A Travellerspoint blog

Spanish For Dummies

We decided to take the bus to school today for a different experience and to avoid the smog filled subway tunnel for another day. The bus stops right outside the apartment, so it was pretty convenient to just go down and finding the bus ready for you. Helen told us that Argentina has 500 bus lines.

The bad thing about Argentinian bus lines I was told was that they only accepted coins on the ticketing machine. I thought to myself, not that big of a complaint right? I’ll just wait for small change and use them for the bus. Well, I think small change is sort of like an asset here because, there aren’t much coins going around the country. Even shops don’t give you change in coins is they could avoid it. Maybe the bank doesn’t churn out coins as much? Anyway, we won’t be taking the bus as much if we are short on coins

Classes were intense! It’s pretty draining to be trying to do simple sentences and asking things like ‘how do I say this and ‘what does this mean’ the entire day. I’m still guessing a lot of words and hoping to hit the bull’s eye with random grammar and really bad tenses. We have 2 classes during the day, in the morning and after lunch. The morning classes were with a bigger group of 8 people whilst the afternoon classes felt like private tutoring with only 3 of us in class. The afternoon classes were more light hearted, with us playing games like word puzzles and guess the celebrity while keeping competition by scoring points. We even went to the market to learn the words of food products. It was a very interactive learning experience. The morning classes were less so and more focused on structure and actually learning the language with more technical means. Both of the classes worked well to enforce the other while keeping us engaged. It’s a good thing the afternoon classes were less intense and more relaxed because I don’t think I could have gone an entire day for 5 days of super intense learning.

By this time Justin was already able to construct sentences while I was still struggling with even remembering how to ask for directions. Reconstructing the English language to suit other languages is a tough job, for me at least. I never had to dissect my words and sentences to analyse the verb and the noun and the conjunctions and how to use them. The whole learning process of a language is still very foreign to me and it seems that my method of learning has not been very successful. Well at least I have Justin to fill in the gaps for my bad Spanish.

Posted by dmak 11:39 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Yo estoy de malasia ( i am from malasia)

Day 3

1556hrs, Buenos Aires

Breakfast was simple, nothing fancy, just bread and different spreads of jams. One particular spread looked like kaya at first glance but tasted thicker and stickier, sort of like caramel and honey. It’s a local delicacy of sorts called ‘Dulce de leche’ which means sweet milk according to Wikipedia. I think kaya blows this out of the water in terms of both taste and texture in my opinion.
Liz and Beatrice accompanied Justin and I to school via the subway this morning. After this morning’s subway ride, I daresay I am thankful that Malaysian trains are air conditioned. The train line we took was supposed to be one of the oldest in B.A. and for good reason, the train looked like it wouldn’t be able to make it through the day with its creaky doors and battered wooden interior. The benches were made out of wood as well. It looked like it could be a glamorous carriage, carrying high profile aristocrats off for brunch or afternoon tea, sort of like the kind of trains that have been converted into fancy travelling restaurants with those dimly lit bubble lights and mahogany benches and tables. If only you took out the masses of commuters, the smell of the tunnel pouring through the windows without its glass or the humid and stifling air around you, then maybe I could imagine myself in a more glamorous scenario. Also the people moving in and out of the train seemed to be so anxious to get out, that they open the doors while the train is still moving to a halt at the stations! Maybe they just really want to get out of the train fast. Pushing and shoving in and out of the trains is no surprise. I am just worried someone will get pushed off while another person opens the door to get out. Scary stuff.
The feeling of anxiety and caution suddenly hit me a little more today. It seemed that every person we talked to would tell us to be careful of our belongings especially to my mate Justin whom very casually but carefully, was carrying his huge DSLR with him. It really attracted a lot of attention from people telling us to be careful. I guess maybe all the negativity towards holding a camera in the open had dampened Justin’s drive to take pictures today. I also found myself clutching my belongings more tightly and constantly checking the zippers on my bag the entire day.
Classes at the language school only started at 10, so we were there really early. After a lengthy chat, and a couple Mate’s, which is another of Argentina’s to do list, we finally started our classes. And I naively thought learning a language would be easy. I don’t think I got much out of the first class. I was truly confused and trying my best to remember the estas and ellas. Really have gotta step up the game over the next few days. My goal is at least be able to converse and understand a few basic practical sentences.
We couldn’t really do much during the day as it started raining so we just cooped ourselves up at home. I couldn’t really sleep even though my eyes could barely focus anymore. So I thought id just lounge around outside with Helen whilst just getting to know each other. Wouldn’t you know it, she was from Melbourne and had just graduated! Australia really is quite small come to think of it.
After a 3 course meal which I wasn’t really expecting, we finished our homework for the day, and I finally called it a night. I slept like a rock. Finally. Pictures will be up soon. Now next thing to do is to get some laxative for myself.

Posted by dmak 02:57 Comments (0)

Buenas Noches Argentina

Day 2
2339hrs, BUENOS AIRES
I feel as if time has slowed down and stopped suddenly. The jetlag hasn’t really kicked in yet but I am sure to be feeling it in the coming days. I am glad to be off the plane that’s for sure although we were lucky to have struck up a conversation with a couple of Argentinian folks on the plane and they were kind enough to give us some tips and directions when we touched down. Will probably try and drop them a line to have a drink if we have time.
Not so lucky when we changed some money at a higher rate because we were desperate to get out and wanted cash fast!! Fast cash is never good. So we got conned by the bank which we knew had a higher rate but still went for it anyway because we thought the bank that had the lower rate was closed but in fact wasn’t. There goes 2 burgers worth of currency exchange.
So after a very quiet cab ride, we are finally here at the homestay where we were greeted in a flurry of Spanish voices. Lost in translation. Fortunately , there are a couple more students here as well, from Mexico, Belgium, Brazil respectively, all girls, so at least some of them could converse in English. The homestay itself looks cosy enough. A shop house with 3 bedrooms, a homey living and a very charming beer garden in the middle. Looks like it will be a wild week ahead.

Posted by dmak 19:04 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

The middle of the world

0135hrs, DOHA INTL
The stream of lights looked like glittering jewels etched on a black canvas, illuminating the desert floor as the plane descended towards the runway. We huddled into a bus to take us to the terminal. Funny thing about Doha is that there are 2 main stops, the Doha Arrivals and the Transfer and Departure Terminal. When the bus reached the Arrival Terminal, I was shocked at the number of people that were still in the bus after the stop. It seemed like no one is really here to stay but rather most passengers are in transit to other countries.

The transit terminal was packed. Passengers were flocking into departure gates at the terminal while many others were roughing it out on the uncomfortable looking chairs at the airport. I guess the Middle East is truly the middle of other things as well. Doha felt like a transit hub that connected the world.

So we had a quick dinner at the airport which was not the most pleasant of meals. I reckon the airplane food tasted better, but we weren’t complaining as it was a complimentary meal for passengers transiting more than 6 hours. After all that, I think I would just chill for now and listen to Justin be all mushy and sweet with his girl.

Posted by dmak 15:38 Archived in Qatar Comments (0)

The coming journey

Just 4 more days....time to get pumped!

Posted by dmak 10:43 Comments (0)

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