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Published: February 23rd 2007
Are we in Europe or South America?
It´s very hard to believe I´m in South America when it feels so much like Europe. The edificios appear to be displaced from France, the waifish, sunglassed women from Italy, and the outdoor cafes with espresso constantly flowing are reminders of any street you might see in the Old Country. And of course, the ¨ciao!¨ that everyone says. The effects of Spanish and French colonization and immigration are vividly seen.
I´m incredibly grateful for blessed air conditioning. Right after you take a shower here, you´re already sweating bullets, which is only exacerbated by the mosquitos (thankfully, they don´t carry malaria...) that attack you in the night, even though there´s no way of avoiding exposing skin, since you don´t want to sleep with any covers at all.
It has been no easy task to try to set aside time to get online! I only have a small amount of time to write, since we´re going to be leaving for Iguacu Falls in about an hour...on a 16 hour luxury bus ride (complete with meals, 3 movies, and seats that become beds...all for about $50USD).
We had a relaxing first day, meeting up with David and walking around and taking
in the city. Only when we were sitting in a park, looking around at the leafy streets and the multitude of taxis did I fully comprehend that I was here. That, and the incredible ¨expensive¨ steak dinner we had...which cost maybe around $10 total for each of us.
On Tuesday, David had to go to Spanish class, so Aaron and I went to Plaza San Martin and ate lunch in possibly my favorite park ever. The trees are huge, with black branches sillouetted against the bright green leaves. Then, we walked down Calle Florida, bustling with commercialism and people (the only street without any cars), and then proceeded to Plaza del Mayo, center of many protests in front of the Casa Rosada (the place where Juan and Eva Peron made many a famous speech, which was unfortunately under construction). After Aaron got a picture with 2 of the policia around Plaza del Mayo, we walked over to Calle Julio, the largest street in the world, with 17 lanes on each side, and centered around an enormous obelisk. As we walked, we passed cute bookstores, dog walkers, and of course, more of those beautiful buildings. We met David and went
over to Recoleta Cemetery, where the rich and the renowned seek eternal life in the eyes of the beholders who walk in awe and are baffled by the obvious expression of wealth. We saw Eva´s marker, of course, but it was more fascinating to me to see that a lot of the tombs had the caskets out in plain view!
That night, we went to a bar that had 2 floors, 20 pool tables, and...ARCHERY! You´d probably never experience drunk people being allowed to shoot arrows at targets in the United States. There were teachers there, though...one of whom was definitely pulling the latin lover card on me.
On Wednesday, after passing through a small theatre museum, Aaron and I walked down Avenida Cordoba over to the Ecological Reserve next to Rio de la Plata. Even though the sight of mucha basura in a ¨reserve¨ was somewhat depressing, it was still fun to walk around and take in the strange sounds of exotic birds, and the trees that lined the small stream next to the path. We only scratched the surface of the huge reserve, but we made it all the way to Rio de la Plata, a
brownish river that had a pier jutting out for fishing, nearby the landing docks for huge freighters.
That night, I got a complete sense of what a ¨tango singer¨ actually is like, since we went to Cafe Tortoni, a place where you can see tango while enjoying a delicious dinner (and some wine, of course). The musicians were incredible, and the singers cheesy and passionate, and the dancers...well, what more needs to be said? There was a man from Spain sitting at our table, who conveniently explained the significance of every dance to us.
Thursday, we had an amazing lunch at a vegetarian buffet, and then went to see Teatro Colon, which was the largest opera house in the southern hemisphere before the Sydney Opera House came along in the 70s. Unfortunately, it is under renovation for the 100th anniversary, so we were unable to take a tour. But, we got to see some dog walkers playing guitar and serenading their dogs in the park across the street, which was equally interesting. We took a quick trip over to Museo del Bellas Artes, which has a comparable collection of European and Argentine impressionists (Manet, Degas, Mattise, and more).
Then, before it got too late, we went to La Boca, with its vividly colored buildings and shady side streets. We got there pretty late, so we only saw a few artists with their work, but we got a chance to sit in an outdoor cafe with some of the ¨working class¨ locals, listening to a small and talented band (how the drummer made that much noise with 3 drums, I will never understand). We serendipitously met up with people from Canada, Mexico, and one Argentine who were also sitting there, and we had a great time talking, being representative of the entire American continent.
Last night, we had our first real taste of Argentine night life, since we stayed out until about 7 a.m.!!! We went to a huge club (Club Europa) which looked more like we were at a 19th century ball mixed with a high school dance, because of the ornate building juxtaposed against the 80s music. We met up with all the Americanos we had met in La Boca, which was nice, since I got to spend some time with girls instead of boys!! Then, we went to another bar that was right next
to the river (good for the soul, not for the skin...mosquitos!!), which was near the club we had been to the previous night...a quintissential club atmosphere...Needless to say, we´ve pretty much been sleeping all of today.
Well, I´ve gotta go get some empanadas with Aaron and David now before we travel over to Iguacu, but I´m continuing to practice my Spanish (strange Argentine accent and all), and I´ll say Ciao! for now...
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