Loose Ends

I can’t believe this is my last Buenos Aires post. I do plan on continuing with this blog; I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences and don’t want to stop. So, this isn’t goodbye, however I will miss writing about this beautiful city, country, and continent (not that it will be my last time here).

It’s been a little over a week since I got back from Chile – a very strange, melancholy week. I’ve pretty much spent this time eating my feelings with the excuse that it’s the last time I’ll be able to eat at these amazing places. Izzi and I started out by trying something new and visiting Don Julio. Don Julio is considered the best steak house in Buenos Aires, which is saying a lot. It’s an absolute MUST when visiting, and since neither of us had been yet and our time was running out (sob), it seemed like a good idea. It turned out to be a very good idea. Many people talk about Don Julio as a quite expensive restaurant but, while I wouldn’t go there every week, I didn’t think it was expensive at all for the experience we had. First of all, they treated us like royalty, which is an enormous plus for my shameless ego. The wait staff was funny and sociable while still letting us enjoy our meal in peace. When it came time to pick which cut of meat we wanted and it became clear to them that neither of us had the slightest idea what we were talking about, they actually brought us back to see all the different cuts raw and explain the difference to us. Izzi and I both ended up getting flank steaks which was an amazing decision, though I’m sure all the cuts would have been amazing. I’ve noticed that in Buenos Aires they really tend to overcook their meat, which is surprising to me since the meat is such high quality. Usually when I’m in a restaurant I have to emphasize three times to the waitress/waiter that I want it rare…bloody…still mooing please. Here, when I asked for rare it came rare – a juicy, tender rare that made me think I was eating an animal I had never eaten before. I couldn’t believe what I was tasting. At the end of the meal we were able to write on the label of our wine bottle and add it to the hundreds lining the walls of Don Julio – a little mark left by us at a Buenos Aires institution.

Izzi left Buenos Aires before me, just a couple days ago, and while her last day was very sad, it was also exceptionally lovely. We started by meeting up with Louis and Pierre, who had recently gotten back to Buenos Aires, for lunch and spent a long time chatting with them and hearing about the rest of their adventures in Bolivia before it was time to say goodbye. Although goodbyes are always rough, I was glad we got one last chance to see each other. Travel friendships are always so intense and wonderful, and the fact that you have to say goodbye so suddenly has always been rough for me. So, one extra meal all together seemed like such a gift. After we ate, though, the boys had to leave so we said goodbye for real and headed to Galería Patio del Liceo to make ourselves feel better. We had discovered this place through an Underart Tour, which brings you around the city to see underground art galleries and artist collectives. This had been our absolute favourite from the tour. Tucked away off Calle Santa Fe, this creative centre is filled with galleries and studios from all different types of designers and artists.

This gorgeous indoor/outdoor space couldn't be inhabited by anyone other than designers
Gorgeous indoor/outdoor space 

 

I gifted myself a napkin holder shaped like a sailboat (the napkins are the sail!) and we spent a lot of time gushing over all the beautiful prints, photos, and paintings in each shop.

Afterwards we decided to walk back to Palermo. It was a bit far but it was a beautiful day. As we were walking the sun was shining perfectly through the leaves and I remembered my first week here. I had been walking by myself, not having made any friends yet, and I had been smiling widely from ear to ear because I couldn’t believe how beautiful the trees were in this city. It had been a while since I had really noticed them, so Izzi and I walked in silence for a bit, just taking in the magic that they were brining to the streets. As we were walking, a bright blue bookstore caught our eye and we just had to go in.

La libreria Librosref
La libreria Librosref

The place had such a warm glow radiating out of it. As it turns out, that didn’t just have to do with the flawless lighting and interior design, but also the staff. The man who greeted us seemed absolutely delighted that we had entered his store. He asked us all about ourselves, and told us all about his store. He was truly passionate about the books that he had in stock. When I told him I study anthropology he was excited to show me his ethnography collection. He even gave Izzi a free book because it was her last day in the city. I am truly going to miss how open and cariñoso people here are. Librosref was amazing, but I’m not going to say that the way he treated us was rare. I find that people here really care about the other human beings they happen upon. When we left the shop it was time for Izzi and me to say goodbye. I knew it was going to be sad, but as she walked away I was truly heart broken. We had gotten to know each other so well so quickly, and I felt I had really found a friend that understood me. We had discovered so much that we had in common, it seemed unfair that we didn’t have more time to discover more.

Izzi and me featured in the worst selfie ever taken with our matching hats.
Izzi and me in “the worst selfie ever taken” featuring our matching hats.

I’ve also spent this week scouring the city for souvenirs and gifts to bring back with me. The best place to do that, of course, is Mercado San Telmo. Since I’m running a little low on friends still in the city I went alone. I was actually quite glad I did because it meant I could spend as much time as I wanted just wandering the streets doing what I do best – people watching. I watched old men drinking coffee in comfortable silence, I watched young Argentinian couples be very publicly in love, I watched amazing tango street shows, and of course, lots of dogs and babies. The little snapshot memories I tucked away for myself that day are worth a whole lot more than the nicknacks I picked up, though those are fun too.

However, the best souvenir I’ll be taking home with me from Buenos Aires is my new tattoo. I decided to get it done at Iris Tattoo because many of the artists there specialize in watercolour tattoos, which is the style I wanted. I made the appointment before leaving for my trip with Izzi and had decided on getting a crescent moon. While in Chile and Bolivia I fell in love with the idea even more as I watched the moon rise into the most beautiful night skies I’ve ever seen, linger into the sunrise, and smile at me from that upside-down type of angle it has down here. So, when I got back to Buenos Aires I was so in love that I knew I had made a very good decision as to what I wanted. It turned out perfectly, exactly as I had pictured it in my head, and I am thrilled that I will always have this reminder of the amazing things I have seen here.

My beautiful crescent moon
My beautiful crescent moon

Of course, I couldn’t leave Buenos Aires without giving myself one last art day. Unbelievably, I had yet to visit the MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) and I just had to before I left. I am so glad I did. They have amazing pieces by Diego Rivera, Frida, and even Nora Borges, Jorge Louis’ little sister. It was also so much fun to see many of the pieces we had discussed in my Contemporary Argentinian Art class.

Alejandro Puentes
Alejandro Puentes

I was astounded when I saw a Berni piece in person. He’s an artist famous for the way he painted eyes, and they were just so much more powerful in person on that enormous canvas. Although he’s not quite as well known, I was excited to see an Alejandro Puentes, mostly because he’s inspired some of the ideas I have down in my sketchpad. It was really exciting to be able to recognize so many pieces and artist from memory and to really understand the value of what I was looking at and how much these physical objects in front of me had influenced Argentinian history.

My favourite, though, was an artist I had never heard of, since she is not Argentinian. Theresa Burga is a contemporary Peruvian artist who has two pieces in the MALBA I absolutely adored. The first one was called “Estructuras de Aire”(Structures of Aire). This was exactly the type of piece that I’m most into. I walked into a pitch black room… and I mean PITCH black. I couldn’t see a thing and spent the entire time walking around with my hands out in front of me so I wouldn’t run into any walls. At one point my eyes started playing tricks on me and I thought I would be walking towards a wall when in fact I wasn’t even close. The things I saw in the total dark could have been the piece itself, but there was another dimension. Out of nowhere bursts of air would shoot out of the ground or the walls or the ceiling at me. This was amazing because since I was so deprived of visual stimuli I felt the coolness of the air much more than I otherwise would have and it felt absolutely beautiful. I could have stayed in there forever except some genius came in with their cell phone flashlight on so I decided to leave.

Her second piece was called “obra que desaparece cuando el espectador trata de acercarse” (piece that disappears as the spectator tries to get closer) which is exactly what it sounds like.

Piece by Theresa Burga
Piece by Theresa Burga

I had to wait for the people who were in the room to leave before I was allowed to go in. When I did, I was confronted by a brilliant piece made of neon lights. I loved being in there by myself with the lights; it was quite surreal. As I walked towards it, censors in the walls made each ring of colour disappear one at a time until by the time I reached the line in front of the piece, there was no piece left. I had a lot of fun walking backwards watching the piece light up then forwards again watching it disappear. Honestly, though, just standing there looking at the glowing colours was beautiful as well.

And now, well, now it’s my last day. My bags are all packed and I’m sitting in a very empty room typing out my goodbye message. It’s actually quite a sad image. Tonight, though, I get the perfect Argentinian goodbye. River is playing so the friends still around are coming over to watch the fútbol game, and then we’re making a big Asado. I couldn’t ask for a better last Argentinian supper.

What will I miss the most about being here? I’ll miss the way the sunlight shines off of the church in Plaza Maya very early in the morning. I’ll miss being in a place where everyone is always willing to talk, to share their story and to hear yours. I’ll miss the lively Palermo bars and watching the sun come up as I walk home from them. I’ll miss this house, especially the cat. This time has gone by so fast. At least I know that I’ve filled it with amazing adventures, seen things I never imagined could be so wonderful, and met people who have changed the way I see the world, definitely for the better.

Ciao Buenos Aires, querido.

A Visit From Jessica

Having someone come visit while you’re traveling is an interesting experience because you get to see the city from fresh eyes again. At least for me, I try to look at things the way they might be seeing them. It’s a little bit stressful sometimes because I end up wondering whether or not they are enjoying what I’m showing them as much as I do. But one of the wonderful things about Jess coming to visit and one of the reasons I had missed her so much, is that usually she finds beauty in the same type of things I do – which is pretty much everything.

The day after she arrived was a Friday, so my roommate, Joanna, and I were excited to give her a taste of that famous Buenos Aires nightlife. We went to my favourite place in the neighbourhood, Temple Bar, which I love for the beautiful fairy lights on all the trees and the fact that in half the bar it’s a little unclear whether you’re inside or outside. It’s also one of the few places I’ve found that brew their own beer, and that’s something I simply cannot resist. Jess loved the place too, and we sat drinking and talking with Joanna for a while. It felt so good to be chilling with someone who already knows me as well as Jess does. It was like sleeping in your own bed for the first time in a long time or smelling something that all of a sudden reminds you of a memory you had tucked into the way back of your brain. Around 3 am they told us it was last call. This seemed strange to me because I remembered being in there until 5 or later on many occasions and it was a Friday! But it wasn’t a big deal; we figured we would try Victoria Brown, another good place close by. When we got there, though, it was closed, at which point I knew something weird was up. This was Buenos Aires on a Friday night! Weren’t most people finishing their pre-drinks and leaving their houses right about now? We started talking to some other lost souls on the street and they informed us that it probably had to do with the fútbol game. That night Buenos Aires’ two rival times, Boca and River, had a huge game which the entire city was watching. But, half way through one of the Boca fans through tear gas at the River players and the game had been canceled. Thanks to this genius, the entire city had fallen into a collective depression therefore closed down. This was equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, and we figured something must be open in Plaza Serrano. Jess’ shoes were hurting her, however, so we decided to stop home so she could change them before heading back out. While there we somehow settled in outside with a bottle of something (probably Fernet) and ended up chatting right there until the sun began to rise. It wasn’t the night we had expected, but it was perfect.

I was really excited to show Jess some of my favourite places in Buenos Aires. It was fun to see the sights all over again. One of the first things we decided on was La Boca, and on a particularly beautiful day I brought her and her friend Matha (who just happened to be passing through Buenos Aires on an unrelated trip) to see the colours.

You can always count on La Boca for good street art.
You can always count on La Boca for good street art.

Since I had already been, it was a little hard for me to get passed the streets full of tourist shops and the constant invitations to sit down and eat at the “best restaurant in La Boca). In order to introduce some authenticity and context to the outing, I bored them with everything I knew about Los Artistas de la Boca, a group of artists I had learned about in my Contemporary Argentinian Art class. They seemed to enjoy it anyway. The colours arefantastic, especially the first time you see them, and we sat in the sun and enjoyed a couple of beers, however overpriced.

I was much more excited to show her el Cemeterio de la Recoleta, which I know she would love as much as I do and I was right. She echoed so many of my own thoughts about the place – the history, the beauty that comes from sadness, and the wonderful mystery of the stairs that spiral down deep into the tombs. She didn’t really care about Evita’s tomb, but I made her look at it anyway. At one point, as we were wandering through the maze, we found a ladder leaning on the side of one of the tombs. I never would have climbed it if she wasn’t around, but being with her makes me a bit more daring. I went first and she followed me up and when we reached the top we were both speechless. The view of the cemetery and the city beyond was amazing and literally added another layer to the beauty for me.

Looking out over the city of the dead.
Looking out over the city of the dead.
A great group of street musicians in San Telmo
A great group of street musicians in San Telmo

 

Since we had limited weekends, we had to choose between going to la Feria de la Recoleta and el Mercado de San Telmo for our market shopping day. In the end, I decided on San Telmo so Jess could see a new neighbourhood and also because I just like it a little better. I would definitely call it a successful shopping. She bought a cool set of magnets with beautiful photos of Buenos Aires, and I bought a new wallet that actually fits into my purse, which is nice. We also saw a great band play on the street. They had a trombone and a saxophone and everything.I always think it’s cool when big bands like that play in the street; the energy is so amazing and it turns walking into dancing.

 

Unfortunately we were in a bit of a hurry because I had bought tickets to see Swan Lake at El Teatro Colón. Jess loved the theatre and was blown away by its beauty even though our seats weren’t quite as good as mine were the last time I went. I was happy to be seeing a ballet. When I went the first time there wasn’t any visual aspect to the concert, and seeing the dancers move inside such a beautiful frame was amazing. I had never seen a proper ballet before, except for The Nutcracker when I was little, I think. I’m going to have to see more. I’m obviously a words person, so the ability to tell a story with no words at all is unbelievable to me. It was all very well done, but Jess and I agreed that the parts that are in the lake were nicer than when they are in the palace.

Jess being there was also a great excuse for me to do things I hadn’t gotten the chance to do yet. For an art lover, I had fallen quite behind in my Buenos Aires museums, so one day we decided to head to the MAMBA (Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires). I have always loved contemporary and modern art, but I often found myself knowing I liked what I was looking at but having absolutely no clue why. Now that I’ve taken my contemporary Argentinian art class, I actually know how to look at the pieces and how to talk about them. The MAMBA has a big collection of work by Marina de Caro which I really liked.

A lovely, nightmarish Marina de Caro
One reason I hate the 'look but don't touch' rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She uses a huge range of textures in her art, many of her pieces being knit, and they’re all bright colours. The combination creates a sort of infantile look, but the pieces are still somehow quite off-putting. They seem like creatures or objects out of a child’s nightmare. One of the pieces on display was a video of a human-like creature carrying its own head around on a string like a balloon. It genuinely disturbed Jess. I really liked all her stuff, but not as much as both Jess and I loved León Ferrari. Recently, after seeing his work at MAMBA, I learned that he is one of the most controversial artists in Argentinian history. He created a sculpture of Jesus nailed to an US bomber plane to comment on the hypocrisy of the violence of many religious countries, and in very Catholic Buenos Aires he was heavily protested. That turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to his career since the protesting groups basically went around advertising his shows. I can see how some of his work shown at the MAMBA could be quite shocking for certain people, but his pieces were very diverse.

Jess plays in Ferrari's 'Colgante'
Jess plays in Ferrari’s ‘Colgante’
'Urbano' by Leon Ferrari
‘Hombre’ by Leon Ferrari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of his sculptures, to me, looked like pencil line drawings had been lifted off the page and made into 3D. They were so delicate but so strong at the same time and they seemed like perfect little symbols of human creation. We also loved ‘Colgante’, an interactive piece you can go inside. Little metal rods hang down from the ceiling, and as you go inside they make a wonderfully loud sound that reminded me of a rainstick. If you pay attention you realize that they’re vibrating on your skin. The child in me couldn’t get enough of that one.

We had absolutely perfect weather while Jess was here, so we tried to do as many outside activities as we could. We visited the Japanese botanical garden because my guide-book had said it was the biggest one outside of Japan. When we arrived we realize that must be a lie because we could have sworn Montreal’s was bigger. It was still a beautiful stroll however, and we found a spot to sit and run our hands under a tiny little waterfall and let the sun spill down on us.

Water under the bridge
Water under the bridge
Jess enjoys some sunshine
Jess enjoys some sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also spent en evening in the nature reserve, which I highly regret not having spent more time in during my stay here. As soon as we entered the reserve we could actually feel the air change. Even still being in the city, the space gave us real room to breathe and kept much of the smog and bus exhaust at bay. It would have wonderful if we had had some bikes because the reserve was big and we would have been able to see more of it, but we made it to the edge of the water. Before I go I want to make sure I go for a nice long bike ride in there. We walked back as the sun went down, and laughed nervously as we passed signs warning us of crocodiles. Are there really crocodiles in Buenos Aires?

The sun sets behind Buenos Aires from the nature reserve
The sun sets behind Puerto Madero from the nature reserve

Originally, we had planned on taking a trip to Mendoza, but that turned out to be impossible. We still wanted to get out of the city a bit though, so we took the train to Tigre which is just outside Buenos Aires with my roommate Joanna and friend Fran. The train itself was an experience. Since it was a beautiful Sunday it seemed like half of Buenos Aires had had the same idea as us. The pushing and shoving to get onto the train was worse than getting onto the Subte (subway) at 8:00 am. We did manage to get two seats, though, so we sat on each other’s laps and tried our best not to sweat too much all over each other. It was all worth it, however, because walking out of the train station and seeing all the water was spectacular. Tigre is sometimes called the Venice of Argentina because of the huge network of canals that winds its way through it. I had had the genius idea of packing a picnic, so we spread out a blanket and ate a long lunch right on the water. Afterwards, we had scheduled a boat ride to take us through the canals. There were big boats that fit over fifty people available, but Joanna had found someone to take us in his own little motorboat just the four of us.

We didn't go into the Museo Tigre, but it certainly was a great view from the water
We didn’t go into the Museo Tigre, but it certainly was a great view from the water
Joanna enjoys the sun
Joanna enjoys the sun

It was a million times better because we were in the open air, able to feel the wind in our hair and drag our fingers in the water. On the canal I felt like I was in an entirely different part of the world, though I can’t really put my finger on which. The houses along the water were so quaint and colourful, and it felt like life had slowed down and that the years had layered on top of each other to create a quite timeless space. I leaned back and spread my legs out in the sun and was tempted to close my eyes but everything around me was too beautiful. When the boat stopped I was horribly disappointed, but it turned out that we were just taking a break the four of us could go explore along the smaller waterways on foot. We wandered around crossing bridges just for fun and breathing in the damp smell of healthy leaves until we found a lovely place to stop for a beer.

Strolls along the waterways
Strolls along the waterways
On the water
On the water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t even really a restaurant, just a house with a man who fed people out of his kitchen. The yard where we sat was enclosed by hedges and bushes covered in beautiful flowers and we felt so safe, happy, and secluded. Everything about it was a breath of fresh air. After a couple of hours we went back to the boat and as we sped back to the centre of town the sun began to go down.

Back in Buenos Aires, Jess did a lot of exploring on her own while I was in class (yes, sometimes I go to class). It was a very small thing, but one of the memories of her visit that will stick most in my mind is the day she brought me to Parque 9 de Julio to show me the tree. She had found the most enormous tree I had ever seen. The branches were so wide that some of them even had dents that could cradle you. We climbed and swung like kids or monkeys, but also just sat and enjoyed being up there with each other.

Jess naps in the branches
 
All smiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having Jess here has really made me miss Montreal. I am still loving my time here so much and I have made some amazing friends, but home is where your people are. I felt more at home here while she was around and now that she’s gone I really miss her. It’s nice, though, because now I know that when it’s time to go back, I’ll be ready.

Reaching New Hights

On Friday, May 1st, I arrived early in the morning in Salta to celebrate another long weekend with some travel. Workers’ Day had given me that Friday off, which was great, but I had forgotten that not only would universities be closed that day, but everything else in the country as well. So, Salta was an absolute ghost town when I arrived. It was a bit unsettling, but I felt better as soon as I got to the hostel because breakfast was still being served and where there is coffee, there is hope. The hostel I had chosen, 7 Duendes, is certainly not going to win any awards for beauty or comfort, but the staff was extremely helpful and gave me and the other lost tourists at the table a pretty good list of things to do around the city even with everything closed. I had sat down next to a Spanish girl named Esther, and as we listened she seemed to become more and more determined not to let the lack of open shops ruin her trip. I loved her enthusiasm so, along with an Australian named Kate, I decided to follow her around for the day. We started in the central plaza, Plaza 9 de Julio, which had much more life than I had expected. I suppose that is because that’s where all the tourist shops and restaurants are and tourists don’t take Workers’ Day off their travels. Like every Spanish-style plaza I’ve been to here, the city’s main cathedral was at the head. La Catedral de Salta, though quite traditional on the inside, was pink outside which I found very charming.

Catedral de Salta
Catedral de Salta
The 1021 steps begin
The 1021 steps begin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there, we decided to take on the 1021 Steps because, especially that day, any free outdoor activity was more than welcome. It felt good to get the exercise even if it made me miss hiking in Patagonia, and I was definitely out of breath by the time we reached the top. It was worth it though, because when we had made it we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the city. Salta is bigger than I had expected and it made me realize how little you can ever really see of a city with just a couple of days. Without the panoramic view I would have gone away telling people that Salta is a very small city, when in reality it would have just been my limited experience. After enjoying the view for a while and making the long walk back down the steps, we were absolutely starving. So, we went in search of some empanadas. Before getting there I hadn’t realized that empanadas are from Salta. Apparently, you’re not going to find better ones anywhere else in Argentina. Back in Plaza 9 de Julio, a restaurant was selling them at 300 pesos a dozen which was down right insulting.We decided it would be best to get away from the Plaza, so we wandered the streets for a bit until we came across a place with live local music with no other tourists inside and empanadas at 100 pesos a dozen. All the other people inside knew just when to clap and sing along to the songs and I smiled the whole time about how authentic of an experience we were getting. Of course, the empanadas were absolutely amazing.

Empanadas with Tamale sauce
Empanadas with Tamale sauce

As much fun as we had visiting Salta, the real beauty of the area lies outside the city and the best way to see the landscape is to take a bus tour. There were lots of options, but Esther, Kate, and I decided to take the trip to Cafayate and we definitely chose well. If Patagonia is blue, Salta is red. As we drove along the windy roads we were surrounded by clay coloured mountains and formations. The good part about taking a bus tour was that the guide knew just where to stop for the best views. I’m not used to being herded on to and off of a bus every twenty minutes, but I swallowed my pride and really enjoyed it. He showed us formations that looked exactly like a frog, an iguana, and even the Titanic sinking. That a lot of fun, but even better than the gorgeous views was experiencing the rocks up close.

Red rocks of Salta
Red rocks of Salta

The little kid inside of me came out and I climbed all over the rocks. They climbed so high all around me that looking up at where the tops met the sky made me feel dizzy and at one point I just stopped and sat and let them spin around me. My favourite stop was El Ampiteatro or The Amphitheatre. According to our guide, the acoustics have the same quality as El Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, which I talked about in one of my first posts. There were two guys, one playing a pan flute and one playing a guitar and singing as we wandered around. The sound was amazing and the music added such a nice layer to the experience. After that, Cafayate itself was a little anti-climactic. It just could not compare to the landscape that surrounded it. I did, however, get to try wine flavoured ice cream. You would think it would be amazing… my two favourite things are ice cream and wine… but although it was good at first it was quite strong and I struggled to finish the whole cone. My last day in Salta I decided to visit the archeological museum, which I had heard great things about. I was not disappointed; it was very well curated and very informative. I had no idea how powerful the Inca had been in Argentina. I had always pictured them in Peru, of course, but their empire stretched extremely far. The highlight of the museum was the mummy that was found on the mountain Llullaillaco. It was the body of a girl who had been sacrificed to the gods over 500 years ago. It was crazy how well the cold had preserved her. Her skin was so perfect that I felt like I was looking at a doll.

That night, mummies still on the brain, I took a three hour bus from Salta to Jujy. I am very lucky because a friend of my dad’s has family there so I was able to stay with them. It felt amazing to be a part of a family for a few days eating home cooked Locro made by Abuela and with lots of little kids to play with. It also meant that instead of taking bus tours, I had personal tours around the area. My second day there, Roberto and his girlfriend, Susanna, took me up north because, like Salta, the beauty of Jujuy lies in the nature. One could say that it was a similar mountainous landscape, but instead of the red, the mountains here were all sorts of colours. The different types of minerals in the rocks made them shades of blue, green, red, yellow, and grey. One spot, called the Painter’s Pallet, had all the colours pushed up against the side of the mountain that seemed just like different shades had been pushed around by a brush. On our way through the mountains we stopped in Tilcara to see the Pucara ruins which had been there since even before the Inca arrived in northern Argentina. I really liked the site because the archaeologists had rebuilt houses in slightly different spots than the originals and we were able to see where the original stones were placed. I’ve always liked places like this because I love imagining how life might have been so long ago.

The inside of a Pucara home
The inside of a Pucara home
The Pucara must have been a bit smaller than I am...
The Pucara must have been a bit smaller than I am…

Our final destination that day was the Salt Flats. We followed a long, twisty road up the mountains which would eventually have taken us to Chile if we had let it. I couldn’t believe how high we were going and I believe that I reached the highest point I’ve ever been above sea level (soon to change when I go to Peru). As we drove I looked up in awe at the mountains and then all of a sudden I was looking down at them. We arrived at the flats at sunset, and I got to watch a brilliant pink sky over a huge expanse of white.  I couldn’t help but pick some up and taste it and discover for myself that it was, in fact, salt.

Jujuy's Salt Flats
Jujuy’s Salt Flats
Yes, that's salt
Yes, that’s salt

We stayed until it got dark and a spectacular full moon took the place of the sunset. As we drove the mountains cast shadows against each other in the moonlight leaving spaces of intense darkness in the silver. Since the mountains got taller as we worked our way down, the moon played a game of hide and seek with us. It would duck behind a peak and then all of a sudden we would turn a corner and it would jump out at us in all its brilliance. The mountains in the full moon gave everything a very spiritual feeling and it was definitely an amazing way to end my trip up north. I felt like had gotten to know another side of the people of Argentina, much more connected to the indigenous roots of the country and I felt much closer to Pacha Mama.

Home is Where the Asado Is

I’m sure you will all be proud to hear that this week I concentrated quite a bit on my schoolwork. It was difficult getting started, though, because the way studying and exams are approached here is extremely different. For example, I haven’t been given a syllabus in any of my classes nor any information on what format my exams will be in. We aren’t even told what to be reading out of the text book. It’s a very “figure it out” approach. I have to hand it to the students here – they’ve definitely had to learn to organize themselves. It turns out it’s not impossible to just study without having any guidance; I take good notes so the ideas are easy enough to follow.

Cozy studying at Libros del Pasaje
Cozy studying at Libros del Pasaje

And, since this coming Thursday I have my first midterm followed by another next week, it was time to buckle down. Suzanne introduced me to a great café close by to our place. I’m glad to have found it because studying in a house with seven other people is a bit difficult and the wifi at school is not the best. Plus, I study best in the cozy café atmosphere. Something about it keeps me from getting bored and makes me much more productive.

But not all my homework requires a “buckle down” attitude. For Contemporary Argentinian Art I get to go to wonderful museums and analyze/compare works of art. This week, we were sent to the Xul Solar museum to discuss the work of, of course, Xul Solar. The museum itself had such an interesting architecture, and my tour guide said that it reflected Xul’s work. There were ramps and stairs all over the building, which were also very common in his paintings. He spoke much of transcendence and movement through dimensions. He was a very interesting man.

Palacio Almi - one of my favourite paintings in the museum
Palacio Almi – one of my favourite paintings in the museum
Dos Mestizos de Avion y Hombre
Dos Mestizos de Avion y Hombre

He didn’t actually make a living as an artist while he was alive, but instead as an astrologist. He was an expert at mapping the stars and signs and was a deep believer in horoscopes, despite being Catholic. To me, his paintings look like a child’s dream.

By Thursday I had gotten enough school work done, so I went to a show with my friend Izzie at Club Cultural Matienzo. It was a really cool bar/venue with murals on many of the walls and a great upstairs terrace area for escaping the noise from down below. Izzie knew about it because she takes a street art class there. They seemed to have a lot of community activities and cultural events, which makes it a very unique and interesting music venue. We were there to see Hermanos McKenzie, a cool Argentinian indie band I had never heard of before.

A lot of the performance, from the singer’s amazing silver dress and red eyeshadow to their somewhat synthy sound, reminded me of David Bowie. The singer was effortlessly cool and danced around on stage with an infectious energy. Her voice blended well with the rest of the band, not overpowering it but not getting lost either. My favourite part, though, was the saxophone. It added a jazzy sound which contrasted well with the rest. I was disappointed to find that it’s not included in their recorded stuff; I guess it’s just a live treat.

Hermanoz Mckenzie at El Club Cultural Matienzo

Hermanos Mckenzie at El Club Cultural Matienzo

 

Enjoying myself even though we weren't allowed to go inside the greenhouse
Statue in el Jardín Botanico
Statue in el Jardín Botanico

On Sunday, for a bit of a change of pace, I took a walk in el Jardín Botanico (Botanical Garden) with two of my roommates, Juan Pablo and Max. It’s strange that I hadn’t ever visited since the garden is just a few blocks away from home. We had a lovely time strolling and taking in all the plants, even though it’s fall now and there wasn’t much in bloom. I would really like to go back and spend some quality time there. I miss my sunny afternoons in Plaza San Martín and I think this is a perfect alternative.

As if to completely erase the peace I had found in the garden, that night I joined my friend Edith (from Montreal) to watch the Canadiens game at probably the only place in Buenos Aires to show hockey games – Casa Bar. I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t really call myself a big hockey fan (or a hockey fan at all, for that matter). Still, it made me feel nostalgic to watch with her; it reminded me of home. Some of our French friends had come along for the novelty of it and it was funny listening to them make fun of the game almost as much as they make fun of Edith’s accent. I know they had fun watching their first hockey game and hoping to witness a proper fight.

Pato's perfectly prepared Asado.
Pato’s perfectly prepared asado.

By the time Suz and I got home our roommate, Pato, had prepared a whole asado. My favourite thing about this house is that everyone loves to do things together. We hadn’t all shared a meal in a while and even though we were missing Joanna (excused for traveling with family) we had a lovely time. Pato’s asado could not have been better. He had included all the essentials – morcilla, chorizo, carne and even roasted peppers with eggs cooked inside (the most vegetables I’ve ever seen on an asado platter).

Today, my friend Charlotte and I headed to San Telmo to visit the MACBA (Buenos Aires Museum of Contemporary Art). Being such a fan of contemporary art these days, I was well overdue for a visit and quite excited to go. However, although it was great, I had definitely expected it to be bigger. The permanent collection was currently somewhere in the USA (so much for permanent collection) and had been replaced by an exhibit of a Chinese artist named Liu Bolin. His photographs were really interesting both conceptually and in execution.

Beijing Magazine Rack, 2011
Beijing Magazine Rack, 2011
Hiding in New York - Tiles for America
Hiding in New York – Tiles for America

If you look closely you’ll see that there’s a man standing in the middle of each of these paintings. Bolin paints the model to exactly match the background. At first I thought the camouflage was done with photoshop, but it turns out he actually paints them by hand. The series is called Hiding in the City and although I would have loved to see the rest of the museum’s collection, it was definitely worth the trip.

What I’m realizing is that it’s always worth the trip. As big as this city is, these parks and museums and bars and cafés are always worth the bus/metro/walk. Every time I see something new (which is pretty much every day) I feel like I’ve uncovered another part of the story of this wonderful city.

Celebrating Two Months with Cinema and Wine

Today is April 20th, and that means that I’ve been here in Argentina for exactly two months. It’s crazy the way the time passes by – it both feels like I’ve been here for much longer than two months, and like two months have disappeared in the blink of an eye. I still have over three months left, though; I’m not even at the halfway point yet, so there’s no need to panic.  It’s amazing how much I’ve done and seen in just two months. I’ve been to Uruguay, Iguazu, and Patagonia – pretty much a trip every other weekend. Traveling around has been wonderful and I plan on doing more of it, but I also want to make sure I enjoy this crazy city to the fullest, too. There is so much I have left to see and experience here. Luckily, the place I’ve moved into is not only in the middle of some of the best night life of the city, but it also is home to some wonderful people who are all willing to share their best Buenos Aires experiences with me. There’s always someone hanging around the kitchen or living room willing to go on an adventure in the city, and it also helps that Buenos Aires loves its cultural activities.

I always thought of Montreal as the city of festivals, but I must say that Buenos Aires gives it a run for its money. Right now, BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) is going on and last Thursday I went with some friends to see one of the opening shows. It was free, which is definitely a perk, but the real reason I wanted to go was the location. El Antfiteatre Eva Peron is a lovely outdoor theatre in El Parque Cenetario. I had gone once before to see a ballet, and it was really an amazing experience. I think it’s beautiful to join art and the outdoors, especially when the weather is nice. Unfortunately, that night the weather was not nice. We were a bit nervous about going to an outdoor movie with the wind blowing so hard and the air smelling unmistakably like rain. We knew there was a strong possibility we would get caught in a storm, and when it rains in Argentina, it really rains. But, of course, we decided to go anyway. The movie was a Japanese film called The Tale of Princess Kaguya and was drawn and animated beautifully using soft colours, primarily light blues and greens. The film is about an old man who finds a tiny princess inside a bamboo tree. When he brings her home to show his wife, she turns into a baby and they raise her, knowing that one day she will turn into a beautiful princess. She is happy in her life in the mountains, running and playing with the other children, but her father can’t get the idea of her as a princess out of his head. So, with the gold he finds inside of a bamboo tree the same way he found her, he moves the family to the city and buys a mansion and hires a team to make her into a real princess. I won’t spoil the rest because I really do recommend watching it for yourselves, but I should warn you, it does not have a happy ending. It does, however, have a very inspiring message. It’s a  feminist, environmentalist, and generational lesson all wrapped into one. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it, and it didn’t even rain! The wind kept on blowing, but that turned out to be really cool. My friend, Joanna, said that when the wind blew in the film it seemed to blow even stronger around us and I agree. It made it seem like we were actually inside of Princess Kaguya’s world.

The great thing about festivals is the variety they offer. Saturday I went with my roommate Suzanne and a couple others to see a film that could not have been less similar to Princess Kaguya. In reality, it was half film and half concert put on by the project Entre Ríos. The project experiments with adding visual elements to music, and they had created a film to go along with an entire musical set. What made it really interesting was that the film/show was put on at the planetarium.

The planetarium celebrates BAFICI film festival.
The planetarium celebrates BAFICI film festival.

We sat back in reclining chairs while the band played in the centre of the room and the images played out in the dome above and around us. Most of the images were geometric and I as in awes of how the shapes moved and changed. Sometimes they would shift so suddenly or in a way so unexpected that I would jump. One of the few non-geometric images were the set of mountains that rose and spun around the perimeter of the dome. It really felt like I was dreaming about being in Patagonia again.

The festival goes until the end of this week, so I’m hoping to see a few more films.

It seems my roommate Suzanne is quite in the know. Not only was she the one to tell me about and bring me to the BAFICI films, but she also brought me along to one of her favourite monthly activities – the Urban Wine Tour. The concept is simple; it’s exactly what it sounds like. We paid 100 pesos and then got to spend the next couple of hours going from shop to shop drinking Argentinian wine. It was fun because each stop was in a different type of place. We clinked glasses in a cigar shop, a hotel, and even a jewelry store, each offering a different type of delicious wine.

The Urban Wine Tour is held every month in Buenos Aires! (That's my kind of tradition)
The wine tour is held every month in Buenos Aires! (That’s my kind of tradition)

At my favourite stop we tasted a wine called Siete Vacas, which was good, but wasn’t why the stop was my favourite. There we were given a Jamón Serrano which was the perfect example of why I pause my vegetarianism while I’m traveling. Suzanne and I could not believe how amazing it was. It had a chewy but tender texture and a distinct flavour that lingered in your mouth just long enough to make you crave more. I’ve eaten Jamón Serrano every time I’ve gone to Spain, but I don’t remember ever having been this blown away by it. Maybe it’s just been a long time since I’ve had it, or maybe it was all the wine.

Me, thoroughly enjoying my ham and wine.
Me, thoroughly enjoying my ham and wine.
The Siete Vacas wine went perfectly with the saltiness of the jamon.
Siete Vacas wine paired  perfectly with  the jamón.

It was hard to wow us after having tasted such a gift as that jamón, but we were still very impressed by the Rosée we tasted at the next stop. I’m not usually a big fan of Rosée, but I probably had just never tasted a really good one.  This one was chilled perfectly and had a sweetness that was the perfect way to end the evening. We couldn’t help ourselves and ended up buying two bottles from them, one Rosée and one white. The white we drank as soon as we got home (it was still early!) but the Rosée is still in the fridge, waiting for a special occasion.

This coming week I think I’m actually going to have to buckle down and do some school work. I’ve finally figured out exactly what it is I need to be doing, and something in the back of my brain is telling me I have a test or two coming up. Still, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying the rest of the film festival and a book festival I saw announcements for. I know the Morse crew will be excited to hear all about that.

Me, My Thoughts, and Patagonia

To be honest, I seriously thought I wasn’t going to be able to get to Patagonia while here. It is not a cheap flight down, which means that even if I could figure out how to afford it, it would be very difficult to get friends to come with me. But, last week when thinking about what I wanted to do for Semana Santa, I decided just to go ahead and do it all by myself. So giddy with last minute inspiration, I began my planning. It turns out that Patagonia, like the rest of Argentina, is much bigger than one would think. At first, my list of things I wanted to see included the famous glacier, dinosaur fossils, and penguins – all of which, it turns out, are impossibly far from one another, at least when you only have five days. So, I had to pick and choose, and since the glacier was at the top of my list, I ended up flying in to El Calafate.

El Calafate is a very cute town, regardless (or perhaps because) of the fact that it is completely tourist centred. I stayed in a great hostel called El Ovejero that definitely gave me the outdoorsy feel I was hoping for. My bunk was in a cabin on the compound, and there were sections for people to pitch their tent if they were camping, too. The whole place smelled like bonfires and dirt and I was instantly at home. My first day there, I went to Laguna Nimez, a beautiful lagoon and bird sanctuary right on the edge of town. I decided to rent the binoculars they had available, and man was it worth it. It was a bit difficult to see the birds up close, but with the binoculars I was able to see swans, geese, ducks, hawks, and my favourite – flamingos! I had always considered flamingos a tropical bird; I pictured them in warm, beachy places. So, it was a bit strange and surprising to watch them while bundled up in my Patagonia sweatshirt and windbreaker. I couldn’t get enough of their fluffy pink butts sticking up out of the water while they were eating, and I actually started laughing out loud. I especially loved watching them fly, though. When they soar their necks stretch out as long as their legs, which makes them look a bit like dragon flies. Their wings are much darker than the rest of their bodies and have a black stripe at the bottom which matches their beaks.

My first look at Lago Argentino.
My first look at Lago Argentino.

The birds were super cool, but half of what I loved about this place was the beauty. The lagoon was surrounded by mountains, some with snow on the tops and others a rich, chocolate brown. There was a little hill separating the lagoon from Lago Argentino and the view from there was amazing with both bodies of water stretching out to each side. That was my first time seeing that hypnotizing turquoise water that would end up defining my time in Patagonia.

My second day was glacier day – my whole reason for choosing this part of Patagonia to visit. Honestly, I knew it would be cool, but I had no idea what I was in for. Nothing could really have prepared me for it. When the bus I took to get there entered the natural park the glacier looked long, low, and flat. It wasn’t until we got close that I realized how utterly wrong that had been. We had two hours to walk around and take it in from different angles, and I was amazed by the spikes that rose out of the water and towered over me. It looked like a bright blue mountain and the contrast between the three different shades of blue in the sky, the water, and the glacier was breathtaking.

View of Perito Moreno by boat.
View of Perito Moreno by boat.
The beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier
The beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier

It felt like an honour to be in its presence and I walked around quietly out of respect. Most people seemed to feel the same way I did so the whole place was pretty quiet. The only one making noise was the glacier itself. As I watched, chunks of ice would occasionally fall off the face and make a sound like thunder. First it would crack as the ice broke, then rumble deeply as it fell. At one point I heard this strange gurgling and I turned to see an enormous chunk of ice that had broken off the bottom of the glacier (100 metres deep) rise to the surface like a sea monster. I was never quick enough to catch any of these happenings on camera, and eventually I just stopped trying.

After our two hours of observation were up, we took a 20 minute boat ride to the glacier and there the guide explained to us a bit about the science. When snow falls way up in the mountains it eventually compacts into ice. Then, as one mass, it slides down the mountain at an average of two metres a day. Since it’s pretty much like a solid river, it presses itself into the different valleys so the glacier I was currently seeing was just a part of the enormous original. After a 400 year long journey it ended up in that spot and began to melt back into the lake.

Beautiful mountains surrounding the glacier.
Beautiful mountains surrounding the glacier.

After being outfitted with special ice shoes, it was time to begin our trek on the glacier. It’s really hard to say whether it’s more beautiful from far away or up close. From far away you are able to take in how massive and impressive it is, but from up close you get to see the details. It was really amazing seeing the spots the wind had blown holes through or where the sun had begun to melt the ice into the bluest water imaginable. We were actually able to eat ice off the top of one puddle and we filled our bottles up with water that streamed out of holes in the ice. I couldn’t get over how cool it was to be drinking water that had been frozen in that same place for 400 years! It was also amazing to hear the water gushing around somewhere deep in the glacier below us.

The view from on top of the glacier
The view from on top of the glacier
Whisky on glacier ice.
Whisky on glacier ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never wanted the adventure to end, but of course it had to. To soften the blow, we were each given a glass of whisky on ice scooped up from the glacier. Not a bad way to end an amazing day.

I didn’t think anything could even begin to compete with my experience in El Calafate, but then I went to El Chalten. This small town surrounded by big mountains is the hiking capital of Argentina and a wonderful breath of fresh air. I was very excited to do some hiking, but since I was alone I decided to just do a short one my first day and made my way to Laguna Capri. I couldn’t believe the views even from the very beginning of my walk. The mountains rose up all around me into snow covered peaks and a turquoise river wound lazily between them. It took me a few hours to arrive at the lagoon, and I spent quite a bit of time there taking it all in. It was unbelievably still and the mountains were reflected perfectly in it, including the Fitz Roy peak which rose up in the distance. I was happy to be alone. It gave me time to really think and reflect on what it was I was doing and experiencing. Plus, I rarely find people willing to sit in one spot and stare at a lagoon as long as I do.

Fitz Roy peak over the Laguna Capri.
Fitz Roy peak over the Laguna Capri.
Rio de las Vueltas winding its way through the valley.
Rio de las Vueltas winding its way through the valley.

That being said, I was very happy when I made friends with the others in my hostel, Aylen Aikee, that night. One of the other guests actually cooked an entire asado which we shared until we were absolutely stuffed. Then, tummies filled with red meat, we decided it would be a good idea to head to the town’s wine bar. We had so much fun and talked and laughed for hours, drinking cheap but delicious Argentinian reds. The next day, I decided to tag along with some of them for the long hike up to Fitz Roy, which I had seen from a distance the day before. This hike is 20K, so needless to say the wine bar no longer seemed like such a good idea during our initial ascent. Still, after about a kilometre I had sweat out my hangover and was feeling great. The trek started off hard, but it soon flattened out a bit and we were able to really enjoy the amazing scenery around us. We wandered through woods that had never been forested and I was amazed at how well preserved the land was. Even the trails were minimally invasive.

Our group at the steepest point of the climb
Our group at the steepest point of the climb
Spectacular views are a good excuse to rest.
Spectacular views are a good excuse to rest.

The last kilometre was extremely difficult and definitely the steepest climb I’ve ever done. I did well, though, and felt very proud of myself. I loved making my way through the rocks and using my entire body to move myself upwards. I was so thankful for my muscles and my body’s amazing ability to bring me to such wonderful places. Eventually we got so high that there was snow and things got a bit slippery, but we made it. The view that was waiting for us was like something out of a fairy tale. Fitz Roy stood proudly behind a bright blue lagoon on one side, and it seemed like all of Patagonia stretched out before us on the other. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to experience such a magical place, but I also knew that I had earned it.

The last kilometre was extremely difficult and definitely the steepest climb I’ve ever done. I did well, though, and felt very proud of myself. I loved making my way through the rocks and using my entire body to move myself upwards. I was so thankful for my muscles and my body’s amazing ability to bring me to such wonderful places. Eventually we got so high that there was snow and things got a bit slippery, but we made it. The view that was waiting for us was like something out of a fairy tale. Fitz Roy stood proudly behind a bright blue lagoon on one side, and it seemed like all of Patagonia stretched out before us on the other. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to experience such a magical place, but I also knew that I had earned it.

A well earned closer look at Fitz Roy.
A well earned closer look at Fitz Roy.

Millions of words would never be able to explain how beautiful Patagonia is, but if I had to describe it in one, it would have to be pure. Patagonia gave me truly pure silence, pure air, and pure water. Spending even just five days there seemed to wash me out and now, back in Buenos Aires, I feel completely renewed.

For Art’s Sake

Once again, this weekend is taking me on a great adventure out of the city. Because of this I’ll be unable to post this Monday, I thought I’d do a short overview of my week so far, then post again when I get back to recount my latest journey.

This week was a very art-centred one, thanks to my Contemporary Argentinian Art class. This class is by far my favourite. The professor is very interesting and is actually an artist himself. I like knowing that when we discuss pieces we’re hearing the opinion of an artist and not an art critic. But besides the art we talk about in class, he also keeps us up to date on what’s going on in the Buenos Aires art scene every week. This week, he recommended we check out a new piece by the collective Xil Buffone at la Fundación Osde. It was a site specific piece, designed specifically for the room it was shown in. The room, beautiful by itself, was trimmed with fairy lights, both coloured and white. Mirrors lined the walls and a sort of eerie music played.

Palacio almi (2015) by collective Xil Buffone
Palacio almi (2015) by collective Xil Buffone

In general, I like art pieces that work with mirrors; they make you reflect. They allow you to see yourself inside of the work and the art becomes your world. They worked very well in this piece, and the multiple reflections actually reminded me a bit of something I did in my ArtX class first year, thought better produced. That being said, I think I would have liked it better with just the white lights and not the coloured ones. To me, the white ones went better with the music. I believe the piece was an homage to Xul Solar, though, whose work tended to have a very innocent, child-like quality. So, the coloured lights may have been there specifically in reference to him.

The other work in the gallery was really interesting, too. There was one in particular by Delfina Bourse that I really liked. I suppose technically they’re two separate paintings, but they were placed right next to each other and used exactly the same colours, so I couldn’t help but see them as one.

Piece without title (2015) by Delfina Bourse
Piece without title (2015) by Delfina Bourse

To me, it seemed as if the painting on the left is what is behind the painting on the right. In the right hand one it seems as if all the colours are being sucked into the middle and on the left it looks like that’s them coming out the other side. I really can’t wait until we start talking about the reallycontemporary stuff in class. Maybe then I’ll be able to do a little bit more than guess at what I’m looking at… but then again maybe not.

Piece without title (2015) by Paola Vega
Piece without title (2015) by Paola Vega

I also had homework to do before leaving, so Thursday I headed to la Colección Fortabat. The assignment was to pick two Argentinian paintings from between 1905 and 1920 (roughly) and discuss then compare them. This isn’t my favourite period, but I’m certainly finding it more interesting  now that I know more about what I’m looking at. I decided to write about Entre duraznos floridos by Fernando Feder and Acción de arte by Ramon Gómez Cornet. Feder was part of the Nexus group – a group of artists which pretty much defined not only Argentinian art, but quite a bit of Argentinian culture. It was really amazing seeing pieces this important in person, especially Feder because his paintings are so big. It’s so different than seeing them on the projector in class. We hadn’t talked about Cornet in class, but I found the painting pretty interesting. For 1921 in Argentina, where the Vanguard  was being purposefully ignored, it seemed very modern. Still, it had elements of Feder, especially the way the whites were approached. There were no pictures allowed in this museum, so unfortunately I can’t put any up to show you.

This week was also big for me because I moved! My other place was nice; it was pretty close to UCA and Graciela was very helpful. Still, after living on my own terms for three years in Montreal, it was a bit annoying to have to abide by someone’s (quite extensive) rules again. So, I decided to find a place more conducive to the type of experience I’m looking for here. A friend of mine had a free room in her place, so that’s where I am now! I’m living there with six others. I know that sounds like a lot, but the house is huge. It’s actually more like two houses, connected by a yard in the middle. There are two kitchens and a washing machine I’m actually allowed to use! My room is on the third floor and although not exactly beautiful (it’s the cheapest in the house) I’m really happy with the way I’ve decorated it and it feels a bit like my own little fox den. The best part about the place is the location. I’m in Palermo, which is definitely the trendiest neighbourhood in the city. I’ve taken very expensive cab rides back from Palermo my entire first month here, so I’ll definitely be saving money when it comes to that. So Wednesday night, to celebrate my move, my friend Paul and I went out to la Plaza Serrano, which is three blocks from my house. We ended up seeing a comedy show, then sitting down out on a terrace for some drinks. The whole plaza is just covered with chairs and tables outside; the different places bleed into one another. I’m so happy to be living in this neighbourhood. I feel like I’m going to understand the beat of Buenos Aires night life much better.

Now for a mini-trip to Patagonia! I’m starting off in El Calafate and then heading to El Chalten. I should have a post about my little adventure up by Thursday.