Argentina

Below are all the posts for Argentina 2, my second trip to Argentina. You can see my posts from the earlier, Patagonia trip, here: Argentina.

Argentina 2 Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my second trip to Argentina. Click any photo to see slideshow.

trip summary for Argentina10

In December to January 2009/2010, we visited Argentina for the second time. Three years earlier we visited southern Argentina, from Bariloche to Ushuaia. This time, we flew to Buenos Aires, the capital. We enrolled in IBL, a Spanish language school located on Florida Street in the heart of downtown. We rented an apartment and developed a daily routine. We awoke, had breakfast, rode the subway a few stops, walked to school and attended class for four or five hours. Afterwards, we had lunch, visited a tourist site and went home to rest and study some more.

After a month in the city, I was definitely ready for the mountains of Patagonia. We took an overnight bus to Neuquen where we rented a car and drove to Junin de los Andes. We stayed in the same apartment we rented three years earlier. The sleepy little town had grown up. We visited San Martin (to the south) and were amazed how much development had taken place. We went to Lago Huechulafquen, stayed in Aluminé and visited a Maupuche village high in the Andes.

next stop, Buenos Aires

I am starting a new trip to Argentina. Tomorrow will be a long day. I leave here about 10:30 a.m. and get there about 10:30 a.m., but on the following day. Twenty hours in transit.

The temperature here is 19 degrees and it is also 19 degrees in Buenos Aires. But Oregon is Fahrenheit and BA is Celsius. Cold versus comfortable.

I am looking forward to living in the center of the city and going to Spanish school. After that, it will be time to relax in Patagonia–and catch some trout.

Arrived, Buenos Aires

Arrived this afternoon. Everything went according to plan. We are jet lagged after 24 hours of travel. The flight was bumpy after takeoff from D.C. The apartment doesn’t have a view, but is new, clean, comfortable and secure; the staff is friendly and helpful. Walked around our neighborhood for awhile. Had lunch at a café and dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Buenos Aires, Photos

Here are my favorite photos from Buenos Aires.

getting started

It is warm here and the city is vibrant, but I have had some problems getting started. Jet lag is at the top of the list. Yesterday, I broke a tooth while eating some soft bread (?!?). I didn’t like my classes and changed them. Then, I got a cold.

Tomorrow will be the end of the first week here and things seem to be settling down. We bought some fresh pasta in a local neighborhood store to cook in our kitchen. I found a bakery with medialunas (type of croissant) and bought some peach marmalade. The apartment is a clean, new and comfortable. While it doesn’t have a view, it is somewhat tucked away from the noise and pollution.

Each day, we take the subway to school. It is located on a pedestrian street (Florida) and thousands of people rushing to work each morning. There are a lot of Brazilian students and they learn Spanish very quickly because Portuguese is similar to Spanish. I liked the two teachers I had today. I say, “Mi nombre es Patricio.” It has been two years since I stayed in a Spanish-speaking country and the language wheels are turning slowly.

I had tofu last night

I had tofu last nightI had tofu and vegetables for dinner last night, but followed the example of Fred Flintstone for today’s lunch. That’s Argentine beef, ” Tira de Asado. ” My friend is a classmate from Germany named Thilo. We ate at an outdoor café beside the river in Puerto Madero.

Argentina 2010

I have returned to Argentina. When I visited three years ago, I flew to Santiago and then to the south. This time I am in Buenos Aires. Last time I committed to a brief one-week overview of Spanish, but this time I have committed to four weeks. After studying, I will rent a car and drive south to Junin de los Andes. I plan to stay in the same apartment I found last time and fish the same rivers. Maybe I can found the same trout and they will be even larger. I will be gone a total of two months. The last two weeks are open, meaning I have no specific plans. The return flight leaves from Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is about 20 hours of travel time from home; I flew from Oregon to San Francisco to D.C. to BsAs. I left at 10:30 a.m. and arrived about 10:30 a.m. the following morning. There are other South American countries I would like to visit, but for this time of year Argentina is among the best; many of them have rainy season this time of year.

Commute to school

Each morning the alarm rings: coffee, shave, and shower. Books, water bottle, sunblock–or do I need an umbrella today? At 8:30 a.m., elevator down, walk two blocks past my friends at the Vero Cafe, into the subte at Pasteur. Catch the train. “Permiso” with a push (not a shove) will get you in the car. Ride four stops. Escalator up. 8:50 A.M. Walk Florida several blocks. See the Galleria. Elevator up. “Buenos dias.” “Buen dia.” “Hola.” “¿Que tal?” Get a cup of coffee. “¿Que hicieron ayer?” pregunta el profesor.

San Telmo

mate gourdsSan Telmo is a “barrio” or neighborhood in BsAs. It is older and more intersting than many. On Sundays there is an artisan crafts show in the plaza and a large street fair stretching toward La Plaza de Mayo. Street musicians, tango dancers and puppeteers entertain. Vendors sell everything from knit clothes for Barbie to cattle hoofs shaped into mate bombillas.
old bottles

Obelisk

fireworksThe Obelisk is the geographic center of Buenos Aires. It sits at 9 de Lulio and Corrientes. 9 de Julio is an enormous boulevard, reportedly the widest in the world, maybe eight lanes in each direction. Corrientes is the Broadway of town.

rally
My apartment was one block from Corrientes. The first walk I took in BsAs was to the Obelisk about 1.5 kms (ten city blocks equal one kilometer). The traffic is one way. The street slopes downward to toward the river. The stores consist primarily of cafes, restaurants, theaters, bookstores and kiosks.

ObeliskThe Saturday night before Christmas, the booksellers had a fair. Corrientes was closed. At midnight, the area was filled with people buying books for gifts.

On Christmas Eve, a tree was decorated beside the Obelisk.

On New Years Eve, there was a fireworks display.

One New Years Day, the Dakur Rally began at the Obelisk.

The day before I left BsAs, I walked by the obelisk to a movie theater.

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery 1Evita is buried here as well as many of Argentina’s founders, presidents and generals. Coffins lying in open mausoleums and vines growing on statues of departed ancestors remind me of our ultimate destiny–and the need to enjoy life now.Recoleta Cemetery 2

Boca

graffiti in BocaNo es Cristo,, ni Buda
No es Ala, ni Mahoma
El es del pueblo Argentino
sin duda…
Diego Armando Maradona

Boca is a characteristic BsAs neighborhood or “barrio.” You can visit the river, art museums for the famous painter Quinquela Martin and other tourist attractions. But in the end, it is the home of the soccer club, Boca Juniors and more specifically, the legendary Maradona. Boca Junior stadium 1 Unfortunately, the season was over and I couldn’t see a game. But the stadium and small museum are worth a visit. Various memorabilia are on display and you can watch various historic matches using computer equipment and video displays.

Tigre

tigre-1Tigre is a town located north of BsAs in the estuary of the Rio de Plata. In the old days, there was an epidemic in the city and people fled here to escape contamination. I took a pleasant ride on the train to get here. There are many rivers and islands in the area. Companies tigre-2offer excursions by boat to various locations. It is more of a real estate tour, than a view of nature. I like seeing all the families escaping the hot city for a weekend getaway.

Evita Museum

The Evita Museum is worth visiting. In addition to the numerous artifacts and photos, I enjoyed the news reel footage of showing the public Evita at historic events.

Dakar Rally

Dakar-3 I posed beside a mega-SUV outfitted to race in the Dakar Rally. It was outfitted with special dust-free air intakes, oversize tires, heavy duty suspension and sponsor stickers on every available inch of paint. Wearing my fishing shirt rolled up at the sleeves, my Tilley hat and Ray-Ban sunglasses, people mistook me for a driver. Three separate couples came up to ask me about the competititon and wish me luck. Instead we talked weather, economics and Obama.Dakar-1Dakar-5
The original Dakar was held in the desert in Africa, but because of security concerns, it moved to Argentina and Chile. An Argentinian, Patroncelli, ultimately won the motorcylce section of the race.

Buenos Aires

plazaMy trip to Buenos Aires was different from my other trips. I stayed in an apartment for a month. I had a daily routine I followed to get to school, study and see the city. I enjoyed living there. I like the hustle and bustle of the city, a city with flair and a sense of gentrification. There was always something to see and somewhere to go.
The downside was the pollution above and below. The air is toxic primarily from the ancient collectivos (or buses) the provide goood transportation but also belch enormous plumes of foul exhaust. The air made my eyes sting and nose run. Dog poop, unhappily, is everywhere. Dog owners and walkers allow their pets to go anywhere. The rain doesn’t clear this mess, it only moves it around.Retiro

City Attractions:
Corrientes–visiting booksellers and cafes.
Obelisk–iconic.
Visiting the Barrios: Boca, San Telmo, Palermo, Ricoleta.
MALBEC–nice museum bilding, but had Andy Warhol exhibit instead of Latin American artists.
Belle Arts-wonderful museum, classic European and wide swath of Argentinian artists.
Evita Peron–intresting museum.
Japanese Garden–nice respite in city.
Botanical Gardens–wonderful city park. Saw Jazz band play on Sunday afternoon.
Museum of Buenos Aires–toys and soccer paraphenalia.
Retiro train station–faded European glory.
Florida Street — take a walk.
City Bus Tour–disappointing: too many people, too few buses.
Plaza de May, Casa Roja and Cathedral–of course.
Reserva Ecologica–good walk, clean(er) air, interesting environment.
Palacio de Agua Corriente–great building.
China Town –eat some veggies!
Central Cultural Borges–interesting art, but nothing to do with Borges (I guess he had an office here).  Good tango show.

EU Politics

EU politicsDuring my visit to Argentina, I was asked many questions about the U.S. (Estados Unidos, E.U. or EEUU). Generally, people expressed optimism about Barack Obama and strong negativity toward George Bush.

-Why do you want Afghanistan?

-Is the U.S. out of Iraq?

-Is Guantanamo closed?

-Some people say the Americans are the terrorists.

-Is the economy better? When will it get better?

-Why do U.S. women oppose sensuality?

-Why don’t Americans like soccer when every other country in the world does?

Joke

The following joke was told to me in Spanish.

What do you call a person that speaks three languages? Tri-lingual.

What do you call a person that speaks two languages? Bi-lingual

What do  you call a person that speaks one language? American (estadounidense).

Junin

After four weeks of studying Spanish, we left by overnight bus for Neuquén. It was a 14-hour bus ride–complete with seats that turned into beds. In Neuquén, we rented a car and drove to Junin, passing through Aliminaé. In Junin de los Andes, we stayed at the same apartments where we stayed three years earlier. Both the town and apartment complex had grown larger. It was January and the town was full of Argentine tourists; they were  taking advantage of their children’s summer vacations and escaping the heat of BsAs. The once-sleepy town had new hotels and restaurants.

PozonThe rivers and fishing holes were still there, but with the summer heat and influx of fishermen, the fishing was not as good as I remembered. See my later fishing reports. We settled into quiet days of fishing, hiking, driving through the countryside, taking siestas, and eating at restaurants.

One night, there was kind of a Mardi Gras in the city center where high school classes competed with bands, dancing and marching. One day, the gauchos gave a demonstration at the fairgrounds. They broke the bucking broncos from neighboring ranches. One gaucho went to the hospital; I’m not sure what happened to his horse. Latitude, -39.9333, Longitude, -71.0833, Altitude (feet), 2962 .

Aluminé

rioAlumineBariloche is by far the most developed city in Patagonia. North of there, the town of San Martin is now filled in with tourist development. Farther north, Junin is changing rapidly. Even farther north, Aluminé remains relatively untouched. Yes, there are some new cabañas. And, there are tourists and accommodations–but they are part of the fabric–not the entire economy. It takes a couple of hours driving on dirt roads to get to Aluminé, so it is somewhat isolated.

We stayed at some cute cabins, enjoyed the sound of the river and fresh air. Each night, just after dark, the  moon came up over the mountain. It was hot in the day, but got cold at night. One morning, there was icy slush on my windshield.anita

We fished and went to town, drove up into the mountains, visited the Maupuche (indigenous people) visitor center, and enjoyed the sunsets and relaxed.

Fishing Diary, Chimehuin, Aluminé

Overall, January is a slow month because of the intense sun and heat of mid-summer. Also, summer vacations bring lots of fishing pressure everywhere, including spin fishermen and lots of recreational activity with rafters and swimmers. Many people told me to return to fish in November or March.

The Rio Chimehuin fished noticeably slower than three years ago. Last time, I fished in December. Also, it was open only to fly fishing, not spin casting. Although the rules on the Chimehuin have been tightened (daily harvest reduced from two to zero), the enforcement has declined. I was never checked for my license. I saw spin casters at the Boca. The Guardafauna were absent. The Captura y Liberacion signs had been torn down everywhere. I saw fish harvested and was encouraged to do so by my hostess. It is hard for me to judge the quality of the fishery, but my personal experience over ten days indicates it has declined.

I also fished the Aluminé and its tributaries, the Quillen and Ñorquinco. “Viene en marzo.”

See below for detailed fishing diary. (more…)

Learning Spanish, 2010

school-For me, learning Spanish is hard. Listening, speaking, reading and writing all help. But I find too much at one time is overwhelming and frustrating. Like a plant being watered, I can only absorb so much at a time.

IBL, the Spanish school I attended in Buenos Aires, focuses on grammar. After studying several different forms of the past tense including irregular verbs, I found it difficult to keep them all straight, especially in conversation.

Argentine Spanish and, more specifically, porteño or Buenos Aires Spanish is different from Latin American (and Spanish) Spanish. It uses unique conjugations for the affirmative and second person singular–as well as various idioms, expressions, and word meanings. But for me, the real problem is the influence of Italian and the fluidity of the speech. The syllables and words all run together in a way that left me struggling to decipher the individual words.

School was difficult emotionally. It was hard to get a sentence out without being interrupted and corrected by the teacher for grammar, vocabulary and/or pronunciation. It is a tough prescription, but I think time and a little bit of study on a more frequent basis (daily) is the key.

five new Spanish words

Here are some new Spanish words I learned while talking to people.

El Pozon–Each day when I finished fishing and entered the hotel in Junin, Didi would ask how my fishing was. How many fish did you catch? How many did you keep to eat? I would explain that the regulations specified catch and release for all trout. Anyway, she directed me to a “pozon” or fishing hole, a pool at the “rinconada” or corner of the river. She said I needed to cross the bridge and follow “la acerca” or fence past the rose bushes about three kilometers downstream. Sure enough, there was a pool with lots of fish.

Mondongo–For lunch, we split a small pizza. I wanted some more food and ordered empanadas. The choices were carne, jamon y queso and mondongo. I have had meat (carne) and ham and cheese (jamon y queso). Mondongo sounded like hongo, which is mushroom. I like to try different foods, so I ordered mondongo. It tasted okay. The dictionary said it was tripe.

El Clavo–I awoke one afternoon from my siesta to find a flat tire on my rental car. After searching in vain for a repair shop, I returned to the hotel to find Natalio. He helped me. We drove in his truck to the tire repair shop where he picked up the workman and his tools. We drove back to my car where the workman took the tire off and we drove back to the repair shop with the workman and the tire. I asked what caused the flat. Was it a rock? No, it was “un clavo,” a nail.

Los Sillones–I stayed at some cabañas. I tried my hand at a parilla or bar-b-q by collecting sticks of wood. I cooked steak and sausage. In the morning I talked to my neighbor. He was about to leave. He had suggestions for fishing rivers and the best months to fish. He asked if I wanted “los sillones.” He didn’t want them anymore. I said yes and somehow expected charcoal briquettes for the parilla. He gave me “los sillones” which were armchairs or lawn chairs and very comfortable.

El Gabón–We went to the market to buy some food for dinner. It was after 5 p.m. so we figured siesta was over. But the market was still closed. We could wait for it to open or go out to eat. But if we went out to eat, the restaurants would not open until 9 p.m. and probably not serving for another half an hour after that. As we waited, people would arrive, try the door and then sit on the steps in front of the store. Soon about fifteen people were sitting there waiting to get in. The name of the supermarket was El Gabón, el gabón de las montañas. El gabón is the large shed, presumably the shed containing provisions.

Argentina river scene

Argentina RiverNice thing about Argentina is that it’s easy to get off the highway and visit some unique places.