Monday, September 27, 2010


I just got back from Mendoza this morning, and it wasn’t an easy trip—a 16 hour bus ride there and an 18 hour bus ride back (the trip is only supposed to be about 14 hours, but my experiences tell me delays are pretty common). Our group of six girls (Gaby, Francesca, Robyn, Janie, Victoria and I ) arrived in Mendoza early Friday afternoon. After checking into to Monkey Hostel, Gaby, Francesca and I split up with the other girls in order to go paragliding.

The whole paragliding experience was not nearly as scary as I had expected. You did get a bit of an adrenaline rush when jumping off the side of the mountain, but once up in the air, paragliding was quite relaxing. It moved fairly slowly, and I got to soak up the beautify mountains (I think they were the Andes, but they could have been the Sierras) that surrounded me. Approximately every minute my paragliding instructor who I was strapped to kept asking me if I was okay. It seemed a little strange, but upon my arrival safely on the ground I found out just way he was doing this—about 1 in 10 first-time paragliders get sick. I was fine, but my friend Gaby was not so fortunate…I’ll leave it at that.

Saturday was my favorite day since I arrived here in Argentina. The six of us girls plus Mike and Adam (two other IFSA boys) and Flal and Nath (two French boys I met here in Buenos Aires) all headed out of the city toward Maipu where we rented bikes at Mr. Hugo’s. From there we biked down a beautiful tree-lined street (mountain views off to the sided, of course) as we went from vineyard to vineyard. The highlight was our lunch at Bodega Vistantes where we sat on a patio next to a lake with views of the vineyard in the distance. Great food and great company!

Totally and completely exhausted post-biking tour of the vineyards we got back to the hostel around 8 PM and everyone pretty much crashed immediately. We then had a pretty lazy Sunday before getting on the bus at 4:00 PM. I absolutely LOVED Mendoza—it was a nice break from the big city—but come Sunday I was ready to get back home to BA. It’s amazing how going a way for a few days makes you realize just how at home you really are. I sure have fallen hard for Buenos Aires!

That's Francesca with either the Sierras or the Andes in the background--we weren't quite sure...

There goes Gaby!

A picture of paragliding from taken from my paragliding contraption.

Biking with Gaby, mountains in the background--a pretty impressive view.

The beautiful tree-line road that we biked down to get from bodega to bodega.

The group at the Bodega Familia di Tommaso.

This vault like-thing was previously used to store huge quantities of wine while it underwent the transformation from grape juice to wine. It's now used to store wine bottles at the perfect temperature--just like a huge wine vault.

Wine at the Bodega Familia di Tommaso. They export a malbec to the U.S. where it costs $25 USD. Here the same bottle costs 25 argentine pesos (1/4 of the price)!

Empanadas--the best reward after a long bike ride.

Steak drenched in a malbec sauce @ Vistantes Bodega. The best meal I've had here in Argentina, possibly in my life.

The girls post-vineyard tour.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today is both El Día del Estudiante and the first day of Spring, so that means everyone heads out to the aire libre, takes in the sun and enjoys one of Buenos Aires' many parks. I was origionaly supposed to have a midterm today, but my professor e-mailed us about 20 hours before the exam to tell us it would have to be postponed because of the student strike which is still going on. Typical. I only wish I'd known sooner so that I hadn't spend so much time studying. But oh well, that's how things are at UBA. We were going to have our midterm in spite of the holiday, but since it was canceled at the last minute I got to participate in the festivities.

I went to the ecological park located near Puerto Madero and enjoyed the beautiful day. It was packed with groups of friends running around, laughing, chatting and snacking on the picnics they had prepared. The whole thing just had really great energy, and it made me happy seeing so many people enjoying the company of their friends on El Día del Estudiante.

As for the first day of spring, there aren't two many corresponding activities, but it is a tradition to give your friends/loved ones flowers, so everyone was walking around with bouquets in tow, so this only added to the positive energy. Today was a lovely day--two holidays in one! If only I could bring back these traditions to the U.S.!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Last night I went to Fuerza Bruta with a my Gaby, Janie and Robyn. I don't really know how to describe Fuerza Bruta--it's some sort of intense theatrical experience that began here in Buenos Aires. The whole audience is standing up for the entire performance. The stage moves during the performance, pushing around the audience. It's the type of thing that can't really be adequately described in words--you really just have to experience it. Nevertheless, Gaby, Janie, Robyn and I did our best to describe the experience in word. We came up with some sort of modern, urban circus.

We made the deliberate decision to go on a Friday night because on a Friday the show turns into a boliche (argentine word for a "dance club") at intermission and at the end of the show. It's such an intense experience to go from the show straight into a dance club. The two run together fluidly because the cast comes down and dances with you, so you literally become a part of the show. The transition from show to dance club is flawless.

During the boliche part we managed to make friends with multiple members of the cast (aided by Robyn's trippy neon striped fishnet tights that seemed to attract everyone), and we talked to them about the history of the show, the creative process, and what it like to be in the show. They even invited us to come to the cast after-party, but following the intense experience that was Fuerza Bruta we didn't really have the energy for another boliche. They did however tell us that if we want to go back to call them up and they'll get us free tickets. We are definitely hitting them up there. Oh, and the plan is to go shopping for the brightest, most intense rave costumes before hand so that we can insure all of us are invited up on stage to dance.

Oh, and one last thing, Fuerza Bruta has a troupe in NYC right now, so if you are anywhere near New York, GO! You will love it. I promise you that.

Since describing Fuerza Bruta in words is near impossible, here are some pictures I took during the show:

Gaby, Janie and I under the blue lights of Fuerza Bruta anxiously awaiting the show's inception.

Man walkin'

The dream scene.

So trippy.

Run run run!

Bustin' through.

While Fuerza Bruta is mainly trippy acts there was a little bit of choreographed dancing.

One of the actors broke some weird styrofoam confetti box thing on Robyn's head.


That's Robyn right there on the left rockin' out after being invited up on stage.

This is this giant tub-like thing that lowered down and then raised up again...

Four women splash around in the water tub overhead.

Splish splash.

So trippy.

The end of the show. Kind of profound.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This past weekend was my two month anniversary since I arrived here in Argentina. It's been too months, and I'm yet to post one thing on my blog about soccer...I mean futbol. It's kind of a big deal here in Argentina. Unfortunately I arrived in the country just days after Argentina was eliminated from the World Cup, but no need to be worried, there's still plenty of soccer to go around.

A week ago today (September 7), the argentine national team played Spain in a friendly exposition game, and I was lucky enough to get tickets. My only problem was who root for--I lived in Spain for a full year while I've only been here in Argentina for two months. I have a feeling this might change over the course of my time here, but thus far my heart is still reaches out to Spain (it's also pretty hard not to be a Spanish soccer fan after their 2008 Eurocup victory and their World Cup win this year). However, I decided that wearing red and gold might be a bad idea, so I choose a much safer option--a with top with a light blue scarf. Only there's a catch--I wore red and gold underwear :D

In the end Argentina beat Spain 4-1, but I blame this on the fact that Spain send their B team since all of their top players are playing in their European leagues, while Argentina had all of their best players in the game. The game was a lot calmer than I expected, but I guess that is a result of it not really counting for anything. All in all it was a great afternoon, and it surely won't be my last futbol game here in Argentina.

Check out the photos below that my friend Jess took (I was too scared to bring my camera to the stadium because of the rowdy spectators):

A beautiful shot of el estado de River, the home stadium of one of Buenos Aires' top two teams.
Check out Messi, number 10. He's a national hero.

River Stadium at night.

River's colors are conveniently red and white. Their mortal enemy Boca is also sponsored by coke, but the signs are black and white because Boca couldn't possibly have River's colors all over the stadium.

Kevin, Allison and I at the game.

Loads and loads of light blue and white confetti that was sprayed everywhere at the beginning of the game. ¡VAMOS ARGENTINA!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I hope all of this talk about the UBA take over isn't boring people, but I for one find it fascinating. It makes me feel as if I were a student at Berkeley in the 1960's.

The university take over has been going on for almost two weeks now. It all started on Wednesday, September 1 when a giant glass window broke injuring a girl at one of the three sedes (buildings for the Social Science department). The students used this as a rallying point behind the need for "more dignified classrooms." The quality of the classrooms are certainly very poor, but the students don't really help the situation since the paint graffiti all over the classroom walls. In addition to higher quality classrooms, the Social Science students are also demanding one buildings for the department--the department is currently spread across the city in three different sedes and students have to commute from one sede to another. There were initial plans to create one building dedicated entirely to Social Sciences, but funding disputes between the federal and city governments have prevented this from happening.

I am taking one class in the School of Social Sciences and another class in the School of Philosophy and Letters (known as the two most politically active schools in UBA). Origionally only the Social Science students were striking, but last week after the president of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner came out in support of the striking students the Philosophy and Letters students listened to the encouraging words of their president and joined their peers at Social Sciences by taking over the Philosophy and Letters sede. My host mom tells me that Cristina's statement was mainly a political move since Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires and the man who is taking most of the heat for the crappy buildings, is of an opposing political party.

The bottom line is that class has been pretty crazy. Students are not allowed on inside the buildings other than on the first floor. Some teachers are holding "clases publicas" outside (either in the middle of the street or in parking lots) while other teachers just aren't holding class at all. The only way to know weather or not you have class is to show up.

Check out the pictures below that I took at the Social Science building:

One of the two entrances to UBA Ciencias Sociales...right now it isn't serving as an entrance.

"University that has been taken over but that is not empty."
"One building"
"All day: classes outdoors!"

Classroom #8. Each tree marks a new "classroom." If it's a nice sunny day clases públicas aren't that bad (although it can be quite difficult hearing the professor), but it's not as much fun if you have class beginning at 9:00 PM.

All of the "classrooms." Check out the numbers on all of the trees.

Myths and truths about university take-overs.

More myths and truths about university takeovers.

Can't get through.

Desks piled up to prevent anyone from going upstairs. Oh, and just a side note, all of the signs you see ("Asemblea de Ciencia Politica," "El Viejo Topo," "Sur," and etc have nothing to do with the take over. Those are there 24/7. Oh so UBA.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The strike was still going strong today at three of the University of Buenos Aires' Campuses, and I'm still not sure if I have class tomorrow thought is no, but I'm going to go check it out anyway because I want to see this strike in action.

Today I was meeting my friend Jimmy in Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada (basically the Argentinian "White House"), and as I was exiting the Subte I noticed a line of about thirty police men dressed in head to toe black sporting gas masks, knee pads and giant tear glass shields. I was slightly concerned but decided to not think anything of it.

Jimmy texted to say he was running late and then all of a sudden I started hearing chants/screams and the beat of some very loud drums. They they started getting closer and closer. Standing alone in the middle of Plaza de Mayo as the sun was setting in the distance I began to get a little scared. Luckily I was able to separate myself from the protesters (more UBA students protesting the poor quality of University Buildings) by some large metal barricade which allowed me to feel semi-safe while awaiting Jimmy's arrival.

Once Jimmy arrived the two of us began walking over to the library only to once again cross paths with the protesters who were now standing outside of the Ministry of Education (I'm terrible at estimating numbers, but Jimmy, who claims to be pretty good, estimated that there were about 600 student protesters). After two hours in the library Jimmy and I passed by the Ministry of Education once again, and the student protesters were still out there. I wouldn't be surprised if they are still out there right now.

Check out the size of that tank in the event that the demonstration got out of hand. Oh, and see the little police men with gas masks? 30 of them greeted me as I exited the Subte.

A picture I snapped from my perch "safely" behind the barricade.

"All we want is to study in dignified conditions."

Protesters in front of the Ministry of Education.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


So I've already talked a little bit about the University of Buenos Aires, but I think it's hard to fully describe just how crazy this school actually is. I'm dying to take pictures, but I think it could be a little awkward if someone found me walking around the hallways snapping pictures...BUT maybe the following anecdote will paint a better picture of the university.

Last Thursday class was canceled because the the teachers went on strike protesting salaries or something of the sort. While the major teacher union did go on strike a few of the teachers did not participate, so I, unfortunately, still had to go to class--even worse: I usually go to the 4PM class, but since that teacher was striking I had to pull myself out of bed at 7AM in order to make the 9AM class in the same subject taught by a different teacher.

This past Thursday the UBA student body "tomaron la univesidad," they "took over the university." There was not a single class in the building where I study--students removed desks from the classrooms, shoved them out into the hallways and walked around the hallways chanting. From what I understand they were protesting the poor quality of the university buildings and the lack of central heating.

I still don't really get the point of a student strike since the students are the "customers" in the transaction, they are the ones receiving the benefits. By striking and not having class the students are only hurting themselves. It's a day off of work for the teachers. It's a weird concept to me, but apparently it's not all that uncommon.

Oh, and this student strike is not the only strike that effected my day on Thursday--the subway workers on two of the six subway lines were also striking--so even if I had wanted to go to class it would have been quite difficult.