It is the week of my homestay and Spanish and Tango lessons. I am studying at Coined language school in the Monserrat barrio near Centro and staying with a lovely Argentinian women called Viviana. I wake up at 6.45am to Viviana gently knocking on my door - and assess the puffiness of my eyes. Conclusion: Very fucking puffy.
I leave with the moon still high in the sky and get the Subte (subway) along with the rest of the commuters and arrive at the school for my Spanish level test at 8am. I feel like telling them that I already know how much Spanish i'll be able to speak at that time in the morning – even less than I do the rest of the day! True to form - I know nada, its the first ever test I take where I actually leave most of it blank.
There are two young pretty Brazilian girls in the class - Anna Carolina and Natalia and a tanned, gently balding South African man in his forties called Andre. He has watched me stare mutely at the test paper for half an hour...
“ Oh Dominique!” exlaims Andre...who has smugly already informed us that he has studied Spansh for years...” you are not going to say anything the whole lesson! You better get everything out of your system now cos the teacher will probably say the whole thing in Spanish!”
Ticiana our teacher comes in, she has mousy curls, rosy cheeks and a toothy grin. Sadly what Andre hasn't realised is that Argentinian Spanish is different to the Spanish spoken in the rest of South, Central America and indeed Spain. Some verb conjugations are different eg. In stead of Tu Es (You are singlular) its Vos Sos. Some of the pronunciation is different - “Y” and “ll” in Spanish are pronounced as a “Y” and in Argentina as a soft “J” and some verbs are the same but have entrely different meanings. For example “Cocer” means “to take” in Spanish and “to Fuck” in Argentina – radially changing the meaning of “can you take my mother in your car....” depending on where you are.
This seems to throw Andre, but as I am a complete beginner but do have pretty good French (another romantic language which shares many of the same grammatical rules as Spanish) I get by just fine.
We learn the words for old and young and Andre decides to argue that at 38 (a year older than myself) Charlize Theron is old. When I reveal that I used to work for Arsenal Football club he turns to me and exlaims:
"DOMINIQUE!!! you must have been so much OLDER than all the players there!!!!”
Well - yes - as the average age of an Arsenal player is about 19 - I was - but still - no need to point it out!
I imagine Andre and I are going to have words at some point.
After school i try and get onto the internet but all the computers i try keep shutting down as its playing up.
"DOMINIQUE!!! – YOU 'VE GIVEN THE COMPUTERS A VIRUS!!!!"
shouts Andre gleefully.
Its going to be a long week....
After school I walk down to Puerta Madero – the expensive new port by the water. I sit and blow two days budget on my first glass of white wine in the city and some calamari. Its worth it. I walk back via cafes and (because i'm drunk) imagine being a little old woman looking at the young chicas and waving my cane as the radio is playing old spanish tunes. I'm not quite sure how I will metamorphosise into an old Spanish crone...but I go with it. I won't care about being old and haggard as long as i've made the most of every age I am now until I get there.