Saturday, July 26, 2008
Ok, here's the rundown on the pictures from the Recoleta Cemetary: the first is one of the hundreds of mausoleums in the cemetary, each of them differently designed. The above picture is a testament to Argentina's immigrant past (and frankly, the most hilarious name I've ever seen). Then, a really old mausoleum that has broken in the front so you can peek in and see the actual coffins just inches away...next a view down one of the mausolem-lined pathways. Then another mausoleum, and finally one of the many plaques on the mausoleum of Evita, dedicated by the town of Almirante Brown. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
In other, completely unrelated news, I discovered one of the wierdest places ever a few days ago - the Recoleta Cemetary! It's a huge graveyard in the middle of the city where all of the rich people of Buenos Aires have been buried (and still are!) since the 1800s. But there's no grass or dirt like in a normal cemetary - just tons of narrow paved pathways lined with family mausoleums, most at least 8 feet high and squished together like those tall skinny houses in San Francisco. The place is gigantic, and the pathways crisscross in all directions, making it really easy to get completely lost among all the dead folks.
A lot of the mausoleums have windows in them, and you can look in and see actual coffins stacked atop each other like or (for those who prefer to be underground) creepy narrow staircases going down into darkness. One was broken in the front, and when I looked in I saw a sunken room filled with four stacks of cobwebby coffins, stacked seven high. Adding to the general creepiness are the dozens of cats padding silently down the paths or sitting atop the mausoleums, staring at you as you walk by. We asked our tour guide why there were so many cats there and she said simply "Hay ratones" - "There are rats"
It was so wierd and creepy and a perfect horror-movie setting, especially because we got there right before 6, closing time, so there weren't a lot of people there and the sun was just starting to go down. Definitely one of my top 5 places in Buenos Aires so far! Pictures coming soon, I promise!
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Since it's the off-season for tourists (it's winter here), Colonia was pretty sleepy, but really pretty. It's a smallish town that's been passed back and forth between the Spanish and Portuguese at least 10 times over the last 400 years, but finally ended up with the Spanish. Everybody on the street is carrying a thermos of boiling water and a maté bombilla - maté is a really strong tea that's everywhere in Argentina and Uruguay. It's really popular and almost everybody drinks it, but unfortunately it's definitely an acquired taste. In my personal opinion, it's kind of like drinking dirt. Anyway, we spent Friday exploring the town and went out to dinner at El Portón, a restaurant recommended by the owner of the hostel we were staying at. I asked the waiter what the "comida más famosa de Uruguay" (the most famous Uruguayan food), he recommended something called Parillo (or something like that), which is shared between two people. Trusting person that I am, I ordered it, and well...I'll describe it and let you decide for yourself. First, they put potato salad, shredded lettuce and tomato slices on a huge plate. Then they pile french fries on top, then a couple of thin steaks, followed by bacon, a generous covering of melted cheese, and two fried eggs. The whole thing is garnished with green olives and rolled up slices of ham. More or less three heart attacks on a plate. That was the first time I've ever eaten steak, bacon and ham in the same bite...and hopefully the last! A true Uruguayan experience.
The next day we woke up to seventy-degree weather!! Keep in mind it's winter here - it was unbelievable! We found a big playa (beach) that was almost completely deserted, and played all day in the Uruguayan ocean. It was completely unexpected and wonderful.
Hope everybody had a great 4th!! We all sang the Star-Spangled Banner a few times on Friday, but that was about it unfortunately.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Life is good here in the Southern hemisphere. I'm finally getting used to the whole kissing strangers on the cheek thing, can find my way home from school without getting too lost, and my Spanish is getting better every day. But my favorite Buenos Aires pasttime so far is going out to eat! I love the food here, and the only reason I haven't been packing on the pounds is because I have a good 2+ mile walk to the train station every day. Some of my favorites are:
-alfajores - I know I touched on these last time, but my brief description didn't do these incredible snacks justice! They are pretty much the national cookie of Argentina, and every kiosco (corner stores that sell drinks, candy, magazines etc) has a staggering array of any variety of alfajor. They come plain, covered in chocolate, coconut or meringue, filled with dulce de leche or chocolate creme, plain or chocolate cookies, one or two layers...etc. I average about 2 a day - they're irresistible!
-of course I couldn't write about Argentinean food without mentioning beef, and it's famous for a reason! It's everywhere, and surprisingly cheap. You can get an excellent steak for about $4 American in an average restaurant, and I'm not one to let that opportunity go by. Amazing.
-ice cream. Due to a huge influx of Italian immigrants in the 19th century, Italian food is everywhere here. Argentine ice cream is really more similar to gelato than American ice cream - it's really thick and creamy and, obviously, delicious. My personal favorite flavor so far is Super Dulce de Leche!
-empanadas, which are sort of like little meat pies with flaky pastry crusts. They come fried or baked, and filled with beef, chicken, vegetables, cheese, etc. Four or five of them makes for a delicious lunch or dinner. We had empanadas for dinner a couple of nights ago, and I tried to make one - it looked kind of sad and crooked next to Vivi's (she's a girl my age from Paraguay who works here), but she is going to teach me the recipe, so I can practice making them in the US!
I'm keeping busy lately with school and wandering around town after my classes are over, discovering new restaurants, panaderias, heladerias and shops with some of the other students in my program. One unfortunate downside to living in India for a year is that now whenever I visit other countries, I'm still in a 35-rupees-equals-one-dollar mode, which means that I'm spending money a little too freely here! I have to remind myself every day that despite the 3-to-1 exchange rate, the peso is not Monopoly money!
Ok, I'm off to analyze some literature - hard enough in English, and quite a struggle in Spanish...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Chau for now, I'll write more later!!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Anyway, I absolutely can't wait to leave. Hopefully I'll be able to update this blog about once a week - my host mom told me that they have three computers in their house, but the fastest one is hers and she uses it a lot for work, and the other two are slow "como tortugas" (that's like turtles!), so we'll see how that works out. They can't be any worse than Indian computers!
Well I think that's about all for now. Check back soon - my next post will be from South America!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
And of course I'll miss my wonderful host families, festivals like Navratri and Holi, my fellow exchange students who have become some of the best friends I've ever had, traveling to North & South India, around Gujarat and Bombay, seeing Gujarati everywhere and speaking it with my host family, and so much more. It's been a good year - but I can't say I'm not a little excited to come home and see all of my family and friends! Thanks for reading everybody, and I'll see you soon!