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Map of Argentina
Map of Argentina



Flag of Argentina
Flag of Argentina

2/1/08

Information about Argentina


This is Luca Aarons and Sidney Edwards and WELCOME TO ARGENTINA!! We have just arrived here in Buenos Aires, the capital and largest city in Argentina, for our month-long, all-expenses-payed vacation! We are staying in the fabulously classy five-star Hotel Madero in the center of town, the perfect location. We've already embarrassed ourselves multiple times trying to remember 7th grade Spanish, which is the official language of Argentina. Luckily, English is also spoken here some, along with Italian, German, and French. We decided we should at least know a little about the country we are in, so we asked a nice Argentinian man who was selling food on the side of the road for some facts. He told us that Argentina is the second largest country in South America (1,056,636 square miles!) and it borders Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, and the Atlantic Ocean. About 1,056,636 people live in Argentina. The vendor told us the country's motto, "En union y libertad," and translated it for us: "In union and liberty." He explained the significance of the Argentinian flag: the blue stripes represent the sky in May, the white stripe symbolizes peace and purity, and the sun emblem signifies hope. The man's little daughter was helping him at work, and she eagerly sang part of the national anthem, the Himno Nacional Argentino by Vicente Lopez y Planes. The vendor also told us that 92% of Argentinians are Roman Catholic in faith, 2% are Protestant, 2% are Jewish, and 4% follow some other religion. He said the gross domestic product of the country is $671.508 billion total and $15,200 per capita. We thanked the vendor and payed him the pesos (the currency of Argentina) for lunch, then continued to the hotel.
Luca and Sidney
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2/2/08

Breakfast!


Good Morning all!! Today when we woke up we got dressed and took a little walk down the street in front of our hotel. On our stroll through Buenos Aires we saw a nice little cafe` known as Cafe Arroyo, and went in and ordered the special. The lady that we ordered from said that this meal was an original, and that everyone ate it there in Argentina. So we found ourselves a nice place outside the store and looked at the scenery for a moment while our food was getting made. It took a bit but once we got our food we were surprised by how much was on the platter. It was literally a meal for three people because there was so much. When the lady gave us our meal she told us what each of the foods were.

There was cafe con leche or yerba mate, media lunas with dulce de leche, stuffed churros, french bread slices with butter and jelly and tostados. Cafe con leche is a type of really strong coffee, media lunas with dule de leche are crossants with a type of sweet toffee-like spread, and tostados are just grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. It was an explosion of different flavors all on one platter. Once we were done we were so full we couldn't get up! We actually had to sit there for a couple of minutes before we could even struggle to get out of our chairs. It was a good day so far. =D
Sidney
<3 i_heart_dinosaurs <3

Some samples of the Argentine breakfast ~  Yummy huh?
Some samples of the Argentine breakfast ~ Yummy huh?



2/5/08

The Argentinian Government


Hi, it's Luca here! Today we took a very interesting tour of the capitol building here in Buenos Aires. We saw some beautiful architecture and learned a lot about how Argentina is governed. The Republic of Argentina is made up of 23 provinces and one federal district. Argentina gained independence from Spain on July 9th, 1816 after revolting six years earlier on May 25th. Argentinians now celebrate their national holiday, Revolution Day, on that date.
The executive branch of government includes the president, vice president, and the cabinet. The president, who serves as the head of government and chief of state, is voted into office along with the vice president. The current president is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Cabinet members are appointed by the president.
The legislative branch, called the Congreso Nacional, includes the Senate and the Chamber of deputies. The Senate contains 72 senators, 3 appointed by each province. There are 257 members of the Chamber of Deputies, who are elected by the people. The Chamber is currently headed by Alberto Balestrini.
The Supreme Court, or Corte Suprema, is the main part of the judicial branch. It includes nine judges who are appointed by the president and approved by the senate.
The tour was definitely very informational and our guide was wonderful and spoke excellent English, but I prefer to be out in the Argentinian sun. Maybe we'll an outdoor activity tomorrow. ^_^
Luca
<3 life_is_a_canvas <3

The Capitol Building in Buenos Aires
The Capitol Building in Buenos Aires



2/9/08

Time for a tour!!


Earlier today Luca and I went on a tour with our guide named Diego through the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. He gave us explaintions about the beautiful paintings on the walls called frescos and the tiles on the floors that were venetian-style mosaics. Diego said that the cathedral was originally built in 1745 but centries later it kept having to be rebuilt. As it was being remodeled the style and artwork of the structure changed from Spanish colonial to Greek revival. Many new things were being added each time it was rebuilt, like the Mausoleum for General San Martín.

Diego was explaining that San Martín was the prime leader of South Americas struggle for independence from Spain. When he died they brought his body and placed him in the mausoleum made by Albert Carrier-Belleuse. Luca and I thought that the part about the General's remains being in there was the greatest part. Anyways Albert made it with three women standing outside his creation. They were represented as Argentina, Chile and Peru these regions were the ones that the General freed. Diego continued to tell us the history of the cathedral and how some of the sides and back of it are still in the same kind of style as it originally was. Buenos Aires Metropolitan was a magnificent view and we really couldn't leave. We found so much information but we still wanted to learn so much more! After all that touring we had to go take a rest in our hotel room and after a nice long nap Luca and I really NEEDED to go out for ice cream. Diego told us where to find the best ice-cream in Buenos Aires, it was called Persicco.
Sidney
<3 i_heart_dinosaurs <3



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Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral
Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral




Mausoleum of General San Martín
Mausoleum of General San Martín






2/9/08

Plaza de Mayo - a Historic Location



We spent most of today touring around Buenos Aires and visiting famous landmarks. One of the places we visited was the Plaza de Mayo, or May Square. It is the main square of the city and is located downtown. It is surrounded by many important structures including the Cabildo (previously the city council), the Casa Rosada (the executive and federal building), the Metropolitan Cathedral, the May Pyramid, and the current city hall.
The Plaza de Mayo has strong ties to Argentina's history and has been a political center for many years. It is named for the revolution in May 1810 which led to the country's independence. Multiple demonstrations have been held in the Plaza de Mayo. Political figure and actress Evita Peron organized demonstrations there in 1945 to release prisoner Juan Domingo Peron, who later became a very influential president. Followers of Juan Peron met at the Plaza every October 17 for several years to desplay their admiration of Peron. Many leaders and presidents have adressed the people of Argentina in the Plaza, from the balcony of the Casa Rosada.
The current demonstrations at the Plaza de Mayo are peaceful walks every Thrusday afternoon by the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, or Mothers of May Square in English. The Madres are a group of mothers whose children were abducted by the government during the Dirty War, an era of millitary dictatorship in Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The Madres have been marching once a week for almost 30 years, wearing white headscarves to symbolize peace.
After touring the historic sites all day, we were exhausted and walked back to the Madero to indulge in the hotel's spa. ^_^
Luca
<3 life_is_a_canvas <3


The Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo




2/14/08

Doing the Tango on Valentines Day!!
Today was a workout!! It was our first time learning how to tango and it was the best excerise we both have had in a while. Our teacher, Miss Ofilia, was very nice and told us a tale of how the Tango first came to Argentina. She said that it was originally brought here by cowboys mixed with Spanish and Indian decent, they were called gauchos. They use to were chaps to protect themselves from being burned while riding. Since the weather outside was farely warm there chaps would stiffen because of all the foam and sweat that would come from the horse. Once it hardened it made them walk as if they were stiff all over. By night they would go to clubs and ask women to dance with them. Gauchos never showered so when women would dance with them they'd dance near his arm and tilt their head all the way back, away from the stench. They would put their hand near his pocket and search for a reward for having to dance with him. The clubs were small and tables were everywhere so he had to dodge them and go in between to dance.

After Miss. Ofilia told us the story we got to really learn how to Tango. She already had partners picked out that were just learning how to dance too. The first time she showed us how the steps it looked like she was just walking. But then it was our turn and it didn't come out to well. Ofilia said that the key to really dancing well is to feel the beat of the music. After trying it out for a couple hours we were sore all over! It felt as if 1000 elephants had trampled us during a stampeed. After a long long day of dancing we had to go do something to get us unwined and relaxed mood. So we invited Miss. Ofilia to come with us to go to one of the local favorites Puerta Uno Bar and Lounge. They serve the best drinks ( non-alcoholic) and even have a food menu if you get hungry. It has a open lit patio and has a relaxed theme. Once everyone was full and Ofilia left, Luca and I went back to the hotel to take a nice long sleep.
Sidney
<3 i_heart_dinosaurs <3



Two people doing the tango.
Two people doing the tango.


Puerta Uno Bar
Puerta Uno Bar






2/17/08 Fantastic Falls!



Hey, this is Luca, writing from PUERTO IGUAZU!! Yes, we are now staying at the adorable Hotel Esturion in downtown Puerto Iguazu in the province of Misiones! We have been shopping and sightseeing here for two days already, but we only got to see the city's main attraction for the first time today, and I'm all for going back tomorrow.
The main attraction is the phenominal Iguazu Falls, which is actually a series of 275 waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The falls are contained in Iguazu Falls National Park, which spans both countries. Brazil is known for gorgeous panoramic views, but we didn't have Brazilian visas and stuck to the closer but no less breathtaking experience on the Argentinian side.
We started out in the morning and took a bus to the park gates, than stopped for breakfast at a little cafe in the visitor center. It was pretty crowded even that early, but we weren't too surprized because we heard that the park attracts about 2 million visitors a year.
Next we took a short train ride to the Upper Circuit, which is the most popular viewing trail. The walk took us a few hours, but would've taken about a half an hour if we hadn't stopped so often. We travled deep into the jungle, then all of a sudden we broke out of the trees to see an absolutely beautiful view of the falls. It was truely one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. We continued on to several more viewpoints, then stopped for lunch at the end of the trail.
After lunch we took another train, this time to a trail that leads to Garganta del Diablo, or Devil's Throat. Devil's Throat is the tallest of the 275 falls at 70 meters high. It was an intense experience. After that we took a boat ride to San Martin Island for more views and picture taking. By about 3:30 it was unbearably hot, so we took the bus back to town to hide in the air-conditioned hotel.
Luca
<3 life_is_a_canvas <3

The Amazing Iguazu Falls
The Amazing Iguazu Falls





2/20/08

Glacier Adventure!!



Good Afternoon guys!! This is Sidney writing to you from our tour of Perito Moreno glacier!! Right now Luca and I are stitting in the back of the tour bus while our guide is driving us toward the glacier so we could see the beautiful sights and features that it has to offer. Pablo is telling us about the sound the water will make when the ice breaks off and how big the waves will be. He says that it is wonderous and so is the sight. Every once in a while he stops the bus and lets us get out and see everything up close and personal. Just for our information he tells us that when we get farther away the weather gets colder because of how close we are to the Antarctic. Good thing we brought our jackets and warm gear! Sometimes when we get out we get to go on the cool footbridges and Pablo gives us information about what we will endure ahead.

He says when we get to the end of the road we will get out and walk to our last foot bridge and see the 5km high glacier at our side. But for now he says we will have to just hold tight and wait till we get to the end of the glacier to see the very best part. That really got me excited!! So now im in the van waiting patiently to get to the end so I can see what the surpise is. Hopefully we get there before I die of excitment. I can't wait! I'm sure it will be beautiful.
Sidney
<3 i_heart_dinosaurs <3



Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier




Footbridges of Perito Moreno Glacier
Footbridges of Perito Moreno Glacier




2/25/08

The Friendly Mapuche People


Well, this is the last stop of our visit to beautiful Argentina. Time has just flown by, it seems like there's no way we've been here a whole month! Alright, now I'll stop moping and tell you about the unique place we're visiting right now!We are staying at a little village that is home to a tribe of the indigenous Mapuche people. Our village is a little ways away from Zapala, in western Argentina. We are staying with a very kind man named Duranu and his wife and four small children, who are . The hard-packed dirt of Dunanu's floor is slightly less comfortable than the first-rate hotels we've been staying in, but the hospitality of the village's inhabitants is incredibly warm and accepting. We just arrived here yesterday, and so far we've learned an enormous amount about the Mapuche culture.Duranu kindly took a day off from tending his wheat field to show us around and explain how his people live. He started off by naming some of the other indigenous groups in Argentina: the Toba, Wichi, Mocovi, Pilaga, Chulupi, Diaguita-Calchaqui, Kolla, Guarani, Chorote, Chane, Tapiete, and Tehuelche tribes. He said that all together, indigenous people make up .9% of Argentina's population, and the Mapuche are the largest native group.
At night the village held a welcoming dinner ceremony. Duranu introduced us to the machi, a female spiritual leader who holds the wisdom of the tribe. She has vast knowledge of medicinal herbs, sacred stones and animals, and the tale Trentren Vilu y Caicai Vilu which is the basis of Mapuchi spirituality. Sidney and I told eachother later how we were both amazed that we could see the machi's wisdom in her ancient eyes. The people here were so friendly and wonderful. It was a great day. ^_^
Luca
<3 life_is_a_canvas <3
A Mapuche Elder - One last face of Argentina
A Mapuche Elder - One last face of Argentina

2/29/08

Well, goodbye everyone!!
We are about to leave to Zapala to catch our plane back to the United States. We have had a fabulous trip and thanks TONS to everyone we've met who have helped us out.
<3 Luca and Sidney <3