The One With the Asados

Continuing our favorite tradition of heading to the cultural festivals on the weekends, we headed to the Mexico Cultural Festival! Despite all of the misleading dates and confusion about when the festival was actually occurring, we finally made it and I finally got my burrito. I gotta say, it wasn’t as good as my California burritos. Nonetheless, you can see the look of satisfaction below. They had a mariachi band playing on the stage and lots of good food in all of the stands.

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On one of our Friday excursions, we headed out to the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires (MALBA) with our program director. The first floor had lots of art from Latin American painters including some works from Frida Kahlo. We had a guided tour in Spanish, which was alright; I’m not a huge art fan. But then we went upstairs, and everything changed. They had a temporary display called the Infinite Experience that was created by a large group of artists. When we got upstairs we encountered a room that they were still painting. We all stopped, expecting to go somewhere else but our program director and our guide both assured us in English and in Spanish that this was part of the display. They had hired house painters to spend time in this room, painting and repainting the walls white. That was our first infinite experience.

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In the next room we found a screen on the wall that seemed to be narrating everything that was happening in the room. I had arrived a little late because I was too busy watching the painters so the first few lines were already written when I got there. I couldn’t hear our guide so I tapped my friend on the shoulder and asked I’m to explain it to me. He quickly explained, pointing to the guy behind us who was sitting in front of a computer. I glanced back at him and then back at the screen in time to see him write, “One boy seems to be translating the screen into English for a girl who is apparently his girlfriend.” At which everyone burst out laughing and my friend turned bright red. We high-fived and then a new sentence appeared, stating that everyone had laughed and then we’d high-fived. The rest of the exhibits were equally fascinating, with my other favorite being a room with a woman who would ask you the time and then add your name and the time to the list that was on all of the walls.

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“It’s a guided visit to the museum”/ “She explains the work of the painters, an abundance of women enter and join the guided tour. They take photos of the painting”/ “Now she explains Dora Garcia’s work, explains the narrative that is happening in the room.”/ “During the speech, some of the visitors point out the screen to one another”/ “One boy seems to translate the screen into english for a girl who appears to be his girlfriend.”

I would like to point out that he wasn’t translating it, just explaining its function.

Within Palermo there’s a huge number of parks and green spaces. I’ve already visited the botanical garden, the rose garden and a few of the parks; but the Japanese garden had still eluded me. So, Austin and I headed there before going to MALBA, since it was on the way. It is a very cool garden and a great place to walk around. All of the ponds are filled with gigantic koi fish who seem very friendly, which the staff obviously know since the ponds are covered with signs telling you not to touch the koi. I assume feeding them was off the table too but the main concern was for petting the animals.

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On one of my nice, free Thursdays, I went out to the Holocaust museum in the early evening. It was very small, many times smaller than the museum in Israel and had a completely different focus. Whereas the museum in Israel tries to tell the stories of the victims, this museum focused on the stories of the SS officers who fled to Argentina, with an entire room dedicated to Adolf Eichmann. In the back they also had a memorial room with a graveyard of sorts for the victims. And, in familiar tradition there was a bowl with rocks so visitors could put them on the graves. I hadn’t seen that anywhere but in Israel, so that was super nostalgic.

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The Nature Reserve has a giant pond, all of the parks around Palermo have normal sized ponds, and ponds need cleaning. So, to clean these ponds, they have these great boats with nets of sorts on the front to pick up the pond scum. The smart birds will hang out in the front and eat out of the easy pickings, no one was doing that on this boat, but I have seen it in the past.

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Before going to the Holocaust museum, I went to the Palace of Running Water (Palacio del Agua Corriente) which I had heard was an architectural marvel and had an interesting little museum inside. In addition to these fine qualities, it is still functional as a place you can go to pay your water bills. Doesn’t a nice place like this just make you want to go pay your water bills in person? The museum was actually very cool, it had all sorts of old toilets and faucets. They had one display of all of the faucets cut in half so I finally got to see exactly how they work. They also had a great display of kids’ artwork on water conservation.

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As promised, I returned to the front row of Teatro Colon to see Swan Lake. It was as lovely as everyone has always said it was, and I had a program in Spanish so I could read the summary of the acts before they occurred twenty feet from me (the orchestra pit was rather large). Turns out from the front row you can see the stage very well, but the statues at the top of the booths become ants. I was okay with the trade offs, being in the front row for the ballet meant that not only could we calculate exactly how high the male leads were jumping, but we could hear the pitter-patter of the dancers’ feet as they ran around the stage.

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#datcitylyfe: Argentina is famous for its meat, so it’s understandable that they would have their own special traditions that include meat. In the U.S. the closest thing to this would be a nice family barbecue. But these guys take barbecue to a whole new level. Giant grills are on the patio or in the backyard of every house. Someone once told me that if you go on google maps and zoom in to Buenos Aires, you’ll see grills on top of all of the apartment buildings and houses. I believe it. Asados generally have one person who is the asador and cooks all of the meat. The rest hang out and enjoy their time together. Usually you start out with chorizo, like polish sausage type things and morcillo — blood sausage. Fun fact: It’s called blood sausage for a reason. The first time I had it at an asado I told my friends not to tell me what I was eating, I figured I didn’t want to know. I was SO right, it tasted fine; but ever since I found out I was eating congealed blood I haven’t been able to eat any more of it. The morcillo and chorizo is followed by a few different types of steak, and then some chicken. These are the staples, but some asados throw in different types of food. My house generally also has vegetables in the asados partly for my host sister, who is a vegetarian, and partly because steak tastes excellent with onions. But not all additions are that tasty. But, with asados, I always keep the rule of eat first, ask questions later. Which sounds like a good rule, but after eating both cow’s tongue and fried cow spleen, I’ve started questioning myself….

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