Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

Buenos Aires: tango, mullets and cheap steak

April 23, 2008

It was not your typical tango show; it was not a formally-attired couple twirling dotted duple amongst the tables of lunching tourists.

It was the 12-piece Orquesta Típica Fernandez Fierro performing in a moody bar before a sea of 30 packed cocktail tables. It was passionate and edgy, it was Converse and dreadlocks, and it turned tradition on its head.

While the crowd sipped fernet, wine or gin and tonic, in the case of my hostel-mates and me, the musicians delivered the type of show that leaves you breathless after each song. The stage lights, which alternatively illuminated different sections of the orquestra in red, blue, white and green, lent a sense of urgency and drama to the music.

The energy, more than the actual look, of the Orquesta Típica Fernandez Fierro (Lighting was a challenge)

The highlight of the performance, I’d say, was the four accordian players seated in a row along the front of the stage. They played music with their entire beings, throwing their heads back and folding forward as they squeezed and stretched the instruments on their laps.

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Apartment buildings along the street 9 de Julio

Me encanta Buenos Aires. The city of 14 million has it all: 18th century European-style architecture and modern skyscrapers, cobbled streets and six-lane roads, privately-owned fruit stands and trendy, high-fashion clothing stores, business people and bohemians, public squares and green parks. It’s huge, but it moves at a relaxed pace. You don’t get crushed you if you pause before crossing the street or stepping onto a subway car.

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A foggy park we discovered at one end of the pedestrian-only Florida Street

Some observations about the Argentine capital, and some photos:

  • The mullet (negocios in the front, fiesta in the back) is quite in style, as is the color purple. With long hair and mostly blue capilene and quick-dry clothing in my backpack, I had no chance.
  • Porteños (BA locals) are incredibly sweet. People we asked for directions on the street or in the subway often escorted us to our destinations, or at least to a corner from which we could see them.
  • Creativity is in the air. Art galleries, design shops, handmade clothing stores and street markets abound, and the creations are cool.

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Our hostel-mate Tim among the colorful houses and art for sale in the La Boca neighborhood.

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Necklaces for sale in a San Telmo neighborhood market

  • People eat late. Lunch takes place mid-afternoon and dinner around 10 p.m. Discos get rockin’ around 3 a.m.
  • Speaking of which, Argentenian steak is abundant, inexpensive and deeeelicious.

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We dined at the renowned La Cabrera one night. Alexis and I shared a tenderloin stuffed with ham, cheese and sundried tomatoes. Soooo tasty.

  • Argentenian boobs are perkier than most. (Alexis and I were tempted to inquire in undergarmet stores for bras that would lend an Argentenian look to our chests. Probably would have been told the bras aren’t magic.)
  • Though electronic music is wildly popular, the Buenos Aires music scene is quite international. On any given night, you can find musicians performing tango, flamenco, jazz, rock and hip hop music in clubs around the city.
  • Many golden retrievers live in BA, and they are beautiful.
  • Alexis and her boyfriend, who later romped in a pond and, wet and dirty, lost her interest.

    • Porteños are fútbol fanatics. On the bus ride from the airport to the city center, I passed about a dozen games being played in the fields and buildings along the highway.
    • Argentina does coffee better than Chile. Chile does avocados better than Argentina.

    And now, for some photos of the Recoleta Cemetery. I know, I’ve posted cemetery photos on this blog twice before. I can’t help it.

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    Evita is buried in this ornate burial ground, but I didn’t manage to find her grave.

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    Olympic torch passes through

    April 12, 2008

    The Olympic torch trotted right past me on its 8.5-mile journey through downtown Buenos Aires yesterday. Today, it’s headed to Tanzania and tomorrow, Oman, on its 23-city trip toward Bejing for the 2008 Olympic games.

    In other parts of the world — namely San Francisco, London and Paris — the passage of the torch generated protests against China’s human rights record. Though Argentenian activists promised “entertaining surprises” during the torch’s relay through their capital city, nothing too surprising happened. The protestors paced peacefully down Pte. R. Sáez Peña Avenue with signs bearing slogans like “No rights in China,” “Eighty million dead since 1945,” “An Olympics against humanity” and “Free Tibet.”

    A woman in a toga and gold sandals led the group, and a brigade of shield-bearing policemen and a truck blaring opera music followed. Argentine pedestrians stopped along the sidewalk to snap pictures with their camera phones, and taxi drivers encountering the march honked their horns and executed frustrated three-point turns to escape the blockage.

    In an attempt to diffuse possible tension, hundreds of China supporters decked out in matching red windbreakers gathered near the Washington-monument-style Obelisco on 9 de Julio Avenue.