Thursday, July 2, 2009

el gripe, Macs, and an angry Jew.

All over the city, people are scrunching their scarves up over their mouths and noses hoping to avoid the coughs and sighs and sneezes of strangers. Even school's out for swine flu. All the universities and schools have closed to stop the spread of H1N1. So the exam I have on tuesday? NOPE. NOT GUNNA HAPPEN. Sin embargo, I'm still waiting to find out if I'm going to have to do something else, like a write a paper or something to make up for it. Celeste (home-stay mom) doesn't seem to think so, there's one vote of confidence!

Also good news in my academic world. I handed in my 28 page research paper! It only took me 3 trips to the locutorio, including several realizations of documents saved in the wrong format, files too large to e-mail, and a portable hard drive not compatible with a PC.


Another exciting/crushing incident this morning was being followed down the street by a strange man after I tried to take a picture of the Jewish temple on my street that I included in my project on religious diversity in Belgrano. I had a feeling it would happen. I snapped the photo ever so quickly and turned right back down the street but he chased me down and made me erase it. For those who aren't aware of some of the events surrounding the issue of Jews in Buenos Aires here's an incredibly blunt version of what happened and what it means for nice little girls trying to write research papers:

Late 1800s: Jews from Russia settle in Argentina and start farming in the Pampas.
More Jews come, and lots move into the capital city, Buenos Aires.
WWII: Juan Perón opens Argentina's doors to protect Nazi sympathizers. Jews stop coming to Argentina. But not for too long.
Temples throughout the city crack down on who gets to come to services.
Nice, non-Jewish American girls who just want to learn and take pretty pictures and write interesting things get put on the black list and chased down the street.

Es una lastima. But even so, my paper is done and 6 copies are fresh out of the copy machine and properly bound waiting to be read by anyone who is interested. Though it's in Spanish, so I guess that somewhat limits my fan base back home. Now I don't have to think about it ever again.

Wait. Scratch that. I don't have to think about it, ooh for about another 2 weeks until I start filling out my honors thesis application forms and it becomes my life again for the next 8 months. Hot damn!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perhaps a great irony in my young life.

I turned 21 on Sunday, June 28. Election day here in Argentina. When to sell or serve alcohol is illegal. Just for one day.
In the country in which I have been drinking legally since I arrived, I could not have a drink on my 21st birthday.
Ah bon. C'est la vie.
I did receive some beautiful flowers from two lovely friends.
aren't they pretty?

My head is anywhere but here. It is in the Andes of Northwest Argentina, sipping wine beside a friend. It is sitting on the dock in Harrisville, NH, scratching old, grey Emma's ears and deftly avoiding the affectionate licks of my darling Trot. It is in the kitchen of a cottage in the French countryside, in Provence with Peter Mayle, and in Paris with AJ Leibling.
I've been reading so much since pop left me with a big stack of books before he left. If you're looking for two wonderful reads, Toujours Provence and Between Meals both just blew my mind and made me chronically hungry.

Bueno. A shower is in order after a workout and a yoga class this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When there's nowhere else to turn...

Ok I have something to admit. I'm not totally proud of it. But it needs to be said. My new favorite place in Buenos Aires is... uuuh I can barely bring myself to say it.

It's Starbucks.

So it's not a terrible thing. Starbucks did a great thing in making quality coffee a norm, though I'll never forgive them for their bastardization of the meaning of "machhiato". I just usually pride myself on seeking out the smaller, local places like Boutique del Libro or Lentas Maravillas. But it's only one particular Starbucks in the city. I mean, I've only been to one other, the one in the Alto Palermo mall so I really can't expound on all the Starbucks in the city, but the one I'm at, in Belgrano on Federico Lacroze, is really the only place I want to be right now. Since I got to Buenos Aires I've been looking for that one cozy place, walking distance from my apartment*, my Haymarket away from Haymarket, you know? Boutique del Libro came close, but it's a haul to get there and they lack comfy chairs. But this Starbucks is really great. It's an old converted house so it has a sweet upstairs with 3 rooms packed with comfy chairs and work tables and some beautiful stained glass windows that open like french doors. And they even play decent music. So I'm here to stay. I'm sure I'll make up for it when I'm back in Northampton in 61 days.

*"walking distance" for me, I learned while my family was here, does not equal walking distance for most other people. I now also know why Becky used to get mad at me for walking too slow whenever I visited her in NYC. Believe it or not, I myself have developed my own "city walk". However, I plan to happily abandon it as soon as I'm back to wandering in the woods.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Escape from the city

A post on how much I love Colonia, Uruguay is long overdue. I’ve been there three times now, and am looking forward to one last ferry ride over there in a few weeks. If you’re into quaint, sleepy, almost even deserted, but absolutely beautiful towns, Colonia del Sacramento is the place to be. It’s right across the river, and the barrio histórico, full of shops and so-so parilla and seafood restaurants is right on the water (some times if you squint real hard the water even looks blue). There’s really nothing incredibly remarkable about it all; but the architecture is beautiful and the fact that I can spend an entire afternoon without hearing a single car horn or alarm is a simple salvation. The sun shines through cotton ball clouds and the breeze off the water rustles your hair and fills the boat sails as they drift lazily in the harbor.

Something that IS remarkable about Colonia is a little café called Lentas Maravillas. I love this place so much; I selfishly don’t want to share it with anyone else! It’s literally in someone’s living room—take a wrong turn going to the bathroom and you end up in a bedroom! They’ve got good coffee, especially on a breezy day, and a fun menu that includes 5 o’clock tea with chocolate chip cookies! When I took my family there, another family with 2 younger girls had just ordered the last 3 cookies (heartbreak). But they were just about to bake another batch, so we lounged and checked out the library full of cookbooks, travel books, books on film theory, fiction and non-fiction, (tons of books in English!) while our cookies were baked to perfection and served warm and melty, next to a cup of Illy coffee. Did I mention they have a fireplace roaring in the corner of the room? And a wall of windows with a view of the river?

Jackie and I first went there together during her visit. We noticed the sign outside the door as we were walking into the old town and decided to come back later if we had time to kill before getting back on the ferry. When we were there we sat by the fire, drank coffee, and deliberated heavily on whether or not to order dessert. The discussion was cut short when a local journalist came in to interview the owners and snap some photos for a review. She ended up taking quite a few of Jacqueline and I. Our previous dessert discussion was moot when we were served a free chocolate cheesecake with raspberries and fresh whipped cream for the “inconvenience” of being photographed for a magazine while sipping coffee and reading our books.

(my photo shoot of Jackie)

Lentas Maravillas is a place of delicious inconveniences. I’m not giving you the address. I don’t know it. It will be better to discover it for yourself. But I know where to find it and I can’t wait to go back.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I think my neighbors on the floor above me have joined a marching band--the drumline to be exact. I'm not even kidding. I awoke this morning to the sound of at least 2 deadened snares slammin away. What?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I was not aware.

No one ever told me how easy it is to make scones!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Contigo Peru

"El aji de gallina... puede ser muy picante? extrapicante?"
--"You from Arizona? Texas?"
laughing, "No."
"Massachusetts." world's hardest word to attempt with a quasi-Spanish accent
--blank stare "Ah, sí... Masatuses."
"Pero viajé mucho en Americalatina!"
--"Bien picante!!!"

And then I ate a deliciously spicy meal of chicken stewing in a sauce of yellow aji peppers, ground walnut, milk, cheese, garlic, onion, and happiness. Great Peruvian restaurant in Belgrano! Wooo!