Sunday, April 19, 2009

April-Rosario Adventure

Rosario-“Chicago Argentino”- (called that because of trade in the 19th and 20th century with the Chicago mercantile exchange and their love of meat production).

It’s a four hour bus ride and the 3rd biggest city in Argentina so we figured it’s a perfect long weekend trip and its the
Birthplace of Che-cool. We decided to go camping to save money and supposedly there are some nice islands on the river right across from the city center. And lo and behold with not many plans, the ENTIRE weekend happened by chance. Below are the details and PHOTOS.

1. In the bus terminal while waiting for the bus, we run into 2 friends who tell us 2 other friends (Nick and Jessica) are in Rosario for 2 days and that we should call them up when we arrive. We thanked them and headed out to R-town.

2. On the bus, some cool looking women get on wearing leather vests and pants, skid row t-shirts, and sporting a variety of tattoos. They are also carrying guitars and sit right across from us. Turns out they’re going to play some hard core ROCK that night in Rosario at a famous club there called Willie Dixons. Sweet…we have a plan for that night.

3. When we arrive in Rosario’s bus terminal, I bust out my LonelyPlanet map, which is completely wrong, and try to get my bearings by asking a man for walking directions. He informs me that the map is wrong and the center of town is much further than we had thought. He then offers to drive Mike and I to the center of town, where he is going, and where we are to meet Nick and Jessica. While talking to him, Mike mentions my name and the man asks him to repeat himself. It turns out the man’s last name is CAILA pronounced exactly the same as KYLA. We can’t believe the chances!! Senor Caila drops us off and we thanked him profusely.

4. We meet up with Nick and Jessica at the Flag Monument in the center of town where the creation of the flag happened. The monument is bumping with people and some musicians praising Jesus for coming back to life, or at least that’s what I understand in my limited Spanish. We go and grab some food at a restaurant and than learn that the entire town is booked solid for the weekend and we have nowhere to stay. The last boat to the camping island stopped running at 5:30 two hours before we arrived to the city. While calling numerous hostels and talking to each other at the outdoor restaurant, a man from the table next to us asks where we’re from and how we liked Rosario. We say we like it but we’re homeless. So he and his friends all call up people they know to see if there is any space at a hotel or hostel. Nothing. Zero spaces in all of Rosario. As our friendly neighbor’s are leaving their table, one guys mother offers us a room in her apartment. We jump on the deal and stay with Monica (the coolest Rosarian auntie ever) in her 2 bedroom apartment. There is a bunk bed, air mattress and Mike chooses the floor with his sleeping bag.

5. After settling into our new digs, Monica recommended a good restaurant nearby that had yummy pizza-nessas (in lieu of dough at the bottom, there was pounded fried chicken covered with tomato sauce, cheese, and a variety of toppings). Delicious and heart stopping. We then go dance it all off at Willie Dixons while cheering on the chick band from we met earlier on the bus, called No Barbies, well into the morning.

6. The next day, Monica took us to her favorite café and we eat medialunas (croissants), drink coffee and sip fresh-squeezed orange juice. We part ways with Monica and headed with Nick and Jessica to the bus station. We have no return ticket so we figure we better get it before they were all sold out.

7. We left the bus station, return ticket for the next day in hand, and head to the boat pier where we could catch a boat to the nearest island with camping. We had heard from Nick and Jessica that other friends we had from Buenos Aires, Andres and Sebastian, were in Rosario also. And OF COURSE they happened to be on our boat to the island. We ended up camping and hangin out on the beach with them. It was really relaxing and the camping was free. At night under a full moon, Mike took some cool photos after we found a creepy rusty axe and played with our head lamps. Check out the link.

8. We said good-bye to Rosario on Sunday without any more unusual happenings (except that we rode in my first cab with a female driver). As we waved goodbye to the Argentine Chicago, I knew we’d be back one day to this city of chances.

What the future holds- After all the adventures over the past few weeks, we came back to reality and realized some things. That our 8 month lease is running out in May and I would like to move closer to my work and closer to other fun things in the city.
Another exciting thing is that Mike and I just celebrated 2 years of being together by me watching him complete a 10 K run and 10K kayaking race with a friend and then eating Chinese buffet.

And I helped start a women’s only Frisbee pick-up and training on the weekends. We’re trying to encourage more women to play and get excited about the sport, not just fashion, eating disorders, and make-up which is more of the norm.

Things we would like to do soon: Travel to Iquazu Falls and Mendoza. If you're ready for adventure, come on down!

March-Fosters in BA

Prelude-I know this sounds cliché but literally the last couple of months have flown by. I started working in the afternoons at a very fancy, British Kindergarten called San Andres (the school, or colegio, goes up through high school) in the middle of February. In May I should finally be getting my work visa after 5 months of ridiculous paperwork collecting and bureaucracy. Also, recently I took on some business English students in the mornings to make a little extra income. Its all going pretty well and the schedule works perfectly. I could bore you all with endless tales of my 5 year olds doing silly things and speaking to me in kid Spanish while I only talk to them in English with some misunderstandings here and there. It’s definitely a challenge but a fun one and I have a great assistant teacher named Vero.

Everything will change in June however because I will take over for an assistant teacher who is pregnant and works in the mornings. All day at the Kindergarten will lead to endless stories that I’ll regale on you all later. That’s basically the daily of what goes on for me. The weekends are still full of Frisbee fun, going to asados (BBQ’s) and taking short trips around Argentina. The big news recently was…

The Fosters came to Buenos Aires!!!
- Mike’s whole fam (parents and sister) came down for a week and a half visit. It was really fun to have family here and see all their fun quirks of traveling together. We had a blast going out to eat at delicious restaurants that Mike and I have dreamed about for months (Thai, Chinese, high class Italian, etc), visiting various ferias (artisanal markets), and seeing the sites of BA.

Fosters Get Wet-
We also took a boat tour of the Paraná river delta which is about a one hour train ride to the north of the city. Mike made a reservation with an eco-tour company for a full day of boating and nature luvin’. Since Mike’s mom and sis love to birdwatch while Mike’s dad likes boats, he thought it would be perfect. We headed out to meet our guide (Juan) and he took us on two trains and then his dad’s boat for an adventure of a lifetime.

Riding up and down small canals and channels of the brown, murky water of the delta, we caught site of black headed swans, amazingly fluorescent red-headed Federales, and even some bicho feos (which translates into-Ugly critters).

Watched as a houses on stilts passed us by and ate sandwiches de miga (white/brown bread with meat, olives, hearts of palm, or cheese).

Then went for a dip in the brown water to cool off from the heat and humidity. All in all it was a blast! See the link for fotos of the adventures.

Futbol and the Fosters- Another highlight was taking Mike’s folks to a futbol/soccer match between Racing (a losing team that everyone loves, a la the Cubs) and River Plate (a good team that many smart people love, a la the White Sox). Mike and I hadn’t been to game yet and wanted to go badly. So we looked up a match on a Saturday and realized the Racing field was outside the city in a sketchy part of town called Avellaneda. We decided to do some reconnaissance work before we sent his folks into harms way. After taking a train and a cab (which was recommended instead of a 6 block walk to the stadium after leaving the train station), we knew we were close because of the armor laden police officers putting up giant metal barricades to keep rowdy fans separated. Some rode horses while others stood around with machine guns. We heard they took their futbol seriously but DAMN!! Mike and I rethought getting tickets to this game but really ignorance is bliss sometimes and we went ahead and bought 4 tickets in the home team section. We found out women are half priced thanks to our Y chromosome, which leads to more sanity in the stands I guess. We made sure the seats were high above the hooligans and rowdy fans so everyone would be safe. Then we headed back to the city by walking (rather than cabbing it) to the train station to meet up with Mike’s parents.

When we arrived for the second time that day in Avellaneda, parents in tow, there were a lot more fans then before and many drinking box wine and bottles of beer before entering the dry stadium. We trooped to the stadium the way Mike and I came earlier and noticed everyone around us was wearing red and black, that day’s opponent’s, River Plate, team colors. We didn’t think anything of it until we got all the way to the stadium gates and were told since because we had “home” tickets we had to enter through another entrance which was a good 5 blocks away. So we changed course and walked the way we were told and entered in our Popular section (where people who aren’t members of the team can sit). We scaled 6 flights of stairs to OUR section where we noticed we weren’t the only ones who found the popular section. It resembled rush hour on the subway with people elbow-to-elbow-to gut all trying to get a glimpse of the field. We also noticed that there were no seats anywhere in site. Mike’s dad led the charge and we wedged ourselves in with our arms plastered to our chests and tried not to step on anyone’s feet around us. The people around us were very amicable and most were families so we felt safe. Then the cheering started and I learned LOTS of new swear chants to yell at opposing futbol teams and mean bus drivers who don’t slow down to let you off the bus. We finally were able to breath about halfway through the match, a thrilling one in which Racing, the underdogs, beat the champs 1-0.

We left the game a little before the end and escaped the mad rush of the crowds. Mike’s mom took some nice photos with the armed police on horses and we got to the train before the masses. It was an incredible adventure that none of us will forget.
The Fosters left after a great 10 days and then there was a long weekend for Easter so Mike and I decided to take a trip to…