Friday, November 13, 2009

Palermo y Recoleta

Yesterday, I woke in the confused stupor that occurs when you realize (after a few seconds) that you have been hit in the face with a towel. Once I realized it was a towel that was covering my face and that someone must have thrown it at me, the confusion multiplied. Fighting the groggy morning, disoriented further by the sounds of snoring and traffic, I panned the room left to right. Sure enough in the right corner of the room a girl was propped up on her elbow staring at me.

"I thought you were snoring!"

"Was I?"

"No! Sorry! Will you throw it(the towel) back?"

Later in the day, I asked her if I actually was snoring. She said that she was "too fu%ked to know" - awesome - only she had thrown two towels at me.

So, I´m still very confused about the situation. Of course, because of the traffic and the snoring, I couldn´t get back to sleep. A fortuitous turn of events. Hostels...

Because I was up before eight, having my coffee in the lobby, I met a very talkative Mexican, Sergio - Rick, the Dutchman - and a very mellow Canadian, Mick. We are yet to run into anyone from the States, but I have no complaints with our North American compatriots.

In fact, after talking for a while, Mick and I realized we have the same goal - to attend an Apetura(Argentine Futbol League) fixture and to play against some of the natives.

Mick and Rick have been here for a few days more, so they gave us some advice as to which Subte line to take and/or buses. We all planned to go to Palermo, but didn´t meet up until the Subte station and from there we decided to tackle the barrios(burroughs) to the north/northwest of our hostel which is between San Nicolás and Monserrat.

We rode the muggy, but not too crowded Subte about seven stops north to Plaza Italia, got off and wandered aimlessly for an hour or so. This took us past the zoo, what we believed (but didn´t investigate) to be the River Plate stadium, through the Plaza Italia - which is a fairly massive podium with a statue centered in a traffic circle, then we made our way to the Parque Tres de Febrero (of which I do not know the significance), also known as the Rose Garden, but should be known as The Amazing Parakeet Garden. The trellises and groomed rows of roses bordered on the verge of overzealous, but ultimately, it was an incredibly serene place to stop and rest for a bit.

From there our goal was to find lunch. We were directed towards the commercial district, but my first hot meal, Asado, was a boney-fatty disappointment (although Kaitlin and Mick enjoyed their empanada & sandwich). From there we decided to make our way to the Cemeteriá de Recoleta. It was a long, but conversation filled walk through the countless blocks with shop windows full of shoes and clothing. Even from a short excursion on day one, it is plain to see that Recoleta and Palermo are on the posh end of things. If this were not understood from walking the streets - it was a blatant fact once we reached the cemeteriá.

The Cemeteriá de Recoleta puts New Orlean´s St. Louis Cemetery to shame. To understand the scope of the Cemeteriá de Recoleta - imagine if every tomb in the St. Louis Cemetery were at least as big (most bigger) than the Italian Society Tomb. More so, most tombs have doors with windows which allow visitors to view the actual coffins. Many tombs appear as mini-cathedrals fit with spires, gargoyles, and relics - some even have stairs to a lower crypt. Only the best for the generals and politicians of Buenos Aires!

From the cemeteriá, our missions was to find ice cream/heladeria. A gentlemen walking his dog saw us with our map and gave us directions to a quality, but reasonably priced heladeria (most near the cemetery were rather ritzy). This experience (in addition to the man that gave us directions to lunch) further debunks the myth that Argentines are rude or pretentious. So far, no one has scoffed at our broken Spanish or Kaitlin´s Iberian accent.

After ice cream we made our way back to the Subte, tired, but content. The Subte was absolutely packed. If you have ever seen the video of stewards cramming people onto the metro in Japan - the return trip on the Subte was not much different. We waited for the next train and were lucky to find the one car where it was not necessary to be touching strangers on all sides. Unfortunately, a friend from day one (Sebastian from the Netherlands), was returning from a day trip to Uruguay and had his passport, plus 300 pesos stolen from his front pocket.

We listened to his story over a dinner that Rick, Kaitlin, and I had thrown together and were reminded that it is dangerous to make assumptions. Only the night before, Sebastian had remarked that here, unlike Morocco, he felt he did not need his money-belt.

After finishing our dinner, we took our vino blanco to the roof and continued our discussions about the pros and cons and differences between life in the States and Holland..and then just general talk. It would be exhausting to talk so much about nationality and culture - I am glad that the people here have been eager to ask questions (as I have been), but have also been content to just enjoy eachother´s company and leave things on a tertiary level every now and then.

It is now nearly ten in the morning. Sergio has just joined me at the computers. Kaitlin, Mick, and Rick are still asleep. The goal today is to make our way to San Telmo and La Boca. We have heard that the area is more "touristy" but also that it is more cultural. Personally, after the abundance of commercial venues in Palermo and Recoleta - I am ready for a slower pace or at least the illusion of culture. Not to mention "La Bombonera" is there - the Boca Juniors stadium.

Still no pictures, we forgot the camera yesterday! Maybe today.

Admittedly, I am most looking forward to Sunday. Mick, James(the Brit from Northwest England), and I have decided we will brave the Apertura together. It is just a matter of which match to attend.

Lastly, Kaitlin and I have decided to stay in BA for at least another week. We may very well extend beyond that, but the prospect of the beaches in Mar del Plata are calling our names. But, who knows!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you're having an adventure. Make sure you keep whatever valuables you want on you the whole time. Like your friend, never underestimate the situation. Can't wait to hear about the futbol game!