Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back to School in Argentina

In an effort to keep our travel experiences diverse we decided to go back to school in Buenos Aires.  Five days prior (while still in England) I enrolled in a certificate course to teach English as a foreign language.  This was something that Amy and I had discussed in length as a potential job for me should we run out of money during some point of our trip.  The course was a month long, intensive study offered by the Bridge Language School which was curiously based out of Denver, Colorado.  The course started a day after our arrival and it took off in a flash.  After the first week of reading and classroom instruction my classmates and I were up in front of an actual class of Argentine students teaching.  The reading, paper writing, classroom preparation and instruction were intense, but Amy and I were still able to take in some sights and become quite comfortable with the South American way of life.
I really felt old going back to school as my other classmates were at least a decade younger
On our 45 minutes (17 cents) bus journey downtown for school.
The week after I started my course Amy proudly started her intensive Spanish instruction.  Amy's profesora Rosario had the daunting task of delivering her intensive 3 hour lessons to my linguistically challenged wife.  Amy surprised us all and started to understand much of the conversations surrounding us and even felt confident enough to order for herself and for me at times.  The school provided Amy with a couple of Spanish books that she intends to use along our trip to continue her Spanish studies.
Amy and her teacher Rosario
One of the highlights of the trip and going back to school was the people we met at the school.  Heidi, Kristine, Daniel, Kandice, Tim and Natasha we hope to keep in contact with you all and hope that our paths cross sometime in the future.

 For the month while we were in school we decided to see what the high life was all about and rented an apartment in a beautiful new building in a neighborhood of Buenos Aires called Palermo.  Our apartment was located on the lucky number 13th floor and had an awesome view of the city.  After the month we moved to a smaller apartment in the heart of the nightlife on Calle Uriarte for some real punishment.  I say punishment because Amy and I decided that there was just no escaping the noise of this big city.  The second apartment was directly across for 'Palermo Jo Jo's' and they served dinner, drinks and a lot of loud cheer and musical accompaniment from 8pm until 5am.  Yes….5 AM!  The United Airlines' earplugs didn't even help us a bit. Luckily Palermo Jo Jo's was closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, so we did have some time to rest.
Our view from our 13th floor balcony
Aside from Spanish and the people we met in Argentina some other highlights of our trip were the cute neighborhoods we visited in Palermo, the tango show we saw in Abasto, the street fair in San Telmo, our trip to Tigre and to Colonia Del Sacramento, Uruguay and oddly enough the creative, off the wall graffiti we encountered throughout the city.

push play and enjoy our tribute to the BA artists…

On the weekends while still in school and for the week after our classes ended we explored the neighborhoods and other nearby towns around us.  From the traditional, bohemian area of San Telmo to the posh boutiques and pop cultured cafes in Palermo, the city offers a variety of things to do and see for everyone.  

San Telmo:
Took in this lunch tango show our first week in BA.
Dinner at Desnivel with some friends from school.  
San Telmo street market every weekend.
Venders were selling tasty treats from candy covered nuts to empanadas.
One of the quiet, sun drenched streets off of the main street fair.
La Boca:
Us in colorful La Boca.
Fashionable canine sport wear
Amy excited about what was for lunch.
Tango dancers practicing before a lunch show.
Amy in the heart of La Boca.
A dinner out with our classmates.  We got our table at the well known La Cabrera restaurant at 11:30 pm and didn't leave until 1:30 am.  We were not the last ones leaving either.
First and last Mexican food experience in BA.
Street lined with cafes in Palermo
Many of the bars/nightclubs turned into trendy stores and boutiques during the day.   Yes…the bar was open.
The famous Recoleta Cemetery
Eva Peron's final resting spot.
An after school tour of the neighborhood with Amy's profesora Rosario.
The political heart of Argentina, La Casa Rosada
Eva Peron on the side of a building on Avenida 9 de Julio.  It poured rain this day and we loved it.  
Amy right outside of school.  We were told to wear our backpacks like this for safety reasons.
At the obelisk looking over the huge Avenida 9 de Julio.
Enjoying a coffee and medialunas at BA's oldest cafe with Amy's school friend from Austria Heidi.
The ministry of water building in BA was our favorite building we passed every morning on the way to school.
Buying our tickets with our Sube card for the train to Tigre.
Amy and the Parana river that runs through Tigre.
We didn't stop, but shows you how important Argentines take their mate.
Randoms from around BA:
Our tango dinner show at Homero Manzi.
Amy said Santa Barbara had these trees too, but I cannot remember them looking this color .
Went to a traditional tango milonga where the old timers were tangoing until the wee hours of the morning.  We left at 1am.
Every Monday night this awesome drum group called La Bomba played to packed crowds. 
While enjoying the show we ran into the guy from the bay area that Amy sat next to on the flight.
Us in front of the bridge in Puerto Madero.
Colonia Del Sacramento, Uruguay:
After a bumpy, hour boat ride to Uruguay we were happy to have arrived.
The cobblestoned streets here were lined with trees.
Everything was in bloom as were my allergies.

While browsing the internet one day about a week before our plans had us leaving Argentina, we stumbled upon a fantastic 13 day cruise from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia by Cape Horn and up to Valparaiso, Chile. Unfortunately, Amy and I had no winter clothes to wear for the antarctic weather awaiting us and no formal wear for the cruise.  We quickly went shopping and were able to fit into our tight budget a sweater each and some formal wear.
My steal…a suit with alterations, shoes, 2 ties, 2 shirts and a belt for only $160
Amy's even better steal of this formal, hand made skirt and top with shoes for $55.
This is a teaser shot of Ushuaia-Tierra Del Fuego and Amy in her $10 hand made sweater.  

Stay tuned to our next post to see how we braved the seas and what we encountered in Patagonia.