Monthly Archives: Sep 2011

Wandering Canadians adopted by Argentine families: Part 2

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Well, Sara has already updated you all on our first family experience in Argentina, complete with cooking haps and mishaps and musical fun, so now it’s time for our second family adoption. On Sunday after church, we drove to Veronica, a small town about two hours away (complete with a thermos of hot water for mate, which, of course, makes any trip seem shorter. ¡Gracias, David!). There, we stayed with Pedro y Luci, more cousins of Sara’s aunt. Their beautiful, tranquil farm was a shocking (but very lovely) change from the crowds and noise of the city, but their hospitality was just as welcoming, generous, and full of food!

Upon arrival we spent most of the evening with our dear Lanus friends who had driven us there, getting a tour of the farm (complete with cows, bats, and a eucalyptus forest!) and concluding with a stargazing session (the constellations are completely different here, of course!) in the bottom of an empty swimming pool.

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The following days were spent jumping between amazing dinners and Spanish lessons inside (Pedro is an excellent teacher, with his dictionary and encyclopedia on hand at all times, and Luci is an amazing cook) and chatting with cows, hens, Brunic/Perrito the dog, and eating from the lemon, orange, and avocado trees outside.

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Among other things, we learned how to pick avocados (Pedro y Luci seem to be the principal suppliers of this local treasure for the entire town)…

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…and to tell the difference between oranges and orange lemons (there really isn’t one, until you bite into them)…

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Finally, we spent a very lovely day with aunt Esther’s aunt and uncle (if you’re having trouble following all these familial connections, don’t worry, they’re all just very wonderful people) Rosa y Sergio. They filled us up with family history, argentine stories, delicious homemade wine, and another unbelievable asado, this time cooked in the living room fireplace!

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Oh dear, this is getting mighty long. Many more stories to share, but you’ll have to wait for now. And ¡muchísimas gracias a Pedro, Lucí, Rosa, y Sergio por su hospitalidad tan generosa, y por un tiempo muy refrescante y disfrutable!

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Asado Lessons

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This is an emergency post in response to a comment from my dear mother on the nature of asado. First off, it’s important to know that all argentines eat meat literally all the time, in massive quantities, which they buy from a carneceria (literally translated as meatery) and cook on a grill (called a parrilla) over burning coals. My lesson (muchas gracias a David y Daniel) proceeded as follows:

1. Build a fire in a vented tin can, so as to heat the coals inside (also purchased from the meatery)

2. While coals are heating, clean grill with bits of frozen fat.

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3. Spread only the hottest coals underneath the parrilla. Once you can hold your hand directly over the metal for about fifteen seconds before it starts burning, it’s ready to go.

4. Ready the meat by rubbing in chimichurri (sauce made of garlic, jalapenos, onions, and other good things), then lay on the parrilla. The meat should NOT be cut into edible portions yet, and there should be enough to feed at least four times the number of people actually eating :P.

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5. After about half an hour, the meat is ready to flip. Note: flipping an entire chicken is extremely difficult.
(Note from Sara: the look on a porteño’s face as a Canadian attempts to flip an entire chicken is extremely entertaining!)

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6. Another half hour and the asado is ready to go. Cut into portions and balance the impressive heap on a plate. Bring into the eagerly awaiting comereros (‘eaters’…no, really, it’s a word!) who will traditionally applaud your arrival. Enjoy, possibly with a small side of lettuce and tomatoes as a polite nod to the fact that there are some other food groups out there besides meat. But who cares about those?

Bien provecho!

Wandering Canadians adopted by Argentine family: Part 1

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After two lovely days of wandering BA on our own, we braved Argentina’s telecabinas and finally got ahold of Cecilia, my aunt Esther’s cousin’s daughter (international travel is all about the ridiculously complicated connections!). Cecilia brought us home with her to Lanús, a barrio of Gran Buenos Aires (GBA).

Quick explanation: The city of Buenos Aires (BA) is located in the province of Buenos Aires (Bs.As.) and is utterly massive! The city centre (most often referred to as BA) is where most of the famous sites are located and is where most porteños (residents of BA) work, but most people live in the surrounding neighbourhoods (GBA).

Immediately, we were adopted by Lidia and Emilio, my aunt’s cousins, and their children: Raquel, Cecilia, David and Daniel. When we ended up having a 2-hour jam sesh on our very first night there, Josh and I knew we would feel right at home!

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This amazing family filled our days with delicious food, guided tours of the city, long discussions of politics and faith (in Spanish!) over copious servings of mate, and (much to Josh’s delight) asado lessons!

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It was Cecilia’s birthday the week we were there, and she decided to have a party with an “international” theme, preparing dishes from all the places she’s visited. She asked us if we could prepare a special dish from Canada. Josh and I put our heads together, trying to think of an authentically Canadian dish, whose recipe we could remember offhand and whose ingredients were readily available: RICE KRISPIE CAKE was the obvious choice!

However, it turns out Argentina has never heard of marshmallows, so the family was very intrigued to try this exotic and obviously very elaborate Canadian dish. Raquel made a special trip to the one store in the city where they had seen marshmallows sold… and brought home crazy, twisted pink marshmallows that smelt like coconut and vanilla. The end result? A neon-pink cake that was almost devoured before we could get it into the pan! 🙂

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Cecilia also asked us to teach the little kids from church a song in English, so Josh and I led them in a rousing rendition of “Peace Like a River” (and we knew we for sure in Argentina when one of the moms explained to her son, “Si, River, ¡como River Plate!”), and eventually got all the adults singing along too! All the people from their church felt like family: we had such a hard time saying goodbye and were only able to leave them by promising to return in April.

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¡Muchísimas gracias¡ a nuestra nueva familia y todos de nuestros nuevos amigos. 🙂

For those of you waiting with baited breath…

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…the toilets in the southern hemisphere do NOT flush in the opposite direction of those back home. Sorry to disappoint.

But oh my goodness, our first couple hours in Buenos Aires have been anything but disappointing. Weird combinations of leafless trees (winter just ended here, keep in mind) and tropical palms, streets that give new meaning to the word chaos, and the most ridiculously friendly people you could hope for have been our encounters thus far. But alas, we have groceries to buy (apparently there’s a supermercado down the road called El Disco) and a city to explore, so ¡hasta luego!

Suddenly I feel very, very small

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We are flying over the Carribean Sea, approaching Cuba, and I have never seen anything quite so awe-inspiring. The half-moon is looking us straight in the eye, illuminating a sky that defines vastness. It’s mostly a clear night, so we can see the ocean 37,000 feet below us, but what is truly terrifying is the half dozen clouds hanging there silently. There is enough space between them that we can see each of their reflections in the sea, adding another whole dimension to the beauty. I’m not homesick, but I am suddenly struck by the incomprehensible size of this planet, and that already we are on a very different side of it.

Goodbye, known world!

On the road, somewhere between Flint and Detroit

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Five weeks ago, I walked down an aisle made of all the people I love most in the world towards the man who means the world to me.

August 13, 2011

My other best friend :)

The wedding party... who made it a party!

Off to find an adventure...

Three weeks ago, that man (hereafter known as Joshua) and I were knee-deep in boxes as we packed up my apartment, trying to find places to store all our furniture and worldly possessions for the next 8 months (while still keeping all our travel gear accessible, of course!). Last week, our average bedtime started at 4:30 AM and ended at 8:00 AM, as we crammed every moment full of packing and gear-shopping and goodbye parties, while trying out our new tent by camping in my mom’s front yard.

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Mom and Sean road-tripped with us to Grand Forks to catch our Greyhound bus, which was serendipitously an hour late, giving us more time to sit together in random coffee shops by the bus depot. 🙂

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After 23 hours of Greyhound bus fun (the depot in Kalamazoo* has excellent breakfasts, by the way), we arrived in Alma, MI to spend a few days with Josh’s mom and co. before flying away to Argentina.

However, nothing Josh and I do could be so simple as that! Today, Sheryle drove Josh and I to Saginaw to catch our flight to Chicago, which would connect to Washington, DC, then Buenos Aires (BA), Argentina. But, upon arriving in Saginaw, we were informed that all flights in and out of Chicago were delayed due to rain, and by the time we waited for our flight to Chicago, we would miss our flight to Washington. Despair!

Thankfully, we underestimated the determination of our United Airlines agent. After pulling on his lucky baseball cap, he proceeded to plot out every possibility to get us back on track. I think our favourite option was when he found a flight that would take us up to Toronto and then back down to Texas… He then looked at us worriedly and asked, “I’ll have to check if you have the proper visas to get into Canada.” (I don’t think they get too many Canadians flying out of Saginaw! :P)

Anyways, I am writing this from a McDonalds parking lot en route to Detroit, because our miracle worker found us a United flight from Detroit that would bring us into Washington in time to catch our original flight to Buenos Aires! We are off and running… Wish us luck!

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*For the sake of all you bus-cuisine aficionados out there, the best breakfasts are actually in Milwaukee… Kalamazoo has very little by way of food, but sounds way cooler.