Monday, June 16, 2008

Gramma and Grampa Do Buenos Aires

So, they arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday morning and Jordana and I have been introducing them to our adopted home! Check out my dad standing alongside my mom on the streets of St. Telmo. (She didn't have time to fix her hair!) And here are the four of us at Don Julio, a very nice parrilla (steakhouse) 1 1/2 blocks from our apartment. Today, Jordana had another photo shoot in St. Telmo so we dropped her off at the studio and then walked around town. Unfortunately it's apparently Flag Day here and so lots of places were closed. Still, always lots to do and see.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oy Vey, BA

Friday night we decided to go to our second play. Jordana heard good reviews about Sr. Green and so off we went. Grabbed a taxi who told us all downtown was closed off due to the latest protests and so he dropped us at the subway. We arrived at the theatre about 20 minutes late, and only had to wait another 5 minutes for the show to begin.
Here we are in Buenos Aires and it turns out the play is about 2 Jewish guys in New York City. Jordana helped me with some of the Spanish I missed and I helped her out with some of the Yiddish!


Finally. On the very street we live -- Guatemala -- is a jazz club I heard great things about. Only problem. It's never open. We've walked past on Thursdays around midnight. On Saturdays after 1 a.m. On Wednesday afternoons. Nothing.
Then we found out. It's open Fridays and Saturdays (except when it isn't), between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Last night we arrived after midnight and heard a terrific jazz session. Success.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To me you're a photographer, but to a photographer, you're no photographer!

Okay, so Jordana thinks I'm a photographer wannabe. Of course she's right, but must she laugh at my efforts? Look how artsy these are.

Evita and gallery hopping in Palermo

It's Buenos Aires. So of course we visited the Evita museum. It's not particularly well-done, it's clearly very biased, but still, fun to visit -- if for no other reason than her shoes. They were lovely.

The parks are very pretty too. And I visited the Museo de Belles Artes, which had a good collection of Argentinian art and an audio tour that I really enjoyed. The man on the tape spoke like Antonio Banderas and it was fun having him whisper in my ears!!

Around midnight, Jordana and I discovered it was gallery night in Palermo and so we walked around town visiting galleries, sipping cheap wine, and having a great time.

Happy Hour, BA style

Bar 6. It's in Palermo Soho, about five blocks from our apartment. We love it. Happy hour starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs until about 9. I order a Kir Royale, Jordana orders wine, and we share the most awesome chocolate cake with shavings of white chocolate and marscapone ice cream. I'm shaking just thinking about it!

Mike will be pleased to know that when some Argentinian who recently returned from living in Australia hit on me, Jordana could not have glared any harder at him. He got the point. (Jordana wants me to point out that on the other hand, when she went to the restroom in a wonderful restaurant we were in, a lovely young waiter asked me if I thought my friend would go out with him. I said that she was my daughter and he should feel free to ask him herself!)

Things coming out of our heads

Apparently we both like to make the other one have something creepy or goofy behind her in the photo. Here Jordana has a statue of a naked dirty old man staring me down. I countered with an alien cow or something posing with her! Like mother, like daughter!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Teresita's empanadas

Today was a wonderful day. Jordana and I discovered a beautiful little town outside of Buenos Aires called Adrogue. There we spent the day learning to make empanadas with Teresita. By 11 a.m., Jordana and I and Jenny, an Australian guest staying in Teresita's B&B, began our lesson. We learned to make corn empanadas with yellow pepper, corn, and onions as well as meat empanadas with green olives, a hard boiled egg, and lots of spices in both types. We made the dough, rolled it out, and then stuffed and shaped them. We baked half and deep-fried the other half. Then we got to eat them sitting in her lovely yard, sipping wine, and sharing stories. Finally, her neighbor's cousin (Luis and his wife Celia) drove us back to Palermo Soho. They shared stories of growing up in Adrogue and spoke to us in Spanish and English. We adored all of them and had a terrific time learning to make empanadas. Before leaving, we arranged for Jordana and my parents to return for a day to Teresita's to learn to make Brazilian fish!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Random Images of BA

This is such a fun city. Jordana and I went to our first play -- in Spanish, of course. It was a contemporary Argentinian play, and with my extensive Spanish, I understood that the one guy couldn't find his slippers, his in-laws kept bursting into the room in which he and his wife lived, and that he desperately needed more respect. After the play ended, I told Jordana all I had understood and she was very impressed. She said the only things I missed was that the wife's brother had raped a black woman and was hiding from the police and that the wife's sister hated the father for making her give up the only man she ever loved.

Images of Palermo Viejo

So, we live in the coolest section of Buenos Aires called Palermo Viejo, which itself is divided into Palermo Soho (where we are) and Palermo Hollywood (across the tracks.) Until the 1990s, it was kind've a rundown area that had been lived in by Eastern Europeans and Armenians. In the 1990's, it's been discovered by artists, fashion designers, and chefs. Now, it's filled with great shops and amazing little restaurants. The streets are cobble-stoned, and most of the buildings are 1 or 2 stories high. But it remains a mix -- old, boarded-up buildings, next to trendy clubs, next to car repair shops and tobacco exporters. Jordana and I have had a terrific time checking it all out and have three favorite restaurants here -- El Preferido, Miranda, and Social Paraiso.

Jordana's Discovered!

So, we checked out the photographer -- Oliver from Scotland who discovered Jordana while we were eating dinner one night at Social Paraiso. Seems he's legit. He has us go to a photo studio in Buenos Aires, where a make-up artist was ready and waiting for Jordana. It was a four-hour shoot and Jordana was a natural. Jordana will get to choose several of the photos, and of course, we'll post them. On Tuesday, Jordana's going back to the photo studio -- seems the photographer whose studio it was saw Jordana and immediately asked her to pose for her as well. The photos here are a few I took while watching the shoot. Everyone was lovely and it was so much fun.

Visiting San Telmo

San Telmo is this really old part of Buenos Aires that has a crazy antiques street fair every Sunday. You walk along Defensa, this long street that is closed off to cars and filled with venders in the street and tiny antique stores all over. The prices are the lowest ever. I found an antique gold necklace for $10. Yes, I know you're supposed to haggle but it's embarrassing when it's such a good price.

It's Buenos Aires!

We arrived Sunday morning. Took a cab to our apartment in Palermo Soho -- yes, Soho.

Jordana and I have spent every day exploring. When we first arrived on a grey, cold day, and pulled up to our apartment, the area didn't remind me anything of Soho. It looked rundown, lots of garbege, buildings in disrepair, dog poo on the sidewalks, graffiti on the buildings, and auto repair shops two doors down.

But the next day, the sky was blue. The buildings looked rundown, still lots of garbage, even more dog poo and graffiti, but somehow it worked. We felt right at home. Even as we risked our lives crossing the narrow streets (no stop signs at intersections). Even when the only way we could get off the bus was to jump off (the bus only slows down -- no really stops). Even with huge cracks in the sidewalk that can swallow you up.

Palermo Soho is wonderful. Tons of small restaurants that only get busy after 11 p.m. Great little shops, where the salespeople have to buzz you in. It's not like Georgetown, with shop after shop and homes on the sidestreets. It's a patchwork of deserted buildings, fancy homes of every architectural style, alleys filled with graffiti, and wonderful places to eat and shop.

And the people -- like people everywhere -- are all very different. Some are lovely and friendly and adore talking with people who clearly are not Portenos; others who are kind've brass and in a rush to move on. One thing they all seem to have in common is amazing pride in their country and national identity. One thing that seems to be missing is anyone black. We have yet to see a black person anywhere.

In five days, we have found three amazing and different restaurants for dinner -- all in our neighborhood. We've tasted lots of Malbec, and already I have a favorite (Ruca Malen). And Jordana is inhaling the chocolate throughout the city. They'll be a shortage when we leave.

Oh, and did I mention the money? Prices are incredible here. You can see plays for between $3 and $7/person. Dinner -- amazing Argentinian steak with Malbec and a side dish and dessert -- $50 for 1 (or if you're wimps like Jordana and me and can't possibly eat the huge portions, then $50 for 2. Typically, far less. Really.

And the way they treat Jordana and me is hysterical. With her red hair and blue eyes, everyone assumes she knows no Spanish. They don't even try talking with her. Instead, they all start talking a mile a minute to me. I slowly say something and they suddenly realize I'm clueless. Then Jordana starts speaking in Spanish and they're stunned.

And no one thinks we're mother/daughter. They cannot get past our different coloring. These two guys kept talking to us and at one point I said, "she's my daughter" and they really thought I was bullshitting. Then, the one guy asked Jordana about her father and she said he's Irish. I didn't hear her and the other guy asked me what my husband's name was -- and trying to make it understandable to them -- I said "Miguel." They burst out laughing and were then positive I was making the whole thing up.

Tonight was fun too. As Jordana and I left a restaurant -- one of our new favorites -- a guy came running over and gave us his card. Said he's a photographer from Scotland, does fashion shoots and portraits, and said he loves Jordana's look and thinks she'd be perfect for a shoot he's doing this Wednesday. I did the mother thing and glared at him, drilled him, and made clear that I'd kill him if this were BS. He seemed to withstand it and actually appear legit. (I'll google him later of course). But Jordana would love to model some Argentinian designer's clothes and be professionally photographed at his studio in San Telmo, so we'll have to see!

Well, lots more to tell, but don't want to overdue. We are staying very busy. We went on an amazing three-hour tour with a historian who was terrific. We signed up for a cooking class with Teresita to learn to make empanadas. We're starting our tango lessons on Monday with Mora. And I'm taking a Spanish class on Monday afternoon with Gabriella. We've been to a South American art fair, the cemetary where Evita was buried, a zillion little shops, and MALBA, a new Latin American contemporary museum. Jordana's busy choosing which plays we'll go to and we've been switching to BA time -- dinner starting at 10 or 11, and drinks after that. We even went to a jazz club the other night but got there AFTER it closed. We were so proud of ourselves.

I can't tell you how happy I am that Jordana and I are having this amazing experience.