Sunday, March 22, 2009

San Telmo

It took me nearly 2 months to make it to San Telmo. It's a tourist trap and I've tried to avoid those, but a sudden yen for vintage leather bags found me riding the subway to the end of the line, lingering at Plaza de Mayo (see video in post below), and migrating south through the splintering afternoon light.

Treading alone, I allow myself to be led by the street art. Not angry graffiti, but the sort that sees the city as a canvas and the neighborhood as an art gallery.

I turn a corner. An empty church, parked motorcycle, sleeping german shepherd. I tuck my camera back into my purse and feign purpose as I move my bare legs a bit quicker. I'm still skittish and prefer the more populated areas.

Lost in San Telmo and too proud to pull out my map, though there's no one but the dog to judge me. Onward my sandals push until i spot a policeman smoking a cigarette. Put on my most sing-song argentine accent and ask where the outdoor market is, la feria. He looks annoyed that I’ve interrupted his tobacco sucking and points right as he exhales in my face. One block.


Sunday afternoon

Plaza de Mayo and the Argentine equivalent of the White House,
La Casa Rosada

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Boca vs. Argentinos

Hola, Si, my name is Ines Rodriguez. Si, this is my season pass. Si Si, I am a big fan. Cintia turns around and gives me a look as if to say “breathe a word of English and you will get stabbed. Really.” (I close my mouth). My hand shakes as I press the season pass onto the card-reader and pray the light turns green. The guard looks as me like he knows I’m foreign, like he knows I have never seen Boca play in my life. Our seats are member seats, and as Ines Rodriguez, for one evening I am privy to the glory that comes with being a Boca fan. Boca and River (pronounced Ree-verrr) are rivals and are the only teams that matter. The Boca stadium is, as one might guess, in the Boca neighborhood, one of the shadiest of the city. Stray dogs and stray children wander. Sidewalks are elevated due to the proximity to the river and constant flooding. Crushed soda cans litter the streets. Boca is dark and bleak and poverty-stricken.

In the taxi ride over we learn from the radio that a woman has been shot in the MacDonalds around the block for wearing the wrong team’s colors.
I cross the threshold and am told to throw out my water bottle and open my purse as my male companions are patted down. I half expect them to tell me to remove my shoes. It’s iffy but the operation is successful. We are in. We are Argentine. We are Boca fans. Our life has purpose.

The infinite hike up to our seats suggests we’re verging on nosebleed, yet the view is still decent from our grey cement benches. Despite the open-air, I get high off of the mixture of cigarette smoke and the aroma of grilled meat as the whole stadium vibrates with exhilaration. For Boca fans, futbol is religion, and today is Christmas. The players are announced and the fists begin to throw and the shouts and cheers gain momentum and when the crowd-favorite Riquelme (rival of Maradona) walks out, falling strips of white paper turn metallic under the stadium lights as they flutter down towards the field. Huge drums begin their low-pitch roar, like ogres preparing to eat the other team.

I order a coke, and the guy can’t make change (there is no change in this country). He promises to bring me back a peso in two minutes, then disappears into the crowd without waiting for my response. After more than a month here, it should not surprise me that he doesn’t return.

scores the first GOLLLLLLL and the fight songs, grunts and throwing fists become deafening. Argentine Spanish was made for futbol tunes. These are not of the go-team-go variety-- these songs, heavy on the subjunctive, speak of desires, hopes, hypothetical situations (losses) that will remain, at least for tonight, hypothetical. We pretend we know the words and hum along, hugging each other, thrilled to be part of something with such pasiĆ³n, wondering if any New England Patriots fan would shoot a woman in a MacDonalds for wearing a Giants jersey...

After the half-time consumption of thick Chorizo wrapped in hunks of french bread, lethargic, full-bellied fans recline back into their seats. Lethargic, seemingly full-bellied players pass the ball back and forth as if in practice as the shouts and drumming and fight songs slow, trickle out, become barely audible…..

until Figuera heads the ball with absolute brute force and…..


We fly to our feet shouting, "¡¡¡¡Que Lindo!!!!"
It really was a pretty goal.


We are winners. We are Boca fans. As we are told before the game,

Boca always wins.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Iguazu/paradise/argentina/brazil/8th (9th? 10th?) wonder of the world

While I acknowledge that this detail has absolutely nothing to do with the thunderous waterfalls I smelled, heard, tasted (yes!) and obviously photographed over the weekend at Iguazu, I feel obligated to mention the modern wonder that is the Argentine "micro-bus." (pronounced, meecro buuuus).

We traveled sixteen hours north from BA to the Brazil border for 100 USD (roundtrip)-- feet up, back reclined, blanketed, and pillow'd. The strapping young bus attendent offered us styrofoam cups of warm cafe at one hour intervals and wondered whether we preferred whiskey or champagne after the meal. (i'm fairly sure that the attendent was also the busdriver. Occationally he would disapear into the cabin, presumably to take the bus off of cruise control for a few moments)

The attendent asked mid-evening whether the plastic bag in the overhead compartment was mine. When i shook my head no, he pulled it out and opened it to reveal a large frozen chicken. A large frozen chicken who also happened to be an orphan (all passengers denied ownership). A large frozen chicken that was not likely to remain frozen for the entirety of the sixteen hour trip.

I originally planned to study during the remaining hours of daylight on the meecro, but when oppertunity knocks...
I had the immense privilege of watching MAMA MIA, the movie musical, three inches from my face on the bus' flat screen tv. Who knew that ABBA could translate to spanish with such finesse? Who knew that bus attendants ignore your requests to turn the volume down? MAMA MIA, HERE WE GO AGAIN....but i digress.

Around one a.m, as the sleep drugs began to play through my limbs, swirling me to slumber, I decided that I would one day bring the good word of the meeecro to my homeland and put
the king of mediocrity, Sir Greyhound, out of business.
First class road travel must prevail!

In any case...

Las Cataratas de Iguazu

I certainly could go on forever with descriptions, but I've posted videos, and pictures, which are far more accurate in their representations. Surely whatever I could write would be riddled with cliches anyway. (read: "thunderous")

Instead, a list-like post of observations from the trip:

Brazilian lizards cross the border without proper identification, are quickly deported,
Jungle, or rainforest, or maybe just forest,
my first star-sighting in Argentina, celestial or otherwise,
Sandwiches don't have crusts anywhere in this country, not even in Iguazu,
oh this civilazation of over-indulged sandwich-eaters,
North, north, still north and mist and liquid and humidity collide, each orgasmic and trembling,
The constant argument over who has the better view,
a decision my VISA will never allow me to come to,
I long to meet you, Brazil,
Water is falling, but these aren't waterfalls, these are forces of nature that spawn other planets, this is hydro-elation
Until this moment, waterfall has been abused and wrongfully applied to every anemic trickle
Falling negates purpose
These are rogue, aquatic monsters who shake the earth (there i go describing..)
Raft ride (see video), Rio de la Plata? i never asked the name, that unnassuming river
the one that coddled us until opening up and allowing us to be drenched
we paid extra to get wet
River water, as opposed to salt water, is Dulce in Spanish,
is it 'sweet' in English?
like Dulce de leche, which i find strange,
we lay in the sun after the hike
by the pool, my skin threatened to match the hue of the guava slices
served at breakfast
Oh the steam, or was it mist? It floated up, or maybe boiled

can cold water boil?

maybe it can, in Brazil.


we're on a raft......sorry about the shoddy camera work
beauteous though, no?

Iguazu Falls-- jungle butterflies

Iguazu is known for its waterfalls, but on our second day of the trip we hiked up through the jungle-like terrain near the Brazil border. We found butterflies...