Day 32

Day 32: cleaning day

I slept over last night at the temple again because I stayed late to attend the wedding dinner. I woke up early to take a walk with the sunim and the owner of Feria Americana, and although the owner canceled on us last minute, we still went out. It was a very dirty morning; the morning fog had kept all of the air pollution close to the ground. But as the sun rose, the sky cleared up and the pollution was blown away, like always in Buenos Aires. That’s why I love it here, because despite all of the air pollution, the winds blow it away and you always have a deep blue sky that seems endless. It’s wonderful.

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I had gone for a morning walk with the sunim and the owner of Feria Americana before this past week, and I noticed that there were a lot of elderly Koreans exercising about– so I thought I should come again to take pictures. I was all ready this morning; I even brought my contacts from my casita in San Telmo so that I could take photos without hindrance. We went out, but to my chagrin, there weren’t that many elderly Koreans walking about this morning. The sunim thought that it was because it was a bit early for a Saturday– I thought it was because the morning weather was rather crummy (the sun was not out yet).

Anyhow, we walked over to a park that a lot of Koreans like to go to, and then made our way to a café that is also well frequented by Koreans. Apparently, there are a lot of Koreans living near the Emilio Mitre Subté stop, near Asamblea and Parque Chacabuco. It was evident in the café; there were two groups of Koreans, and as we were having breakfast, we saw from the window several others passing by. It’s funny– but Koreans tend to go to similar cafés and restaurants– they are all clean, have wide open spaces, and have large windows that look out onto the street. We ordered 2 submarinos (chocolate submerged in hot milk), media lunas (croissant-like pastries), and tostados (toast) con queso y manteca (with cheese and butter). I took some sly pictures of the two parties of Koreans. :)

We later slowly made our way back to the temple. It was cleaning time. For the past two-three days, the temple façade has been under construction. Like I said in a previous post, the temple is kind of like a cave; there are no “real” windows that allow any sunlight to enter– so you never know if it’s night or day. So the sunim decided that there should be a window in the façade that would allow some sun to enter, and consequently they have been installing a window in the front of the building. I was mighty glad of this. :)

But it was crazy how thin the walls were. They knocked down the walls with just hammers because all that consisted of the wall was a thin brick (about 3 inches thick) and some plaster-like filler. No wonder you could hear the street traffic so loudly from the interior. Dust flew all over the inside during construction, and because the sunim is so anal about cleanliness, I’ve been helping her the past 2-3 days constantly cleaning. The window was finally installed yesterday, so we cleaned before the wedding dinner, and then this morning again we cleaned.

While cleaning, I discovered that the temple had a rooftop patio! I love rooftop patios– my casita has one too– that my window looks out to. I love to go out and blog on it (as I am doing now…). By then, the sun was out, and after hand-washing all of the microfiber cloths used to wipe the wooden floors, I set them out on a clothes line on the rooftop patio. It was lovely! :)

We then went to go eat lunch at Feria Americana, as we routinely do. :) It’s great, because there’s always other people eating over there, so I get to meet all different types of people. Today, however, I quickly ate and then came back to the temple to finish watching the Argentina v. Germany match– 0-4. :( Talk about total destruction.

As I was coming back home, I saw a crowd of people dressed in blue and white jerseys on the avenida de julio and independencia– I guess they had watched the game somewhere close and were still in the cheering mode, despite the loss.

I invited some friends from church to accompany me to a pizza party hosted by FIECAC/Comissión de Estudiantes Universitarios Coreanos tonight at 7pm. Like I said, I’m kind of in a limbo mode right now (I don’t know what I should go in depth on for my project), so I hope I can get another lead from somewhere… :)


Afterwards: I went to the pizza party with an Argentine girl that I met while visiting the buddhist temple. She comes to the temple to learn Korean and teach the sunim Castellano. She’s studying to become a diplomat and is really friendly and great to talk to. I also invited the ICA teacher’s daughter that I met the other day in Av. Rivadavia. A lot of students went to the event, about 60. I talked to several students and asked how they felt about their identity and if ethnicity should matter when they marry. A lot said that they felt that they were more Korean than Argentine, which is typical, because they grew up with Korean customs and values. As for marriage, a lot of them said that it didn’t matter. One student, however, emphasized that he wanted to marry a professional, regardless of ethnicity. Hmmm… I thought–makes sense since the group is comprised of young, promising and ambitious students aspiring to be professionals.

Afterwards, I went to la Peña del Colorado (a peña is a bar where people typically sing folk music– I love peñas!) with Martina to meet her Korean friends. One was a 20-something woman working at the Centro de Cultura Coreana at the Korean Embassy. She came from Korea and is temporarily posted here but will return shortly. Another was a 20-something, second-generation Korean-Argentine student who doesn’t associate with the Korean community in BsAs, and another was another 20-something 1.5 generation male who works in his parents’ fabric store. It was really interesting to meet and talk to them. I asked them if ethnicity should matter when they marry, and the responses were mixed. The male of the 1.5 generation said that he should like to marry a Korean because of the cultural similarities. The woman working at the embassy said that she didn’t mind ethnicity so much, and the 2nd generation student said he wouldn’t mind but that he was aware that cultural differences existed and could come into conflict and create misunderstandings. He said that he had a Korean friend who married an Argentine woman; they were married for two years until they divorced because of cultural misunderstandings. Cross-cultural marriages are always hard, I think. But I never really thought that I had to marry a Korean; it’s a strange idea to limit yourself to a specific ethnicity.

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