Since arriving last Friday, I've already done and seen so much it would seem I've been in Buenos Aires for a lifetime. That's the thing about cities-they swallow you whole and digest you at warp speed. My memory of the past week is a blur of images--of palm trees, sunshine, clean white and red brick, tree-lined avenues and silhouetted crowds in smoky bars. Most nights I dream in Spanish, waking up in a hot sweat. When I'm sleepless I sit by my bedroom window listening to the whir of the ceiling fan and the echoing sirens, staring out at the geometric shapes of the high-rises in my barrio. By day, the city is distinctly itself. But at night, it's transformed into a glittering metropolis: crowds of people sitting at cafés, brightly lights, tiny cars weaving in and out of the endless traffic. It could be any city anywhere.
So far, I've visited the Recoleta Cemetery, seen the National Museum de Bellas Artes, visited Boca and San Telmo, and of course toured Plaza de Mayo, home of la Casa Rosa, the national Cathedral, and the history of political upheaval in Argentina. One memorable afternoon I went down to Almagro in search of an elusive libreria, but ended up sitting in the park watching skaters. And of course I've started classes already-five hours a day of español. And I've eaten my fair share of empanadas and carnitas and helado and dulce de leche.
I live in Belgrano, a very nice barrio (neighborhood) in the northern part of the city. My host "mom" is Graciela, a retired lady with two-grown up kids, a love of gardening, and a cat named Renado (Reni), who she says is her "boyfriend." As crazy as I am about cats, I couldn't believe my luck. Anyway, Graciela and I eat dinner together every night (around ten) and we watch telenovelas and the news. She always explains to me what's happening in simpler terms. We speak Castellano (one of the Argentinean dialects), and she asks me about my boyfriend, my family, and the like. And of course corrects my awful grammar. Give it another week, she says, and you'll catch on.