A Tale of Three Cities: La Plata

To my fellow direction-impaired readers, I am proud to say that I am successfully learning how to navigate the city of La Plata after three weeks of very creative (and not so efficient) routes. Luckily for us, La Plata is on a grid system, meaning that all of the streets are numbered and go in chronological order. The creativity of navigation comes in when you hit a wonderful road called a diagonal that cuts through the streets, reducing the number of blocks it takes to get from A to B if you know which one to take. Every once in a while a plaza interrupts a street or diagonal, which is great for those who prefer to get around by identifying land marks rather than street numbers, and they are generally nice to walk through. These plazas are effectively very large roundabouts with several streets and sometimes a diagonal running around them, making them probably the most difficult part about navigating the city. In spite of this, the people of La Plata are incredibly friendly and if I am ever unsure about what street I need to turn onto (or even what street I’m on since many are unlabeled) anyone on the street is willing to help. In fact, several times while walking with other William and Mary La Plata students, clearly debating where to turn, people on the streets have stopped and asked us where we needed to go without prompting and kindly pointed us in the right direction. The friendliness of most people also extends beyond appearing helpless or lost. More than once while we’ve been walking to our various homes, we’ve encountered complete strangers walking in the same direction who started a conversation with us. People have often been intrigued by our roots in the U.S. and so far, reactions have varied from giving very useful information about the city to starting a political conversation about the implications of President Obama’s visit on March 24th. In all cases, though, I have felt overwhelmingly welcome as a newcomer in the city.

La Casa del Gobierno, Plaza San Martin

La Casa del Gobierno, Plaza San Martin

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Kim, Lathem, Josh, and Evan in front of the Catedral de La Plata in Plaza Moreno

Kim, Lathem, Josh, and Evan in front of the Catedral de La Plata in Plaza Moreno