To give you an impression of scale, here is a photo of me and the agouti. I haven’t seen any agoutis on the street, but I’m sure they live in the wooded areas of the city.
The past week I’ve been trying to study Spanish, but I have found that what I know on paper does not come out as easily when I speak. I memorize the spelling and meanings of verbs all day but find hard to retrieve those statements when I try to articulate myself to my classmates. We are all in the same situation, but I always pride myself on choosing the best possible word for what I’m thinking or feeling. Here I’m relegated to only the most basic of terms–and only to the present or past tenses. Most porteños are very understanding, and they don’t automatically revert to English, which is best for me to learn.
Nine students attend my class–two Brazilians, one Japanese, one Swiss, two Danes, one South Korean, and one other American. The American, Veronica, is from New York City. I find it hilarious that we only speak to each other in halting Spanish–knowing it’s the right thing to do. Without intending to do so, E. and I have started speaking to each other in a patois of Spanish and English.
In our daily routine, E. works from the dining room during the day, and I usually go out to class and to study at a cafe. At night I catch up with my teaching–grading and commenting in the online classrooms. I am ending three classes for one of my online schools on Sunday. Three more begin on April 7. Those classes contain 30 students each with a natural disappation to 25 by mid-semester. The classes keep me busy with actual “work-work” when I’m not wandering around.
I used to have a children’s book that had pictures of red pandas. I have had a fondness for them ever since, but I never get to see them since they are nocturnal. Lucky for E. and me, this one woke up just as we came by to visit. (Photo courtesy of E.)
We visited the Buenos Aires zoo on Friday. It isn’t a particularly well known zoo. Some of the enclosures were too small. The bears seemed very depressed–one kept walking in dazed circles around her water pool. The elephants seemed happy, though, as did other animals. We enjoyed one of the last few warm days we’ll have. Fall is here.
One of my favorite parts of the zoo was the agoutis. Agoutis are a large guinea pig-like animal that roams around foraging, much like a rat. They’ve obviously been indulged by the visitors. There were only two agoutis in the agouti enclosure because all of the rest were trailing small children and easy targets like me. I gave one a few kernels of sweet popcorn.
I have recently corresponded with an expatriate from the U.S. who lives in a close neighborhood to mine. Her name is Deby from http://www.tangospam.typepad.com. She’s a well known tango dancer at the clubs. I’m hoping to visit a club with her and see the true tango life. She also corrected me on the instrument used for tango music. It’s not the accordion; tango musicians use the bandoneon.
Today I graded papers all day, but tomorrow I hope to see some new neighborhoods such as San Telmo and La Boca. La Boca appears in a lot of photographs of Argentina. The buildings are painted in crazy, vivid colors. It’s not the best tourist location, though, as some areas are seedy.
Filed under Animals, Tango