Sunday, December 31, 2006


Sunday 31 December 2006

A lovely blurry picture of the cordero, or goat meat, that was our new year's dinner. It was delicious, so tender and sweet and soft and rich. (So much better than beef! But I would never say that here . . .) But the most amazing part about it is that this parilla is inside the house where we were guests. These Argentine friends of ours, the same ones with whom we spent Christmas, incidentally, have a giant professional barbeque in their garage. Not too rare for Argentines, I know, but still a shock for me.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Saturday 30 December 2006

I heard drums late last night, looked out the window, and saw that Rivadavia, a major street nearby, was full of people marching and stomping. We ran downstairs to find that it was a march in memory of the victims of a club fire on December 30th two years ago. The street was full of people for a good half hour, I would guess that there were about 10,000, although I'm not always good at estimating those kinds of things. Here you can see people carrying pictures of some of the victims, there were also a lot of signs demanding justice. (Yes, the club's owner is in jail.)

The club was called Cromagnon, and was stuffed to far over capacity for a concert of a popular band, the Callejeros. Many doors were wired shut to stop people from entering without paying, and children were being kept in a makeshift nursery upstairs. The fire started when some audience members set off fireworks (popular around Christmas and New Year down here) and the very flammable interior caught fire. 194 people died, mostly from inhaling toxic gases caused by burning plastics, and 714 were injured.

Now it is a rallying point for a lot of young people here, the latest tragedy to shout about, and the spark of many new fire safety laws for bars and clubs.

Friday, December 29, 2006

End of the Year!!!

Friday 29 December 2006

Today is the last work day of the year! An Argentine tradition is to tear out all of the pages from your planner and throw them out the window on the last day of work. (Also, schoolkids tear up their old papers, tests, and notebooks on the last day of school.) This made for a lovely white swirling snow as Ryan and I walked through the business district this morning, but the beauty of it only lasted about ten seconds, before all that paper ended up on the ground, as litter.

Trash is a pretty big problem here in general, as people often throw their wrappers and bottles on the ground. There are tons of public trash cans around, however, nearly one on every block, but rarely do you see people taking advantage of them. I've even seen people toss papers on the ground when they are literally two steps from a garbage can! This especially drives me crazy when I ride the train out to my classes every day. The station I leave from is one of the poorer ones, where things are dirty and stuff often doesn't work. So, I guess people don't mind polluting it a little more. You see bottles, wrappers, trash thrown out the windows of the train, onto the tracks, onto the platforms, on the floor inside the train.

It makes me so angry, when it would take so little to throw it in the right place, when all that's needed is a change of mind-set. The bins are in place, the opportunities exist, all it would take is the decision to have a cleaner city.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sweat Shop

Thursday 28 December 2006

Okay, it's not the easiest to see in this picture, but their curtains are never all the way open, and this was the best shot I've seen since I moved in. It seems that there is what appears to be a sweat shop of sorts across the street from my apartment. You can see people working there from very very early in the morning until very late at night. They never stand up or walk around, they just sit at the sewing machines all day long. Now, I really don't know if they are poorly-paid or if it is the same people all day long, but in this neighborhood, well . . . I wouldn't doubt it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Wednesday 27 December 2006

A cheese shop I passed by between classes, in the Flores area. Oy, what a day I had today, running all around the city, traveling for hours, walking for kilometers. At least it means I get to see a lot more of the city, and many more of its interesting little nooks, than I would with a 9 to 5 job!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fileteado 2

Tuesday 26 December 2006

Happy Boxing Day, everyone! Here is another very nice example of fileteado, traditional Argentine painting.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Heavenly Harp

Monday 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas everyone! As it's not that big of a celebration here, however, and I didn't do much special today, I decided to put up, as always, just a picture of something I saw today. It was still interesting, however, as I sat in on a rehearsal of traditional Argentine folk music today (the friends Ryan and I spent Christmas eve with are folk musicians). I couldn't believe that harp fit into the music, which is usually just guitars, drums, and singers, but his fingers flew and somehow it all blended perfectly. Really, I'm so lucky to get this little piece of inside information, this extra little look into Argentine life!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Pan Dulce

Sunday 24 December 2006

This is pan dulce (sweet bread) that is just about the only actual traditional Christmas food that exists in Argentina. It is basically a heavy bread with dried fruit in it, and sometimes nuts as well. This loaf was hand-made by the mother of a friend of ours, so a little higher quality than the stuff you get in the supermarkets. Still, I wasn't a huge fan of it. But warm with a little butter to soften it, and it might be good . . .

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Fireworks

Saturday 23 December 2006

This is a kiosko, a corner store, where one can normally buy soda, candy, cigarettes, and phone cards. Here, however, you can see that they are getting ready for Christmas, so there is a table full of fireworks out front. On Christmas eve, everyone gets together with their families, eats a giant meal, toasts at midnight, then goes out to light things on fire. It doesn't quite compare with the quantities we saw in Taiwan, but they clearly still love their "artificial fires" (as they're known in Spanish) down here!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Big Tree 4

Friday 22 December 2006

So, another picture of the great big magical trees here in BsAs. This one demonstrates just how beastly some of their limbs can get - many of them need supports, and are held up by strange arrays of boards and crutches. Taken in Plaza Francia.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Estación Flores

Thursday 21 December 2006

A house next to the train tracks at Flores station.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

San Ignacio

Wednesday 20 December 2006

This is the oldest church in Buenos Aires, San Ignacio. It was built by the Jesuits and dates back to 1710. I find it very hard to take pictures in churches - I can never seem to hold still enough.

Also, I felt bad because the priest was hearing confessions a few meters behind me. This church, being so old, is also a tourist attraction, but I still didn't feel like I should have a camera in there. Strange, taking pictures of Asian temples would make me feel bad for disturbing others, and I certainly wouldn't if there were a service of some sort going on. But that didn't bother me on principle. I guess because I was raised in it, taking pictures in a church seems worse, somehow.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Tuesday 19 December 2006

Happy fourth day of Hanukkah, everyone! It's just a Jewish-themed week here, so far! But I've seen two creches up and two menorahs, so I thought it was worth a picture. (Did I mention that there's a big Jewish population here?) They put lanterns up on it at night.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Monday 18 December 2006

Once a week, on my way to work, I walk though this park outside the Isreali embassy. These signs, at the entrance and exit, say "29 people died in this place. Please respect their memory." On 17 March 1992 Islamic extremists, supposedly supported by Hezbollah, blew up the embassy. (There was another attack on a Jewish organization a few years later, as well.) It's nice, though, that they could just build a memorial garden and move on.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Sunday 17 December 2006

This is the only place I've ever been where north is never ever up on the maps. When I first arrived I thought maybe it was a Southern Hemisphere thing, but no, it's unique to Buenos Aires. On nearly all of the maps here, the river is on the bottom of the paper, although the river actually runs along the north east of the city. Because of this, I am so confused about which direction is north when I'm walking around, as I can never compare it to the map in my head.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Casual Tango

Saturday 16 December 2006

Ryan and I went to a tango bar last night (well, this morning, really). A huge art-covered warehouse, it was quiet and nearly empty, but a few couples were out on the dance floor, and they were really good.

I also tried Fernet, a local herb liquor that's very popular, and found I liked it a lot. Ryan was not a fan, however.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Friday 15 December 2006

The lack of apparent Christmas preparations has been a surprise for me. Being back in a Christian country, I was expecting a real holiday season this year, but as it ends up, that's not how things work in Argentina. Christmas is less than two weeks away, and there is almost no visible sign of its approach. No carols, not many decorations, nothing.

Some of this is the lack of commercialization. Back home it is usually the stores reminding you that Christmas is coming, in order to sell you gifts. Here, almost none of that exists. Also, it could also be because it is not a very big religious holiday, although it is an important family time. (Argentines in general are not religious at all.)

It's a little disappointing, not having that Christmas spirit in the air, that feeling of a holiday coming. There are, however, a few of these creches around the city, all identical, without any surrounding decoration or explanation, but a few statues here and there. This one is outside the Once train station.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Window Washers 2

Thursday 14 December 2006

Once or twice a week I work in an office downtown where I sometimes give English classes, and where I sometimes just wait around while a student just doesn't come to class. Today was one of those days, so I had some fun taking pictures of the window washers from below.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Time for Church

Wednesday 13 December 2006

A shop selling children's clothing for first communions and baptisms, on Rivadavia.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nueve de Julio

Tuesday 12 December 2006

This is Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. It is twenty lanes wide, and the center of Buenos Aires. This isn't the best shot, but it's a little piece of the city anyway, and I had a lot of waiting to do at a company today where no one was showing up for their English classes on time.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Under Construction

Monday 11 December 2006

A building under construction where dozens of families are squatting. Signs of the economic crash and continued hardships are visible every day here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Sunday 10 December 2006

This is my favorite Argentine drink, called a submarino. I like it so much, in fact, that I can't believe I haven't put up a picture of it yet. Basically, you are served a glass of hot milk and a stick of chocolate. You put the chocolate into the milk, where it melts and makes a very rich hot chocolate. It is wonderful.

(The picture was taken in a cheap little cafe near my house. Notice the Argentine flag bunting all around the ceiling?)

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Saturday 9 December 2006

Across the street from my house, a guy using a bike to sharpen knives for a few pesos.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sara's Sensual Anchor

Friday 8 December 2006

My friend Sara, who is a sculptor, had an exhibit today. It included this piece, entitled "Mi ancla sensual," or "My sensual anchor." Most of her work uses fabric, draped and drooping, and is quite interesting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Anyone for checkers?

Thursday 7 December 2006

In a park in Belgrano.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Train ride

Wednesday 6 December 2006

I take this train out to some classes in the suburbs three days a week. The ventilation is bad and it is often overcrowded, so many people like to ride hanging out the doors.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Old bricks

Tuesday 5 December 2006

(Another brick picture)

Yeah, this city is really old. The bricks are wearing down between the grout on this staircase.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fallen mate

Monday 4 December 2006

I posted about the national drink, mate, on September 24th, explaining its significance and usage. Here is a photo to stress just how common a drink it is. I was sitting on the curb one day, waiting a few minutes between two classes in the same neighborhood, when I looking down and noticed that there was used yerba, or the mate herb, all over the street. Clearly this was a spot where someone frequently sits, drinks mate, then dumps out the old yerba when it is flavorless. You really do see people drinking it anywhere, and at any time.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mataderos 3

Sunday 3 December 2006

Ryan and I were back at the Feria de Mataderos this week, looking for Christmas gifts. We also caught a traditional folk dance performance in the main square, which was nice. I can guarantee that if any of you ever come to Argentina to visit me, I will definitely be taking you to this neat little Sunday fair.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Graffiti 4

Saturday 2 December 2006

Okay, I know, this is a lot of graffiti for one week. But look at it, isn't it awesome?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happiness begins here

Friday 1 December 2006

Ryan and I went to a huge art show today, which featured mostly really modern completely uncomprehensible avant-garde meaningful pieces. For example, there was a small piece of ripped styrofoam labeled and carefully lit on the floor. There was an entire room made into a fictional messenger-rabbit office. Large movies of circuits. That kind of thing. I didn't understand this exhibit either, a blank wall with two signs - on one end, "Happiness begins here," on the other "Happiness ends here." Ryan and I opted for the former, and will stick with it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Graffiti 3

Thursday 30 November 2006

More graffiti! (Also in the Flores area) Sorry folks, there's just so much impressive painting here, available to everyone right on the street. I always find myself taking pictures of it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Window grates

Wednesday 29 November 2006

Window grates in San Telmo

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Graffiti 2

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Cool graffiti in the Flores area

Monday, November 27, 2006

The wheels on the bus go . . .

Monday 27 November 2006

An Argentine school bus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Sunday 26 November 2006

Ryan and I went to our first polo match today. It was interesting - the crowd was very subdued, clapping politely for both teams until the very end of the second match, which was close and dramatic, when there was moderate cheering. It was freezing cold and a little rainy, so I didn't have the best time, but Ryan discovered quite the love for the sport. It does take a lot of talent, I have to say, and the horses were amazing - the supermodels of the equestrian world. Much more an event of the people here, however. Entrance to two games only cost us four US dollars.

You should aboslutely check out Ryan's pictures when he puts them up on his website, though. He took some really amazing shots.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gay Pride Day

Saturday 25 November 2006

Today was Gay Pride day in Buenos Aires - I walked past this huge and noisy rally on my way home tonight, and were very grateful that there were still a half dozen blocks between it and my house!

Friday, November 24, 2006


Friday 24 November 2006

One of my students lives out in the suburbs, in a quiet and green little neighborhood. It is so nice walking down his street, covered with big old trees, flowers outside the houses, the sound of birds - so very different from my own barrio.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Thursday 23 November 2006

The aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner - a turkey carcass and a pile of dirty dishes.

I volunteered to help cook at a Thanksgiving dinner held for charity, all the proceeds going to help street kids. Ryan took some wonderful photos of the night (which should be appearing in the Buenos Aires Herald, the city's main English newspaper, on Saturday!) and I spent the night warming unbelievable amounts of mashed potatoes, sending out bowl after bowl of gravy and squash and stuffing. It was a huge success, and the food was excellent. Really, being away from my family, this was the best Thanksgiving I could ask for.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Big Tree 3

Wednesday 22 November 2006

Another ancient tree of Buenos Aires - one of its branches sticks out so far over the sidewalk that people use it as a bench. I really wish I could express or show how amazing I think these old trees are.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Tuesday 21 November 2006

I found this huge old synagogue while walking to a lesson the other day.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Train rush

Monday 20 November 2006

View from the train window.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Historic Bricks

Sunday 19 November 2006

An exhibit at a local gaucho museum - historic bricks. Almost, but not quite, as good as the Salt Museum in Erie, New York, or the spark plug exhibit in the Air and Space Museum in Ohio.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Try Mexico

Saturday 18 November 2006

I went to another Mexico board of tourism event today, where I ate the most bland salsa I have ever eaten (the woman who was teaching us how to make it took out all of the seeds from the peppers, because Argentines cannot stand anything remotely spicy), had my Mayan astrological fortune told (my sign is the white magnetic wind, and means that my life's mission is communication), and made the ugliest piñata I've ever seen (I started making it together with a family, whose little girl picked out a heart-shaped design to be covered with more hearts, but they left before it was done, so I got to finish it and take it home). It was a fun day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rodriguez Peña

Friday 17 November 2006

A statue down the street from where I used to live. It's got a bit of a glare, but you can see how very stern he looks. He's right on the corner, scowling down on everyone who passes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Feeding Frenzy

Thursday 16 November 2006

I came across a pile of pigeons on my way home from a class today, literally a pile, two or three pigeons deep, all scrambling for a hot dog or something.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Wednesday 15 November 2006

Here in Buenos Aires, most people buy their vegetables from a verludería, or a vegetable store. Few supermarkets carry fruits and veggies, and when they do, they're often more expensive and not as nice. Instead, most supermercados have a vegetable lady stationed near the door, with her own little verludería. I think it's great.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Tuesday 14 November 2006

This is a courtyard in the Cabildo, a building here in Buenos Aires which looks vaguely Mexican to me, but actually used to be the seat of the Spanish colonial government.

Those purple trees are blooming everywhere just now - I love them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

San Cayetano

Monday 13 November 2006

Ryan and I visited the Museum of External Debt today. It was more interesting than it sounds, really, and about as exciting as a museum of debt can possibly be. We learned a lot more from the very enthusiastic economics student who appointed himself our personal guide when he found out we were foreigners than we did from the very long complicated explanations of past economic policies, though.

This is a picture of a tiny statue of San Cayetano, the patron saint of laborers. (Here, at least.) The museum used hundreds of these little statues to demonstrate unemployment statistics, set up in little circle representing the number of gainfully employed people in different years. He's quite the popular saint here - even here, in Argentina, where people only ever go to church for weddings and funerals, his feast day is celebrated with pilgrimages and parades and devotions.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mataderos 2

Sunday 12 November 2006

Went to the Feria de Mataderos again, which is a local Sunday market with gauchos and crafts and food and performances. (See October 1)

It's still very strange seeing Christian religious artifacts, instead of Buddhist or Taoist ones.