Another weekend, another update. This week wasn't too eventful, just trying to figure out my schedule for classes (STILL). Turns out I'm not supposed to take one of the classes I signed up for because I can't take two classes meant for foreigners, but I'm in the process of protesting it with COPA, so hopefully I'll have that resolved sometime next week. It's not like it matters whether the classes are taught to foreigners in my opinion, it's still in Spanish and the one I'm trying to get them to let me take even has a couple kids from Colombia and Peru in it.
Another ongoing issue is the whole farmer's strike that's been going on here. As I understand, the government has pretty big export tariffs on agricultural goods, an idea meant to keep more needed agricultural products within the country, and Cristina Kirchner, the president, is trying to raise the already exceedingly high tariffs. She's trying to raise the tax up to 44% which, needless to say, outrages the agricultural producers and farmers in the country. As a result, the farmers have blockaded a ton of roads around Buenos Aires to prevent the transportation of goods into the country, which they're calling a "paro" or "huelga" which is more or less a strike. I hadn't really realized how big of a deal that was until I went into the grocery store earlier this week and found all the meat and dairy shelves emptied. I thought they were just having problems with the freezers and temperatures or something, but it was definitely a result of the blockading of the roads. Earlier this week Kirchner came out and made an announcement that the farmer's paro is extortion and that night thousands of people took to the streets with their pots and pans and coke bottles, marching and banging to a specific beat in protest of Kirchner and in support of the farmers. It was really interesting to see how spontaneous the whole ordeal was, and it wasn't just a few people, literally thousands, and some were marching down the main street right by my house. They marched down to the Plaza de Mayo where the Casa Rosada is (the government office), and gathered there chanting and banging on their pots and pans. The next night, I think Wednesday, they marched yet again. Thursday night, Kirchner made a speech to the country asking the farmers and the head of the farmers union type deal (I can't remember his name) to stop the strikes so that they could arrange a deal. Initially, it seemed like the farmers weren't going to do so because Kirchner put no deal on the table, but they did and the talks commenced. A couple of hours ago I saw a headline on t.v. that they're continuing the strike, but I don't know any more other than that. I'm not even sure if all that info is correct, but that's definitely the all that I've been able to gather. The marches are pretty peaceful and the only outbreaks are between people who are marching in support of the government against those against (I've heard that those people are paid by the government in order to picket for the government, which I don't have any doubt could be true). It's been a pretty interesting experience, albeit it annoying at times listening to people banging on pots and pans incessantly right outside my apartment.
On a lighter note, I signed up to take tango lessons through my program with like 15 other people from the program, and we started those lessons yesterday. It's going to be a total of 4 two-hour sessions and we had the first and second ones today and yesterday. I had my doubts about it as that's not really my sort of thing (dancing?) but I decided why not go out of the norm, I mean I am in Argentina. Tango's almost an outdated cultural thing and a lot of the youth have no interest whatsoever in it, but it's still a big part of the culture and history of the country. I have to admit that I've actually enjoyed the lessons, even though I'm not exactly the best dancer, but hey, it's my first time… Hopefully I'll know well enough by the end of the sessions to be able to at least dance every once in a while. I think it'd be kind of cool to keep taking lessons too so that I could actually get good at it, but I hear they might be a little expensive.
As of lately, I found a bar that's playing the NCAA tournament games, so I went there with a couple friends the other night, and I'm actually about to go back tonight. It's kind of nice, but the bar is owned by Americans and all the bartenders are American, which is really weird… I'll probably be spending a little more time there as the tournament winds down this week though, I'm glad I found it to feed my March Madness cravings.
Not a whole lot else is going on, I've been a little bit sick with allergies lately, but nothing too bad. I'm starting to get more into the swing of things now so hopefully I'll be able to figure out a few more cultural things within the next few weeks.
Hope everybody's doing alright!