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I Came. I Explored. I Found Peanut Butter.

 An obligatory photo in front of the Barrio Chino Arch.

After flying from Vermont to New Jersey to Atlanta before finally arriving in Buenos Aires, I was exhausted and nervous about arriving in a new country. My stomach had been in knots for the entirety of my overnight flight because it finally hit me as I heard the safety instructions repeated in Spanish that I was about to spend four months in a country where they spoke a different language.

I was excited to arrive of course, thrilled to finally get off the plane, but my confidence in my Spanish took a hit when I had trouble asking a security guard how to exit the airport. (After going through customs, you had to go through another set of security scanners before you could get to the arrivals gate. I thought the scanners were for people entering the airport, not trying to exit it.)

As I arrived at my homestay and settled in, my worries were settled one by one: my host mom speaks excellent English, so we have no trouble communicating. I explored the area around my homestay and walked the path to school. I was overwhelmed by the city that first day, but my host mom showed me a path to school where I would only need to change streets three times, something even my directionally challenged self could manage. My host mom’s a vegetarian too, so I’ll be able to eat, though my lactose intolerance does pose an additional challenge.

However during my first dinner with my host mom, I stumbled upon a new worry: Argentinians don’t really eat peanut butter.

There were a lot of things I had prepared for, like the language barrier, not having data on my phone and different food in general, but not being able to get peanut butter didn’t even occur to me.

Peanut butter is a staple for me. I put it on bread, I put it on fruit, I put it in smoothies and occasionally I just eat it with a spoon. Peanut is a reliable source of protein for me, and the scarcity of it hit home that I was in a different country.

During orientation, I learned that there was one place in the city guaranteed to have peanut butter, Barrio Chino (Buenos Aires’s China Town). Saturday morning, a day and a half after arriving in Argentina, I set off on a quest in search of peanut butter with one of my classmates.

 Barrio Chino was a lot smaller than we expected.

The walk from my homestay to Barrio Chino took almost two hours (it’s supposed to take about an hour and twenty minutes, but we got lost and had to make a Starbucks stop for Wifi).
 My usual from the states, a Mocha Frappuccino with soy milk,
and a vanilla and dulce de leche muffin, which I've
never seen before (both of which I ordered in Spanish!)

When we arrived, we found a small little China Town, only lasting a couple of blocks. I was thrilled to find peanut butter in the first supermarket we checked.
 Victory in the form of a Chinese Supermarket that contained an eclectic assortment of foreign food that thankfully included peanut butter.

Afterwards, we had lunch at a Chinese buffet that was the perfect blend of different and familiar: they had fried rice and French fries, but also vegetable pies.
 Chicken nuggets, spinach patties and pies, oh my!

We made our way back home with full bellies and peanut butter in hand, proud of our accomplishments. We overcame getting a little lost, managed a few transactions in Spanish and got a lot of exercise. Plus finding familiar things, a Starbucks, a Chinese buffet and peanut butter helped make Buenos Aires feel a little more like home.

Quinn K. is the Fall 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a Junior studying Professional Writing at Champlain College.


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