Monday, August 11, 2014

On Friday the 25th, we had an asado (barbecue) to celebrate tío Federico’s (uncle Federico) birthday. His nickname is an endearment; he is a family friend. The asador (cook) prepared it in a brick oven to perfection. The process (in this case) involves heating charcoal, placing the charcoal under a grill, and then placing the food on the grill to cook it. Chorizo (sausage) and Morcilla (blood sausage) are made first. Different cuts of meat, such as Costilla (ribs) and matambre (a thin cut of beef) are subsequently cooked. The next day, Flavia, Gustavo, Flavia's boyfriend, and I went to a family party held for a relative of Gustavo. I spoke with many people and even had a parrot perch on my shoulder.
Lucio, Flavia’s brother, returned from a month long trip to Germany. He is a skilled guitar player and historian, but he is still deciding his career. On Wednesday, I finally was able to speak with him one on one, but I did not get to speak with him for long, because I had to leave to go on a trip with a Hernán, who is a student at English in Rosario. He picked me up at three, and we drove to the Independence Park, which was inaugurated with a celebration on January 1, 1902. We walked through the park and then entered the Museum of Provincial History, where I saw many historical items, including firearms, standards, and paintings. A 5-meter tall statue from Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital that fell in 1521 to Spanish Conquistadors, caught my eye. After the museum, Hernán and I went to the Flag’s Memorial and then walked through the nearby park, along the river. In the park, I spoke with a man who sold toys. He asked me odd questions and was expressive of his political views, but I did not feel threatened or insulted. Both of us being exhausted, Hernán drove me home, only to pick me up two hours later for his friend’s goodbye party. There I met a man who had lived in the country for five months and was, like me, learning Spanish. It was a relief and nice sanity check to be able to speak with someone who is experiencing the same difficulties as me.
View from the Flag's Memorial
Last week I began private Spanish lessons, which have gone well, as I enjoy being able to have one on one conversation. I also had a lesson with a new teacher, Debi, because Marcela had to take time off due to health issues, but she is better now. Unfortunately, for my lessons on Thursday and Friday I was nearly falling asleep because I was out late the nights before. Wednesday I was at the goodbye party and Thursday night I ate at Helena’s (mother) house again.

On Friday, several family friends came over to eat burgers. After dinner, we all played a game of Taboo (Tabu in Spanish). During your turn, you receive a word that your team must guess, but you are not allowed to say certain words. I was horrible, which was a given because I was the only non-native speaker playing. José, a close family friend, began to talk about a man who had “escaped” his wife. I guessed pirata (an unfaithful man, similar to player), a slang word, within seconds. The entire room erupted in applause because of my correct guess. That was my achievement for the night. Afterwards, we played Clue in Spanglish, which was quite a challenge. This all ended at about 3 AM.

On Saturday, Flavia and I attended a Tango concert (not a dance) performed by the Orquesta de Señoritas at the ECU (cultural space for university students). My first impression of this formal event was that I would not enjoy it, because I do not listen to orchestra music and had understood the word “tango” as being a dance. In reality, it is a dance and style of music. The women shattered my preconceptions when they began to play. The orchestra consists of six young women: a pianist, a bassist, a viola player, two violinists, and a bandoneon (similar to an accordion) player. For some of the songs, a man sang in a broken and sorrowful tone. Tango is about loss and remorse, and the Señoritas captured that essence skillfully. After the concert, Flavia and I walked over to one of her friend’s apartment, where we enjoyed homemade pizza and relaxed with her friends. (Good food and company seem to be a theme in this blog.) We returned home at about 1:30. It was a good night.

Today, we had another excellent asado at the house. Afterwards, José, Flavia, Flavia’s friend Ana, and I went to la Feria del Bulevar, the biggest flea market in the city. They had toys, wallets, belts, purses, etc. My favorite booth had small metal figurines and statues, as well as old trinkets. I also saw a sword that I wanted to buy but could not practically take home on my return flight. I bought a leather belt for 120 pesos, which is a little less than $10 with the unofficial exchange rate. I did not buy anything else, though I will return because it is a great place to buy presents for my friends and family.

Note: I plan to publish two more posts in this blog. My next post should be published around Thursday the 20th. I will write and publish my last post in the U.S. after I have had time to reflect on my trip.


25/7-8/3 (July 25th-August 3rd)