wind, waste, and wads of cash.

dark clouds, raindrops, silent streets, crazy drivers, empty busses, headaches, overwhelming tiredness, body aches, cranky people, and SOME cancelled classes. They weren’t lying when they said the Zonda will get you. Friday morning started off like most normal days here in Mendoza. I don’t have class until 6pm on Fridays, so I didn’t set an alarm and instead got up when my body told me to. I had a relaxing cup of coffee, and after about an hour and a half of lounging around, I decided to finish working on my assignment that was due that evening in my Hispano-American Literature class (thank the Lord for Google and its close to life saving abilities, especially as it pertains to this one 300 page novel a week class). So I went outside in the garden in the backyard and soaked up some sun and some good Hispano-American Literature. At about 12:30pm, dark clouds started to roll in and the wind started to pick up. Nothing major, I thought, just a little bit of a cool down after a pretty warm week. Then Susy walked in the door. Right off the bat, she complained of a headache and told me to turn on the news. Hay un viento Zonda, María, no sabés. You don’t even know how bad it is Mariah; the people on the streets are driving like crazy, yelling at each other and acting all disoriented. She was clearly out of her element too and it just got worse as the day went on. Turning on the TV, the top headline on every channel had to do with the fact that the Minister of Education had just cancelled all afternoon classes for K-12 schools around the province. For all I could understand, the University had not called off classes, but I thought I would do some research to figure out for sure. Local online newspapers didn’t mention UNCuyo either. So I pulled out the yellow pages and called my facultad (Filosofía y Letras or FFYL) directly. When no one answered at the FFYL, Susy I suggested calling the main university number, basically suggesting I try calling the president of the school, he/she would be sure to answer and know what the deal was. She also suggested I call all of my friends and see what they had to say. I also was put on the phone with one of her friends who has a son studying Music at UNCuyo, she said for sure school was cancelled. I got different answers from everyone, but decided I needed to find out for myself. After calling 5 different times to FFYL, I finally got an answer. Well, sort of. The man who answered the phone said, “Yes, we will still have classes here in Filosofía y Letras. Whether or not you have class just depends on whether or not your professor shows up.” Great, so I guess I’ll finish my homework and make the trek to Cuyo, just in case (por las dudas, one of my favorite Spanish phrases). Before I went to class, I needed to go and load credit onto my go-phone, load my bus pass, and print out my assignment for class. I went outside and the streets were empty, there was an eerie silence to the city. And it was raining, something it doesn’t do here very often. Everyone was hidden inside, waiting for the Zonda to descend on the city (it was supposed to come down around 4pm). Where was I going? Class. I waited for the bus and when I flagged it down, it was nearly empty. Strange for a Friday evening. I got to school just in time to find out that my professor HAD indeed showed up. Thank goodness I made the trek. I don’t know if this run through of my day helps explain the Zonda phenomenon. In the end, the strong, hot winds never actually descended upon the center of Mendoza. There sure was hype about it though, and it sure did impact my Friday. Can’t imagine what it will be like if the winds actually find the city.

how Americans do trash. It dawned on me the other night as we were cleaning up after dinner to mention to Susy how American’s do trash. First things first, I had to explain to Susy the fact that most rooms; the kitchen, the laundry room, bedrooms and bathrooms, each have their own trash can. Then I had to explain to Susy that we only take the trash out once a week; at least to the curb that is. She said, “Doesn’t it start to smell if you don’t take it out? Doesn’t it get full, especially the trash cans in the kitchen?” “Yes,” I said, “If you don’t take out the trash during the week it will be overflowing and smelly.” But where do you put the trash then?”she asked. Logical question, right? I thought I had a logical answer, but when I suggested that we just take the bag outside and put it in another garbage can, a bigger one inside the garage or on the side of the house, that didn’t sit well with her. “How does that solve anything?” Susy was so confused at this point, I didn’t know if I was going to be able stand up for our weekly trash system not to mention our biweekly recycling system.  I laughed a little bit at the reality of the way we do things and explained as best as I could that these big garbage cans have lids, but yes, sometimes they do smell, and sometimes, they too, overflow. And then we laughed together and I think both of us realized, without having to actually say it, that we will never understand completely they way each other’s countries do trash. Because let me tell you, from a logistics perspective, having a garbage truck come around every day of the week to pick up one small grocery store sized plastic bag from each house in the city just doesn’t seem right to me.

¿No tenés más chiquito? No I’m sorry I don’t have smaller bills to pay for this pack of crackers I just bought. No, I didn’t think it would be a life or death issue for you to break my 10 peso bill. I went to the grocery store the other day on my way to class to try to satisfy my salty craving (wheat crackers were about the saltiest I could find). The total cost? 4 pesos (just around a dollar). I went to the cash register and handed the lady (a cute little Spanish-speaking Chinese lady, might I add,  whose family moved here a couple of years ago, not knowing a word of Spanish, to open a grocery store) a 10 peso bill. She gave me the dirtiest of looks, rolled her eyes, and asked me if I had either two 2 peso bills or a 1 peso coin, so she could either avoid having to give me change, or so she could give me a 5 peso bill and a 2 peso bill, respectively. I understand the whole concept of trying to get your customers to use exact change and not being able to break a 100 peso bill (the equivalent of about 20 dollars), but not being able to give change for a 10 peso bill (US$2.37), especially when there are so many options for change (5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos coins, 1 peso coins, 2 peso bills and 5 peso bills) really kills me. If anything, I’ve learned my lesson; to avoid grunts, gasps, and unhappy store owners, carry smaller bills. LOTS OF THEM.

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