6.30.2007

The language of many...

After a week here in La Plata, I´ve learned one thing for sure....there are certain things that transcend all languages and cultures: smiles, kisses, and mayonnaise...and over the past week, I´ve had my share of all three...

Here in Argentina, when two people meet, regardless of their sex, one simple kiss on the right cheek is exchanged as a sort of greeting. If it´s showed me anything, it´s just how closed we are as Americans...could you imagine kissing everyone you met in the states? Talk about a social experiment...maybe it´s just me, but I have a hard time imagining people like President Bush greeting Colin Powell with a little peck on the cheek before discussing foreign policy tactics. They also apparently have no problem sharing anything...the customary drink here is called Mate...and it´s like nothing I´ve ever had before in my life...it tastes kind of like youre drinking the earth...anyway, everyone shares the same cup and the same straw...talk about a public health hazard! Just another example of how much more intimate their culture is then us cold Americans! Beyond the kiss, there has been, and remains, much that I´m having a hard time understanding...but when in doubt, its amazing how far a smile and a nod can actually get you. Although I´m finding that there is a difference between the smile and nod which indicates that you´re ok and that which indicates that you completely understand what the other person is saying, especially when accompanied with a sí...this is something which i must start working on so as not to go down a slippery slope of diologue suicide...

And when all else fails, what would you expect me to do other than to eat mayonnaise? Let me tell you, the people of Argentina have taken mayonaisse to an entirely different level...I thought the lovely Lola and I had done about everything one could possibly do with this heaven sent condiment, but apparently not...they have this amazing, and completely socially acceptable condiment called Salsa Golf...basically it´s just mayo and ketchup...but I think theres a twist somewhere in there, and I vow to crack the code before returning to to the states so that I can replicate this beautiful custom from there.

Now, beyond these lessons in Argentine culture, this past week has been pretty amazing...I arrived La Plata last Saturday, as you know...and have been taking everything in since...with little down time! We had a busy week of orientation...during which Jill and I shared a small and relatively cold room in a hostel...and we had workshops and lessons in cluture and NGO work all day every day...by night time, we were all pretty ready to do nothing more than sleep, but we did manage to get out of bed and go watch the US/Argentina soccer match on thursday night. We all made sure not to cheer when we scored the first goal...but still, everyoe in the bar turned and looked at us. It seems they could smell our American democracy through the smoke that filled the bar. In all, they had no problem with us though...in fact I think they kind of love us...they just kind of smile and laugh at the poor Americans who don´t quite understand everything beeing said around them. I definitely have learned what it´s like to be that weird German exchange student who shows up in America and knows only how to greet people and order a meal...I´ve never before felt more like Long Duck-Yong from Sixteen Candles than I have over the past week. I was especially thrilled to learn that the word for excited is not "excitado" as the dictionary had told me...in fact "excitado" means horny...you can imagine the akwardness I felt when Pablo, my host brother had a little talk with me about how hard he and Virginia (his girlfriend, my host sister) had laughed when I had said that was was "excitado" not only for this whole experience, but for their pregnancy as well...I now know that I shoulod say "emociaonado" when excited about something...

As I continue to learn more about La Plata, I become more and more fascinated. It´s really a beautiful old city...and actually laid out similarly to DC, with many plazas and even diagonals cutting through the otherwise grid-box streets. Virginia and I walked around on Saturday and I was able to see more of the city...including a "Ferria" in the Plaza just a few blocks from my house (Plaza Italia)...it is, as Virginia called it, the "Ferria Hippy," or hippy fair...everything tehre was handmade of wood, leather, or hemp...it was really cool. I live just about 13 blocks from my work, in a small home that, upon first impression, appears to have been an old warehouse at one time, but I´m not sure if that´s exactly the case. Anyway, it´s across the street from this beautiful park which I have gone running in...and is complete with a bautiful roof-top patio with a grill for some famous Argentina Asados...I love it and my host family...they´re so nice. Both young (28/29 years old) and students...he´s getting his masters in econ and shes studying to teach phys ed in elementary schools.

In all, Arentina has drawn me in...and it´s only been a week. I can´t wait to see what else lies ahead for me during the next 4 months...I know that God has some amazing things planned for me and this beautiful country...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

wingo that's soo cool! you are going to come back dressed like you are going to a phish concert though...

drew

Jen said...

yesss i'm so glad you're writing a blog! oh how i wish i could come visit!

Yasir said...

OMG this is so excitado!!!

Anonymous said...

Trey, you're truly missed at Student Health; Susan got promoted to Associate Director--I am going insane. Hope all is well...sounds like you are having a blast.

Cory

Elizabeth said...

Yay!!! I'm so excited that you've posted a blog. Can't wait to hear about all of the exciting experiences you are going to have! We miss you! xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

You are such a ho bag!

Guess who?! ;)