Midterms and spring break are now behind me. The realization that my time here is more than halfway over has me checking my calendar and making lists of all the things I still want to do and see. Though I am looking forward to going home and seeing my family and friends, for years this experience is something I have been excited for. When it comes to an end, it is going to be hard to go back. With three more weekend trips planned, I only have two more weekends left to enjoy Buenos Aires. And looking back, I completely wasted the last week here.
Burdened by ridiculous amounts of homework and reading (exacerbated by my own procrastination, I’ll admit), other than to go to class I hardly left my apartment. I want to do well in my classes, but at the same time I started to wonder if it’s really worth missing out on valuable experiences in Buenos Aires. I’ve still yet to learn the tango or see it performed in an actual show. I haven’t gone to a peña (a folklore music venue) or seen the weekend fair in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo.
Realizing all of this, yesterday I went to the “Feria de Mataderos,” a gaucho-esque fair based in an area that was once home to the slaughterhouses for the famous Argentinean beef. It was here that I purchased gifts for friends, family, and myself (yes, I need a few souvenirs of my own). There was a huge assortment of empanada flavors, including four variations of beef-filled. Probably the best part, though, were the free samples of jam, cheese and dulce de leche.
To continue my new spirit of exploration, that night I ventured to a whole different part of the city: Barrio Chino (Chinatown). More like China Street than Chinatown, the area was a refreshing break from parillas and mate. The area is comprised of shelved stores cluttered with knickknacks and hanging ornaments, Asian markets selling foreign spices, cereals and sauces, and of course restaurants adorned with Chinese characters and decorative dragons.
The food wasn’t quite like Chinese cuisine in the U.S., but the existence of spicy flavors was a welcome contrast to the Argentine dishes I’ve been consuming. Chinese menus are already hard to navigate, and the Spanish version was even worse. Trying to decipher what the Spanish descriptions would translate to was a comical challenge, as was understanding the waitress’s Spanish with a Chinese accent.
The “wonton soup” was more like hot water swimming with lettuce and wontons and the “KungPao chicken” included more vegetables than the “noodles and vegetables” dish. And sadly, at the end there were no fortune cookies. The spring rolls, however, were delicious, especially when accompanied by the oh-so-delicious sweet and sour sauce. They were, of course, filled with beef, Argentine style. The meal was a great change of pace, and exploring a new side of the city was an enjoyable experience.