Three weekends ago was Yom Kippur. I decided to try out temple in Mendoza. My host mom, being the incredibly sweet person that she is, made me dinner before the sun went down and drove me to the synagogue. Due to a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Buenos Aires a few years ago the streets are blocked off around the temple and I had to bring my passport in order to go in. Unfortunately I had mistaken the time that the service started and ended up arriving in the middle! Regardless it was still a cool experience to be in a foreign country yet to still feel a sense of connection to the other people there and to be able to follow the service, as the prayers are the same.
The next day (while I fasted) we had a day trip to see the mountains. I was really excited to see Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas and a part of the Andes. Unfortunately the trip consisted of an all day driving trip where we would get out now and then to take pictures of the mountains, the boarder with Chile, Puente del Inca (a natural bridge that formed over part of the Mendoza River), and the dike of Potrerillos. Also, it was snowing that day so Aconcagua was covered by the clouds and difficult to see. I mainly slept and listened to music on in the bus, which definitely made fasting easier! When I got home I broke my fast with an alfajor, as is obviously appropriate when in Argentina!
Last weekend was Chile’s Independence Day and apparently they like to come across the boarder to Argentina to celebrate! And they celebrated essentially from Thursday, the actual day until Saturday. I celebrated with them on Friday at the Plaza de Chile. There was live music, dancing, and lots of food. A few too many whole pigs roasting over fire for my taste, but the empanadas were delish!
Classes have been going well for the most part, though lately they have been getting canceled for a variety of reasons including the professors not wanting to have class for Professors Day, the professors going on strike to get the university to raise their salaries, and because this past week was the “mesa de examines.” Basically students here don’t have to take finals right when classes end for the semester. In fact, they are able to take them whenever they want as long as they complete them all by the time they graduate. Therefore, this past week was an opportunity for them to take exams from last semester if they hadn’t already.
Needless to say however, the two classes that I have with just my group don’t get cancelled! The other day in Spanish class I got to do an oral presentation about the 1986 World Cup where Argentina played England and Maradona, one of the best players in the history of soccer scored his two most famous (or infamous if you ask people from England) goals. I thought it was so interesting to learn about how much the goals and the ultimate win over England meant and still mean to Argentinians. The game was a highpoint of a big rivalry between the two nations that stemmed from the 1966 World Cup and the Falklands War in 1982. Thus for Argentinians, the goals are much more than just goals – they also represent revenge against England and generate senses of nationalism and pride still today.
Thursday my host mom and I had a second choir performance! It’s so fun to be included in the performances. I love it and it’s fun to hear all of the other choirs. One sang a song that was mixed with Blackbird! It was great.
Yesterday I went to an asado, the Argentinean version of a BBQ that includes lots o meat. I mainly ate potatoes and an apple, but yes ladies and gentlemen, I did try a bite of meat! It was the first willing bite I’ve had in almost five years! I mean I couldn’t have come all the way to Argentina without at least trying one bite! But don’t get your hopes up; one bite didn’t convert me. I’m planning on remaining a vegetarian for the moment!