Happy Women’s Day!/Feliz Día de la Mujer!

Today’s International Women’s Day, and I have to say, women celebrate it with much more gusto in Argentina than they do in the USA. Feliz día de la mujer, a mis hermanas argentinas!

It’s always been interesting to me that, although Argentine society is afflicted with extreme “machista” (chauvinism, machismo), Argentine women really come together to celebrate a few different holidays and raise each other up.  Maybe it’s because they’re subject to such blatant sexism, that they celebrate it so fervently. Whatever the reason, it’s a really great day to honor the ladies in your life and celebrate their accomplishments.  Día de la Mujer is one of them, and another is Día del Amigo (Friend’s Day), which is July 20 every year, the anniversary of the first moon landing.

Friend’s Day is also a fascinating tradition to me, as a gringa. Really, it’s about celebrating your friendships and treating your friends especially well on that day. It’s basically a Valentine’s Day for your platonic pals.

Unless you don’t have a heart, Friend’s Day is a really great, feel-good day that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart. Unlike Valentine’s Day, when a lack of Valentine can cause depression, sadness, anger and hurt for so many.

Take a minute today to let your lady-friends know today that they rock. Not only because they do, but because they need to hear it every so often! Feliz día de la mujer!!!

Copa America Semifinals

Oh My God – I never would have believed you if you told me a soccer game in one of the most important tournaments would be boring as sh*t. But, alas, it happened.

I paid $250 pesos for a ticket to go see the Copa America semi-final game here in Mendoza at the stadium in the Parque General San Martin. If all went the way it should have gone, it was going to be between Brazil & Chile. Awesome. I’d love to see Brazil play. But, somehow everyone in the whole tournament choked except Uruguay, so Brazil & Chile were knocked out and sent home before the semifinal round. I’m not even gonna go into Argentina’s heartbreaking loss against Uruguay.

What did this mean?
That I got to go see Paraguay and Venezuela play each other. Wow..the excitement was palpable even to Helen Keller.

Look at all those fans!

It. Was. BORING.

The highlights of the game were the ref getting pegged by the ball (hilarious, actually), the Chileans who were still in Mendoza singing Chile chants and the Argentines singing back anti-Chilean chants, and the stray dog that just came up the stairs and into the stands, like it was just normal for a stray dog to be at a soccer game here, crawling underneath the seats and scrounging around for food.

I still can’t wait for the World Cup in Brazil, though. Even if it’s crappy teams, I’m sure at least the crowd will be good and the atmosphere will be great.

Te Amo, Mendoza

It’s about time where I quit my bitching and write a post about what I love about Mendoza. Because it’s seriously a great place. Homesickness seems to tweak my reality at times, and I’m not always as appreciative as I should be that I live in a wine-lover’s paradise and I’m surrounded by the great outdoors.

So here goes:

The wine. Period. I could write essay upon essay about how much I love it, and it still wouldn’t do it justice. Some of my favorite bodegas from right here in Mendoza are O’Fournier (see previous blog post), Pulenta Estate, Doña Silvina, Gimenez-Riili, Sangre de los Andes, Vistalba, Enrique Foster, Mil Vientos, Atamisque, Mauricio Lorca, Azul, Qaramy, Renacer, and Las Perdices.

The Andes. Walking around centro, you don’t see them all too often, but they’re right there, looming to the west of the city. It’s an amazing sight, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. When I’m feeling homesick, going to the park or plaza to see the mountains in the distance is one of the best cures.

The piétonal and Plaza Independencia – there are always street performers and artisans selling hand-made goods lining the plaza and the pedestrianized shopping street known as the piétonal.

Just now, the little man on a bicycle who goes around sharpening people’s knives rode by. How do I know that, without even looking out the window? Because he plays this signature tune on his pan flute as he rides. It’s pretty freakin’ cute.

Did I mention that I live in wine country? And any given weekend, I can go winetasting in any one of the three valleys here (Maipú, Lujan de Cuyo, Tunuyán).

Sometimes I hate her because I can hear it in the early morning and I get grumpy, but there’s a sweet little old lady who lives in my building that sweeps in front of the building every single day, getting all the leaves and dirt off the sidewalk. Every morning. Without fail. And she’s a sweetheart. I just wish I could understand more of what she says.

The little mom and pop vegetable stores (verdulerias) and kioscos, where the ladies on my street know me. Also if you don’t have a peso or five, and they don’t have change, they’ll let you pay them the next time you see them. I’m not sure this would ever happen at home.

Did I mention how cheap the wine is? You can buy an amazing bottle of wine for about $25. A great mid-level bottle can run between 30-70 pesos, which is less than you probably have paid for a crappy Chilean wine in the past month.

Oh, Mendoza. I’m glad we’ll get to hang out a little longer.

What’s in a name?

As Shakespeare said “That which we call a rose; by any other name would smell as sweet…”. Except when your name is ridiculous and the Argentine government wants to protect children from lifelong ridicule because of stupid parents.

That’s right. There’s a baby name registry here in Argentina, and if your chosen baby name is not on there – too bad. Little Guava Queso Inspección better be born somewhere else.

This list is published by province. To consult the list for BA to see if your name is too ridiculous for the porteños, click here.

Personally, I don’t think this is such a bad thing. The government makes exceptions for names that are passed down through families, and you can appeal to the authorities if your name is rejected. But, the general rules are: it can’t be ridiculous, it can’t be sexually ambiguous, the same name as a living sibling, something too foreign, or have more than three first names. So, George Foreman would be totally screwed.

An interesting anecdote told to me by a friend: Frustrated parents who couldn’t name their daughter an unapproved name finally got their way years later, when they named their vineyard that name instead. And the wine is pretty great, too. Well done.

Being followed like thieves.

So, shopping in Mendoza is kind of like being a teenager in a record store again. The second you go in, the staff follows you around, making sure you’re not going to steal something and run out of the store on a moment’s notice. Because, goddammit, you need those fake snakeskin leggings, and you’re not going to pay for them!

At first it’s kind of funny or amusing. And then you realize that they really think you might steal something. I don’t understand how this is the case when they hear me or my friends speaking English and see that our style isn’t exactly like the 1990’s floral prints are our “thing”. Or that maybe we don’t want a cropped t-shirt with a random chick printed on it.  Or pants that I couldn’t even fit my arm into.

We’re dressed nicely and are barely even touching the clothes as we browse the racks.  But somehow, we’re there to steal. Either that, or we’re there for them to stare at and give dirty looks to, because we’re the only people in the store, and how dare we interrupt them from loafing around doing nothing and they MAY have to work?

Needless to say, on principle I refused to buy anything at any shop where I was treated this way. I’m not a criminal. I’m actually a lawyer in my late twenties with fashion sense (as in I know that the 90’s belong in the 90’s, not 2011) and no criminal history. I’m not a Mendocino teen with a mullet and a drug habit. So thanks, I’ll go buy a studded pleather vest someplace else.

Jerks.  Ah, the perks of living someplace where petty crime is all the rage.

Walkie-talkie phones

Dear Argentina,

I just thought you should know that we were actually quite comfortable in 2002, and would like to be left there. We’re really not cool anymore. And nobody else wants to hear your conversation. Thanks.

Nextel direct-connect phones.