Thursday, December 9, 2010


I haven’t been too great at updating my blog for the past two weeks—I’ve been on two different trips and managed to have exams in there. I wrote around 40 pages—all in Spanish, of course. I’m yet to update on my Thanksgiving. On Thursday, November 25, about 140 American students invaded the small colonial town (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Located just across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires and a 1 to 3 hour Buquebus boat ride (depending on if you take the fast or slow boat), it’s a popular day trip from Buenos Aires. The director of our program, Mario, owns a small boutique hotel in Colonia, so we were all invited to his house for an Argentine attempt at Thanksgiving—there was turkey and stuffing but no mashed potatoes, corn bread or pumpkin pie. Oh, and the Argentine favorite choripan (a chorizo sausage sandwich), obviously.

Post-Thanksgiving lunch we all donned bathing suites and spent the afternoon around the lovely pool (weather aside, I usually try to avoid a bikini post-pigging our on Thanksgiving Day, but I decided to make an exception).

After a night in Colonia, I headed to the super luxe Uruguayan beach town of Punta del Este, a favorite vacation hot spot of all the wealthy Argentines, with my friends Gaby, Janie and Savannah—we were not the only IFSA kids who decided to spend a few days at the beach; a number of our friends were also at Punta del Este that weekend.

While the city was close to dead—it’s currently late spring, and the beach will be a crowded mess in a few short weeks—this gave us plenty of room on the beach. We weren’t quite brave enough to test the water, but the sunshine was just perfect. It’s a personal goal to make all of my friends who’ve spent the past few months bundled up in the Northern Hemisphere jealous of my tan. Sorry! Well…not really.

Here are some pictures from my sunny Thanksgiving Weekend:

At our program director Mario's home in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
My first Thanksgiving spent lounging by the pool.

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without...choripan?

yumm yumm yumm

Gotta have the facturas

Sunset on the beach in Colonia

Soaking up the sun in Punta del Este with our new Paraguayan friends.

Returning from the beach with our $5 towels

Even though Punta del Este was pretty much dead in terms of tourism, we managed to meet a number of locals and had two fun nights out on the town.

On our last day in Punta del Este we went to the historical hotel Casa Pueblo.

Doesn't Casa Pueblo look like some sort to sand castel?

With Punta del Este's emblematic hand sculpture.


A little over a week ago I was lying on a beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay soaking up the summer sun, and while I’m currently on a airplane heading back to sunny Buenos Aires, I’ve spend the past four days hiking and playing around in the snow in El Calfate, right in the heart of Patagonia.

I’ve spend the past four days with my girlfriends Sofija and Savannah getting to know one of Argentina’s most famous regions.

On Monday took an Aerolineas Argentinas (the infamous nationalized Argentine Airline) from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. I’ve taken six Aerolineas Argentinas flights since I’ve been here in Argentina, and Monday’s flight was the only one to arrive on time. I landed around 7 PM, and, upon meeting up with Sofija and Savannah had plenty of time to explore the adorable town of El Calafate since the sun doesn’t set until after 10 PM.
El Calafate served as our base in the region from where we took three day trips. On Tuesday two the three of us did our best to bundle up and headed to Perrito Moreno Glacier. While it isn’t the region’s largest glacier, it is isn’t most famous (and most touristy). We viewed the glacier up close from various viewing docks and then took a boat ride to get a closer view. It was great, but we all agreed that the whole experience was a bit touristy. Still numb from our day’s excursions, we returned to El Calafate and purchased more sweaters, gloves and hats.

A little more prepared to brace the cold (I still can’t get over the fact that this is summer weather), on Wednesday we headed north to El Chalten to hike and view Mt. Fitz Roy—the mountain featured on the clothing line Patagonia’s symbol. We hiked uphill to a viewing point for a little over two hours only to find what we were afraid of—we weren’t going to be able to see Fitz Roy because the day was so overcast. However, even though we didn’t get to see Fitz Roy, we did have a pleasant surprise—SNOW! Given that we’ve been experiencing 90 degree weather in BA lately, the snow definitely helped us get into the Christmas Spirit.

Today, Thursday, proved to be our best day yet. We woke up at a painfully early 6 AM and took a bus to a loading dock where we boarded a boat to Estancia Cristina. On the way to the Estancia, we got up close and personal with Upsala Glacier, the region’s largest glacier. Upon arriving at the estancia we boarded 4-wheel drive vehicles that took us to a viewing point high up in the mountains where we had a spectacular view of the glacier. From there we hiked 9 miles through the Valle de los Fosiles in order to get back to the Estancia. The views were stunning, but we were greeted by both snow and rain. Not the most pleasant hiking conditions, but it was an experience nonetheless.

After three days of hiking and baring temperatures far colder than I’m accustomed to, our bodies are sore, but it was a great last trip in Argentina—right now we’re on our way back and I’ve got three days until I head home to the States! Patagonia was a great exclamations point on what has been a fabulous five months—after all, it would have been a shame to live here for five months and not get to know one of Argentina’s most famous (and rightfully so) regions.

(photos to come)

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It's spring time, and spring in Argentina just without polo. Particularly within the upper class, polo is a big deal here in Argentina. "Polo" clothing is everywhere, and, right up there with the UK and the US, Argentina is known for some of the world's best polo.

This weekend and the next two weekends marks the Palermo polo tournament, one of the most important tournaments in Argentine polo, and my host mom took me (and her 15 year old grandson) to the field to catch a few games. It's a beautiful sport to watch, but after watching two games in the blazing heat I was pretty exhausted.

Regardless, I really enjoyed getting to spend the afternoon at the polo field with my host mom (she knows quite a lot about Polo)--although I would have been perfectly happy only attending one game instead of two :D

That red thing with the "movistar" sign wrapped around it is one of the two goal posts.

Pilará contra Chapa Uno

Love watching the horses race down the field....and I have no idea how the polo players manage to make contact with the ball while maintaining a gallop. I'm impressed.

I wish this one weren't blurry.

Clara got us great seats--I'm definitely not going to complain about the third row at the center of the field!


Buenos Aires is pretty big on fairs. Each neighborhood seems to be transformed by artisans every Saturday and Sunday. Recoleta (my barrio) has a fair at the cemetery, Palermo (my old barrio) has a fair at Plaza Serrano. The most well known, however, is in San Telmo, Buenos Aires' most bohemian neighborhood.

Over four months ago on my first Sunday in Buenos Aires, I went to the San Telmo fair with my parents and little brother. Sadly, today was my last Sunday in Buenos Aire (while I still have three weeks left in Argentina, I will be out of twon for the next three weekends), but I managed to enjoy it by returning to the San Telmo Fair for the first time since that rainy Sunday in July when I went with my family. In a stark contrast to my first trip to San Telmo, today was a beautiful sunny Sunday.

Today Robyn, Victoria, Janie and I mozied around the different stands that displayed everything from jewelry and photographs to antiques and puppets. Robyn and Janie snacked one vegetarian burritos while I got my hand read (for free) from some man selling necklaces. The fair goes on for about 15 blocks and culminates in a plaza which sells mainly antiques, and we walked the whole distance twice so that we could make sure we got the very best.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon--quite peaceful and relaxing (and really helped me forget about the huge work load I have looming over myself right now). Neither the company nor the weather could have been better. It was a fabulous (and sentimental) way to spend my last Sunday in BA.

Various stands scattered down Defensa St. where the San Telmo Fair is located.

Tango dancers are a must at a Buenos Aires fair. This scens was special because multiple spectators joined in.

A stand in the antique section of the fair.

A charming little church we stumbled upon.

Loads and loads of musicians everywhere.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I don't have anything all that profound to say, but I realized something--yesterday was the four month anniversary of the day I arrived in Argentina. Tomorrow marks exactly one month left in my time here. It's amazing how fast time has flown by. I've come to feel so comfortable here in Buenos Aires (I guess that's what happens after four months)--geographically, I feel like I know Buenos Aires even better than I know Houston--probably a result of walking/bussing/directing taxi drivers.

I will definitely excited to see friends and family (and to eat Mexican food for the first time in 5 months), but I can't believe my time here in BA is coming to a close (at least for now). I have so much to do within the next month. Here's a running list:

-Visit the Most Dangerous Zoo in the World and hold a baby tiger
-Hang out at Tierra Santa--what has got to be the only Jesus-themed theme park in the world
-Buy a pair of leather boots
-Return to the San Telmo Market
-Attend a polo game
-Take a tour of El Teatro Colón
-Christmas Shopping!!!
-Stock up on Malbec to bring back to friends and family in the States
-Visit the charming historical city of Colonia del Sacramento and the posh beach town of Punta del Este, both in Uruguay
-Travel to Patagonia

Quite the list--so many things to do, so little time. Oh, and I should probably study some so that I can pass all of my classes. These next two weeks are going to be miserable work-wise!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Because of my birthday (and limited internet connection) I didn’t have a chance to write about my trip to Northwest Argentina, to the regions of Salta, Jujuy and Tucuman from October 29 to November 3. I went with my two friends Janie and Lambros, and we had a spectacular time exploring the region in a rented car (moderately dangerous considering none of us had ever driven a manual car before—don’t worry though, Lambros watched you tube videos on how to drive stick before our departure). While Argentina is one of the least indigenous Latin American countries (93% of the country is white), the Northwest is known for being the country's most heavily indigenous region while also quite well known for it’s stunning natural landscape, often compared to Arizona and other parts of the United States’ Southwest.

While physically located in South America, culturally, Buenos Aires is located somewhere in between Italy and Spain. You can eat pasta in most restaurants in Buenos Aires, and you are much more likely to hear French or Italian when walking the streets than Quecha. The European influence here in Buenos Aires is astounding, and you often forget that you are indeed in South America. It’s easy to see why this city is often referred to as the Paris of Latin America.

However, as Lambros pointed out one day, on this trip we were, for the first time, visiting "Latin America." In Northwest Argentina I felt so much closer to Peru or Mexico than I did to Buenos Aires. The indigenous roots, the traditional artisanal crafts, the colonial (but not imperialistic) European influence—all of these things made us feel far away from Buenos Aires (and Europe). We even ran into Day of the Dead celebrations in Jujuy--something that I can't imagine seeing at Recoleta Cemetery.

The three of us really bonded on our six-day trip in Northwest Argentina, and we loved getting to see a new side of the country that we have come to love. Oh, and the killer views definitely didn’t hurt.

La Iglesia San Francisco in Salta. Can you note the Spanish Colonial influence?

La Catedral de Salta lit up at dusk.

Per the suggestion of a fellow hiker, we took Matrix-esque photos at La Garganta del Diablo*

Janie and I at la Garganta del Diablo in la Quebrada de las Conchas.

Janie and I dancin' by the side of the road in the Quebrada de las Conchas--on the drive between Salta (la ciudad) and Cafayate.

Soakin' up the scenery at los Castillos in La Quebrada de las Conchas*

Wine at Bodega Nani in Cafayate. The province of Salta--most specifically the area surrounding Cafayate--is known for a white wine called torrontés.

Cacti at the Quilmes Ruines in Tucuman. The Quilmes were a pre-Incan tribe who lived in the region up until the 17th Century when the Spaniards defeated them and forced them to move to the province of Buenos Aires where authorities could more easily control them. Many of the Quilmes people died on the 600 mile treck. Those who did survive the migration refused to reproduce and the tribe died out. Argentina's famous Quilmes beer has the same name because it is manufactured in the new Quilmes outside of Buenos Aires*

A local woman in Humuhuaca selling plastic floral wreathes outside of the cemetery for El Día de los Muertos. Now THIS is Latin America.

Flower wreaths for El Día de los Muertos.

Exploring the vineyard at Bodega Colombé*

Janie, Lambros and I at Bodega Colombé, Argentina's oldest and the world's highest vineyard*

Being silly in El Parque Nacional de los Cardones outside of Cachi, Salta*

I couldn't leave our hotel in Cachi without a picture in this fabulous hat.

You've gotta take optical illusion photos in the Salt Flats. One with coke was an obvious choice for me.

A wild vicuña that we spotted on the side of the road near the salt flats.

Artesanal crafts in Purmamarca, Jujuy*

*All starred photos were taken by Janie.


Most people probably don't dream of celebrating their 21st birthday in a foreign country. It's the type of birthday this is much more meaningful when celebrated on U.S. soil, but I certainly managed to make the most (along with the help of my friends) of an Argentine twenty-first birthday.

I convinced all of my friends that my twenty-first was reason enough for three days of celebration. On my actual birthday (Thursday, November 4) five of my closest friends and I went out to dinner at a French/Japanese fusion restaurant called To. Friday night a big group of friends joined me at the bar Congo followed by a failed clubbing attempt. Finally a 6 AM (I guess we are technically on to Saturday now) trip to our favorite early-morning locale: Mc Donald's. And then on Saturday Gaby, Janie and I went to the Black Eyed Peas concert with our French friends Aurdrey, Nath, Florian and Mateu. It was an unforgetable weekend.

My favorite part (and, quite possibly, my favorite Buenos Aires memory) was Thursday night dinner at To. We were the obnoxious Americans (the "photowhores" as Gaby likes to say) taking loads and loads of pictures right in the middle of the snazzy restaurant, but we couldn't have cared less. We made friends with the whole wait staff (who were in costume--they had a blast the week prior when celebrating Halloween). We pretty much took over the entire restaurant and stayed way past the hour when all of the other customers had left. We had a dance party with all of the the waiters and ended up staying until 2:30 in the morning. It was a blast--and a night that I will not soon forget. Such a great way to turn twenty-one (even if it wasn't on U.S. soil)!

The group at To: Gaby, Vic, me, Robyn, Jimmy and Janie.

Kiss train--I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful, fun-loving ladies!

Birthday love!

Dance party with the waiters--LOVED their costumes (I even managed to steal a few accessories as souvenirs).

The Texan debutants practice their bows.

Friday night at Congo.

Saturday night at the Black Eyed Peas concert. Their was a random station giving out lime green and blue wigs. We clearly needed them.

Gaby, Florian, Janie, I and Nath rockin' the wigs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today is a national holiday in Argentina—El Día del Censo Nacional. All businesses are required to close from 0:00 to 20:00 because everyone must be at home waiting for the censistas who come door to door in order to ensure accuracy.

Like in the states the census is typically conducted once every 10 years, but it’s been 20 years since a census was properly conducted because everyone forgot about the census in the wake of the 2001 financial crisis.

Because of the census today was supposed to be a historical day, but unfortunately, it’s going to be remembered for more than just the cenus. Early this morning former President Nestor Kirchner (president from 2003 to 2007) who was also a leading contender for the 2011 presidential elections and the wife of current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner died of a heart attack.

If you’d like to read more the Wall Street Journal published a pretty good article this morning:

In spite of the huge loss, government officials insisted that the census go on. Tonight at 8 PM once the census is officially over, there will be a massive demonstration at the famous Plaza de Mayo in front of La Casa Rosada—Argentina’s version of the White House.

Fuerza Cristina--that's the phrase of the day.

Home page of the Argentine newspaper Página 12.

La Nación.