lunes, 30 de marzo de 2009

The day of the sun's reflection

Everybody ready for the the resume of things I have done today?

Here goes:

1) Finished watching "Girl, Interrupted" while waiting to go the Center
2) Decided with my Canadian housemate to go the center after siesta
3) Watched "Power Rangers" in Spanish, and ate an apple
4)Online nothings
5) Talked with Rosario, the lady who cleans and cooks for us (I know, I'm ashamed), about her extended family, her daughter's struggle to graduate with a broken hand, and her many years of labor on citrus farms in the campo of Tucuman
6) Spent lunch eating delicious chicken, and discussing the guilt/knowledge/enlightenment acquired from meeting people of different classes. I brought up my water-color feelings after spending the afternoon in the Simoca pueblo. Adriana discussed how struck she was by the peace and wisdom she found working with the indigenous peoples in northern Santiago Del Estero. The entire conversation was conducted in English, while Rosario cleared plates and prepared dinner.
7)More Internet nothings (ex: Beyonce performing "Single Ladies" LIVE...what a talent)
8)Went swimming and sunbathed in the backyard, then played with our adorable, fluffy dogs.

Literally seconds ago, I was feeling like this day had been wasted. Now I feel the total opposite. I think I'm learning more than I thought here. How to chill out. How to let time go and relax. It's a different kind of education. I'm not used to it. Now I just have to stop resisting :)

I'm obsesed with this song by the way:

domingo, 29 de marzo de 2009

Decision Day!

Today I made a lot of decisions. Where to live. How to think. How to start my job. How to adjust my attitude to better my experience. What to wear this morning. Making decisions feels good. I should do this more often.

Since we last spoke, I've done a number of lovely things. First, I chatted with the secretary at the Arts school for nearly half an hour about his belief that Argentinean politics has become absurd. I then talked sexual experiences with a group of Interior Design students (the names of most I never caught), before heading to the tropical vacation-world that is Yerba Buena, a suburb of my city. Talk forest-covered mountains along the horizon. Long stretches of grass, thin streets lined with colorful one-story houses, and siesta-absorbed tanners of all ages resting along nearly every lawn. I was invited to the house of my friend Lenny for lunch. Before even taking my first bite of tamale, I was into a deep discussion of the Iranian-American experience. Then Bush politics. Then the Israel/Palestine conflict. There was a pause for some bananas and dulce de leche, but then back into talk of Obama's plans for the U.S. economy. It was awesome. Lenny and I jumped into a pool and talked about how well we fit our signs, and then watched "Love Me If You Dare."

I spent most of the next day wandering the streets after looking at an apartment in the center. It was hot, and I was in a very confused place. (This was before the decisions, remember) I ended up passing out (not literally) in Parque 9 de Julio. I was interrupted by a little boy who offered me a plastic rose. Not having money to spare, and properly New York-trained, I told him to keep the rose and save it for someone else. But he insisted. His name was Felipe, and he proceeded to sit with me and marvel at how strong my glasses were. He muttered some phrases in English, giggled, then asked every detail about how I learned Spanish and ended up in Tucuman. He asked me for money, and I told him I only had enough for the bus. Then he offered me 5 pesos as a gift. I told him to keep it, but offered him a granola bar and water from my bag. He wasn't in love with the granola bar, but he was beyond kind to me. He even gave me a proper Argentinean kiss on the cheek before I left.

I ended the night at a children's theater class at La Sala Ross. Picked me right up. Nothing is more inspiring than watching kids discover how awesome acting is.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in the Simoca pueblo with Hanah, my German hostel friend. It was definitely oozing with character, charm, and delicious empanadas; but the excursion also left me feeling very distanced. Have you ever seen a life totally opposite from yours and just felt an almost glass pane between you and that life? Like it's not even real. The poverty at this fair was incredible. But the strong community bond was undeniable. What sticks with me about the people I met at this fair is that they are so fortunate in their inherited culture and strong family, but do they know how many fewer choices they have compared to someone like me? Can you imagine life without the choice to do whatever you loved most? It's not like I saw sadness in people while they sold honey, or chairs made out of cow hide. There just wasn't any acknowledgement that another life exists.

I closed out the day at an adult acting class at La Sala Ross. I learned SO much. Stole every activity of course. And I practically prostituted myself for friends, lol. I think it went well.

Today I went to another asado at the house of my reference's parents. Juan, Adriana's 9-year-old nephew, wowed us with jokes, inspiring me to stumblethrough a translating a knock-knock joke. I spent the rest of the afternoon pushing all of my worries on my sister Sheeva. She helped me, and now I'm feeling less confused, and more thoughtful. I'm in Argentina. For reals. Damn

miércoles, 25 de marzo de 2009

The decision to stay

After a day of overanalyzing, over-stressing and taking a small pressure beating to take my apartment from a few lovely Argentinean real estate agents/adopted aunts, I think I've decided to stay at my reference's house outside of the city. All it took was a little perspective. I've been whoring my name and credentials all over this city for the past few days, and finally today my reference had the time to pull me in a little. She explained that it was her hope that I would focus my interests in teaching, sharing my culture, English, theater and Tucuman culture into helping the Ministry of Education to teach some theater techniques to English teachers in country schools. She reminded me of how much time I would teaching, preparing lesson plans, and how I could use my overflowing confusion of interests to make a legit difference here. It was like I could finally take a comfortable breath. Duh.

I like feeling the ground beneath me now :)

I'm also really excited about another opportunity that my reference Adriana has helped me describe. Nothing is certain yet, but I think I may be able to put together a project that brings theater to Tucuman province's indigenous populations. The idea feels like a dream, but it could actually come happen! Adriana works with a foundation that is trying to bring Internet access to indigenous populations, and to maintain these populations' language. I told her that I would love to accompany her, and perhaps develop an article or play out of my experience. She suggested that I actually work with them...and I think the giddiness actually oozed from me. How cool does this sound? Cool, right? I'm writing this here to commit to it. "Speak it into existence," my North Carolina adopted grandma said last year. So here it goes. Big project. But I should go for it, right? Por que no!

martes, 24 de marzo de 2009

In memory of the disappeared

Today was a day of remembrance for the people who disappeared during The Dirty War. There was a small, but dedicated, protest of people demanding...well, demanding notice. H.I.J.O.S. de Tucuman, and the Communist party were there. They played drums, and chanted for further recognition from the current government. I can't imagine the suffering this country has faced.

And I spend all day worrying about finding an apartment. (After seeing two more today, I'm feeling even better about the single room by the park, btw) Today I want to remind myself to be more thankful for every tiny detail of my life. My nose, unclogged and steadily taking breath in. My body tired, but with the understanding that it will have a place to rest that night. My head, entertained constantly by an unending playlist of movie scenes, songs and memories.

I'm finally away from the hostel, safe in a room in the house of my reference here. I think I take safety for granted too much.

lunes, 23 de marzo de 2009

Bug Bites, and old souls

I am COVERED with tiny bumps. Some are red, bloody and agitated. Others are simply pods of itchiness. I would be annoyed by this, but they actually led to my first Argentinian hook up. WOOT! In the hostel. With the door open. A tourist from the UK. HELL. YES! Yay, for embracing my inner slut (Yep, I was totally the pursuer on this one. Let's just say it involved bug spray)

The day started with a downpour. Not to make the earth's weather patterns entirely about me, but it was as if all the stress of my stolen camera, my homelessness and sweaty solitude was washing away a bit. It has been so hot here. A little alienating, often wonderful, and very stressful. I woke up with a smile, satisfied, and with my first appointments to visit apartments.

I think I found the one. A lady I befriended at a Bolero concert last week set it up. It's a one bedroom apartment right in the center of the city, and it has a balcony. It is heaven, especially after the student apartment I visited this morning. I'm all for embracing the potential grit of this experience, but cement rooms with one table the size of my journal, a bathroom straight out of a community pool and an ice cream salesman's freezer to be shared by four people might be pushing my limits a little fast. I was further seduced into this apartment by my charming new community of local mothers. Victoria (my amiga from the concert) and her friend Eddie convinced the attendants to lower the price by almost $70 bucks a months, include all utilities, and leave me a bed (which is set up with an extra bed underneath it FOR VISITORS!!) They then treated me to nearly three hours of cafe, delicious tamales and more compliments than I've received in a long time. Eddie smiled the moment we met, and held the smile the entire afternoon. Asked about my interest in theater, I explained how I use movies and plays to connect better to people. I preached the importance of art to force people to confront the lives of others, to be compassionate, and to learn from taking two hours to focus closely on the one person's interactions with the world and its circumstances. (You agree with this?) She told me I had an old soul.

Victoria and Eddie believe that we were meant to meet. They both believe in living to follow a path. They believe that they are counselors for the soul, and immerse themselves in romance, helping others, and strengthening friendships. They think I meant for something to do something important. I think I'm really lucky sometimes :^) I also think I should be better about reminding people of their values and abilities. Support can be so healing. Is there anything I can do for any of you? Write me if you haven't been complimented enough lately. I think you're all so incredible, and have hundreds of compliments to share.

domingo, 22 de marzo de 2009

Today's cultural lesson: yummy meats and floggers

My body is filled with salty, chewy, delicious VACA! (cow) I went to my first Argentinean asado today. Imagine me, three table lengths of delicious beef and sausage, and my Institute reference's entire family! It was truly a tear-iducing spectacle of family wonderful-ness. My referente Adriana, her husband, the children, the aunts, the uncles, papa, abuela, and all of the cousins seemed unsure of what to say to me at first, but the ice was quickly broken as the cousins and I broke into judgement of Britney Spears's career. I spent the entire day at her house, blending in like a distant uncle no one knows, but that everyone treats like an old friend. The girls talked mostly of style, wanting to go to New York and intense (I mean INTENSE) devotion to study. It's fascinating how the students here whip themselves through school, though the process of getting into college is way simpler than in the U.S. All students pretty much have the opportunity to go to college if they want. It's free, and I haven't met a single person desiring to flee the coop for a shot at what the movies say is college life. The work ethic here is really admirable, almost intimidating...It was post-schoolwork talk that learned about floggers, an "emo"-resembling culture that was born here in Argentina. The leader is an outspoked teenage lesbian named Cumbia. Google "flogger" right now. It's fascinatin!

We watched Gossip Girl, and then sat down for a painful apartment search. I think I have some prospects! Not convinced by the prospets, Adriana offered me a room in her home for as long as I like. I think this woman is a descendent of angel monks. I love her.

Everyone else in the city seems to be filling the streets, cooking on small parkside grills, and drinking into oblivion. I'm taking some time to obsess over rehearsal videos from the Broadway production of "Hair". It looks AWESOME! Be inspired to make change people. GO SEE IT!

My hostel looks like a summer home from the world of "Under the Tuscan Sun." Everyone here is watching soccer.

Morning Thoughts

First of all, the entire design of this blog is in Spanish. All the buttons. All the important decision-making buttons. This is totally language immersion, ya'll!

This morning I'm perusing a list of apartments to rent...more glazed staring than perusing. Here is an example: •COSSIO • 4212802/4213351 MP37 *Monoamb desde $650 Exp/Incl *2Dor C° Sur desde $800+exp *2Dor Ej del Norte 202 $900+Exp *2Dor d/s B° Norte $1400+Exp *3Dor 2B C/Com a Estrenar B° Norte $1800. GAH! Is it the puzzle of contracted words? This crazy language I thought I knew how to speak? It also doesn't help that I'm still coughing up last night's haze of tiredness and hilarity.

My schmooze-fest at the Teatro Ross turned out to be more of a snooze-fest, but that was totally my fault. Not only did I show up having not had anything to eat or drink for hours, but I was also at a point of sleepiness that totally pushed the Spanish language out of my brain. The play was in a small room, complete with plastic lawn chairs and prop-disguising black curtains. And there was clearly a tight-knit community of 20-something actor/writer/directors there to support the 2-year-old arts space. The play was a presentation of short stories by the Argentinean writers Dolino and Fontarossa, and the actors were awesome. There was even audience participation! But I swear that there was one story, intended parody a father's advice to his son, that left me with little more than the image of a yellow dog standing in place. Have you ever had that experience of being talked at in what appears to be gibberish for hours? Now imagine that you actually catch a sentence. You've even connected connected that sentence to an earlier anecdote! But by the time your brain returns to the play, the yellow dog is no longer an active character. It's frustrating, but funny too. And luckily, the actors had clearly taken a facial exercise seminar from Jim Carrey. Yay for animated faces!

After a delicious pizza, I returned to my hostel to find the two hostel owners getting wasted in the patio garden with a few friends, who instantly welcomed me as if I'd birthed their first born babies. Most were students studying French and English. We talked about pronunciation, cultural differences, and the sketch-tastic murder dens lying blocks from where I was sitting. (EEK!) Behind me, two travelers that had met days ago in Cordoba embraced the mood lighting and orchestral meows of wandering stray cats by sucking face. (I thought I'd forgotten that phrase!) Our hostel attendant, a 46-year-old flamboyantly friendly man interrupted sips of Fernet (a liquor, I think? Drinking it reminded me of many an accidental swallow of mouthwash) to interject anecdotes about living in the United States. Our off-duty hostel attendent spent most of the night assuring me that he'd find me a roommate-I love these people!- and then proceeded to feign drunk and grope a very relationship-interested girl sitting next to me. Mid grope from our awesome hostel host, this girl said I had a sexy voice. It was nice.

Of course, the conversation soon went to Nietzche and the state of Psychology in Tucuman (poorly applied and antiquated, according to a passionate Psych student), and then back to the growing tensions between the rich and poor in Buenos Aires. At 3am, I went to bed. They went to a club.

Still homeless, but enjoying the sunshine :)

sábado, 21 de marzo de 2009

Yanqui Fareed begins his adventures in Argentina with new friends, inconceivable sunshine...and robbery

I need to be honest. I must promise myself to be honest on this blog, my first blog, a project to maintain my sanity here in Argentina's darling province of Tucuman. A-ight, I'll cut out the irony. It's actually beyond beautiful here. A totally distinct culture brewed from a mix of the culture of cosmopolitan Argentina, indigenous values and a population growing like marshmallows in a microwave. I love it. And I'm also entirely overwhelmed.

I arrived in Buenos Aires last weekend, and was instantly swept up by the Fulbright commission. Imagine the smell of ambition, success, excitement and years of diverse experience. Now put that smell in a bus overflowing with baggage. (Literal baggage) This is my first impression of the Fulbright community. Entirely kind, overwhelmed with the stress of playing polite presenter to shit-tons of new people, and endlessly impressive. I met dancers, aspiring yoga gurus, political activists...and teachers, of course. And together we pushed through seemingly endless hours of meetings of teaching methodology, (very) general information about our roles as language assistants, anecdotes and warnings to keep up from embarrassing ourselves amongst a new culture and many a delicious lunch. Honestly, the weekend went by too quickly to deliver a proper resume. I just remember feeling exhausted by the inundating call for polite conversation, inspired by everyone's passion and generally anxious to get real answers. (Wow, I didn't know I liked lists so much. It's as if I can't pull through a single description without dispensing a thousand commas. Blech. Whatever, I think in streams I guess.)

The history is rich and jagged here. People are quick to talk, and quick to challenge. Everyone has a different opinion about everything, and everyone loves to share. Everything closes between 1 and 5, no information is available online...ever, but it's easy to find the people with answers. Everyone knows someone who can help. Everyone tells you to be careful when talking to anybody else. I've had the most delicious, cheapest pizza of my life, and also drool-inducing dark chocolate ice cream. And now, I'm nowhere near done, but needing sign off and schmooze with the company members at Teatro Ross. (maybe I'll get to teach some kids theater! A story for later. It involves puppets.)

Ah wait: the robbery. My camera was stolen yesterday. I know. It sucks. I befriended a guy in the park, and proceeded to stupidly join the seductive douche for a drink and discussion about life in Tucuman culture. The guy was a nervous, fast-talking type. And he was totally nice. The camera was in the bag under my feet at the bar. I think I might have looked away a few times to pay, or ask questions, or order something. Who knows. All I know is that suddenly the dude had to leave very quickly, and when I returned to my hostel I found my bag lacking a digital camera. I know, SHAME ON ME! I'm such an idiot sometimes. It's like I fail often to understand that creepy, realistic shit can happen to me too. Whatever, it's a good lesson. It could have been worse. He could have spit the consumption into my drink or something.

Hasta luego chicos. te prometo mas historias!