Monday, April 30, 2007

Weinert Bodega

Monday 30 April 2007

We visited some bodegas, or wineries, in the Mendoza region today. This was the larger, more commerical one. We also saw a small family-run place, a distillery, and a winery/restuarant, where we ate a huge and delicious tradtional lunch. There was much wine-drinking at all of these places (except the distillery, where there was instead some licour-drinking) and we went home a little more knowledgable about wine, and also a little tipsy. Siestas were necessary.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Sunday 29 April 2007

We arrived in Mendoza today, a city of about a hundred thousand in western Argentina, right up against the Andes. It is also, very fortunately, the heart of Argentina's wine region!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wanda Mines

Saturday 28 April 2007

As the water was probably still rising, and things were probably still closed up, we decided not to go back to the falls today, but to visit a different local attraction instead. About an hour away from Puerto Iguazu is the tiny town of Wanda, which boasts a semi-precious stone mine. It yields amythyst, crystals, topaz, and 110 different colors of agate, and it gives tours! So, we trekked out there (almost getting detained by the national guard for not having our passports on us) to take the tour.

We got dropped off about four kilometers away from the mine itself, and walked the last bit along a deep red dirt road. Along the sides of the road you could see crystals and low-quality amythysts in the dirt, amid the stones. Quite a few children came up and gave us "presents" of larger stones, trying to entice us into giving them a few coins. Our pockets were full by the time we arrived.

Unfortunately, as it was Saturday, we couldn't see any of the miners or cutters or polishers in action, but it was still neat. This picture is a butterfly drinking at a pool within an exposed geode.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Iguazu Falls

Friday 27 April 2007

Today was the big day, and a "special day," according to out tour guide. We saw Iguazu falls today, which are the largest waterfalls in the world. (Not the tallest, that's Victoria falls in South Africa, but the largest as far as number of falls, amount of water going over, size, etc.) There are 275 separate falls, falling 80 meters from the top.

Our timing wasn't great, however. It has been raining for weeks in northern Argentina, and it poured for the two days before we arrived, so the river was rather high. In fact, the falls normally flow at 2,000 cubic meters of water per second, but today, they were flowing at 10,000, and rising! So, we were able to go on the two main paths, but were unable to take the boat ride into the falls, or to see "La garganta del diablo," the horseshoe-shaped, most intense part of the falls. It was like only being able to see the American side of Niagra. A little disappointing.

That said, however, seeing what we saw was still an unbelievable experience. The falls were so huge, so powerful, so awe-inspiring, we definitely enjoyed ourselves. And Ryan was in photographic heaven - waterfalls, and lots of butterflies.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Glass-wing butterflies

Thursday 26 April 2007

We arrived in Puerto Iguazu today, up in the northeast corner of Argentina. It is tropical jungle up here, similar to Paraguay. These little pretties are known as glass-wing butterflies, because, obviously, their wings are completely clear. In fact, I thought that this photo was out of focus at first, but it turned out that it was just the veins of the back wing showing through the front one.

Many thanks to Ryan for pointing them out, because I was quite ready to just sit down and not see any more butterflies.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Street Performers

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Some jugglers in front of a red light. They perform for a while, collect money from the cars, then get out of the way before the light turns green.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Boids

Tuesday 24 April 2007

The Birds have finally arrived! Ryan's family got in this morning, and will be visiting for the next three weeks. For their first day, we took them around Plaza de Mayo, then out for some fabulous steak at a restaurant known for having some of the best beef in the city.

Oh yeah, that guy on the side, he's part of the family, too. A distant cousin.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Martín Fierro

Monday 23 April 2007

Every Monday I have Spanish class (I wish it were every day! But a girl has to work . . .) and at the moment, I spend a good portion of every class reading Martín Fierro, a piece of classic Argentine literature. It is an rhyming epic poem written in very old-fashioned Spanish about the rather miserable life of a gaucho, Martín. To be honest, it's over my head, and I would be completely unable to read it without my teacher by my side explaining old words, gaucho (cowboy) terms, and words that the author, José Hernández, just made up. (Imagine that Shakespeare had written a play about cowboys.)

A lot of common Argentine proverbs come from it, everyone worth their mate can quote from it, and this first verse is especially well known. So, as part of my self-imposed South American literature course, I decided to give it a go, and try this poem out. If I can make it through the first book, I'll be happy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mechanics 2

Sunday 22 April 2007

A mechanic's shop in Flores. Varela 780, to be exact.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

World's Smallest Book

Saturday 21 April 2007

Ryan and I went to the 33rd Annual Buenos Aires International Book Fair today, something I have looked forward to for a while now. It was definitely huge (covering 45,000 square meters!) and crowded, but I left a little disappointed. They were a bit lacking in the "international" area. I have been doing a bit of a South American literature study on my own down here, but have been having difficulty finding books from anywhere except Argentina and Uruguay. I had thought today would be a great opportunity to pick up classic Bolivian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Chilean, Venezuelan, and Colombian novels. That was not to be, however. Half of those countries weren't even represented at the book fair, and of those that were, only Venezuela had much to offer.

At the Russian stall, however, we did have the chance to see the world's smallest printed book, which was pretty exciting! It's on the right, that white strip is the book all unfolded. There were also many tiny tiny books in the same display, about the size of my pinky fingernail. That was impressive, at least.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Emergency Cheese

Friday 20 April 2007

So, let's say you're walking down the street in Buenos Aires, and suddenly you realize that man, you really want some cheese. What do you do? Waiting in line at the grocery store could take forever, and who can find a quesería when you need one? Calm down, don't worry, you're safe. There are roadside cheese and salami stands to the rescue! Here you can see one such lifesaver. Whew, I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't come across this cheese and sausage vendor!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

San Expedito 2

Thursday 19 April 2007

After practicing on the 19th of every month, the big day finally arrived today - it is April 19, the saint's day of St. Expiditus! (Patron saint of overnight mail carriers.)

He has quite the following here in Buenos Aires (probably because he is actually the patron saint of just causes, and porteños always feel that their cause is just) and has a church devoted to him just around the corner.

There were people lined up all the way around the block, around two corners, in two different directions, all day today, waiting to to get into the church to light a candle and say a prayer. They were there in the morning when I checked it out, and the line was still going when I got back from work after 8pm. Hundreds of thousands of people must have filed through that church throughout the day. (Or, the same ones just kept getting back into line!) Mass was said every hour.

There were lots of tables selling religious knick-knacks, as usual (We saw them staking out their spaces the night before!) and everyone had to buy something to commemorate the day. And, of course, they had to get these things blessed. Good thing they had this priest! He was out there blessing people and things non-stop, doing blessing session after blessing session. He was like a blessing machine!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guia T

Wednesday 18 April 2007

This is the Guia T, both my bane and my savior as an English teacher in Buenos Aires. It is a small book with a different section of the city map of each page, which serves as the bus, train, and subway guide. So, I use it very frequently when trying to figure out how to get from one class to another on the other side of the city in an hour. The problem is, it is not very well organized, and extremely hard to use.

This is, basically, how to look up a bus. Let's say you want to go from A to B.
1. So, find the page with the map containing A. Look at the page opposite, which tells you which buses stop somewhere in the grid square where you are. Keep your finger in this page.
2. Then find the page with the map containing B. Now, look on the opposite page to find out which buses serve this grid square. Keep your finger here, too.
3. Flip back and forth between the two to see if there are any buses going from one square to the other. Or, any of the squares in the general vicinity, because most likely you'll have to walk a bit.
4. So, you find the bus number that might work. Now, find the bus route in the back, which is just a list of streets. Keep your finger here.
5. Now, you have to flip between the three pages to try and figure out where the bus actually goes, and which streets somewhere in the two grid squares it actually goes down, and whether or not it is going in the right direction. (All streets are one-way, so bus routes do not run both ways, they only run one way. The return is going to be a completely different route. And you cannot just ride it all the way around, at some point all buses "park," and you have to get off.)
6. So, now you know what street you have to pick it up on. Walk down the street hoping to find the bus stop, which will be marked with a small sticker on a bus stop, light post, or any other vertical metal surface on the side of the road.
7. Now, you can flag down the bus, get on, pay (with coins only, so you'd better have change!), and keep the Guia T open in your lap as you watch for the right place to get off!

So, as you can see, this is a rather complicated process. Ryan was having a hard time of it that day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Tuesday 17 April 2007

This is a view from the window of the conference room at LapTV, where I sometimes give English classes. I'm there every Tuesday, but usually I just come so that people can tell me that they aren't coming to class. Some of it is legit - they're at work, and work comes first. Some of it, I think, is that they didn't plan well or don't feel like coming to class.

But they have a nice view of the river!

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Colonia

Monday 16 April 2007

I was really really really sick today. I stayed home from work and didn't get out of bed all day. I have been running a high fever and feel terrible. So, here's another picture from Uruguay!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fried fish

Sunday 15 April 2007

Colonia, Uruguay, yet again, for visa renewals. We sat for a while at our usual restaurant, but no beer and chivitos this time, I was feeling rather under the weather. We also tried something new, the Colonia Aquarium. It had all local fish from the river, so nothing too colorful, but this one was interesting. It is an electric fish! They had a TV screen next to the tank showing the level of electricity in the tank as it went up and down. Evidently, the fish use this ability, not to stun prey or for defense, but to communicate with one another. Pretty neat, huh?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Holy net, Batman!

Saturday 14 April 2007

We went to another weird art gallery today, with lots of incomprehensible pieces. For example, this a net made of glow-in-the-dark rosaries.

There was also a really neat exibit about the Falkland/Malvinas war, and Ryan got some nice pictures of that.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Friday 13 April 2007

This is an Argentine postbox. They look exactly like the ones in England. They really just can't get enough of Europe down here.

Also, one of the corner trash cans that are never used. Notice the trash on the ground directly under it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Thursday 12 April 2007

I was flipping through the channels last night, and happened upon the movie "8 Mile" (sadly, the only thing a lot of people know about Detroit) at a point when Eminem was swearing (the likelihood of which is pretty good, after all.) I was very surprised to note that they wrote the curses out in the subtitles, but then blanked them out. I'd never seen this before - usually they just write a non-offensive word like "maldición" (curse!) or whatnot. I wondered if it was a request from the movie-makers to the translating company, to get a better feel for the lyrics, or what.

I won't translate what it says here, because it's pretty rude. But I thought I'd take a moment to comment on the TV translating here. It's terrible! I like to read the subtitles to pick up new words in Spanish, and I notice two or three mistakes every show! Sometimes it's a small mistake, you can tell that the translator just heard wrong, wrote the word for sat instead of set, or something like that. But sometimes it's just wrong, just absolutely the opposite meaning! I sometimes wonder how Spanish-speakers can follow the story line when this happens at a crucial point, which is often does.

Also, the Spanish used to translate it is often very very basic, very neutral. I would guess that this is because they want to broadcast it in many different countries and regions, and so don't want to commit to one style of slang. But it's strange seeing, for example, the very colorful, slangy, casual, inner-city English of "8 Mile" turned into completely neutral Spanish. "Yo, wassup dog?" becomes "¿Cómo estás, amigo?"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Wednesday 11 April 2007

I didn't take this picture today, but I kind-of feel like this today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Super Pancho

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Hot dogs are called "panchos" in Argentina, and are nearly always advertised as "superpanchos." I think they're super because they are served with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and shoestring potatoes. Man, I don't really like hot dogs that much, but they sure are super with crunchy potatoes on top!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter food

Monday 9 April 2007

This is some typical Argentine Easter food. Actually, this is the only Argentine Easter food, as far as I could tell. The bread is called "rosca," and it's nice and light, pretty good. A little plain. And the big silver thing is an Easter egg. Here they are always big eggs of very thin hollow chocolate filled with either small toys or more candy, and come wrapped in lots and lots of brightly colored foil. They didn't taste that great, but I imagine they're fun for kids.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Sunday 8 April 2007

Happy Easter, everyone!

For the big day, Ryan and I went to Luján, a small town a couple hours outside the city which houses one of the country's biggest cathedrals. It is a sight of major pilgrimages several times a year, especially on days associated with either the Virgin Mary or their own particular Virgen de Luján.

It was pretty crowded today with people collecting holy water in bottles (some in special souvenir bottles with a picture of the virgin, some in empty pop bottles) lining up to be blessed (or to have their new rosaries and whatnot blessed - one guy even held up his car keys) and buying souvenirs.

This was the strangest part for me. The plaza outside the church was absolutely chock full of hundreds of vendors selling statues and rosaries (some giant ones made of nuts or something, about five feet long!) and necklaces and other religious hodge-podge. It seemed to remind me of a certain story involving Jesus and merchants in the temple - as I remember, he wasn't too happy about it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dinosaurs!! Ahhhh!

Saturday 7 April 2007

We visited the Natural Science museum today, which featured lots of Argentine dinosaurs! These are called Amargasaurous, which means "bitter dinosaur." They've found tons of dinos here, this country is full of bones. When they were digging for the subways, in fact, they found a ton of old giant armadillo skeletons.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Stations of the Cross

Friday 6 April 2007

Today is Good Friday which, along with Holy Thursday, is a national holiday here. This evening Ryan and I went to a stations of the cross downtown, winding from the Capital building to the Casa Rosada. This is the giant cross that people were practically pushing each other out of the way to help carry. They estimated that 40,000 people showed up.

There was a reenactment of the last supper at the beginning, and one of the crucifixion at the end - just readings and prayers at each of the stations. The whole thing was lead by "the futbol Christ," a statue of Jesus that was donated by some famous players and is now always carried by retired ones.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chacarita Cemetary

Thursday 5 April 2007

Ryan and I finally visited the Chacarita cemetary, the other fancy graveyard in Buenos Aires.
It isn't quite so touristy, and there aren't so many famous people. (Except for Juan Peron. We couldn't find him, though.) Just really rich people.

My favorite tomb, I think, was a great big white crypt that looked like a church. It had a sign that showed that it was dedicated to "The Glories of the Boca Juniors," the most popular futbol team. I guess a few players were buried inside.

This photo demonstrates just how big these places are. They have streets! With signs! There was also a gallery where people's ashes were kept in drawers along the wall - it stretched all around the cemetery, two or three stories, I don't know, maybe a kilometer. That's a lot of dead people.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Go Boca! Oh, and please pass the soap

Wednesday 4 April 2007

I've been impressed by the decorative tiles on many houses here, and take a few pictures whenever I see something especially nice. (I have quite the collection of Buenos Aires tiles going!) But this was something quite out of the ordinary. All these logos are for local futbol clubs. That's right, you can have your team's logo in your bathroom! On your kitchen floor! Heck, even around your front door. And what true blue and yellow blooded porteño wouldn't want Boca Junior floor tiles?

P.S. Happy Tomb-sweeping day, all!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Praying for the nation

Tuesday 3 April 2007

As I walked through the Plaza de Mayo today on my way to a class, I noticed a bunch of people standing with their hands raised, mumbling. Curious, I got a little closer, and was ambushed by a little old lady who wanted to give me about fifteen brochures, and was encouraging me to join in "praying for the nation." I had to get to class, so I declined, but I snapped this picture of the sun setting on the Casa Rosada behind them.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Horsing around

Monday 2 April 2007

Ryan on a horse, out on the pampas. It was so nice to be out in the open air, and, I have to say, the more time I spend on the prairies out here, the more they are growing on me.

We had a ton of fun riding the horses every day. (Well, at least I did, but I've always loved being up on a horse. Ryan enjoyed it too, I think, but has less experience, and was a little nervous bringing his camera with him.) We also got to milk some cows and chase some turkeys! It was quite the weekend, I have to say!

P.S. Today is also Día de los Malvinas, the day commemorating the war between England and Argentina over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, which the Argentines lost. The owner of the ranch was British, and kept joking that he had to hide today, and not show his face around town.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Sunday 1 April 2007

The picture isn't the greatest, but this was definitely the highlight of the day, so I thought I'd show it. After lunch on the ranch today, the owners took Ryan and I around town so he could photograph local attractions that guests may want to visit - the golf course, the river, the playground, the old train station, etc. Our last stop was a traditional and authentic old pulpería, which is like a saloon or cantina of old Argentina. In the days of the gauchos (Argentine cowboys,) these were the local watering holes and general stores. It was quite fitting, in fact, because for my Spanish class I am reading two classic gaucho books ("Martín Fierro" and "Juan Moreira") where the characters are always going into pulperías to drink, and usually fight. You can see the evidence of the fighting in this picture - they put the bars up to protect the bartender from the brawls.

This particular pulpería is really impressive. I was talking to the owner (who was a little shy) while Ryan was taking his pictures, and he told me that it has been a working pulpería continuously for the past 150 years. To this day, it serves regular working gauchos in the afternoons and evenings. Most amazing of all, however, was the fact that he and his brother have been running the place for the past 52 years! And their father ran it for 30 years before that! I was awed at the thought.