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A Wedding on Bales of Hay

17 Mar

Did you hear the story about the Canadian who married a Brit in Argentina? Yeah, me neither, but I’m sure this story is better anyway.

On January 5, 2013, two of our friends, Paul and Emma, got married on the grounds of a polo club outside of the city. Theirs was one of the most enjoyable and beautiful weddings we’ve ever attended — a perfect mix of Argentine, American and British traditions.


In the morning, we met up with about 20 other vehicle-less guests near the city Zoo. All decked out in our own versions of “what should I wear to an outdoor wedding on a humid summer day” we waited for the chartered bus coming to transport us about an hour and half outside of the city.

We're dressed for the occasion!

We’re dressed for the occasion!

We knew the day was going to be memorable as soon the pimped out school bus rolled up with the driver and his wife ready to go. As soon as we hit the road, the driver managed to yell at a few other cars. One, in particular, got him so enraged for cutting in front of him that he proceeded to pass him and return the favor. Well played, Mr. Driver Man. Don’t take crap from other cars when you have a bus full of people!

We made it safely and were immediately in love with the decor and vibe of the place. It felt like we were visiting a real-life Pinterest dream-wedding pin board. But this was real and by no means an attempt to be overly fashionable. They’re just that cool.

Sitting on bales of hay at the ceremony.

Sitting on bales of hay at the ceremony.

The outdoor ceremony

The outdoor ceremony

The Ceremony

The service was beautiful (and bilingual). The babies cried and crawled and no one cared. The breeze came and cooled us off. The couple shared their matching, self-written vows.

Side note: Normally, when couples write their own wedding vows they are long on words of tenderness (i.e., here’s why I love you, schnuckums) and short on promises. Not Paul and Emma. They spoke tenderly and actually vowed a few things too. Yeah, I like that.

Maggie congratulating the bride!

Maggie congratulating the bride!

The Happy Couple

The happy Couple. Paul (Argentine-American) and Emma (British)

The Reception

Really, this section should be called, “Food, food, relax, polo, food, food, dance, and a pimped out bus ride home with a really drunk guy nearly get a beat down from the bus driver.” That’s how it all went down. But let’s focus on the food.

We’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy the Argentine asado. There’s a rhythm and method to it that puts you in the right mood for spending hours with friends and family free of worry. How perfect for a wedding reception!

Immediately after the ceremony, we feverishly hunted down the fast-disappearing appetizers of deli meats and cheese (called “picada”) and sausage sandwiches (“choripan”). Soon after we headed over to the “dining hall” for more meat.

The dining "hall"

The dining “hall”

Dining on bales of hay!

Dining on bales of hay!

Dining on bales of hay and eating off the old wagons once used to move them. Genius!

Dining on bales of hay and eating off the old wagons once used to move them. Genius!

The complete parrilla. Enough said.

The complete parrilla. Enough said.

After cramming endless amounts of asado into us, we all stretched our legs and headed over to the polo field where four of the waiters transformed magically into really good polo players, with team uniforms and all. Emma took advantage of this time to pull out her charming little sun umbrella. I missed that photo op.

I didn’t miss taking a photo of the mate (herbal tea) that waited for us after the game. Impressive, huh? :)

Mate served during the "merienda" (snack/tea time)

Mate served during the “merienda” (snack/tea time)

The early evening, say from 5-7pm, is the time for “merienda” — that’s snack and tea/coffee time. So, with the mate, we ate some more. Perfectly satisfied, we settled into our bales of hay listening, toasting, and laughing as the families, best man, and maid of honor poured love all over the couple.

The rest of the night was filled with the traditional post-dinner wedding rituals we’re used to in the United States: first dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting, slow dancing, group dancing, etc. There wasn’t a single moment when we were bored. Considering the total event from the first bus ride to the last was over 12 hours, I’d say that’s an amazing day. They deserved it; they’re an amazing couple and we’re happy to call them our friends.

To Paul and Emma!

Oh, about that drunk guy on the pimped-out-bus ride back to the city. Well, let’s just say he also made it home safely, barely. Don’t ever pull on a pimped-out-bus driver’s window curtains. Ever.

Cut Your Own Slice

13 Mar

We ordered pizza tonight and once again forgot to ask them to cut it. I’m not sure why someone wouldn’t want their pizza delivered already sliced. Cracks me up.

Cut Your Own Pizza

One Year Later: 10 Things about Buenos Aires that Now Seem Normal

12 Oct

On May 13, 2011, we announced our plans to pack up from Los Angeles to head to the Midwest via a not-so-direct detour. Our detour through Buenos Aires, Argentina, is now officially at the one year mark with no clear end in sight. We’ve settled in, set up a daily routine, and gotten used to the way things work. We miss our friends, family and dog terribly, but for now, this is where we need to be.

To celebrate the end of first year in Buenos Aires, we’ve compiled a list about our daily life here.

10 Things about BA that Now Seem Normal

  1. Walking carefully. Everyone in this city walks with one eye looking to the ground scanning for “landmines” left by the numerous canines on the city’s sidewalks.
  2. Ordering a la carte. Side dishes are not very common here. Unless it’s a carrot salad, mashed pumpkins, or french fries, forget about it.
  3. Shopping a la carte. Instead of walking down the next aisle at Target, we shop at numerous boutique stores for our various daily needs. We’ve got our pasta shop, our veggie stand, our chicken and eggs supply, our general household goods store, our Mexican food delivery, and our work/office supplies store.
  4. Being uninsured. In the U.S., that’s asking for trouble, but here, with nationalized health care we can get any medical need for free. (We still opt for visiting the private clinics/hospitals, which are still comparatively affordable because they compete with no-cost care.)
  5. Taking public transportation. Buses, commuter trains, the subway, and taxis keep us connected and moving.
  6. Walking 2 miles. Although done carefully, foregoing public transportation is an often welcome change. “You want to walk?” is met with, “Of course.”
  7. Staring blankly. After having an awkward exchange in “Spanish,” sometimes that’s all that can be done. (People stare blankly at us too.)
  8. Cooking from scratch. There’s not as much prepared or semi-prepared food here that we like, so we’ve been forced to expand our cooking repertoire to prevent the next item in this list from becoming much too normal. One example of this is that all black beans come dry. No cans.
  9. Eating meat, pasta, and white bread. While normal to most of you back home, we didn’t eat much of these in the U.S. Here, you’ll starve if you don’t.
  10. Sipping coffee. Drinking children’s sized coffee in a restaurant and enjoying it for hours while not being bothered by the wait staff is something that is sorely missing from U.S. culture.

Thanks for following our adventure!

If you’re an expat in Buenos Aires, what’s on your list of things once felt foreign, but now seem normal?

Cafe Rivas, Jazz, and an Umbrella

4 Jun

A Romantic Night at Cafe Rivas in San TelmoWe were standing on the cobblestone in San Telmo at midnight. It was wet, but not raining, and after an amazing dinner, it was simply the most natural thing to do. We paused to soak in the romance of the evening before heading back home. Then we heard a man calling out to us from down the street. We had forgotten our umbrella in the restaurant and the waiter trailed after us to return it.

Oddly, it was the perfect conclusion to our evening spent at Cafe Rivas.

Of the four or five times we’ve dined at Cafe Rivas, not once have we left disappointed. With live, talented musicians jiving on old standards almost every night, and a gorgeous building and ambiance nodding to an earlier era, it’s easily become our favorite restaurant in the city.

Inside Cafe Rivas

Cafe Rivas Traditional Menu

Cafe Rivas Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

The menu is also smartly done. For less than $40-50 pesos a person, you can have a consistently delicious and filling meal. The prices grow steeper as you tack on wine, starters, and dessert, or opt for the Rib Eye steak. Which, by the way, has surprisingly been the best meat (not just steak) I’ve had in Buenos Aires, only second to the ribs at Estancia La Candelaria.

On Thursday nights during the warmer months, the jazz trio sets up outside on the street sweetly complementing the charm of the San Telmo neighborhood. On a previous visit to Cafe Rivas we also hung around outside after dinner — dancing on the opposite street corner — hesitant to end the evening.

Cafe Rivas Jazz Trio

Cafe Rivas Jazz Trio

Part Two: Dinner with Friends

As a farewell dinner for our friends, Galen & Laura, who will be returning to Canada on Thursday, and Scott & Ashley, who will be in Santiago, Chile, for a month, our normal crew of eight went to Cafe Rivas at our recommendation. They loved the food and atmosphere, and since it was a Thursday night, the jazz trio was playing upstairs as we ate like royalty. Here are some photos of the amazing night with great friends.

Left to right: Kara, Matias, Stephen, Galen, Laura, Scott, Ashley, & Maggie.

The Rib Eye (“Ojo de Bife”). Seriously, the best steak I’ve eaten in Buenos Aires.

So good!

Kara (and Laura) celebrating their gazpachos in a glass.

Good ol’ Matias, the only Porteño in the crew. He teaches us so much, but especially to not ask, “So, how you do say … in Spanish?” too many times in one night.

The Mango Flan. Unique and delicious.

Chocolate Marquis: the most amazing bite of chocolate Maggie has ever tasted. No exaggeration.