Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Arak Beras was Mostly Appearance

I chose appearance over content when I bought my souvenir in Bali, Indonesia. I had no idea what Arak Beras could possibly be, the label only said "distilled from rice and sugar cane." But the bottle's design was so enigmatic and attractive that I could not leave the bottle on the shelf; I had to take it home.

As soon as I opened the container the strong smell of alcohol automatically pushed me about a meter away from the bottle; it was so intense that it made my eyes itchy. The first sip was even worse, and I sustained it while it descended down my throat as a lighted match.

Like many of the souvenirs we buy during our trips, the bottle of "Arak Beras" rested on one of my house's shelves for over a year before I ventured to reopen it.

After such a long time, the artisans' wine had settled and its smell was suave, sweet and liquorish. However, its taste was still strong; perfect to heat yourself up during a cold winter day, but not much else.

After opening it trying it, reopening and retrying it, I still choose the appearance of this souvenir over its content. From now on it will simply sit on my shelf next to other useless acquisitions.

Imagine Buenos Aires Without Buses

Picture by Carlos Rodríguez: Colectivo en el estado Guarico, Venezuela, Hacienda de las Maravillas

Since I moved to Buenos Aires about nine months ago, I feel that my life takes place on a bus. I spend close to three hours of my daily life on abus going to and coming from work, traveling to visit my friends, go out todinner, go to my tango lessons, etc.

As it is common when you spend tooooooo much time with something, I have developed a love-hate relationship with box on wheels.

On one side it is convenient, I can take it anytime and anywhere to gowhenever I want, and I do not get stressed driving around Buenos Aires crowded streets. Yet, on the other side, I have to condense myself next to hundreds of passengers during rush hour, I have to go around asking for coins to be able to travel, and during winter, my hands freeze as I wait for the bus.

However, I cannot imagine living in Buenos Aires without buses. For that reason I have attached this picture that Carlos Rodriguez sent to me of an abandoned bus in Venezuela. When I first looked at it I felt sad.

How would my life be in this city if it ceases to take place on a bus?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Roses vs. Rosas in Buenos Aires’ Green Lungs

In 1975, Buenos Aires’ government transplanted Rosas for roses when it inaugurated El Rosedal de Palermo in the land that belonged Juan Manuel de Rosas.

As years passed by, Los Bosques de Parlemo, and specially El Rosedal, became one of porteños favorite place to spend the sunny weekends: walking along the park, running, playing soccer, skating, sitting down reading the paper or a good book, or simply drinking mate with pastries.

This park, also known as Parque 3 de Febrero was designed and inaugurated November 11, 1975 by the architect and landscaper Carlos Thays; the park carries its name in commemoration of Casero’s Battle of 1852, when the Ejercito Grande commanded by Justo Jose de Urquiza overthrowned Juan Manuel de Rosas and took his lands away from him. The government passed a decree that made the lands public domain, and transformed them into the beautiful green areas we can see and enjoy today. (Registro Oficial de la Provincia de Buenos Aires -Años 1831-1859 (Pag. 416). Decreto Nº 1.474/852. ) ”Declarando que todas las propiedades pertenecientes a D. Juan M. Rosas existentes en Buenos Aires son de pertenencia publica.” Buenos Aires, Febrero 16 de 1852.).

Personally, I find it curious that Rosas´ old residency is now well known for its labyrinths of roses that host up to 12.000 blossoming flowers in the Spring. Years ago, these lands were the scenery of heated conflicts, while today they are synonym of harmony, sweet smells and tranquility.

How to get there:

These 300 hectares of green parks are located between Av. Del Libertador, Salguero, Av. Rafael Obligado and Pampa.

Train: Station “3 de febrero”

Av. Del Libertador and Dorrego: 10, 34, 36, 160, 166
Plaza Italia: 12, 15, 21, 29, 36, 37, 39, 41, 55, 57, 59, 60, 64, 67, 68, 93, 95, 11, 118, 128, 141, 152, 160, 161, 188, 194

Subway: Line D

Rosedal hours open to public:
Summer: 8.00 to 20.00 hrs.
Winter: 9.00 to 18.00 hrs.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Higuerote: Venezuelan Beaches, Honoring my Adoptive Home

Pictures by Carlos Rodríguez

Majagua, Higuerote, Estado Miranda, Venezuela

I owe a lot to Venezuela; practically half of my life, half of my friends, half of my party-time, half of my personality and the best memories of what it means to go to the beach.

However, since I haven’t been able to go back in many years, to my adptive home, I have dedicated little time and space to it in my blog. For this reason I have decided to share a little piece of Venezuelan beauty through the pictures of my friend Carlos Rodriguez.

Right now, I settle with the memory of these hidden beaches, although I hope some day I will be able to go back to feel the warm sand under my feet and the temperate marine breeze of beach days that taste like empanada, friend’s laughter, reggae, beer and salt.

Panoramic view, Chirimena, Higuerote, Estado Miranda, Venezuela

“The boat is in a river that flows out of the middle of the beach, fishermen keep their boats there, in the middle of the river, where pelicans are in charge of cleaning up everything that may be left behind after fishermen clean the fishing lines they’ve been collecting since 5 a.m. This beach is located in Estado Aragua, in the North, next to the tall coastal mountain range where you can see Puerto Cabello and Choroni (Estado Carabobo and Aragua, respectively).” – Carlos Rodriguez, Caracas, Venezuela.