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Monday, July 25, 2011

Mom in Argentina

Mother Berry came to play, friends.

The same day that we were supposed to go back to the provinces after our Regional Enhancement Seminar in Uruguay, I planned to stay in Buenos Aires and wait for my mom. Due to volcanic ash in the air, all the other Fulbrighters got to stay as well. Unfortunately, the ash also cancelled my mom's flight, and she ended up getting in much later than we had planned. To make matters even worse, she ended up having to wait at the airport for a long time to get a taxi and, since she had no way to contact me, I was pacing back and forth, wondering if she was okay. Anyway, she got to Buenos Aires.

We spent Sunday in Buenos Aires; I took her to Recoleta cemetery and Palermo. I think she really enjoyed the cemetery (it's one of my favorite places too).
Mom, just walkin' in Recoleta

That evening we headed to the main attraction of our trip: Iguazú falls. We could have flown there, but that wouldn't have been a valuable cultural experience for mumsy. Instead, we took a bus. A 15-hour bus. It actually wasn't so bad. She told me she enjoyed it, and she wasn't doing that mom thing where she just pretends she's happy with everything.
Argentine buses are class
 Once we got there, we settled into our "4-star" hotel. It had seen better days, but it was a place to sleep. There was no time to waste, so we jumped on a city bus and headed to the park as soon as we could. Thanks to a little lingo on my part, I got myself the resident price for the park (it would have been impossible to get it for Mom too, but hey...we saved some cash). Then, mother Berry wanted to treat me to a late lunch. We went to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the park and Momma got her first taste of asado and Mendozan wine. Mmmm.... Then, we checked out the park. Words are useless, so here are some pictures that I took over the two days:
A Coatí, Argentina's raccoon

We're related
I don't know what these birds were, but they were beauitful.


Ok, that's enough. I didn't mention that we spent most of the rest of our time in Iguazú at the hotel, since the town is pretty boring. We had a really great dinner there, though, and the first night we took a siesta that ended up as just sleeping through the night.

So, Iguazú! Yee haw! Hooray! 

From Iguazú, we had to get to Río Cuarto. Sure, we could have flown, but that...well, you get the idea. Anyway, we got on a bus again, this time for 21 hours. Oh, but that bus only went to Có we had another 4 hours on bus until we got home. Poor Mom endured, and her snoring didn't even wake me up!

Once we made it to Río Cuarto, I showed mom around the Andino (an abandoned train station which is great to wander around) and downtown. We had dinner with María Inés Valsecchi, one of my co-workers, at la Piojera (with wine, of course), and the next night I took her to have some gourmet food at Don Zoilo ('s like heaven). 

For 4 months I had tried to resist going to Wal Mart, but here comes Mom and where do we go? Wal Mart. Though it's far away, I was really excited at some of the international food they had there (international meaning USA, as well as other countries). Mommy bought me some nice new things for my apartment there and at the Super Vea, and we spent the majority of our time in Río Cuarto relaxing. She tried mate with some of my friends and enjoyed it. What I think she liked the most about Argentina, though, was the dulce de leche. Needless to say that when we left Río Cuarto to head to the airport in Buenos Aires, she had a suitcase full of Dulce de Leche, fine wines, and yerba mate. Thadda girl, mom...getcha some culture.

So, we--surprise--took a bus to Buenos Aires and had planned to spend a few days there since the ashes had limited her first exposure to the city. We stayed in a very nice hotel downtown on Esmeralda at the 700 block. I got a random Facebook message from someone I went to Spain with asking if we could meet up, so I had to find a way to plan that into our schedule. Oh, and Martín was there and my mom wanted to meet him. Mom and I spent the first day on a culinary excursion, and I took her to the Gato Negro (my favorite tea and spice shop in Bs As). That night, we saw a tango show at the Borges Cultural Center just a few blocks away. The show, which cost us each around $25 (USD), was well worth it. It may have been a little touristy and showy, but there was one scene that made the show. 

The dancers were performing a skit, and the men were complaining that the women think that the tango is all about them, when in reality it should be about the man. Something happened, and one of the dancers clearly looked like he wanted to express his disagreement. The next thing I know, he rips off his shirt to reveal another, brightly-colored, satin, pink shirt and starts act very flamboyantly. He dances with some fans for a little while (characteristic of the lady), and then he just jumps off stage. Where does he go? My lap. Yes, friends. I had a tango dancer on my lap, caressing my hair, and rubbing my arm. Oh, and he gave me a giant kiss on the cheek and continued to send me flirty looks for the rest of the show. I was horribly embarrassed, but it was great. I don't have a picture of that, though, so sorry.

Now, let's speed things up. The last day started out uneventful. We checked out of the hotel, stored our luggage, and then set off for the day. Mom and I were going to be meeting Martín for lunch, but we decided to go walk around Florida and Lavalle first. Florida and Lavalle are two pedestrian streets with lots of arts and crafts, so I thought it would be fun for her to see. It wasn't.

There we are, see, walking on the street. My mom had recently gotten out her wallet to buy a scarf that she liked, and I was helping her with it. Then, I'm about a meter in front of my mother, scouting out another neat place to go, and I hear her say "Hey!" I turn around, and then I saw it: her bag was unzipped and open. Some pickpocketing bastard had bumped her, reached into her bag--which she had guarded well up until this point--and taken out her wallet and cell phone. Surprisingly, she held herself together very, very well (that must be where I get it, because she was rock solid), and fortunately the wallet only had her driver's license and credit cards in it (I had most of the cash, since I was paying for everything). Right after this, Martín found us. Well, the plot thickens.  

Since it was critical to cancel those cards, I dropped Martín and my mom off at the restaurant we were going to eat at (El Palacio de la Papa Frita), and booked it back to our hotel (where I could use internet). The connection in the hotel was good, but not great for Skype calls, so I was having a lot of trouble. I decided to call my brother, who is my polar opposite in almost every way conceivable, because my mom had told me that he knew where her photocopies of all those cards were (good thinking, Mom). I finally get a hold of him, and he sounds like he's just woken up (it's around 1:30 PM, his time). I lose signal, and he can't hear me. Since I was low on options, I text him to call my Skype number. He doesn't. Clearly, time is a factor. After 15 minutes of waiting on him, I sent him another text begging him to do something. I went in search of a better connection. Finally, in the stairwell between the first and second floors of the hotel, I get a good-enough connection to call and transmit voice. My brother, who I have never been more disappointed in, is frustrated with me for my text messages. Besides the fact that I mentioned this had nothing to do with us, and that our mother had just been robbed and she was the one that needed his help urgently, he still had an awful attitude. The icing on the cake was this: he hung up on me. Not just on me...on his own mother. At this point I actually screamed in the turns out those echo. Whoops. I was just frustrated and, like I said, unbelievably disappointed in how little he did to help. So, I go to plan B: call grandma. My grandma's a sweet lady who means well, but she isn't the most knowledgeable with technology or these types of things. I told her to cancel the credit cards that were on the photocopy by the desk. That's simple, right? Well, we get a call later and find out that she or Nick had looked through the file cabinets and found every last one of my mom's credit cards and cancelled them. Great. They did ask if we needed to have the driver's license cancelled too, which I thought was endearing (you can't cancel those).

So, that's enough about the whole theft situation. Basically, my mom was a rock star, Martín was a good babysitter, and my brother was a colossal failure. Foruntately, though, this was the day she was leaving, so she could take care of everything in the US soon. We did our best to enjoy the rest of the day, and then we got a cab to the airport and I sent her off. Naturally, she tried not to's just can't do that very well.

Well...that's the end of Momma Berry's adventure in Argentina. I'm really glad I got to see her, and I'm even happier that she got to see me actually putting my Spanish to use (lord knows she depended on it).

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