Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Lazy Sunday in Buenos Aires

Today my host family took me downtown for the first time - Buenos Aires is so huge!  We went to see la Casa Rosada (the Argentinian version of the White House) at the Plaza de Mayo, where las Madres de la Plaza (the mothers of people who disappeared during the dirty war in the 1970's) march.  It was cool to visit there after having watched the Official Story only a few weeks ago.  There were about 25 policemen in the plaza because it's where all of the demonstrations take place.  There were also about 2500 pigeons.  There's a lot of graffiti in the city, like in any city, but the graffiti around the plaza is especially political, I noticed a wall that said "Muerte al estado, libertad en insurrección).  We looked at a few more touristy things before heading to the street market at San Telmo, where artisans sell crafts, street performers do their thing (mostly tango dancers and classical guitarists) and vendors sell mate and empanadas.  The market goes on for blocks and blocks and blocks, it's crazy.  

I really love the european influence on the architecture in the city - there are a lot of cute little cobbled streets and fancy doors.  My favorite thing about downtown is that practically every street corner has a bar or a cafe.  The one we went into was really cute - Daniel and Ana are in the cafe in the photo - the black and white checkerboard floors were covered with peanut shells but the waiters were all wearing black vests and ties and the walls were lined with old wine bottles.  Coffee, tea, and mate are cheap - 5 pesos, about $1.50, and there's always a full menu of sandwiches, salads, desserts, and alcohol.  Also, their posted hours were 8am-3am on weeknights and 8am-6am on weekends.  What I wouldn't give to have dozens of amazing cafes open until 6am in the U-district.

On the left, posing with a street performer in San Telmo.  When we started to drive back home, a soccer game had just let out so the streets were full of crazy fans.  We were on la Avenida de 9 de Julio (an important date, Argentina's date of independence from Spain), which is a cool thing in itself because this street is HUGE.  It's the world's widest boulevard - I've read that there are 16 lanes of traffic, but it seems so much wider because it's broken up by several islands and the huge obelisk (kind of a nod to the Washington Monument, Argentinians love their monuments) is right in the middle. Anyways, everyone was wearing red and white jerseys, fans were running down the sidewalks waving huge flags and holding flags out of the windows of their cars, people were pulling over on the side of the road to open beers and celebrate, and the central median was full of huge yelling crowds holding banners.  Everyone was honking their horns, and my host dad said, "Porque no participamos?" (Why don't we join in?) and started honking his horn.  

I'll probably have a quiet night tonight (well, not exceptionally quiet because the teenage girl who lives next door is listening to and singing along to Britney Spears at an incredible volume), and then school tomorrow!

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