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Don't Forget About Tennis in Buenos Aires

juan-martin-del-potro-argentine-tennis-playerCatching a football game, whether is Boca Junior, River or even a minor league team, is no doubt a must-do while visiting Buenos Aires. Football to the Argentines is almost like a religion, taking up pretty much all the spotlights in the local sports news. However, there is another sport also garners a lot of audience and participants in Argentina and that is tennis.

As Argentine pro-tennis players made their ways into the top spots in the international tennis world, like Guillermo Vila in the 1970’s and Gabriela Sabatini in the late 80’s/early 90’s, everyone at home was paying attention. In recent years, the passion for tennis has seen a special boost especially when Guillermo Cañas made headlines worldwide by defeating Federer twice in 2007 which was during a time when Federer was almost unbeatable (except by Rafael Nadal), and then in 2009 when Juan Martín del Potro, nicknamed La Torre de Tandil (The Tower from Tandil, the city where he is from) for his height, won the US Open champion title by having defeated Nadal in the semi and Federer in the final. Since then, we have been cheering on La Torre on newspapers and TV news whenever he played. Unfortunately due to a recurring and troubling wrist problem, he is currently out of the circuit and is recovering from his second surgery.

Many different tennis tournaments, ATP games and special events take place in Buenos Aires yearly. Like this week, we are having the ATP Argentina Open. Rafael Nadal and many top players like Tommy Robredo, Fabio Fognini, Argentine Leonardo Mayer and Pablo Cuevas are participating. At published time, it looks like Nadal is well on his way heading to the final round. If you are in town, get your tickets here now while they are still available. The Argentina Open takes place at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club from Feb 23 – Mar 1, 2015.

Then in 2 weeks from March 6-8, we will be hosting the All-South America world group first round of Davis Cup. We will be playing against Brazil – not only our rivalry on the football field! The Argentina team fares pretty well generally at the world cup of tennis. We are currently at No. 5 in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking out of 133 participating countries. Get your ticket and event information here, and let’s cheer for Argentina on the tennis courts!

Vamospanish

 

 

How To Stay In Shape In Buenos Aires Part 2: Indoor Edition

exercise indoor while learning spanish in buenos airesBuenos Aires generally has very nice weather, but once in a while we do have extreme heat or a cold front from Patagonia or electric rainstorms. In order not to let these get in the way of your fitness routine, you can easily bring them indoors. First and foremost, we have many FITNESS CENTERS, or gimnasios (gyms) all over town. As more and more Argentines get on the fitness train, gym popularity is at an all time high. New ones pop up almost every week, and they all get really packed during the week after 6pm. All the gyms offer monthly and yearly packages, but some also have weekly or even day passes for those who are just in Buenos Aires for a short stay. Depending on what kind of fitness studio you are looking for, you will be able to find many choices.

Two of the biggest and most popular fitness chains in Buenos Aires are MEGATLON and SPORT CLUB. Both of them have multiple branches and they are the ones that you will most likely come across while walking around town. Since being a member of these clubs means you have access to all of their facilities at any of their branches, their membership fees are also a bit more expensive. For the higher price though, they are very well equipped with a huge variety and newer machines, an impressive schedule of classes like spinning, yoga, pilates, cross fit, shadow boxing, dance aerobic and so on. Some of them even have pools for swimming laps and also classes.

If you do not live close to one of these big fitness centers or simply watching your wallet, you can always look for smaller gyms in your neighborhood. This kind of studio is a lot more economical, while they may not have as many fancy machines, that doesn’t mean they are less equipped. The cardio and muscle departments still have all the usual suspects and are sufficient for all the basic workouts. Nevertheless, don’t expect a pool or lots of extra room/floor space for doing additional exercises. I would actually say that these small gyms are better for working out because generally there are not as many people around and you can do your program a lot more efficiently. A good thing that both big chains and small studios have in common is that they all have at least 2 or 3 personal trainers on site and they are there to help you out with any exercise questions that you may have.

If you feel typical fitness studios aren’t tough enough and want to bring that workout to another level, then you probably want to try out CROSSFIT. Since this trend has arrived Buenos Aires a few years ago, there are more and more crossfit studios opened up in the city. The big fitness chains offer this type of special program too, which is already included in its more expensive fee, but if you care for just the crossfit training, then sign up at a studio that is specialized in crossfit.

A more relaxed way to do something good for your body as well as for your soul is YOGA. Like all around the world the yoga boom did not miss Buenos Aires. As you can already imagine the big fitness studios offer yoga classes too, but I would recommend to go to a yoga studio which usually provides higher quality classes and more personalized instructions. Some of them also offer classes in English.

A great way to exercise your whole body while having fun and learning how to defend yourself is MARTIAL ARTS. From kickboxing to krav maga to muay thai, you can find all types of self-defense arts here in town. For these special types of training, rather than the big fitness chains, you will have to look up individual studio that specializes in its own discipline. If you are interested but don’t know where to start, check out Dojoclub in Palermo, they are a martial arts training club offering a variety of classes, like karate, kickboxing, muay thai, jiujitsu and taekwondo.

Lastly, another sport that will put your whole body to the test is ROCK CLIMBING. This activity will take you from indoor training to eventually outdoor climbing excursions facing the natural formation. Classes are offered at all levels. You can also rent shoes and gears at the studio in case you don’t have yours or not ready to commit 100% to this sport yet. If you are already a climber, you can simply pay a per use fee or become a member to use the facility. Many of the rock climbing schools are outside of the city but there are a few that are easily accessible in the city: Punto Cumbre, Bien Alto and Rustik.

For more workout ideas, also check out our How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires Part 1: Outdoor Edition .

Happy exercising!!

Vamospanish

Ways to Put Your Spanish Skills to the Test While Learning Spanish in Buenos Aires

As we are learning a foreign language, other than making sure we are grasping the grammar and applying them correctly in a classroom setting, we often feel like testing ourselves and trying to see how we actually fare in the real world. Able to interact with native speakers is definitely one of the best ways to achieve that. Having a language immersion experience like learning Spanish in Buenos Aires with us at Vamos Spanish Academy, will definitely allow you to have lots of these opportunities once you step out of the classroom and into the streets since you will be living the language.

For beginners, going about doing everyday chores like ordering at a restaurant, getting your take-out coffee, and buying fruits at a verdulería (vegetable/fruit stand) where it is not customary self-served here in Buenos Aires, would already give you lots of real life practice opportunity. For those who feel comfortable enough to carry a more in-depth conversation in Spanish, there are various language exchange events available in the city. One of them, which Vamos Spanish students frequent a lot, is Mundolingo. It is a free event where everyone will sticker their chest with country flags representing the languages you speak including the one you are learning, and using these stickers as indicators to find each other who want to practice your mother tongue and in exchange to help you with your Spanish. This is a great way not only to make new friends (local and international) but also to work on your Spanish speaking skills.

We actually have another suggestion which you could put your Spanish comprehension to test while you are here in Buenos Aires studying Spanish. It might sound a bit daring for some Spanish learners, and it is stand up comedy in Spanish! Generally we wouldn´t recommend typical Argentine stand up shows because they involve a lot of local slangs not to mention the comedians speak at a speed of light. It definitely won’t be a very encouraging experience unless you have already reached a very advanced level and also are familiar with the Argentine colloquial and local culture.

However, we have come across just the right one for you all Spanish learners out there. This particular stand up show in Spanish is done by Kristof Micholt, an European who has lived in Buenos Aires for many years. He speaks at a good speed and uses way less slangs and complicated words. Also, he shares his vast experience and interesting encounters being a foreigner in this city, which Spanish students who are also visiting Buenos Aires would probably find them very relatable and have a good laugh!

You can find his show “Un Belga en Argentina” every Thursday at 10PM at Paseo La Plaza (Corrientes 1660). More info at website: elbelgastandup.com.ar

Here is a taste of the show:

Vamospanish

How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires Part 1: Outdoor Edition

Run a marathon while learn spanish in buenos aires

Everybody who visits Buenos Aires is aware of all its good steaks, tasty empanadas, silky helados (ice-cream) and melt-in-the-mouth rabas (fried calamari), and so do I! I have been living in this city for 3 years so far and since I don’t (and will never!) have the intention to miss all the good food and drinks I have to come up with a plan to keep my weight in a healthy state. After having started looking, I was amazed at how accessible they are and the quantity of activities you can easily find all over Buenos Aires to keep you in shape.

So, the first and most typical activity to do is RUNNING. Simply put on your running shoes and exercise outfit, and off you go. Buenos Aires has a lot to offer for people who just want to have a run. There are the Bosques de Palermo and the Recoleta area which have their running tracks, then there’s the Reserva Ecológica (Ecological reserve) in Costanera Sur (close to San Telmo), and also the many parks and plazas around town in an urban landscape where you will not only have fun jogging but also experience the city in a different way.

In case you do not have a running partner but would love to have some company while working out, you will probably find some meet up running clubs that suit your needs on the webpage of the Club de Corredores. A lot of half marathons and marathons, especially in the summer months, take place all around the city. If you run in the Palermo parks, you will no doubt see a lot of promotion for these kinds of running activities. Another way to have fun and explore the city running is the Urban Running Tours. A professional trainer and experienced runner will meet up with you at your preferred time and will guide you through the city streets running, telling you interesting facts of the sites as you pass them by. They run different tours focusing on different parts of the city every day and they can plan tours according to your needs as well. See their website for more information.

If you are a person who loves to be on two wheels, there are also a lot of possibilities to BIKE in Buenos Aires. The city has put in a lot of effort in the past few years encouraging cycling and converting Buenos Aires into a bike-friendly city. While there’s still room for improvement and you should definitely take notes from our Tips on Biking Safely in Buenos Aires, the city has really come a long way to provide us with many bike lanes with traffic lights, conveniently intertwine throughout the city and all the major parks for leisure biking.

Part of the effort from the Buenos Aires city government is running the Public Bicycle Sharing Program, which is now also available to tourists. (Go here for registration instructions for tourists). Even though this public bike service is free of charge, they do have their limitations as they are not available all the time and have a maximum of 1 hour per rental.  As cycling becomes a more prominent activity, so do bike rental businesses which offer more flexibility on when and where you want to have a ride. Many of the popular city bike tour companies, like Biking Buenos Aires and La Bicicleta Naranja, offer different city tours as well as bike rentals. There are also companies focus on rental service only like Che Bikes which has longer term rental than others. For those who want to buy a bike, you can easily purchase a new (usually expensive) one at any bike shops you find in town, or try these websites to find a bargain on an used one: Mercadolibre.com.ar (our local ebay-like site), Craigslist or these Facebook groups: “intercambio de bicicletas” and “compra/venta/canje argentina fixed gear”.

If challenging your body to the limit is your thing (including being screamed at while doing this), then there is Bootcamp Buenos Aires for you. You can check out their different schedules and meeting points on their website here, and also sign up there. You will meet up with other people and your instructor will hunt you through the Palermo woods or the Recoleta neighborhood and try to give you the worst time of your life – ENJOY!

Last but not least, we of course can’t put to waste all the beautiful outdoor green space in Buenos Aires without some outdoor YOGA. You can find yoga lessons take place in the Bosques de Palermo (on a nice sunny day) and in different parks in the city on the weekends and they are free to participate. Follow this link to see the schedule and organizers of the free outdoor yoga classes that are currently available during these summer months. For the rest of the year, join “Yoga Gratis en Buenos Aires” Facebook group to keep updated.

Don’t forget to check back in for our Part 2: Indoor Edition on How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires.

Happy Working out!

Vamospanish

Free Outdoor Summer Events in Buenos Aires

movie in Palermo parks Buenos Aires

Photo by Gustavo Correa, from Festivales de Buenos Aires FB.

Foreigners who are visiting Buenos Aires in January and February are most likely escaping from the cold weather in the northern hemisphere; thus, feeling the sun and being outdoor as much as possible is always high on the agenda. Last week, we have already given you some beach ideas around the city, but you may ask, how about after the sun sets, what are there to do to stay outside? Good news, there are actually quite some great options other than just grabbing a bite at a nice restaurant´s patio.

From now till February 8, a city-wide summer festival called Verano en La Ciudad is offering up a bunch of activities in the evenings. Stages and seatings have been set up at various outdoor locations, like parks and plazas, at different neighborhoods in the city where you will get to enjoy live concerts, theatre, milonga, circus performaces and movie screenings.

If you are more of a fan of the classic arts, then head over to Teatro Colón because they are bringing their shows outdoor! Well, not exactly a live performance, but they will be showing some of the best international opera, ballet and symphony productions on a big screen at the Plaza Vaticano which is right next to the theatre. This will take place from January 15 to February 7, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

All of the aforementioned events are free of charge. Seats are first come first serve so go early! For more information and the schedules, visit their corresponding websites:

Verano en La Ciudad

Festival de Música en Plaza Vaticano

Now, let`s hope the weather will cooperate and cause no interruption to our outdoor fun!

Vamospanish

How to Get a Beach-like Experience in Buenos Aires

buenos-aires-urban-beachesTalking about beaches, we have good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad one first: Buenos Aires does not have beaches. Yup, you heard it, as misleading as it appears on the map sitting right next to the water, which is our Rio de la Plata, this city does not have beautiful beaches unfortunately. However, the good news is that there are many nice ones close by, where the closest one is just a few hours away (See map below, click to enlarge). These beach destinations are also where you can find many porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) vacationing and escaping the heat of the city during January and February, our summer months.
Visit-beaches-while-study-spanish-in-buenos-aires

Of course not everyone get the time to go to the nearby beaches, our city government also thought about that and here is another good news. 2 man-made sand beaches will be open to the public from January 9 to March 1, 2015 at Parque de los Niños in the north end of the city and Parque Roca in the south end. This idea of ´beach in the city´ is actually inspired by Le Paris Plage along el Seine in Paris. Even though you won´t get to go into the water, these beaches will have a nice Rio de la plata view and also well-equipped with beach chairs, beach umbrellas, cabana beds, wifi zone, showers to cool off, football/beach volleyball courts, reading lounge, wave pool etc. Futhermore, there will also be aerobic classes, dance classes, live music shows etc. on selected days. Everything is free access. Opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 8pm. Check out their facebook page to keep updated.

As part of Buenos Aires playas 2015, a few of the city`s parks and plazas will also be equipped with sunshades and beach chairs, turning into an urban outdoor solarium. Opening hours are Friday – Sunday 10am – 8pm. Free access, first come first serve. You can find them at:

Palermo – Av. Figueroa Alcorta y La Pampa, Palermo
Parque Las Heras – Av. Las Heras y Av. Coronel Díaz, Palermo
Rosedal – Av. Sarmiento y Av. Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Plaza de las Naciones Unidas – Av. Figueroa Alcorta y Juan A. Biblioni, Recoleta
Plaza Rubén Darío – Av. del Libertador y Austria, Recoleta
Plaza Almagro – Perón y Salguero, Almagro
Plaza Boedo – Sánchez de Loria y Carlos Calvo, Boedo
Plaza Giordano Bruno – Giordano Bruno y Neuquén, Caballito
Parque Rivadavia – Ingreso por Rosario y Viel, Caballito
Plaza Roque Sáenz Peña – Av. Juan B. Justo y Boyacá, Villa Mitre

Don´t forget the sunscreen, the sun is very strong here!

Vamospanish

Savory Pionono - The Summer Christmas Food in Buenos Aires

savory-christmas-food-in-buenos-aires-summer

To many, Christmas is associated with snow, white, winter, fireplace, hot apple cider etc., but to as many others, including us here in Buenos Aires, Christmas is heat, humidity, summer, pool, and cold drinks; thus, the type of dishes at our Christmas dinner table are different and are more suitable for a hot summer night.

One of the common dishes you will come across and also see being sold as ‘take-home ready’ at confiterías (bakeries/cafés) is pionono. Pionono in Argentina is a very versatile dish and it can be easily made at home. It’s basically a sponge cake roll stuffed with anything you like, can be sweet or savory. Usually as a traditional dessert, it’ll have a very generous layer of dulce de leche, get rolled up like a log and then get covered or decorated with confectioner’s sugar, chocolate or more dulce de leche and cherries. Like this:

traditional-easy-to-make-argentine-dessert

The savory pionono (top picture) is, however, the Summer dish you’ll see at Christmas dinner. Since they can and do come in many different combinations, more than 1 version is usually served to suit the taste buds of everyone. The most popular style is the Pionono Primavera which has mayonnaise, lettuce, hard boiled eggs, ham, tomatoes, red pepper, and olives. This version also comes in tuna instead of ham. Another version which is also very common is made with mayonnaise, ham and hearts of palm (a very typical ingredient in our summer dishes/salads).

As you can see, the most complicated part of this dish is the pionono, the actual sheet of sponge cake. In Buenos Aires, you can easily find it in any small or big supermarkets (just like the package shown in the picture above). Then, the sky is the limit of what you like to “roll” into it, just remember to keep the moisture in check. For those who have the skill and enjoy making food from scratch, check out this video which will walk you through the do’s and don’ts when baking the perfect pionono. (It’s from a local program, time to practice your Spanish!)

We also want to mention that we love to munch and drink throughout the night. Check out our favorite festive food items in Argentina, they will keep you busy from dinner time till the clock strikes 12 when it’s time for the fireworks!

Have a jolly celebration everyone! ¡Felices Fiestas y Feliz Navidad!

Vamos Spanish

Good Eats in Argentina: Gaucho-style Asado

food-tradition-in-buenos-aires-ArgentinaArgentina is famous for its tasty beef not just because of the quality of the meat itself but just as importantly, the method of cooking them. The Argentine asado (barbeque) uses sheer dry heat from the charcoals and then the key is slow cook the meat. Most of the parrillas (steakhouses) in the city offer the “a la parrilla” (on the grill) type of asado, but there is another style which actually has a more traditional root coming from the gaucho (Argentine cowboy) culture. This style is called “al asador“, where an entire piece of meat, usually it’s the rib cut called tira de asado, is secured on a spit with a crossbar and get slowly roasted on an open fire for hours (more specifically, no less than 4 hrs.). For many Argentines, that is the real deal of Argentine asado.

In the city of Buenos Aires, it is not that easy to find asado al asador due to limited space but when you head to el campo (countryside) at una estancia (ranch), or even to other provinces, like Patagonia, which are more wide open, they are a lot more common. Nevertheless, there are definitely restaurants in Buenos Aires that serve this gaucho-style of Argentine asado. (Some purists do not consider these establishments are offering the authentic asado, which is referred to as ‘asado a la estaca‘, because they are not cooked outside in an open space where the air and the wind play a big part in the cooking.)

As said before, since asado al asador requires a lot more space and much longer time to cook the meat, restaurants which offer it also serve asado a la parrilla, so when you find yourself at one of these places and want to try this specific type of asado, remember to tell the waiter that you want el asado al asador when you order.

So here, without further ado, is a list of Buenos Aires restaurants that serve this gaucho-style asado:

Estilo Campo Alicia M. de Justo 1840, Puerto Madero

Las Nazarenas Reconquista 1132, Retiro

La Chacra Av. Córdoba 941, Centro

La Estancia Lavalle 941, Centro

Lo de Rosendo Castro Barros 502, Almagro

La Tranquera Av. Figueroa Alcorta 6464, Belgrano

 

Vamospanish

Eclectic Activities on a Long Weekend in December Buenos Aires

things-to-do-while-studying-at-buenos-aires-spanish-school-palermoDecember is here. Temperature is rising. Tons of events are taking place on this long weekend in Buenos Aires:

Buenos Aires Market
This ever-growing and very popular healthy fresh food market is having its last one this year in 2014. Over 70 different food vendors, from producers to cooks, will set up shop this Saturday December 6 and Sunday December 7 from 10am – 7pm in Parque Rivadavia, Caballito. You will get to taste and buy prepared food as well as grocery shop fresh produce directly from those who farm them. The market is free entrance but remember to bring enough cash if you intend to make purchases.

La Gran Milonga Nacional
What more romantic than dancing tango with live music in the background under sparkling lights in a tree-lined street accompanied by historical french-style architecture? To us, that’s something pretty hard to beat and the best thing is that scenario is not from a movie at all, you can totally experience it first hand at this Saturday’s annual outdoor tango event, La Gran Milonga Nacional. Avenida de Mayo will be blocked off from Plaza de Mayo to Av. 9 de Julio, from 8pm to 3am and it’s FREE. Whether you dance or not, just go and soak up the passion and romance in the air!

Feria Internacional de Artesanías de Buenos Aires
This annual fair is hands down one of our favorites throughout the year in Buenos Aires, and we go to a lot! Read our account from last year’s event and you will understand why this fair is different from any other arts and crafts markets. If you need to buy presents to bring home for Christmas, then you definitely don’t want to miss out this event: December 3 – 8, 2014 from 3pm to 10pm at La Rural, Palermo. General admission: AR$45.

Christmas Fair at British Embassy
This family-friendly fundraising event is a Christmas tradition for the Argentine British Community Council. The Gardens of the British Embassy (Newton 2575, Recoleta) will open its doors this Saturday December 6 from 11am to 7pm. There will be an arts & crafts market and food stands, together with Santa Claus (at 4pm), carol singing, live band from Salvation Army, jumping castle, raffles and so on. Entrance fee is AR$30, free for children under 12 years old. Photo ID is required at entrance. It’s never too early to get in some Christmas spirit!

¡Qué tengan un buen fin de semana!

Vamospanish

How to Better Understand Local Spanish in Buenos Aires

PrintAmong many students who have come to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires, they all have one common comment and that is Argentines, especially porteños (those from the big city Buenos Aires), speak really fast and it’s hard to understand. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires many years ago with the little Spanish I had in my pocket, I didn’t get bothered too much by the speed because I just thought I wasn’t good enough. As I slowly increased my Spanish fluency over the years, I do realize that porteños seem to speak a lot faster than others but that isn’t just because of the speed, it has a lot to do with the words they use too. One thing obvious is that they love to shorten a lot of their frequently-used words.

Let me explain.

In order to get their ideas across faster, Argentines love to abbreviate words by shortening or combining them. One term you’d hear regularly when it comes to food is “chori” for chorizo (beef sausage)/choripan (beef sausage with bread) and “chimi” for chimichurri (THE sauce to go with the meat), as you know how much we love our choripan with chimi! Others like common objects: “compu” for computadora (computer), “pelu” for peluquería (hair salon), “zapa” for zapatillas (runners/sneakers. Don’t confuse with zapatos which mean shoes in general)… the list goes on.

Of course not every word will be/can be shortened, that’d just sound too ridiculous, but there’s definitely a pattern. Once you start paying attention, you’ll get to catch on quickly. To further demonstrate and with more examples, here is a typical conversation scenario between 2 friends run into each other:

JORGE – ¡Ey! ¡Hola Rami! ¿Cómo andás?
RAMIRO – ¡Hola Jorge! ¿Cómo estás? Hace mucho tiempo que no te veo en mi barrio. ¿Qué onda?
J-  Todo bien. Voy a buscar a mi novia para ir al cine. Tengo entradas para la nueva peli[cular] con Ricardo Darín. y ¿vos, qué vas a hacer?
R – Nada interesante. Tengo que comprar una mochi[la] (backpack) para my hijo porque este finde (fin de semana) me voy con mi familia para Mardel (Mar del Plata) a descansar un poco sin el celu[lar] y sin la compu[tadora].
J- Genial. Necesitabas unas vacaciones.
R- Sí, porque en el trabajo me volvieron loco este año. Estoy cansado de tanta tecnología. A mi mujer y a mi nos pareció que estaría bueno si les mostramos a los chicos una vida más tranqui[la]. Unos días juntos sin tanta tele[visión].
J- Claro, así ellos también van a poder descansar del cole[gio] (this refers to primary or secondary schools).
R- Sí, porque en esta época del año los profes[ores] se ponen muy estrictos con los examenes. ¿Viste? Che Rami, cambiando el tema, ¿Contame cómo vas con la facu[ltad] (university)?
J- Bárbaro. Aprobé todo los examenes y me queda sólo un cuatri[mestre] para recibirme.
R- Te felicito. ¡Me alegra! Uy, casí olvidé que tengo que pasar por el súper[mercado] también para comprar carne para esta noche. Si no, me va a matar mi mujer.
J- jaja. Dale. ¡Qué tengan un buen viaje! Mandame un mail después contándome como te fue, porfa (por favor).
R- Dale. ¡Cuidate amigo!

Now that you know this little tip, hope it’ll help you to ‘listen’ better and able to catch more words from a fast talking Argentine. You may realize you can understand more than you thought!

Isabel
Vamospanish