Thursday, February 28, 2008

I want to be a part of BA, Buenos Aires, Big Apple

Beware of the city, it's hungry and cold can't be controlled, it is mad.
Those who are fools are swallowed up whole and those who are not become what they should become changed.
In short they go bad.

Bad is good for me. I'm bored so clean and so ignored.
I've only been predictable respectable. Birds fly out of here so why oh why oh why the Hell can't I: I only want variety of society.
I wanna be a part of B.A. Buenos Aires, Big Apple. –Madonna, from Eva Paron

A couple of weeks ago now, since I’m extremely behind on informing you of my adventures, our group traveled to Buenos Aires. And, had an absolute blast! Our trip started at 8:00 in the morning with a walk to the local bus station. We were booked on Buquebus: a bus/boat company that would take us all the way to Buenos Aires. However, we ran into trouble when 30 minutes into the ride, the bus broke down and we had to pull over. Within 5 minutes there was another bus there for us to all climb onto and travel the rest of the way to Colonia to catch the boat to BA. We reflected on how long it would have taken to change busses in the states and how inefficient public transportation is in the US. They don’t stand around because of lack of paper work, they just get stuff done.

At the boat dock we went through customs and got an Argentine stamp in our passports (my second stamp! Can you tell I’m excited?). The boat we got on was very large and very fast and was very enjoyable. If you look on a map, it travels from Colonia, Uruguay to BA, all the way across the widest river in the world the Rio de la Plata, in less than 45 minutes. After arriving, we got bussed to our ritzy hotel, checked in, got our rooms, and figured out were to go for dinner. A group of us decided on a Thai restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. The food was very, very good, especially the beef (which is supposed to be the best in the world coming from Argentina), not to mention that the building was air conditioned… The rest of the afternoon, we walked around a touristy street looking for souvenirs and were accosted by creepy, street salespeople trying to advertise for services of exotic nature. On the way back to the hotel we found 3 different outdoor apparel shops, and as you might guess I had to go inside. The last place was a Patogonia store (pretty cool being in the country where “Patogonia” is) and talking to a girl working there and found some free climbing magazines. I plan on trying to read them as a way to practice Spanish but it hasn’t happened yet.

That evening we went to a Tango dinner and show. We chose three courses from a menu of wonderful food and enjoyed it in pleasant company and in a wonderful atmosphere. I had some more Argentine beef and wasn’t as impressed as I had been in the Thai restaurant, but it was still very good. After dessert, we watched a performance of tango which went through several acts depicting the history of the dance as it developed from being something only dancing by forlorn Spanish men amongst themselves imitating their desires for women to the national dance of Argentina that it is today. I still haven’t had any kind of Tango dance lessons and don’t know if I will be able to fit them in, but I would definitely like to know how to “bailo la Tango”.

The next morning, we got on a bus for a driving tour of the city. We weren’t able to get off much and in all honesty I fell asleep at some point in the second half of the tour, but hopefully I will mention all the highlights. We started with the Avenida de 9 de Julio with is 7 lanes wide in either direction possibly making it the widest city street in the world. In the middle of the avenue stands an Obelisk commemorating Argentine independence. We stopped at the Plaza de Mayo to look around. This is the historical center of the city and the Casa Rosada (instead of a Whitehouse, they have a Pinkhouse) where the president works. Some of us went into a Catholic church on one side of the square and were amazed by all the intricate artwork and tiling and display inside. The Plaza is also historically a place of large public gathering and protest, most notably by women marching in response to people who have gone missing during a dictatorship in the not so distant past. Back aboard our bus, we drove by soccer stadium of one of the neighborhoods and remarked how the Coca Cola sponsorship symbol is in different colors so as to not be in the colors of their rivals! They take soccer seriously down here.

Thus ends the first part of my Buenos Aires Blog. More information and pictures later.

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