It’s been a week of study and work; on the whole, very satisfying. We’ve been immersing ourselves in la vida porteña: eating empanadas, listening to tango music, and learning how to make mate.

Monday 8/8 Today was definitely a Monday: we had an early start to get to Expanish by 8am, and we had to pack up our bags before we left. There was no time for breakfast, but at least we made it to school on time.

We had to do a placement test to determine our Spanish level and after that we had 20 minutes or so free — we spent them in a cafe, having a Buenos Aires-style breakfast of cafe con leche y medialunas (white coffee and croissants).

School went well, we both felt like we’d learned something by the end of the day. After school we had an orientation meeting then had pizza in a cone for lunch. We had to find cheaper accommodation than the hostel where we’d been staying; we found it in San Telmo. It’s quite basic but Hostelbookers gave it a high safety rating, so we’re happy with that.

Pizza in a cone Buenos Aires
Pizza in a cone
Tuesday 9/8 We could sleep in a little later than yesterday, but school starts at 9 and we’re about 20 minutes’ walk away. Breakfast was coffee and medialunas at our new local, after which we spent four hours at school studying, and another two watching an Argentinian movie. In the afternoon we worked until the school closed and had hamburgers for dinner from a dodgy-looking joint near our hotel.

Wednesday 10/8 Another day of study and work, broken up by an extra lesson for Craig and a reggaetón dancing lesson for me — it was hilarious. Later on, we discovered our new favourite pizza place, where we had cheap but tasty pizza and beer for dinner.

Thursday 11/8 We’re quite impressed by the extra activities the school offers — today it was a mate tasting, where we learned how to prepare mate correctly. Later, we headed to Avenida Corrientes to buy me some books, then walked to Puerto Madero for street-food dinner. Parrilla stalls line the boardwalk that borders the river; we chose one at random and feasted on roasted pig.

Friday 12/8 Today was going to be our last day of school, but we’ve decided to stay for another week. I spent most of the day trying to decide if I wanted to do group or private classes, eventually settling on a compromise: semi-private classes with Andrea, a guy from Italy. In the afternoon I went to the free tutorial class that the school offers; no-one else went so I ended up with a private lesson. Poor Pablo, he almost fainted when he saw how much homework I wanted him to mark!

Learning how to make mate in Buenos Aires
Learning how to make mate
In the evening we cooked pasta for dinner then headed out to el Boliche de Roberto, a locals’ tango bar that one of my classmates had discovered. We arrived at 9:30 and the entertainment started two hours later: a woman singing, accompanied by a guy on guitar. They didn’t have any form of amplification and it was amazing how everyone listened in complete silence. Later, when the next act came on, the performers invited the audience to join in “okay, let’s do one we all know…”. The whole bar (admittedly very small, but packed) burst into song — I wish I’d known the words! We were taken home by a talkative porteño cabbie who seemed quite moved when we let him keep the change (it was about 50 cents…).

Saturday 13/8 A miscommunication meant that we didn’t do the Graffiti Mundo tour that we had been planning to do, instead we spent the day in, working and relaxing. Dinner was pizza at our local. Actually, lunch was from there too…

Paddleboarding in Palermo Buenos Aires
Paddleboarding in Palermo

Sunday 14/8 Ah, a perfect Sunday! Craig brought me breakfast in bed (porteño-style: cafe con leche y medialunas) then we caught the metro to the Botanical Gardens to record the podcast and explore the green spaces around Palermo. The whole of Buenos Aires seemed to be out, cycling, rollerblading, or paddleboating on the lake.

On the way home we stopped at a supermarket to buy some juice and wine; we couldn’t get the wine because it was election day, which at first seemed strange but on second thought isn’t a bad idea.

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