Saturday, November 9, 2013

Return to Buenos Aires – The Search For Magic Donuts And The Ministry Of Education

It was great getting a second chance to visit Buenos Aires, but pleasure wasn’t the reason behind this trip. In order to attend college in Argentina, I needed to have my education from the United States validated. So, in August, I traveled to the capital to drop off copies of my diploma and transcripts at the Ministry of Education. After two months, I received a notice that my validation had been approved. So, I headed back to Buenos Aires with my spouse to pick up the validation certificate I’d need to present to the university. Before you ask, no, they couldn’t mail it to me. I had to show up in person. 
Unlike the last time, where I used a train, I traveled by bus to B.A. I was a bit nervous because my uncle was killed in a bus accident in Cordoba in 2004. Fortunately, my anti-anxiety medication helped me through the trip. I’d never used a bus service before, not even in the States, but it was better than I expected. 
The passengers were provided with a tray of food and dessert, plus quiche. We were also given a soft drink and afterwards, whisky. I declined on the whisky because I was afraid it would interact with my medication.
After forcing us to watch a dated, and rather boring movie, they shut the lights off and allowed us to sleep. The night was peaceful and free of conversation, unlike my experience on the train two months ago. By morning, we were provided with coffee and an “alfajor”. An “alfajor” is a sandwich cookie coated in chocolate with “dulce de leche” in the middle. 
Tower of the English - Argentina's mini Big Ben courtesy of Britain
We arrived at the “Retiro” bus station in the district capital of Buenos Aires by 7:30 am. We decided to do a little sightseeing before heading to “Magic Donut” for breakfast. 

Monument Of The Lives Lost During the Falkland/Malvinas War

Magic Donut is somewhat similar to Dunkin Donuts back home in the U.S. They had a wide variety of great tasting donuts. While Cordoba has a few bakeries that sell donuts, most taste like a salty bagel with icing on the top. Magic Donut was the real deal and I can only hope that they’ll consider opening up a branch in Cordoba in the future. 
Afterwards, we headed to the Ministry of Education to retrieve my validation. An hour later, I was called into a cubicle and given the validation certificate. 
Unfortunately, nothing has ever gone smoothly since I set foot in Argentina, and this time was no different. Before I left, the clerk told me that I had to go to another Ministry of Education in Avenida de Mayo to have the certificate he just provided me legalized. If I failed to do this, the validation would have no value at the National University of Cordoba where I plan to attend next year. I came out of there feeling a little pissed. 
I had a panic attack because I thought this would take more time, and that I wouldn’t be able to return to Cordoba with my validation. I ended up spending 50 pesos to get to Avenida de Mayo. Traffic was horrible, but I made it. Before I went in, I told my spouse that if this didn’t work, I was going to call his family and beg them to let us move back to the Bronx. Why would I ask this? Because my parents, who have helped us survive in Argentina over the past 16 months, had only one demand in exchange for us staying here and giving us our own home. I had to study and get my degree. If I failed, who knows how they’d react? Failure was not an option. So, I went in, took a number and waited. Ten minutes later, my number was called and I presented my certificate at the window where the clerk legalized it and told me I was done. 

I was almost in tears. I can't tell you what a nightmare it’s been and how much money has been wasted making this possible. But like the clerk said, I was done. FINALLY! Now, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day with my spouse.

We took a cab to the Alto Palermo Shopping Center. We headed straight to the food court for some Kentucky Fried Chicken, which, unfortunately, they don't have in Cordoba.   

After KFC, we headed for the TGIF restaurant outside the mall for some drinks and dessert. This is the second TGIF I’ve been in. The last one I visited was in Puerto Madero back in August. The service was great, and unlike the last time, I wasn’t charged a 30-peso fee for using the utensils. 
Then we went to Cinemark Cinema to watch the remake of Carrie. I’m not a fan of remakes, but this film was great.  Chloe Grace Moretz (the little girl from Kick Ass) played Carrie. During the prom scene where Carrie goes nuts, Carrie uses her telekinetic powers in a dark and vengeful way. She’s not crazed like in the original film with Sissy Spacek.

After the film, we did some more sightseeing, while we headed back to the bus station. Click on any of the photos in this entry to enlarge the image. 
At the station, I tried taking advantage of the restroom to change my shirt and wash my hands, but it turns out that there are these bums in the men and women’s bathroom holding the toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels hostage. The only way to get these amenities is to pay them. Call me pig-headed, but I couldn't accept those terms. So, I walked out and waited for the bus.

We almost missed the bus because we were waiting at the wrong terminal lane, but we made it within seconds to spare. 
I was really looking forward to the complimentary dinner on the bus, which did not disappoint. This time, I chose to take advantage of the whisky that was offered to us. Call me a square, but I’m not really a heavy drinker. I usually don’t have more than two glasses. I’ve never even been drunk. I have gotten a bit buzzed though. After tasting the whisky, I understood why I don’t drink heavy liquor. It was gross. Plus, whisky and anti-anxiety meds don’t mix. I was knocked out most of the trip back to Cordoba. 
Anti-anxiety meds and Whisky = bad mix
Now I just have to wait until December 2nd to register at the Psychology building at the National University of Cordoba (aka UNC or Universidad Nacional De Cordoba). Wish me luck... again! 

Check out the video I took of Buenos Aires below

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