Homeless, in Argentina.
I was really sick this day on top of all of it, and thankfully I am usually in a tranquil state of mind when I get sick, I tend to be apathetic and get-to-the-point. Therefore, I was able to think straight and come up with an immediate plan: Go to my friend Augustina's house which was, luckily, just one block away. I stayed with her for the weekend, and moved into Gecko Hostel, which also was, luckily, just 2 blocks from where I was living.
So, honestly this is not going to be a nutshell story, because it deserves much more respect than that. At this point in my life I was still confused, shocked that I was actually homeless in a foreign country, and that week my classes were going to start. I paid for a bed in the biggest room, the cheapest available, which had 12 beds, 6 sets of bunkbeds. I settled my stuff and chose a top bunk, because it seemed to be the only one available. This guy walked in the room and said hello to me. I didn't exactly respond due to my bad mood and horrible situation, but we later became good friends, as well as a bunch of other Colombians...
Easter with the Colombians
And so begins the Saga with the Colombians. After a few miserable, sleepless nights at the hostel, the faces started becoming more familiar, and we all started talking. The guy in the purple hat and star shirt, Schiller, was that first guy that said hello to me, he was in the bottom bunk of the bed I chose. Through him I met Diego, the guy in the white shirt next to me, Erick (in front with long hair), Andres (white shirt guy on left), César (nickname Lentejas ["lentils" in Spanish], in the argyle sweatshirt and Irish hat in the back), Susana (my 'cousin', she's from Colombia but we look related so they called us cousins, the girl in white in the back), and eventually Nico (crazy guy in front), and Vanessa (the girl next to him), and last but not least, Wilson (the guy next to me on the couch). The one I don't know the name of (but has always welcomed me in the hostel) is the guy with a dark V-neck shirt in front of Lentejas. They are all suck good people, and always so happy. I feel like suck a downer because they're always happy and dancing and just enjoying life. I don't think I've ever seen anything like them... in Alaska it's not quite so festive, there is party time, and there is the rest of the time. But for them... all the time seems to be party time. But that doesn't mean they don't take care of their responsibilities. Most of them are working and saving to go to school, or already going to school. After I moved out they moved out two days after me, and they had a house-warming/Easter party at their place, in their beautiful modern apartment. This was the best Easter I've ever had, I was the only non-colombian there, and I felt like I was just one of them... I wasn't singled out or anything, and it seems that the Argentines do a lot of that... singling out the foreigners.
Map of Neighborhoods in Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina
So I stayed at the hostel longer than anticipated, a good 2 weeks, because I couldn't find a place that I wanted to move in to.. I visited probably 7 apartments before I finally decided on the 3rd one that I saw, (I used to live in Palermo, look at the map for reference...) I moved to the one in the neighborhood Almagro, which has the Abasto shopping mall.... which...
...houses the ONLY Kosher McDonalds (outside of Israel) IN THE WORLD
I still have not eaten there, although I have plans to... Of course this is not the reason why I chose this location (I, in fact, told the owner (Guido) that I could not live there initially because it was just too far away from my university in Belgrano). However, upon further consideration, Guido welcomed me with open arms and made it clear that he just wanted to make sure his tenants were comfortable in the apartment. This is very important.. especially after what I had recently experienced. I called up Guido again to see if he still had an available room, and showed me a room that was even better than the original that he had showed me: Upstairs, away from the other 4 rooms and kitchen, with my own bathroom and lock on the door... Sound familiar? I lucked out and got another princess tower! I said definitely, but didn't have the money on me at the moment to pay him... and when I asked him if there was any way I could secure the room for myself, he handed me the keys and said 'I Trust You Jenny, we've met before. You will pay me when you can, move in whenever you want, here are my phone numbers if you have any questions'. In Spanish. Can you say, ANGEL SENT FROM THE GODS? He trusted me and welcomed me to the apartment with no questions asked. A few days later my friend Sam helped me move in, with my ungodly amounts of stuff (plus a few things I had been watching for some friends...). I had one more night in the hostel since I thought I had already paid for it... but it turned out that I hadn't, but my friend Ron was nice enough to insist on paying since that night I got robbed and had no money...
Oh ya, did I mention I got robbed?
Nothing important got stolen... my cell phone, my overnight backpack (which had my perfume... sad day) and, oh yeah, MONEY! The weirdest thing is though... we looked everywhere for it, because I had also left things that I was keeping for my friends, hoping they would receive my message and come pick them up... but get this. My last night at the hostel they got stolen. A week later, around Easter Sunday, it all got returned, of course the food got eaten and they used my credit in my phone, and kept the money, but I got most of it back! How bizzarre, they said they just 'found it under the bed' in my old room. Schiller and I looked everywhere for it, under beds, in between sheets, in all the other rooms, there is no way that it was just 'lying under a bed' the whole time. Nevertheless, I thank the strange thief who returned my stuff, because now I can enjoy my Ralph Rocks perfume and my cell phone once again =)
Besides all this... well let me describe my new home for a bit. I live with 4 other people: Yogev from Israel, Katya from Russia, Paula from Colombia, and (as of yesterday) Santiago from Mendoza, Argentina. I finally live with an Argentine! And he's so nice so far, very smiley. He is getting a personal fitness certificate (he is built... goodness), and is studying Theatre. Yogev is studying Medicine, and Katya I don't remember... Paula, don't remember either. Of course you know I am studying Spanish itself, and as of recently I decided I am going into the area of translating... so I have a big road ahead of me. I'm already reading in Spanish on my own, which is an excellent way to really get to know a language in a written context and a coloquial context (through dialogues that characters have).
Celebrating Kelly's 21st Birthday in my new apartment!
(Kelly, Jenny B, me, Sam)
(Kelly, Jenny B, me, Sam)
So much has happened in such little time... lived in a hostel while starting my studies, met a bunch of Colombians, as well as another group of API students (from my study abroad program), moved in with an amazing group of diverse people and got to welcome my best friend from last semester back to the city, KELLY! She is living my dream... she went home after last semester, took a bunch of classes, graduated, and came back to Buenos Aires to live and work. She is truly an inspiration to me, if she can do it I can do it too.
Yeah, it's easy to say after the hard part's over that it 'wasnt that bad'... but we all know that... it was pretty bad. I got put on the street, robbed, juggled my belongings between 3 friend's apartments, and lost a whole month's rent to the whole ordeal... BUT you know what? I wouldn't trade any of this craziness for anything. Leaving that house opened up a whole new chapter in my life, I never would have learned so much about Colombia if I hadn't gone to Gecko, and I now know that I can truly trust myself and take care of myself in tough situations. If this had happened in Alaska I would have been freaking out. If this had happened any earlier in my stay in Argentina it would have been the same, but I've grown a lot. I don't want to get all Boy Meets World and mushy, but I am really proud of myself. Despite the blunders and obstacles, I made it. No one else in my program has these experiences, dude, not to mention the true immersion in the language I put myself through. My roommates and I speak nothing but Spanish, I have 2 classes with Argentines, we speak Spanish. Reminding that all of my classes are taught in Spanish. I love that I'm getting a cultural experience as well as a linguistic one. This is definitely not just study abroad... you can't buy the things that I've learned from the experiences I've had.
And with that, I end my explanation for my disappearance for a month, and can now commence, in my next entries..., with the tales of my travels to Mendoza and Bariloche.