Friday, April 6, 2012

Comfort Food

Yesterday I finally arrived in San Luis after a crazy trip. First I was stranded in DC after a delayed flight caused me to miss my connection, and then the airline lost my baggage (which will hopefully arrive tomorrow). I was exhausted, but happy to see my friend and fellow Fulbrighter Silvia and my mentor Julio when I walked into the airport. They took me to my apartment to get settled. The apartment is good, but definitely not too spacious. It's really close to the center of the city though, and it's got all the basics.

Julio took me out to buy a cell phone and groceries, and then I slept a bit before Silvia picked me up for dinner at her place with her son Fernando. Today I did some reading in the morning before Julio picked me up. We went for coffee where we met up with one of his colleagues, who teaches at both the high school and college. He was at the coffee shop doing work along with his daughter, who was working on an assignment for her statistics class. It was great to chat with a fellow teacher and he helped me refine my ideas a little bit. He also invited me to come visit his school and is willing to work with me on my project, which is fantastic. Afterwards Julio showed me around the university and then we went back to his house for lunch, where I met his wife Ayesa and her son Carlitos along with the family dogs.

This evening Julio and Ayesa took me to Potrero de los Funes, a park up in the mountains near town. As we drove up we stopped at one point and there was a family finishing up a climbing trip. It was great to know that there is climbing of some sort so close to town, even if I don't have gear or transportation. It's basically a ring of mountains around a reservoir, but the kicker is that there is also a Formula 2 racetrack around the lake. The track has stores and restaurants on it, as well as cabins, hotels, and a theater. We stopped at one of the larger hotels, which is adjacent to the theater, and walked down to the floating bar/restaurant. We just looked around and I took some pictures of the fish, which apparently like the lights of the bar.

We drove a bit further along and stopped at a restaurant for a light dinner of pescados, which is basically appetizers. It was perfect after the large lunch earlier in the day, and I learned a lot about their families and jobs. They also helped me understand the way that the Argentina education system works and had great suggestion s about courses for me to take at the university. It goes without saying that the food was excellent.

In fact, I ought to explain the title of this post. I'm not really a foodie, though I certainly enjoy eating. During my travels so far things have gotten hectic and stressful, but it seems like at just the right moment something pops up that keeps me going. Lately it's been food.

A superb burger in Boston with my brother before flying out on Tuesday was the start. The pad thai I had before leaving the states helped mitigate the frustration of being stranded (along with the great company, of course). After landing in BA and discovering that my luggage had been lost I was tossed in a taxi and rushed across the city to the domestic airport, where I learned that the "reservation" that the carrier I had flown on from the US didn't actually exist. I was put on standby and rushed through security where I finally arrived at the gate with less than 2 minutes to spare before I would have missed the flight. I didn't have time to eat or even think about eating, but on the plane the in-flight refreshment was the Argentine equivalent of a Moon Pie, which was an extraordinary pick-me-up. Last night after a really long day I was feeling pretty beat down. I discovered the Argentines secret weapon: dulce de leche. Traditionally it's eaten with bananas, but it also makes for a terrific caramel apple. What a way to end the night.

Aside from missing my family terribly, life here is pretty good. I'm excited to get started next week but it's nice to have some time to get my thoughts organized. I can't wait to get my luggage!

p.s. in my original post I wrote that I ate "pecados," which translates to eating sins. Luckily a friend corrected me. The proper word is pescados, which I image are tastier.

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