Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buenos Aires, Argentina (dos)

So the last week or so has been fairly quiet one, mostly due to my getting a cold (the wintry weather has pretty much set in now, which sucks) and staying in most of the weekend. I have moved to another apartment though which is coincidentally a 5 minute walk from my Spanish school (hola lie-ins!) and in a more central part of town, although still near trendy Palermo. Palermo is a really great area, akin to the east end of London except with disintegrating colonial-style architecture instead of terraces and council houses. I've been around Palermo a few times but it wasn't until last Sunday that I really got my bearings and managed to end up at the place I wanted to be on my first attempt, which considering the daze I was in because of my cold was pretty impressive.
Apart from the buildings the other main difference with Palermo is that on Sundays it's relatively quiet (as are most areas in BA, and I'm guessing most of Latin America, on a Sunday), so I was able to wander without having to navigate crowds of hipsters. Palermo has a wealth of restaurants and caf├ęs and I've been amusing myself by visiting as many as possible and scoring them out of five - the lowest score so far is a three and the highest is a five, so not bad going! It also has some great clothes shops (don't worry, Dad, I've not been tempted; yet!) which I'm told aren't worth the amount they're priced, and lots of bookshops, shoe shops, jewellery shops, etc.

I'm feeling much better now (thanks for asking) and have been busy making plans for the next couple of weeks: tomorrow evening I'll be going to a speed-dating style language exchange called Spanglish, then on Jueves I have my first afternoon of volunteering lined up. This weekend some friends and I are planning to visit a karaoke bar (SO EXCITED!) and then on Domingo I'll be exploring the barrio of San Telmo, which I haven't been to yet. The weekend after that I'll be making a trip up to Rosario, which is about two hours north of BA, to visit my friend Fran, which I'm really looking forward to.

My Spanish is improving; we're about to move onto the past tense (tomorrow actually) so I'll finally be able to answer when someone asks what I did last night, or last weekend. I'm hoping that volunteering will help to; the kids not knowing much English should force me to remember more verbs and phrases, and to try to explain myself in alternative ways, rather than just falling back on, "Como se dice...?"

Books-wise (for those who are interested), I've been zooming through them as I usually do when on the move: so far I've read The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (apparently Colombia's next Marquez although I'm not convinced) and The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Lloga (which I bought here and highly recommend as it's fantastic) and I'm currently halfway through Outlaw Journalist: The Life & Times of Hunter S. Thompson by William McKeen which is great. I'm also listening to an audiobook - an experience I'm enjoying more than I expected - of Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, which is very good and very long, (80 chapters of 25 minutes!)
I'm starting to think though that reading and listening to English is probably not great for my Spanish, so I've borrowed a book from the school that has text in both English and Spanish, The Manchester Marriage (picked for the title, of course!) by Elizabeth Gaskell. I'll let you know how I get on!

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