17 June 2010

¡Gol Gol Gol Gol!

Argentina came pretty close to a complete stop this morning as the national team played its second game in the World Cup, beating South Korea 4-1 and taking the lead in Group B with 2 solid wins. Offices and shops opened late; schools adhered to normal start time, but devoted the first 90 minutes of the day to the televised broadcast of the game. The word is this decision was made to prevent the heavy absenteeism that occured during the 2006 World Cup.

Although the spontaneous post-game marches to the Obelisk have not yet reached traffic-stopping volumes, futbol fever is already at epidemic levels. The Argentine public television system is broadcasting all the games of the national team and many of the other matches, as well, and the huge Plaza San Martin has been turned into "Fan Park," where multitudes gather to watch the games on a giant screen. Light blue and white - the colors of the Argentine flag and the national team - appear on everything, and Maradona and Messi are the favorite topics of conversation.

We've got our own little Messi figurine - free with the purchase of a 4-pack of Energizer batteries - watching over our World Cup schedule. Eyes on the prize. ¡Vamos Argentina!

10 June 2010

A Day of Gilt

Last Sunday we made our second trip to the newly reopened Teatro Colon, this time for the monthly free concert at 11 am. Kurt got to the opera house in time to snag two first-come, first-served tickets in the 18th row of the ''platea,'' which usually go for around $125 USD. The Camerata Bariloche played pieces by Rossini, Albinoni, Suk, and Fernando Hasaj, a violinist and the group's musical director, who died unexpectedly in his early 50s shortly before the performance. The program was dedicated to him.

Everything about the renovation of the theater makes you feel good, from the new red velvet on the comfortable seats to the old world curtains framing the entrances to the balconies. Everything shines, especially the music. We have always heard that the higher you sit the better the sound. But we found the acoustics at orchestra level to be as superb as in the galeria. Luciano Pavarotti reportedly said that the acoustics at the Teatro Colon were so good that every mistake could be heard. On Sunday we understood what he meant. Toward the end of a program a piece of sheet music slid off a stand. Hitting the floor it made as much noise as the snare drum used in the piece.

Afterwards we headed across Avenida 9 de Julio to Palacio Español, one of our favorite "special occasion" restaurants and a fitting follow-up to the Teatro Colon excursion, since it was founded in the same year (1908). Like the Teatro, the Palacio shines in both form and in function. Following an appetizer of garlic soup, we shared a huge paella, fit for a king. And after such a day of gilt, we indeed felt like royalty.

05 June 2010

"Estado Sionista, Vos Sos El Terrorista"

Friday evening we walked from Congreso down Avenida 5 de Mayo to the Israeli Embassy in Argentina.

We walked with a few thousand other people in protest of the murder of 9 activists aboard the lead ship of the Freedom Flotilla, attacked in international waters by Israeli commandos on May 31 as they attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, themselves victims of an Israeli blockade that violates both international law and all standards of human decency.

"Estado sionista, vos sos el terrorista." ("Zionist state, YOU are the terrorist.")