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Radio La Colifata

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A radio station with an unusual and highly laudable purpose, Radio La Colifata was established in 1991 as the world’s first station run by the inmates of a mental hospital. Twenty years later, the project is still going strong. We decided to check out one of the transmissions.

Radio Colifata

Dr. Alfredo Olivera was still a psychology student when he dreamed up the idea for Radio Colifata. By putting inmates in charge of a radio station and letting them tell their stories, many benefits could be realized at once. The inmates would gain a sense of autonomy, allowed to talk about whatever they wanted with the assurance that people around Buenos Aires would be listening. Those who hear their stories on the radio might come to the realization that not all asylum patients are dangerous lunatics, bolstering the reputation of mental health. And by giving the patients a voice, Radio La Colifata would help restore sense of community which is lost by being locked away.

Attending the broadcast of La Colifata turned out to be an adventure. Upon arriving at the Dr. José T. Borda Neuropsychiatric Hospital in the southern barrio of Barracas, we were a little confused. I don’t know what we expected to find, but this was just an abandoned building. A woman at the corner bar verified it was the correct place, so we ventured inside. Everything inside the hospital was rundown. Stray dogs roamed the hallways along with feral cats. Jürgen hesitated, so I went further indoors on my own. Turning a corner, I almost collided with a man who clearly wasn’t playing with all his marbles. And who had recently peed himself. Confirmation, at the very least, that we were in the right spot, and the only time I’ve ever felt relieved to run into a piss-drenched crazy man.

The hospital was huge, and as we explored, we realized it wasn’t completely desolate. A few staff members and patients wandered the halls, in addition to the animals. Eventually, we found a way into the back courtyard, where the unmistakable sounds of a radio broadcast could be heard. About 30 people were sitting in a semicircle around a desk, and we grabbed a spot toward the back. The doctor acting as the show’s emcee walked around the group, occasionally handing the mic to one of the inmates. The first speaker, a rather young kid with a huge bush of curly hair, complained about the state of the hospital. Another man talked about the negative perception of locos, arguing that, after all, everyone is crazy in some way.

We didn’t stay for a long time, fearful of the microphone being thrust into our hands, but came away with an appreciation for the program. And we learned that the reason for the hospital’s pitiable state, is that Argentina has ordered the closing of all mental hospitals. Their functions will be moved into general hospitals. Just a few weeks ago, the gas in Dr. José T. Borda was shut off.

The first time I’d heard of La Colifata was in Spain. One of the more famous Spanish rock bands, El Canto del Loco, recorded an entire album with members of the station. Check out Quiero Aprender de Ti, one of the band’s best songs, which was taped at La Colifata.

Colifata, by the way, is lunfardo for “amiable crazy person”.

La Colifata’s Website
Location of the Broadcasts

Sad Place
Dr Borda Buenos Aires
Mental Hospital
La Colifata
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May 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm Comments (7)

Te Mataré Ramirez

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We were sitting outside at La Fabrica Del Taco, a popular Palermo joint serving up cheap Tex-Mex style fare, when we noticed something strange about the restaurant next door. It had the appearance of a fancy, exclusive club, with red curtains obscuring the interior, but every couple who approached the door looked anxious and slightly furtive, like kids about to put their hands into a cookie jar. I went to investigate and, after reading the menu, understood the nervously excited behavior of the people going inside. Te Mataré Ramirez is an aphrodisiac restaurant. And its menu is among the best things I’ve ever read.

Warning: if sexually explicit language doesn’t sit well with you, stop reading now

Erotic Restaurant

Here are some of the meals featured on the menu. This is totally serious, I am not nearly clever enough to make this kind of shit up.

You Scream with Ecstasy While You Beg for Penetration
Of Brazing Lips and Inflamed Desires
Childish and of Insolent Vocabulary, She Emanated the Aroma of her Secret Fluids
Your Female Swell Annihilates Me at Night
Savory, You Split Apart like Ripe Fruit
I Tear Out Enjoyment from Your Warm Treasure with My Flaming Tongue
You Indecently Drank the Eruption of My Pleasure
I Covet the Beauties that Her Short and Airy Skirt Suggests
Your Mouth Dances While Kissing and My Tongue Revolts
Playing in the Dark, Playing to be Strangers, to Have “Company”

Waiter, I think we’re ready to order! I’d like to start with a Childish and of Insolent Vocabulary, She Emanated the Aroma of her Secret Fluids. Oh yes, that sounds quite good.

Immediately, I called Jürgen and our friends over, to join in the mirth. While we laughed, another shame-faced couple approached the door… we felt bad for mocking their erotic evening, and quietly returned to our tacos.

Hilarious, and I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Who among our readers has been to Te Mataré Ramirez? Don’t be shy! I need to know what it’s like.

Te Mataré Ramirez
Gorriti 5054
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Tel: 4831-9156

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May 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm Comment (1)

Buenos Aires Thunder

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Book your Wine Tasting in Buenos Aires here

BA is Cool

We arrived in Buenos Aires in the late summer, and as the season changed into fall, have seen some spectacular weather. The city is all cement and humanity, but the earth and skies never let you forget who’s really in control.

Buenos Aires 2011
Magic Dust
Buenos Aires Drama
Hope
Thunder Tower
Buenos Aires
Crazy Taxi
Crazy Cloud
Rain Buenos Aires
Oldtimer Buenos Aires
Tapizados
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Short Term Rental Buenos Aires

Hotels Buenos Aires
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April 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm Comments (0)

The Parrillas of Puerto Madero

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The Perfect Steak

Puerto Madero isn’t all glitzy high-rises and polished SUVs. On the slow, wide avenue that runs parallel to the Reserva Ecológica, gather what must be the city’s largest collection of parrillas.

Bondiola

At lunchtime, an endless lineup of food carts grill sandwiches for the hungry workers from nearby offices. They all offer the same things, and it’s hard to see much difference between the carts, but some enjoy long lines while others are disquietingly empty.

After a walk through the Reserva, we sat down at one of the more popular parrillas and ordered bondiolas: grilled sandwiches complete with egg and cheese. Cheap, huge and delicious. When you’re in the park, trying to enjoy nature, the stinky grill smoke isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world, but it does make you hungry.

Locations of the Parillas from here to here
Parillas of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Smell
Carrito Parilla
High Tec Parilla
Outside Dining
Bondiola Parilla
Chorizo Buenos Aires
Parilla Salsa
Open Bondiola
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April 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm Comment (1)

Tierra Santa … Holy Cow

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Jesus Merchandise

Tierra Santa, found in Palermo’s Parque Norte next to the Newbery Airport, is a Jesus-themed fun park. Though, calling it “fun” might be stretching the truth a bit.

Fly To Jesus Land

Step right up, and get your picture taken with Crucified Christ, Argentine flag waving proudly behind him! Or right over here, let’s have fun watching Jesus struggle under the burden of the cross. My, how lifelike his agony seems! Wonderful, clap clap. Haha, Johnny, step up here and get a picture with the Roman soldier whipping Jesus. Smile, Johnny! You are at a fun park, after all.

Jürgen and I were sold after reading about Tierra Santa’s big draw, a massive Jesus statue that emerges from the ground once an hour. Yes. It was like hitting the atheist’s irony jackpot. So, we went. We had to.

The park turned out to be lame. I mean, of course it was lame, but even more so than we’d expected. The big nativity show was ridiculous. Are you old enough to remember Showbiz Pizza Place? It was like that, except a lot less cool. And there was nothing to do in the park. You could get your picture with demonic, twisted caricatures of figures like Mother Teresa or the Pope. You could pet a donkey. Buy a Pepsi. That was about it.

Honestly, I don’t know who the target market for Tierra Santa is. If you take religion even the slightest bit seriously, you’d be horrified by. Maybe it really is for people like us: godless heathens who just want to have a laugh. But it’s not even good for that.

Tierra Santa
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Buenos Aires Sights and things to do

Weird Buenos Aires
Jesus
Tierra Santa
Me and My Donkey
Jesus Party
Jesus Shock
Fake Church
Giant Jesus
Jesus Cross
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April 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm Comments (3)

Ah, the Sounds of Young Love

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Love for Argentinian Wine

Schlurp. Schluuuuurp. Schleck, schleck. Schlick, giggle, schluuurp.

Ah, the delightful, not-at-all-nauseating sounds of young couples in love! Along with honking horns and buses rumbling down cobblestone streets, the wet, sploshy sound of tongues exploring throats adds another note to the grand Buenos Aires symphony. Public make-out sessions are as much an Argentine pastime as drinking mate (and there’s an eerie acoustical resemblance between the last sip of mate and the slurping of kissing kids).

You Love

They’ll make out anywhere, these horned up monkeys! Waiting for the bus, on the bus, on a bench, in a store, in front of my apartment door, in parks. Oh my god, in parks. Last Sunday, in Parque Lezama, I thought I was in the middle of a kissing competition. I felt like I should go around to each couple sprawled out on a blanket, and award them points for style and presentation.

This might be a phenomenon all over Latin America, but Buenos Aires is the first place I’ve ever encountered such outrageous amounts of PDA. Sure, there’s something sweet about it, but I don’t know. A quick peck on the lips is about as far as I’m willing to go in public. But I’m from the States; we’re prudish that way.

Get a Room in Buenos Aires

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April 27, 2011 at 12:03 am Comments (3)

Bellagamba – Rustic Eating in Caballito

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Order Argentinian Wine Online

Buenos Aires is the kind of city with hidden treasures on every street. We were walking down Calle Gaona in Caballito, both of us grumpy with hunger, when we happened to pass by Bellagamba. Stepping inside, we discovered one of the coolest bodegas we’ve yet seen in the city.

Bodega Argentina

Hundreds of old photographs line the walls, along with bookshelves and ancient paintings. The interior was huge, and filled with dining booths and tables. In the back, a small terrace allowed for open air munching. A craftsman was occupying one of the terrace tables, refurbishing an old suitcase. But we hardly blinked: Bellagamba feels like the kind of place where there might be craftsmen around while you eat, refurbishing old suitcases.

The food is extremely casero: simple, cheap, and no-frills. We picked a couple plates from the ready-to-serve buffet, though you can also order things from the kitchen like milanesas and hamburgers. While we filled our bellies, and soaked in the atmosphere of the atmospheric bodega, our mutual grumpiness vanished. If you’re in the area, don’t hesitate to go in, even if just to have a look around.

Bellagamba
Gaona, Av. 1327
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Read about Wines from Argentina

Bodega Buenos Aires
Mega Bodega
Bodega
Cut Meat
Fast Food Buenos Aires
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April 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm Comments (0)

Photographing while Traveling: Instant Inspiration

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We recommend Bite Away against mosquito bites. We use it daily!

Blue Diamond

Compared to a lot of photographers I know, I have it pretty easy. Visiting so many new places all the time means I never have to sit around, waiting for inspiration. When you’re in a new location and everything is novel to your eyes, finding interesting things to photograph is a piece of cake!

Enjoy the latest random pictures from Buenos Aires:

Panorama Buenos Aires
Argentina Flowers
Mosque Train
Mosque Buenos Aires
Tilt Way
Happy House
Trash Toad
Window Shades
Buenos Aires Blog
Power Tower
Filete Porteno Collectivo
Manga Chicas
Pirate Sign
Urban Art
Retro Bar
Old Old Timer
Stonken Cute
Street Ping Pong
Night Taxi
Very Big Moon
Calle Defensa

Really cool hostels in Buenos Aires

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April 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm Comment (1)

Vesre: The Crazy Reverse-Talk of Buenos Aires

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Spanish Learning Tools

“Revés” is Spanish for reverse and, if you say its syllables in reverse, you get vesre: a strange little word game that has worked its way into the normal speech of Buenos Aires.

Vesre

Pizza becomes zapi. Café is feca. Baño is ñoba. Theoretically, you could do this with any word, but a lot of the combinations have become so widely-used, that porteños often don’t even know they’re doing it. And the “vesred” words can take on a slightly different connotation: Hotel = a hotel, but telo = a hotel for sex. Mujer = woman, while jermu = wife. You don’t take your jermu to a telo.

As might be expected, vesre isn’t considered proper Spanish, and not used in formal settings at all. It’s street language, and popular in tango lyrics. In the 1926 tango ¿Qué querés con eses loro? (What Do You Want from That Hag?), the singer tells her ex-boyfriend that his new girlfriend has the profile of a “llobaca”. Llobaca = caballo = horse.

Fun! But I think I’d better concentrate on my regular Spanish, before attempting to say anything in vesre.

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March 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm Comments (7)
Radio La Colifata
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