July 30, 2010

happy anniversary love!

its been three years today:)
happy anniversary brandon!
i cant wait to be back with you next week:)
im so lucky and so happy to have you as my best friend:)
i love you so much!

July 28, 2010

winding down?

as the weeks fly by im starting to wind up, if you can believe it. the closer i am to going home, the more things my friends and i have been packing into the days and the less sleep i seem to be getting. don't get me wrong... its been soooo fun and itll be bitter sweet to head home next week.

sunday our entire program of people took a trip to colonia, uruguay for a historical tour around the portuguese port settlement. we traveled by ferry boat, had a great uruguayan meal, walked around the port listening to a tour guide explain all of the history behind immigration in the south american countries. im not gonna lie... not really my favorite day and the eight degrees celsius and rain really didn't help that much either but it was fun none-the-less.

monday we had a great history, preparation, and tasting class on the traditional mate that is everywhere (literally everywhere) in BA and argentina for that matter. it was really cool and some of the most interesting info that ive learned about the culture thus far. i dont know if you have read the book "three cups of tea" but the traditions of sharing mate in argentina are similar and the argentines believe in different ways of serving and preparing the mate based on spiritual, emotional, and often relational ideals. it was really interesting and i love mate so that helped too:)

la bomba del tiempo! on monday we went to a percussion concert and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g! there were 12 members and special guests and they played their drums and we danced for two and a half hours straight. everyone in the croud was crazy, sweaty, and rocking out to all different kinds of drums and percussion insturments. so fun. and to top it off it was a this really interesting and weird cultural center outdoor/indoor venue thing. one of the top cultural adventures of the trip thus far.

despedida time! its despedida time, aka its "a great reason to get a bunch of people together for dinner and drinks and go out to a bar or apartment and have a bunch of fun before someone leaves the program to go back home" time. since our school program ends on friday many of my friends are headed back to their homes friday or saturday and so we have been savoring the last few days together. oh so fun but ill be glad to get in bed at a decent time tonight!

oh and that thing called spanish class, that little reason why i signed up for this program... yea about that... well i have finals tomorrow and friday. an oral and a written. shouldnt be to bad but i bought myself a nice array of my favorite argentine snacks and ill be studying tonight.

again, i hope we chat more about my adventures and great stories when i return. talk to you soon and until then buen suerte!!!

p.s. i cant wait to see you brandon and roomies!!!

July 24, 2010

prayers for poverty

buenos aires is your typical big city. taxis everywhere, chain restaurants, periodical stands, rushing business men, towering skyscrapers, overflowing garbage cans, packed apartments, and poverty. it is rare that you pass by a block in BA without trash, graphitii, transients, families cooking meals over small fires, porn flyers, broken sidewalks, or dirty people trying to sell you a little bag of tissues for one peso. you are bound to be a witness to poverty in buenos aires.

despite the extreme poverty, the aura of argentina is bold and alive. everywhere you go argentines are proud to be argentinean. people value their dirty, old sweater or their little trinket that they just found on the street corner or that their team just won another game in the world cup. its a strange thing to see for someone that has grown up in a clean, wealthy, safe, and plentiful environment, and a small town none-the-less. people here beg because they don't have a shoe, they are literally homeless with no where to go, they lack a bottle of water or piece of bread, and sleep on a dirty, wet step somewhere different each night; but when you give them 50 centos (equivalent to about 15 cents in the states) they thank you for 3 minutes and give you blessings. its an entirely different world here.

i have seen extreme poverty in rural mexico and peru. i have helped build houses, brought supplies, picked and washed vegetables, served food, and helped children in third world countries, but never have i seen this type of poverty. there is no where to begin and so much to do. it is different than taking cooking equipment to an orphanage in rural peru where there was no knowledge of computers, college, heating/air conditioning, or toothpaste. bringing new knives and pots/pans changed their lives drastically. but here, where inequality is incredibly prevalent, the differences are much more pronounce. and for that i ask your prayers and thoughts this week.

i have some particulary extreme cases that i have come across this trip...
- the man with the eye ulsers: their is a man that stands across the street from my residence everyday. his "job" is to flag down taxis, put peoples bags and such in the trunk, and open/close doors. he works solely for the few centos that people give him when he does these tasks. and he is probably paid every 5 taxis. in a days time he probably makes close to 15 or 20 pesos, about 5 dollars. he has a gigantic visual protrusion from his eyeball that is fairly disgusting to put it nicely. and for this many people don't want to give him money at the risk of touching his hand. this is his life as i have seen it the past three weeks.

- brandon: brandon is the eleven year old boy that i help at the afterschool program. he "lives" with his brother and father and "attends" the local public school. last week he was caught smoking cigarettes with a group of older adolescents and risked being terminated from the afterschool program because of drug use. his mother fled their apartment because of abuse a few years ago, and his father and brother are addicted to drugs. he barely reads spanish and his vocabulary when writing is limited to that of maybe an eight year old. when i asked him what english he knew from school, he responded "go sit outside" because that is the only thing he has heard from his teacher. he is verbally and physically inappropriate at times. despite all of these things he makes the entire room laugh. i told him that my boyfriends name was brandon too and since then he takes me by the arm and says "es mi novia" (this is my girlfriend). he is hilarious and enthusiastic.

- the people of constitucion: this area of town is one of extreme poverty and at times very unsafe. as a foreign student we were told that we are not allowed to go there ever, and all of us have adhered to that to the fullest. it is on the very far side of of the city and accessible by subte (subway) only because it is a bit outside of BA. contitucion's subways is known as the drug nucleus, the plaza is the center for prostitution and addicts, and petty crimes are abundant. i have only seen it through a taxi from above on the overpass that heads to iguazu and las pampas. there are cardboard shacks under most building overhang shelters, their are people urinating against buildings, and a quiet darkness in all windows and buildings. its people are dirt poor and poverty resides everywhere in the central area of constituction.

- the 17 year old girl and her two children: rosie, the coordinatior of our great volunteer program, got a call while we were volunteering last week. it was the second call that she has received from a 17 year old girl with a baby and young girl. she was forced out of her house when she had her first child and has lived on the streets since then. rosie is working on finding her a home and the those of us that volunteer went out and bought supplies that rosie will deliver to her. as of now she has no where to go with her two young ones.

i bet you are worried about my safety and i probably should have told you this once i was home but to ease your worries i am in an extremely safe area with 24hr security at my building, one block from the police station and german hospital, with well lit streets, and tourist filled sidewalks. i never go anywhere without at least one other person and the area that i am in is known as the safest area in BA. plus argentina is the safest country in all of south america. still you are worried, but i feel safe here and i am not typically your "i feel safe" person. poverty is everywhere in the world, just in a different perspective and place. hopefully you can take a few minutes this week and think about this too... its easy to forget when you don't see it everyday, but once you see it i doubt you forget it.

July 23, 2010

whirlwind recap

slacking blogger once again but ive been so busy and so tired by the time that i get to a computer that i have no energy to stay up. this past week has been so, so, so, so, so fun and exciting. i have so many stories and great adventures from this week but it would be much better understood over a coffee or frozen yogurt. ill give you highlights tho!!!

::: trip to las pampas to a gaucho ranch with traditional meal, horse racing, and gaucho ranch activities including a folklore show and parrilla (tons and tons of meat served to your table straight from the bbq) meal. it rained but that made it all the more interesting when watching the horse races and exploring the land... ps vo you would be in h-e-a-v-e-n!

::: hilarious and enlightening spanish and culture class daily... except for a little "skive" as they call it on thursday to see the sites and have a day off. oops:) (roomies are you proud???)

::: a great potluck dinner on the 4th floor (where most of the grigos live). great to sit around my our favorite wine and foods the include food products other than the typical jamon, queso, y pan. sooooo lucky to have such a great and fun group in my program!!!

:::tango orchestra show in a back ally warehouse in a sketchy neighborhood with an unmarked building. the most argentine thing i have seen yet. a cool urban warehouse with miss-matched chairs, a bar complete with chalkboard paint to list the drinks, and a fabulous theatrical performance but a 12 person orchestra including 4 men with accordions, 4 men with violins, 2 with chellos, one on the piano, and a perfectly argentina tAAAngo singer. sooo fun and authentic!

::: south american liqueur tasting and class to learn/enjoy ganica, fernet, and hesperidina. these are the tradition liqueurs of argentina and as a change-up to wine tasting our program arranged for us to have a different kind of "cultural class" as they like to call it:)

::: my thursday adventure took me to san telmo district where i browsed argentinan antiques stores, watched street tango, enjoyed the quaint calmness of a sidewalk cafe, and searched the infamous street market for goodies. this was one of my favorite places so far and gave me a little glimpse of the "real" argentina that the locals see

::: walking tour of puerto madera, florida street, and microcentro. three great and vastly different areas within a (long) walking distance from my residencia. puerto madera is the upscale, waterfront area with ritzy bars and resturants that serve everything under the sun... but especially good steak, gancia batido, and helado:) florida street is one of the only pedestrian street in BA and is the location of locations for shopping. the best and most beautiful leather in the world resides here. ohh sooo fun! and as for microcentro, the center of town where "casa rosada" or the pink house (their white house), government buildings, national banks and the main and incredibly important "plaza de mayo" all are located. i was able to take a free (wahoo) tour through this area for a few hours and learn all about the history of argentinas politics. very interesting and a bit sad.

::: continue to next bullet point if you are a grandparent or parent of mine or if i watch your children:).... throughly experienced the "all night" club and bar scene this week in the notorious "vida nocturna de BA" and it is amazing! when they say argentines eat dinner at 10:30/11pm and party until 7:30am in the morning, they are not lying at all. from pub crawls across districts to sampling bottles of vino at traditional bars, i got my full dose of argentinas night (or more like morning) life. and i bet all of you read this anyhow so the disclaimer is that i was still the one to get everyone water, hold hair back, and hold everyones id's and such so im still quite responsible and carful:)

::: tango lesson in the palcio barolo with the one and only, best tango partner ever... alessia my roommate. she gave you a run for your money brandon:) the palace is where my programs office is located and it is b-e-a--t-i-f-u-l! fun little lesson and everyone brought food for a local soup kitchen as their admission to the lesson

::: volunteering- ill write another post to talk about this more. its was great!

::: trip to my favorite place in BA- recoleta! im in love with recoleta... its a district known for its artsy atmosphere and chic cafes. i headed to the market for the second time today and it was so fun and exciting even the second time around. street vendors fill plaza francia, groups of friends pass around mate cups while listening to local bands, women carry around fancy pastries warm from the cafes ovens, and hundreds of people shop the handmade stalls of jewelry, clothes, souvenirs, and all things argentine. its the best and love the local church, cemetery, and cafes aswell!

i know that it is not an exclusinve list of my adventures this week but i have pictures and stories to share when i return. i hope your week was great and your adventures fun too! hasta luego:)

July 15, 2010


i am in love with BA! i just thought id let you know. this city is amazing and so full of culture everywhere you go! i know quite cliche but it is true. i came and am falling in love with a city, the people, the language, the traditions, the food, everything (if only i had my B here:)!

as for the past two days... school is great, my teachers are hilarious and fantastic, cooking meals and enjoying wine with friends from around the world is more than fabulous, doing homework over medialunas and cafe con leche in small cafes in the morning is so sweet, red wine tasting class was delicious, and shopping in a town full of beautiful leather isn't too bad either:)

as for my cultural adventures these past few days, i ventured to la boca -caminito. the most photographed and most cliche area in buenos aires. you've seen the colorful housed with tango dancers on the front of national geographic and yesterday i was fortunate enough to see it up close and personal. ironically, this area is 2 square blocks and la boca district is the impoverished and at times the most unsafe area in the whole city (not caminito itself but other parts of this district). caminito- the small area of colored houses and stores was originally an italian port settlement consisting of incredibly poor laborers. they used any materials that the ships threw off the boat to build their houses including the random bins of paint... and caminito was born. we toured the museo and strolled the streets with our teacher learning about the culture in spanish. woo, mine is slowly coming along!

more to come this weekend and of course the 'real ba" stories to come over coffee when i return. chau chau!

July 13, 2010

in the swing of things (14/7/10)

today was quite nice. a bit of sleep, school, touring, dinner, dessert, time with friends, and program coordination. its been a while since i have had time to slow down and sleep in so that was quite nice! nothing too fancy today, except i have been craving vegetables... i know weird right? i never thought i would say this but i am getting quite tired of bread and cheese, and crackers and cheese, and bread with tomato and cheese, and a different version of cheese with bread and tomato sauce... you get the idea. and cheese is my favorite food too! but ive been missing out on veggies and tonight we went to an asian fusion place with noodles and veggies. oh yum. i also went to the store and made a good amount of food at my residencia aswell for better/healthier eating here so that i dont blow up to the size of a elephant.

pictures are up on embitions.blogspot.com and ill be here most of the weekend. i will be heading to "las pampas" this weekend on a day trip with our group to go to a traditional argentinian gaucho ranch, horseback riding in the pampas, and several other fun things.

xoxoxo from BA!

July 12, 2010

61. see iguazu falls

THE bucket list #61. see iguazu falls has officially been crossed off of the list as of saturday. as i said previously i traveled to puerto iguazu on the very northern part of argentina this past weekend to see the iguazu falls. never in my life have i seen something so amazingly breathtaking. yea it was more amzing to me that belize, italy, london, peru, california, than all other places that i have traveled. not to knock any of them at all, but iguazu is simply amazing. besides taking over 450 pictures here is what i did this (long) weekend

-18 hr bus ride from BA to puerto iguazu
-lunch at a tango bar and walked by a nursery(dad!) and hostital. pretty cool.
-hike to "hito tres fronters" or the location when paraguay, brazil, and argentina meet in one spot overlooking the divergence of the rivers that lead to iguazu falls
-traditional parailla argentinian bbq and brazilian caparinia drinks
-night out at "club libre" which i am still quite sure was the only club in puerto iguazuu, and the only "open" club in iguazu tambien. it was a blast.
-moist and rustic hostel room, complete with slugs and centipedes
-trip to iguazu falls including a boat ride under the falls, hike to upper and lower falls, truck tour thorugh the rainforest, overlooking water hike to the "devils throat", and countless views of the falls while getting misted with the water
-brazilian show at the hostel including way more than half naked women in small, small clothes, sparkles, and jewels doing traditional samba... owwowwww!
-the best meal i have had in argentina thus far at "terra" with a great group of people. the restaurant lets al of the customers chalk the walls, no two chairs were matching, i had great veggies, and and they had beautiful artwork everywhere. a little malbec added to the experience.
-another musty night in the hostel. woo... thank you wet rainforest:)
-a trip to misiones, the town near iguazu to soak up some culture and shop around
-nearly missed the bus... had to chase it down the street but we got it!
-18hr bus ride back to BA- the funniest bus ride ever! thank you friends:)
-arrvied in BA at 9:45am to a brisque very, very, very cold morning- then off to shower, laundry, homework, and class!

i cannot say enought good things about iguazu. it was simply phenomenal and the boat ride was the most fun i have had in a long time!

buenos noches amigas. estoy muy cansada. adios.

July 7, 2010


hello again! its been go-go-go for me these last two days and im so tired but i had to fill you in briefly because i leave for iguazu falls tomorrow night and i will not be able to blog until monday most likely. its 1:32am here and i know thats early for argentines but its still a little late for me so here is my quick synopsis of the past two days...

tuesday--- medialunas (sweet croissants) and cafe con leche have officially become my breakfast on this day, first real day of class, great teacher and fun conversational class, shopping and touring the congress and san telmo district, dinner with my new group of friends at puerto madera (the argentinean version of the wharf in san Francisco... so beautiful) dinner was a fancy, fancy traditional argentinean steak dinner, lots of vino, and dessert (yum flan), then to a bar on the waters edge with great company of my new friends... im slowly learning how to stay out, very slowly.

wednesday--- late wake up time due to the late night before, official breakfast at a local chain cafe that i loveeee and have been to three times now, class with my other teacher and she was so nice and patient, general volunteer orientation meeting- i will be volunteering with homeless, abused, and neglected children at an after school program in "la boca" the low income, impoverished district in town teaching english and art starting next monday, then wine tasting class focusing on white wines this week (reds, sparkling, oaks to follow), then to placio alsina for "after work"=happy hour in the states, for drinks dancing and some true argentinian culture (quite the beautiful, fancy, and incredible place with very "friendly" argentines)

all in all, i am having a fabulous time so far and have settled in well, now im working on blending in, experiencing more of the culture, exploring the city, and practicing my spanish!

i wish i cold go on but im exhausted. buenos noches mis amigos!

July 5, 2010

dia tres

today was the first day of my "real" program with the company and school in BA (thats the cool way to say buenos aires). i started my language school and had orientation to the program as a whole with all of the activities and trips laid out to some extent. i admit i am getting quite tired and so for that reason im going to get right to the good stuff (which you should know usually includes lots of food)...

- woke up and grabbed delicious dulce de leche pastrys for two pesos at the mercado... yum and again im gonna be huge. don't worry tho, the second i get back to "the states"(thats my new word that i use as often as possible now that i have canadian and english friends... i love it!) i have to start training for the nike womens half marathon so ill shake all of this cheese, pizza, pastries, coffee, wine, and beef right off of me....maybe?
- attended orientation and am looking forward to volunteer work with children, mate dinner date with a group of friends, wine tasting on wednesday, first "real" day of school tomorrow, and iguazu this weekend!
- i have friends:) such nice friends from all over the world! sound like a good reason to travel more now!
- i have taken up a new slogan for the month- "i am eating my way across argentina". literally, it gonna happen and i love the idea.
-attended a fabulous and inspiring talk today from the madres del plaza del mayo. they are a group of mothers and grandmothers whose children and grandchildren (30,000 in total) were taken away form them 33 year ago during the government regime. the children were tortures and taken to concentration camps never to be seen again. these madres have been protesting and asking for change every thursday in a 30 minute march for 1,700 thursdays now in hopes of instilling a new democracy that will make right, politically, socially, and educationally, the laws of argentina so that their children will never be forgotten. the main women that spoke to us today was 97!!! and she was a spitfire... if only i can have that much passion for something at 97! the madres block the roads and march though the plaza every thursday in addition to building schools, memorials, libraries, and supportive homes for argentinean children. how cool is that? (im going to join the march this thursday or next... so exciting)
-marienda is the meal between lunch and dinner. america, i know your fat but we should bring this tradition back to "the states" its the best ha! a little pizza or empanada... or in our case all of the above and ice cream. woops.
-(shh i visited volta helado again tonight with friends and we had a great girl chat for two hours all getting to know eachother:)
- i had a spanish oral placement test today and i am in the intermediate class i believe so that should be great and quite funny hearing my terrible accent... that will change tho, hopefully!

ffffsssshhhuuuu... well so much for bed early. goodnight my friends! talk to you tomorrow!

July 4, 2010

dia dos

hola! today was so fun! my roommate and i did a walking tour of the recoleta district with our main destination being a huge artisan outdoor market in the grass plazas of the district. recoleta is known as the artsy, hippy, museum type location of buenos aires with a very creative aura... this was very much true. we walked around the market for sometime and then followed the "death, art, and shopping" tour, as lonely planet calles it, to take a walking tour around the district. it was all beautiful, but as every good traveler does once or twice, i forgot my camera battery in the charger! so annoying but i was still able to snap a few on my trusty iphone.

here are the highlights from the day:
- seeing evita's and all of the others famous graves and architecture. its a photographers dream and i think ill have to go back to snap a few with my camera.
- cafe con leche (sooo good) and napolitano style pizza pastry on a cute buenos aires street as a late afternoon lunch
- viewing van gogh, monet, manet, marisot, and rodin's paintings two feet away at the museo national de bellas artes!!! we were not expecting this at all. we randomly walked in it was so exciting, especially after finishing up my spring quarter with an art history class where i learned about them!
- volta ice cream shop- quite possibly the best "helado" i have tasted since italy. i think it may become my lunch on a daily basis (dulce de leche... yum, yum, yum)
- seeing the "floralis generica"- a gigantic metal flower in one of the cities beautiful parks that opens at sunrise and closes at dusk. were talking gigantic people... like 40ft or so with pistols and stamen lights (i think thats what the middle things are called- thanks montessori)
- having my new roommate move in this afternoon. were about on the same level spanish wise and well probably be in the same class. so fun! plus she has a great UK accent that i love!

as for the next few days- school starts tomorrow, possibly a tango show and dinner tuesday, and wednesday a dinner date with a few friends, mass at the catholic church, and watching the flower close and do its light show thing at dusk. thursday i leave for the fabulous iguazu falls! more to come on all of these things in the coming days!

goodnight and take a look at my gallery.mac.com/epalm25 if you get a chance... ill start posting asap!

July 3, 2010

dia uno

bienvenidos a argentina! i successfully made it here after a 3.5 hour car ride, 2 hour flight delay due to weather on the runway, 15 hours of plane rides, and one taxi to my residence!

i live in the heart of the congreso district of buenos aires, within 5 blocks from my school, program office, and several large plaza squares. the city is old, bustling, and rich with culture. my apartment is beautiful, cozy, and fancy with a great roommate and one more moving in tomorrow (i think). most of the students living in the six stories of the apartments are argentinean, speaking little or no english (woo for learning spanish fast!) and the others are from my program or on independent study. we have kitchens, study rooms, sitting rooms, and bathrooms on all floors. fancy, right?

so far its been a catch up day... moving in, lunch, phone cards, grocery store trip, and a few naps. from what i understand thus far, these people can p-a-r-t-y south american style. i arrived here at the residence to find most people still asleep and as of tonight i have heard of about two hundred different plans for the time between 12am and 7am. as for me tonight, im thinking a movie with the roommate, baguette (2 pesos from the grocery store across the street... im gonna be hugeeee), and some zzzz's.

i promise to post pictures of my place and the local area around me tomorrow. i hear that the "usaians" are gathering for a 4th of july celebration tomorrow in some fashion. until then... have a great night/day/morning!

buenos noches from argentina!

July 1, 2010


for all of you that want to follow me throughout my travels in argentina,
here are the places that you'll be able to contact/find me!

email: epalm25@mac.com

skype: epalmer25

facebook: emily palmer:)

i will not have access to my phone regularly, so please contact me via one of the above methods!