Post-Chile and pre-Argentina, Abi, Maddy, and I checked out the Tango Café in Pittsburgh’s neighborhood of Squirrel Hill to see what we might encounter during our semester abroad. If I remember correctly, that was the first time I tried mate, and someone ordered a pastry filled with dulce de leche, so I think we got a decent preview! Now that we’ve seen it all and are back, we can recognize everything on the menu and even get a little nostalgic about it. That’s why I had no problem meeting my friend Merritt (another Pitt student we met in BsAs!) there on a Sunday afternoon when the café has its Spanish conversation tables.
The place was just as adorable as I remembered, and I had to smile while reading my options and perusing the display case full of pastries. A group of older men and women had gathered at a round table and began to chat in Spanish. I could tell they were still learning, and also talking about car insurance, so I chose to sit at a different table near the window and just listen. Despite mistakes and obvious struggling by a few members, it was inspiring to see people openly appreciate and immerse themselves in a different culture in any way that they could. It was equally inspiring to be in a place that allowed them to do so!
Then Merritt showed up, so I started appreciating my mate a bit more and focused on getting caught up. All of the little Argentine touches around the place kept distracting us though, and we got sucked into our remember-whens and if-only-we-coulds.
Chocolate-covered alfajores! Hooray!
A lone empanada to accompany that café con leche
Mini Carlos Gardel shrine!
Although we were grasping on to the past, I think mine and Merritt’s memory diving was a necessary form of therapy. I think all study abroad students have some difficulty trying to incorporate the experiences they had with their current and future lives when those experiences seem so far away. There was definitely a lot of travel talk going across the table. Girls can dream, can’t they? We also got into some past and current issues in Latin America, like how some young U.S. economists faked Brazil’s currency to stop crazy inflation and the ongoing exploitation of the land and inhabitants of the Amazon. If you live in/near Pittsburgh, I brought up the city’s Spanish language meet up, too! We might check out their Christmas gathering on December 3rd.
I’d say it was an extremely productive and therapeutic trip to the Tango Café – a breath of fresh air after all the school craziness we’ve had lately. Now that I’m in the holiday spirit, I can end by saying that I’m thankful for good friends, future plans and dreams, and little bits of Argentina to remind me of the “good ol’ days”.