Claire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In this week's post, Claire navigates Buenos Aires by getting used to the ins and outs of public transportation and dishes on what happened when she went to the local ice cream shop.
Buenos Aires is a busy city. With 2,891,000 people, you can be almost certain you won't see the person you sit beside on the bus ever again. This leaves room for mistakes that in other settings we're used to, like our colleges or small towns, would embarrass us enough to never show our face again in public, to be pretty easy to laugh off. Classes and my internship still haven't started for me, so I've spent this week exploring the city and finding my own little spaces to call home.
Hi Eva! On a bus tour of the city.
I love walking through the streets alone or with a friend and feeling so small between the towering buildings around me. I love that I'm starting to get to a point where I don't have to stop every block or so to ask directions or to stare at my phone's map; I can recognize landmarks and streets and find my way from there. Buenos Aires is on a grid system just like Phoenix, my home for 10 years, and I find so much comfort in knowing I can explore for a few blocks or 10 and still find my way back to the street I want to be on.
Some of my favorite spaces I've found so far are the public parks. Often I'll just pull up my map, find a green space, and walk toward it. I've found some incredible spaces—like a dog park near my apartment which just made me giddy, or the park I found yesterday that was so full of little kids roller skating and had a traveling used book sale beside it (definitely going back to that one!).
Messi and I in a subte station!
I've also found a deep love for public transportation. Some dear friends of mine who live here have been so kind to teach me the system and to accompany me on some of my longer journeys, and so already in week two I have so many fond memories on the buses, trains, and subte (Buenos Aires underground transportation system). The train is probably my favorite. I love watching Argentina go by right before my eyes, and have heard some really beautiful music played on that ride! Buses, called "colectivos," I also love. It's a microcosm of Argentine culture, and a great place to people watch.
Today, a woman got on the bus and realized she didn't have any more saldo (money on her transportation card). Another woman automatically handed her hers, and wouldn't accept any payment in return. This weekend, I got on a bus and was a little uncertain of when to get off, so a kind couple in front of me walked me through it, even shouting instructions as I got off. So kind. You can pretty much always find someone willing, and anxious, to help here.
But I've still been missing a good study spot. I don't really want to have to come back to the quiet of the apartment to do homework every afternoon, so a friend and I ventured out yesterday afternoon to check out an ice cream place near her. The menu was overwhelmingly large, and so I decided to go with what I knew and ordered a cone (want to know how to say that in Spanish? Cucuruchu. Cucuruchu. Try saying that three times fast) with Dulce de Leche ice cream. I paid, and thought all was well, until the server asked what else I wanted. Else? Nothing else, I said, just dulce de leche. He seemed confused. No other ice cream?? Really?? Wondering if I was missing out on a big cultural thing, I asked what he recommended. He said lemon at first, and I shook my head. That wouldn't be good with dulce de leche. He then recommended "something something something crema." Ah. Crema, yes, that sounds right. I said that sounded good, and then you can imagine my surprise as he dumped a heaping scoop of bright pink cherry ice cream into my cucuruchu. We're talking goopy red globs of cherries, cherry ice cream, which I abhor.
Thankfully he put my dulce de leche in a cup, and my friend and I walked out each with one cone of ice cream and one cup of ice cream, laughing so hard we were crying, because we had absolutely no idea why we got four containers of ice cream between us and what on earth is the word for cherry in Spanish??
The inscription translates to "I know that my heart is looking toward the south."
Love this—so accurate in the years leading up to this semester for me!!
So that you can know for the next time you're in Buenos Aires, it's cereza. And even though this is a city of 2,891,000, I still don't think I'll be able to show my face again in the ice cream place where I left a giant glob of cherry ice cream on the sidewalk.
Hope you get a cucuruchu of yummy, non-cherry ice cream today!
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.