Well, two things are for certain. 1) I CANNOT speak Spanish. This became slightly apparent our first day in Argentina. We walked into the restaurant of Hotel Presidente in Buenos Aires, and I realized that I had never been so excited. This was the first time that I could use my Spanish! I marched right up to the counter, looked the waiter in the eye, and proudly stated "Quisiero uno pasta con cuatro quesos, por favor." Score! I did it! My Spanish had all come back to me! It was "excelente"...at first.
Until about five minutes later...my friend, Ryan, from Iowa had yet to receive the ham sandwich that he had ordered. Still proud of my Spanish speaking skills, I called the waiter over to ask for his food. And then, it happened. My mind went blank. I couldn't remember. "Jamon" was ham. "Queso" was cheese. What was "sandwich"?? I stumbled my way through the sentence (only well enough to get Ryan some ravioli rather than the anticipated sandwich). I was so frustrated. I asked every person I knew. I checked the menu. I racked my brain for HOURS...only to find out that the Spanish translation for sandwich is, well, "sandwich". Epic fail.
That, of course, was only the beginning. I have continued to attempt speaking to the locals. It always turns out the exact same way, though.
Argentine: "Hola! (And a bunch of random Spanish words that are strung together very, very, VERY quickly.)
Me: "Umm, lo seinto. No hablo espanol muy bien."
Yep, that's all. A grand total of three sentences is about as far as I ever get. The translation of those sentences merely reminds me of the one thing I had truly feared- I cannot speak Spanish. There is no doubt that I need to get into those Spanish classes mucho pronto. I'm in desperate need of some help here!
The second conclusion that I have come to throughout my time in Argentina is this: Argentines love, love, LOVE coca cola, beef, fruit, and ice cream. Our food has been excellent- even if we do eat the same thing at every meal. Cold cuts, cheese, and fruit for breakfast. Cold cuts, beef, and vanilla ice cream with fruit salad for lunch. Then, some kind of beef and vanilla ice cream with fruit salad for dinner. And you can bet that at every single meal, there will be mucho, mucho, mucho "Coca". Don't let me confuse you. This is NOT a complaint. Just as observation that Argentines might possibly love ice cream more than I do...and I come from the home of Blue Bell ice cream.
Along with these two newfound truths, I have also discovered a sunburn in the shape of a shirt collar (yeah, I look pretty cute with my giant red triangle on my chest). The charter bus makes me extremely tired; I fall asleep almost every time I sit down. Argentines use "budets" (still not sure on the spelling of that) to clean their bottoms after using the restroom; I still haven't gotten used to that addition to the restroom, and I certainly have chosen to forgo using it. Most importantly, though, I've been introduced to a whole new world of what I considered to be "global agriculture."
Yesterday, we visited Terminal 6, a port terminal company that was founded by two competing companies (Bunge and an Argentine company). This was, by far, my favorite visit as of yet. The process for loading and shipping and the fact that only 4 people could run an entire biodiesel plant blew my mind. Unbelievable!
This was followed by a trip down the Parana river (the third largest in the world), and a visit to a swimming hole-type drainage system. Yes, I swam in that. Yes, I can say I did it. No, it did not smell pleasant, look pleasant, or feel pleasant. Ha ha.
Before I knew it, we had drifted off for a few hours of sleep, woken up, and were on our way to a polo horse breeding farm. All I can say is that I REALLY want to see a polo match after that visit. And also, I can now say "Tomar un photo con migo, por favor"...which means "Take a picture with me, please." (Make that a grand total of four sentences that can now be spoken in Spanish).
We ended our day at a multi-generation farm. I learned an enormous amount about breeding ewes as well as estate taxes and inheritance laws in Argentina. The best part of the day was when I met my new favorite person. I immediately fell in love. He's a farmer. He speaks Spanish. He's 84, walks with a cane, and says "Beep beep. Beep beep." when walking through crowds. I just couldn't figure out a way to get him back through customs, so I settled on a picture with my new friend, Grandpa.
I shouldn't be heartbroken for long, though. Tomorrow, we will be meeting up with a few Argentine gauchos. Who knows? After that, I may just decide to miss my plane back to Texas.