I am finally in ARGENTINA!!! After a full one and a half day of traveling from Portland to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Houston, Houston to Buenos Aries, and Buenos Aries to Rosario, I made it to VOX Asociación Civil (A.C.).
(Bus station in Buenos Aries, Arg.)
Let me take you all back two days from today, March 20th 2013. I left Monmouth at 6am with no prior sleep in hopes of sleeping during my flight(s). My flight from PDX to LA was 2 hours and went by quick; I actually slept the during the whole flight. LA to Houston was 3.5 hours, but it too was quick. This flight along with my next flight from Houston to Buenos Aries had T.V.s for every seat with access to movies, T.V. shows, music, and games. My flight from Houston to Buenos Aries was the toughest one. I had never been on a flight that was 10 hours!!! I brought a quilt, neck pillow, charged laptop/iPod, book, and had the T.V. movies available for me, however it did not help me much with being in a tight space for such a long period of time. Luckily, I was able to sleep half way through the flight and woke up an hour before landing.
(Somewhere in South America ha!)
Once we landed in Arg. (March 21st), immigration/customs took a good hour or so. After showing my documentations and examination of my belongings, I walk through the sliding doors to a large group of folks yelling taxi’s, omnibus, etc. I had planned prior with VOX A.C. for them to pick me up, but with no phono service or wifi available, I was about to bust a mission and look for Camila & Julio; two individuals whom work with VOX A.C. and are part of Grupos Jovenes. Surprisingly, I was able to find less than 5 minutes after my search. My first reactions were relief and excitement. After traveling for so long, I wanted to finally arrive and see some familiar faces.
At the airport, we went to buy some bus tickets. While waiting in line, I met a young lady from Boston, Lauren, whom was meeting up with her friend in Buenos Aries. She knew very minimal Spanish and asked for both mine and Camila/Julio’s help. After telling Camila/Julio where she was trying to get, she joined us and came along on our mini adventure. We got the tickets, got lost for about 30 minutes, and eventually found the bus and left the airport.
(El omnibus que nos llevo a la capital)
The bus ride to the capital seemed quick, even though it was a 30-45 min. ride. We talked about VOX A.C., shared personal stories, saw lots of high buildings, and we even drove pass La Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). After getting dropped off at one of the bus stations, Camila, Julio, and I made our way to another bus station while Lauren got a taxi and went her way.
(Snapshot while on the bus. Buenos Aries, Arg.)
We walked several blocks to get to the bus station and note, we had all of my belongings. I was a little nervous walking the streets with my stuff because folks had told me prior to arriving to not have valuables visible due to picketers and in general raising your visibility. Thankfully, we quickly made our way through the crowded side walks and busy streets and bought our tickets to Rosario.
(Forgot the name of this park in Buenos Aries, oops!)
Within 30 minutes of purchasing our tickets, we got on the bus and left Buenos Aries which by the way was another 30-45 minutes just to leave the city. During the bus ride, I practice my first “siesta” (nap after lunch) though I am not sure if it truly counts. All three of us slept for a good hour and a half or so. Once awake, I observed the land and thought how much it resembles parts of the midwest; very flat, green/yellow colors, and parts cloudy. Upon arrival to Rosario, I remember seeing the Rosario Casino, a shopping center, lots of old, vintage looking buildings with a little modern twist, folks driving motorcycles, many small cars driving very fast in-between lanes, and people walking as the sun set.
At the bus station, we got a taxi and made our way to Entre Rios, the street where VOX A.C. is located. This was about a 15 min. drive. When we arrived, Guillermo, the President of VOX A.C., along with a few other individuals were waiting and greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. I am not going to lie, I was very nervous at this point because I finally was here and it truly hit me; I had a surreal moment.
The first night, Julio and César, another member of Grupos Jovenes, stayed with me. One thing that I have been wanting to try was yerba mate and this finally came true! They served the tea in a traditional mate. Yerba mate definitely is a new taste that I am going to have to get use to. It was quite bitter even though sugar was added. Still, I got one thing check off my bucket list while in Argentina.
Afterwards, we walked around the city for a bit and went to the grocery store to find food to make back at the office. Ironically, we decided to make a Mexican dish, Pollo ala Crema which is my favorite. We ate, listened and exchanged music, had many conversations ranging from the history of the LGBT community to politics to philosophers to pop culture, etc. Note, I am a “native speaker,” but there were times when I had no idea what they were talking about. I let them know however and they would explain things in another manner and slow down when speaking. Also, Julio knows English which helped a lot. By this time, it was around 1 am, Friday March 22nd. We would be waking up early this day for a presentation VOX A.C. would conduct at 9:30am. After unpacking a few things, taking a necessary shower, updating my Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, I called it a good night and went up to one of the rooms. Thinking that I would be able to fall asleep because I was tired, that did not happen. Argentina is four hours ahead and I was still use to the time zone in Oregon. I laid for about an hour until I fell asleep and eventually woke up at 8am to the busy city of Rosario.