver lining, even though I’m actually a pretty positive person. I even wrote a post on how I love to find the beauty in everything and was having a difficult time finding it here. One thing our tour guide said, on my second day in Buenos Aires, was that sometimes in order to appreciate the beauty of the city you just have to look up. What she meant was that some of the ground floor stores or doors or windows are kind of ugly looking, but when you look up, you can see the amazing architecture, the eclectic buildings, the never-ending ivy covered balconies.
What I forgot to do a lot this trip was look up. And this was such an amazing chance for me to do that. As I spoke to my roommates on the first day, in Spanish, that mostly made sense, I finally looked up and realized how much more comfortable I am with this language. Give me a menu and I can find something I’ll love. Give me an address and I can ask someone for directions. Give me a New Zealander who has been in the country for just 24 hours and speaks very very little Spanish and I can help her change money on the black market (this isn’t as illegal as it sounds (that’s probably a lie, we got led like 3 different places before we finally got to change our money in the back of some random restaurant with a guy who actually looked like a rich mobster, so cool)). Sorry for the tangent but last year at this time, I couldn’t do ANY of those things. I learned so little my first time in South America compared to these past few months, in regards to the language at least.
Even the culture though– I’ve become a part of a new culture without realizing it was even happening. I’m consistently late (a custom I kind of like honestly, bc in the U.S. people get annoyed when I’m late but like I have a lot going on, uk?), I eat bread and cheese as a full meal, I’m pretty into tea, I know a lot of the modismos and slang from Chile, I eat lunch at 2 and dinner at 8, and I know how/when to use public transportation. When people ask me if I’m from here, not only do I beam with pride but I also start to consider whether I could actually live here one day. I defend Chile’s claim to pisco against Peru, I brag about our Copa America win, and I laugh at the fact that their Spanish really is the most difficult in South America.
While I was looking at the excel spreadsheets on my work computer or the subway that just arrived full of people or that one shop owner who refuses to try to understand my Spanish, I forgot to look up. Santiago is BEAUTIFUL, and I have learned so much during my time here.
(I learned more about myself as well but that would be a sappy paragraph to read so just know that I now feel braver and happier than I have felt in a long time and I am so ready to take on my senior year.)