Friday, August 28, 2009

Touring Buenos Aires

My friend Kristine, another volunteer from WorldTeach, arrived in Buenos Aires last night. Kristine is extending with the organization in Ecuador for one more year, and before heading back to teach she's visiting Argentina for a little over two weeks. I'd been waiting to start doing touristy stuff until she showed up, and starting today, we have begun to tackle the sights of Buenos Aires.

After she got in last night we got a late dinner, which turns out is actually right on time since many porteƱos (people from Buenos Aires) eat dinner around 9 or 10 pm. This morning she woke me up at 9:30 am, ready to start the day, though I wasn't quite ready yet. After procrastinating a bit and checking email, discovering that I had a couple of new interviews to tend to, we got going on the day.

But by the time we got on the bus and into the center it was already around 12:30 pm. The bus took a different route today, which I at first attributed to road work, but immediately realized was because of rallies. We got off the bus and saw a long line of medical students marching down Avenida de Mayo. We watched for a few minutes before moving on to get some coffee, where I received a phone call about another interview for tomorrow. If I had any fears about not finding job opportunities, they were put to rest.

Heading towards the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace, "The Pink House") in the Plaza de Mayo, we realized that we were smack dab in the middle of political rallies. It seemed like every political group was represented, and everyone was banging drums, marching, and singing. It was electric in the crowd, and we had no idea what we'd just happened to have walked into. With our cameras in hand, we blended in like members of the press, snapping away photos.

Back in Ecuador, we were always told to avoid political rallies, but here we went towards it, ducking in between people to get a better shot and to see what it was all about. I hadn't heard about a rally, but it looked like it was about the president and health care. Different groups were cued and ready to march in order, and we waited in the plaza until we were nearly alone, left with the trash in the streets and the few journalists left reporting on the scene.

By this point, maybe 1 pm, it was already pretty hot. And we're still in winter here. So we walked along the busier streets, taking in the sights, and snapped some more photos of the more well known spots like Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest streets in the world with 17 lanes of traffic in the widest spots. There's also an obelisk, similar to that of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. We moved on to get some lunch, and I finally dug into my first Argentinian steak. I'd been saving money and eating like a broke man for a few days in preparation for Kristine's arrival, but now that she was here I decided to spoil myself.

The steak was succulent and flavored, seemingly without effort. One of the best I've had in a long time, that's for sure. I was not disappointed, but after eating and drinking a beer, I was ready for a nap. We headed to a park I'd seen previously, and after checking out the memorial for the Falkland War casualties (Islas Malvinas) we laid out on the grass and took a little siesta. We tried to find Puerto Madero afterward as the sun was setting, but I later realized that we were too far north, so after realizing we were going the wrong way we turned around and headed to San Telmo.

San Telmo is close to where I live, but is an arty neighborhood that has nice squares with Tango dancers and antique shops. We walked around for a bit and I tried to find a shop that sold pillows to help with my hurting neck, but to no avail. We grabbed a beer at a square and mowed through some complimentary nuts before heading home to plan for tomorrow. With an interview tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday, we'll be sticking around the city a few more days before trying to head out west to Mendoza and Cordoba for a bit. We made some pasta for dinner and relaxed watching some TV on the computer using Slingbox, a program that lets you watch cable from the United States on your computer from anywhere in the world with a signal. It's a nice addition to life abroad.

Tomorrow we'll continue exploring Buenos Aires, as well as preparing for my interview in the afternoon.

Above: Images from the political rallies this morning, La Casa Rosada

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