I can't believe I have been here five days! So far things are going really well. Minor set back last night. I got some sort of stomach flu that has kept me in bed for 24 hours now. Ximena (my host mother) seems to think it is due to all the change, and the stress and excitement. We had been out dancing til 4am the night before. I thought it might have been food poisoning but no one else that I ate with got sick, so who knows. The water is fine to drink here, everybody does, but maybe there is some different bacteria in there that my body is not friends with yet. Hopefully I am on the mend and can continue my exploration of the city tomorrow.
So far my host family has been wonderful. I am staying with a forty-something mother (Ximena) and her four children (Vicente 15, Alfredo 12, Eugenia 8, and Sebastian 20 months.) It took a little while to warm up to Ximena but we finally broken the ice. I brought a Cleveland mug for her from Starbucks and I don't think I could have chosen a better gift. Apparently she loves mugs, she gets one whenever she goes somewhere new, and especially likes larger ones like the one I got her. I highly recommend you bring a gift if and when you go to live in someones home that you don't know. Ever since then, we've been buds. Everyone in my house speaks English, I'm sad and also happy to report. All except for the two girls that help around the house. Which is good, at least I have to try to figure out how to communicate with them. I effectively told one of them, on my first day no less, that I wanted to go for a walk and I needed a key.
From what I gather it is pretty easy to have maids and nanny's here is Buenos Aires. A luxury in the states that seems pretty common here. Something I could really get used to. On my first morning here, I was sitting up on the terrace (which I will talk more about in a moment because it is really great) and the rest of the family was still sleeping. One of the girls that works here asked me if I wanted coffee. Of course I said yes, I had just spent two days of travel suffering from caffeine withdrawals. Ten minutes later she comes back up with a tray of toast, coffee, and melon! I felt like that was the greatest thing I had been given in a very long time! Everything here in my house that is eaten away from the table is served on these cute little trays. I am guessing this is a cultural thing. It is definitely something I plan on incorporating into my life in the states. There are also these cute little dishes for everything. A little dish for your fork and spoon, one for the tea bag, one with a little butter. I love it. You know what else is different? Mayonnaise and such condiments come in a bag. This is another thing I I love about traveling, these subtle differences in terms of everyday life.
I experienced my first asado already. Asado is the traditional dish of Argentina and some other countries in South America. It is basically a variety of grilled meats. Ours was prepared a la parrilla, one of the ways in which an asado is cooked. We had chorizo, some chicken kabobs, and of course beef. The food was incredible. Here is a little tidbit about asado courtesy of Wikipedia if you are interested in knowing more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asado. This is a big deal in Argentine culture and what a treat it was. Ximena's home has a beautiful terrace on top of the entire house and the grill is built right into the wall.
A little more about the terrace, it is definitely the coolest part of the house. As with most big cities there aren't any yards or tree lawns here so having a terrace like this on your home is enviable I'm sure. There is a small pool, tons of plants and trees and a kitchenette and bathroom of its own. Perfect for entertaining, which was also the motivation for the asado the other night. A friend of Ximena's was celebrating a birthday. It was such an interesting mix of people from everywhere: Ireland, Canada, US, Russia, Croatia. All of whom now reside in Buenos Aires. I was told these people are referred to as expats or expatriates, which are people who take up residence in a foriegn country. I really had a great time talking with this diverse group of people and hearing their different perspectives. It was truly a memorable experience. Number one question about America? Why do Americans talk about work so much. Followed closely by: why are Americans in such a hurry? There is definitely a more relaxed approach to life here in Buenos Aires. It seems like people here take the time to enjoy life a little more, they live in the moment. Another thing that I could definitely get used to.
So much more to talk about but I have to keep you wanting more! Tomorrow I plan on going to the Cemeterio de la Recoleta, a very important cemetery here where Eva Peron is buried. It is just a few blocks away within my neighborhood, which is also called Recoleta. I will try to post some pictures as well.