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My First Day in Buenos Aires

June 19, 2010

I am settling down to sleep after my first day (of 149; yes, I counted) in Buenos Aires. It has been exciting, overwhelming, and full of promise so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here brings. In the meantime, here’s a brief overview of the trip and what we’ve done so far . . .

The Trip
My day yesterday started like any other travel day. I woke up, showered, put the last few items in my suitcases and said bye to my grandparents. My grandpa dropped me off at Houston Intercontinental airport with 2 1/2 hours until my flight. I meandered in and swiped my card at the check-in counter. Nothing. I entered my flight number. “That flight does not exist at this airport” the machine read. Wait . . . what?! I looked more closely at my itinerary: Houston Hobby Airport. Shoot!…

I called my grandpa who thank goodness had his cell phone on him. He turned around and picked me up and we booked it to the complete other side of Houston in a record 40 minutes (at least it felt like record time). I arrived with an hour and a half before my flight, zoomed through baggage check and security and I was in. Not quite the kind of adventure I was looking to start my trip with, but I guess it makes for a good story right?

Anyway I had a 5-hour layover in Atlanta (filled by TGI Fridays and a good book) and then a straight shot to Buenos Aires from there. I arrived at 8am this morning and it took about an hour or so to get through customs. For anyone coming to Argentina from the United States, there is a $140 entry fee (which you pay once every 10 years) that you have to pay when you arrive in Argentina. You can pay by cash, credit card or check but be prepared for that and budget accordingly!

I waited in a little “La Madeline” cafe for the 2 hours until we would be picked up. It was actually quite pleasant, ordering my cafe con leche, reading  a book and eyeing the cute guy from the plane every now and again out of the corner of my eye. For some reason, I didn’t feel worried about finding my group at all, despite the fact that I didn’t have a cell phone to fall back on. I guess I’m more of a traveler than I thought! I found them with no problems (thanks to the very detailed instructions given to us by API) and quickly realized that I still have a lot to learn about traveling well after all. I was the only one with 2 suitcases. I was THAT girl.

Once I got over my mild embarassment (they are significantly underweight after all . . . 😉 and we were all introduced, we piled into a large van that took us on the 40-minute drive to the hotel where we will spend our first couple of nights as we are “oriented” to the city.

The First Day
After we dropped our bags off at the hotel (the rooms wouldn’t be ready for about an hour) we grabbed some lunch at a nice little restaurant down the street. 3-4 course meals (bread, soup, salad, a main course, and some had dessert) for around 30 pesos (a little more than $7)! This part reminded me a little of Panama (cheap food!) and was not a bad way to start the trip in my book. Then we moved into our rooms and had the next couple of hours to relax, shower and sleep, all of which I took full advantage of.

Orientation was next, in API’s offices right down the street from our hotel. We were briefed in health, safety, and the program-sponsored cultural and travel events (among other things) and allowed to ask any and all questions we had. Then it was time for our welcome dinner, which was combined with the spring and summer I students’ farewell dinner (most of them leave tomorrow) and was held at our lovely resident director (Carmen)’s apartment.

This was a great opportunity to talk to some students who have been through the program and ask them about their experiences. I, for one, heard nothing but rave reviews. The host families are great (I even talked to the girl who has been living with my future host family), Carmen is great, the city is fabulous, and the country even more amazing. In other words, we are in for the time of our lives.

Exhausted from our long days of travel, none of us could even make it to dessert so we headed back to our hotel (getting only a little lost on the way) and turned in for the night. Tomorrow we have a walking tour of the city and then a “transportation orientation” to teach us about the subways and busses. We move in with our host families on Sunday and have various tours and cultural activities throughout the next couple of weeks. Tuesday is our Spanish placement test to determine which level of the intensive language program we will be entering (I have a feeling it will be beginner-level for me) and then classes start on Wednesday!

Thoughts/Reactions So Far
I’m too tired to give much of an account of my state of mind right now but I do know that it has been a great day and I have a really good feeling about the next 5 months so far. Everything and everyone is telling me that this is going to be 5 of the best months of my life and I fully intend to prove them right. It’s a beautiful city and I am already starting to feel at home here, despite the language barrier. I count all of these as good signs.

It’s time for some shut-eye but I will definitely be writing at least once a week while I am here so keep an eye out for more blogs (and pictures) coming soon!

Relaxed and content,
Makena

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2010 6:55 am

    Yay!! You are going to have a fantastic time!!!

  2. Brianna permalink
    June 20, 2010 10:30 pm

    YAY!! So happy it is going well so far! Love you and can’t wait to read more updates!

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