Saturday, February 27, 2010

We are all fine here

This morning there was a 8.8 magnitude Earthquake in Chile. This is the 5th most powerful Earthquake in the whole world since 1900. It has caused much damage and and many deaths in Chile. Seeing as we are about 1,500 miles from where the quake hit however, we were spared from any noticeable effects here in Buenos Aires. My roommate Jon did tell me that this morning his water bottle fell of his dresser and landed near his head, waking him up, during one of the aftershocks. But other than him we all slept right through any of the effects we had here. I did not hear about the quake until we were at lunch this morning and i saw it on TV. However, the three Colorado guys, headed out to Mendoza (Which is on the Argentine side of the Andes about 100 miles from Santiago) this morning, and have bus tickets to Santiago for tomorrow...they missed the Big One by a matter of hours. Talk about Time and unforeseen occurrence. Currently they are waiting to see if they will even be able to go over into Chile or if they will have to wait in Mendoza.

Our thoughts and Prayers go out to the brothers there of course.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rio de San Telmo

So we have been having this crazy weather here in Buenos Aires the last few weeks. It has been so crazy that even Mommy all the way back in California emailed me to ask if i was ok (like normal i got back to here 18 hours later a new record) On Monday we had a downpour during the meeting that lead to us all going home quite soaked. No one wanted to leave the hall since i was raining sideways. And the fact that a good number of people had forgotten their umbrellas (myself included) only managed to make the problem worse. Thankfully for me and Jon we live two blocks from the subway so we were atleast able to make it home with dry underwear. Some of the others did not make out so well. The three Colorado guys when they got near to their apartment in Palermo, had to take off their shoes and roll up their suit pants past their knees to walk through the streets to get home. Their dry cleaners also flooded causing it to close for repairs leaving them without their laundry for about 5 days.

If Monday was a downpour, then Friday was a Monsoon compressed down into about 3 hours. The city here recorded 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of rain in only one hour. Needless to say that caused many parts of the city to shut down (Think of 3 feet of snow in that amount of time). All and all we came out ok by us. In other parts of the city the fire engines were driving around with little boats tied to their bumpers so that the could pick people up In some spots the water level in the streets was above the waist of a normal person. This little video i managed to capture on my roommates camera (remember mine got nabbed - see earlier blog entry for details). It shows how at the peak of the rain storm, our street was transformed into a ranging torrent. The water level in the middle of the street was about up to my knees; so im guessing maybe 2 feet? During this time no cars or buses were able to drive up our street because of the water. You will see my feet in this video standing on the edge of a ledge, that is the step that leads into our building. Even though we are on the second floor the thought that the building was about to start flooding was quite sobering.

However as fast as the river formed, did it also abate. Within a span of 10 mins the street completely drained and was back to normal for the rest of the storm. So some may say that it was a bad day, flooding, missed service, and we were without power for most of the day, and half of the next day. But we managed to make the best of it. Me and Jon walked down the street...i mean river to the corner and got some beer, our buddy Bret joined us after work as he could not get home on the subway, and we simply sat down and enjoyed the show.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free Concert...always good!

Last Saturday we decided to take advantage of the fact that in the summer here there are so many things do that are open to the public for free. One such event that was sponsored by the city was a series of free concerts in a Futbol stadium. After losing a few people at the last minute, me Jessica, and my roommate Jon boarded the bus bound for the stadium.

We got there in time to see the second band, Zoe from Mexico playing the last half of their hour long set. The poor guys. Their music was something reminiscent of U2, The Rolling Stones, Green Day all rapped together. They played a half way decent show, but the crowd of Argentines' general dislike for any Spanish speakers other than Themselves and Spaniards lead to there being quite a subdued atmosphere while there were playing.

That all changed as soon as the headlines took the stage. From our seats in the upper sections (See Pictures) i saw the large huddle mass of people begin to come to life as they waited to hear their hometown favorites. As the roadies tore down the last bands gear and brought out the closing act's gear, the previously static mass of human matter that was the crowd, began to move ever so slowly up and down, side to side, almost in a pulsating manor as if they were a heart pumping throughout the body life giving blood. This is exactly what the band did for the crowd when they finally made their way out on to the stage.

The closing band goes by the name Catupechu Machu (Gibberish it has no meaning in Spanish). This band has gone through many different sounds in their career, ranging from Hard rock, to Alternative, to Acoustic rock and much much more. As soon as they took to the stage the crowd sprang to life. During certain songs the entire floor area of the stadium was swaying to the melodic sounds, during others they were full of passion as they jumped up and down, thrashing from side to side with the heavy rythmic grooves being formed by the Drums, Bass and Guitar. I was quite please with the level of showmanship that was displayed by the band, the lead singer/guitarist in particular. During the entire show this man held the people in the palm of his hand, with his passionate playing, energetic presence, insightful guitar work, and moving lryical performance.

After about an hour and a half long set list that included many of the bands hits (which was a treat for me since i have their last album and know all of those songs) they retired from the stage leaving a very happy, and satisfied audience of whom i was a member.

-A movement that i have called the backwards toilet flush

Some links to videos of the band...

Is this the bronx, or Buenos Aires? Shootout on Callao y Corrientes

Today after we had finished service, we decided to go get some coffee before we headed over to the meeting. As we were walking to the major intersection near the hall we noticed a huge crowd formed around the subway exit. As we went into the coffee shop we naturally started wondering what was going on. However from where we were it was impossible to see what exactly was going on as the police had taped off the area around the subway entrance, and people were all around. Seeing as i tower above everyone in this country however it was no problem for me to walk up, push my way through the crowd, and look over everyone, and see what was going on. They had a few shell casings laying on the ground circled in chalk and numbered. Tons of police were around, and the capos (from Italian meaning Captain also a very commonly used slang word here) in their suits were investigating what happened. As we were already running late for the meeting we did not have time to hang out and find out exactly what happened.

Now that i have come home from the meeting, i had time to look up the news and i found out what it was that happened. Apparently, three men had robbed a store on the block the Kingdom Hall is located at (A Polleria aka a place that sells chicken...i know right). They were chased by the police to the Subway entrance, where the police fired their weapons wounding two of the guys and hitting on in the throat, brought about his death right there on the steps of the subway entrance. The very same entrance that i walk up every single time i go to the Kingdom Hall. The very same entrance that me and my friend normally would have walked out of today. Did i mention that me and my friend Tallon were coming up from the subway right around the time that this shooting took place?

This is not a normal thing in Buenos Aires. Unlike good ol' Estados Unidos, its very hard for people to buy guns here. As a result, gun violence is not a common occurrence. However it is not unknown for these things to happen. But where the Kingdom Hall is located at, where this shooting took place is not a bad part of town by any means. Corrientes is the largest street in the city, and is full of stores and restaurants that never close. So for this to happen here is very uncommon. It would be like someone being shot in the middle of time square in New York, or in the loop in Chicago. Either way it lead to an interesting sight for all.

P.S. I would love to post some pictures of the scene however seeing as last week someone liberated my camera from me, i am without any means to take photos at the moment. But i have included links to the story from the local papers. One in English, and one in Spanish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

6,000 miles from home and i still have to go to an 80s party...

Seeing as my camera was liberated from me a few weeks ago, i have been without any new pictures for the last month. So as new pictures are hard to come by, i have had to resort to a blog entry about a party we had over a month ago.

This was a going away party for our dear friend/mother Nancy. Seeing as she has a profound love all things 80s, the girls decided that the party would have an 80s theme. We had a great time at this party trying to out do each other with our outfits. To make a long story short, in the end we all ended up looking like a bunch of idiots.

Either way we all had a good time, we gave our dear, dear friend Nancy a great send off. I hope you enjoy the pictures...

My roommate Ryan looking great as always. Imagine riding on the subway with this guy on the way to the party dressed like this...

Me taking a picture of the girls...Photo credit goes to Crystal for a great pic.

Me and my future sister-in-law Mariana...I love her so much...she needs to marry someone in the family...

Me holding
the Birthday Girl, aka Nacny.

Me and Bret looking tough...ya right!

Got to love the group shots. I rock that bad cut off shirt.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Greatest before bed snack ever!

Take one bowl of Junkie Argentine knock off Frosted Flakes, Add two cups of cheap fruit stand milk, and two shots of Baileys Irish Cream and you have the greatest before bed snack ever! I encourage you to try it and see for yourself.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Me 1 Buenos Aires 1

So by now you all have read about how i ever so smoothly avoided getting robbed the other night on my way home. After that i was on top of the world, feeling like no one could touch me...well this city finally got the better of me.

I was coming home from Lunch at Cinthia's house after the meeting on Sunday. I decided to walk to ten blocks back to my house because inbetween our houses was the famous San Telmo Street Fair. If you have junk to sell, music to play, songs to sing, or crazy things to perform for people in the street this is the homeland. This was not the first time i had been to the fair and nor will it be the last. Basically what it is, it that on Sundays Defensa street in old San Telmo is closed to traffic for about 15 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo all the way until about the Plaza Dorrego. All aong the sides of the street artisans and craftsmen set up small tables and booths to sell their various goods. Also lining the streets are a great many street performers, from people playing Tango music, to people who sing, to painters, to Tango Dancers, to crazy people with charts that depict in great detail the Bibles calculations that the end of the world is coming in 2014 (It is true!!!) you have everything. Of course this is a big draw for turists that come to the city and locals alike. That being the case its not the kind of place that you want to leave your bag unattened or anything like that. But as always i was fully confident that i would be fine, and didnt give it a second thought. I just was my normal paranoid self, and i came home thinking nothing spectacular had happened. It was not until 6 hours later when i was in the subway going to play soccer (Thats right i played with Argentines and lived to tell about it!) that i looked in my bag and noticed that my beautiful little Canon camera was gone. Someone had swiped it clean with the little padded blue bag it was in from out of my bag while it was on my shoulder. This guy who took my camera for as much i wanted, and still do want to kill him, deserves an award from the international pickpocket association for best move of the year for this one. I had felt nothing during the day and i know i had my arm over my bag for almost the entire time i was at the fair. But nonetheless he still got it from me.

This episode just goes to show that pride is before a crash, and that vigilance is not always enough. While i am mad that i have to spend the money and buy a new camera, i am more upset that now for the rest of my time here i will not have a camera to capture the glorious moments that happen here. I will not be able to post them here to share them with all of you. I will try to use the cameras of others and have them send me the pictures that they can. So all i can say now is, I hope you are enjoying my camera, you jerk!

You win this round Buenos Aires,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Futbol es Vivir

So last year when i was here in Buenos Aires for the winter/summer i made a list of things that i had to do before i left. I was able to accomplish most of the goals (Play guitar in the park for money, Learn to Tango, Learn to make Empanadas from scratch, and buy Tango Shoes Etc) One of those goals was the experience one of the things that for these people is see a soccer game. When i first arrived, i told my friend Pablo who is a big fan of the Boca Juniors team that i wanted to see a game. He told me that he would take me before i left to make up the debt he owed me from the first time i came to Argentina in September/October 2008 (He just left my all alone in Paraguay by myself when we were staying together no biggie). We had three months to go and...we never went. So when i came back for the third time this year the first thing i told him after hi was that he owed me a soccer game. So being the good man that he is this last Sunday night we went to the game. Tagging along with us was Jakub (Czeckboy),my roommate Ryan, and three newly arrived Americans from Colorado, Bobie, Tallon, and Diego.

The game we went to see was between Argentino Juniors (The club was originally called the “Martyrs of Chicago”, in homage to the eight anarchists imprisoned or hanged after the 1886 Haymaker Riot in Chicago) and the world famous Boca Juniors. It was played at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona. The stadium is named after the most famous Argentine soccer play ever Diego Maradona, who started out his career with the Argentino Juniors at 15 before going on to play for many other local teams and leading the Argentina national team to two world cup wins in the eighties. It is located in La Paternal Barrio which is in the center of Buenos Aires about a 20 min bus ride from downtown. It also just so happens that Pablo lives three blocks from the stadium. The Stadium itself is on the smaller side only holding about 25,000. But that is more than enough when you consider that all 25,000 of those people are die hard crazy Argentine soccer fans.

Before hand i had been warned by many of the girls that the game was going to be crazy and that i should not being anything with me that i could not afford to lose. They basically told me i was going to be in a controlled riot. So my expectation of what this event was going to be was quite interesting. However it ended being much more benine than i thought it would be. However i soon learned why. We had bought tickets in the seat section up high. Down on the ground floor is standingroom only. And even at that we were on the Argentino Juniors side. The Argentinos fans are no where near as crazy as the Boca fans. The majority of the people that come to these games are completed insane. For these people this not a sport, but it truly is a religion. You will regularly see people fists clenched in rage, on the knees praying, doing the rosary, and crying tears of joy and of pain...all over who wins the GAME.

Either way it leads to there being quite the atmosphere at the matches. The rivalry between the teams and their fans has lead to in many dangerous incidents in the past. This in turn now has caused their to be a great deal of safety procedures being put in place whenever there is a game. For one thing in every stadium here there sections are split up between home team and
visitor team sections. Meaning that only fans of the same team sit together. The two different fans also have completely different entrances to the stadiums. Also if you think going through airport security is rough, try going through 4 different pat downs by police in full riot gear. On the night of a game the surrounding area is effectively under police control for 3 hours before and after the game. No alcohol is allowed to be sold or served in the restaurants. And all of the streets have police check points that you have to go through, with full pat downs and security checks. And then when the game is over the visitor section is escorted out by the police and out of the neighborhood while the remaining home team fans have to wait (In our case we waited about 20 mins) before they are allowed to exit the stadium.

But after you get through all of that, you get to see the game. Our game was quite an exciting one. Played with a speed and precision that is lost upon me when compared to the best soccer game i had seen previous to this (Which sad to say was one of our games in Ackerman Park on a Saturday afternoon). I could not help but think of the Simpsons where they go to watch a soccer game only to be disappointed by the apperant lack of action . This however could not have been farther from the truth. The game ended in a tie when Argentino Juniors scored on the last possible chance before the ref blew his whistle and ended the game. 2 to 2 was the final score.

This game was incredible. More impressive than the match itself was the energy in the stadium. You can watch this video which shows how much passion was in the hearts of the fans as they waited for the game to begin. This sound was deafening to say the least. And this video while not doing justice to the feeling that was this game does however provide a brief glimpse into what it was like. The two sets of fans were in constant action for the entire duration of the game. From beginning to end. They both had several drums and other instruments that were used through the whole game to play their teams many many many many many countless songs. They sang and played the entire time. Afterward, we all agreed that the brass section on the Boca side must have lungs of steel to have been able to keep on playing that whole game with fury and passion as they did.

After enjoying the my and the guys went to grab a quick beer, (at 2 in the morning of course we are in Agentina after all) and then made our way home having experienced the fury and passion of these people on a hot summer night in Buenos Aires. A city that has rightly earned the handle "la ciudad de la furia" (The City of Fury).

And more photos...

I named this guy "El Conductor" This toothless crazy old man kept walking up and down the stands getting all of the fans below (and subsequently the whole place) going by starting to sing the various different team songs. Bravo El Conductor.
P.S. This is my favorite shot i took that night.

I was wondering what this huge airbag thing was for since they rolled it out before the game, during half time, and after the game was over. It was only then that i realized that this was meant for the protection of the visiting players. Since the exit to the locker rooms in on the home team side they need to be protected from the fans who might throw things at them.

The start of the game...everyone is pretending to play nice aww...

I would hate to be the guy thats stuck under the flag for the whole game.

Random shot of the park.

Two Pictures To Make Mom Proud

Like every good uncle i need to throw in a picture here and there of my adorable little girls here and there. I know Baby Giada is only a few months old but she already seems to be developing into quite the lovely little Dal Santo. In this picture she seems to be displaying that famous "Whats the matter with you look" ala Dal Santo style...and of course Gabriella is looking as cute as ever. (Dont think we forgot about you...not until the next kid comes out)

My friend Debbie who took this picture at a party last weekend has named it "The Effects Of Alcohol" Pretty good dont you think...

...I sure hope you can tell this is me posing (How many people sleep with their tongue hanging out like that?)