Apologies for not updating the blog for ages, just been busy enjoying the beauty of Buenos Aires :-)
It really is one of the most charming places I have ever seen. The architecture is a fascinating mixture of very different styles. Each barrio (neighbourhood) has its own style with the result that it feels as if one was in different cities all the time.
I live in the barrio of San Telmo, which in my opinion is the most porteño (this is how Argentinians call things or people from Buenos Aires. It comes from "puerto" =port).
The houses are very colourful and on Saturdays and Sundays there are people dancing tango at every corner.
Apart from tango, San Telmo is famous for being home to THE antique markets, although nowadays there are all sorts of shops and goods.
If you want to have an idea of the style of San Telmo have a look at the pictures (especially of Royal Dandy Hotel - bless them for allowing me to nose around to take the pictures - it's as porteño as porteño can get).
My house is in such a stragecic position I still cannot believe how lucky I´ve been to find it.
I live with 2 girls, one is Argentine and the other one French. They are both very nice.
I also live 5 minutes from Kate, who's the lovely friend I stayed with the first 10 days I was here.
People in Buenos Aires are adorable. They seem to be always in a good mood, they are very informal (they kiss all the time, even at job interviews as I´ve recently found out) and they smile, smile and smile. How pleasant!
As for the voluntary work, things are moving slowly but surely. I met the persons I am going to work with at CELS (Centre of Legal and Social Sudies) and I have also had a first meeting with the people of the Governement of the City of Buenos Aires (weirdly enough BA is not the capital of BA province, it's not even part of it. Since 1993 or 1996 I can't remember, Buenos Aires has been an autonomous federal district with its own separate government), but there are still 2 interviews to go.
With CELS I am going to work on human rights and mental health. They are working on shifting the paternalistic medical and governmental attitude which treats the persons with a mental disability as objects (both medically and juridically) to an approach which recognises them as a subjects who should be given the tools to express their will and choose about their own life.
I have read with horror reports on what happens in psychiatric institutions and I completely agree on CELS's view of limiting to the minimum the segregation of the mentally disabled in favour of services to be offered within the community.
The matter has also very interesting legal consequences but I don't want to bore you. If any of you is interested in the issue let me know and I'll forward tons of documents.
I am not sure what I will be doing for the government but - if at all possible - I'd like to work with difficult teenagers, as it's something I wouldn't mind doing once back in Europe.
I have recently found out that Argentina is also known as "second homeland of the Italians" (60% of the population has some Italian descent) and indeed the similarities between the attitude of Argentines and Italians are astonishing.
Argenitines tend not to pay taxes, they do not believe in politicians (understandably, as Argentine politicians seem to be as unreliable and corrupt as the Italian ones), they are very passionate and emocional (some may say too much, but I am Italian so I won't add any comment), they are paranoid about appearence and clothes….
On a more positive note though, they are also very open and genuine, they speak their mind and they do all they can to make you feel porteño even though you've just arrived.
Last but not least, my friend Renata has just confirmed that she's going to visit for a week or so, which is particularly flattering considering that she is going to leave at home 2 little kids to spend some time with me.
Even though I am very happy at the moment, I do miss my friends so seeing her soon is certainly a bonus. Thanks Re!