I walk in Buenos Aires, pretty much everywhere. I walk the two miles to school and back every day, I walk to the grocery store, and I walk to puppet shows. I walk around cemeteries and museums, and to bars. As such, my feet look like the feet of a very old—if small—orangutan who has been climbing trees for 80 or 90 years. Because my friends, Katie and Hillary, are arriving tomorrow morning from DC, the land of flip-flops and fancy sandals, I decided that my foot shame would be too much to bear with company, and so I went and got a pedicure today.
My feet are now lovely—more like a newborn monkey’s, really—due to the sand-blaster-like machine that was utilized. This is great, but more important was the family who owned the little salon. I was walking back from picking up my bus ticket to Chile (woo hoo!), and saw a hand-painted sign for manicures and pedicures tucked back in this dark, somewhat smelly alley. So, I walked in and an older woman was talking to her two teenage-ish kids in Russian. When I walked in, they all switched to Spanish, which I thought was polite, although I understood only slightly more that way.
Anyway, I went into the little back room with the mother/owner and we started talking (in Spanish) while she gave me my pedicure. Then the daughter left and the son jumped into our conversation. They were from the Ukraine and they might have been the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. For more than an hour the three of us sat there and talked (with, luckily, the son Ude helping with his impressive English when I got stuck). We talked about the Ukraine (a mess), the U.S. (also a mess, they hear), Buenos Aires (meh, but better than Ukraine), Obama (two enthusiastic thumbs up), and accounting classes (a big thumbs down from Ude, who had his book sitting in front of him). We also discussed the fact that I have not been robbed yet, which blew Ude’s mind. (“My American friend here has been robbed three times!!” I’m quite pleased I didn’t hear this my first week here.) When I had to go, the owner not only hugged me, but gave me her 21-year old son’s cell phone number and winked at both of us.