Saturday, September 30, 2006


Friday 29 September 2006

This is a quirky little Italian/Argentine tradition - every month on the 29th, people eat ñoquis, a kind of potato pasta. The pasta shops (which are marvelous, offering fresh home-made pasta every day) offer tons of them, as you can see, in all different flavors. Ryan and I went for the spinach ones, with a white sauce, which was quite nice.

Originally, this was because supplies would run low at the end of the month, and ñoquis are easy and cheap to make. But now, it is just an old custom, something for restaurants to put on their specials list on the 29th.

A friend told me that ñoqui is also a derogotory nickname for government workers, because they only come to work at the end of the month, to sign papers and things.


Thursday 28 September 2006

This picture of a very very very very very noisy pressure washer was taken at 2:30 in the morning, from my balcony. They often do construction at night here, because the streets are just too busy during the day. This is a part of BA that I do not like one bit.

(EDIT: I just found out that the WHO recently named Buenos Aires the noisiest city on the continent, with the noise level often exceeding 70 decibels, and in some neighborhoods with narrow streets, over 95 decibels has been recorded. That is loud enough to cause pain, and damage the human ear.)

Train Juggler

Wednesday 27 September 2006

Due to the economic instability here, there is always some entrepreneurial soul trying to make money on the subway trains. Usually they are selling something, either by shouting over the noise about its virtures, or by leaving it in your lap and coming back later to collect either the thing or some money. Some are just begging: women with children, blind families, a burn victim that always works our line.

Often though, you get treated to a show. We've seen countless people playing various instruments, including accordions, and singing, a three-piece band, a string quartet, and even a comedy skit. This young boy was quite impressive as well - you can't see the balls, because they were going to fast for my camera to capture, but he is juggling.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Tuesday 26 September 2006

This is the language building of the University of Buenos Aires. This is where I go to school every day. Don't let the pretty outside fool you, it's falling apart on the inside.

Monday, September 25, 2006

You must take the . . .

Monday 25 September 2006

The Buenos Aires subway system (or Subte, as it is called here) is the oldest on the continent, dating back to 1913. Most of the trains are new, and Japanese, but on the A line, the original trains are still running.

They do not, however, take you to Sugar Hill.

(EDIT: I forgot to mention, but one of the coolest things about these old trains is that you have to open and close the doors yourself.)


Sunday 24 September 2006

This is mate (pronounced ma-tay), the quintessential Argentine drink. Yerba mate is an herb full of vitamins and minerals (and a substance called mateina, which gives it six times the stimulating power of coffee) which is dried and roasted and then soaked in water to form a kind of tea. Drunk from a gourd with a steaming hot metal straw, it tastes like grass and is an appetite suppressant.

You can see Argentines sipping away everywhere, at any hour of the day. It is quite popular with students to help stay awake. But traditionally, it is a social drink to be shared with lots of friends, chatting and debating in a circle, passing the gourd around back and forth, constantly adding more water. There are, of course, all kinds of rules and rituals for drinking mate, kind of like an east Asian tea ceremony.

There is a myth behind this magical drink, as well. Supposedly mate was brought to the people by a very very old man from a tribe in what is known today as Uruguay. His tribe was nomadic, but at one point he became to weak and tired to follow them. He stayed behind, and his young and beautiful daughter stayed to take care of him. One day, a stranger came to their door, asking for shelter. They gladly offered it, and shared their food with him as well. When the stranger went to leave, he asked if there was anything he could do for them. The old man said no, unless he knew a way to restore his strength, for he wanted to return to the tribe and marry off his daughter. The stranger then showed him mate, where to find it and how to grow it. Drinking it immediately restored the old man. He returned to his tribe, showed them how to prepare mate, and probably married off his daughter, too.

Kiss Me

Saturday 23 September 2006

So, Ryan and I went to the Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) today, and were quite impressed. It was like a big party, to which all the best people were invited - Picasso, Degas, Miro, Chagall, Rodin, Goya, Rembrant, Pollock, Monet, Manet, and all kinds of other familiar-sounding names. It was well-organized, nicely-lit, and in general one of the best art museums that I've seen.

But for some reason, this was in the lobby, right out front. Kiss. A nice little minature concert. It was playing "I was made for loving you, baby." (You can see Ryan taking a picture too. Most likely, somehow, a perfect one without glare or imperfections.)

(EDIT: A very big welcome to Jude Anarion Thomas, born today.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rosh Hashanah

Friday 22 September 2006

Happy Rosh Hashanah everyone, from the Buenos Aires government! (There is a very large Jewish population here. BA can boast a newspaper in Yiddish, and a kosher MacDonalds!)


Thursday 21 September 2006

Feliz Dia de Primavera everyone! Down here, the 21st of September is celebrated as the first day of spring, as well as Students' Day. So, kids were out of school, the weather was beautiful, people were out on the street enjoying the sunshine and buying flowers from the stands on every corner (like the one shown here!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Wednesday 20 September 2006

The graffiti here is often quite nice.


Tuesday 19 September 2006

Avenida Cordoba, Buenos Aires

The fact that many of my pictures are taken at twilight has nothing to do with the fact that I have been studying all day and have nothing of interest to show you all but my books. Really.

Santa Maria

Monday 18 September 2006

A shrine to Mary in a subway tunnel. People walking past her often cross themself or offer a kiss.


Sunday 17 September 2006

At the Japonese Gardens in Palermo.

Biblioteca National

Saturday 16 September 2006

(okay, it's been a while, i know. this is due to a combination of laziness and unreliable internet. but i have taken a picture every day, i just haven't been able to post it.)

This is the National Library. You can't check books out, but I hear it is a good place to study. I wouldn't know, though, because they wouldn't let me in without a passport. Evidently, book-stealing is a popular past-time here, and they have strict security measures in place.

But I just wanted to show you all (and especially my mom) how very ugly it is. Oh, and you can't see it in this picture, but right next to where I was standing there is a great big statue of Pope John Paul the Second, who is known here as Juan Pablo.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Milanesa 2

Friday 15 September 2006

A special treat last night - instead of our normal conversation group, we had a cooking class! The blur of movement on the left side of the picture is Pablo, the professional chef who taught us how to make milanesas. (For a picture of this rich, heavy, and delicious dish, see my September archives for the first Milanesa picture.)

Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo

Thursday 14 September 2006

Every Thursday the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo march here in the central square of the city, right in front of the Casa Rosada. (The Argentine equivilant of the White House.) Almost thirty years ago, during the dictatorships and "dirty war" in Argentina, these women began marching to protest the disappearances of their children, and others who disagreed with the government. At the time it was a bold and dangerous move to stand against the powers that were, marching in their signature white headscarves.

Today many of the men responsible for the disappearances are being brought to trial, and the mothers no longer have a reason to march against the Casa Rosada. The group pictured here still marches in remembrance of their children. There is another, larger group behind them, however, that have changed issues and now marches, still in their white headscarves, against free trade agreements, big business, and U.S. policy.

Black Man

Wednesday 13 September 2006

Well, another tie to Taiwan bites the dust. This is the last of the Taiwanese toothpaste, and I thought it deserved a picture. Not because it is great toothpaste (although the flavor is quite nice) but because of its social message. (man, one of these days I am going to have to put up a "ooh, that's purty" picture)

This is interesting, however, because the name, in Chinese, literally translates to "Black Man." And as you can see, there is a nice picture on the front of a black man. I went to the Museum of African American History in Detroit this summer, and they have an entire room full of racist artifacts exactly like this, mostly from the last century or the early part of this one. In Taiwan, however, you can buy this right now.

Now, I do not mean to imply that all of Taiwan is hateful and racist, or even that they put this picture on toothpaste with the same intention that Southern Whites in the 1930's would have. No, it is simply a result of stereotypes (black people have very white teeth) which go unchallenged in Taiwan because there are very very very few black people. There is a curiosity fed by hollywood movies, of course, but the number of black foreigners in Kaohsiung could probably be counted on one hand.

The fact remains, however, that these stereotypes still exist, and are being fed to yet another generation.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Death to the Unitarians!

Tuesday 12 September 2006

I took this picture in the National Museum of History a little while ago, but as I did nothing but study today, and had no picture from today, I decided to put this one up, as it is just too good to let slip.

Not good in a photographic sense, clearly, but for the sake of Argentine history.

So, soon after Argentina declared independence from Spain, they were wracked with internal problems. The country was basically split into two factions: the Federalists, who wanted provincial autonomy, and the Unitarians, who wanted a centralized government. The Federalists would wear these red ribbons on their clothes to show their loyalty, and were required to start all letters with the phrase "Love live the Federation and death to the savage Unitarians!"

What I found very amusing, however, was one little white ribbon this board which proclaimed in capital letters: "VIVA LA CONFEDERACION! MUERAN LOS SALVAGES ASQUEROSOS INMUNDOS UNITARIOS, MUERA EL LOCO TRAIDOR SALVAGE UNITARIO URQUIZA." Which roughly translates to "Long live the confederation. Death to the filthy, replusive, savage Unitarians, Death to the crazy savage unitarian traitor Urquiza." It seemed a little overboard to me, but maybe I'm alone on this one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Already a holiday

Monday 11 September 2006

The eleventh of September is already a holiday here - Happy Teacher's Day everyone!

Oh, and by the way, this picture? It happened to be the 911th picture I took, I just noticed its file name, IMG_0911. For those of you out there collecting 9/11 coincidences.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A tall cool glass of water

Sunday 10 September 2006

One of the things I like best about Buenos Aires is the fact that the tap water is potable. To have drinkable water flow right in your own home, all the time, is such a wonderful luxury.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Saturday 9 September 2006

A little past sunset in Buenos Aires, from the Retiro train station.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Friday 8 September 2006

Protesting is an old and respected tradition in Buenos Aires, with marches happening nearly every day in some part of town. This one was down the street from my house, in the middle of the sidewalk. Dozens of men banging on drums and spray-painting the sidewalk. I'm not too sure what they were demanding.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Linea B

Thursday 7 September 2006

At the Medrano Station, B Line, Buenos Aires Subte.

Dance dance Malvinas

Wednesday 6 September 2006

I went to the National History Museum today, which is where I took this picture. It is a recreation of jet take-offs during the Falklands War of 1982, which is quite the big deal here. This is the second museum I've been to, actually, that has devoted an entire room to this short event.

Basically, both the English and the Argentines claim the islands that here are known as the Malvinas (and are labeled quite prominently on all the maps. You can even buy patches that say Malvinas right next to the Argentine ones.) In 1982 Argentina invaded the islands, which the Brits had occupied since 1833, in order to reclaim their territory. Britain was suddenly very interested in the Falklands again, sank an Argentine ship. Argentina sank a British one. But the Argentine forces were poorly led and organized, and eventually lost the short squirmish. However, the government still claims in the constitution that "las Malvinas son Argentinas."

Really though, I just took this picture because it looked like these guys are dancing, and I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Tuesday 5 September 2006

Okay, so no artistic shot today, but I thought I'd show a little more of the food down here. This is a very very common dish called a Milanese. Basically it is a very thin piece of beef (or chicken, but guess which one is easier to find) breaded, and baked with stuff on top. This one is a Napolitana, so it has ham, cheese, and tomato sauce. Oh yum.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Recoleta 2

Monday 4 September 200

So, I decided on one more picture of Recoleta cemetery, because it was just that amazing. This here, may I remind you, is one person's tomb. There may have been some family members buried in there as well, an obdient wife or someone, but this monument had one person's name on it.

(Although why they have what appears to be a menorah, I cannot say.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Recoleta 1

Sunday 3 September 2006

We visited Recoleta cemetary today, one of Buenos Aires' most famous attractions. It is an elaborate city of tombs divided by narrow paths, full of sculptures and statues and plaques of all sizes and prices. There are no headstones here, only giant monuments. Buried here are the country's rich and well-connected, former presidents and other politicians, sport and movie stars, along with assorted aristocracy. Yes, this is where Evita lies. (Her grave? Not that impressive. But I can't wait to go back on the anniversary of her death!)

We were lucky enough to have a personal guide to the cemetary, no less! An Argentine friend we met at an ex-pats' dinner, who is an historian and also happens to have a fiancee who speaks perfect English (very lucky for Ryan!) showed us around, pointing out lesser-known tombs and elaborating on the history of the cemetary's occupants.

This statue is from the tomb of a young girl who caught her mother having an affair, causing her to faint dead away. A little too realistically, it turns out, and she was buried alive.

Feliz Cumpleanos

Saturday 2 September 2006

A very happy birthday to me.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Gong Fu

Friday 1 September 2006

No, I haven't gone running back to Taiwan (although the thought of a good salary, a community, and a country i know can sometimes be tempting . . . ). Ryan and I made a very exciting discovery today - Chinatown!!! Very small, but there are a few little restaurants, and grocery stores with Asian foods. And, yes, DONG GUA CHA, my favorite tea!