Buenos Aires is not Santiago. In a million and one ways, even in my shortish trajectory between where I am staying and where MJ and Roman of House of Diehl/Style Wars fame are holed up, basically cutting a sloppy diagonal across Palermo, zagging where the train lines are, even in that short distance, such as it’s been in the 48 hours since I’ve arrived, Argentina keeps on reminding me it’s not just Chile with a pretty accent and a lot of sssshhhh where we’d say y.
And as if to illustrate my point, two days ago in the supermarket, three old ladies talked to me in the grocery store. One to ask if I’d tried the Greek yogurt I was loading into my basket (no, but hey, Greek yogurt, that’s delicious!), one to comment about how people had left the bulk section (bulk section! where you can touch and bag your own food!) messy, and a third woman who was very animated in the cheese section (cheese section! it’s like being in a cheese museum!) but I’m not really sure what she was going on about. I smiled and “sí-ed” and slowly slinked away. Number of people (not men, trying to chat me up or clearly on another planet) who have spoken to me on the street for no reason in the six years I’ve been living in Santiago= less than three.
Everyone and their brother wants do know where I’m from. “De dónde sos?” (where are you from) rings from the rooftops. Guesses include: Chile (duh, accent), Spain (strong J, cheekbones? who knows), France (I’m convinced this is about my definitive triangle of a nose), Salta (in the north of Argentina, but this because I said pues at the end of a sentence, which was a replacement for po which we say at the end of sentences all the time in Chile. In Chile in passing I am seldom asked where I’m from, something I enjoy very much. It’s not that I don’t look/sound like a foreigner, it’s that Chileans are just not the kind of people to ask a lot of questions of unknown people (see above paragraph).
Giant mother of all saharan windstorms complete with sandblasting. I was at a semi-permanent fruit market on Paraguay, near the train tracks, buying half a watermelon (about $2.50 US) to bring over to the pizza and empanada-addled M and R, who I figured could use something fresh and crisp. Out of nowhere, a giant, violent gale-force wind with upgusts and downdrafts and hair-ripping speed sprang up, slapping me with sand and grime and man, I am so lucky I didn’t wear that other skirt, because this one barely stayed down, and it doesn’t have that much extra fabric. We NEVER get wind like this in Santiago. It’s breezy in September, and ocassionally before a rainstorm flags might flap. But body-pushing wind in Santiago? never.
It smells like food. Wherever you go, you can smell onions a-frying, garlic a-sauteéing, tomatoes simmering. It’s delicious. I haven’t actually eaten out anywhere yet, since I’ve been either working or running around or both, preferring to fry my own onions and garlic here at my rented apartment, but it’s so nice to just walk down the street and smell food. Chileans are so unhip to the smiling, happy, joyful smell of food that to say it smells like cooking you use the expression “pasado a” (reeks of). I say bring on the reekage.
And now I’m off to see how else Argentina can remind me I’m just not in Santiago anymore. Maybe spending all night taking pictures (mostly of other people) making fashion out of discarded and found items (though I never actually saw the plastic sausages being used) and then bailing early on the afterparty to get home by 4. Yeah, that’ll do. (More to follow on StyleWars, really)