After touring the city by foot for about 9 hours the other day, I feel like I have a much better sense of the different areas of Buenos Aires
. I took a little city tour of Congreso (the financial distrinct of BA) and there was randomly a girl from Shorewood, WI on it as well, who of course knew some of the same people as me... such a small world. I got to see the "largest boulevard in the world" 9 de julio-- which according to our guide was only true when it was built, but now this title belongs to Brasilia... but that portenos still hold on to this claim to fame. We saw the congress building, plaza de mayo and the pink house where Eva Peron used to make her speeches from. All of these areas were surrounded by some fences because of the prevalence of protests here.
Protest in front of congress
In reaction to the years of dictatorship and repression experienced in BA, people are very protective of their rights to gather and express their opinions. Therefore, protests happen all over the city, even in the middle of the streets, so the police need to be able to quickly block off where ever the protests are happening since they are unable to actually prevent this sort of gathering. This goes to such an extreme that on university campuses no police presence is EVER allowed.
Yesterday I also had my first experience at conducting business in Spanish. I had arranged to take a look at a few apartments and when I met with the landlords they all greeted us in the traditional argentine way with a kiss on the cheek. I thought this was strange for a business transaction but apparently this is typical even in the workplace.
We looked at a few nice places, but it's a bit difficult since we are unable to sign a lease. Therefore we have to pay in cash and the agreement is more or less based on faith. However, with the influx of "black market" workers and foreigners in Argentina this sort of an arrangement is quite common and from what I hear from other teachers, they haven't had any problems with housing.
For July 4th, there were no fireworks, but I did go to a little Independence Day celebration at a bar in Palermo that was organized by an ex-pat society. It was funny to be in Argentina and surrounded by all english speaking Americans. However, even at this "American"' bar they still celebrated in the Argentine manner, with the bulk of people arriving after 2 am and staying well past 5 am.... it is definitely going to take time (and a changed sleep schedule) to get used to this.