h is for…

heladera. 

this is what i came home to last night… actually this morning. the fridge open. almost all of the food out, save for a few odds and ends. for what you ask? to get rid of that giant piece of ice that had formed along the back wall. makes sense, right? well yes i guess it was necessary, but the entire kitchen floor was also flooded with water. and good thing it was light out when i got home or otherwise i might have slipped and broke an arm. i don’t know if there would be a better way to do unfreeze the refrigerator, but being that its my last week here, i’m finding myself incredibly fed up with all of susy’s little antics. there is very little food in the house (we haven’t had ANY fruit or vegetables in a good 4 days) and today she said she doesn’t want to go to the store because its too hot. so instead, she’s sitting outside in the blistering sun in her bikini.

g is for…

gracias. 

gracias to my wonderful parents and family members who have ALWAYS been there for me, who have cheered me on during my life’s highs and picked me up during it’s lows. i really wouldn’t be half the person i am today if it weren’t for each and everyone of you. and although today we’re 5,500 miles apart i’m thinking of all of your today. we have our going away dinner tonight with all of the students and staff of IFSA. they are bringing in turkey to honor thanksgiving. regardless, dad, i’m putting you in charge of having seconds (no wait, probably thirds) to take care of my portion. remember, i like olives, cranberry sauce, lots of stuffing, and cheesy potatoes. and don’t forget the apple pie.

gracias to my friends. near friends, far friends, old friends, new friends, best friends and even just acquaintances, thank you. wherever you are in the world, i am thankful for you today. thank you for challenging me to become a better person. thank you for all of the laughs, all of the tears (both happy and sad), and all of the wonderful conversations that make getting out of bed each morning so much easier.

gracias to susy, my CRAZY host mom who has taught me so much over these past four months. thank you for correcting my articles and my improper use of the subjunctive. thank you for laughing when i want to cry. thank you for the countless good meals you have provided and even the few meals i didn’t really enjoy but stomached anyway. thank you for taking me in and making me a part of your family and of your life. i will never forget these four months on emilio jofre.

gracias to the country of argentina. your landscapes, breathtaing. your people, incredibly warm and welcoming. your food, fattening but delicious (minus the glandulas and morcilla). and your climate, always sunny and dry.

gracias to my (terrible) improv professor. thanks to your class, i have met some absolutely wonderful people. i have spent the past four months putting myself out there. yes, i’ve made a few mistakes (okay more like a million), but i have learned. i will never forget that corazón is a masculine word. and i have had my argentine theater debut and i hate to admit, i actually enjoyed it. also, thanks to you, i WILL, after all be able to spend a week travelling uruguay. 

gracias to whoever is out there controlling the universe for somehow always managing to work things out. you never fail.

happy thanksgiving!

menos sol, más vino.

they say mendoza is the tierra del sol y buen vino, the land of sun and good wine. although the moments of sunshine were few and far between this week, mendoza definitely still delivered on the good wine part of its namesake. i have yet to figure out where the sun went the one week of the year my parents decided to come to town. but it could have been a lot worse. it could have been much worse. less sun than usual? no problems here, we made up for the lack of rays with an abundance of malbec.

keeping with the alphabet theme. here goes nothing. e is for…

emociones. yes, for you non-spanish speakers, it’s what we like to call a cognate. a word that sounds similar in both languages. emotions. what a rollercoaster of a week it has been in terms of these bad boys. here’s how i’ve been feeling lately. i apologize ahead of time for the assured sappiness of this entry. remember, rollercoaster.

monday 11.14ansiosa [anxious] knowing that my parents were to be arriving the next afternoon, i spent all day monday nervous about the week that i had planned for them. would they like what i had planned? am i missing anything? how can i be the best host to the two people who have raised me for the past 2o years. will they like it here? its supposed to rain all week, i sure hope to god it doesn’t. didn’t sleep well monday night and woke up at 8am tuesday morning thankful the night was over and my parents were actually on their way.

tuesday 11.15alegre [joyful]. my parents arrived tuesday afternoon. susy and i went together to pick them up from the airport.  yes, skype works wonders. there is nothing better, though, than a familiar hug from your parents.

wednesday 11.16dudosa [doubtful]. clouds, wind, rain. lousy weather. the forecast looks like this for the rest of the week. a majority of the plans i had made involved the outdoors. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? type a personality syndrome really killed my spirits this day. we also spent a few morning hours and a few post siesta hours walking along las heras looking for the ‘perfect’ mate (mah-tay, not meight) for my parents. didn’t think we were ever going to find it. 7 hours later, we did.

thursday 11.17energizada [energized] kayaking in the tranquil lake in portrerillos and ziplining in the pre-cordilleras of the andes? crossing the river UPSIDE down on the last zipline? WONDERFUL. i think we all felt like we could take on the world.

friday 11.18entretenida [entertained]. friday morning we got up and headed to maipú to do a biking tour of the camino de vinos. a set of at least a few dozen vineyards and wineries, mapiú is famous for its bike and wine tours. we rented bikes from mr. hugo, a large friendly man who has established himself among the tourist crowd. we set out by about 10.30am and by 6pm had made it to about a half a dozen of these bodegas. a couple of tours, a few wine tastings, a wonderful lunch among the vines, and a good 20 or so kilometers on bicycle, we had an entertaining day to say the least. we met a bunch of interesting people from all around the world, tried some wonderful wines, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the argentine vineyards.

saturday 11.19agradecida [thankful]. saturday afternoon we rented a car and headed about an hour and a half south to luján de cuyo, a department within the province of mendoza. i booked my parents and i a night at a posada (cabin like getaway) at the beautiful bodega salentein. it was so nice to get away from the hustle of the city, the craziness of my host-family’s house, and be able to fully relax. saturday evening we were able to go on a horseback ride at sunset through the vineyards and a walnut farm. later that night, we were served a delicious four course meal that had been paired with a few of the bodega’s own wines. i walked around our place in a robe, slept like a princess in a comfortable bed, and woke up more relaxed and more content that i’ve felt in the past four months. the next morning we got up, had a wonderful breakfast again in the posada’s restaurant with a view of a beautiful part of the vineyard, and then headed back down to the main part of the bodega for a tour of the actual production part of the vineyard. what a wonderful experience.

*also saturday, i realized how incredibly thankful i am for the (somewhat) sane parents i have. my parents, susy and i went to the grocery store on saturday morning to pick up a few things for the asado (barbecue) we were planning on having for my parents sunday afternoon. susy was running around the store, leaving her cart here and there, picking up items, losing her cart, asking me to help her find it, and asking the store clerks to comply with her impossibly requests. after we had finished our shopping, i found susy and asked her if she was ready to check out. she said yes. we got in line. she put her cart in line and went back into the store to pick up a few more things. the closer her unoccupied cart got to the front of the line, the more nervous i got. i knew that if she didn’t make it back in time and if someone would have moved her cart off to the side, she would have made a big deal about it. couldn’t wait to prove to my parents the fact that i have been living with a crazy for the past few months. well, i was right. she didn’t get back before her cart got to the front of the line. and she made a big deal about it when she did get back. my parents and i had a good laugh about that one from a couple of aisles away.

sunday 11.20abrumada y frustrada [overwhelmed and frustrated]. sunday was an incredibly overwhelming day. during our tour at salentein it started pouring. the beginning of our drive home was the same way. we got home around two in the afternoon and i was overwhelming happy to see that susy had almost everything ready for the asado. the table was set, the meat was just about done cooking, her homemade empanadas smelt wonderful and looked perfect. all that was missing was my friends, my parents, and a couple of susy’s friends. everyone arrived around 2.30 and we started serving the meat – blood sausage, ribs, some sort of gland, and any other part of a cow you could possibly think of. nothing like exposing your parents to the local culture than through a little gastronomic adventure. it was so good for my parents to meet my friends, a couple of susy’s friends, and get a little glimpse into the things i’ve come to love about argentine culture. the frustration didn’t set in until susy’s friend insisted on taking us on a drive into the mountains. having not done anything all week, i actually needed to sit down and prep for an oral presentation, and just relax a little after a jam-packed week. my parents, too, wanted to get back to their hotel, pack up their stuff, and just relax a little bit as well. after what turned into an hour and a half journey around town into the foothills of the andes, and an insistent invitation for tea, what would have been another 2 hour commitment, at least, i was more than frustrated with susy’s persistence. the tears, of course, started streaming. so, with my parents who were just as frustrated, i hid in my room, trying to avoid having to explain through my tears why we didn’t want to sit down for afternoon tea. its nothing personal, susy, i promise, it’s just we’ve been here since 2pm, it’s now 9pm and we’ve had enough. ugh.

monday 11.21 triste [sad]. i would have loved it if my parents could have stayed just a few more days. there is so much to see and do in this wonderful country, we could have traveled around for months. and even though our time together was short, it sure was nice though to have them in town, to be able to have adult conversations in my own language over numerous bottles of wine, and to be able to share with them the life i’ve been living in mendoza this semester. just a few more finals, a trip to uruguay and some time in buenos aires and before i know it, i’ll be home in mn, curled up on the couch under a blanket, packing up my room to move into my new house, and preparing for the first day of the winter quarter back in denver. i’m torn. HOME sounds wonderful.  however, this experience has been the best 5 months of my life. even just in these past couple weeks, i’ve re-encountered my love for this city, this country and its people MULTIPLE times. i don’t know how i’m going to live without it. 

d is for…

diario uno. i learned a very interesting fact in my social control and violence class this week that really left me thinking. diario uno, one of mendoza’s five news sources , in comparison to the rest of the news sources in mendoza presents the highest number of stories regarding the insecurity and lack of safety in this country. what that means, for example, is that they publish, more than any of the other news sources, stories about robbery, burglary, murder, etc.

what is incredibly interesting about this fact is that the owners of diario uno are also the owners of at least one private, gated and guarded neighborhoods in town. they are also the owners of a private security company that provides home of neighboorhood vigilance.

interesting, no? tell people A LOT about the insecurity of this town (which is, by the way, a lot more secure that any local will ever tell you), get them to, in response to fear, purchase a home in a private neighborhood or hire private vigilance for their protection. sounds like one big business cycle scam if you ask me.

c is for…

la cocina. the kitchen. EVERYTHING happens in the kitchen. be prepared; if you’re planning on visiting our house at any point (or even if you’re not) and you have extreme (okay even slight) sanitation issues, do not continue reading. but if you are slightly intrigued, please continue reading. what really takes place in our cocina.

1. greetings. the most hygenic thing that takes place in the kitchen, without a doubt. i’m slowly warming you up. as friends and family enter through the side door of the house into the kitchen to avoid opening the front door (which, according to susy, lets people see too much of the inside of our house) plenty of greetings take place in our kitchen. morning greetings also take place here; depending on who wakes up first, one of us is normally making coffee, toasting some extremely white bread, and heating up milk. then we have our normal morning conversation which covers how we slept, if we had any dreams, and what are our schedules for the day. If neither of us are in a rush, we set the table and have a longer conversation in the dining room. i highly prefer the shorter morning conversations in the kitchen.

2. cooking. okay, so what. everyone cooks in the kitchen. however, i could go on forever about all of the differences between my american kitchen and my argentine one. i’ll do my best to keep it short. first of all, plastic bags and tupperware don’t really exist here. well, tupperware does, but it’s never used. when we have leftovers, we leave them on a plate, uncovered until we eat it for leftovers the next day..or the next week. we also leave raw meat uncovered in the fridge. we buy unrefrigerated eggs and then take them out of the carton, completely ignoring the fact that on that carton is an expiration date, and place them in the refrigerator door. we don’t use butter, but instead excessive amounts of oil, it never hurts to add a little oil. we don’t add salt to anything. (because susy has high blood pressure.. BUT, if her blood pressure is low, we dump it on nothing like letting you’re body regulate naturally, eh?) we don’t use very many spices; pepper and maybe some garlic powder. we use half of a tomato, half of a pepper, or eat half of a head of lettuce and then we put the rest of it on the shelf until we eat it or it goes bad. if it goes bad we have a whine fest about how we need to eat the vegetables quicker. same story goes for the fruit. and the only way we like to eat fruit is if its cut up in small little pieces and drenched in lemon juice. we also have mayonnaise, lots of it. and it comes in bags. oh the best thing about all of this kitchen stuff? we have ants everywhere. and susy refuses to call an exterminator. my favorite ANTecdote? when we found ants ALL over the medialunas. and i’m not kidding when i say ALL over.  sad thing is, we had already taken precautionary measures with these medialunas by wrapping them in saran wrap and hiding them in the microwave. there was no way we were going to throw away 6 medialunas, so what did we do? we turned on the toaster and burnt the away. and of course, susy insisted we still eat them. just pick out the fried ants, she said. definitely one of those moments where you just close your eyes, smile, and thank god for the extra protein.

3. dishes. i do dishes most of the time around here (i know mom, you’re probably dropping you’re jaw. i know you don’t believe me, but its true). and it’s not because i particularly enjoy doing the dishes. i do, however, enjoy clean dishes. and the dishes don’t get clean when susy does them. yesterday we had a carrot salad for lunch. we used the cheese grater to grate the carrots. when we were done, susy quickly ran said cheese grater under the water. no soap, no sponge, nada. lots of carrot remains remained. trying to be as subtle as possible, i took the cheese grater from the sink and washed it again, just imagining what . this has happened more than once. to my roomates next year; i’m now a pro at dishes, just your luck.

4. laundry. yes the washer is in the kitchen. strange, but weirdly appropriate. we also sometimes wash clothes in the kitchen sink if, for example, we have one or two little things that don’t merit a full load of laundry. nothing like a multi-use entity, huh? oh it gets better.

5. hair washing. i can’t even believe this one. but its the truth. susy washes her hair in the kitchen sink. the same kitchen sink that she fills up to wash the lettuce and the strawberries.  she doesn’t wash her hair often, but when she does, she does it in the kitchen. that also reminds me of the time one of her friends and her friends daughter came over and basically set up a hair salon in the kitchen. they washed the dye out in the kitchen sink and left loose hairs all over the counter. lunch was really hard to stomach that day. its things like this i just wish sometimes i didn’t have to even witness.

6. feeding the dog. last but not least. we’re not the only beings of this household to use the kitchen. topito also eats and drinks in the kitchen. along with the massive amount of dog food that he consumes on a daily basis, he also eats our leftovers. his favorite is chicken. he is also a fan of cheese skins, bread, crackers, and pork. he’s also never recieved a bath (i’m pretty sure), spends most of his day laying around the house or the backyard, and frequently gets let out into the street to be able to walk around and play a little bit. not the cleanest canine i’ve ever met.

don’t believe me? i wouldn’t either if i wasn’t living here.

but hey, i haven’t died yet.

b is for…

baño. i know what you’re thinking. every country has bathrooms, mariah. why would you write a blog post about the ones in argentina? well, first things first, travelling the world and scouting out local bathrooms might teach you more than you think. *insert anecdote of my first experience with japanese hole in the ground bathrooms at the ripe age of 13, incredibly exhausted after my first transoceanic flight.* here’s what i love to hate about argentine bathrooms:

1. no toilet paper. bring your own roll, a pack of tissues or yes, i’m going to say it, shake dry. don’t go anywhere expecting them to provide you with papel higiénico. even some nicer reatuarants won’t provide proper cleaning supplies, shall we say.

2. no soap. quickly here you learn to always carry hand sanitizer. or just scrub really hard with the freezing cold water. yeah, bring the hand sanitizer.

3. mens and womens bathrooms all in one. i’ve been in a couple bars/boliches that have one bathroom for everyone. privacy clearly not an issue in this country.

4. bidets. yes, bidets,  like a classy hotel in italy might have. they’re here too. haven’t exactly spent my time figuring how to use it, but its there. the bidets were definitely on the list of things to be careful with that our director shared with us during our first couple days in buenos aires. hense my apprehension.