Friday, September 28, 2007

Argentine Dispatch #1

09/26/07 - On the flight from Dallas, Texas to Santiago, Chile.

She looks like so many of the grandmothers I met in Argentina - she´s got the same pallor, the hair dyed dirty-blond but imperfectly hiding its grey roots. She´s a bit round in the torso - too busy for too many years making and eating food with her family. She wears a blouse with a broach at the center of the neckline. It´s less schoolmarmy than it sounds but it is by no mean "hip." Her thick stockings and sensible shoes complete the picture. She comes around the corner of the ATM I´m hiding behind and asks if I speak Spanish (calling it "castellano" as they do in South America).

The flower of shame and fear blooms beneath my skin, as it always does at the question. I don´t blush; I just feal my chest tightening up a little, my brain clumsily revving up to prepare itself for the onslaught of strange words and continuous verb conjugation.

There aren´t many people around, so I say that yes, I do speak castellano, and I offer to help when she asks me if I know how to use the pay phones on the other side of the ATM machine. I don´t, of course, because like the rest of the USA it seems, I use my cell phone instead. I can read the instructions, such as they are, It might be enough.

She´s obviously flustered so she starts putting her bags down anywhere, and one of them falls over. I pick it up and (correctly) announce that I´m placing it near the phone. She says, "you speak castellano well." I´m embarrassed again - this time that I undersold myself and she might think that I didn´t want to help at all. Sometimes my inner life is so distruptive that I can´t believe I keep it up so obsessively.

She has no change so she gives me a dollar and we talk while I dig out quarters from my luggage. She´s calling her daughter who lives in LA. She´s on her way home to Chile from a visit with her. Where am I going? Córdoba, I announce and by now she´s caught my accented (if broken) Spanish, and she asks if I´m Argentine. I tell her about behing born there (the verb conjugation tripping me up again so that I must have said she was born there before I corrected myself and made it my birth under discussion). The quarters go into the phone. I dial as she rattles off the number, a bad idea I discover since I tend to confuse my 15's and 500's. We dial a couple more times and only once make a connection, but though it turns out to be wrong, we lose our dollar anyway.

I lose patience and pull out my cell phone. We make the call and she leaves her daughter a message, unsure that it'll work but happy to have made an attempt. I wonder how long ago I used a public phone. I´m glad I have my cell so I can help this woman who keeps sweetly asking my about my life. After we lament her daughter being out, she says she was so glad to meet me twice at least. She thanks me profusely. It takes the edge of my communication anxiety. Even if we had to resort to body language at this pount, we would have understood each other. Bebe (a nickname, her given name is Elisa, she tells me) gives me her address and says I´m welcome at her home, should I ever find myself in Chile. Maybe butchering the language every time I open my mouth isn´t such a crime. Kindness has fewer language barriers than I previously thought.

She bids my goodbye and I misunderstand something about the flight so I think that´s it for us. I end up sitting one row behind her and one seat to the right. I don´t notice until I come back from a bathroom visit in the middle of the night. She smiles and takes my hand as we greet each other, old friends now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We interrupt your itinerary to bring you a delay caused by terrifying backwardness.


We leave tomorrow on the same schedule which we were supposed to follow today. We were boarding when the word came down on this, despite the problem having occurred about 2 hours before that AND despite our four-hour layover in Dallas. Our backup flight was coming from Dallas so we didn't have a prayer of landing in time for our first international leg.

It's scary to think there are no redundant systems in place for this sort of problem. Apparently all this squawking about updating Air Traffic Control and bringing it out of the 70s is actually kind of accurate.

Good night, friends. And I hope this time I'm really leaving.

Go time!

That blessed, terrifying, exciting, sweet-awesome, anxiety-inducing, long-awaited day is finally upon us. WE'RE GOING TO ARGENTINA.

I'm still unsure of the internet reliability factor. Apparently, a lot of the peeps we're staying with will have broadband, but only when their phones work. My grandparents (who live outside town a ways) have had half days of service for a while now. Uncool. I may post. I may not. I'm as capricious as a zephyr!

And with that little gem, you'll have to excuse me. I have some last-minute panicking to do. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Picture Day

I've got to leave to my friend's wedding tomorrow, so you get some random stuff today. Weeeee! Also, my kitties left to be with their "grandparents" (Hubster's family) while we do our weddings and international galavantings, so I'm a little low.

OH, kittens! I miss you already!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blah Blah Trip Blah Blah

I shouldn't have posted all those pictures at once. Not smooth. I mean, 79 images in one day? I could have gotten three solid days out of that. At least. Oh blessed content, I misappropriated you! Argh!

It's nearly go time for some important trips, so that's weighing on the old noodle. We leave for Cincinnati and K's wedding in three days and in a week, we'll be zipping up our bags, forgetting our toothbrushes, and praying our luggage arrives with us in South America, baby! WOOOO! Also, AAAAAH!

Today, for instance, I remembered to put in our request for the post office to hold our mail. I also bought German baking chocolate and marshmallows for my grandmother. Apparently, both are rather scarce in their area. I've also bought gifts for the people we know we're staying with, and general gifts for anyone else we're staying with but don't know that well. We also armed ourselves with those mini toilet paper rolls that fit in your purse - apparently their restrooms aren't replenished as often as they should be. To be honest, no matter how much planning I do, there's always a sense that I can't quite put my arms around this trip. I can't see it in my mind's eye, so how am I supposed to be prepared for every little thing?

I realized the other day that my working knowledge of Argentine fashion was seven years out of date. It was time to take action. I called my aunt, an Argentine citizen who married my American uncle and lives with him and their two children in Kansas. They each work for universities, helping with their language and exchange programs and teaching classes. They spent the first part of the year on a six-month sabbatical there. If anyone could get the skinny on what those crazy kids are wearing, it'd be her. I was glad to see that, while fads came and went like they do here, "chic and tight" were still the cornerstones of the moda nacional. In related news, I tried on and purchased some skinny jeans month ago when it was too hot to wear them. Boy, will they come in handy, no?

Aside from that, and trying to ascertain the weather for each of the regions we intend to visit (answer: 40-80ºF - packing's gonna be fuuuuun!), I've been enjoy having my husband back a bit more. Our respective busy times are past, and we can do things like egg each other on to exercise and later eat a bowl of ice cream so one of us doesn't feel bad. Ah, love.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Oregon Vacation Pic-tacular!

So I finally uploaded my vacation pictures to flickr. You may now enjoy them below.

Friday, September 14, 2007

500th Post - La Dee Frickin' Da

Since I last posted I have:

Turned 25, Hit the Quarter Century Mark, Officially Lived One-Third to One-Quarter of My Allotted Time on this Planet, whatever you want to call it. When asked my age, I'm now supposed to say "25."

Bought $800+ worth of domestic flights in Argentina. It was supposed to be cheaper, but no one in my family (least of all myself) can find my national ID papers which would have saved me about $200 on their national airline. That's $200 less shoes, belts, and assorted leather goods I can now reasonably purchase. Curses, foiled again. Also, major documents are missing. I should probably have mentioned that first because it's supposed to be important, but SHOES, people - LESS SHOES. OH, THE HUMANITY!

Endeavored, with a near-perfect rate of failure to acquire undergarments for the bridesmaid dress I'm wearing next weekend. I probably hit 20 stores, and as many online retailers trying to find a low-back, strapless bustier that wouldn't show up under the satin gown and would hold me in place so as not to flash the congregation. I have tried on dozens, googled as many, bought and later returned two items, and I already possessed two from other bridesmaid events. I'm not sure how I even had to buy another, but there it is - I've agonized and endured entirely too much in the search. If I had not randomly seen the store's marquee on a TV commercial for the new shopping center in which it can be found, I would never have had Bra-la-la to thank for finally, FINALLY solving my problem. It would have cost me $70, but the owner misquoted the price as lower, felt bad about it, and then gave me 15% off just because. Victory is sweet, let me tell you. I can finally stop making allusions to Hercules Labors and receiving blank stares from store clerks because apparently, not everyone took Latin in high school and memorized Greek mythology for several years' worth of exams. Nor did everyone take up dating a mythology junkie just as soon as I got rid of the classes in college. Hubster and I have named our cats after Greek and Norse mythological gods; IT'S NOT LIKE I CAN ESCAPE WHENEVER I WANT TO.

Seen Hubster's family's new home and painted one of their closets. Also, I went here and bought and ate lots of chocolate. Not all at once, mind you, but almost.

NOT posted. Not at all, not even a little. It's an achievement.

Noted that this post is the 500th post I've written. I think there are a few I haven't posted that contribute to the number, but not many. I'm big into milestones so I notice these things. And then blab about them.

Left you to fend for yourselves. I've got work to do. Ta-ta!