Goooooooooooooool and schoooooooooooool!

¡Hola chicos!

Chris here to tell you all about a couple of things that have happened recently. On Sunday Sarah and I moved into our student apartment. Our guide met us and took us to the flat which is ok, it’s in a nicer region of Bs. As. but as you would expect it’s a little basic. Our flatmate wasn’t in, but we did find a note from her explaining that there was no hot water. Great! Our guide went down to speak to the caretaker who said he’d have a look at it, but as Sarah and I had to go straight out again we weren’t there when he called, so needless to say we still had no hot water on our return. We also discovered that the bathroom sink didn’t drain very well, which was a small nuisance. Thankfully we have since managed to get the hot water sorted (the gas boiler had gone out and although I had followed the Spanish instructions to relight it correctly, the ignition spark connection was broken so you had to light a long piece of paper and hold it close to the pilot flame position) and pouring a couple of kettles of boiling water down the sink has helped the bathroom sink problem. Yey!

As I said, we had to go straight out because we were being picked up from our friend’s hostel to go to a futbal game, River plate (Bs. As. team) Vs. Newell (300km NW of Bs. As.). We stopped en route to pick up more people and at the final hostel we all went in to have hot dogs (which there weren’t enough of) and beer (which there certainly wasn’t enough of) but we thought we’d be able to get some in the ground so weren’t too bothered. As it turned out, crowd violence is a big problem in South American due to the fans passion often boiling over and so you couldn’t buy beer in the ground, but never mind. We also arrived about an hour and a half before kick off, which we thought a bit extreme, but you don’t get and assigned seat so our guides just wanted to make sure that we got a decent vantage point and they were right because by kick off the place was heaving! The game itself was very good. We were surprised to learn that David Trezeguet played for River Plate, so it was good to have a player that we knew. It is certainly true what they say about the passion of the fans, there was a game of singing tennis being played between the two sets of fans and both sides made a big pomp and circumstance about their respective sets of drummers marching into the stands to take up their reserved spots on the terraces. I must say that the tiny stand of away fans did an excellent job of making lots of noise and were on the whole better than the home fans. Throw in the occasional flare and constant gesturing towards each other and you get the picture. It was a great atmosphere though and much better than any I’ve experienced in England though I did find it surprising that they managed to take in any of the game at all.

For those not interested in football, you can skip this paragraph. River Plate were 2 – 1 up at half time thanks to an amazing lob from the edge of the 18 yard box when the winger noticed the keeper off his line. They went 3 – 1 up about 20 mins into the second half, so everyone was happy. Then a River Plate defender conceded a ridiculous penalty by handballing (he kind of dived in order to be able to hand ball which was bizarre) which was converted and that gave the momentum to the opposition. They pressed home their advantage and equalised with about 10 minutes to go. River plate had a late chance to steal the win, but an open shot on goal from the edge of the 6 yard box was squandered wide by the striker who will probably now be wished dead by all the fans. Final score 3 – 3 which from a neutral’s point of view was great value for money, but it did mean that the stewards didn’t let any home fans leave the stadium until all the away fans were out of the stadium and given about a 20 minute head start on their journey home – waiting to be let out was a bit tedious to say the least, but overall a cracking night only spoilt by the fact that it would be the last night spent with our new friends as Matt was returning to Chile the next day and Jodi and Dave moving on into Uruguay.

The other big thing that has happened is that Sarah and I have started Spanish school. So far it is going well. The staff are friendly and welcoming and the school is a really nice, clean building right in the centre of Bs. As. Sarah and I were assigned to our classes on Monday morning and off we went with much optimism and anticipation. I am in a lower ability class than Sarah and when Fiona (the other person in my class) and I went down from the induction area to our class we initially walked into the wrong room. I thought it was wrong, but had this feeling confirmed by the fact that when I walked in and spoke a couple of words in English because I wasn’t sure that we were in the right place, the teacher turned to the other student already in the room and prattled on in fluent Spanish that they didn’t speak English in the classroom. Still, we sat down and said hello before finally the teacher realised that I was right, we were indeed in the wrong room and sent us on our way, now with the wind taken out of our sails. It reminded me of a sketch from Robot Chicken Star Wars so I have added a link to that too for your amusement! The class that Fi and I were actually joining had just started an activity so the teacher gave us the booklet and told us to get on with it. Needless to say that was a bit overwhelming and so a very nerve-wracking start. It took an hour or so to realise that my initial nerves weren’t necessary and that I was one of the strongest in the class. I am now settled into my role as teacher’s pet and enjoying it very much. The teacher is relaxed and funny, although his time keeping is more South American than I’d like and he sometimes looks pretty bored out of his skull. Today I took a sneaky photo while teacher’s back was turned so you can see what it’s like (being a teacher and knowing all these sorts of tricks that the kids used to try has its advantages).

Sarah felt frazzled after the first day by the pace and intensity of her class and so has dropped down one class (though still ahead of me) and is now much happier and also enjoying the experience. She has had more homework than me, which I find amusing and she has also found some good dictionary and verb conjugation apps for her phone to help out!

We are both thinking and trying to speak more and more in Spanish and it is all coming along nicely. It’s great to have a purpose and routine in Bs. As. and more importantly, it’s great to be learning again!

Until next time,
¡Ciao! (It’s how they say goodbye in Bs. As. – it’s the Italian influence showing through and slightly strange to me)

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