Orientation is a little crazy--it's not easy to orient 147 teenagers in a city of 13 million. My first failed attempt in orientation was trying to figure out the bus system. Buenos Aires doesn't have one government-owned bus system owned by the government. You get around by collectivos which are busses owned independently by different companies. They give you a little 100 page book called the Guia T (I've already lost mine, so I'm clearly off to a great start). It's got pictures of the city broken up into 30 different little maps and then page after page of bus routes, but it doesn't tell you where on each street the busses stop, you just have to guess. I've given up on the bus system. I'm sticking to the one bus I know (the 152), the subway and cabs (so insanely cheap here--I love it).
My apartment is located in Palmero SoHo, the best neighborhood in town (okay, well I guess I might be a little biased). Located about 30 minutes on bus from the city's most important street (and the widest street in the world) 9 de julio, Palermo SoHo is quite centrally locate. The neighborhood Palermo is the largest in the city and has been broken down into a number of smaller neighborhoods like Palermo SoHo, Palermo Hollywood, Palmero Queens, Palermo Chico, Palermo Botanico....each one has a personality of it's own. Palermo SoHo has all of the chic restaurants, bars and stores. It really is the ideal place to live. I went to lunch at the most adorable little restaurant today that was so Palermo SoHo called El Ultimo Beso. It was in an old house it had a beautiful tile floor and was decorated with tons and tons of little french nick backs. Each menu was decorated differently in paper mache and had quotes about love (mine had one from Gone with the Wind) and vintage pictures of couples kissing. I went to the bathroom which still had a tub in it from back when the building was a home. The tub was full with water and had roses floating it it--so adorable!
Oh, my host family. I have a host mom Maria Ines who is 41 and she has two kids Catalina (17) and Manu (13), but I haven't met them yet because they are in vacation in Punto del Este, Uruguay. I have, however, met Maria Ines' boy friend and his son who come over for dinner frequently. They are all perfectly nice, but it's had to live with a new family after my Spanish host mom Gema. Gema was just the best there's no other way to but it. She always referred to me as "mi hija americana" (my american daughter), and the two of us talked for hours on end. She'd wait up for me to come home from dinner/clubs every night and then the two of us would cuddle on her big white couch and talk for hours. I couldn't ask for a better host mother in Spain, and as a result I was a little nervous about having a new host family here in Argentina just because Gema set the bar so high.
Maria Ines is perfectly nice, but she's young, she works a lot and has a lot going on in her life. Host students just aren't her priority. It's only been five days, so I'm keeping an open mind, but I feel a lot more like a border than a part of the family. I'm not the only foreigner living here--Maria Ines also rents out a second room that has two bedrooms, so there are usually one or two other people living here as well. Right now there's only one--Pamela who is a student at the University of Kentucky. She's here for the summer working at and NGO. I love Pam. She's so awesome and has taken me out to a number of the hot spots in the neighborhood. She's really helped me feel at home here. I'm just a little worried for when Pam leaves and someone else moves it.
I'm not really in love with my host family, but I am most definitely in love with the neighborhood Palermo, and I definitely realize that I need to chill out and let everything settle down. These are just my initial reactions :)
Okay, well that's a good start on my new life here in BA. There's so much more to say, but there'll be plenty of time for that....