Thursday, March 25, 2010

St. Patricks and Social Movements

I've been taking advantage of whatever free time I have to hang out with friends from Rhodes and Buenos Aires.

Last Wednesday was St. Patrick's Day and also the birthday of a guy on my study abroad program. As a group we decided to go to an Irish pub called the “Shamrock.” Apparently St. Patrick's Day is a relatively new tradition in Buenos Aires...but in the last several years it has really picked up in popularity. I had heard that the Irish pubs in town get packed early, so I was a afraid we weren't going to be able to get in, but the rain must have scared some would-be revelers away. Not long after I arrived at the pub, Will, a guy I had Spanish with at Rhodes found me in the crowd. We caught up and he invited me to an "asado" or barbecue at his apartment that weekend.

Last Thursday I went to a potluck at the apartment of Megan, another friend from Rhodes. Megan's apartment was very international, she had guests from France, England, Germany, and the US. It was really strange to be out numbered by the French while being in Argentina. I retreated to the kitchen with my wine to help make pizzas. Pizzas here are different than the pizzas back home. The crust is more bread-like and the cheese is creamier cheese. They also are known to put on weird toppings like corn, tuna, or potato chips. Megan's birthday is tomorrow so I'm going to go out with her and some friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Friday I went with the program to meet with a mother from the Plaza de Mayo. The "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo" is a group of mother who joined together to demand justice for their children who were "disappeared" by the military dictatorship. The Mothers or "Madres" remain an incredibly influential and respected group. The Madres believe that it is there job to do the good deeds in which their children believed. Thus, the Madres continue to work with the poor, homeless, and workers unions.

Friday night my homestay brother who is 26 invited kids from my program over to the apartment and then to go out. My homestay brother invited a friend over which was nice...its always exciting to meet Argentinians. We all bonded over the music we like and then discussed how the social norms in Buenos Aires differ from those back home. I've noticed here that guys and girls run in very different circles. A girl either goes out with her girl friends or is attached at the hip to her boyfriend. Here there don't seem to be friend groups with girls and guys. The Argentinian guy's explanation of why that is sounded like the dubbed version of a Billy Crystal line in "When Harry Met Sally."

Saturday I actually did some homework and then when over to the asado at Will's apartment. It was a fun night, we all ate, talked, went out, and then at 5 am started watching "Braveheart." Now, that last part may have caught you by surprise...the "Braveheart" bit..well, what happened was that Will and his roommates had been quoting it in Scottish accents all night long and since I had never seen it we finally ended up watching it. I am proud to say I made it to the end of the and walked back with a friend of mine to the subway at 8 am to go home and sleep!

Today was a national holiday, so I didn't have classes. I took advantage of that to sleep in and then go to a vegetarian restaurant. After stuffing myself with tofu I went to the Plaza de Mayo to see the marches. On this day 34 years ago the military took over the government and began the period of the worst oppression in Argentina's history. So today is not a holiday in the sense of celebration, but instead is meant as an opportunity to remember the 30,000 young people who were disappeared by the military. The Plaza de Mayo was packed with tons of different political groups, their banners, and their drums. There were the Peronists, the Communists, the Socialists, and tons of other groups I didn't even recognize. There was so much energy in the Plaza and I felt goosebumps when I heard the chant "30,000 present, now and forever!"

Next week the program travels to the interior of the country to stay in a farming town called Rosario. Apparently the town gets really excited when the program comes...last year the group's arrival made the front page of their local newspaper. I am excited to get some different perspective and to go on some bike rides. After our time in Rosario we are supposed to have a little time to travel, and if I can get my act together, I want to go to a city called Cordoba.

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