Monday, July 30, 2007

Bus ride with Drugs and Phonebooks

Around 7 p.m. I hopped on bus “29” to go to my friend’s house. I got my ticket, paid, and walked towards to end of the bus, as I always do, hoping to find a free seat. But I had no luck and I had to stand for the rest of the trip.

About 20 minutes later a roving salesman got on the bus to sell magnetic phonebooks, a useful invention about 10 years ago, yet something unnecessary today when most people use their cell phone’s phonebook to keep track of their friends’ numbers.

“No, thank you. No, thank you.” You would hear over and over again as the salesman made his way around the bus offering his merchandise. There was no variance. The same phrase pronounced by him; the same phrase responded by the travelers….until he stood by my side, approached the rockers traveling next to me and asked them: “¿Paco, pasta base?” (drugs that resemble crack, and residues of cocaine preparation).

Astonished, the boys looked at him, and with them, the rest of the people on the bus. The salesman had spoken so loudly that we had all heard his offering.

Following the collective stare, the man calmly responded: “Hey… If I can’t made money with these phonebooks, I have to sell something to earn my bread right?”, and he got off the bus.

Now I wonder, is there so much impunity in this country that drugs are sold as if they were phonebooks? How is it possible that every 9.000 drug’s related arrests only 12 cases result in convictions? (data gathered from Special on drugs. Telefé. 24 July 2007. Argentina)

Italian Wedding in the Capital of Cuarteto

“Confites” (sugar and chocolate coated almonds) and cakes that last a year; essentials to maintain Italian traditions intact.

The city of Cordoba in Argentina, has a strong and unique identity renown worldwide; fernet with coke, cuarteto, humor and an accent so particular that every cordobes can proudly scream “I need no passport ‘cause I have the accent of Cordoba’s capital”, as cuartetero Rodrigo used to sing.

Despite this unique culture, there are people from Cordoba who still choose to maintain the traditions of their European ancestors, especially during holidays and wedding celebrations.

During this Italian wedding in Cordoba, the newly-weds gave out “confites” as a souvenir at the end of the party, following an Italian tradition known as “bomboniera”, born in the wedding of Vittorio Emanuele, prince of Naples and future King of Italy, and Elena de Montenegro, after they gave our this aristocratic sweet to all their guests.

In traditional weddings, Italians give out “confites” as a symbol of good fortune. Accoring to RZBomboniere “Almonds have a sweet-sour taste that represent life. Its sugar coating symbolizes hope for having a more sweet than sour union.” Tradition indicates that the newly-weds should offer five almonds to each guest for health, richness, happiness, fertility and longevity. However, there are times that they only give out three. They can choose to give as many as they’d like, but the number should be uneven to attract good fortune.

In addition to the “confites”, the bride and the women of both families cooked a rich nut wedding cake following an Italian recipe; following the tradition of their Italian ancestors, they then cut a large piece of cake, and put it away to enjoy it the following year during their first-year anniversary.

Nowadays with the existence of freezers it is possible to conserve the cake for such a long time, but I cannot think how they keep the cake intact for a year around 1800. When we are talking about traditions, Could we put our diet as an excuse for not trying the year-old cake or is there no valid excuse for following traditions?

Have you ever tried a year-old cake? Do Italians still keep maintaining this tradition?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friendship Day: Another Argentinean Invention; A Perfect Excuse to Celebrate Friendship

The Argentinean dentist, musician, psychology and philosophy professor, and twice candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize Enrique Ernesto Febbraro, tried to unite the world one letter at a time; after viewing the arrival of the man to the moon July 20, 1969, he wrote more than 1,000 letters to addresses in more than 100 countries to promote the idea of celebrating friendship on this date.

Febbraro, from San Cristobal neighborhood, Argentina, received more than 700 replies to his letters. In 1972, he acquired the patent for the invention of this celebration, and with time people began to celebrate “Friendship Day.”

In Argentina, Friendship Day even has an official date after the Government of Buenos Aires approved an order in council Nº 235/79 that authorizes the celebration of this date giving it legal status.

Even though I might be hard to believe, Febbraro stated to La Voz del Interior that “I spent a lot, a lot of money to establish Friendship Day. The cost was tremendous. I have to deprive myself of various vacations, a car, and many other things, although I never lost any retribution for what I did.

Sometimes, we also sacrifice some things for our friends, but most of the time we gain more than what we loose with such deprivations.

For that reason I want to thank my friends for always being there for me, for celebrating my jokes (even when they are bad), for tolerating my craziness and mood swings, for accepting my unexpected hugs and sudden energy rushes, for having their doors open every time I decide to show up in their little corner of the world, for thinking about me and for showing so much love even though we spend more time away from each other than together.

Los quiero muchísimo and I wish you all the best. ¡Feliz Día del Amigo!

How did y’all celebrate this date?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Christmas All Year Round in Buenos Aires

Panettone is synonym for Christmas. Well, not always. In Buenos Aires, the bakery Plaza Mayor prepares and sells panettone all year round.

During the holidays, there are people who stand in line for hours to buy one of these and take it to their tables on Christmas Eve, so they can enjoy the nuts, almonds, caju nuts and dry fruits that you can taste in every bite.

Throughout the year the lines are shorter, but there are still people who visit Plaza Mayor at 1:30 a.m. to buy panettone. Are they addicted to this sweet bread of December or to the warm Christmas joy? I am not sure. But there is no doubt that in Buenos Aires, people gladly enjoy panettone every month of the year.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Buenos Aires' Planetarium, A Microphone out of Tune

Even though it is shaped like a microphone, it has been the Argentinean eye to the universe for the past 40 years (1967-2007).

The "Planetario de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires Galileo Galilei", with it sample and beautiful park, stage to thousand of open-air concerts, it is a nice place to spend weekend afternoons with family and friends.

I emphasize on the park because I found the show inside the Planetariumun unsatisfactory. Even though there has been important scientific and technological changes since I visited the place more than fourteen years ago, I though presentation "Birth and Death of the Sun" lacked depth andinteresting information.

I think, that if we want to continue to stimulate our culture it would be necessary to balance and tune in our microphones a little better.

How to get there:

Planetario de La Ciudad de Buenos Aires Galileo Galilei

Av. Sarmiento and Figueroa Alcorta


Show: Birth and Death of the Sun (Nacimiento y Muerte del Sol)

Tuesday and Friday: 13 y 17 hs.

Weekend: 17, 18 y 19 hs.