Buenos Aires is the European-like capital of Argentina, the largest city in Argentina and our first stop in our 9-month trip around South America. We decided to stay in the San Telmo district and found an extremely charming and affordable room to rent (http://santelmoloft.com/the-guesthouse/). Not only is the place perfect, but it is run by Angela an ex-pat from Louisiana, who proved to be very helpful. We spent a week exploring the city, delighting in the amazing food and beautiful architecture.
I think I’ve found the word for what I knew I would feel before we arrived in Buenos Aires: Disconnected. I don’t feel shocked or scared but I do feel disconnected from the world around me. I don’t know the language very well. I don’t know the nuances of everyday life that the people around me seem to fully understand. Ordering at a restaurant, putting gas in the car, activating our cell phone, getting from point A to Point B, understanding the crazy traffic rules – these are all things I used to know how to do. But now, not only do I not know how, but I don’t know the language well enough for someone to explain it to me.
In our first few days in Buenos Aires, it felt like we were doing everything for the first time. We ordered double the number of empanadas we intended to. I tried to buy fruit at the grocery store only to find out that I was supposed to weigh it before I got to the register so I had to get out of line with all my stuff and go back to weigh it. I ordered tongue when I thought it was a salad (you would think “con vinegareta” would imply that it was a salad). And in nearly every occasion, we only understand about 10% of what people are saying to us. These aren’t very major things but it’s things I’m used to knowing how to do. But we’ve survived so far and on the plus side, for every thing we’ve done wrong, we’ve also done something right like learning how to wave the city buses down, successfully driving our car out of Buenos Aires, ordering the right number of Empanadas, and meeting a few wonderful people along the way who have helped us figure out what in the world we’re doing.
And now, we’re here in Cordoba where we are couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) with a native Argentine who is showing us how wonderful the Argentine people are over a gourd of Yerba Mate. Even though the language barrier is strong, his generosity needs no translation. Today I don’t feel disconnected. Today I feel happy, content, and connected.