Friday, May 28, 2010

A few images...

... but just a few. I want to wait until I can process my RAW files in Photoshop. For now, a few jpgs.

My welcome sign!

You can all guess what this says.

Buenos Aires Couchsurfing host #1; in-home haircut + mate.

This, and the following few, are from the cemetery in a neighborhood called Recoleta (Buenos Aires).

Girl in the monastery adjacent to the cemetery.

One of many huge mausoleums.

Had to throw in at least one self-portrait!

More to come when I get back to New York...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back in Montevideo...

Things learned in Argentina:

1) I really, really hate cigarette smoke. Especially in confined spaces... my body can't handle it. Lesson learned.
2) Walking looking down prevents you from seeing beautiful architecture; having your eyes up puts you at risk to step in dog shit. There's a lot of it.
3) "C" on a faucet does not stand for "cold."
4) A watch would be a really sound investment...
5) 65F warrants a sweater, winter jacket, scarf and boots... (no joke!)

Really, though, Buenos Aires is a great city, and I barely made a dent in it. It's HUGE. I met some wonderful people -- my third CouchSurfing host was an angel in so many ways, wish there was more time to get to know each other.. I suppose that's what the internet is for -- and had some wonderful experiences.

The city is buzzing with excitement for the Bicentennial (tomorrow), and there have been concerts and celebrations all week long. It was a good time to be in BA. Lots of craziness. Lots of fun.

And, surprise surprise, my bad travel luck continued: there were horrible storms last night that shut down the airport, canceling my flight. I already knew I could go back to my last host's apartment, but the cabs all said roads were closed... no one would take me. What did I do? Shared a cab with another traveler to his parents' building, where he had his car. HE drove me home. (No, the roads weren't flooded... thanks, cabbies.) And my flight this morning? Delays... of course.

A couple and their daughter who were on my original flight to Montevideo were in the security line ahead of me. They recognized me (or thought they did... I confirmed... not THAT many Chabadniks floating around!), and we had a nice conversation... a lot in Hebrew!

And now? Finally made it back to Uruguay after delays and a deceitful cab driver, where I will have a week with dear Tehila. Apparently the Israeli soccer team is here on Wednesday, and we (me, Tehila, and the rest of the shlichim) are all going!

Hasta luego, amigos.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lo habla Español...

... and boy does that make travel in South America, erm, difficult. Had I not spent the past year so tunnel-focused on Hebrew, I would've made sure to be in better shape. Doing my best...

After having to spend the night in the Philadelphia airport on my way back to NY from Cincinnati, I had a feeling that my luck wasn't going to change too much on my way to South America. I left my sister's apartment on Sunday afternoon to head to the airport, waited 20 minutes for an A train: Lefferts Boulevard. Took it as far as I could and got out to wait for the right train. Lefferts. Another Lefferts. And finally Far Rockaway -- JFK. Crisis averted... until arrival in Sao Paolo. Connection missed. Great. No food. NOTHING in the airport without meat. Literally nothing. Seven hours to kill until the next possible connection. No computer, no way to reach my friend to let her know I'd be showing up really late. (Finally had to make a credit card call to the States and have my mom email her... who knows how much THAT will cost?) Finally arrive in Montevideo, my ATM card doesn't work, I'd called twice to give my travel dates. So... can't get money. Find a cab that will take US$ as payment. Have I mentioned that I haven't eaten since breakfast?! I was, luckily, the first drop-off from the shared cab (a Uruguayan sherut!)...

And it was all worth it to make it to the top of the stairs to Tehila running out from her doorway. There was a welcome sign (b'Ivrit, of course!) on the door, good food (Tehila's dad brought her mom's homemade blintzes all the way from Israel! Toda raba, Ima Abramson!), and better company. Before the night was out, a song had been written for me, my clothes were used for dressing up (not by one of the ladies, mind you), and I was told that my Hebrew was ¨metzuyenet¨(excellent). I'll take it!

Anyway, it was a brief stay in Montevideo. I continued to Buenos Aires the next morning, and here I've been ever since. I'm Couchsurfing (surprise, surprise), currently at my second host's apartment, and will have one more host before I leave. The first apartment was home to two Australian guys and one Swiss girl here studying Spanish. The second is home to a theatre and film producer and two cats. So, what have I done in two days?
- had a mate tea party
- witnessed a host having his hair cut in the kitchen by a friend
- ended up at a massive Shavuot dinner and tikkun, where of course I ended up knowing someone and being one degree of separation away from 4 others...
- continued on to another tikkun... until 430am...
- had an amazing lunch at an all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurant, followed by a really yummy siesta in a park, in the sun
- walked 6 or 7 miles in a day, including to and through an old cemetery here (apparently I missed the memo that Eva Peron was buried there... I walked past a grave with piles of rotting flowers in front... probably the one. Ha!), to photograph
- had really tasty Argentinian ice cream (though not as good as Graeters)
- went to a Latin jazz concert until 5am

And now I'm here, writing, taking a break from the wandering. I'm not really in a museums-and-regular-tourist-sites mood right now. And, admittedly, I'm a bit beat from two extremely late nights in a row... so, it might be time to venture to the balcony and observe the street life below.

(Pictures to be added... eventually...)

Hasta luego!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

שלום, mi amiga!

After a rather tumultuous trip back to NY (missed a connecting flight, the last of the night, had to spend the night in the airport---it was grand) and a brief two days here, I'm heading to Uruguay and Argentina tomorrow. Figured I'd throw in a trip to the southern hemisphere before heading to Israel for the year. I mean, why not? A dear friend is there for the year, and I promised to visit. So... visit I will!

I'll arrive in Buenos Aires just in time for Shavuot and the city's bicentennial. It should be a rather festive time, I'd imagine... not that Argentinians like to party or anything. ;-) A week there, a week in Montevideo, and back to NYC. And one month from today? I'll be in Jerusalem.

The thought gives me chills. I'm happy, sad, excited, a bit scared, eager, overwhelmed at moments, extremely calm at others. I always have some trepidation before entering long-term group situations, worries about how everyone will fit together... worries that always resolve themselves, of course. They are there, regardless. But it's also a point of real excitement---these are future colleagues and, inevitably, friends. (And of course I'm beyond excited to see my Israeli friends again!) There's little better in this world than getting to know new people...