Sally Rountree is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Sociology major and Public Health minor at Simmons College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires on a custom program this semester.
In this week's post, Sally tells us about a particular chance encounter after her arrival that reminded her of home.
Yesterday morning, we landed in Argentina after thirteen hours of being in the air and made our way to the city of Buenos Aires. I already love this experience. These past 30 hours have been filled with confusion, surprise, amazement, and laughter. I feel like I have been with this group of students for far more than two days. I can tell time here is going to pass quickly.
So far we’ve spent most of our time walking around the city exploring and taking tours. On our various excursions, we’ve met several locals. The first local we talked to who wasn’t related to the program we are studying through here talked to us in a small convenience store. She was really sweet and was able to speak in English, which was good because I unfortunately do not speak Spanish. She was very willing to talk to us and let us ask questions about her home country.
Today, we met another local. I was with a group of four other people and we stopped at a flower stand on the side of the road. There are a lot of flower stands here, every other road probably has a stand. By chance, we stopped at this particular one. About thirty seconds into the conversation, we found out the man selling flowers had also lived in Boston! It was such a coincidence that we stopped at a place run by someone who lived where we go to school. His name is Francisco, but people call him Hanky. I asked about it, but the story of his nickname was too long for him to tell me. Francisco lived in the United States for a while, moving around to various states. He said that he lived or was very familiar with Florida, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Texas. He really moved around! However, as soon as he found out our group was from Boston, he yelled out “Boston? I love Boston! Boston is the best city in the world!”
When we told him we went to school near Fenway Park, he got very excited. He loves all of the sports teams in Boston, and even has a Celtics hat his girlfriend gave him. Brookline, where one of our group members lives, is also one of his favorite parts of Boston. After two years of living there, he was deported. Though he loves America, he said it was probably for the best because he was still able to spend several years there. The whole time he was talking he was picking out various flowers and sorting them into a bouquet. Every other minute he would put the flowers down so he could wave his arms around as he spoke. Later we found out he is Italian. It was amazing to talk to him because he was so enthusiastic about everything.
Not only did he tell us about his time in America, he also told us where to go in Argentina. There was one restaurant right across the street that he claimed has the best Argentinian barbeque. Argentina is a meat country, according to absolutely everyone here. Francisco looked at us and said no one in Argentina can be a vegan. He didn’t realize that two of the five people he was talking to – are vegetarians. I really want to try Argentinian cuisine, but it seems like I won’t really be able to without eating meat. It’s such a huge component of their diet. I’ve been thinking that I might have to try a small bite of steak just for the experience. Everyone here talks about it so much I don’t want to miss out. Francisco also talked about the bakeries here. We asked which one would be good and he just put his hands up toward the sky and said “every.”
When we walked away with a ribbon-tied bouquet of flowers, we all looked at each other and talked about how cool that experience was. We had just got some amazing insight from a local Argentinian. It would be really great if we could speak Spanish well enough to talk to other people, but at this point we can only have true conversations with people who speak English. Even so, it’s really exciting to learn whatever we can about the culture and the people while we are here. I’m so glad I came!
Sally's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.