Saturday, March 22, 2008

Home away from home

We've been in our apartment here in Buenos Aires for a little over two weeks now, and it's been a much-needed break from the rigors of traveling. For example, we don't have to live out of our backpacks, we don't have to move every other day and we have satisfied our cravings for the kind of foods we cook back home.

Actually, it's almost too cozy. It's like we are at home, except we can't hang out with our friends and family or our dog.

In a way, I think this one-month break from constant traveling is making me more homesick than traveling itself, but at the same time, it's allowing me to get excited about the idea of traveling again. When we take off again in 10 days or so, it will be novel to sleep in different beds every night, eat all of our meals out in restaurants and interact with other travelers.

Some travelers that you meet say things like, "Oh, man, the more you travel, the longer you want to keep going." Not me. I like traveling, but ultimately I want to go home. We're having phenomenal experiences everywhere we go, but home is home for a reason: All things considered, it's the best place in the world. Otherwise, you'd live somewhere else, right? I think real perpetual travelers must not have a lot to come home to.

Our friend Kara is coming down to visit us on Wednesday. We'll show her around Buenos Aires for a few days, then we'll all head down to Peninsula Valdes together, commencing our Patagonia adventures.

In the meantime we're loving the city life, recharging our batteries and eating and drinking extremely well.

Dipping sauces at Viejo Gomez. The restaurants here have a great understanding of how a meal should be paced. You almost always get a basket of bread with some kind of pate or spread as an appetizer. Then you get any actual appetizers that you have ordered. Then the main course and dessert, obviously, followed by coffee or the equivalent of a digestivo. In Asia, on the other hand, the order in which your food arrives is random. Fancier places understand that dessert comes after the meal, but they haven't quite got the hang of appetizers. In any case, here you often get two or three different sauces for your bread and/or steak. At Viejo Gomez we got the bread, two sauces, a spread and a hot, delicious empanada before we even ordered!

And the main course. This is bife de lomo, a leaner, tenderer cut than chorizo or vacio.

These aren't the best photos, but they can give you a sense of the San Telmo neighborhood. Liz promises better quality photos in the next update.

Pretty European, eh?

Another look at the neighborhood. A lot of people have compared the area's crumbling grandeur to Havana Viejo in Cuba.

Plaza de Mayo. This is in the microcentro, the heart of the city. About a 15 minute walk from our apartment. Not pictured is the , where Evita used to give her speeches and/or sing for the people of Buenos Aires.

Oh wait, there's the Casa Rosada. It's the "pink house" in the background.

Now this is a really boring picture. But just look at that sidewalk! As I understand it, previous Argentine governments were corrupt and would undertake massive public works projects in order to give fat contracts to their friends and also maybe to skim a little off the top for themselves. It may have been unsustainable economically, but hey, now Buenos Aires has really wide sidewalks and streets in a lot of areas, including the widest street in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio, about two blocks from our apartment.

In my ongoing quest to find a pickup basketball game, Liz and I headed to Palermo Viejo one afternoon in search of the Club de Amigos, a massive gym/park complex. And we stumbled across several street parillas (grills) like this one. A single Choripan (sausage and roll) costs 3.5 pesos. About $1.10 US.

Palermo Viejo has lots of green space, including a zoo. Apparently it all used to be part of some politician's estate. When he was deposed/executed/whatever, the city turned it into park land. Again, city planning at its finest! Hope you're taking notes, Seth.

One of the locals enjoying Yerba Mate. It's basically green tea that you typically brew in a hollowed out gourd and then drink through a filtered straw. You often see people walking around the street sipping on their gourds with a thermos of warm water handy for refills.

We picked up the gear, but we haven't fully acquired the taste yet.

Steak dinner at Des Nivel, a boisterous, colorful restaurant in the heart of San Telmo.

Here's what they had on tap.

Enjoying the cafe lifestyle. Wake up at 11am, head to the cafe for lunch at 2:30 or 3pm, nap, dinner at 11pm. It's a hard-knock life.

Yesterday was Good Friday and the city was pretty quiet. We were going to head over to La Boca, but decided that with the streets being fairly deserted it wasn't the safest day for it. So instead we walked down to the nature reserve that borders San Telmo. We'd both been down here before--Liz runs one of the trails practically every morning--but we'd never seen it so packed. We think that a lot of the families that can't afford to head out of town for the holiday weekend come down here instead.

The place was covered in pro-choice graffiti.

A dreaded street performance. At least there was little danger of involuntary crowd participation on my part... this guy was already trapped.

It's great to have a nature reserve so close. The trail we hiked reminds me of Leif Erickson, but not nearly as heavily forested.

As you can see, it's right next to the city.

When we finished hiking, we saw this storm roll in.

Hardly anybody seemed to be paying attention, but I knew it was going to be fierce.

I finally convinced Liz to stop taking pictures so we could get the hell out of there, but she managed one or two more as we fought through the winds to get back home.

That's all for now, but you can expect another solid update before we leave Buenos Aires. Liz, having practically become the official photographer for Viva Robusto at this point, has promised higher quality photos in particular.

If you're new to the blog, I finally got around to fixing the html so the navigation isn't squished all the way down at the bottom of the page. If you look to the right, you can now easily browse by date or label. And I will fix the RSS link asap, so you can get automagic notification every time we update.

Until then, ciao!

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