Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Less Talking, More Doing

After writing my last post I felt like a real whiner. Yes, it's all well and good to reflect on one's place in life, but when that someone is living in one of the coolest cities in the world, reflection should be backburnered. So, I tried to think about what was ailing me and how I could fix it. Two things came to mind: first, I am still not very well ubicated in the city, so I bought a large map, hung it on my wall, and started studying it. I am also paying closer attention to surrounding streets and numbers. I get out of sorts and life seems sort of surreal when I don't really know where I am, so I think a new commitment to Buenos Aires' geogaphy will help. Second, I realized I'd been pretty cooped up due to weather and various health bugs, and that the actual bugs in my apartment were freaking me out. (Although my friend Sol assured me that the chirping noise I was hearing at night was not cockroaches [and, moreover, that it isn't normal for them to come inside so the two that are dead may be the only two] but, in fact, bats, which I think is cool, since bats are amazing.) So, I resolved to get out more.

After the lightning storm on Saturday night, the weather on Sunday was a perfect combination of spring breezes and humidity, so I put on my walking shoes - leather flats I bought from a local artisan - and plotted a vague course for Recoleta, one of the poshest and greenest neighborhoods in the city, which starts about 15 blocks from where I live.

To get to Recoleta I walked down Rodriguez Peña in order to pass the football bar to check the schedules. Then I continued on my walk through various parks, plazas, ferias (where I found a woman who makes the most beautiful belts), drum bands, and a crazy white-haired lady who screamed at me for taking a picture (all apologizing and attempts to explain that she was not in the picture were, sadly, rejected). The good news is, for once I finally remembered my camera, so if you click on my Picassa link you too can enjoy that day's walk.

Recoleta is lovely. All the streets are filled with trees that are either blooming, about to bloom, or covered in new leaves. The people are good looking and very fashionable; there's a park or a plaza every other block; leather furniture and fancy household goods grace the windowfronts; street performers draw afternoon crowds between shopping destinations or on their way to or from the nicest movie theater in town. Many streets provide a view of the cemetery statues and the big stone wall keeping the dead and the cats in. I stopped at an outdoor cafe and had tea (which always comes with cookies) and wrote a few postcards while watching a lady feed the felines.

By the time the sun was going down, I grew tired of watching three admittedly entertaining young fellows perform a combination of slapstick comedy and choreographed "dance fighting." So, I headed back to Casa Bar to check on the birds. I think I'm bad luck since as soon as I arrived the Seahawks took a turn for the worse and ultimately lost, although the Eagles pulled out a win so it wasn't all bad. (I also noticed the Phillies are kicking ass and taking names, and I'm definitely rooting for them even though I haven't followed baseball at all this year. Philadelphia could use a winning team! Have they dressed Penn yet??)

Sunday night Sol and Paula came over since Monday was a holiday (día de la Raza). We had snacks and wine and then went to a fun bar that has a variety of board games to choose from. We were all Jenga pros and reached some impressive heights. Having declared myself la campeona before even starting, I was relieved at the end that I had, in fact, lost the fewest games (which they both contested). Then it was off to Crobar, a night club that is seriously straight out of a movie. Multiple levels of beautiful people with blank stares moving to the electronic beats of a famous DJ while a talented VJ mixed live video to the music and complicated light patterns strobed the audience. I enjoyed the experience and now I have a new theory about why Argentinians don't drink to get drunk; in fact, why they don't drink at all, at least not at clubs. Everyone is broke and the drinks are expensive. However, this doesn't decrease the value of a crowd with motor skills still intact. (Note that, unlike in the U.S. where we are also all broke, Argentinian club-goers are not generally in posession of a credit card to defer any drinking debts.)

This week is pretty full with plans so I'm hoping my antisocial slump is behind me. I promise to finish the long-alluded-to food post soon. Until then, I hope you are all doing well and enjoying election season! Speaking of, I meant to mention in an earlier post that I went to the biggest vice presidential debate watch party in the world (according to the Democratic National Committee) along with some 400+ people, and was then interviewed on local TV! I also got to cast a Federal Emergency Write-In Ballot at the U.S. Embassy last week, which was interesting. I would guess that 500-700 people showed up, more than they seemed to anticipate, but it still went fairly smoothly. They also served free snacks: Starbucks coffee and McDonald's sandwiches. I partook of neither, but was sad to miss out on the giant American flag cake. There was a four piece brass band and the ambassador to Argentina spoke.

I still hope my absentee ballot shows up here since I'd like to vote for local issues, and they assured us that it was ok to submit said ballot even after casting our "emergency" votes. It's an interesting political system for international citizens to navegate. I have to say that Democrats Abroad is incredibly well organized (the campaign even has a full-time employee living here in BsAs and running the Central and South American effort), yet there seems to be no real Republican presence abroad, at least not in Latin America. I guess they don't see expatriots as their target audience? Anyway, I'm sure you'll all be thrilled for the ads and saturated coverage to end, but don't forget to do your civic duty. In Argentina it's the law; citizens who don't vote can be fined and even go to jail. Let's show the rest of the world that we take our elections just as seriously.

Hasta la proxima, queridos.


Renée said...

Bats! Giant American flag cakes! T.V. interviews! Good looking Argentines! Sounds like you're having a good time. I hope your rough patch was just a rough patch. Sounds like you're doing a little better. Keep me posted on everything Argentina.

Sunshine said...

I'm glad you are finally living the city :-) It has wonderful spots all over! They're kinda hidding but once you find them, you fall in love!
About jenga thing... MMM, I don't think u're the campeona :-P jajajaja, What a great time we had.
About drinking... I'm not such a huge fan of drinking -actually I hardly have alcohol- but still. If you let yourself be impressed about Crobar -the electronic pub- they dont have alochol coz they have extasis so, if they mix it up, well... They'll be in huuuge problem!
Sorry I missed yesterday but tomorrow is the event and my head is almost hanging!
Take care, girl!

Sarah P said...

sounds like you went to an amazing watch party for the debates. That's sweet that you got interviewed! I wish I could see the footage.

Mark and I got your postcard yesterday! We loved it! Now you really have to come see us in madison because we have a traider joes here :) I can't live with out it either.

Anonymous said...

Iñaki Urlegaza's performance was not hosted by the Teatro Colon. The performance was put on by Urlegaza's own company who contracted the Colon orchestra, chorus and children's chorus. Very sadly they used amplified sound. I paid $200 pesos for a seat in platea which was really a ripoff for a one hour performance with distorted sound however Iñaki is a great dancer. The choreography didn't give him a chance to show off much, though.