Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BsAs Musings

Our hotel in Buenos Aires was the Hotel Bauen, a worker-owned and run recuperated business. OK, so sometimes the service wasn't super responsive, but you know, when we were having an impossible time getting a cab to the airport, and it looked like my friend might miss her flight, Mario, one of the staff, piled us and our luggage into his decrepit van (which I wasn't sure would get us around the block, let along to the airport) and drove us for a reasonable fee. Plus, the decorations were "seventies-tastic" as another friend said. I'd stay again.

I just love these funky thermoses, filled with strong, sweet coffee. They were accompanied by tiny little cups, just the appropriate amount of coffee, no big-ass venti grande crap here!

If you visit Buenos Aires, you will spend much of your time trying to change your bills for smaller bills. 100 and 50 peso bills (about $33 and $16, respectively) will get you nowhere. Banks will do you little good, giving you 20 peso bills, which will still be rejected by cab drivers as too large. Acquiring 10, 5, and even 2 peso bills is a major accomplishment, and the 1 peso moneda is like a miracle. If you are lucky, you will be the one at a restaurant with a group of friends to casually replace your friends' bills with your 100 peso bill when it comes time to pay.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that Argentinian women favor that shade of maroon red hair dye that I wanted to use in college, but never got around to. It's really true - you see it everywhere.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vatican's 'driving commandments'

I'm so glad the Vatican is dedicating itself to a meaningful engagement with contemporary issues!

from BBC.com today...

The Vatican has issued a set of "10 commandments" for motorists to promote safer driving.

The "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" call on drivers to respect speed limits, refrain from drinking before driving and avoid cursing.

Roman Catholics are also urged to make the sign of the cross before setting off on a journey.

This is said to be the first time the Vatican has specifically dealt with the growing worldwide problem of road rage.

'Occasion of sin'

The 36-page document was put together by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People.

"Thou shalt not drive and drink", "thou shalt not make rude gestures behind the steering wheel" and "help accident victims" are among the 10 recommendations for motorists.

The document also warns that driving can bring out "primitive" behaviour in motorists, including "cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility".

It says that automobiles can be "an occasion of sin" - particularly when they are used for dangerous overtaking or for prostitution.

Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's council, said it was important to address the issue because driving had become a big part of contemporary life.

"We know that as a consequence of transgressions and negligence, 1.2 million people die each year on the roads," he said.

"That's a sad reality, and at the same time a great challenge for society and the Church."

There is not much speeding going on in the Vatican City itself, the BBC's David Willey in Rome says.

A 30km/h (19 mph) speed limit has been enforced for years in the tiny state.

The last recorded accident there was a year-and-a-half ago, our correspondent says.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Please, I just want to get to Buenos Aires....

but Mother Nature has intervened to give me a 24 hour layover in Santiago, Chile, instead of the 1 1/2 hours that my itinerary indicated. Really almost all of it was spent in lines at the airport. But now I'm recovering in a Sheraton in Santiago, courtesy of LAN Chile. At least they are taking care of the hundreds (and hundreds) of people stranded today, all trying to get to Buenos Aires, like me. In the US, you are definitely on your own in these situations.

As the bus took us from the airport into the city, we passed ramshakle shanty towns perched on the banks of the Mapocho River, which is filled with trash, industrial waste, sewage, and copper mining waste (thanks Wikipedia!). I realized that I know nothing at all about Santiago or Chile. From the souvenir shops, I know they have beautiful hardwood trees that they make jewelry and kitchen items out of. Lots of penguin figurines to be had, as well as loads of Easter Island replicas. (I had no idea it was part of Chile - I really am completely ignorant about South America.) Too bad it's so smoggy (much worse than LA) - I could barely make out the mountains.

Triva time! This is my first trip south of the equator. Previous the farthest south I'd been in the Americas was Mexico City, and in Europe, Greece.

When I finally get to Buenos Aires tomorrow (I am trying to think positively through my tension headache), I will be attending the Hemispheric Institute's Encuentro 2007, Corpolíticas / Body Politics in the Americas: Formations of Race, Class and Gender.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Updated celebrity sightings

OK, so I've sunk into the swamp of graduate school these past few months, and have badly neglected my blog! Here are a few tasty celebrity sightings to tide you over til I have more time to post on what are sure to be exciting summer adventures!

While going to see Zodiac at the Arclight in Hollywood, we saw three stars of The Shield in the lobby, probably waiting to see a movie themselves, Jay Karnes, Catherine Dent, and a pregnant Cathy Cahlin Ryan.

This probably reflects negatively on me, but I ran into Betty White in the waiting room of my podiatrist's office! (After posting this, my friend Debra Sweet at World Can't Wait informed me that Betty is down with WCW - cool!)

And finally, I spotted Samm Levine from Freaks and Geeks enjoying The Coup at Coachella.


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