Hello from Argentina!
Let it be known that traveling to a place with a time difference of more than 3 hours requires adjusting upon arrival. Buenos Aires time is 4 hours ahead of Central Standard Time, but I have found this city has little use for any time zone. The people here do not allow anyone or anything to dictate their schedules. Its not that people are lazy, they just do things when they want to do them. I realized this the first night I was in town. It was clearly stated in more than one travel guide that the city had a vibrant night life, but arriving here and going out for the first time on a Saturday night made that all the more evident.
That first morning, Tony Amante-Schepers, my contact person with Panrimo and Director of University Relations, picked me up at the airport with his friend and co-worker, Luli. We drove from EZE (the main airport in BA) into the city to meet my host family and get me settled. We arrived before my host parents had gotten off work, and so we waited for about an hour at a “heladeria” called Freddo, that is right across the street from their apartment. It was an excellent time to get to know each other, ask some questions, and enjoy some of the best ice cream and coffee in Buenos Aires.
When my host father Pablo arrived we went up to the apartment. He showed me to my room, which was covered from floor to ceiling in the color pink. When I saw it I almost started to laugh, thinking it was a practical joke. “This guy and I are going to get along great!” I thought to myself, but I quickly stopped when I realized he was quite serious. I learned their 10-year-old daughter, Victoria, normally inhabits the room. She and her little brother, Máximo, are in the country with their grandparents until March when school starts, and when they come back they will be sharing a room. After seeing the apartment, Tony and I went for a short walk to familiarize myself with the immediate neighborhood, and then I went back to the apartment and took a shower and nap.
We were supposed to meet at Luli’s apartment to eat at 9:30 pm. I was the first one there, and I was late. The people meeting there were Tony, his girlfriend Sabina, Luli, her fiancé Omar, another Panrimo employee named Samanta, and another friend of theirs, nicknamed Gargi (of Smurf’s “Gargamel” fame), because he is taller than everyone else. In the US, 9:30 might be a bit late to make a dinner date, but not here. Everyone finally got there by about 10:30. Tony, Omar, and I walked down to the kiosco to by something to drink. Kioscos are these tiny, hole-in-the-wall convenience stores that are everywhere in Buenos Aires. They are usually about the size of a living room in the US, and they sell candy, soda, gum, beer, and a few snack food items. If you need to make a call they usually have a pay phone, and it seems like there is about one on every block. When we got back the pizza and empanadas were ordered. We ended up eating our first empandas at about 12, and the pizza after that. I left Luli’s apartment to go home to go to bed at about 2:30 am. I was beat from almost two days of traveling. The rest of the crew was about to go out and get a drink. I walked home about 15 blocks in a city I had just arrived in that day…and it was great! The streets were full of people, and I have never felt safer in my life in a metropolitan area this size. There are 4 million people in this city, and so far, I feel just about like I could ask directions of any one of them.
That was my first night, and the beginning of many walks of the streets to try to get better acquainted with this city.