Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cemetery...This Aint No Grave Yard

Today Shaun and I walked a few blocks past the McDonalds's and the Burger Kings, and past the empanada shops and 'genuine argentine leather' shops to the large wall surrounding the world famous Recoleta Cemetery. The Cemetery includes graves of some of the most influential and important Argentinians, including the internationally famous Eva PerĂ³n.
And I have to say, it was a little bit creepy, and very impressive. Some of the tombs there were obviosly newer. I think we saw one dated 2006. The newer tombs were equally mixed with older, well cared for tombs, and old decrepid tombs with their glass broken out and doors falling off. Every single one had a cross or an angel on top. Some of the older less important tombs had been kind of turned into janitorial closets, with buckets and garden tools just sitting in there with the coffins. Also, there were a lot of cats. I guess a whole colony of feral cats live there. And people feed them. Just like the 'Botanical Gardens' we walked around in Palermo.
If you ever come to Buenos Aires, the zoo and botanical gardens aren't really worth the effort, but by all means, get to the Cemetery!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Flea-Bitten Beasts

Yesterday at the park, a woman let her whippet off leash as she entered the park, but before she got to the fenced dog area. For those of you who don't know, a whippet is very similar to a greyhound, just smaller, and similar to greyhounds, they love to run. As the woman and her whippet approached the dog area, the dog ran up to the fence to say hi to our dogs. Suka got excited and ran toward the fence to say hi also. He must have startled the whippet a little because the whippet took off sideways at a full sprint. Suka followed playfully. The fenced dog park area is just a big circular fenced area and the whippet started sprinting around and around the outside of the fence with Suka chasing from the inside. Harvey thought it was pretty cool, so he chased also. Trying to follow the whippet in his path around the fence, Shaun and I got dizzy. Oh, boy was he fast! And we were all laughing so hard! Finally, a chunky little bull dog cut Harvey off, sending him head over tail, and starting a fight that distracted Suka from his chasing and the Whippet lost interest and wandered off to another part of the park.
I'm really glad they had so much fun, because sadly that was their last trip to that park. A couple hours after returning home, we found fleas. Fleas! All over Suka's belly. We immediately took them outside and applied our frontline medication. The instructions say to apply it once a month. The vet told us to apply it every 6 weeks. It had been 5 weeks since our last application, so I think i'm going to stick with the instructions on the box. Poor, poor dogs! I feel so bad for them. Since our wretched discovery, they have been banned from the house, confined and quarantined to the small patio upstairs. We have been cleansing the house and washing everything in hot water. Today, Suka's number of fleas has decreased significantly, and I really can't tell if Harvey has any or not since his hair is so thick. I went after Suka with the tweezers and pulled off 7 and drowned them in a cup of bleach water, then flushed them down the toilet just in case. Hopefully the frontline will do the trick fast and furious, but since their skin has been so dry from their poor diet, i'm afraid it will take a couple days, and probably a little longer than the instructions say.
Poor guys. I feel bad for them sleeping out there on the porch, but hell if they're getting in my bed with fleas!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Take a close look at this beautiful, colorful slice of culinary wonder.

Now prepare yourself for the tingling of salivary glands: The crust is brushed lightly with tomato sauce, then baked. Then it's topped with a white onion-y cream sauce. Add tender white asparagus heads, real creamy fresh tangy Roquefort cheese, whole slices of sweet roasted red pepper, delicious Argentine green olives, and, just to make it extra pretty, sprinkle with flakes of oregano and toasted walnuts.

MMMMMM oh so delicous! And the day before we had one with mozzarella, chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and smothered with a savory demi glace sauce.

With all the great grilled meats, empanadas, and pastas, I can't wait for our next pizza. Oh who am I kidding... I can't wait for more of all of it! And wine to go with! And desert to follow!

What I really can't wait for is Americans to take gourmet pizza creativity to the next level. And as an American, although being very excited about the possibilities, I have to admit that I was a bit turned off by the combination of pizza topping offered to me, since I was pretty much just thinking of grabbing a quick pepperoni to go. Alas, pepperoni on pizza doesn't exist here. Just lots of olives, cheese, basil combos, Roquefort, and ham. Ham and boiled eggs.

Actually there seems to be boiled eggs in lots of food here, except breakfast. Eggs in empanadas and on pizzas. Imagine one single whole boiled egg suspended in the center of a loaf of deli meat. One in the chicken, one in the deli ham, one in the roast turkey...

So give me delicious, creamy, saucy, melty, savory, unconventionaly topped pizza...or give me death!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Famous Last Words

Hello family, friends, neighbors, acquaintences and unsuspecting passers-by. Stop now! Please take this time to prepare yourself a cheese or sausage plate, with olives perhaps, or grab a cup of coffee or tea. Use the restroom and stick a pillow behind your back because this post is going to be long...


When I think of famous last words, ´Geronimo!´, ´They´ll never take me alive!´, and ´Here, Hold my beer...´ are a few that come to mind for me. I think we may have jinxed ourselves from the beginning since Shaun and I have based our entire trip on the phrase ´If everything goes as planned...´
So far, not much has gone as planned.


Our original plan was to rent an apartment in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires for one month in order to buy a car. Once we accomplished that, we would drive to Missiones in the North East, spend a couple months there then drive to Salta and Jujuy in the North West. After a couple months camping there, we would drive south to Mendoza in the central region, then further south to Bariloche where we would be able to cross the mountains with a two hour drive to Osorno, Chile to meet up with a couple friend who live there. And adventure would ensue and we would drive in a big loop all around Argentina.
Of course, everything didn´t go as planned since we were unable to buy a car and decided that it would have been a bad idea anyway, unless we went through a dealer and bought a new car.

So..... on to Plan B: Take a taxi to Tigre, 30 minutes north of Buenos Aires. Camp on an island called Rama Negra for a couple weeks while we buy a canoe and supplies, then canoe 650 miles over the course of a month up the Rio Uruguay directly to the farm in Missiones.
Didn´t go as planned...

Plan C: Taxi to Tigre. Camp for one month on island Rama Negra then rent a car and drive to Mendoza where we would easily be able to get to camping, rafting, hotsprings, and skiing in Bariloche where our friends from Osorno can borrow a girlfriends car and drive 2 hours over the mountains to meet up with us for a weekend or so.


Following our Plan C, Shaun and I took a taxi to Tigre, found the boat station, and bought some tickets. When I tried to ask the man at the boat ramp when the next boat was leaving, he took my tickets and waved me toward the boat. I tried to ask if it was the boat we needed to be on to get to the island we needed to go to and he got impatient with me saying, ´Si! Rapido, rapido!´ Aparently, the boat was leaving very soon.
When I tried to reconfirm what someone had told me, that it was ok to take our dogs on the boat, he paused for a moment, then continued his hurried waving and repeated, ´Rapido!´
So, we hurried, but when Shaun and I stepped onto the boat, the attendant wouldn´t let me enter. Before I even had time to comprehend what he was saying or why he wouldn´t let me on, they were grabbing Harvey and Suka, hoisting them onto the roof of the boat, and tying their leashes to a rope stretched across the top of the boat between the two incredibly low guard rails.
We were ushered into the packed seating area and the boat was on it´s way. Shaun and I were terrified and nervously watched out the windows for any sort of splash in the muddy river. The 15 or 20 minute ride seemed painfully long and every time we stopped at one of the soggy, decrepid staircases to let someone off, the dogs on the docks and shores would bark at them. The top of the boat was simply smooth polished wood offering no foothold or any sort of brace, so Harvey and Suka were at the mercy of their spiked collars as they boat pitched with the starts and stops of its motor as we crossed the wakes of other large boats.

Of course, we made it to the island without incident and the dogs didn´t seem to be phased by their ride.


After camping for a few days in a soggy, sandy swampland, we realized that we were pretty much stranded on a deserted island between uninhabited summer homes and boats tied to docks, drifting about in lonely winter season disrepair with no food for the dogs and absolutely nothing for us to do besides read in our tent and wander around amongst the weeds. We stayed almost a full week then tied the dogs to the top of the boat to return to the Tigre mainland where we would be able to use a computer and phone and figure out where to go next or how to rent a car. We stayed for 3 days in a beautiful, peaceful bed and breakfast, eating empanadas and croissants and lounging in the gentle warm winter sun between the orange tree and the lemon tree in the garden, reading and watching the humming birds flit about the flowers in their bright full bloom. Even though our stay in the bed and breakfast was nothing less than amazing, I was in a state of unrest. The following is my journal entry from the second night of our stay.


Late at night. It´s probably friday by now. It started on our soggy, sandy, deserted island and since we´ve left that dreary place, I haven´t been able to shake this insomnia. My eyelids seem immune to the lead weights that come with being tired and at some point in the night, they actually start to sting and burn when I try to hold them closed. I have taken to covering my face and head with a blanket or pillow so my brain won´t know if my eyes come open. I´m surprised I´ve been able to function on the 2 or 3 hours of sleep I get between 7 and 10 in the morning when my head finally succumbs to the exhaustion of battling with my eyelids all night. I´ve heard that eyelids are made of the same skin that ball sacks are made from. I would probably sleep much better if I had the gentle weight of balls resting on my eyes to hold my lids closed. I imagine it would be similar to one of those sand filled eye masks my mom used to buy at craft fairs when I was young, although I prefer fresh lavendar to the smell of crotch. And I don´t feel so willing to sleep with my head stuck up between fatty hairy thighs all night praying against the chance of a roll over or the farts that seem so often to acompany snoring. And I don´t think any guy would be willing to sacrifice that pair of tender dangling testes just for my sleeping pleasure, and I´m sure that he, as I do, prefers them warm, full of blood and life, and attatched. Now, if instead of balls, men came equiped with little detatchable sandy bags smelling sweetly of lavendar or chamomille, I could solve two birds, birth control and insomnia, with one stone (or ball, as it were), but then I guess we´re getting into another matter there and the wandering of my brain in the fashion isn´t helping me sleep.


Our newest plan. Plan D (or F or H?...What plan are we on again?): We have rented another apartment in Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of Recoletta, where we are surrounded by restraunts and parks, shopping and beautiful architecture. The sidewalks are wide, our apartment actually has laundry, and just last night I stuffed my face so full of 3 different kinds of cheeses, 3 different kinds of cured meats, olives, fresh baked bread, and island oranges dipped in honey, that after 2 bottles of wine I almost mistaked the bidet for the toilet and tried to splash my hands around in the toilet water.


Alas, our two year trip has turned into a two month trip and, dare I say it, if everything goes as planned, we´ll be on a plane and back to the states with time enough to catch the last half of summer in Iowa.

Don´t forget to look at the pictures!