Friday, July 17, 2009

Iguazu Falls

On the border of Argentina and Brasil, Iguazu falls (actually  a waterfall system comprised of 275 waterfalls) along the Iguazu river.  When Eleanor Roosevelt saw the falls for the first time, all she could say was, "poor Niagra".  Having seen both, I have to agree with Ely- these things could eat Niagra alive.  

I have never been such a fan of waterfall pictures.  Actually, I rather dislike them.  Usually when I see photos of waterfalls, they're accompanied by some motivational poem or on the cover of an easy listening cd.  Standing in front of Iguazu falls I realized for the first time why people take some many pictures of the things.  The amount of water and force behind a waterfall is incredible.  You hear them before you see them. The endless cycle of falling water smashing into the river below, is almost impossible to comprehend.  Hence the pictures.  Half trying to convince yourself, half trying to convince others that something this amazing actually exists in nature, you desperately try to capture it in a still frame.  While at Iguazu, I took around 300 pictures in one day...don't worry though, I still hate easy listening...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

La Gripe Porcina

  As people debate whether swine flu is a real threat or not, Buenos Aires is entering into a pseudo state of medical emergency.  Medical masks and hand sanitizer have been sold out at pharmacies for weeks.  Just recently the city government suspended classes at UBA the public university and the Catholic University  just also announced the suspension of final exams that will go into effect next week.  Of course this all happened one day after I finished taking my exams and handing in my final papers.   Although I'm not one to encourage medical epidemics, I'm just saying that if it had to happen it could have had better timing...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Siga la Vaca

A lot of people have asked me why I named the blog "Siga la Vaca" so after entirely too long, here is the quick and dirty explanation...Siga la Vaca means follow the cow in spanish. The way "siga" is conjugated makes it a command, kind of like, "you must follow that cow".  My first week in Buenos Aires I went to a parrilla(argentine bbq) restaurant called Siga la Vaca that was nothing short of a gastronomic gauntlet.  It's what argentines call a  tenedor libre, which literally means "free fork" and is their version of an all-you-can-eat restaurant.  I think I was there for about 5 hours and I'm pretty sure I ate an entire cow (including intestines and coagulated blood formed into sausage).  As a wannabe foodie going to a country famous for its beef the name of this restaurant seemed like a fitting title for my blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Feria de Mataderos

On Sunday, every neighborhood in Buenos Aires has a crafts fair and each one is slightly different,  San Telmo is a bit more antiquey while Recoleta is a bit more hippy.  After going to a few however I realized that they all have basically the same things; some jewelry, mate, a knit sweater or two.  But because I pride myself on being a crafts fair connoisseur, awhile back I decided to go to the mother of all fairs-Mataderos.  Mataderos is not for the faint of heart, it's about a 45 minute bus ride from the center of town, fortunately the bus costs the same amount(1.25 pesos = .35 USD) so you're really getting your bang for your buck.  After getting there, I found out that this is the street fair for Argentines. The day when people come in from the suburbs and the province to show their stuff; mates made right in front of you, folk dancing, artisanal cheeses and olive oil, even-dulce de leche stirred by hand!  

One of the biggest attractions of Mataderos though, is the gauchos.  Argentine cowboys who come to the capitals to show off their riding skills and test out new horses.  Seeing as we were in the middle of the city and there was no good place to ride these horses, they did what any sensible cowboys would do; blockade the street with their truck and cover the asphalt with sand.  Although I couldn't really tell who was the best rider or who had the best horse, Mataderos was one of my favorite fairs so far and it was well worth the bus ride.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


            The entrance of the University of Buenos Aires social sciences building.  

UBA is the completely free public university(sorry mom and dad still not free for foreigners) that has about 350,000 students.  In UBA there is no time table and because it's free, people stick around for years-seriously.  In each class, you have two years after the course's completion to take your final, in this lax atmosphere almost everyone in BsAs is an UBA 'student'.

UBA is famous for being a hotbed for political and social activism, often times when I try to go to class either the professors or the students are on strike.  Because of this uncertain environment the students took over the parking lot(above) to provide a space to have class and forums.  When the parking lot is full sometimes students just blockade the street with desks and chairs, pick up a bull horn and have class in the middle of the road...maybe I should try that at Barnard...

Monday, May 25, 2009


Córdoba is a city about 10 hour bus ride northwest of Buenos Aires near the Sierra Chicas.  The big tourist attraction is the Jesuit circuit of churches in the center of the city.  After seeing a few churches they all started to look the same so we decided to see something different.  Right around the Jesuit circuit we found the Museo de Tortura (museum of torture) and because I like my vacations to be uplifting we decided to check it out.  This is where thousands of los desaparecidos were taken during the late 70's to be interrogated and tortured. 

La Boca

La Boca is a predominantly Italian barrio in Buenos Aires.  In 1882 rebels in the barrio attempted to secede from Argentina and raised the Genoese flag.  Unfortunately now La Boca has been reduced to La Caminito, a pedestrian street of brightly colored houses and cheesy tango shows to attract tourists.  So here are my touristy pictures:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Which one of these is different than the other one...?

Real flower in the Rosedal in Palermo, one of Buenos Aires' many beautiful botanical gardens.

Floralis Generica, a huge metal sculpture in the Recoleta barrio of Buenos Aires that opens and closes based on the intensity of the sunlight.  Much like a real flower it is dependent on solar power...well that and hydroelectric machinery...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Recently I went to Colonia, Uruguay, a historically preserved city a short boat ride away from Buenos Aires.  The boat to Colonia is called "buquebus"- do not let this confuse you, it is in fact a boat not a bus (probably a spanish-english joke to fool tourists).  When taking the buqueBUS, you have the option of the 'fast boat' or the 'slow boat', but because my study abroad program was picking up the tab for this trip i didn't have a choice and ended up on a 3 hour tour instead of the 1 1/2 hour boat.  tiny suggestion: TAKE THE FAST BOAT, there isn't really anything to see except brown water(because of iron deposits, not trash) and in my opinion an hour of looking at murky water is plenty.  once we finally got to colonia we were greeted by a really quaint city, all cobble stone streets filled with crumbling beautiful buildings.  the city itself is very walkable and i think we saw most of the highlights in an afternoon.

One of the best parts though was that the director of my study abroad program has a bed and breakfast that he invited us all to have lunch at:

The house is hidden outside of the city on a small lemon farm so the entire property smells of citrus.  We had a great asado complete with chorizo, morcilla and bife de chorizo accompanied by a delicious salad.  Afterwards we lazed by the pool until it was time to get back on our 3 hour boat/bus...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Semana Santa

El Submarino

Semana Santa(Holy Week) is when everyone escapes Buenos Aires to hang out with their family in the country to celebrate easter.  I had imagined large fairs and religious festivals, but after talking to a few Argentineans I learned that Semana Santa is more about getting time off work and having asados.  I had wanted to go to Salta in the north, but after the dengue outbreak I decided not to risk it and go to San Juan instead.  After about a 15 hour bus ride we arrived in the sleepy town of San Juan which is conveniently located between national parks Ischigualasto and Leoncito.

Valle de la Luna in parque Ischigualasto is a desert full of strange geological formations and the site of the discovery of the oldest dinosaurs in the world.

cancha de bochas: basically means bocce ball court. DO NOT try to play bocce with these spherical stones...park rangers will get very mad.

Parque Leoncito, is home to the largest astronomical observatory in Argentina and sits on the Andean border.

Another great part of Leoncito is the dried out lake bed in the middle, perfect for doing gymnastics or donuts in our car.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata is a seaside town about a 6 hour bus ride outside of Buenos Aires.  Apparently during the summer season the beach is packed and unbearably hot, just like the jersey shore! Fortunately we went during off-season when the beach was empty and the weather was agreeable.  At the port downtown there is a strange colony of sea lions who hang out by the boats and bark at each other.  If you have ever had the pleasure of encountering a sea lion you know that they are basically smelly angry manatees and that they have nothing in common with real lions.

Sea lion throwdown.  Although attacks on humans are rare, in 2007 a 13-year old Australian girl was mauled by a sea lion while surfing (

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quilmes Rock

Quilmes Rock is a big music festival in Buenos Aires sponsored by the national beer company of the same name.  Radiohead and Kraftwerk kicked off day 1 of the festival on March 24 at the Buenos Aires Athletic Club.  Radiohead opened with 15 step, played 3 encores and closed with Creep.  It was incredible to be an American at the concert of an English band, in a crowd of people from all over South America.  I have never been at a more crowded concert, apparently there were 70,000 people.  It was so packed, at one point I put up my hair and then didn't have enough space to put my arms back at my sides, so I just had to stand there with my arms in the air(although a funny mental image, an extremely awkward physical situation).   After the show was over we flooded the streets and completely shut down Avenida del Libertador.  The public transportation system was insufficient to handle a crowd of that size so my friends and i walked about a mile before we could find an empty cab.  Although I was exhausted and covered in other people's sweat, it was absolutely amazing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

FEMA Argentina

This past weekend I went to Tigre (a town on the Parana Delta about an hour outside of the Buenos Aires). Tigre is known for its Puerto de Frutas(Fruit Port), which is now more of a huge craft fair instead of a functioning place of importation. There are a bunch of little islas surrounding Tigre so we took a boat to one called Parque LYFE. By the time we got there, the last boat back to Tigre was about to leave. It was at this point when we had the great idea to camp out there. With nothing more than my camera bag, we convinced the bartender to let us sleep in the tiki hut and lend us some cots. It was great! We met a bunch of Argentine campers and had an asado cookout. However, when we woke up in the morning, the delta had risen and the island was completely flooded. According to people who worked at the campground, this has never happened before we came, from which I can only surmise that this freak natural occurrence was at least partially my fault.

View when we woke up in the hut.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


A few weeks ago our program took us to Bariloche (a city in northern Patagonia). Its about a two hour plane ride and a 20 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires...fortunately we took a plane. It was beautiful. This picture shows the lakes that surround the city and cut through the Andes an over the Chilean border. Apparently, this is where the Swiss first settled and their influence can be seen in the large number of microbreweries and artisanal chocolate shops. There is still a 'Swiss colony' that you can visit, which is pretty strange when you imagine Swiss chalets and beer gardens filled with people speaking spanish.

So on our free day in beautiful Bariloche, some friends and I decided to rent mountain bikes and go on a trail called "Circuito Chico"(short circuit). Apparently the name of the trail was some short of sick joke, like the Iceland/Greenland misnomer because we ended up biking for 6 hours! It was breath-taking, but definitely one of the most physically demanding activities I've ever done.

Worth it. The view from our hotel as the sun set behind the mountains.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Buenos Aires

After a fair amount of waiting and a lot of running around, I finally made it to Argentina!  For the past two weeks, I have been busied by orientation activities, and trying to find my way around this city.

Things I have learned so far:
1.  Not all Argentineans like tango, or mate
2. Buses here think they are cabs and will not stop for you unless you hail them (even if it is raining and you have a backpack and perishable goods)
3.  Mayonnaise is its own food group. It goes on everything. It is a salad dressing, a cheese replacement and it comes in a bag
4.  Mullets-are in fact stylish.  This applies to both genders, and the occasional rat tail
5.  Dinner served before 9pm is called lunch