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.

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