Monday, May 22, 2006

Theatre workshop in Buenos Aires

Apart from taking the regular Spanish courses
students at COINED Spanish School in Buenos Aires can take part in drama classes every Tuesday.

Drama classes cover the basics of acting and stage movement, including improvisation, mime, and stage direction with emphasis on oral communication.

Different acting exercises and games are played in order to enable students communicate more easily, improve fluency and keep up a conversations. Thus, students learn how to express and communicate in Spanish spontaneously in a funny non conventional way developing the basic communications skills: speaking and listening.

Drama Classes are optional and held every Thursday.
Duration: 2 hours.
A music equipment, different costumes as well as other drama material are used during the woekshop.

COINED Spanish School in Buenos Aires
Suipacha 90, 2nd floor
1008 Capital Federal
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone/Fax: +54-11-43312418

Buenos Aires’ off circuit theater tour.
Buenos Aires features a great selection of theatrical performances. Different kind of shows and theatrical performances are mounted here a long the year.

The flourishing theatrical tradition is celebrated through the rich and varied shows that are presented in this cosmopolitan city.

The Complejo Teatral General San Martín, Teatro Colón, Teatro Nacional Cervantes and the Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires belong to the “official circuit” where many plays and performances of international fame take place. Corrientes Street is part of the “commercial circuit” where musicals and other comedies are placed along the busy area.

Finally, in Buenos Aires there is an “off circuit”.
Students at Coined Spanish School in Buenos Aires are invited to join a theater tour that will take them to know what is called the independent theater (teatro independiente) in the off circuit of Buenos Aires i.e. non conventional theater. Independent theater in Buenos Aires is considered to have been growing significantly last years.

This kind of theater is composed by independent drama groups that perform original and local plays also characterized by the creativity on its performance.

Independent drama groups as well as other artists and play authors provide an important touch to the intense cultural life in the Buenos Aires as they are also essential part of this vibrant community.

Tours are held on Fridays. Times is always to be confirmed as it depends on the play that is going to be attended. After the play there is chat on the play as to let students have the chance to make comments, reviews, etc.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Travel tips: Theatre fever in Buenos Aires

By Flavia Arbiser, actress and drama teacher.

I don’t know why but there is something about theatre in Buenos Aires. I am not sure if there is anywhere else in the world where you can choose more than 220 plays every weekend (10 plays per hour). In fact there are more than 100 Off Theatres in the city. Every two years takes place the “Festival Internacional de Teatro de Buenos Aires” - International Buenos Aires Theater Festival, one of the most important Latin American festivals. And as in every big festival all over the world you are able to find at least one Argentinean company performing.

The theatre fevers also includes education, I mean there are more than 200.000 theatre students and more than 250 theatre schools only in Buenos Aires! To be or not to be an actor that seems to be the question. But not every one that study theatre has to be a professional actor, of course there are so many people that only study theatre as a hobby, to relax and have a good time. Coined is not out of this theatrical movement or “movida teatral” as it is called by locals, and that’s why we offer a theatre workshop every Tuesday.

On Friday evenings we also attend different plays. Come and join us, be part of our theatre company. Experience the theatre and be part of this Argentinean experience. Surely, “Porque no solo del tango vive el argentino”. - Because not only from tango Argentineans live.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Personal experiences: World Rally in Cordoba, Argentina

By Jonathan Molina
It was a beautiful day to be outside, it was thought and done, me and two other friends, Pirincho & Langui, decided to be part of the 26th edition of the World Rally Championship which was about to take place in the natural mountain sceneries the Province of Córdoba has to offer.
Due to the short time you have to travel from Córdoba City to where the Rally event takes place, every year thousands of rally fans from different places, arrive in Córdoba this time of year to enjoy what the Rally Argentina has to offer.

Some people decide to take part of this International event with their family, if you never been to it, next year it would be a good time to catch some of the excitement.
Even though here in the southern hemisphere it is autumn it wasn’t really cold, we actually enjoyed being outside, later on, as sunset came down on us, temperatures began to dip a little bit, I would say it was around 50ºF.

In that time we kept warm with a local Córdoba drink called ¨Fernet¨ it is a typical drink of this province, based on herbs. You have to mix it with Coke, trust me, after a while feeling cold is the last thing you will think about. Even thought it was too early for snow, last year I took excellent pictures of the Rally Argentina in the snow. This year the really took place in the month of April, normally it was in June or July, the reason why the dates where changed are simple, last year it was very cold.

I must admit it. Cars pass extremely fast; you will see excellent drivers and ask yourself how can they drive at tremendous speeds. Drivers come from all over the world travel to Córdoba to compete.

We didn’t have to look far, we had our own Champion here, to bad he died of a heart attack while inspecting the clutch of his Ford. From 1995 to 1998 Recalde competed in the World Rally Championship, mostly in Group N, and won the 1995 World Rally Championship outright driving a Lancia Delta Integrale. Rest in Peace our Champion!!! Jorge R. Recalde

Friday, May 05, 2006

I support Boca Juniors!

I support Boca Juniors, the best Argentine football team in the world, that’s why I decided to write about its beginnings, and most recent winnings.
Club Atlético Boca Juniors was born on Monday April 3rd, 1905, when five young Italian immigrant boys who lived in La Boca neighborhood got together at Solís square and decided to found a football club.

The name of the club comes from the neighborhood but the word "Juniors" was added later to give it an English style name and give it more prestige.

The first and original jersey color was pink, which was quickly abandoned for thin black-and-white vertical stripes. The legend says that in 1907 Boca played against another team that used these same colors to see who would get to keep them. Boca lost and decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to arrive to La Boca port. It was a ship from Sweden, so the blue-and-gold was adopted. The first version had a yellow diagonal band, which was later changed to a horizontal stripe.

Boca Juniors shows a great track record in amateur competitions, wining 7 titles. 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1930 Championships and the Honour Cup in 1925.
In the Profesional League, the xeneize club as it is also known, won the following championships: 1931, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1954, 1962, 1964, 1965, Argentina Cup and National in 1969, National in 1970, Metropolitan and National in 1976, Metropolitan in 1981, Apertura '92, Apertura '98, Clausura '99, Apertura 2000, Apertura 2003 and Apertura 2005.

Boja Juniors has also achieved international championships such as The Libertadores Cup five times (1977, 1978, 2000, 2001 and 2003), the Intercontinental Cup three times (1977, 2000 and 2003), one Supercopa (1989), two Southamerican Cups (2004 and 2005), two Southamerican Recopa (1990 and 2005), one Master Cup (1992) and one Nicolás Leoz Golden Cup (1993).
Boca Juniors has traditionally been regarded as the club of Argentina's working class, in contrast with the more upscale support base of cross-town rivals River Plate, perhaps because La Boca is a working class neighborhood.
Boca Juniors’ fans are locally called “bosteros” and “xeneizes” and are also known as “la número 12” or “la 12” (player number 12, "the 12th man") because of the influence they have on rival teams - especially in home games- where their cheering is loudly heard during the match.
So, if you want experience a real football match you should see Boca playing! Matches usually are held on Sundays…Boca’s stadium is known as “the bombonera” because it seems to be a moving and trembling “coliseum” when fans start jumping all together at the same time. The whole stadium has a capacity for about 60.000 spectators.

Diego Maradona, one of the world best football players supports this team.

Sailing and Sightseeing in Tigre

Tigre is situated 32 km north from Buenos Aires city. This riverside destination offers worthwhile attractions and it is a departing point to explore the Parana River Delta, one of the most charming and picturesque places.

Before Spanish explorers and settlers came into what now is Tigre, where the yaguarete, a local tiger-like feline, made this area its habitat. Along with other animals and insects such as mosquitoes, fish, birds, and abundant vegetation, this local tiger was a very popular in the region. The yaguarete is almost extinct in the area but it gave its funny name to an area now famous for its particular scenery.

Around 1580 settlers form Buenos Aires moved to this region as it was considered to be fertile for farming and harvests, which contributed very much in the growing of the area. Nowadays, its agricultural heritage is present in the Fruits and Crafts Market where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other products such as furniture, fabric and other accessories made in cane and willow, flowers, honey and jam.

At the beginning of the XXth century Tigre used to be the chosen place for the holidays of the higher classes. The luxurious houses that still remain on the banks of the river are a silent witness of those times.

Today Tigres’s Delta owns an amazing landscape. Windings rivers and streams surround hundreds of islands which create the setting for an unforgettable trip.

Hotels, lodges, cottages and weekend houses provide accommodation for tourists. Recreational grounds with sport facilites and picnic areas are one of the options to spend the day and several restaurants offer the possibility to have a meal overlooking the river.

Water sports like wakeboarding, water skiing, canoeing and rowing can be also practiced in this area as well as activities such as trekking, bird watching and photo safaris. On the little islands wild life is abundant lapwings, larks are some of the birds in the region.

Tigre has three inner docks. One is for sightseeing boats, including the catamarans. A second dock handles the boats bringing in different goods and all the daily requirements. The third dock is for the timber boats that bring poplar and willow logs to market. You can rent a canoe or a kayak and paddle yourself around.

Things to Do and See:
A family attraction is Parque de la Costa which is one of the largest parks in South America with fun rides, roller coasters and other amusements, such as dancing waters, children’s entertainments and other shows.

Museo de La Reconquista, a historic building that commemorates the departure point of Santiago de Liniers for Buenos Aires to rid the capital of the British occupying forces.

In Tigre you can’t miss Martin Garcia Island, named this way for a sailor. This island was for many years a prison from which no one could escape and it is now a National Historical Monumuent and also an ecological reserve. Certainly, Tigre is one of those unforgettable sites that remain forever in the memory of tourists. Sailing across the area is the best choice to get to know its rivers, its islands and its people from the inside.

Pizza in Buenos Aires

Argentineans are not only famous for their delicious barbecue, the typical grilled beef together with vegetables salad; pizza is also part of their diet. Although pizza is an Italian invention I have to say that in Buenos Aires I ate the best pizza I had ever eaten in my whole life…After a long walk all over the city center I was starving and once I heard that Buenos Aires was also famous for its pizzas, then I decided to try one at the famous Italian restaurant “Las Cuartetas”.

Italian immigrants arrived in Buenos Aires during different times, especially after World War I and World War II. They did not only bring their hopes, dreams and families with them. They brought their idiosyncrasy and way of life as well as their cuisine recipe secrets!

For those who love pizza I would definitely recommend “Las Cuartetas”, a typical Argentine-Italian pizza restaurant in Corrientes Avenue in junction with Suipacha Street. The restaurant still uses its first and traditional oven and pizzas are also prepared and served in traditional style.

Las Cuartetas is an emblematic restaurant from 1940 that has changed little from those early days. The restaurant has dozens of tables, a light green paint on the wall, hanging plants and many customers chatting and eating pizza. From the original and basic cheese and tomato sauce pizza to the most sophisticated one, the restaurant offers countless varieties of pizzas.
Typical Argentinean pizzas may include those made with mozzarella, pizza por metro (pizza per meter) and pizza a la parrilla (grilled pizza).

Argentineans usually order their pizzas with faina, which is a local invention that consists of a chickpea flour cake slow-baked separately and placed on top of the pizza before putting the whole thing in the oven again. The resulting slice will be a kind of wedge-shaped sandwich with a distinctive crunchy top.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Travel tips in Ushuaia

The island at the bottom part in the map of Argentina!

Ushuaia city has a population of about 46.000 inhabitants and it is located on the shore of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mounts in the south part of Argentina. It is the capital of the Province of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur.

Ushuaia’s attractive scenery shows unique natural tourist attractions, such as the sea, forests and mountains combined with European style architecture of the city. The main economic activities which sustain Ushuaia’s economy are livestock farming, sawmills, commercial fishing, industries and tourism.

Commercial fishing is primarily concentrated on capturing crabs with an annual yield of between 250 and 300 tons. Deep sea fishing is also an important activity in the surrounding ocean. Main industries are electrical, textile and plastic factories.

Despite of the fact that Ushuaia is a small a city, there is a great variety of interesting activities to enjoy.

A city tour in Ushuaia can take to a great variety of interesting outings. Some exciting sites are:
Museo del Fin del Mundo -The End of the World Museum. It has a large historical and natural exhibition of the province. It treasures the heritage of life in Tierra del Fuego, from pre-Columbian days to the mid XXth century
Museo Marítmo –The Maritime Museum. You can find collections ranging from naval models, the history of Antarctic explorations and other various aspects such as austral wildlife, primitive inhabitants, etcetera. This takes place in the former Prison of Ushuaia where the most dangerous criminals served their time in these premises. The prison gained a sad reputation, as most of its inmates were repeat-offenders.

The Train to the End of the World. A journey to Ushuaia’s wonderful landscape. So, if you like wild and harmonious nature you can’t miss this unique attraction.
Mundo Yamaha Model Museum. It has scale models of Ushuaia at different times throughout its history but if you want to get a real panoramic view of the city and the surrounding area you can arrange a flight in a small plane.

Ushuaia National Park. It was created in 1960 it is the southernmost protected natural park in Argentina. A visit to the park will take you around 5 hours and you will be able to observe local flora and fauna.

Ushuaia offers you the chance to practice a range of non conventional excursions: mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, horse riding, mountaineering, diving bird and beaver watching, etc.

Traveling Experiences: Unconventional tourism. Tourism and piquetes in Argentina.

Just a different way of getting to know a country and its culture

Any experience should be described as the process of getting knowledge or skill which is obtained from doing, seeing or feeling things. This is exactly what an increasing number of foreign tourists try to do when they join the several pickets that take place in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires.

After the economic and political crisis that took place in Argentina in 2001, there has been a proliferation of informal organizations: The piqueteros movement, self-managed enterprises, independent unions, people's canteens (comedores comunitarios).

Such organisations have usually been created out of the response of the workers or the population to increasingly hopeless exploitation and misery.

There is no doubt that picketers have had a substantial impact on Argentina's politics over the past 4 or 5 years and pickets are seen as tool in response of the . It is a social movement that has been growing and has had a great influence on many social international specialists interested in the matter.

Young foreigners arrive in Argentina to carry out researches on how pickets take place, and how people take part in these demonstrations. They also take part in the demonstrations and help as volunteers in a way to learn how living like an Argentine picketer is like.

What drives all these people to leave their homelands to take part in a picket in Argentina?
It seems to be just a matter to experience and feel what picketers, mainly composed by poor people, demand to the Argentine Government: jobs, equal opportunities in education and access to health among other demands.

Most of the visitors are university students interested in writing papers and reports on this issue worldwide known. They are young foreigners eager to learn Spanish as well as the Argentine culture and way of living of the poor in situ. They come to Argentina longing to know first-hand how a picket organization works, how the un-and under-employed Argentines and their families live. It represents a real immersion experience as most of the visitors live in the low class houses, share the same meals and use the same facilities as any family member.
Living an experience like this takes social specialists and university students to appreciate the real significance of this new social movement in Argentina, which for a long time had not only a large middle class, but also a large industrial working class. It also gives the opportunity to experience how this people get by on trying to live in a developing country.

It has always been said that globalization allows people of different races, cultures, religions, and other backgrounds to interact and exchange ideas across great distances. In this case, people from far-away countries come to Argentina giving their knowledge and ideas on how to improve picketers’ struggle for a better way of life.

Travel tips: San Telmo’s antiques and other attractions

San Telmo is largely known as the most picturesque part of Buenos Aires because it combines cobblestone streets with colonial buildings. It is also one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and this is reflected in its XIXth and XXth century architecture. San Telmo used to a residential district during the Colonial period until the yellow fever epidemic in 1871 forced the upper classes to move to what is now The Recoleta neighborhood. Over the last years, San Telmo has again become fashionable as more people, primary artists and professionals have chosen to live, which has not deprived the area of its charming old-town atmosphere.

San Telmo is the traditional neighborhood where a great variety of shops and boutiques invites you to buy traditional Argentine products as well as very valuable collectible and rare objects. Sculptures, chandeliers, toys, jewels, silverware, bronze ivory objects, furniture, mirrors, arms and paintings are only a few of the many things that are on sale.

Just like in many top international cities, Buenos Aires has the most important antiques fair in South America as its main attraction. So, if you love antiques and vintage products you should go to San Telmo’s market which for the last 35 has been attracting visitors at Dorrego Square, between Defensa and Humberto 1º streets every Sunday from 10am to 5pm where dozens of booths sell almost everything. Similar markets operates on Pasaje Giuffra where handicraft stalls line Defensa and Humberto I streets and still another functions in Parque Lezama on Saturdays and Sundays where books, handicrafts, hand-made shoes, clothes can be bought.

Obviously, the antiques are not only sold in the market in Dorrego square. There are hundreds of antique shops in San Telmo having in common the tightly packed, overfilled premises, typical of this trade. They range from big establishments with impressively stocked windows fronting, mainly, onto Defensa and nearby streets, to tiny stores grouped along the various picturesque courtyard malls.

Another San Telmo's attraction includes its local old church, San Pedro Telmo built by the Jesuits in 1733.

A long the streets of Sant Telmo you can take a break in one of the many lively cafes and enjoy tango music and dance performances.

El Viejo Almacén -The Old Grocery Store. It is situated on Balcarce and Defensa Street. It used to be a grocery store and then a winery. Nowadays it is a restaurant that offers both local and international food as well as traditional tango shows with some of the city's best musicians. A fantastic place to enjoy tango.

On 1600 Defensa Street you can visit the National Historical Museum which shows Argentina’s history from the XVIth century to the beginning of the current century.

San Telmo is full of gastronomic options, ranging from a wide range of sidewalk, pizzerias, cafés, snack bars to restaurants, home-delivery services, take-outs, pasta shops and typical Argentine restaurants, parrillas, specialized in grilled beef.

Mendoza's best wine

Argentina is not only known for its beef and tango but also for the quality of the country’s best wines.

Wine arrived in Argentina from Spain in the mid of the XVIth century and it took some time to find the right place for the production of grapes.

As Mendoza is located in a semiarid land, first inhabitants found it difficult to harvest grapes.
However, they used a vast irrigation system, firstly developed by The Incas and then extended by The Huarpes, native indigenous people. A series of artificial irrigation ditches and canals divert water from the Mendoza, Diamante, Tunuyán, and Atuel rivers, which fill as snow melts in The Andes to irrigate the land. The region's sandy, dry soil, constant sun and low humidity has been the perfect place to create wines of high alcohol content and rich fruity quality.

Surrounding the beautiful city of Mendoza and lying just to the east of The Andes, the province accounts for over 70% of the Argentina's wine production and is the world's sixth-largest producer of grapes.

Vineyards are part of the typical landscape that can be seen in Mendoza apart from the towering mountains Andes. These vineyards in Mendoza rarely face the problems of insects, fungi or other disease that affect grapes in other countries, which allows cultivating with little or no pesticides.

Although Argentine winemakers have traditionally been more interested in quality rather than quantity, nowadays, there are nearly 1.200 wineries that produce some one billion liters of wine a year.

There are 4,500 grape varieties in the world from which to produce wine. The grape transmits to the wine the taste of its species. Malbec is one of the most popular Argentine wine varieties characterized by a powerful fruit bouquet. Anyone who comes across a Malbec anywhere in the world must know that if you say Malbec you say Argentina.

Although the red Malbec grape was once imported from France a century ago, the perfect combination of growing conditions like strong sunlight and high altitude in Mendoza has favored the production of excellent quality grapes. Nowadays, Mendoza boasts the best Malbec wine in the world.

Malbec wine is a flavorful, meaty and spicy. In Argentina, it is often blended with other wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Mendoza has become an international tourist attraction. Visitors can visit museums, wine-tasting cellars, restaurants and gift shops all related to the wine industry.

Argentina’s sweet sensation

Dulce de Leche

There is nothing than can quite compare to this delicious caramel spread.
Dulce de leche, also known as “milk candy” –exact translation, is a creamy brownish substance. It is a very popular and traditional desert in Argentina made over many hours by caramelizing sugar in milk.

There is an interesting legend upon this popular sweet cream that took place in Juan Manuel de Rosas’ house, a famous Argentine politician, around the XIXth century.

The story says that in a winter afternoon at Rosas' house, someone knocked on the door while the maid was cooking some “lechada”, a sort of drink made with sugar and milk boiled until it begins caramelizing. She left the “lechada” on the stove and went to answer the door. When she came back she realized the lechada was burnt and had turned into a brownish jam.

Similar Latin American products are known across the world like the Mexican cajeta, arequipe in Colombia and Venezuela which are very similar in cooking preparation. However the Argentine dulce de leche is unique.

Nowadays the production of dulce de leche has industrialized and it is made with the purest fresh milk from Argentine cows grazing the Argentine pampas.

The typical Argentine consumes form 3 to 5 kilograms of dulce de leche per year. Surely Argentines know what it is good and tasty! The cooking industrial process for dulce de leche is the same to what it used to be in the beginning and gourmets carry out in their kitchens.

Dulce de leche was discovered accidentally and became a popular all over the world. Then if you come to Argentina you should try the original Argentine dulce de leche unless you want to try it preparing yourself. In that case here’s the recipe:

  • 3 liters of milk
  • 800 grams of fine sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 2 full tablespoons vanilla essence
  • 3/4 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
  1. Add the ingredients in the order above to a big pot over very low heat.
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is well blended and cook slowly, stirring often until the milk thickens and turns as caramel.
The cooking may take upwards of 3 hours.

Dulce de leche is usually spread on bread, toast, toast with butter as any jam and it also used as a filling for other Argentine typical dessert. Dulce de Leche has a spectacularly delicious taste and a silky-smooth texture that certainly can satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

Travel tips: BARILOCHE, the Latin American Switzerland

The city is surrounded by mountains and lakes. Let’s take a walk in Bariloche.

Its full name is San Carlos de Bariloche and it is one of the most populated cities in Rio Negro province (77.600 inhabitants). It is a wonderful town famous for its delicious chocolates and for being one of Argentineans most important tourist destination. Bariloche was founded in 1902 and its first main economic activities used to be production of wool, wood and leather.

Bariloche stands out for its beautiful landscape, woods, mountains and diverse flora and fauna. Its imposing landscape made local tourists and foreign visitors began to flock to the city. Although Bariloche belongs to the continental cold weather zone with a dry season it enjoys a temperate mountain-type climate.

Before taking a walk in Bariloche, bear in mind the following: December 21st is the longest day in the year. The sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and sets at 9:30 p.m. However, in mid-winter, it rises at 8.30 a.m. and sets at 6.30 p.m. approximately.

The city keeps a traditional Alpine village style with wood houses, roofs with strong slopes for this reason many tourists call Bariloche the Latin American Switzerland.

Bariloche’s most important church is Nuestra Señora del Nahuel Huapi –Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi. Although the building was never finished its access is used as a chapel. The church has a magnificent vitreaux that exhibits different religious drawings.

The Civic Center is another important landmark in the city. It was opened in 1940 and has a Swiss style with arcades and a horseshoe shape facing the Nahuel Huapi lake. The Civic Center was declared a National Monument in 1987 and it is surrounded by buildings hosting the Police Station, the ex-post office and ex-customs offices, the tourism office, Museum and Sarmiento Library and the Town Hall. There is a large clock in the Town Hall tower that when it strikes 12 noon and 6 p.m., four figures appear: an Indian, a missionary, a Spanish conqueror and a traditional laborer.

Paseo de las Naciones. It is an interesting walk over a square that shows several flags evoking different the nationalities of the several immigrants that once settled down in Bariloche to start a living.

In Perito Moreno Street the town’s oldest houses are preserved: Marciani House, and Capraro building. Another interesting building is Club Andino Bariloche, a very important social and cultural place.

You can finish your walk in Worest Casino in San Martin. Pay a visit to the casino. Gamble, have fun and enjoy its amazing view to Nahuel Huapi Lake!

Feel free to walk in Bariloche as it is a safe and cozy town. Its people are friendly and nice. Tourists from all over the world feel as home in this southern town in Bariloche.