Boat to Uruguay
As part of my life as an illegal immigrant in Argentina, I have to leave the country every 3 months to renew my visa. Somehow it has already been 3 months since I got here, so I had to leave to country. If you don't leave every 3 months, you get stuck paying huge fines at the airport and you also run the chance of having issues with police in BA for being here with an expired stamp.
This weekend Marcos was visiting from Brazil and really wanted to see Uruguay so it was the perfect opportunity to get a new stamp. It could not have been easier to get there either. There is a boat called the Colonia Express that takes you from Boca (the port in BA) to Colonia in less than an hour. The boat was very nice and comfortable and gave a beautiful view of the Rio Plata.
One of the many plazas and my finger
At some points it felt like we were in the ocean because you couldn't see either riverbank... but that's just how wide the Rio Plata is. Once we got to Colonia, we had a short city tour, which was a part of our boat ticket. The guide took us around the old city and pointed out the various Portuguese and Spanish influences in terms of the architecture and city design. The old city of Colonia is beautiful; filled with cobblestone streets and old brick houses that all open up to large, open plazas with orange trees, flowers and vibrant green parrots sqwaking loudly. The city is right along the river so it also gives a spectacular view of the water and you can even see the skyline of Buenos Aires from some points.
After learning about where all of the stones in the street come from, and the rest of Colonia's history, we spent the rest of the day just wandering up and down the streets and walking along the river.
Colonia is such a small city that within a few hours we were already just walking down the same streets again. It was also strange to notice that everyone there were tourists. It didn't seem like anyone actually lived in Colonia, but rather people came in from the newer parts of the city to open a restaurant or souvenir shop to cater to the daily tourists. Overall it was a great day trip and a welcomed break from the city-- and now I have a new stamp for 60 days so I am semi-legal again.
Besides the day trip to Uruguay, I also showed Marcos around Buenos Aires some. Walked around Plaza de Mayo, into the Casa Rosada, Calle Florida, and around Puerto Madero. We also ate sooo much delicious food at a bunch of different Parillas around the city.
At the top of the lighthouse
At one restaurant we went to called Sigue la Vaca, I tried all sorts of different meats... I was quite proud of myself for being so adventurous. Sigue la Vaca is an all you can eat grill with a massive salad bar and huge BBQ filled with every imaginable piece of meat. They had everything from stomach, to intestine, to more normal things like chicken and steak. I stuck mostly to the chicken and salad bar, but I did try many of the other parts of the animal... They were interesting and I really liked some of the flavors, but other parts were way too greasy and chewy for my taste.
After this food festival, we went further down the port to where the casino is located. Buenos Aires managed to have gambling by building the casino on a boat so technically it is not in the city.
Part of the city wall
The tokens to play were super confusing and we kept having to re-change them for different tokens to play a new game... I'm still not sure I understand why. But anyways, it was fun to play some of the games, especially the slots, even though I don't think I really knew what I was doing-- I just kept pulling the handle and waited for the machine to tell me if I'd won anything.
So that was basically my weekend, border run, gambling, and lots of food...
Teaching is continuing to keep me busy preparing lessons and figuring out ways to keep some of my younger students focused. It really is an entirely different approach to teach children. Last night, I found myself attempting to explain analogies to a 12 year old... I think analogies are difficult enough to understand when English is your native language but trying to explain it to someone who is still trying to grasp English.
Rachel's ridiculous lunch- fried egg, ham, steak, bacon, tomatoe, lettuce, and fries. oh jeez.
.. ay it definitely got a bit frustrating. But I think after many, many examples my student seemed to get the idea of it to some degree. The other challenge with many of these kids is that they have just come from sitting in school for 6 hours and are now expected to spend another hour or two with me focused on exercises and grammar. I try to keep this in mind and make little games out of the exercises so that it isn't too painful. For the most part, I'm very impressed with how focused and motivated these children are after such a long day at school... I don't think I would have been able to sit for a private lesson after school at their ages.
The adults I teach are a totally different game. With them, they are there either because their job requires it (so they are motivated by the financial incentive learning English would have) or they genuinely want to learn English for themselves.
I've had many interesting discussions with these students and learned lots from them about Argentine politics, schools and just life or work here in general from a natives perspective.
Alright, well I am going to grab some lunch before my next class. Miss you all, hope everyone's doing well!