I left detroit at 4 pm on last Saturday. I went to the airport with my parents and Heather and everything went very smoothly. The flight to Atlanta was easy -- though I had started to get a little bit nervous. In Atlanta, I met up with a girl from Hawaii, Aileen. She´s an exchange student with Rotary like me, and she lives in the next town over, Bolivar. We had a great time flying to Argentina. We saw lighning in the clouds when we were flying and we spied on the guy in the seat in front of us reading ¨magazines.¨ It was also our first taste of Spanish since everything was bilingual. We arrived in a raining Buenos Aires around 8 am and went through customs suprisingly easily. After, we got our suitcases and went to find our families. Inés (my host mom) spotted me right away and Aileen found her family soon after. What we forgot was that on my cart with my baggage, there was one of her bags. it wasn´t until we were loading our truck that we found it, and by the time she was gone. It was her carry on -- with passport and all. We took it to her the next day, which actually was really great because I got to see the country and talk with my parents in the car.
The drive to 9 de Julio took about 3 hours. I could hardly speak spanish because of nervousness and there was a lot of smiling and nodding. I slept a little bit. Alejandro was driving and Inés and Fermin were in the front seat. Since it was raining, all my baggage was in the back seat with me. We arrived safely in 9 de Julio and went to the house of my abuela, Tata Tere, my mom´s mom. She made a delicious meal and I met her and Bocha (abuelo), Fede (uncle), and Fede´s son Pedro. When we got home, Santi was just leaving for futbol, so I met him for a second. After that, we went to la cancha -- the soccer field -- for my first truly argentinian experience. In la cancha, the most popular food is sunflower seeds and mate, which i was introduced to.
Mate (mah-TAY) is the national beverage of Argentina. Every day I have mate at least 4 or 5 times. The most important thing about mate is how it is drunk with other people. A server fills the mate and passes it the first person. The first person returns it the the server who refills it and passes it tot he second person. The straw is metal and is never washed between persons, and there are only about 6 or 7 sips in one mate. Probably less. It is an acquired taste for most extranjeros (foriegners), but I love it.
That night I had pizza with the fam and hung out for a bit. Pizza here is a little different, but delicious never the less. for example, a ham pizza is covered completely in ham. An onion pizza is covered completely, and i mean completely, in mountains of delicious grilled onions over mozerella cheese and ham. Every Sunday is pizza night in the carilla household and it´s amazing.
The next couple days were dedicated to meeting family and going to places the family loves. I met my grandparents on the other side, Cuca and Carlos, and my Tia Maria Ines her son Tómas. I met my great aunt who exchanged with rotary to PA in the 70s and is still a TOTAL hippie at heart. I met so many people I can´t remember any of their names. We went to el campo -- the farm -- at which my dad works. It is his family´s farm. they have an absolutely beautiful house there full of antiques and tons of rooms. There must have been 8 bedrooms. All of their fields are with crops, not cows, because the land is very high quality. cows graze where the land is low quality. we also went to la quinta which is the casita (little house) of my mom´s family. It has a bunch of animals on it... dogs, horses, MASSIVE bunny rabbits. The house isn´t for living in, but every birthday of anyone in the family or party for anything is in la quinta because it is one huge room that is perfect for a party and there is a swimming pool and a tiny futbol cancha. My brother Fermin is having his birthday party there on Thursday because today is his tenth birthday! later we are making chocolate chip cookies.
Speaking of food... I brought marshmallows and peanut butter and THEY LOVE IT. Santi and I tried to roast a marshmallow on a gas stove but it didn´t work that well haha. Everyone wants to try marshmallows because they´ve seen them in American movies all the time. we usually stick one in the microondas (microwave) and melt it with chocolate. They also adore the peanut butter. I think fermin is sneaking it when i´m not looking because there´s only half left. and three marshmallows... oh well. the food here is delicious and i haven´t not liked something yet. i think the most exotic thing i´ve eaten is cow tounge... but i´m not really sure if it was cow tounge or not. the meat is fabulous of course. the big meal here is lunch, and they have a quick bite to eat for dinner around 9 or 10. We had gnocci one day and i told them that i love pasta so we´ve had pasta too. everything is re-sabrosisimo! :) i taught my mom the word ´tasty´last week and now everything is tasty too hahah.
Well, I´m going to go take a quick shower while there´s still hot water. There is a link on the right for my photos and with picasaweb you can leave comments even if you aren´t a member... so tell me what you think!)
To be continued.....(with tales of Buenos Aires and the first day of school! and mate, of course.)