Yes, the World Cup has begun. Of the nearly 48 games played thus far, I’ve probably seen about 42 of them. Seriously. They fill in some of my free afternoons quite nicely. Things aren’t too crazy here yet, futbol-wise… but we’re only in the first round. Argentina is going on (after 2 less than quality games) so we’ll have to see. During each Argentina game, however, the city does basically shut down. Nobody works (who doesn’t absolutely have to), there are no taxis, shops close, etc… The first Argentina game (vs. Bosnia) a friend from soccer invited me to her friend’s house. It was the ideal set-up. Lots of food, drink, and… A PROJECTOR with surround sound. Certainly beats the tiny monitor we have in our apartment.
My Fulbright teaching job is going…well, it’s going. Still hopping around to different schools every week (some in very, very far places). The other day I showed up to a school that I’d never been to, and the teacher who had communicated with me stayed home sick (but didn’t let me know). Turns out that instead of 50 students attending my ‘chat’, they brought in 120 STUDENTS. IT WAS A NIGHTMARE. I had to scream for them to hear me in the back and they weren’t even paying attention in the front. I was not a happy camper.
I did visit a school in Parque Avellaneda a couple of weeks ago. Soooo far awayyyy.. and in order to get there for a 7:45 am class I had to leave at 6:15 am. It doesn’t get light out here until basically 8, therefore I don’t believe in working before 8. Anyway, after a class I gave one day they had a school-wide assembly for a speaker who turned out to be Che [Guevara]’s younger brother. I stayed for the beginning because… well, because, but then I left because I was starving and the talk was less than interesting. He’s the guy in the middle with the giant mustache.
My volunteer work in Villa 21 is more satisfying as I see the same kids every week and some of them are starting to looove me. The older girls… not so much. But the second half of the morning (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) I work with the “chiquitos” (ages 6-9) and I work with the ‘red’ group (we had to separate the kids because otherwise it was utter chaos. Not that it’s not still chaos). The kids in my group were basically the first kids to actually learn my name and care that I had one. But, because Kimby is a little strange for them, one day they started calling me… Kiwi. And the other volunteer in our group, Margherita, they started calling… Mandarina. So we’re basically fruit teachers. And I love it. They gave me an endearing name and I’m gonna run with it. My group is full of characters, and sometime in the future I’ll accompany this with photos of each one, but right now if I took out my camera or phone in the middle of a lesson they would go absolutely [more] insane. But, more or less, there’s:
- Rodrigo - I think he’s 7. He has a cool wheely backpack designed/shaped like the car from the movie ‘Cars’. I think he’s the one who named me Kiwi. He has way too much energy and likes to jump around and fight with the boys during recess, and almost always comes to class crying or in pain because someone kicked someone, yada yada yada. He’s actually not supposed to be in our group (he’s a little too young) but he wouldn’t have it any other way. After we volunteer most days he and his brother walk with us (we go towards the bus stop, they live nearby) and he holds my hand. Oh yeah, sometimes he eats his eraser and pencil while we work together. Then he denies it.
- Andrés - Rodrigo’s older brother, he’s probably 8. He gets just as physical as Rodrigo, and is bigger, so that’s not a good combination. He greets and kisses me everyday and today I caught him winking at me while they were eating breakfast. He’s told all the older boys to call me Kiwi.
- Isa - Isa is very sweet and normally jumps on me when I first get into the class and makes me carry her to her desk. She’s also super intelligent — she knows the answer to everything. However, only if you are working one-on-one with her, otherwise she gets very.. very distracted. She’ll sit there with a blank sheet of paper until you ask her the question aloud, even though she knows how to read. Sometimes she fights with the boys.
- Hugo - Looks like a bulldog. And is always angry. And it’s hard not to laugh because his face is so hilariously adorable when it’s scrunched up. Today he was wearing an Angry Birds shirt and it was almost too much for me to handle. He’s really good at math, but is only really willing to work for about 20 minutes and then he likes to play with some Pokemon-ish cards. Everything makes him mad.
- Nicole - The sweetest girl you’ve ever seen that does her work obediently when 40 other kids are screaming and running around. She doesn’t always know the answer but she works so hard that she eventually gets it. Everyone was jumping off the walls at the end of the day today and I just looked over at her… and she was practicing her cursive. I gave her a big hug and told her that she was the best-behaved kid in the whole class. Because sometimes I’m distracted by the loud, disruptive ones when really I should be praising her.
- Sometimes Carlos and Kiara also come, but not very often. Carlos is sweet but a little lost, and Kiara likes to copy Nicole and Isa before even trying to do her work. C’est la vie.
Apparently Argentina is on the brink of default. Again. Something about vulture funds and the Supreme Court in the U.S. shooting down the Argentine government. Uufff.
One of my roommates and Inca/Sarna/Sandra showing Argentine pride (with a hat I may have purchased for her):
Food. I continue my hunt for amazing [AFFORDABLE] food in Buenos Aires. The first is a super cheap, Middle Eastern restaurant called Sarkis. I went with 5 other people and we ordered a TON of delicious food and each paid (with tip) less than AR$100. Wow. Unfortunately the wait to get into the restaurant was 90 minutes. Give or take.
This second is a real Italian pizza place. Have I already discussed the situation with pizza here? Yes, yes, everyone is Italian, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t mean the pizza is good. It’s weirdly thick (but not deep dish), it has too much cheese, and not enough sauce. And it’s kind of cardboard-y. Therefore, you need to find these gourmet restaurants, like Siamo Nel Forno. Beer, two pizzas, and tiramisou. We were happy.