One of my goals for South America is to get my Spanish up to conversational level so I signed up for a week of class here in Buenos Aires.
I believe I searched for my school using Foursquare. I really do not like walking in the cold so I figured that my school should be very near where I stay.
Luckily, there was a school on Foursquare. I checked out the place, paid a deposit and became of of their students.
The school is literally opposite my hostel. I only have to go over a crossing to get there. Wonderful.
YQ goes to school
First day of class
My class was small, with only 3 students. Our teacher is Felisitas, who’s younger than I am. Actually, I’m the oldest in class and the youngest is a 19 year old. (NINETEEN!)
Our class started with lessons in the middle of nowhere. We were asked to read a passage on our photocopied textbook (or really just sheets).
I realized that I’ve forgotten almost everything. I don’t remember how to conjugate verbs “to be”, “to have”, to anything, actually. I even have to count on my fingers to get to number 9 which means I probably have to use my toes when counting to 19.
Still it was quite fun, although I do not look forward to memorizing all those new words I learned. Blergh.
After school, one of my classmates brought us to the pizzeria below my hostel for empanadas.
Empanadas are curry puff-like pastries, only it’s much much better. I’m not a big fan of curry puffs because I find them boring. But empanadas are totally different.
The size is about 2 times larger than a regular curry puff. This means more filling. My chicken-filled empanada was bursting with chicken. I fell faint remembering how good it was. I’ll get you a good photo one day.
Tour of the avenue
Our school organizes after-school activities. Today, it was a tour of Avenida de Mayo with Ms Macarena (I am not kidding).
It was less of a tour and more like one hour of intense intermediate Spanish listening lesson.
Ms Macarena spoke at full speed Argentinian (lots of “sh” replacing the usual “y” sounds). I could catch about 20 percent of what Ms M said and was too confused to ask about parts I didn’t understand.
After the tour, I headed to Carrefour for groceries. I am finally cooking, after two months of travelling!
I was planning to make tomato soup but at the supermarket, the tomatos were expensive and half of them look like they were rotting.
Broccoli was much cheaper so that ended up on my menu. I also tossed in a packet of small pasta called Fideos Semolados Ave Maria.
In the first floor kitchen, I manage to make my very first dish: Broccoli soup with pasta.
Based on the other half of broccoli, I’ll be having the same thing tomorrow but maybe I’ll throw in an egg or two.
Do you cook when you travel? What’s your secret recipe?
I don’t really have any plans for Buenos Aires. My main goal here is to learn enough Spanish to venture out into the wild wild South America.
So for today, I listened to the advice of someone on Instagram and decided to check out San Telmo Sunday flea market. A Google Map search told me that it was within a walking distance of 2.4km.
It was drizzling slightly when I walked out of the hostel building. The street was empty except for a few people and some taxis.
As I walked down the road, I realized that I was the only person carrying an umbrella. Other people were walking in the rain or standing in a shade.
It was a bit unnerving walking down the long stretch of road and not seeing another umbrella even though the rain was enough to soak into my clothes.
I thought that maybe Buenos Airesians (?) do not believe in umbrella. But umbrella is not a religion, how can you not believe in it?
Finally, when I turned into Ave Indepencia, I saw another umbrella. I could only see the white beard of the person carrying the umbrella.
Before heading to San Telmo, I walked along Ave Indepencia, trying to find a Japanese restaurant. I didn’t manage to find it but I did see the Japanese Association in Argentina.
(Later, I found out that the restaurant shared the same address as the association but I still could not find the entrance.)
After the fruitless search, I continued on my way. I turned around the corner and stopped to take a photo.
Suddenly, two boys appear near me. They stopped and one of them sat on the window sill. From the corner of my eye, I saw him holding a bottle of beer.
I felt uneasy. I suspected that they might want to rob me so I looked at the one nearest me in the eyes. I walked off but turned around to see if they were following me. The boy was still sitting but was looking in my direction.
I quickly walked down the streets. Luckily, a lot of people were walking a few roads down. I followed the current of the people and reached San Telmo Market.
The inside of the market wasn’t fascinating. It had different stalls. Some selling antiques, coffee, flowers, clothes, leather everything. One shop sold creepy antique dolls.
I walked around for about half an hour before I got bored. I thought to myself, “Is this it?”
So I got out of the market and walked right into the real Sunday flea market. Since the rain had only stopped just now, most of the stalls were only starting to set up their wares.
I also discovered the sister restaurant of the Japanese restaurant I wanted to go to. However, the price of A$100 (S$25) for a set meal scared me off and I gave an excuse that I should continue walking.
So I walked. All the way from one end of the market to the other end at Plaza Mayo. Walking on Buenos Aires’ cobbled stone path wasn’t easy. I sometimes trip but manage not to fall.
The wares sold repeated themselves: Woolly clothes, mate cups and straw, leather goods etc.
I did manage to buy a comic book for Spanish practice.
After the long long walk, I headed back to my hostel. On the way, I stopped by SUMO, an ice cream shop recommended by a classmate.
In Argentina, they don’t serve ice cream like you know it. The sizes come in 1/4 kilogram, half a kilogram and a kilogram.
I didn’t realize that and ordered a medium ice cream. It came in a bad tasting waffle but was quite big. I found out that for 3 pesos more, I could have gotten the 1/4 kilogram of ice cream. Now I can only dream of such an ice cream.
After the cold lunch, I finally got back to my hostel. I stayed in and didn’t do much since it was the last day before classes start.
The best and worst meal
For dinner, I was deciding between dinner at the pizzeria downstairs or a nice meal out. In the end, nice meal won because I’ve made up mind to start cooking on Monday.
So off I went to a Tripadvisor recommended steak house. The restaurant only had another table of customer because it was still too early for dinner.
I ordered the smallest steak and rashly added a glass of champagne. We have to enjoy life to the fullest, don’t we?
The champagne was delightful. It wasn’t too dry and the bubbles were popping about. I was down to half a glass when my steak finally came with its expensive serving of thick cut fries.
The steak as DE-LI-CIOUS. I ordered it rare, knowing that it is cooked to medium rare here in Argentina. It was very tasty. The best part was the fat which was crispy and oozed of liquid cholesterol.
There was also pools of pink blood leaking but that was comforting because it meant that it wasn’t fully cooked.
While the whole meal was wonderful, almost at the end of my steak, I felt the strangest sensation.
I was feeling quite tipsy since I drank champagne on an empty stomach. Worst thing was, the delicious meat that I had was actually clawing their way up my throat.
I sat in my chair, staring out of the window at the Carrefour Express opposite. Half of me wanted to pay my bill, run to the supermarket and chug down 1 liters of water. The other half of me knew that I would probably throw up on the corner of the street before I even leave the restaurant.
The blood on the plate made me more nauseous. The whole fragrant grilled meat smell was making me disgusted.
I did the best thing. I ordered a A$16 bottle of non-gassy water.
The water was my saviour. I immediately felt more clear headed and less nauseous. I gratefully took sips of the water and finished the whole bottle.
I couldn’t wait to leave the restaurant since the smell of meat wasn’t helping with my stomach. I paid my bill and walked back slowly, planning my next less-alcoholic menu.
I’m open for suggestions on food to cook in hostel kitchens. If you have any recipes, please share them with me in the comments. Muchas gracias.