Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friday, April 18

I woke up in the car while we were still on the road, so I looked out the windows and got my first real taste of Argentina. The streets are a lot wider (more similar to the US), but the houses are still small, one story, and have big gates out front and bars on the windows sometimes and there are still dogs in the street. We passed by a bunch of water bottles piled together on the side of the road and Nancy explained to me that in Argentina putting water bottles on the side of the road is an act of respect and almost a religious tradition remembering a woman who died of thirst many years ago.
When we got to out Tia Gladys’s house, we had been traveling for 12 hours. All 13 of us piled out of the car and went into the house to greet Tia Gladys, Tio Rolando, and our cousins Ceci, Seyla, and Gabriel. They had breakfast waiting for us. We ate breakfast, and then basically just lazed around the house all afternoon. Nancy immediately started cooking lunch (she always makes herself at home in other people’s kitchens), and I felt really gross after a 12 hour car ride, so I took a shower. Then I sat outside at the picnic table and chatted with Ceci and Seyla. They’re super sweet, and I really love talking to them because their accents are so weird and cool. It’s a little difficult for me to understand their slang sometimes, and some of the words that I’ve come to believe are completely normal are apparently Chilean slangs that they don’t understand when I use them. We still communicate though. After lunch, everyone went to take a nap, as is the custom in Argentina (even the businesses close between the hours of 1 and 5 in the afternoon so everyone can eat lunch and then take a nap). I didn’t want to nap, so I decorated the cupcakes that Sally had made and Nancy had brought to Argentina. Monse, Laurie, and Joaquin helped me. Then I helped Nancy bake the cake. When we finished, Seyla could tell I was getting stir crazy and really wanted to see more of Argentina than just the inside of my tia’s house (I knew going into this that with my family it’s never a trip to really see a place, it’s just to see family who lives there and stay in the house and with luck maybe get out to the supermarket, but it still bothered me), so she took me and Vicente out walking to see the city.

The town we were in is called San Martin de Mendoza. We spent about 3 hours walking all through the center of the town and through the different parks and plazas. Everywhere I looked, I saw old cars driving down the streets (cars in Argentina are super expensive so old cars are more common), people sitting around drinking mate (Argentineans are crazy for their mate, which is a type of herbal tea), and bars and other fun places for young people to go and hang out. While we were heading back to the house, we passed a giant procession of people (like 2,000) walking down the street following a car with a big speaker and singing and praying. They were all holding candles and chanting along with the prayer. It was the same Viacrucis thing we had done at my school yesterday (reenacting the 12 steps Jesus went through before he was crucified), but on a much larger scale. It was pretty cool to watch.
Anyway, we got home just as the rest of them were leaving to buy some meat from the grocery store, so Seyla, Gabriel, and I stayed home and watched TV for a while. When everyone else got back, Nancy made ceviche and we had once together.
Then we stayed up talking for a while Around 1 in the morning, Seyla’s friend came over and they invited me to go out with them, but I was dead tired and I knew the Argentinean custom is to go out at like 2 in the morning and not come back until at least 6 and I was already dying, so I decided to turn them down and go to sleep “early”. I actually was sleeping in the neighbor’s house across the street because Tia Gladys’s house is small and there weren’t enough beds and Tia Vicky (across the street—remember that here the term tia is like a term of respect and endearment for your elders, it doesn’t just mean aunt) was nice enough to lend us a room, so Ceci, Seyla, and I were going to sleep there.
Tia Vicky

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