love, ani xo

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Monday, February 27, 2006

goodbye piriapolis

today was my 2nd to last day at the beach. we`re leaving tomorrow at 6pm for montevideo. it`s a completely different world there even though it`s only an hour away. you have to always be aware of where you`re going and what you`re bringing with you. it`s nice to see people not having to lock their bikes here.

montevideo has lots of nice beaches and you see people swimming but i wouldn´t go in the water. i heard it`s polluted.

the weather`s been very strange lately. in the morning it was beautiful, then all of a sudden it gets cloudy and there`s a strong wind that starts blowing the plastic chairs away from the balcony. some of the people that i saw in the water ran out and i thought it was going to rain. an hour later the sun comes out but it still stays cool at 19 degrees. that didn´t last too long because after that it was nice enough to be at the beach for a few hours. in 2 weeks there`s only been 2 days of rain where i couldn`t go to the beach. when i came here i was afraid 2 weeks would be too long because last time i was here it rained most of the time and i don`t think i left with a very good impression of this city. but i like it a lot now and i don`t really want to go back to montevideo right away. i could stay here for a few more days. everyone knows each other here and if they don´t know you they act like they do. people are so friendly here. they say buenos dias to you on the street and buenos tardes.

i think there´s a few things canada could learn from uruguay when it comes to the environment. styrofoam. you won`t find it anywhere here. if you`re ordering food for take out, they wrap it up in paper. they don`t give you plastic bags either unless you`re at a grocery store. also, the lighting in the hallways of apartment buildings turn of after 10 seconds. appliances don`t break down. you don`t have to throw them out and get a new one. my aunt is using the fridge that my parents had in the late 60´s.

last night i saw a murga band called la esperanza. they were playing outside and i took a few picture so you can see what a murga band looks like. it`s very funny. i dind`t stay very long. i`m not really into the music.

i saw a sign today on a sandwich board that said metro de pizza $85 pesos. it means "a metre of pizza $3.75"! people really love to eat here. i`m going to go back to vancouver and think everything is expensive. and i`m also going to need to do some sit ups.

no matter how hot it is outside, you never feel the heat inside even though apartments and houses here don`t have air conditioning. they have outdoor blinds and shutters! you pull up the blinds from the inside. they`re very heavy and it keeps the heat out. i don´t know why vancouver doesn´t have that. it makes more sense.

i was thinking yesterday about canadian culture and how uninteresting it is compared to anything i`ve experience here. at least this country has an identity that they want to keep even though it also has many problems that canada doesn´t have. there seems to be more tradition in french canadian culture and in the maritimes as well but the west coast, if you don`t count native culture, is about other people`s cultures.

i´m going to try and make chajà when i come back. i had a variation of it last night with peaches inside. uruguay has the most delicious deserts you`ll ever taste.

yesterday i said that only uruguay and brazil have the carnival. but i found out today that argentina has it as well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

el carnaval, lobster farming and 20 years of democracy

every year during the month of february there´s a carnaval all over uruguay. when i was little and still living here, my parents told me that i got so excited over it! the carnival is like mardi gras. it´s 40 days before easter and it´s around the same time as the carnival in rio. brazil and uruguay are the only countries in south america to have a carnival. every night this week there´s a parade in some of the larger cities in uruguay and they show it live on tv. back in the 70´s the parades weren´t as big and sophisticated as they are now. now they have sponsors and prizes for best costume, music, dancing, make up... the carnical is a big deal here and people spend the whole year preparing their costumes and the choreography. every parade looks different but they usually follow one parade. there´s a groupe of 20-30 people in a costume with a drums around their waists (you even see 7 year old kids doing it) and druming at the same time as their walking and right in front of them is a woman in a glittery thong bikini with glitter all over her body, and feathers on top of her head, dancing the samba. i´ve also seen men dancing too. a lot of times it´s just groups of women sometimes they´re very young girls too. they always stop to dance with the kids. it´s very interactive. every parade has a queen. they call it la reina del carnaval (the queen of the carnaval). in montevideo there´s thousands of people in a stadium watching murga bands. a popular band is los diblos verdes (the green devils) and it´s a group of 10 men in wild glittery clown make-up with a green costume singing murga songs and doing performances with drummers behind them. murga started with the blacks in the ghetto of montevideo´s ciudad vieja in the 19th century. then other people started getting into. just like it happened with blues music in the southern united states. murga is now really popular here and lots of people love it. the lyrics are always about what the government isn´t doing for the country. for the first time uruguay has a left wing government but the government here is still corrupt. the same way it is in most latin american countries. that´s why i could never really live here. a couple of days ago in piriapolis they started the carnival. i don´t know if there´s a parade here because there´s a really big one in maldonado which is the town just before getting to punta del este. here at night they have booths with people selling food and all kinds of other things like clothing and cd´s and there´s a stage with different performances. they had clowns and this guy singing tango music. but it was cold and i didn´t stay long.

the weekends here are so busy with people coming from montevideo. that´s the only way i know it´s the weekend. the beach this morning was amazing and the water was so warm. no jellyfish. just clear water and lots of waves. i couldn´t really swim as well because of the waves.

yesterday i went to a lobster farm. my dad´s friend (the one with the restaurant) picked us up to take us to take us to the animal reserve but on the way there we stopped at his lobster farm. him and his own have been doing it for the past 3 years. when the economic crash happened in argentina in 2001, the restaurant did very badly and they had to find a way to do something else so they started this farm. it´s a 20 minute drive from here and you´re really in the middle of nowhere. there´s cows, sheep and ostridges everywhere. they belong to the farm next door. it´s really intersting seeing how a lobster grows. it´s not really a lobster. it´s a cross between a prawn and a lobster and it´s called langosta (that´s the spanish word for it). first they have small containers of water with these things that look like bricks that are in the water and that´s where they grow. i took a picture of one that´s an inch small. it´s hard to see them because they like darkness and they stay in the holes of the bricks. when they get big enough they get transfered outside to a larger container, probably 5 metres wide, with water from a well being pumped through the earth. it takes a year for a langosta to grow and when they get big, their colours are so beautiful. they´re trying to sell them to restaurants right now and they use it for their own restaurant but they´re not making much money with it yet.

at the animal reserve, they had all the animals that live in uruguay. mostly animals that i haven´t seen anywhere else. they had this animal called the collared pecarry. it looks like a pig but the texture of the animal is like a porcupine.

on march 1st in uruguay there´s a new law that you can´t smoke in any public place. i´m glad that´s finally happened because i´m not used to eating in a restaurant and having someone next to me start smoking. it´s rude. in montreal the law begins on may 1st. my dad´s saying that in montreal a lot of bar and restaurants are going to go out of business but i think people are going to adapt to it and just smoke outside.

for the past 20 years uruguay´s been a democratic country. it started in 1985. the year we came back for the first time. we didn´t want to come back before then because it was a dictatorship government and that´s why we left in the first place. i think democracy happened around the same time in argentina. if you spoke against the government, you were put in jail and in some cases killed. there´s semething called the disappeared "los desaparecido" and it´s all the people that were killed in the 70´s but their bodies were never found or disclosed to anyone and now the parents of those people are demonstrating because the want disclosure. i think that´s been in the news in canada.

last week the first gay cruise came to montevideo. that´s a good sign of people being more open here ´cause some of my last memories of uruguay wasn´t of people being very open minded and embracing differences in people.

there´s abandonned dogs everywhere! it´s sad when you see that they look sick or hungry. people don´t do anything about it because it´s so common. you see really cute ones like dalmatians and sometimes even puppies. lots of people with pets don´t spay or neuter their animals. then they get pregnant and they don´t know what to do with the puppies.

today is sunday and it´s the day of assado. it´s a tradition to have assado on sunday´s. that means that everywhere you go, it smells like barbecued meat. it smells really good, but not good enough for me to eat.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

los fanáticos

i didn´t leave the apartment until 9pm yesterday. it was cold, windy, and raining all day until 9pm. i didn´t have shoes or a long sleeved shirt. it rained more than i´ve ever seen it rain in vancouver and there was no place close by to buy an umbrella. luckily we had plans for dinner with my dad´s friend who picked us up and drove us to his restaurant. he owns a restaurant on top of the hill by the ocean. i don´t know if he still owns it because he said he´s retired. his son and daughter now run the place and the food was delicious. he´s going to pick us up again and drive us to an animal reserve tonight after i mentioned that i wanted to see it and you can´t get there without a car. i was hoping today wouldn´t be a repeat of yesterday and it´s not. it´s gorgeous and i´m wearing my sunscreen.

there was another riot on thursday night in buenos aires 2 hours before the last sold out stones show. hundreds of kids without tickets did anything they could to get in. they threw glass bottles and stones at the police. lots of arrests and injuries. there´s a 24 hour news channel from argentina and that´s all they showed. they had to get 500 police officers to block the streets and entrances to the stadium. some of kids stole tickets from people who already had them and wouldn´t let the ones who had them get in. it got really bloody and violent. i can´t believe the amount of violence they show on the news here. they showed this man kicking another man lying on the ground in the head until he couldn´t stand up anymore. then taking his head and banging it against a car.

here´s an article about the riot from the Bs As herald:

Rowdy and ticketless fans, trying to enter a Rolling Stones concert, yesterday fought running battles with police, and authorities said that at least 22 people — among them four police officers — were injured and nearly 90 arrested. The clashes broke out when scores of fans were stopped by police at the entrances to River Plate soccer stadium El Monumental where Mick Jagger and his band were due to perform. Police fired rubber bullets and used water cannon and batons. The fans replied by throwing stones and bottles at police. The head of the SAME medical emergency agency said that nobody had been wounded by weapons.

Local television showed fans being chased by police in the streets near the stadium where the final of the 1978 World Cup, won by Argentina, was played.
The Emergency Medical Service reported that at least 22 people were injured, including a television cameraman with a bleeding head.
Police had reinforced security at the stadium after minor incidents had already occurred at the Stones’ first concert there on Tuesday.
More than 50,000 people wearing Stones T-shirts and lips-and-tongue tattoos attended that concert. A similar-sized crowd turned up last night.


they showed that concert live on tv that night. i stayed up to watch it. i haven´t heard anything from my cousin if he´s ok or not. 65 000 were in this huge outdoor stadium and it was really amazing to see the amount of people there. they said on tv that of all the countries in the world, the stones are the most popular in argentina. this past week, all they showed on tv were stones videos and interviews with argentinian musicians and fans about how the stones´ inspired them. it´s interesting to see people in different countries reacting differently to music than someone in canada would. canadians are so cynical about bands who´ve been around for a long time and are no longer making the same great music that they used to. and it´s uncool to say that you´re still into the stones and you want to see them. it´s totally not like that here. teenagers and people in their 20´s are still obsessed with them. they call those people fanáticos. it means you´re a crazy obsessed fan.

the show wasn´t bad. it´s hard to tell from watching it on tv. mick didn´t sound as good as the rest of the band. his singing wasn´t loud enough. maybe it was the way they transmitted the show. it got really good towards the 2nd half. when they started playing miss you the stage moved to the middle of the stadium and people around them started throwing t-shirts and underwear at them until the stage was covered with them and they had to have someone get rid of them. mick went through 4 wardrobe changes which involved a couple of tight glittery t-shirts and a couple of blazers and the last t-shirt was the argentinian footbal team. i want mick jagger´s energy when i´m 60! he´s got the body of a ballet dancer. i think he´s the only person i´ve ever seen in my life who´s body never changed from the way he looked in his 20´s. keith sang 2 songs. happy and this place is empty. happy was one of the better parts of the show. i love hearing keith sing! brown sugar and paint it black were good live songs too. they played most of the old hits and a few horrible new songs.

i had something called figazza a few days ago. i´ve never had it before. it´s pizza dough with onions on top with some green olives and mushrooms. no tomato sauce or cheese. it would have been really good if it wasn´t so salty. there´s this restaurant chain in uruguay called la pasiva. i just heard from a waiter there that they´ve opened one in brazil and spain. i went last thurday and the place was filled with football fans watching the game. they had this gian tv screen there with the team nacional and a brazilian team. i should open a pasiva in vancouver. anyone can open one. it´s a franchise. i don´t think health obesessed vancouver would like panchos and chivitos very much. maybe quebec would.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

lluvias y tormentas (rain and storm)

you can tell it´s a cloudy day when there´s a waiting list to get on the internet at 4pm. last night on the news they announced a storm for
the next 2 days. i only saw 3 people in the water today. i´m glad i
spent hours swimming yesterday. right after that it became overcast.

i had Chajá de Paysandú yesterday. (it´s pronounced chahá)
Chajá is a cake made from dule de leche, meringue and chantilly (i don´t know how to translate that in english). uruguay´s the only place you can have Chajá. no one else can make it and sell it as Chajá ´cause it´s a registered trademark. a family from Paysandú started making it and selling it to grocery stores, confiterias and restaurants. Paysandú is a small town in the interiro. it´s really delicious and i´m going to try and find the recipe for it.

there´s no cofee maker in the apartment and the closest place that serves cofee is mcdonald´s which is downstairs. it´s a really nice mcdonald´s with a balcony overlooking the ocean! they have a breakfast special. 2 medialunas y cafe for $25 pesos ($1). a medialuna (half moon) is another way of saying croissant. the medialunas are sweet and so so good. i can´t believe i just had something i really liked from mcdonald´s!

after wearing t-shirts and flip flops for a month, i´m dying to go out and look glamorous. wear high heels, stockings, a dress and a jacket! i can´t wait to come back and wear layers! i´ve also been watching the fall and winter 2006-2007 fashion shows from milan and nyc which is also making me excited to dress up!

a few things to remember if you ever want to visit south america.

when you order mineral water in a restaurant, you have to either say agua con gas or agua sin gas (water with bubles or without)

wine is cheaper than coca cola (in argentina and uruguay. i don´t know about anywhere else)

always kiss a person on the cheek when you´re introduced to them or even if you know them. it´s like saying hi.

if you want eggs for breakfast you have to stay home and make them yourself. unless you´re in punta del esta which is the only place that i saw that had a menu that had an "american breakfast". the only omelettes you´ll be able to have is for dinner.

if you´re very health conscious and don´t like to cook your own meals, then forget about coming to argentina or uruguay! there´s something very popular here that you can order in any restaurant. it´s called chivito. and it´s fries with meat on top, fried eggs and bacon. i saw a waiter carrying this on a plate and it looks like a mountain! it´s
so huge and one person is going to eat that! that one is called chivito cananadiense because there´s bacon in it. there´s different types of chivito´s.

there´s a woman staying in our building that i thought was black. she´s actually tanned. she´s been here since november. she´s so dark, it looks very unnatural. i´ve never seen anyone this tanned before in my life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


my paternal grandfather died today 17 years ago. he was 88 years old. i used to call him dédé. that wasn´t his first name. i don´t even how and why i started calling him but i did. he died a month after i saw him in the late 80´s. he was born in istanbul, turkey but had to escape when he was 21 years old because of the armenian genocide. his parents were killed and he when on a ship with his 2 brother to south america. on his passport it says that he was on his way to buenos aires to stay but he told us stories that he wanted to go to brazil which is where he wanted to move to, he changed his mind because there were too many black people. i don´t know which story is true. he had no money when he moved here. he had to sell his shirt to buy 2 bananas! he didn´t know a word of spanish and he never really spoke it very fluently even when he got old. he married 6 years after he moved to montevideo and he opened a shoe stores and started making shoes and he did really well. his 2 brother´s also married and had kids and when i get back to montevideo i´m going to see all of them. my aunt almost started crying when she told us that today was the anniversary. she had to take care of him when her mom died at a young age and she had to work in the shoe store. she closed the store 2 years ago after it became too dangerous to work there alone. there´s a lot of crime and poverty in the neighborhood that i grew up in.
on the news today they showed the free stones concert in rio at coppacabana beach. a million people showed up. they´re going to broadcast the show this week. there was a rio at the buenos aires show yesterday. lots of people went in without tickets and there was a lot of pushing and people getting hurt. they got in at the same time that the handicapped people had to go in and all these handicapped people got injured. it´s been on the news today and yesterday. did anyone hear about this?
on ftv they showed this really amazing fashion illustrator born in uruguay. he grew up in barcelona. his name is jordi labanda. i´ve seen his work before in wallpaper magazine. it's really good.
i went on a very old train yesterday from the 20´s. it´s not longer functioning and there aren´t any trains here anymore. it´s like a museum now. it was francisco piria's idea to have a train here. he founded this city and built the first 2 hotels. the first one is now a school but the 2nd one is hotel argentino and it used to be the biggest hotel in south america in the 30´s. construction on the hotel started in 1910 and  it was finished in the 1920 and since the movie whiskey came out lots of people are coming here and staying at the hotel after they´ve seen it in the movie. the 3 pools in the back have ocean water and all the rooms look almost the same as it used to.
i want to write more but i have to go to some talk at that same hotel about uruguay.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

punta del este

i left this morning to go to la punta (that´s how they say it here) and arrived at 6pm. it´s a 45 minute bus ride from here. what´s so great about punta del este is that it´s on a peninsula so you get to see the ocean on either side of the street. one side is playa brava (big waves) and the other side is playa mansa (small waves). the water is much colder than in piriapolis, the sand is hotter, the restaurants are double the price than anywhere else in uruguay and you´ll see a lot of signs in front of stores and restaurants are in english and a lot of the prices in the stores are in american dollars. so many americans, brazilians and argentinian tourists today. i noticed a lot of new modern high rises by the beach. it´s grown a lot since i last came 7 years ago. it looks like a newer city. you won´t see that many older buildings. if you like shopping at boutiques like fendi, valentino and louis vuitton then dancing to house music and hearing d.j´s from the u.k then i guess that would be the place to go but what they show in magazines and on t.v about it is different when you go. they always show gorgeous women in thong bikinis at the beach but it´s mainly families and old people. the beach is so beautiful. there´s more sand than there is here. the hotels are really expensive though. we stayed there for 3 nights 7 years ago and it was $300 usd per night. i didn´t go swimming today because i didn´t have a place to change and by the time i got back i felt nauseous and had a fever. i think it´s from the sun.
my aunt taught me how to make empanadas a few days ago. it´s really easy but i don´t think you can find empanada dough in vancouver. i haven´t seen it anywher. the dough is small and round and you just stuff cheese and other stuff in it,  wrap it up and put it in the oven. it´s delicious and fast to make.
i just realized i haven´t worn socks since february 3rd.

Monday, February 20, 2006

agua viva (jelly fish)

this morning at the beach i heard a woman yelling "agua viva!" and she ran out of the water and got her husband to remove the jelly fish. she was bitten. is bite the right word?  she said that if you put wet sand on it, it gets better. i don´t like to get into the water in the morning because the water is usually cold. but now i´m paranoid because the water isn´t as clear as it was when i first came here and you can´t see what´s underneath. yesterday i swam for an hour. i need the exercise. and i also don´t want my feet to touch the sand in case there´s jelly fish. do they swim or just stay on the sand? the beach was so busy this past weekend and now it´s quiet. most people went back home. more room for me in the water but fewer people to pick the jelly fish out of the water. lots of kids to that here. i´m not touching them.
we had dinner in this restaurant called picasso that´s 8 blocks away from the sea wall in the middle of a residential street. the restaurant is part of someone´s house and the only way you would know it´s there is if you lived in the neighborhood or through word of mouth. my dad´s mushroom growing friends told us about it. they sell mushrooms to them and they said it was delicious. it´s a pretty cool place. the kitchen was outside but the ceiling was covered and the owner was the only cook. we sat outside and we got there at 8:30pm and we were the only ones there. people don´t start having dinner here until 9pm! and no one showed up last night until 9:30. by 10 the place was almost filled. we had this fish called corvina. i don´t know if they have that in canada or maybe it´s called something else. it´s really fresh. the owner is on the phone with the fishermen while they´re fishing and when there´s fish he goes and picks it up himself on his motorcyle. nothing´s frozen and the fish we had that night was caught a few hours earlier. the portions are huge as usual. my dad kept complaining that we should have had one plate to share between 2 people but my mom thinks that´s too vulgar.
tomorrow i´m going to punta del esta. i can´t wait. the beach is great but after a while i get bored. even with fashion tv on 24 hours a day.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

hace calor

after 3 weeks of only speaking spanish, i think i´m starting to forget my english! i was thinking about what i wrote yesterday about the assado and i meant to say that the assado was in an outdoor fireplace not a chimney! spanish is a much more poetic language anyway. words in spanish sound and look better. like confiteria and sandwicheria. there´s no word for that in english. the water yesterday was the warmest ever. i think it´s the warmest water i´ve ever swam in. i´ve seen some people in the water even at 9pm!
i might not see a couple of cousins on this trip. one of them is in a psychiatric hospital and might not come out while i´m here and the other one is at the stones concert in rio de janeiro then he´s going to see them again in buenos aires. i made a short list yesterday of words in english that people say in spanish:
the rolling stones: los rolling
football (soccer): fútbol but most people say fút
hot dog: poncho. my mom had it a few days ago in a restaurant. they came 2 together with ham over it and lots of melted cheese on top. and the poncho´s are over a layer of fries.
pop corn: pop. you always see a man carrying bags of pop at the beach trying to sell them. they also sell them at the beach. they´re sweet not salty.
there´s a couple of rock bands from montevideo that are really popular. la trampa and buitres. i keep seeing people wearing their t-shirts here, in montevideo and in buenos aires. i have no idea what they sound like, but i´m curious. i probably won´t like them. so far, i haven´t heard any new music that i´ve liked in spanish. there´s a much music from argentina that i´ve been watching and they play lots of spanish language music videos and it´s the same as bad english music except it´s in spanish. they also play english videos with spanish subtitles.
my cousin and her husband, my aunt and uncle came over last night from atlantida for my dad´s birthday. atlantida is another small town a 30 minute drive from here. my aunt and uncle have a place there close to the beach. i was there 7 years ago and it´s really nice too. the beach is not as nice as it is here and there´s fewer people. it´s in a different departamento. uruguay is divided into departamentos (departments). they´re like provinces or states. right now i´m in the departamento of maldonado. punta del este is also in that department. montevideo in the department of montevideo. atlantida is in the department of canelonis. i´d like to drive through the interior someday. i heard it´s really nice. no beach though. last night we had really good cake and cookies. those italian cookies witih lots of colour and chocolat icing in between. like sandwiches. i don´t know what they´re called. you can get them at any confiterias. we have lots leftover so i´ll probably eat some more at the beach.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

un assado

assado means barbecue and it´s the most popular thing to do here. my dad has a couple of friends he went to architecture school with 50 years ago - who are now retired - they have a house here on top of a hill by the beach. they´re a married couple and they both met at arch. school. they invited other old friends from university including the man - another former classmate - who introduced my dad to my mom when they went on a school trip to egypt. he´s the reason i´m here! i've been to this couple's house before, last time i was here but i couldn't remember it. they have the most beatiful view i´ve ever seen. by 3pm it was starting to get cloudy, and i didn´t really need the bathing that i brought with me because we were planning on going down to the beach. it was getting really windy. they live 20 mins away from piriapolis in a place called punta coronada and the beach there is called rio brava and there´s bigger waves there with surfers. they have a huge patio with an outdoor chimney where they had assado. we were 10 people but there was enough meat to feed 50! you feel like such a freak here being a vegetarian. i think i might be the only vegetarian in uruguay right now! it´s not very common. everyone kept wanting me to eat meat yesterday. they said that the animals are well kept. they´re not in cages. they´re out in the wild and that´s why it tastes so good.
this couple now grow mushrooms and sell them to restaurants and grocery stores all over uruguay. they drove us to the place where they make it. the mushrooms look like shitake but they´re white. i don´t remember what they´re calledbut i haven´t heard of them before. i tasted it yesterday and it doesn´t taste like anything. it´s not grown in the earth. they put hay and they boil it in water in these tanks. then they put the hay in plastic bags with holes in it and they hang them. the mushrooms grow out of the holes. they have a couple of guys looking after them. these guys live in a house next to the mushroom making place and they were making tortas fritas. tortas fritas means fried cakes and it´s a very common snack/desert here in uruguay. it´s round and flat and it´s made from flour and water. you deep fry it and sprinkle it with sugar. they were making tortas fritas outside to sell at the beach. i tasted it for the first time and i didn´t think it was anything great. i didn´t have it with sugar. it´s not healthy anyway. they really love anything with sprinkled sugar here. you can´t even find plain croissants. they have to have sugar on top!
i met a woman yesterday who´s friends with this couple and she bought a condo in punta del esta right after the argentinian crash in 2001. she bought it in 2002 for $65k and told us to come and see her when we come to punta del esta next week. she said there´s a summer sale at all the shops there. we were going to go anyway but i wasn´t planning on doing any shopping. everything is so expensive there. last week they had a party for the opening of the louis vuitton store and naomi campbell was there. i read somewhere that she owns a place there. it´s 45 mins by bus from piriapolis so i might end up going there a couple of times. maybe once for the beach and another time for shopping.  i think i need a new bathing suit. mine is 10 years old and after seeing the women in their brazilian bikinis at punta del este, i´ll feel so out of place.
i think the supermarket here is where all the action is. there´s a chain of supermarkets from uruguay called devoto and there´s a couple of them in piriapolis. i went there a couple of days ago, and the place is filled with cute, tanned, shirtless uruguayan guys. lots of women in their bikini tops too.
i´ve been sleeping so well here. for the first time i don´t hear the sound of traffic in the morning. the beach is making me really tired too. it was cloudy earlier today but now the sun is out and i´ll be going to the beach after 5pm. that´s the safest time to go. or before noon.
i´m so glad i´m not in buenos aires right now. on the news they said it was 36 degrees yesterday! and there´s never any breeze there like there is here. they´re not close to the ocean.
it´s my dad´s birthday today and we bought a hazelnut cake. i should go and see if my cousin and her husband arrived from montevideo. i´m at a locutorio right now. a locutorio is a place people go to make long distance calls and they all have computers to get on the internet. even people who have phones in their homes go out to make long distance calls. i don´t really understand this yet. it´s just like in the old movies when they go to a special place and get into an old wooden booth to make a call because not everyone had phones yet.
i saw a few jelly fish at the beach a few days ago. people were picking them from inside the water and throwing them on the sand. they´re huge! and look like jello with legs. they´re not very nice looking creatures.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

day 1 in piriapolis, uruguay

i went in the water today for the first time and it was warm, clean and salty. no sea weed! i even saw some small fish in the water the size of goldfish. the sun is a lot stronger in south america and they say the hole in the ozone layer is bigger so you have to avoid the beach at certain hours and always wear sun block. the apartment´s nice but when we walked in we found out that the beds don´t come with sheets so my dad got really upset and it felt like a scene from curb your enthusiasm. we had to walk 10 blocks to a supermarket that sold sheets.
yesterday i went to see the movie whiskey at the cinemateque and it was really good. i´m really impressed by the cinemateca uruguaya. the programming is a lot better than the one in vancouver. for a city a little larger than vancouver it´s really good. the cinemateque has 5 theatres in montevideo and the week after i leave montevideo they´re screening 3 jodorowsky films: el topo, holy mountain, and santa sangra. the week after i come back from piriapolis they´ll be screening godard´s eloge de l'amour that i think i´ll go see. i haven´t heard much about that movie. i wonder if it´s any good.  the 2nd half of whiskey was filmed here in piriapolis. a lot of it takes place in hotel argentino which is a hotel right next to where we are. population here is 15 000 permanent residents but in the summer there´s a lot more. most people come here in the summer for the beach. in the winter it´s dead. most of the people are uruguayans and argentinians but right next to me right now are french canadians.
people say whiskey here when they get their picture taken instead of saying cheese.
it´s my dad's b-day on saturday and i got him a book by mario benedetti. his favourite writer. he´s the most famous uruguayan writer. i´ve only read one book by him in spanish class and it was great. his books are translated in english as well and you can find them at the library.
this is a really nice place. lots of people on scooters and bicycles. there´s the mountains, the beach, and i even have fashion tv. since this is a resort town, everythinig here is slightly more expensive than in montevideo, even the internet so i have to cut this short.
love, ani

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

back in montevideo for a day

yesterday in buenos aires it was 34 degrees! and today it feels as hot as yesterday. i miss not having air conditioning in my room and 80 channels on tv. i kept watching fashion tv every night before going to bed. i figured out where the msn chat is on this computer so now you can chat with me! i´m chatting right now with syd in montevideo from the band motosierra who i haven´t met yet. so it´s disctracting me a bit from writing here and i don´t have that much to say anyway.
la recoleta neighborhood in buenos aires is really beautiful. it´s like a part of paris in buenos aires. it´s the most exclusive neighborhood of buenos aires. i wanted to see the cemetary. i felt like i was in pere lachaise. abandonned cats everywhere.  there were thousands of gorgeous old mausoleums. i went to see eva perron. she´s in a coffin with the rest of the family. everywhere you go in downtown buenos aires, you´ll see books, postcards, posters about her and carlos gardel, another famous figure in buenos aires history.  
today is valentine´s day but you wouldn´t know that from going into the shops. there´s very few that have any type of cheesy heart decorations. there´s not a huge consumer culture here. people are happy with their cassette walkman´s. they still sell cassettes and vhs tapes everywhere.
one of the things i don´t like about uruguay (and it´s probably the same in argentina) is that everyone speaks spanish. it´s a melting pot. none of my cousins understand armenian. the chinese, germans, italians all speak spanish. the younger kids aren´t learning the language. it´s no very multi-cultural. they´re no that interested in keeping their own culture. it makes everything boring. i can´t wait to come back to vancouver and have sushi!
on tv in buenos aires they were talking about new hot up and coming musicians and they mentioned this one guy from montevideo that i´ve already seen pictures of here in the record stores. his name is Dani Umpi. i haven´t heard his music yet. here´s his site:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

tomorrow: my last day in buenos aires

yesterday was the first day that i noticed my tan lines on my feet from my sandals and i haven´t even been to the beach yet! it´s so hot today. 28 degrees!

everything is closed today. even mcdonalds. i even had a hard time finding an internet cafe.

la boca isn´t worth visiting. too commercial. there´s nothing really authentic about it. but san telmo, which i just arrived from, is really great! i went to that big flea market and they had great stuff. there´s this one street full of antique shops and the flea market was only antiques but really good quality antiques. everything was so old. you could tell buenos aires was a great city with lots of money from those antiques. you could find anything. old dolls, phones (the ones that you hold the mouthpiece), clocks, records, photos, cash registers, gramophones, cameras, jewellery, lots of stuff from the 20´s-30´s.

buenos aires and montevideo are very similar in certain ways. i don´t like the breakfast. they don´t eat eggs here for breakfast. they eat cakes, pies, croissants with sugar on top or with dulce de leche in the middle, fruit salad, cereal (but it´s not popular. my aunt didn´t even know what it was), toast, ham, cheese and mortadella. argentinians who live in buenos aires are called porteños and people who live in montevideo are montevidanos. they both love eating deserts. on a typical street in both cities you´ll see a confiteria. confiteria´s are places to buy deserts and the deserts here are delicious. some of them have bakeries too. they´re called panaderias. you can also find a magazine stand everywhere, a farmacia (a drugstore that only sells prescription drugs, shampoos, cremes, band aids but not much else and there´s usually a security guard at the front), a used book store, the sidewalks are in granite or another type of stone but a lot of them are broken so i keep tripping on them. none of the sidewalks here or in montevideo are in cement. i can´t say i like one city better than the other. you can´t compare them. they´re different. the men in montevideo always make comments at you when you´re walking down the street. it´s always been that way. it´s annoying. people here leave you alone. they´re friendly but not in your face like in montevideo. in montevideo, i´ll take out my camera and someone stops me to tell me that it´s too dangerous to show my camera in that area. they also want to know everything about you. they love to talk and gossip. the spanish accent in both cities are different but the pronunciation is the same. they both pronounce pollo (chicken) ¨"pojo". instead of poyo the way they do everywhere else. people don´t hold their coffees while they walk down the street. they don´t even have those cups available. you can´t go into a cafe and ask or something to go. you have to sit down and wait for a waiter to serve you. i´ve seen some people drink mate here but it´s not as common. they sell them everywhere though. people look the same but i´ve seen some aboroginal people here that you don´t see in montevideo. they´re from the northern part of argentina. apparently they forgot to go up north to kill them all. that´s what they did many years ago. they didn´t want any natives.

i couldn´t sleep last night. when i turn off the air conditioning i wake up sweating and when it´s on, it´s too cold. so i think i´ll just leave it off. we have to leave buenos aires at 7 tomorrow. so there´s still some time during the day to spend my last argentinian pesos. i´m going to miss it here but i feel like it´s time to be on a beach. i´ve seen enough of buenos aires. i still have recolleta to see today and tomorrow santa fe street. it´s a beautiful city. the taxi driver said that in 5 years things are going to get much better. probably by then the argentinian peso will be stronger and i won´t be able to afford it!

i´m starving. i have to eat lunch now.


Saturday, February 11, 2006


there´s just as much poverty here as in montevideo. i was taking a picture when i felt someone pulling on my shirt. i got so scared. it was a very young girl. probably no more than 5 years old. her head came up to my waist. i saw so many 5 year olds and younger going into restaurants and asking more money. their faces and clothing so dirty. i took a picture of a young boy. so young. probably 4 playing the accordeon. he looked so sad it almost made me cry. the government doesn´t help you here if you don´t have a job. if you don´t have a job, you´re desperate. even if you get fired from your job, you don´t get any help.
i asked the hotel reception which bus to take to get to la boca and the lady said that it´s better to take a taxi because the bus stops somewhere that isn´t very safe. the subte doesn´t take you everywhere. you have to take a taxi. it´s so cheap here anyway. probably $7 pesos to get there.
the streets are quieter today. with people not working, there aren´t as many cars. some businesses are even closed.
they´re already selling stones tour t-shirts on the street. we were lucky to find a hotel, next week all the hotel rooms are booked because of the the show. they´re playing 3 shows. 21st-23rd. we´re staying in a 4 star hotel. but it´s not fancy enough for my mom. i don´t care as long as i have a comfortable bed and good water pressure and there water pressure is so strong that the water´s going everywhere!  we´re in front of a huge coca-cola sign like the ones in times square. even at night it feels like the afternoon so i shut the curtains and turn on the air conditioner. i woke up sweating this morning.
i´m going back to this great record store that i went to on my first day here called "bonus track". i´m spending most of my money here. i only brought $170 usd but i can get so much for it here. this city is great for tourists but not so great if you live here. it´s hard to make enough to travel anywhere else. so many european and american tourists everywhere. i´ve been hearing lots of german.
i want to write about confiterias and panaderias but that will have to wait until tomorrow.
ani xo

Friday, February 10, 2006

people, cars, chaos! this is the place to be!

i love buenos aires! but downtown is crazy! so many cars and lots of bad drivers. there´s a street called avenida florida and it´s just clothing stores and restaurants and it´s about 15 blocks of pedetrian only traffic and there´s so many people that you can´t walk anywhere! worse than london. buenos aires is huge! it feels like a cross between nyc and paris. everything is big: the streets (avenida 9 de julio is the biggest street you´ll ever see!), the stores, the cafes, the portions in restaurants. you eat very well here. thanks to the devalued argentian peso, food and alocohol is practically free! even my dad is shopping and he usually never buys anything because he thinks everything is expensive!
$3 argentinian pesos= $1 usd
lunch for 4 with non alcoholic drinks was $25 pesos
a pair of jeans that i bought today was $35 pesos
yesterday i had a paella which is like a spanish pie with potatos the size of a big plate. i could only eat half! $11 pesos!
a bottle of argentinian wine that would cost $20 in vancouver is $2 pesos!
this isn´t a good place to be a vegetarian. there´s meat in everything! i thought my paella yesterday was vegetarian but it had ham in it. and most restaurants are "pizza, pasta y carne".
buenos aires isn´t scary at all. i feel safer here than in montevideo. the panhandlers are polite too! everyone is so nice and friendly.
i went to cafe tortoni yesterday and it´s really a must see in buenos aires. it´s the oldest cafe founded in 1858 and all the original furniture, wall paper, wooden wall panels are original. this place was so big. it looks even bigger than the picture that i posted a few weeks ago. you can´t just walk in. there´s a lineup and a doorman could only let you in if there´s a free table. there´s almost 100 tables in there and it´s dark with paintings from all the artists that spent any time there.  
i went to a really nice neighborhood today called palermo soho. i didn´t realize it but it´s actually the armenian neighbourhood. lots of great furniture, lighting, vintage clothing and antique stores. it´s more quiet and residential which is what i needed after spending the day downtown yesterday. we´re staying across the street from the obelisko which is a huge monument in the middle of the plaza at avenida 9 de julio. at the plaza there were lots of people drumming until very late last night. they were playing Murga which is traditional uruguayan music.
i just came back from a mall on avenida santa fe. it´s not really a traditional looking mall. it´s called a galleria here and it´s sort of half outdoors. i went there for a record store that i wanted to check out called abraxas. i bought a francoise hardy and an intalian folk beat comp. record. records are the only thing that isn´t a huge bargain. i looked at the rest of the mall and it was only vintage clothing stores. there wasn´t anything great. this isn´t a great city for fashion. i don´t think most people could afford anything that´s imported from anywhere else. everything that i´ve bought so far is made in argentina.
you don´t see people walking down the street drinking mate the way they do in montevide. maybe because it´s a faster paced city. i´ve seen more modern high rises here than in montevideo and the older buildings are in better shape.
the stones are really big here and the rest of south america. they´re playing here next week and everywhere you go, you see someone with a stones shirt. my cousin in montevideo was going to travel to montreal to see them but it was sold out.
have to go now. i miss everyone and i´m thinking about you!
you´re going to see me tanned and maybe 5-10 pds heavier!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

un sandwiche caliente con una coca por favor

well, today was the day that i drank a small bottle of coca cola. i had it with an olympico. it´s a delicious sandwich with egg salad, mortadella (yes, i actually ate meat!), tomatos, other vegetables, white bread, no crust. since i´ve been here, i haven´t seen any type of restaurant that doesn´t serve uruguayan food. and i´ve walked a lot! i haven´t seen a thai, chinese, indian, japanese, french or any other ethnic restaurant. there aren´t that many of them around. there´s probably a few in the nicer neighborhoods. uruguayans aren´t known for being adventurous when it comes to food. they love all kinds of meat, pizza, fries, anything fried, milanesa, chivito (some type of sandwich with meat in the middle), sandwiche caliente, faina, empañadas, pasta and anything spanish or italian because most of the people here are of spanish and italian descent. more than half are spanish. whenever people go out to eat, they go to a cerveceria, bar or pizzeria. they all mean the same thing and they all serve the same type of food. it´s like the pubs in england. kids can go with their parents and it´s open all day and night. all the waiters in these cerveceria´s are men (usually over 40) and in white uniforms. some cerverceria´s are brightly lit with tv´s on the ceiling. others are dark with 20´s lighting fixtures, marble tables, high ceilings, and you can smoke anywhere.  i´ve been eating in the cerverceria´s everyday. i like to stop to take a break from all the walking and it´s the only restaurant available anywhere. usually at lunch i always get pizza, so i´m getting really sick of it. i haven´t had a bad pizza yet. they´re all thin and i don´t think they come with any toppings. i´ve only had it with cheese and i´ve only seen other people eating them with only cheese. but i haven´t asked if they could add anything else.
a few things i found today:
when you get your phone or electricity bill you have 3 days to pay for it and if you don´t pay for it within that time period, you get charged interest!
i walked by a store that had guns and riffles on display. and i found out through my aunt that granfather owned one too (for protection). i don´t know if you need a license.
nirvana is very popular here and i´ve already seen 5 people wearing nirvana t-shirts.
yesterday i went on a guided tour of el palacio legislativo (the parliament building). it´s only 2 blocks away from my aunt´s place, where i´m staying. it took 20 years to build and it was finished in 1928. all the materials used to build it were imported from italy. they let me take pictures inside and i can´t wait to show them. some amazing stained glass and 50 different coloured marble. marble is very popular here and it´s not as expensive to buy.
$25 uruguayan pesos= $1 usd
a movie at the cinemateque is $70 pesos. we went to see 25 watts and my aunt hated it. she thought the language was very vulgar. they´re just trying to immitate the argentinians because uruguayans don´t speak that way. they´ve all seen whiskey which is by the same directors and loved it but the sound on this one was too muffled and my parents couldn´t understand very much of it. i really love the soundtrack and i stayed until the end to find out who the bands were. one of them was los exitos and today i was at a record store and found a 60´s uruguayan comp with los exitos so i bought it. the owner told me that old uruguayan records from the 60´s are so hard to find. he had a record by los mockers that sold for $200 usd.  he asked me where i was from and i told him and when i told him that i was born here but left at 5 yrs, he said: "don´t ever come back to live here". it´s a hard life here.
tomorrow morning we´re taking a catamaran to buenos aires. it takes an hour. then there´s a 2 hour bus ride. i just heard that buenos aires is even more dangerous than montevideo. so far, the only place i´ve been on my own is crossing the street to the internet cafe. when it starts getting dark, you hardly see anyone walking down the street. in la cuidad vieja they had a police man in a bullet proof jacket and a dog. i was in my old neighborhood today "la teja" for the first time on this trip and they had a security guard and a dog in front of the pharmacy. la teja is getting worse. it´s so poor and that awful store where my dad´s house used to be is a cheese video store with an internet cafe. he designed that store and it´s full of cheese painted signs. we went there because beside that house was the house that i was raised in and that my dad still owns. my uncle and his daughter are dentists and they have a practice in a room in our house that´s blocked from another part of the house that we lived in. he checked my teeth and told me i had a small cavity that he´s going to take care of before i go.
after 5 days in buenos aires, we´re coming back here for one night. then going away for 2 weeks to piriapolis. it´s a small town 2 hours east of montevideo. the beaches there are so clean and clear. it´s so gorgeous. we rented a house by the beach and i can´t wait. i´ve been there before. it´s not too much  of a touristy resort. punta de leste is cheesy and commercial! for wealthy argitinians and celebrities who want to be photographed in the clubs and talked about in the society pages of the papers. they have shows on tv about it. we´re going to spend a day there. at first i was upset that we´re going to spend so long in a small town but now the noise here is getting on my nerves. it´s not just the noise from the traffic, you also hear ads all day from speakers on the street and sometimes on top of cars.
did you know that buenos aires is one hour behind montevideo? i didn´t until recently. or maybe i forgot. it´s weird because they´re very close together. closer than toronto and montreal. i don´t really understand how time zones work. i´m 6 hours ahead of pacific time here. so it´s 6 hours ahead of whatever it says at the bottom of this blog.
an 8 year old kid tried to steal my hat today. then i bumped into another one and he accused me of hitting him! they´re so bad. their parents send them out to go stealing. it´s very disturbing!
other things i´ve noticed on this trip:
- i saw an 8 year old girl buy beer in a grocery store.
- you dan drink while walking down the street.
- the beer comes in 960 ml bottles and i saw someone holding that huge bottle while walking downtown.
- most cars are small and use diesel gas. it´s a drag because it makes it noisier and smellier. it´s not good for your complexion either. everytime i clean my face with a cleanser and cotton ball, the cotton turns black!
- when you see someone on a horse and carriedge, it´s because they´re poor and they´re collecting garbage. they go through the bins and sort the garbage and keep some of it. i don´t know for what reason or what they get for it.
i went on a tour of this incredible theatre built in 1856. it was closed recently for 6 years because of a fire. they´re reopened last year and it´s gorgeous. i took some photos inside. they let us go backstage where the dressing rooms are. my uncle´s brother when out with an actress who worked in that theatre. she died 10 years ago of anorexia. 7 years ago when i was here, my aunt gave me a lot of her make  up that i stil have but it´s probably to old to wear.
i don´t know if i´ll write tomorrow so i spent an extra 3 pesos today and stayed a whole hour. i´m not sure how busy or crazy it´s going to be in buenos aires. i hope i don´t get mugged or kidnapped!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

i haven´t had coca cola yet

and i wonder how long it will take before i finally get the urge for some "coca". if you don´t see a uruguayan walking down the street with a bottle of coke, you would see them holding a thermos of hot water under one arm and a mate on the other.
buskers: they don´t play on the street, they get into the buses and play for you there. last night a guy came in with a guitar with a girl singing protest songs and it was really good. everyone clapped and gave them money. even my dad and my dad is really cheap! but it´s in pesos and a few pesos  isn´t worth very much.
i forgot to mention that the house that my aunt sold, the one my dad grew up in was sold to a business. my dad, his brother and sister slept in one big bedroom and that´s now an internet cafe. my granfather´s bedroom is also an internet cafe. on every block there´s an internet cafe. they call them cyber cafes here. they don´t serve any coffee. it´s mostly teenagers playing computer games. last time i was here 7 years ago, i couldn´t even see one internet cafe and now they´re everywhere.
i saw ben affleck in a spanish deodorant commercial! i think it´s called axis. or it could be an american commercial that´s dubbed but i don´t think he would do that. he probably flew to spain for that. that would be too embarrasing to be seen doing that in the states.
last night i went to la ciudad vieja with my parents. it´s close the port and it´s the oldest part of the city. we were there at 7pm and we thought the stores would still be open and lots of people would be walking around because it´s a tourist area but all the stores were closed and very few people were walking around. we asked the tourist police why the stores were closed and he said that they close at 6pm because there are too many robberies around. the ciudad vieja is 10 blocks of pedetrian only traffic and if you walk straight down to the port there´s a great market but that was closed to so we walked back up and it was really scary. there was no one around and an owner of a cafe came out to tell us not to walk on this street because of the "chorros"  thieves. i saw a few 7 year olds begging and i was even scared of them. they´re good and fast at stealing and i was carrying my camera. we got out of there really fast and found this really cool place close to this old theatre called Teatro Solis. lots of people were in this bar."bar tasende". it´s a legendary bar that´s been around for 75 years. my dad knew about it. lots of people were there and lots of people who work for the theatre go there. i loved the atmosphere. everything was really old. i had a pomelo, my parents shared a 960 ml bottle of beer and we each had a plate of piece with 8 small square pieces. some places give you pizzas that come in a square shape, not circle and they cut them up in smaller squares. i think that´s the italian way of doing it. we also had a plate of Faina. Faina is a typical uruguayan pizza that´s made with corn flour and water. there´s no topping. it´s very thin and delicious. well it was so good and they had a wood over. everything was only $8! i want to go back there!
today i walked by a mcdonalds and saw a woman drinking from an espresso cup! the McDonald's here sells espresso coffee in those tiny white porcelain cups! much more sophisticated than the canadian-american mcdonalds.
there´s a magazine stand on almost every block but it´s mostly cheesy celebrity or naked girls on the cover. and you know you´re in the expensive neighborhoods when there´s american magazines. i went to pocitos today and saw a high rise made of marble!
this spell check is in spanish so complain over my typos and spelling ok?
most stores close between 12:30-2:00pm for lunch.
when you´re introduced to a stranger you normally kiss them on the cheek. there´s lots of kissing going on. uruguayans are really nice, warm, friendly and polite people. except for the ones that want to grab your wallet and purse.

Monday, February 06, 2006

i can´t stop taking pictures

everywhere you go, no matter how poor the neighborhood is, there´s amazing architecture everywhere! wooden shutters with wrought iron fences, lots of marble and granite everywhere. colonial, rococo, art deco architecture everywhere. even the most ordinary cafe is like a work of art with wooden walls. the economy was doing so well here during the 2nd world war. uruguay was the wealthiest country in latin america. then things started getting bad in the 60´s. it shows in the architecture. most buildings are from the late 19th century until the 60´s. very few are from the 70´s-80´s-90´s. people don´t have the money anymore. the economy is improving a little since the last time i was here. you could tell from the streets. more tourists, less garbage, garbage cans everywhere, lots of pregant women, tourist police are hired to answer questions, etc...
everything costs 75% less here. but for uruguayans it´s expensive. my aunt has to live on a pension of $240 and that´s more than usual. she´s a widow so she gets a bit more. she owns her condo so that helps. the average salary is $200 a month and if you´re doing well you´re making $500 a month. if we stayed here and never emigrated we would also be poor. the old neighborhood that i grew up is even worse. i haven´t been there yet by my aunt says there´s more crime and poverty. it´s a very dangerous place to live. that´s why she sold the house that my grandfather bought in the 20´s, where i grew up and my dad grew up. i feel really nostalgic about that place but she needed to sell to buy a 2 bedroom condo in  a better neighborhood. it cost her $20 000 usd. it´s still not the best neighborhood but the street behind us is really cool. there´s over  a  dozen used bookstores and antique stores in these really beautiful turn of the century buildings. just like paris! the only neighborhood i would live in if i lived here is pocitos. we´re going there tomorrow. less crime, there´s some nightlife, cool boutiques and it´s close to the beach. it´s also the most expensive place to live. there´s a class system here just like in europe. my aunt says that the people who live in pocitos don´t know the problems of montevideo. they look down on anyone who doesn´t have money. you have to be part of their world.
thanks to the soft uruguayan leather, i was able to walk 3 hours in my new sandals with no blisters!
tonight i´m going to the ciudad vieja (the old city). it´s where all the nightlife is but we´re just going to walk around. when i come back from pierapolis in 2 weeks my cousin and i are going out in la ciudad vieja to check out some bars that i heard were good.
buses: they have curtains! also most of them have a extra person working for the bus who takes your money and gives back change. you´re also not allowed to ring the bell yourself if that person´s there. you have to tell them to ring it. that´s why my dad always loves ringing the bell in the montreal buses. i´m never allowed to touch it when i´m in the montreal buses with him.
pomelo: pomelo means grapefruit and it´s one of the most popular drinks (after coka cola). it´s sort of like limonata but with grapefruit juice. it´s so delicious. there´s a brand called quatro and the coka cola company makes it. they should sell it in canada! i think it´s only available in latin america.
bar and cafe culture: there´s a huge bar and cafe culture here and in most of those places they sell typical uruguayan food that you´ll never eat anywhere else. like sandwiche caliente. caliente means hot and it´s just like a grilled cheese sandwich with ham, cheese and you can also add tomotoes. i´ve eaten the most delicious tomatoes here. i can buy the most expensive tomatoes in vancouver and it won´t taste the same. there´s also something called milanesa. my mom makes this all the time. it´s beef with breaded crumbs all over and cheese on top. i used to eat it every week in montreal before i became vegetarian.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

the hottest day!

you could spend hours at this flea market. i think it´s 10 blocks of everything from computer parts to live chickens, ducks and small birds. no one throws anything away here. everything has some value. i also saw so many dogs in cats in tiny cages. that´s sad. i didn´t buy anything. i found some good records but nothing i wanted badly enough to carry through 3 different time zones. all the records have spanish writing even if they´re in english. the ones that are in english on the sleeve are imports and they´re very expensive.
coca cola: it´s the most popular drink here. i read somewhere that coca cola makes the most money in third world countries. they advertise everywhere here. people here call it "coka" and everyone drinks it in those small vintage glass bottles. you can´t find them in cans.
eucalyptus:i know i´ve arrived in montevideo when i smell eucalyptus in the air. it´s the first thing that you smell when you leave the airport. the airport is in a really beautiful modern building in a nice part of town called carrasco.
the doors: not the band. the real doors in front of buildings are so beautiful. tall, wooden engraved doors remind me of paris.  most of them are from the turn of the century. most of the buildings here are 100 years old but they´re not well maintained. last night we went into a pub that my dad used to go to with his dad when he was a kid. it´s now a dance hall where they dance the tango. and someone let us to see. it hasn´t changed much. there´s a law in some places where they don´t let you modify old historical buildings.
water: there´s no water pressure anywhere. not even in newer buildings. it´s like that in the whole country. also if you flush the toilet you can´t use the shower right away. you have to wait awhile for the water to come back. it´s never been much fun taking showers here. all the bathrooms have a bidet though. so you can have fun with that. i haven´t tried it yet.
and i found out that we´re taking the ferry to buenos aires. not the plane. it´s going to take a couple of hours but it´s cheaper. i sat next to a woman from nyc on the chicago-buenos aires flight and she told me that the san telmo flea market in BA isn´t worth. it´s just junk. she travels to south america every year and goes on these adventure tours. she loves to come back to buenos aires for the meat. she loves meat and in buenos aires and montevideo you can really well for so cheap. ç
most of the stores are closed on saturdays and sundays. the only shopping that you can do is at the mall and today we went to a mall that used to be a prison. it´s called punta carretas. i´ve been there before. there´s nothing special about it but i needed sandals. it´s in a nice area close to the sea wall. the sea wall is 7500 metres long! lots of palm trees everywhere. i haven´t gone inside the water yet. i´m waiting until we get to piriapolis for that. the water is cleaner there. my time´s up here. i have a headache from the heat!
wish you were here,
love ani xo

Saturday, February 04, 2006

i´ve made it!

i spent a total of 17 hours sitting down and over 20 hours travelling but i´m here and it´s hot and very humid. the best thing about the flight was seeing the movie walk the line. the flight from chicago to buenos aires is torture! lots of argentinians and uruguayans living in u.s and coming back to visit. you could tell they live in the states because all their kids speak english very well. some have married americans so they come back to visit family. it was raining when i landed in buenos aires and montevideo. the rain stopped a few hours later and the sun is out now. i´m staying accross the street from an internet cafe so there´s a good chance i´ll have daily updates. it´s cheap too. 25 cents for an hour! everything is cheap here but people have been telling me to wait until i get to buenos aires if i want to buy anything. it´s much cheaper there.  i´ve already taken some photos but the only thing that i forgot to bring with me is a usb cable for my camera so i won´t be able to show any of them until i get back.
there´s so much poverty here. lots of thieves everywhere. i´m staying in a neighbourhood called aguada and it´s really close to 18 de julio which is downtown. so we went for a walk on 18 de julio and walked into a bookstore and someone tried to rob me. he asked me for the time and my parents were watching him and he noticed it so he left me alone. he would have probably tried to steal my watch.
tomorrow, there´s a huge flea market in this neighborhood. my parents were there last sunday and apparently the streets are so full that you can hardly walk anywhere. lots of antiques, used books and records, tourists and lots of thieves too. i´m getting really paranoid about bringing my video camera. that´s one thing i won´t miss when i return to vancouver.
next week we´re going to buenos aires for 5 days and staying in a really nice hotel. i can´t wait. good thing it´s only a 20 minute flight.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

el subte

el subte is what they call the subway system in buenos aires. it's short for subterráneo which means underground. it's the first subway system build in latin american and the 13th oldest in the world. the 4th oldest in the americas after nyc, boston, and philly. a book i just read on buenos aires says that the A line is a must see because it still carries the original subway cars with the antique wood-framed interiors. here's a site with some photos. another great thing about the subte: it's only 25 cents to ride it!