What is the longest word in the Spanish dictionary? GOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!

If you’ve spent some time in Argentina, you’ve probably discovered that Argentinians are very passionate people.  Whether it’s yelling at each other in the street (or making out with each other in the street) or dancing tango or watching football, Argentineans are not ashamed to show their emotions.  In my opinion this passion comes out in its most pure and intense form through football. The first game I ever went to was between two very important teams, Independiente and Boca.  It was outside the Buenos Aires city limits in the Independiente stadium.  I remember being shocked by many of the things that I saw.  These include:

  1. EVERYONE (men, women and children) standing up the entire game, shouting and singing the fight songs. The “popular” section with all the insanely passionate fans played their drums and sang nonstop.  After only 30 minutes I felt exhausted and overwhelmed but everyone else seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd
  2. The huge fences separating the fans from the field
  3. The policemen lining the stadium with full-on SWAT uniforms
  4. Waiting for every single person on the visiting side to exit the stadium (dancing their way out, since they won) before we could leave.

After my first football game I quickly found that Independiete and Boca were not for me, and that my loyalties were to reside instead with the San Lorenzo team.  My boyfriend is a devout “cuervo” along with other famous figures such as the Pope and Viggo Mortenson.  As a San Lorenzo fan, here is a list of a few things I witnessed in my many visits to the cancha (stadium).

  1. Once San Lorenzo scored a goal.  I repeat: a goal. They didn’t win this game in particular or anything, but they did score a goal.  Immediately after the goal I looked around the stands and saw that almost every single person had tears in their eyes.  My boyfriend included! I was shocked! I had no idea how to react so I turned away to give him some space and proceeded to watch the other grown men cry like babies.
  2. There is a San Lorenzo fan that represents the ideal passionate football spirit and he is known as “El Gordo Ventilador” or “The Fat Fan.” It’s technically “fan” like a ceiling fan, but I didn’t realize the pun in English until now!  The Fat Fan is a large man that climbs up the fence without a shirt on and remains perched in what looks like an extremely uncomfortable position for the entirety of the game.  Be it rain or shine the Gordo Venitlador is a loyal fan, waving his blue and red San Lorenzo shirt around in the air in a fan-like motion.
  3. The most intense experience I ever had at a football game was a couple years ago.  To be honest I don’t really know what happened, but the referee made some call that really pissed off all the San Lorenzo fans.  Everyone started yelling and ripping of their seats and throwing it over the fence onto the field.  The referee had to be escorted out of the stadium and people tried to climb down the wall to catch him before he got into a car. Then, to get the fans out as fast as possible the SWAT- like policeman started tear-gassing the stands and shooting rubber bullets.  We were on the other side away from the “popular” section so we didn’t get a direct hit of the tear gas, but I did experience an awful feeling in my eyes and throat.  We ran out covering our eyes with our shirt.  I was terrified and couldn’t believe how quickly everything had escalated. My boyfriend had always told me to wear running shoes whenever we go to a game, and I finally understood why.

Despite that one bad experience that I had at an Argentine football game, I love them.  The energy and excitement at the games is invigorating.  Experiencing a football game in Argentina is an essential part to understanding its culture and the passionate souls that inhabit it.

Finding Your Park in Buenos Aires

One of my favorite things about living in Argentina is that it is 100% A-OK to spend the day in a park, doing nothing.  In the USA I rarely ever do this.  It’s not to say that I don’t go to parks, it’s just that when I’m at one I’m usually there to hike or swim or camp or play frisbee. I would never just go to a park and drink tea with a funny straw and eat pastries.  But while being in Buenos Aires I’ve come to realize that this is one of my favorite things to do.  I could sit in a park with friends for hours, drinking mate and eating medialunas.  I love watching all the people and I love that the entire city seems to be outside on any weekend when the weather is nice.  Sometimes in the states I have the feeling that I always need to be doing something.  Even if I’m just enjoying my Saturday outside, I still need to be active.  In Argentina “doing something” could purely just be drinking mate.

I also love the parks in Buenos Aires because it is a way to get away from the city without actually having to leave it.  It’s overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people and so much concrete all the time. Just spending a couple hours in the park is a great way to release and relax.  Mother nature is our natural Prozac! Since there are so many parks to explore in Buenos Aires, I’ll list some of my personal favorites here:

Parque Centenario: If you asked an Argentine about Parque Centenario a couple years ago, they would have told you never to go there.  But over the past centenariocouple years the city has done a great job cleaning up the park and making it safer by locking it down at night.  For me, this park has it all- trees, ponds, outdoor amphitheater, big space but small vibe, plenty of people watching opportunities, and it’s located at the intersection of some wonderful neighborhoods- Almagro, Caballito and Villa Crespo.  These neighborhoods have a much less touristy vibe than the other neighborhoods of Palermo and Recoleta.

Plaza Francia: The best part of Recoleta! A park on a hill right next to the Recoleta cemetery and the Recoleta cultural center.  The hill provides excellent back support and a prime people-watching position.  On weekends you can check out the artisanal fair that happens around the park as well as listen to some local music.  I’m actually convinced that there is only one man that plays, but hey it’s nice to have some background music while doing absolutely nothing.

 francia

Parque Las Heras: The hippie haven! This park is where acrobats of all kind flock to show off their stuff.  You can watch people do aerial acrobatics with faparquelasherasbric hanging from the trees, or walk from tree to tree while balancing on a slackline, or do magical hand tricks with crystal balls.  It was right around this park where a psychic started a conversation with me about two years ago and said some things I still can’t forget!! So be open when you enter this park, interesting things could happen to you…

Bosques de Palermo: This is the park of all parks.  The biggest and the baddest.  It’s huge, it has a running trail, rollerblading paths, multiple ponds, a beautiful rose garden and tons of places to sit.  It might be difficult to find someone in this park, but it’s a great place to get some exercise.  My only issue is the concrete.  I just need to have it completely out of my vision sometimes and this park doesn’t quite fulfill the 100% green quota.

 palermo

Parque Lezama: A great park for those who stay on the other slezamaide of the city.  This park is located in San Telmo/La Boca.  I like this park because it is more dimensional.  You have to walk around it quite a few times to really understand it’s shape, and it’s located on a slope which gives it some cool viewing spots.  I’m also partial to this park because it has drum circles and is right next to my favorite vegetarian restaurant: La Hierba Buena.

I hope this list was diverse enough for everyone’s interests.  The truth is there is a park for everyone in Buenos Aires.  Go out there and find the one that fits your fancy!

What to Drink in Argentina

The following is a list drink suggestions when traveling/ or living in Argentina.

1. Of course our list has to start out with wine, Argentina is famous for it! This is a country made for winos (why do you think I moved here…just kidding…kind of). As the 5th largest wine producer in the world Argentina tops the charts for delicious and very fairly priced wines. While their selection of imported wines isn’t so impressive, no need to fret because the wines that Argentina has to offer are just as delicious if not better!

Malbec- the quintessential grape of Argentina. Malbec is the most widely grown grape throughout the country and within the past 5 years has really taken off internationally as well. Here in Argentina the Malbec wines are known for their young fruitforward characteristics with hints of red fruits like cherry and strawberry. It pairs very well with a delicious Argentine steak dinner but would also go nicely with a beef empanada.

Bonarda- known as the secret grape in Argentina, it’s actually the second most widely grown grape throughout the nation. Another really intense ruby red colored wine with forest fruit flavors bonarda is an excellent partner for a traditional picada. It’s super drinkable and when aged in oak can take on lovely notes of tobacco and vanilla.

Torrontes- the flagship white wine of Argentina. It’s commonly mistaken that Argentina is only good at producing red wines but that is most certainly not the case. Torrontes aka the lying grape is an incredibly beautiful style of wine. Upon first smell your nose will almost certainly be overwhelmed with floral and citrus notes like honey and jasmine tricking your brain into thinking it’s a sweet wine. On the contrary though it’s actually a very dry and acidic wine with subtle effervescent hints of apricot, peachy and grapey hints.

 

2. Fine, so wine just isn’t your thing, not to worry! Argentina has plenty more to offer. They’re also super big on their liquors.

Fernet- the liquor or all liquors here in Argentina. It’s the classic, stirred up with a little coke this Italian bitter has a healthy tradition with Argentines. It’s one of their go-to drinks. I will warn you that while it’s basically a must try, it has a super acquired taste.

Gancia- this is another really common drink here. Without a mixer Gancia is just slightly higher in alcohol content then wine and has a largely lemon-based flavor. Usually it’s mixed up with some sort of clear bubbly drink like Sprite or 7Up and some slices of lemon. This combination makes it take on a more bubblegum alcoholic flavor.

 

3. Yerba Mate, a tea-like substance is most certainly the most popular beverage here in Argentina. The yerba mate is actually a plant and they dry the leaves and crush them up into a loose tea. In order to drink mate, you use a hollowed out gourd and a special filtered bombilla (straw). After putting the tea in the mate with the straw you then pour hot water from a thermos over portions of the yerba and sip it through the metal straw. Warning, this beverage is highly caffeinated and awesomely addictive but totally good for your health! When it gets hot outside you can switch from using hot water to using cold water, orange juice or lemonade.

 

Celebrating the Red Moon in the Southern Hemisphere

I’m sure you all heard about the red moon lunar eclipse last Monday.  But if you were passed out by 3:45am and missed the show, like myself, don’t worry there’s good news. We get three more chances!

The lunar eclipse that took place on April 14th-15th was the first of a lunar eclipse tetrad, which is fancy word for a group of 4 lunar eclipses.  Roughly every six months for the next 2 years we will get to see this cool space magic… so mark your calendars now and start getting ready if you need some mental preparation to be awake by 3:45am!

The next three lunar eclipses will take place on:

-October 8th, 2014

-April 4th, 2015

-September 28th, 2015

The good news is we will be able to see at least part of it in Argentina because it will be nighttime.  Don’t plan a trip to Europe, Africa or Central Asisa if you are really excited about this event or else you will miss it! And if you miss any of these blood moons you’ll have to wait until 2032 to see the next one.  So unless you are an extremely patient person, or you don’t really care about space stuff, you probably shouldn’t miss it.

nasa1

Now some of you non-astromony folks might be wondering, what exactly is a lunar eclipse? Here’s a little stargazing 101.  This phenomenon only occurs when there is a full moon, and the sun, the Earth and the moon are all aligned with the Earth in the middle.  In the eclipse the moon passes directly behind the Earth, blocking itself from the sun’s light.  It kind of looks like the lunar cycle sped up into about 3 hours, and then turned red.

lunarecycle

What is so special about these four lunar eclipses is the fact that they are also red, or “blood” moons. Last week it didn’t show up as deep red as people were hoping, but more of an orange-reddish color.  The color has to do with light from the sun shining through the earth’s atmosphere and reflecting upon the moon.  It’s basically the same as when the sky turns red during a sunrise or sunset.  And if the atmosphere is especially dusty, say for example right after a volcanic eruption, the moon would look very dark red in color.

blood-moon

(photo credit: Zach Epstein http://bgr.com/2014/04/22/blood-moon-photo-gif-eclipse/)

A lunar eclipse is unlike a solar eclipse in many ways.  First of all, the lunar eclipse can be seen from any part of the Earth that is on the nighttime side, whereas the solar eclipse can only be viewed from a very small area. A solar eclipse happens when a full moon passes between the Earth and the sun.  And this event usually only takes a few minutes, while the lunar eclipse can last a few hours.  The lunar eclipse is also safe to see without special eye protection.

solar eclipse

(solar eclipse)

For me, one of the most exciting parts of a lunar eclipse is the opportunity to watch it among hippie festivals with drum circles and full moon dancing.  I don’t know about other parts of the world but Buenos Aires sure knows how to welcome in the “Luna llena” (full moon).  Every month people gather at the Planetarium, in the forests of Palermo, to celebrate the full moon.  This past Monday was particularly exciting due to the lunar eclipse and the red moon.  Fire dancers, drummers and curious star-gazers flocked to the park to see this incredible site.  The Planetarium was open and let people line up to see the eclipse through their giant telescopes.  The lunar eclipse caught me by surprise last week and I wasn’t prepared to take on the Luna Llena party in all its glory.  But I know where I’ll be this year on October 8th!

bosques

A Special Day for Argentina

Today is a very special day in Argentina…any ideas why???

question

It’s World Malbec Day!! That’s right, today is the one day a year we get to relinquish all life duties and drink Malbec all day long!

Ok, ok, I wish.  But it is a day meant for celebrating the existence of this beloved red wine…or better said, “vino tinto.”   And this is the vino tinto that put Argentina on the wine world map.

Today is the day to pay our respects to the French agronomist Michel Pouget, who came to Argentina (under the president’s request) in 1853 to develop the country’s wine industry.  Along with him, Pouget brought Malbec vines from their birthplace of Cohors, France.  The vines took to the dry, sunny climate of Mendoza and became a malbec unlike any before.  Dark plum colors, wonderful aromas of blackberry and a mouthful of silky tannins.  Mmmm the magical combination.

grapes

World Malbec day is gaining recognition.  On it’s birthday in 2011 it was celebrated in 36 countries and this year it’s reached over 50! The World is on to this Malbec, and it’s wanting more.  It’s time to share the love Argentina!

So I plan to celebrate my Malbec Day by going to some of my favorite wine bars in the city, and asking for their best recommendations.  Here’s my list of favorite spots:

Quaint little French wine and cheese bar.  Very tiny, lovely to sit outside on a nice evening.  International selection of wine (which is surprising difficult to come by in this city) and the most delectable arrays of meats and cheeses.

Another pleasant little bar in the lovely neighborhood of Villa Crespo.  La Cava is great for a relaxing evening enjoying their tasty, and extensive, wine list.   Some nights they have live music.

A wine shop and restaurant that has it’s very own wine tastings.  You can taste three wines at a time and although they do not offer food pairings you can order food, and their food is delicious. Their very knowledgeable sommeliers can always help you pick some great tasting choices.

pain et vin

And you can always eclebrate your Malbec Day at a Buenos Aires Wine Tasting 🙂 There’s plenty of Malbec here! But whatever you do, make sure to let your Malbec know how special it is.

Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival

Bafici_header2014 

While I realize that this article is coming to you guys a bit late there are still a few more days left for BAFICI. What’s BAFICI you ask? Well BAFICI stands for Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente or in English the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival. It was originally started in 1999 and although it’s not officially associated with FIAPF it’s a well-recognized film festival nonetheless. The Buenos Aires government puts it on every year and it’s turned into a much anticipated event. They have such categories as Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor and Actress, etc.

This year the festival started April 2nd and will go until April 13th -QUICK! Get in the last few films while you still can. One of the awesome benefits of this Argentine film festival is that all the Spanish language films are subtitled in English, so no excuse there ladies and gentleman. Also this year there are more local entries than ever before. In the International Category there are three Argentine entires: ‘Algunas Chicas’ by Santiago Palavecino, ‘La Salada’ by Juan Martín Hsu and ‘Mauro’ by Hernán Rosselli. Specifically in the Argentine Category there’s a good lineup as well with films from Benjamín Naishtat (Historia del Miedo), Matías Lucches (Ciencias Naturales) and Alejo Moguillansky (El Escarabajo de Oro).

This year the guest country in the film festival is Israel and there is a wide variety of films coming from Israel and a retrospective look at Uri Zohar. In his time as a director he has made almost a dozen films criticizing the Zionist nation. From Portugal Rita Azevedo Gomes will be given a retrospective as well as Robert Fenz and Frank Henenlotter from the United States, Cao Guimaraes from Brazil and Jean-Stéphane Bron from Switzerland.

BAFICI waiting line

New this year is a Sports movie category. Popularly awaited films such as ‘Rio 2’ and the ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ will also be making their debut. Bottom line, this festival has a little bit of everything. If you’re looking to see the showing schedule you can check out the official BAFICI website. Also important to note, students with a vaild ID can get into press showings for free!

A Less Enjoyable Side of Buenos Aires

So what’s the deal with all the cat-calling in the streets of Buenos Aires? Even after living here for three years, it still drives me crazy.  While the majority of the time its just a harmless whistle or an under the breath “que hermosa,” there are plenty of times when I’m thankful that I don’t understand all the imaginative things these men are able to come up with.  In all truthfulness there may be some women out there who seek a sort of self-gratification from these profanities, but I think those women must have some pretty strong insecurities about themselves.  Insecurities that are likely brought about by a society so obsessed with the feminine figure.  I, however, am tired of the cat-calls.  I would like to be able to wear what I want and not feel embarrassed or ashamed for doing so.  I would like to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, be it an entire hamburger while walking down the street, and not have to hear nasty remarks about me doing so.  When I’m tired and on my way home from work, I don’t want to hear about all the things you would like to do with my body.  Even if you are a good looking boy, and much less so if you are an old viejo who most likely has a wife and children.

You can probably tell I’m pretty fed up with all this disrespect. And the other night I had an interesting conversation with two friends, one from France and the other from Colombia, about the matter.  The French girl said all this cat-calling bothered me so much because of my cultural upbringing.  In the US I walk the streets and never get called at.  While apparently in France it is more common, so it doesn’t bother her as much. Although here, and even she agrees, it can be taken to very uncomfortable levels.

The Colombian (who is a man) was very intrigued and kept asking us questions about how the comments made us feel.  He told us that every once in a while he’ll throw out a “que linda” from the car window but that generally he’s too shy to say much.  The fact that he is “too shy” to say such things, makes it seem like somewhere, in some book, boys are told that in order to pick-up a women one must yell at her in the street. This book should be found and ripped to shreds.

An interesting Spanish fact is that the word for something said to a women in the streets is called “piropo” which also means “pick-up line,” there is no literal translation for “cat-call.”  Which basically means that a piropo yelled out in the street is no different than a piropo over drinks in a bar.  But let’s be honest, there is a big difference.

This is an interesting advertisement that I saw made to show men what it feels like to constantly be the source of all this street abuse:

And here is another campaign fighting for the right for women to feel comfortable while walking in the streets of their own city.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION** This week of April 14th is International Anti-Street Harassment Week check out what Buenos Aires is doing for this here