Saturday, November 29, 2008


For the second time now Josh and I celebrated Thanksgiving away from home, but for the first time we celebrated it together. Lucky for us we were not without family and certainly not without friends. As followers know the majority of Josh's family was with us for Thanksgiving, but so were 14 of our friends. We had the intention of providing a "family" for people to be with on Thanksgiving since we have a fairly large home, some real family and most people we know here have neither. Like all of my dinner parties though, the numbers kept growing until that night and there 19 of us in all.
That morning we walked up and down Florida to find Shelley some last minute earrings, or trinkets as Josh likes to call them, and then we headed to the San Telmo market for ingredients. We didn't arrive home till 5 pm (how quickly the day passes when one begins it so late) and our first guest had arrived! We began to cook away.
I was terrified there was not going to be enough food, but people took the B.Y.O. Dish very seriously and not even half the food present was eaten!!
Simone and Bennet in front of the buffet line up

People also took the B.Y.O. plate and silverware seriously so not one person had to eat Thanksgiving off a plastic plate (although I suspect Bennet's plate was actually a Tupperware lid. People began to arrive at 5 but most showed up around 8:30 and the festivities were underway.
From the left: Mike, Ted, Alfie, Juliana and Andy (in the front:Chicken, beet salad and Quilmes)

My family has several traditions that I love, and one is the festive cocktail. This is always some combination of liquor and cranberries, but every year its better than the last. This year I hear Mom took it to a WHOLE new level by infusing Vodka for the first time! Alas, there is an abundance of cheap liquor in this country, but no cranberries. Josh and I had to make do with Rum and Multifrutia juice which was delicious. Seeing as there were also no Turkeys to be had in San Telmo I roasted two very large chickens and made a beat salad. Josh's mom made delicious stuffing and cornbread (you should have seen people's faces light up at the cornbread). Some other dishes were mac & cheese, salads, shredded sweet potato yumminess and regular cheesy potato yumminess made by Tucker, sweet potatoes with caramelized nuts on top, mashed potatoes, more break/rolls, peas, MEATLOAF!!!! (made by Nick which was even better last night when we ate it again) and three different pies that included homemade apple pie by Erin and homemade peach cobbler by Mike. So it was a REAL feast of mega proportions! Add Quilmes (the favorite Argentine beer) to the mix and it was a party. We had drinks on the roof to cool off after dinner, and then pie in the cooled down apartment. There was no big table for all of us to sit around and I ate my dinner on the floor, but it was my first time really hosting Thanksgiving, so I thought I would give my self a break about the seating arrangements.
From the left: Annie, Nick (head is blocked), and Tucker chowing down on the floor
Tucker was very pleased with the vegetarian selection (mostly supplied by himself!)
Nick - under the table shot
Hannah and Josh (this is Hannah's post beet tasting face, I'm not sure if she'll ever forgive me for making her try one)
Camilla the Thrilla at her first ever Thanksgiving: She's from London - and I quote her: "Oh, what, Thanksgiving, is that big in your country? What is it even about?" I'm guessing they don't learn about it in England...
Alfie deep in conversation with Josh (note Josh's expressive hands on the left)
From the left: Jen, Bennet, Ted, Mike, Simone, and Nick
I love this picture...
Jacob chillin' on the couch: full and ready for his third nap of the day!
Tucker and Erin chattin' on the balcony
Andy drinking festive cocktail from the festive cups his mom sent him, Mike's face priceless as usual.
Me all sweaty after carving two massive chicken, festive cups, and great faces
Juliana and Annie in front of our massive buffet
Drinks on the roof
Bennet goes exploring
Ted's a pie kind of guy
From the left: Apple pie, Argentine pie, Peach COBBLER!!
Party begins to wind down: lots of empty bottles
Tearful goodbye, everyone said they were thankful for us having them- But Jen is just excited to go home and change out of her sweaty teaching cloths!

The people scattered all over the floor, couches and balconies of our apartment eventually began to leave and at 2:30 Josh and I were left with a fridge full of leftovers and a very dirty apartment (although much cleaner than it would have been thanks to there being a mom on the premises and Nick's dish washing). We did a minimal cleaning and went to bed.
Friday we met up with the Rolfs for their last few hours in our beautiful city. We mostly walked around and did some last minute shopping. Hannah got her amazing pair of split toe or Nike Air Rift sneakers that I have been loving since I got here (my search for them continues till I can find a grey or black pair) and some last minute gifts for her friends at home. We went back to the hotel to find them already kicked out of their room because the next guy had come early, so we spent the last half hour in the lobby. At 6 pm we put them in a taxi and said a minimally tearful goodbye.
The Rolfs coming and going combined with being away for Thanksgiving (my favorite family holiday since we don't do Christmas) made me truly homesick for the first time. I went home and skyped my family and got to see almost everyone over the web cam. The technology is amazing and it made it a little better that at least I got to see and talk to everyone, but I was very sad I could not be there. Lucky for me my family comes to me in a month!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Taking Tango to the Next Level

I have a feeling Josh will write a blog about this as well, but we all know our posts are very different so I feel OK giving you two accounts of one of the best nights we've had so far.
At the prompting of our guide we went to a Tango show at Piazzolla. While the Teatro Colon is under construction, this is supposedly the closest we will come to seeing it and the second most fantastic theater space in Buenos Aires. Having seen it I am that much more excited for the Teatro Colon to be finished seeing as this is one of the most beautiful places I've even seen a show in. We had a picture of us taken in the theater which shows off some of the beauty of the place:
and the holder it came in has a great photo of the theater on the front:
As you can see we had our own private room over looking the floor and with a great view of the stage.
The night began with dinner. Expecting mediocre fare on account of the number of dinners being served you can imagine my surprise when we were served some of the best food I've had here. Well, all the food I've had here has been great and we've only been to one bad restaurant the whole time, but this food was spectacular. I had a Caesar salad to start and chicken for my main course. It was perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. The steaks that Josh, Hannah, and Jake had were beautiful and very juicy. All of this was accompanied by unlimited beverages and more than enough wine (all included). Dessert was lovely. I had the tiramisu but before I knew it our empty plates were being whisked away by our wonderful waitress and the show was starting.
The first show we saw for Josh's birthday was only one couple dancing to a CD and a display of Tango through the ages. This was...magnificently different. There were four couples dancing so quickly it was increasingly difficult to follow what was going on. Half way into the first dance I wondered where the music was coming from. Was there a pit? Was this a recording? It was then that I noticed a full band behind the dancers including a piano, a cello, a violin, an accordion and a guitar!! Honestly the dancers were so distracting I had been oblivious to what was going on behind them.
The dancers were beautiful, and their partners handsome. The women (in their high heels) were often almost as tall as the men, but they were whipped around and flung over shoulders as if they were light as feathers. There was also a female and a male singer who took turns dazzling us with their beautiful voices while the dancers changed costumes. The singer was dressed in gowns that grew more beautiful and fantastic as the night wore on.
The tango was all more modern, but one piece was more modern than the rest. The dancer with short hair wore a one piece pants outfit and flats, but during the dance, in my opinion, the man was still the dominant figure. Always flinging her around, and having his way with her. It was perhaps the most beautiful one though.
The dance is perhaps the most sexual dance I have witnessed, and the female dancers are often coy and teasing of their male partners. But no matter how many times the female dancer teases or refuses her male partner, the dance always ends in a dramatic breathtaking pose leaving the woman completely venerable and dependent on her partner for support. This was proven at the end of one dance where the ending twirl was less stable than desired and the female dancer was almost dropped on the ground!! Of course they played it off with grace and dignity.
Here is another picture from the photo holder of the dancers:

I was just dazzled by the whole night. The swirling dresses, each more sparkly and scandalous than the last, the t-strap shoes, the slicked back hair, the encouragement of the accordion, and the soulful notes of the singers had me holding my breath and wanting more. The drama of the dance, the music, and even the faces of the dancer draws you in and makes you feel like you are the privileged witness to someone else's beautiful love story.
Hannah may have been a little bored during the musical numbers:
but she too loved the dancing. The whole thing was just so fabulous I wish I could go every week!! I am totally in love with tango. Luckily everyone else was just as thrilled as I:
and we ended the night very happy. Josh and I headed home with Hannah for a sleepover, where she learned how to play backgammon, and a night of much deserved sleep (seeing as we had watched other people work out all night).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday With The Rolfs

Saturday morning Josh and I met the Rolfs at their hotel and walked from there to the Saturday Recoleta market. The market begins at the cemetery and winds its way around past the Museo des Bellas Artes ending in this photo:
We spent the morning wandering from stall to stall. For us women it was all about the Jewelry, trinkets, and shiny things. For the guys it was all about the various foods, and for Hannah it was about both.
Hannah and Josh got some delicious frutillas con crema or strawberries and whipped cream and Jacob got this awesome salami and cheese sandwich. We saw all there was to see and made some great little purchases and walked by but not in the Bellas Artes:
Next we took a long hot walk to get to the Alta Palermo mall where we had lunch and walked around for a few hours enjoying the air conditioning. While Hannah didn't really love anything she tried on, I found quite a few little things I would have loved to get, but I wisely resisted. No more shopping until I get a job!!
After experiencing the best mall in Buenos Aires we got on the worse bus ride I've ever taken. It was the Rolf's first bus ride and it almost ending in a near collision with a car as the bus driver sped through red lights. The breaks kept us from hitting the car but flung us forward in a frightening manner. However we arrived at the Frisbee field unscathed. We played a tough game but came through in the end with another Cadillacs victory!!!!!
Here is the team before the game, and here is the victorious couple after:
Afterwards we took a much nicer bus trip back to San Telmo, showered up, and had a delicious dinner with a wonderful atmosphere at a restaurant Josh had been wanting to try for a while. The seating was in an outdoor courtyard and the food was perfect. It was a lovely way to end the day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Which The Rolfs Arrive

Our first visitors have arrived! Shelley, Jacob, and Hannah arrived yesterday afternoon to their hotel in Recoleta where we met them after completing an extensive cleaning of our apartment. This place never looked so good. After waiting for the man who was to give us the keys to what is really their small apartment for what seemed like an eternity (he was obviously on Argentine time) we went to lunch near the cemetery and then briefly walked among the small town of mausoleums that line the meandering paths of Recoleta cemetery.

We returned to their room for a nap and then Josh and I made our way to Frisbee practice. We left early to meet them back at our place to show off our digs and then headed to what you might now recognize as our favorite restaurant DesNivel. Shelley was more than pleased with her grilled 1/4 chicken while the rest of us chowed down on some red meat. Being very full and tired we all headed home to rest up before our early morning wake up call.
This is the gorgeous view from the Rolf's window of a park.

We met at the Rolf's place at 9:15 for our private tour of the Jewish side of Buenos Aires. Our tour guide was a very knowledgeable man named Ernesto who was born a porteño but spent much of his adult like in Houston Texas after attending college at Columbia University.
His family owned a textiles store that was the best in Buenos Aires where Evita's boyfriend (prior to her Peron years) was the manager. This turned out to be the demise of the store because Evita's corrupt brother wanted to become a business partner and had the place shut down when he was shut down.
The first place we went to was the Sheraton Hotel. Here is Jacob taking in the view:
The view was amazing from the top floor showing the River Plata and the coast of Buenos Aires. You could even make out Uruguay in the distance. In this picture you can see a clock tower known as the British Clock Tower before the Falklands war and the train station built by the British that we took to get to Tigre:

To the right of the train station is an excellent venue where one can purchase a Churipan for $3.50 (pesos that is) and it comes with a free stomach ache if taken right before Frisbee. Next we headed for the Casa Rosada to continue our history of Argentina. In case you didn't catch what it looked like the first time around, here is the Casa Rosada (the pink representing the unification of the country folk and the city folk and then end of civil war but also a convienent color because the cow's blood used to make the color last longer happens to leave the paint pink):
This is where the President and her people work everyday, and its no surprise that the majority of protests take place directly in front of it. With the windows open to let in a breeze it is impossible to believe some of what the people say is not heard, but it seems to have no affect.
Next we went to this church:
which I have passed my many times. The building is Greek in style and this may be why I assumed it was a government building, but our guide was overjoyed when Josh guessed within seconds that the pediment was showing the reuniting of Jacobs family in Egypt. Inside we saw the impressive tomb of the liberator of Argentina and the memorial to the Jews murdered in the Shoah, and the two recent bombings in Argentina on the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Federation. Its the only Church maybe in the world with a memorial to murdered Jews, but the whole thing was only a little awkward since there was a mass going on...

Next stop were two churches near to our apartment. One was the Franciscan Church which was important because they had great relations with the Jews and helped to hide them when people attempted to bring the Inquisition to Argentina, and the other was their rivals the Dominicans. The Franciscan Church was Evita's Church but was ironically burned down by ignorant Peronists. More interesting to me was the massive street party going on in front of the school near our place.
These crazy kids are in fact the smartest kids in BsAs seeing as they go to the best school in the city. And yet they party like rock stars throwing paint, flour and eggs at each other while dancing to music outside their school with their clothes covered in filth and the shirts tied up or off in the case of many young men. These kids know how to party on the last day of school!
Next we finally went to a synagogue. This is an Orthodox temple started by the cousin of Ernesto's grandfather. He is known their even though he is a conservative Rabbi because it is where he chose to say Kaddish for his father for the year after his death. It is a Sephardi temple and beautiful. Here is the courtyard which has a detachable roof:

and the shocking stained glass with human images and winged angels in the Sephardi tradition which is strictly prohibited in the Ashkenazim:
Even though those who attend the Temple and the Yeshiva upstairs are mostly Syrian and Sephardi, they still dress in the black hatter style of the Ashkenazi. Here are some photos of the sanctuary:

After a marathon of napping we went to Belgrano which is where the more liberal Jews live. We walked around China town for a little and Jacob had his first taste of Churipan. Obviously he loved it, and after our snack we headed to the synagogue for some Kabbalat Shabbat. The door to the synagogue was guarded by two men who nodded to familiar congregants on their way in, but who stopped us for questioning. He asked Josh if he was Jewish, if his parents were Jewish, where he was from, if he has a synagogue in America that he belongs to, etc. until the final question: What do Jews eat on Passover-which Josh answered correctly. We were finally allowed inside for the most amazing service I've been to in a long time. The Rabbi was a man with long hair and a big white keepah. The cantor was a beautiful woman with the most amazing voice and she was accompanied by a drum, an electric piano, a tambourine, and maybe a guitar. The service was familiar at parts and we sang along with the help of the prayer books. Of course the prayers spelled out phonetically are spelled out in Spanish, so Micha Mocha is Mija Moja. It was very funny.
During L'Cha Dodi I was almost moved to tears. Maybe it was the manipulation of the music or the angelic voice of the cantor, or just being in a room full of strangers but knowing the same words, the same tune, and the same rituals that our people have done for centuries. Every time this happens I remember how much I love Judaism, and how beautiful Shabbat is. The ritual of ending the week with friends and loved ones and setting aside a time for rest is so important because often times without Shabbat we forget to celebrate or ability to take a day for rest. Kabbalat Shabbat also happens to be my favorite service, and for the first time since Camp I really felt the beauty of the service. People got up and danced, and the tunes encouraged participation. It was a fun service and I loved every minute of it. For the first time since I've been here I felt truly at home and I also felt more at home in this synagogue than I had at any synagogue I've ever been too. I am very excited to go back and determined to drag Josh with me at least once a month. I'll need him to be my translator so we can make some friends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Cadillacin' Good Time

Our friend Zan from GW spent a few weeks in Buenos Aires after graduation this past summer, and he provided us with plenty of suggestions for interesting endeavors to explore. He directed almost all of his ideas to us both, but one in particular to just me: pick up basketball at the Club de Amigos in Palermo every Saturday at 5:00pm. Having played countless games of hoop at school, he knew that I would revel in the opportunity. I had dreams of several outdoor courts lined up side by side, the rhythm of sneakers and basketballs pounding the pavement, and Saturday afternoons spent playing the game that I love in my new home. But I've been here for six Saturdays, and I haven't spent a single one dribbling up a court or taking jump shots. Not because I don't want to, but because of the Cadillacs, our Frisbee team.

Honestly, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. When our friend Nick suggested one Friday night that we come out with him the next day and play Frisbee with his friends, we envisioned a leisurely afternoon spent throwing around the disc, maybe get some running in but nothing too strenuous. Shortly after arriving and meeting everyone, fifteen minutes of jogging around the field dashed those preconceptions. Drills and more running followed, after which we walked for what seemed like miles, only to do more drills and play a game. Nick had failed to tell us that we would be partaking in some ULTIMATE Ultimate Frisbee with many seasoned players from the United States, Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela. Julia and I were painfully out of shape (not to mention tired and hungover from staying out until 6:30 the previous night), and lacked basic Frisbee skills that could have compensated for our heaving chests. We hardly played in the game - I think I only went in once - and woke up the next morning feeling incredibly sore. But we got good vibes from the players, our new found Cadillac teammates, who generally welcomed us. Plus, Ultimate is a very fun game once you get into it and it obviously offered a great way to exercise and meet people, so we stuck with it and started going to practices.

Bit by bit, we started to become more a part of the team. Our play and confidence improved, largely due to the tutelage of other team members who remained (and still remain) patient and positive even when we would falter. It was at this point that we started to realize that we had come upon a really great group of people. Many of them are two years younger than us, while others are two years older than us or more, but it doesn't show. They are serious about their Frisbee, but much more serious about having a good time. And even though they had these preexisting friendships thanks to months of playing and hanging out together, they really embraced our presence and never made us feel like a liability. We went out for pizza after practices, got invited to Frisbee parties, and even received a Cadillacs jersey. Just last night, we hosted a small get together with some of our Frisbee friends, and it was a genuinely good time had by all. In addition, hanging out with our Frisbee friends has afforded Julia more opportunities to learn and speak Spanish, and everyone is very supportive of her and convinced that she will be proficient in no time since she's already improved so much.

Basically, after every Cadillacs function, Julia and I comment on how much fun we just had and how fortunate we are to have found these new friends. This past Sunday was no exception. In fact, it may have set the bar too high to be topped. First we arrived at someone's apartment that we had met very briefly the day before (we know her boyfriend a bit better, but he was not in), and she cheerfully welcomed us into her apartment as if we were old friends. Soon after, more Cadillacs arrived and we followed our friend Felipe's misguided sense of direction to our other friend Diego's house for his birthday party, an asado, or Argentinian barbecue. Diego informed us that this would not be a traditional asado since he would not be grilling every part of the cow worth eating, but more of a make shift asado with chorizo (sausage, for CHORIPAN!), some bandiola (a cut of pork), and lomitos (small steaks). Regardless, we were all very excited to take part in Diego's birthday celebration, which took place on the roof of his house. We all settled in at the table set below a large umbrella. Some went inside to help cut up fruit for our crude Sangria (the Colombians called it clérico), while others, including myself, simply sat outside and enjoyed each others company in the cool evening breeze. I was talking with our friend Austin, and we began to appreciate our current situation. We talked about how great of an opportunity it was to be here in Buenos Aires, on this Frisbee team, on this rooftop with these people, immersing ourselves in this cultural and speaking a language not native to us, and he summed it up best with two words: "que suerte", how lucky. It's nice to know that this is a shared sentiment amongst all of the Cadillacs, not just Julia and myself. Felipe emphasized the fact that we have a good time on and off the field, and that we need to take advantage of these opportunities while everyone is still in Buenos Aires. And with that in mind, we will be hosting another get together at our place tonight! No breaks. The more Cadillacs, the better. Here is some photographic proof in case you thought we were lying.

Mateo, Daniel, and Emery

Me and Austin

The Birthday Boy and Nick

Felipe, Paola, and Juan

La parrilla

Nick, Julia, and Nick

Annie, Paola, and Austin

Meat on bread is delicious

Big birthday candle for Diego.