Hello! Here is some information about Argentina in general:
Driving in Argentina. Alright, first off, it´s not as similar as one would think. Seriously, I just about died of fear during my first ride in a taxi, which was just days after my arrival. Lanes don´t exist, so people just pass each other and drive really close sometimes, almost bumping side-view mirrors. I feel like a NASCAR driver trying to squeeze through holes sometimes. 90% of the intersections don´t have stop signs, which makes driving in neighborhoods really interesting. I´m sure you can imagine :) In the states, people still kinda do the rolling stop every once in a while. Here a rolling stop is considered safe. Some people just fly, almost without looking. It took me a while to get used to this aspect of the Argentine roads, and now I kinda like it. Luckily, about 90% of the roads are one-way, with a setup kinda similar to that of downtown Houston. With this in mind, you just have to look one way to check if there are other cars before rolling through the intersection. Still every once in a while--like every couple of days--I will see two cars just go through thinking that the other one is going to stop. Not true haha. One ends up flooring it even more while the other screeches the brakes. One time in centro, a taxi literally came within inches of another one. Then he just floored it, and the intersection just keeps on moving with its normal craziness. Wow, there are so many small differences. You can´t turn right on a red light, but I´ve seen people turn both left and right illegally. haha. I turned right a few times, not knowing of the rule. Like I mentioned in an earlier email. All cars are stick shift. For my whole mission, I have only ridden or drove manual transmission. At first, it just felt kind of annoying and weird. Now, I don´t really think twice about it as I cruise through the streets doing random errands. Most roads don´t have speed limits, so lots of people go WAY TOO FAST. I just drive at a pretty steady speed, sometimes a little faster than I´d like, just to keep up with traffic. And those are the main differences. I have forgotten some but will move on. In sum, driving here in Argentina is a complete adventure, and statistically less wrecks occur here than in the states. Interesting, huh? Alright, moving on.
Birthday. I had a great birthday here in Argentina as a missionary. I planned it with Hermano Bravo, one of the employees of the mission home who repairs random appliances and electrical stuff, so that we could have a great lunch on my birthday. So he arrived with his wife in the morning, and that´s when the great day started. I worked all the way until 10pm the night before and like all day, just to finish almost all of my duties, giving me a free day on Thursday :). So I left with Hermano Bravo to a meat house, where we bought a bunch of "Mar de plata," which means "sea of gold." It is one of the best cuts of meat available here in Argentina, and the Bravos put it to good use here on our parrilla. A parrilla is a giant grill that you use to cook meat over coals. I don´t think there is a good translation into English. It is jsut kinda like BBQ but better :). So everyone chipped in a bit and we ate THE BEST LUNCH EVER. I also opened my packages and just started eating candy!!! haha. It really was a great day, and to top it all off, we had dinner with the president to celebrate. It was a pretty combination between my birthday, Elder Benson finsihing his service in the offices, and Elder Hendrickson going home. So to be a little festive, the president´s wife cooked for all of us. So had two incredibly delicious meals and a super full stomach afterwards haha. Don´t worry, I ran six miles with Elder Benson the day before to prepare. It was our last time running together, so it was kinda sad, especially since I might not have another companion who will run with me like that again.
Sushi. So we all celebrated together. Then to make things even better, the next day we ordered sushi. So don´t worry, I put my birthday money to good use, Grandpa and Grandma Jones and Grandma Schank!! We had the best sushi I´ll ever taste here in Argentina. I think this is one of like three places where it is served in the whole mission. It tasted so incredibly good. I got a classic and philadelphia roll :). Then the next day, I bought some work out equipment while running errands with Elder Camacho. I have to go, so I'll have to explain more next week. Long story short, I have started working out a lot more with the hopes of getting back into great shape. Running with Elder Benson helped a ton, but I am still probably five to 10 lbs heavier than when I started my mission. Don´t worry, my pants still fit. hahaha. This happens to like all the missionaries here, and one of the elders has gained 85 pounds!!!! hahaha. Honestly, I had a great day.
Zone Conference is this coming Thursday.
Well, I gotta go. Love you all. Thanks for everything you guys do.