A trip to South America

Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Wow. Yet again I'm running behind on my blog posts. I finally earned ABD (All But Dissertation) status and now I'm on to writing my dissertation proposal. Because I write from my home office, I won't be experiencing much human interaction during the week outside of teaching and research meeting, so I'm going to attempt to blog again as an outlet.

Earlier this year, James planned an amazing trip for us to Argentina and Uruguay and I must say, it has been my favorite adventure thus far. He selected many activities that he knew I would love: a tango performance, private cooking lesson, spa treatments, tours of wineries and olive groves along with tastings, and going to interesting restaurants. We enjoyed walks along the beach, drives in the country, and watching legit gauchos ride horses along dirt roads.

I'd like to blog the trip but I'm not quite sure where to start. We went to Argentina first and spent time in Buenos Aires. Of the cities and places we visited on this trip, Buenos Aires was our least favorite. While walking with our guide Julie, in broad daylight, a thief ripped James' watch right off of his arm! This was near Cafe Tortoni, a tourist attraction located on the oldest avenue in the city, Avenida de Maya. It is a relatively unsafe city and police do not seem to be active in protecting tourists. James took it in stride and we tried to enjoy the city as best we could before moving on to Uruguay.

Buenos Aires means "good air." When the city was settled, apparently settlers brought a small statue of a woman called, "Lady of the Good Air." Over the years the name has shortened to just "Good Air." In the city, you will notice a strong French influence. French fashion, style, and architecture were sought after by the city's wealthy population and brought in to shape culture.

During our day tour, our first stop was at La Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried. It spans six blocks and is laid out in the shape of a Latin cross.

There are 2,500 mausoleums here and most are purchased by middle class and wealthy families. The cemetery cannot be expanded but when one falls into disrepair and the family that owns it cannot be reached for a certain amount of time, the mausoleum will be sold to a new family and renovated. 

For lunch one day we decided to try Las Nazarenas. It is centrally located near the Sheraton Convention Center and was close to our hotel. We felt safe walking there during the day and were mesmerized by the meat roasting over hot coals in the front window. Argentina takes it's food seriously - especially anything to do with beef.

Certainly the most magical moments in Argentina for us (or at least for me) came during a live tango show! I was thrilled and very impressed with the skills and showmanship of the dancers. 

A five piece live band played from above the stage and the sound quality was fantastic. We were delighted to be seated near the stage and were so close that we could see the patterns in the dancer's fishnet stockings! Each number was high-energy with full costume changes and gorgeous makeup, hats, and hairstyles. 

The setting was fairly intimate (about 200 people) and we were served a full course dinner with wine before the dancing began. Admittedly, the food was not great but the waiters kept the wine flowing so no one was hungry. James enjoyed the dessert but I skipped out on that even though it looked good.

The experience inspired me to get back into dancing, maybe tango? Now I just have to convince my partner. :)

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