Blog Nº 4
Mendoza, a city where you can see sidewalks being swept by gigantic palm tree leaves. One of the rare places where most all businesses are closed from 1-4/5 p.m. everyday. Where people drink less water and more yerba mate. After spending four and a half months in this Italian blooded city with more bodegas in the surrounding area than people in my hometown, I can now say that I have a second home, a second community. I had my own daily routine, knew the best short cuts and where to find my favorite pastries and cheapest bottle of wine. I felt confident while using the not-so-reliable public transport (okay, well 90% of the time), and now I can list off dozens of Argentine Spanish words and phrases that they definitely do not teach you in class—mind you, there are not all curse words, the majority are colloquial, mom.
I could go on to write what a “typical day” in Mendoza would be like, but I think I am going to just let myself ramble on about some of my favorite things that happened in Mendoza or what I noticed from time to time. Also, it’s been about two months, maybe more (definitely more), since I had last published anything—SORRY. And just when you thought that my blog had already gone to the graveyard where all the other neglected study abroad blogs go to die… HAHA! Well, NOT YET. And yes, I am home in the States again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t reflect and keep writing!
Not really sure where to start… There was something that really reminded me of home: seeing people you know while walking down the street. After the first week was the beginning of the encounters. I thought it was just a coincidence the first two times, but after seeing a third person I knew walking down a random street I knew that there was no escaping the small town feel, but I was okay with that. It made me feel more comfortable, more a part of something.
One thing that we do not have a lot of in the US, or at least in the Midwest, or maybe just in Minnesota, because I’m not sure about Chicago… but anyway, we don’t have kioskos. Kioskos are basically just a tiny tiny store filled with sugary foods, pop and cigarettes but also where you can buy credit for your cellphone or bus card, maybe photocopy an entire textbook. Maybe it was the wide assortment of prepackaged alfajores that I loved so much about these kioskos. Honestly there were at least 15 different brands in one stand. Usually there is one per every block or two, but I had my favorite spots.
I would just like to say that this semester was quite the test of my patience. I am referencing to the good ol’ Red Bus system that Mendoza has. Your prediction of the arrival of your micro (bus) or trolley was about as good as that of a weatherman—is it ever accurate? At times I would wait up to 45 minutes for my bus to arrive, even though they are meant to arrive every 15 minutes or so. And this plays a role in why it is okay to show up late to things to things in Argentina. Transportation is usually the reason why people show up late to class or events, not because they are lazy. But, I’m not going to lie, I’ve used the excuse that my micro was late when it was actually because I was taking my sweet time.
Something that I had noticed shortly before leaving is how cariñoso or loving everyone is in Argentina and how much I liked the idea of it. This was part of my daily life–the greetings with a kiss on the cheek, how there is no personal space bubble, and everyone and I mean EVERYONE has their own little nickname. And if someone doesn’t know your cute, little nickname, then they will call you with some other endearing word like pumpkin, sweetheart, or darling. Generally, every woman I have met here is like a mother figure, so loving and adorable—just like in a small Midwestern town.
Little things like the dinner table customs, every napkin I’ve seen is always folded into a triangle, a place mat for each person, all dishes are passed around family-style, everything and everyone in their place. But the best part, besides the delicious food, was sobremesa which is after the main meal & culturally very important. In English I guess it would translate to “table talk.” During sobremesa, everyone has a coffee or tea while dessert is served. Sobremesa happens mostly after lunches, we could talk the whole siesta time if we wished. It was nice to just sit and relax, to be with family and friends while eating little sweet something.
I suppose, now that I’m home, looking back that my time in Mendoza was and probably will be the most relaxing time of my life—and I say this because people in retirement always look so busy, I don’t get it. I had to chance to take in the culture and sometimes I literally had to convince myself that sitting there and doing nothing was OKAY. I don’t think that I fully adjusted, but I definitely appreciated the laid back atmosphere, even though it stressed me out when I wanted to be proactive about things like school.
I know I didn’t say all that I wanted to say. I honestly could write a novel, horribly written but nonetheless a novel about my time in Mendoza. It almost seems like I never went and that it was just a strange dream because here and there are such different places. What I do know for sure is that July 4th, 2016 will not be the last time that I’ll see my dear Mendoza.
I will be writing a few more stories in the coming weeks about my trips around the country and any other themes that pop up in my head. Cheers to my abbreviated summer vacation!
Give the pics a click…!