Friday, March 27, 2009

Blog Post 17: Feliz Cumpleanos - It's a Banner Day

March 26
Feliz Cumpleanos – Today I turned 60!! Holy smoke – how did this happen?

As we are riding down in the elevator of our building to go for breakfast, David apologizes, for perhaps the 3rd time, telling me he hasn’t yet gotten me a birthday card. I tell him not to worry.

But as we leave our apartment building, I look to my left and there, stretched across our street, is a fabulous brightly colored banner…wishing me a happy birthday.

I just love it, as corny as that sounds. I feel like a celebrity in my neighborhood. It’s just so much fun. All day long, every time we go in or out of our building, every time we turn the corner to go home, there it is, making me smile. Thanks David…it’s better than a card!

Rick and Kevin drop off a beautiful bouquet of flowers,

We spend the day doing a little shopping, a little eating, a little visiting with friends. Jim brings me a lovely necklace.

David has made a reservation for dinner at our new favorite restaurant, Lola, for 2 at 8:30, or so he tells me.

But when we walk in, there are Kevin, Rick and Jim sitting at the bar waiting for us...he’s arranged a surprise party for me! We have a bottle of champagne at the bar…

then the maitre' d shows us to our table (without my knowing it, David had picked it out and planned the evening a few days before with the restaurant owner)

David and three great friends,

our favorite Malbec, fabulous food, more Malbec, fabulous desserts, more champagne, a birthday brownie covered with dulce de leche and marshmallow topping!!! What more could a girl want?

I have a wonderful birthday… and feel like 60 may not be so bad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blog Post 16: Abasto, Puerto Madero & Plaza San Martin

March 20 – 21
Friday and Saturday are quiet days…leisurely breakfasts, dinners at home (3 in a row, in fact – a record!!). We often try to make lunch the big meal of the day, and these 2 days that is what we’ve done.

We stay in the Recoleta on Friday, but on Saturday we take the bus to the Abasto shopping mall, a former fruit and vegetable market. Built in the 1930’s, it still retains its original art deco facade. It’s very impressive with its soaring ceilings and 3 story-high arched windows.

It’s one of several modern shopping malls in the city, complete with the largest food court I’ve ever seen (including the only kosher McDonalds outside of Israel), a 12 screen movie theater, a carousel, and three floors of stores.

March 22 – Sunday
It’s the 1st day of autumn…oh my gosh. I wonder if that means I can no longer wear white (kind of like Labor Day at home?). If that’s the case, my wardrobe has just been severely compromised!

We’re off to the port area, Puerto Madero, for lunch at one of the many Italian restaurants on the River Plate. The old warehouses have been recycled and the cobbled walkways retained. It’s the last neighborhood in the city to be built up; remodeling began in 1991 and is still going full speed ahead.

There are also wonderful old buildings to see like the customs house

and more.

On the way home, we stop at Plaza San Martin

to see the United Buddy Bears exhibit – each is 2 meters tall and represents 140 countries recognized by the United Nations,

the fabulous wrought-iron gates of the Military Circle (club for retired military officers),

and the Palace San Martin.

March 23- 25
What a relief – women are still wearing white (maybe that’s because it’s still 80-85 degrees?).

We spend time outside, we occasionally run into people we know (that hardly ever happened to me in Boston!), and then we meet Ana and Jorge at a local parilla for dinner where we also celebrate the birth of their new grandson (earlier in the day).

Stay tuned...more tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Post Number 15: Trip to Temaikan Bioparque


March 19

What a fabulous day! Not quite knowing what to expect, five of us meet at 10:00 a.m.,

catch the 1st of two buses and, 2 hours later, arrive at Temaiken, which is north of Buenos Aires. It’s a zoo, an aquarium, a nature preserve, a park, and an educational facility – and it’s amazing. We spend the next 5 hours exploring and having a great time.

Highlights include the merkats…


a giant hippopotamus…


animals cooling themselves under shade trees...

and those too oblivious to know any better.

We laugh, we eat, we enjoy glorious weather.

We marvel at how beautiful the grounds are…

and, best of all, we have the entire place to ourselves. Summer’s over, it’s mid-week so the kids are in school, and there can’t be more than 2 dozen other people in the park.

We sit and watch the sharks and sting rays in the oceanic tank while listening to Ave Maria, Mozart’s Flute Concert and more.

We walk into something like a giant aviary. It contains 40 or 50 bats. We are no more than a foot away from those closest to us. We’re separated by nothing more than a wire screen.

Some are flying. Others are hanging upside down. The larger vampire bats have a wing span of between 2 to 3 feet.

They’re feeding on fruit and veggie brochettes...

and after a hearty's nap time.


It’s all pretty amazing and beautifully done. Like I said before…a fabulous day!

Only three weeks more to go in BsAs before we start another adventure in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I (David) am not ready to leave Argentina, but at least we will delay going back to the Cape for another month. Stay tuned.

Blog Post Number 14: Congreso and the Protests

March 16 – 18

The beginning of another week and we go to the gym. It feels good to work out, and with every sit-up and every curl Yamil says “bien” – giving us the encouragement we need to keep going. And David has cut back on his Spanish lessons, no longer attending the 4 times-a-week university class (too much like going to work, he says) but sticking with his tutor. I’m happy about this because he’s my mid-day play mate again.

On Tuesday we go to lunch with Kevin and Rick, and then 3 of us take the bus to the Palacio del Congreso (Congress), which is modeled after the US Congress (as is their model of government). The building and the statue in the plaza are 2 more examples the richly ornate architecture found in this area. At 4:00, a tour of the building is given in English so we decide to kill an hour and then take the tour.

We walk toward the Palacio Barolo (white dome), admiring the opulent early 20th century buildings with French architectural lines that are plentiful in this area of the city.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear I was walking down a Parisian boulevard!

As office buildings go, the Palacio Barolo is a knockout! Designed by an Italian architect in the “spirit” of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, it’s said that the building’s “afterlife” begins in basement-level “hell and climbs 22 floors through purgatory up to heaven”!

The interior lobby is ornate; bronze dragons, marble walls and antique elevators.

We ride to the 12th floor and walk 2 flights up the winding marble staircase

to Tango Moda, one of BA’s premiere shops for buying tango apparel. Beautiful clothing…

but we are definitely not ready to invest in tango-wear; we haven’t even taken a tango lesson. The aerial view of the city from the 14th floor is outstanding.

As we head back for the tour we realize there are thousands of people headed in the same direction. We hear firecrackers and bigger “booms” (which we initially think are gunshots), see an abundance of police, TV cameras and people carrying signs and banners. There are pamphlets falling from the sky like confetti and realize we are walking toward the epicenter of a demonstration!

The demonstrators (representing butchers union) stop and gather in front of the Congress, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there will be no more tours today. We feel perfectly safe…but decide it’s time to head home. Check out the video below:

We walk down the Avenida Callo, a particularly busy street where a dearth of pedestrians, cars and buses are an assault on the senses! But, in spite of this, there is something vibrant about the city…we feel so comfortable here.

Wednesday is gym day again…we set the alarm for 8:00 a.m. – way to early to be working out, but we are committed!! David has his tutor late morning, and I have an art lesson from 3-7 (these are my painting “girlfriends” and instructor Gustavo).

Wednesday night is movie night, so we catch a 10:30 movie (Clint Eastwood - Gran Torino).