Monday, February 24, 2014

Todo sobre "La Boca"

He hecho muchas actividades y he visitado muchas partes de Buenos Aires en la últimas semanas.  Sin embargo la experiencia en La Boca fue algo muy diferente. Hay 48 barrios en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. En general, hay una separación entre pobres y ricos, con los ricos viviendo en el norte y los pobres en el sur. Vivo en Belgrano, un barrio bastante rico en el norte. Con el subte o los colectivos (los autobúses aquí se llaman colectivos) es muy fácil ir por todas partes. La Boca está al lado del Río la Plata cerca del puerto. Entre los años 1830 y 1852 mucha gente de Italia (principalmente Genoveses) comenzaron a instalarse en este barrio, posiblemente  porque es una zona cerca de la entrada de barcos. Desde el principio La Boca ha sido conocido por la pobreza, El Caminito, y el Club Atlético Boca Juniors. La cultura futbolística aquí es algo que nunca podía imaginar antes. En la calle todo se pinta azul y amarillo. Son fanáticos por Boca Juniors.

Entonces, teníamos un proyecto para la clase de Español en lo que necesitamos elegir un barrio, visitar el barrio, y hacer una presentación. Mi grupo decidió visitar a La Boca para mirar un partido de fútbol, pasar tiempo, y andar por las calles. Cuando bajamos del colectivo vimos a mucha policía. En cada calle y en cada rincón de los edificios. Sabíamos que La Boca era un lugar peligroso, pero no tanto. Caminamos por el Caminito y Río la Plata. El Caminito es un lugar para los turistas. No hay mucho que hacer menos ver los edificios coloridos. Hablamos con algunas personas sobre el partido y nos dijeron que la gente no podía entrar. Nadie. Pero había tanta policía.. No entendía, pero después, descubrí que algunas personas murieron al cabo del último partido. A veces es así en La Boca. La gente del estadio Bombonera se llaman La Doce, porque hay once personas jugando, y la última esta en las sillas. A causa de esa tragedia, no permitían a los espectadores entrar por las próximas semanas.

Continuamos caminando hasta que paramos para hablar con algunas personas que estaban jugando fútbol en el campo muy cerca del estadio. Eran de Boca. Boca todo, Boca siempre. Eran sucios y tenían ojos rojos como un tomate. Juegan fútbol cada día y todo el día fuera del estadio, todo el tiempo tomando y fumando Hablamos con ellos pero no jugamos (ellos jugaron muy intenso), y compartimos un poco vino. No me acuerdo de sus nombres, y no saque fotos (por supuesto, sacar un iPhone es mala idea), pero fue un encuentro muy interesante, pero corto. El sol estaba avanzando por el horizonte y sabíamos que La Boca no es un lugar seguro durante los noches, especialmente para extranjeros. Cuando los hombres nos pidieron eldinero decidimos salir.Pueden hablar todo el día sobre fútbol.

Al fin, no pudimos ir al partido. Nadie pudo. A pesar de eso, conocimos a fanáticos, caminamos por el Caminito, y vimos el Río. Fue un experiencia reveladora.

¿En la próxima vamos hablar sobre la musica!

Monday, February 17, 2014



The best part of any travelling experience is the glory of gluttony. So what are the more developed local dishes of Argentina?

Anyone who has come here will tell you Argentines feast on two things: Beef and the blood of vegetarians. Beef is popular. Main dishes include bífe de chorízo, bife de lomo, empanadas, milanesa, and locro. In my own experience eating so far, they do not add much seasoning to any of these. Hot sauce included. There is a long history of the cattle farms on Argentina's expansive plains, which is home to the dying Gaucho culture. Gauchos as I understand them are basically cowboys. Popular non beef based foods include pizza, alfajores (which I have yet to try, but I think the name is hilarious...) and plenty of breads. For dessert, I have been eating flan after almost every meal at home, but ice cream is quite popular. Finally there is the the chocolaty, nutty, milky goodness that is, Dulce de Leche. I tried it the first morning, wiping the crust from my eyes glugging coffee. It was spread generously on my toast, and seconds after the first bite:

Seriously, it's delicious. I will definitely be sending some back for everyone to enjoy. That.. and mate.
Perk: seven refills gains you ability to ignoring sleep

Mate (pronounced MAH-tay) is a very popular tea-like drink. When Europeans first came to South America it became wildly popular, and for many years it was Paraguay's main commodity above tobacco and coffee. On the streets people can be seen drinking it from a traditional calabash gourd and silver straw (bombilla), the same way that it has been drunk for hundreds of years. It's highly caffeinated, has a strong flavor, and once you fill the gourd, it's hard to stop refilling it. It's hard to say why the drink never caught on in North America or Europe the way coffee did or tobacco. I'm told it's not easy to domesticate or cultivate.

Some shameful American bought this
So there you have it, you got your beef, Dulce de Leche, and mate. There is one more important part of any food experience in Argentina, and that is sobremesa. This is best described as hanging out after a meal. After dinner or lunch people will regularly spend hours talking. Going out to dinner is a bad idea for the impatient and a great idea for those who can't help but gossip. On Argentine television recently there was newsflash about a possible love affair between Obama and Beyonce with a candid photo of Beyonce kissing the president on the cheek.

That's all I got for now. Now, enjoy pictures of my food!

Thigh of a vegetarian


Dulce de "wipes tear" Leche
Also, shout out to my host Mom for making super fresh vegetarian meals every night. Also, shout out to Papa Francis.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

First Impressions

It's been well over a week since arriving in Buenos Aires and I thought it would be worth writing a general overview. Like any adventure or new experience it all depends on the individual and you get what you put into it. This week school started, which is 5 hours a day, leaving the afternoon and evening pretty much open. 

During the weekday afternoons I went to visit some of the colonial areas of the barrio Recoleta and Palermo, placing an emphasis on the Museo de Bellas Artes. The museum is huge, and even though I spent hours there, I only saw the first floor. Paintings from Francisco de Goya, Van Gogh, Monet, and many more can be found there. In 9th grade I had to write a paper that referenced a piece of artwork. I chose at random a painting by Goya to write about. When I walked into Goya's exhibit, there it was. I have included the picture below, but unfortunately the details of the painting have been lost to me. In the evenings I attended concerts and clubs (also known as "boliches" which are quite popular. A word of advice: if you plan to go out at night, don't plan on coming back until morning. Most of the concert venues don't even open until 1 in the morning, which means people fill it up until 2 or 3 am.

I can't help but compare the city to other places I have traveled. China, for example, does not have nearly as many parks or trees as B.A. It's also not nearly as safe, a feeling you get more in some neighborhoods, than in others. The people are nice, but you don't get any automatic points for being a foreigner. In order to meet people, you have to do some digging. Also, white people don't stand out as foreigners, so don't expect to be surrounded by people wanting to take your picture on public transportation. It's a sad truth, and the main reason I'm going to Beijing in August. I miss being famous.

 For the most part, I have tried to refrain from making judgments. Too often do I hear other students making broad generalizations about the city or the people. Culture shock happens to everyone to some degree, but our reactions are like a door: we can open and let everything in, or we can close and try to retain our own boring comfort zone. For those of you here for 6 months, LEARN SOME SPANISH. People will love enthusiasm and effort. I have had some struggles this week going out alone. I wouldn't consider myself particularly outgoing, and  I feel that often times I have to force words out to break the barrier of discomfort. Logically, there is so little to lose and so much to gain.

It has been a good week to be in Argentina. There will not be a lack of things to do this week or the weeks after. Some tentative plans include playing polo, a football game, and Tango lessons. Every day is fresh.

Salsa Sunday at a park down the street

The original painting I wrote about in my Isearch in 9th grade


Monday, February 3, 2014

春节快乐,布宜诺斯艾利斯!Chūnjié kuàilè, bù yi nuò sī ài lì sī!

In the heart of Buenos Aires almost 12,000 miles from Taiwan and China, there is a community brought together by language and culture. Many of Argentina's 30,000 Chinese have migrated from Taiwan and Fujian Province to seek economic opportunities. A migration accord was signed between the two countries in 2003 and since then the community has grown. So has the Chinese new year, or Spring Festival.

The phrase above means, "Happy Spring Festival, Buenos Aires!" I thought it was really funny when I tried to say Buenos Aires in Chinese. Sometimes the phonetic translations just end up sounding really goofy. It's also interesting to see Chinese people speaking in Spanish. The accent remains distinct, but in general they really had a solid grip of the language. Anyways, I decided to go to Chinatown to celebrate, eat some food, and meet people to practice my quickly dying language skills. Fortunately, I only had to walk 3 blocks from my apartment to get there.

Dragon followed by a band
City of Buenos Aires preparing for Chinese food
The celebration is going to be difficult to describe... A park was closed off as well as many streets with people everywhere. A large stage was in the middle of the park and throughout the night there were a variety of performances. It started with Chinese opera, followed by some outstanding Tango music and dance. After that there was a bizarre cereal mascot that reminded me of Tony the Tiger. He sang some songs and did dances that the children seemed familiar with. By the enthusiasm of the five year olds, I would say he killed it.  They then had some German dancers and Irish dancing. The dancers were shown up by the martial artists and TaiChi practitioners, who leap about the stage as if defying gravity swinging swords, spears, and fists. The final act of the night was a Chinese pop star who sang to loud bassy club music. Overall the experience was really culturally fulfilling. Barrio Chino really made an effort to demonstrate that their holiday celebration was meant to be shared with everyone. The crowd included all ages and many nationalities. The Year of the Horse was inaugurated with traditional Chinese fireworks and a "good luck" to everyone.

Despite distance, stress, and a good deal of prejudice a strong Chinese culture is alive and well in Buenos Aires. I feel very grateful to be in this city and to have been able to celebrate Chinese New Year in such a unique way. Many students decided to watch the Superbowl instead of facing the uncertainty of what the holiday was and if it was going to be "cool" or not. In the words of the wise Jeff Haubenreich, "Take a healthy risk." It is a lesson that has never failed.

Happy New Year everyone!

The only people awake on Sunday morning
The most important photo on this blog.

To find more info check out this video by CCTV:
P.S. Sorry about the lack of photos of the actual celebration. People have been getting their phones stolen. I also tend to abuse the power of the camera and end up spending the night through the lens of a camera. If you wanna see it, GO THERE!!