It has been quite a busy week full of some major changes. On June 20 (Saturday) we spent our last day in Cordoba. This mostly involved packing up from our hostel and buying a replica Maradona jersey in local market area near Plaza San Martin. We then had a last meal of lomitos which I am now obsessed with. Essentially they are a sandwich that has a pounded thin piece of steak, with some lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise (usually house made or at least distinct at each place that makes it), and sometimes a fried egg. They are unbelievable and I am absolutely positive if a store that served them opened up near any college campus they would be full all the time. I’m going to file this one under “My Million Dollar Ideas.” They’re classier and tastier than a hamburger, but just as cheap and satisfying. They also great with fries. That night we caught the overnight bus to Buenos Aires, which was actually nicer than most planes I have been on. We had seats that laid all the way back to make beds (Geoff and I were an inch or two too tall to get the full effect). I got about the best sleep I’ve ever gotten on a bus or plane (still not great though). Interestingly enough most of the other passengers around me seemed to be part of a high school rhythmic gymnastics team so there were an inordinate amount of hula-hoops shoved into the baggage areas. There was also a “stewardess” (I guess that’s what you would call here) that served us a meal (somehow worse than airplane food) but the fact that there was meal service impressed me. They even came around after food to offer coffee, caramels and whiskey (there was also a movie). After hearing some stories from other students about bus rides while abroad and having taken long bus rides in Peru, I was amazed at how nice of a ride it was. We took the overnight bus because we were advised that there was literally nothing between Cordoba and Buenos Aires. The description proved to be dead on accurate from what I saw.
We pulled into the city just as the sun started coming up. We hopped in cabs and Professor Adler met us at our apartment which is very nice and probably more spacious than we need for the three of us. It is located right in the Centro almost equidistant from the law firms we will be interning at. We all immediately tried to nap to make up for the half sleep we all got on the bus. After a few hours of that we all got up and walked around some of the pedestrian shopping avenues (LaValle and Florida) in our neighborhood. These avenues were great chance to view the eclectic mix of architecture in the city. Zoning laws seem to be non-existent and old Parisian style buildings stand next to sleek modern stores and office, which stand next to ugly and decaying buildings from the 70’s. We stopped in a few stores and bought some things to supplement the limited supply of work clothes we had brought with us from the states. That night we joined Professor Adler and his wife at a nice little restaurant that was also a book store. We had great food, including probably the rarest steak I’ve ever eaten. Apparently my concern for them overcooking for tourists wasn’t as justified as I thought and next time I can order it a little more cooked than “azul.” Along with dinner was a live performance by a singer who sang songs from all over the word. He was an incredibly talented guitarist and it was a great way to spend the evening. After dinner we went out to hit the bars and luckily, after a little searching, probably found the only one easily walkable from our apartment that was busy on a Sunday night. Something about the name “Killkenny’s” just didn’t seem quite as genuinely Argentinean as we were hoping though.
Monday was a holiday so we took the opportunity to sleep half the day. Apparently Flag Day is a real holiday in some countries. I took the opportunity to stock up on some food etc. form the local groceries that seem to be located on every block and almost all run by Asian families. The next day we each went to meetings in the morning or early afternoon to meet with the lawyers at our respective law firms where we’d be interning. The meetings were held early because just about every office was closing at 3:30 to watch Argentina play Greece. My meeting went great. I got to meet the partners at Fiorito, Murray & Diaz Cordera in their new modern offices adjacent to Plaza San Martin. Thankfully, their English is even better than my Spanish and they seemed excited to have me. It’s a medium sized firm in Buenos Aires (12 lawyers including 3 partners) that, despite being relatively new, has a great reputation and was incredibly warm and welcoming.
After the meeting I there were people flooding to Plaza San Martin to watch on a giant screen set up there, but I was in no mood to celebrate an impending soccer victory in a suit. I made it home to watch the game with Geoff and Jersey and don my Maradona jersey and Argentina flag/cape. Much like Cordoba, the streets were empty during the game until Argentina scored, at which time the streets erupted in celebrations and noise for a minute or two before everyone ran back inside to continue watching. After Argentina’s 2-0 victory we joined the celebrations in the street and found our way to the Obelisk (picture the Washington monument except it’s in the median of the world’s widest avenue). Hundreds of people congregated there and within a few minutes, seemingly out of nowhere, a 40 ft tall inflatable bust of Maradona sprung up. We danced, chanted and partook in celebratory drinks under his watchful eye for hours until well after nightfall. At that point we returned home to rest up for the start of our internships the next day.
I don’t think the details of my first week of work make for good reading on a blog, but I was excited to be able to start a research project for one of the partners, Thomas Fiorito, regarding comparative practices of evaluating stock premiums in the US and Argentina. Although I did not really see myself being so intrigued by financial valuations and stock purchases, it has proved quite fascinating and I look forward to working more on the topic in the next few weeks. I also plan on making it the subject of the paper I will be writing at the end of this program. Otherwise a lot of my work has been focused on translating documents and editing translations that the other associates have made. It’s been trying at times but my Spanish has definitely gotten better for it. It is also very satisfying to be doing work that gives me a much better idea of the work the firm does, as well as my work product being used by the lawyers in house as well as being sent out to clients. Also of note is how warm, friendly and welcoming all the lawyers here have been, and the fact that an associate cooked me lunch in the office kitchen to welcome me to the firm.
Over the weekend we ventured out to the Palermo neighborhood to check out the nightlife. As was the case is Cordoba, nothing really gets started until 2am here. Palermo is called the SOHO Buenos Aires and is full of bars and restaurants frequented by the young people from the city and abroad. I see myself spending a lot more time there on weekends if I can keep brining myself to keep up with the crazy Argentina party hours. We found some fun bars and good food. I also attended a birthday party for one of the associates from FMDC in the Recoleta neighborhood the next day. It was just what I needed after a disappointing US loss to Ghana and exit from the World Cup. All the associates are my age (25-27) so it was a great opportunity to meet local people my age. Many of them had visited San Francisco before and were excited to meet someone from there. All the rest were also exceptionally nice and friendly. However, my lack of sleep from the night before soon caught up to me and I called it an early night. Sunday I was hit with the makings of a nasty cold after going out so much in the cold and rainy Argentine winter. I barely left the house and was content to drink OJ, eat soup, and watch Argentina beat Mexico 3-1 (technically should have been 2-1 but with these World Cup Referees goals aren’t always real, or are just completely ignored and called off). It will assuredly make for interesting water cooler conversation in the coming week at work.