Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today, today

Went running with a friend today, took the ol' camera along. Took the subway over to his place on Las Heras, then we went running up to the Coast. Wandered around the little convention centerish type thing (hey, there's a driving range, sweet!), then started heading down the coast.

Here's a little link to the map of where we were. Find the coast below the airport, follow up.

I sometimes wonder if people get a distorted sense of what it is like to live here when I post pictures like this. This is running up the coast. I think this is actually some little drainage ditch into the river. At first I thought that was a sunken-ish piece of machinery. Then I noticed that it appears to be in some sort of pool, if you note the concrete barrier. The sign on the sucker said something about ecological cleanup or something. Not sure if you can read it.

FYI, there are actually alot of expensive restaurants and clubs up here. Why is it that the water enchants people so much...especially at night?

I took this picture because there was a plane taking off right next to the road. Right after this plane took off, a plane landed on the same runway. Yep...I'm flying Aerolineas Argentinas soon!

Looking back from a little point sticking out into the river. On the far right you can see downtown in the distance. To the left of downtown you can see a club -- I think it's a club, and I'm sure it's somewhat famous whatever it is exactly.

This is the right half of the park. I just rotated 90 degrees and snapped another pictures. Off to the left was some playground equipment, but looks like you can't see it.

We kept running up the coast. We passed Santa Tierra (Holy Land) which appeared to be some sort of Catholic amusement park. Or at least I assume it was Catholic. Here's Evan's rule of thumb: if there's a body on the cross, it ain't Protestant. I just did some research and apparently the rest is some sort of private sports/pool park. Somehow I didn't here of it last summer, I guess...? It's not like I've been here forever, but at this point I do feel like I know Capital Federal pretty well, especially the richer neighborhoods.

If you follow that map from before, the road curves around the park and has a few UBA campuses on the right. We keep following the road and it turns into this. Thanks for the sidewalk! We walked on the side of the road with onrushing traffic right next to us. We got a few glares, but surprisingly no honks...and Portenos looooove to honk.

La casa de las gallinas. The stadium of River Plate.

Boca's stadium = much better. Though I do have a certain fondness for River's jersey, I have to admit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Visit to Colonia, Uruguay

So yesterday I went to Colonia, Uruguay.

The restored/boat museum in Puerto Madero.

Puerto Madero in the morning.

You can't really see it, but the dock for Buquebus is off in the distance at one end of Puerto Madero. So I ran over there, filled out my paperwork, headed onto the boat and took a nap.

It's a nice boat. I didn't really notice at first when I stepped on it, then for a moment I thought I was in a fairly decent hotel. I was in first class, which as far as I can tell was basically the same as regular class. It was the same price given the rather cheap promotion that I used.

I then proceeded to sleep for the next 3 hours. When I woke, we were there.

I think I uploaded the pictures (took forever, I hate blogger) the same day, wrote all text above the next day, and now, 8/18 when I should be asleep, I am writing the rest.

I arrived in Colonia. A Dutch girl who I didn't think spoke Spanish very well...at all...got off right before me and was taking the same tour I was. She chose to take the tour in Spanish, not English. Oh pride that has not been conquered, of course I will take the tour in Spanish. Of course, I managed to fail to understand the Spanish instructions and almost missed that bus...nearly venturing out into the city on my own.

Did I regret taking the tour in Spanish? Yes. The speakers on the bus were horrible and I couldn't really hear the guide. When we got off the bus, I went and asked Dutch girl what she said, and apparently we had an hour lunch break. I wandered down to the water and saw this map. Notice that everything is in both Spanish and English. Hegemony has its virtues as well as its vicissitudes.

I had been told to rent a gokart/moto and take it around the city. Hmm...didn't do it, will do it next time probably, but I did find it annoying how they didn't post a price. If they had post a price -- any price -- I'd have paid it, but I am stubborn and find distasteful the notion that someone will charge me more.

Yeah, I try to be rational, apparently I do not follow the economic model perfectly.

A little past the sign, took a picture. Wandered back up the street, found the big plaza of the city, sat down and watched people pass by. Was very disappointed that not! every! Uruguayan! had! a! mate! thermos! under! their! arm! (that's a porteno stereotype)

We got on the bus, wandered up through town, wandered over towards the rest of the city. No pictures, as I take pictures rather haphazardly and had to pay close attention to pick up anything over the speakers.

There apparently was a former resort area of some sort in the early 20th century (Americans should remember that back then (pre Peron socialism) Buenos Aires was on par with the US on GDP per capita) that had a racetrack, a casino, and...a bullfighting ring. This bullfighting ring was built in 1910, held 10k people and...the Uruguayan government banned bullfighting in 1912 after a very massive enormous 8 fights. I am sure that the Porteno investors (I looked this up) were very pleased. (very far afield Evan sidenote: political risk is almost always the Black Swan when investing, be duly warned...have I noted that a large percent of my investments are concentrated in a specific sector which is massively suffering because of the current President's pandering? A government that can give you what you want can take it away? yeah, moving on). Anyway, I don't know why the rest of the resort area is in ruins, but the bullfighting ring hasn't been used since then and is falling apart. Check the link for some pics. Despite the fact that it is obviously crumbling and the fact that there were many posted signs warning of danger, there were 10 guys inside the ring playing soccer with backpacks as goals.

Anyway, the point of of this photo is this picture is ostensibly of the islands off the coast of Colonia. But I think if you look closer, you may be able to see the large buildings of Buenos Aires to the right of the islands.

Next was the walking city tour. It was interesting, and I understood most of it. This is the city gate and wall. Why such a massive wall? Because the city of Colonia changed hands 7 times between the Spanish and Portuguese. And a few times after that, of course. Oh, and I do not like mimes.

This is taken from the vantage point of the right side of the picture above. The wall persists, with the cannons and such.

Same vantage point, more to the left.

Same vantage point, from the wall, but to the right instead of the left. Lighthouse. Note that for a winter day, it was beautiful and almost 70. We had a warm week. This is the the sort of winted I chose Buenos Aires for.

How much did I understand of the tour? Well I struggle with Spanish years, there's like a million words just to say the year and they say them so fast because they are used to it and I'm not, but I took the photo of these houses to point out the Spanish (to the right) and Portuguese (to the left) arquitecture. I apparently understood enough to know that she explained that the reason that the Portuguese house's roof tiles are uneven: the slaves formed the tiles by forming them to their thighs.

I was standing on the deck of the Buquebus, about 4 floors high and took this picture...that point to the left is where most of the pictures I took are from. In fact, I just realized that I think you can see the lighthouse from earlier.

A very enjoyable trip. It cost me about $45 total. I wish I had taken a picture going right from where I was standing when I took the picture above. There was a sunken ship that had clearly been there for 10 years or so, at least. This seems to be not terribly uncommon here, if you remember my Tigre pictures...no wait, I never posted those. Nevermind.

However, what amazes me is this: the boat was full of recent graffiti. On first look, schmeh, graffiti on an abandoned structure. When I arrived to Colonia, this didn't impress me. On leaving...I realized that someone took a little rowboat out to this boat and boarded it. Yes, they boarded a decades-old sunken ship with parts sticking out of the water, which seems like a very bright proposition to me: always smart to trust the structural stability of abandoned ships. And they did this in the middle of the night presumably...to spraypaint.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm going to Uruguay today

I should be taking along the camera, so we'll time it to see how long it takes me to upload my pictures.

Over/under starts at...a week?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Economic downturns, you suck...

...when you impact my life.

So apparently out of the 5 big Argentine clubs (Boca, River, San Lorenzo, Independiente, Estudiantes...actually, I think maybe that's Racing and not Estudiantes, but whatever), 4 are in debt. For this, the season does not begin this upcoming weekend.

Well, you guessed it, Boca is not debt. So I think they should just declare us champions. Dale dale Boca. all the same, it is frustrating: the tv stations and the soccer clubs are negotiating, because the soccer clubs want more money. As for now, the season is suspended and the government is about to intervene (color me an American, but this is not a sign of a healthy society...though I have to admit that our courts intervene...and they are a moderated form of our bifurcated society, so...)

And now I get to what was originally going to be the only part of my post: whenever I ask people here when the season begins, I get a sorta strange look for a second. I think that is because it is more normal here to use the word tournament than season. I just realized this now. Talking another language is sometimes frustrating.

also, i wanted to say in the post: new mutemath album. it's exciting; i'm still confused (which seems to be a frequent occurence for me with music these days).

hmm. I've started saying "for this" recently in English. I'm pretty sure I'm translating Spanish. Sigh, if I'm gonna think in Spanish when I talk English, I should really speak Spanish better.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm not rude, I'm Dutch!

I guess fun articles like this are why I read international newspapers:
In his book, Native English for Dutch People, essential reading for the international business traveller, Ronald van de Krol stresses the need in English to use words such as 'thank you,' 'please' or 'sorry' approximately once per sentence. Anyone who doesn't simply isn't speaking good English, and what's more, is an unspeakable oaf. That's not something most people would aspire to, and yet that is exactly what many Dutch people - unconsciously - do.

Several people here have remarked similar things to me, like "che, all you Americans say please and thank you every other word." This is true, this is considered good manners in the US of Americaments. Not really so here. In fact, awhile ago I read an article that foreigners saying por favor (that'd be please) is frequently grating to Spanish-speaking ears because of the differences. [Note: if you don't speak Spanish, keep saying por favor. Don't worry about it.] And yes, they definitely do not say please and thank you in the same way we do.

I find this topic interesting. It is definitely relevant to English speakers in relationships with Spanish speakers. Despite what my spanish teachers told me, after a certain age people learn languages by translating their native languages.

Sooo...to English-speaking ears, Latinas can seem a little bossy. It is common to use the imperative form "Come here!" and not "Please come here, love?" (translated, obviously). And while you may know that, your brain knowledge may not always translate to heart knowledge.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Give your kids an interesting name

As a fallback option, I've consistently used my name as a source of conversation in life.

The other day, I did it for the first time in Spanish. I'm very in favor of giving your kids sources of conversation. Never be normal.