Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Clases de Español

Enough about wacky beef products. It´s about time for an update on my activities. It has been unseasonably cold here in Buenos Aires. Saturday night provided a spectacular thunderstorm, which I loved. But I loved it a little less when the rain continued for two more days, and the chill brought on by the rain is still in place. Yes, I know, many of you in the northern hemisphere are making crybaby sounds, or doing that little violin thing with your fingers (playing "my heart bleeds for you").

Saturday I went with Celia, the French girl staying at my hostel, to a soup kitchen/children´s center she volunteers at. We helped serve the food and then played with the kids for a few hours. The point is to have a sort of enforced playtime, which is desperately needed, in the hopes of sheltering them from the situation at home: their neighborhood is a slum, basically, and many have parents in jail, or parents with AIDS, or parents who abuse them. But the kids are sweet and happy for the most part, and they take care of each other. At one point a little girl of about 8 brought over a very little girl, maybe one year old, who I assumed was her sister the way she was looking after her. I asked what the little girl´s name was and the older one said "I can´t remember...there are so many kids," which was a bit alarming, especially since we had just been discussing one of the families which has eight children from aged 1 to 18. I was relieved to hear it wasn´t her sister, just another one of the kids in the neighborhood, who was passed around from kid to kid for the whole afternoon. Overall, it was an exhausting experience but I´m glad I went.

My Spanish course started yesterday and I´m sorry to report that my three years of Spanish are rustier than I expected. We are working on past tenses and I keep getting things all wrong. But the good news is I spend lots of time chatting with the people in the hostel, and they understand me (mostly) and sometimes I can even make a little joke. I have picked up a little bit of the Argentinian accent: for instance, they pronounce "y" and "ll" sounds as a J. They also say "vos" where most other Spanish-speakers would say "tu" and I sometimes remember to use that, as in: "¿que tal?", "Bien, ¿y vos?". However, I don´t see myself sounding like a true Argentine anytime soon.

Funny enough, the school I am at, CEDIC, is full of Swiss people! One of whom I recognized from the karaoke evening last Thursday. Classes have been pretty tiring-four hours a day is a lot for a person who hasn´t had much in the way of book-learning since college. And then there´s homework to do at night! Which reminds me, I´d better hit the books so I don´t have to wear the dunce cap or something.

Wishing you all a very happy Groundhog Day! I hope Punxatawney Phil sees his shadow...or not...I can never remember which is good.