After a 30-hour journey, we could have been forgiven for not being in the mood to watch a football match. However, “El Clasico” was exactly what we needed to wake us up. In a stadium with a capacity of just over 40,000, there must have been 50,000 people at least. Every seat was filled, and then some! All of these fans were Central supporters, as fans of their rivals, Newell’s Old Boys, weren’t allowed into the stadium on the day of the local derby. The match ended as a win for Central, which was a relief, because as happy as these fans were, I daren’t think how their attitude would have changed if the result had been different! After the match, we met up with our host families at the school and retreated back to their houses for a much-needed sleep.
This was our first day at San Bartolomé School, and we met at 8 o’clock for breakfast before going for a tour around the city. This took us out to the outskirts of Rosario, and we saw for the first time the Rosario-Victoria Bridge, which spans 608m over the Paranhá River. The tour also took us to the famous Monumento a la Bandera (National Flag Memorial). The monument was inaugurated on 20th June 1957, on the anniversary of the death of Manuel Belgrano, the creator of the Argentine flag.
After the tour, we had lessons with the students at San Bartolomé, in which we got to learn more about the people we were staying with and the other pupils. After classes we made the classic Argentinian food, empanadas. If we didn’t like them now, we would have to learn to like them, as they seemed compulsory in Argentina…
This was the big day – the England v Argentina football match. We would have to wait, as first we went to the nursery school of San Bartolomé, where we read books to the kids, and got to learn about “The Rabbit and the Bear”… It was then time to head out to the field for the big international. But even with the captaincy of Jake Morris, we couldn’t salvage a win. In the end we lost 3-2, and there was no “hand of God” to blame it on.
A well-deserved barbecue was in order, Argentinian style.
We started off the day with a chemistry lesson, in Spanish of course, followed by a presentation made by a few of the Upper Sixth to those students intending to come to England next summer.
We then continued with the lessons, with students our own ages, before having tango lessons – which didn’t help our British “two left feet” stereotype…
Finally, a day to do nothing. We met in the morning at school and then took a bus to “La Estancia”. This is a ranch where you can spend the day horse-riding, fishing and generally dossing about, and that’s exactly what we did. Most of us voted for fishing, as it didn’t require much activity, which was a fairly unsuccessful venture. After proving our fishing incompetence, we rode back to the ranch on the trailer of what can only be described as a “classic” tractor.
After returning to school, we all went to a bar called “Johnny B. Good”, which gave us more time to learn about our Argentinian counterparts.
The morning was spent helping out with the kindergarten, mainly helping to make dulce de leche cakes – reason enough to visit the country! This was followed by a tour around “El Circulo”, the main theatre in Rosario, and then a walk along the Paranhá River to the modern art museum. Despite it being closed, we made the most of it and had lunch looking out to the river.
Today was the second day of the trip when we could relax completely. We took a speedboat to the island on the other side of the river. After a week of speaking Spanish, this is exactly what we needed.
This was our final full day in Rosario, and we all met up to spend the final day with all of our hosts. The day was spent mostly playing a football tournament, which slowly turned into Argentina vs. England. Again, a day mainly dedicated to chilling out, it was our last real opportunity to spend some time with our fellow Argentinians.
The day we all dreaded… leaving Rosario. We met at the school with our suitcases in hand and proceeded to Starbucks with everybody for our last meal in Rosario. After a goodbye that lasted far longer than intended (everybody said goodbye about six times), we sadly left the school, but I think most of us knew we would be back as soon as possible.
Then came a four-hour coach journey to Buenos Aires, the neighbouring city to Rosario. We arrived about midday, and after checking into our hotel we went to the local shopping mall, where everything cost about twice as much as in Rosario. That night was spent at a tango show with a sit-down meal. We had been feeling pretty happy with ourselves after the tango lessons a few days previously, so the show quickly brought us back down to earth. We arrived back to the hotel fairly late, which was a good thing in the end, as we had a 12-hour flight and a 24-hour journey ahead of us the following day.
The morning began with a tour of the city, including a trip to Boca – in my opinion the most memorable place of the trip, as it had a classic appearance and had probably not changed much in the past century, with all of the tango dancers on the street. The tour came to an abrupt end, as we headed off for the airport – with none of the enthusiasm we had felt as at the start of the trip…
I would recommend the Argentinian trip to anyone looking at doing Spanish in the future, as it provides experience of the language, instead of just sitting in a classroom with a grammar book. We would like to thank Mr Wright and Matron Donohue for making it a great trip – and of course everybody in Argentina for being so hospitable and welcoming towards us.