To be completely honest, my arrival into Buenos Aires on Saturday, July 3rd was not exactly as I had expected. I had planned on arriving on that day for one reason, and one reason only. Fútbol.
The sport that many back home in the great state of Montana rarely participate in, is practically a religion here. In fact, there is actually a church named after Diego Armando Maradona, the man who single handedly lead the national team to the 1986 World Cup title, and forever cemented his name into the hearts and souls of every Argentine.
However, on that fateful day of my arrival, Argentina would be facing Germany, who had eliminated the Argentinean national team from the 2006 World Cup, and this day was supposed to be a day of vengeance, passion, and glory, followed by an evening of joyous celebrating. Unfortunately, my wishes of celebrating with every Argentinean in the streets were crushed as I listened in horror in the taxi on the way to my friend’s house. When the ninety minutes had concluded, Argentina was on the wrong end of a 4-0 blowout, and the city was in shock. Few individuals were walking the streets that afternoon, and none seemed too terribly excited about life if they were.
Needless to say, my expectations of my arrival fell dramatically short of what actually happened. BUT, with the help of some delicious empanadas and friends, I was able to make the most of it. And it turns out that Argentineans still have fun when defeated in major sporting events. Much like us Bobcats (sad but mostly true).
I then began my Intensive Spanish course on the following Monday at the Universidad Católica de Argentina (UCA) in beautiful Puerto Madero. It’s located right at the city center, which is located next to the River Plate. It is also a 10 minute walk from the Argentinean version of our White House, the Pink House (casa rosa). There were about 25 of us in the course, about half from the U.S. and the rest from Europe and Canada. The great thing about traveling abroad is that everyone is an unfamiliar environment, and therefore tend to be very open to people just to get a taste of what’s around them. Our group quickly became close, and over the course of the month we spent some quality time and had some great adventures together.
However, one of my best days in July came when my friend, Erica, from Bozeman, invited me to join her and a couple of friends to the city of Luján. I really had no idea what to expect, but trusting my good friend, I went along for the ride.
It turned out to be a great decision.
We ended up going to the gargantuan Luján Cathedral, had some great meat at a restaurant (which was delicious, except for the cow intestines. Their texture was a little too dry and rubbery for me), and went to the famous Luján Zoo. There, we were able to pet and have our pictures taken with lions, tigers, and bears baby tigers. OH MY! It was a truly unique and unforgettable experience. And though I don’t know if I’ll ever find out if the animals were drugged to some extent to avoid attacks, I’m just going to go ahead and think that they were in the natural state of mind, and were terrified to do anything other than let a crazy Montana man pet them. Because I know that’s what they were thinking…