Thursday, October 30, 2008

Remembering Hideko Masaki

On my trip to South America, I got to know Hideko Masaki. The first time I really talked to her was during lunch at a Chinese restaurant on our first day in Sao Paulo. We all opted to introduce ourselves. I started off and Hideko was next. 

She talked for quite a while about her life (which was varied and very interesting). As she wrapped up, I remember her grinning and saying, "I know I've talked for a long time but I'm old and I have a lot to say."

I remember thinking, "How cool is this lady?!?!" 

Hideko was in a car accident ten days ago and died from injuries sustained in the crash. She was 76 years old. I went to pay my respects at her service today and to support her daughter Mavis. 

It's a shock that she is gone. In my memory. . .I see the spunky and sassy Hideko. And always,I think back to our first meeting and remember how very cool she was. Ciao Hideko.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My South America Trip Comes to a Close

I'm a huge fan of malbec. I was determined to bring as many as I could home. :) I went on a hunt for malbec. Augustin Kanashiro wrote down a location (Winery) and where to go.

I hopped into a cab and managed to find the Winery. The clerks spoke no English (and I stink at Spanish). Through many gestures and drawing things, I selected 9 fabulous wines.

I was concerned about how I would get it home and have it survive check-in. They put the wines in styrofoam, stacked them up and strapped it together. They covered that with brown paper and assured me that it would hold. !! I was skeptical until they put a bottle in the styrofoam pack and started slamming it against the counter with gusto. :) no problem!

I get my precious cargo loaded into a cab and head back to the hotel. The driver can't find the street to the hotel, so I get out and haul the box for a couple of streets. whew!
When we get to the airport, I get the box shrink wrapped for extra protection. Just in time, John Tasato kept eyeing the box and asking when we were going to start drinking. :)

The Luigi Bosca, Rutini and Tahuan were lovely. Cheers!

Note: I breezed through customs with my treasures. Yay!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Closing Reception

I get to the closing reception and track down Natalia and Augustin so I can say Ciao! Luckily, I run into Paulo on the stairs and get to make my farewells with him as well.

By the time I get there, the "foreigners" have all been moved to the 2nd floor. I opt to go to the 3rd floor where all the locals are gathered and have so much fun trying to communicate with them.

They are all concerned that I'm on the 3rd floor and keep telling me they think the food and drinks are better on the 2nd floor. I tell them I'd rather hang out with them and talk story.

Wow. They're so NICE! They notice that I like the sandwiches and I find myself inundated with plates of sandwiches. I didn't realize that they were going around the room piling up all the sandwiches for me. :)

It was great hearing their stories and getting introduced to entire clans, with names being rattled off in a dizzying array.

Side Note: The sandwiches in BA are amazing. The bread is really thin and has no crust on it.

There was a shop across from our hotel. I noticed that there was always long lines of locals waiting in front of the shop. Of course I join the line to see what they're getting!

It's amazing how they make the ham and cheese sandwiches! Picture a huge piece of thin white or wheat bread with the crust cut off. Bread : Ham and Mayo : Bread : Cheese : Bread : Ham and Mayo : Bread.

The ham and cheese are so thin, the taste is light. I loved it!!!

San Telmo

We head out to San Telmo, the oldest barrio of Buenos Aires. It's quaint with old churches, cafes and shops. The cobblestone streets are gorgeous (tho littered with dog poop).

It was rather cold and the antique market seemed rather schmaltzy, so I ditched the shopping to go drink mate with the bus drivers. :) When I walked in, they quickly hid their girly magazines from sight. They were gracious enough to share their hot drink with me and to explain all the different drinking options.

Chris and I opted to stay behind to explore the area a bit more.

It's so cold, we warm up with some milke tea and coffee at a really charming cafe.

As we browse the stalls, a hawker selling empanadas goes from stall to stall. We try some of his wares. Delicious! I also try some fresh roasted nuts.

We try go to the ice cream parlor (Lonely Planet says ice cream in BA is fabulous and a must eat). I love how they scoop and serve the ice cream. Soooo good. The cones are really tiny. Heh. The toilets have no toilet paper, so we start building a hoard from the napkins at the ice cream parlor. Is that TMI?

We find an amazing mate shop with a very cool lady. I buy 1 Kilo of Yerba Mate and a bunch of gourds and straws!!! I'm so a mate fan now.

The streets are full of street performers and musicians. We spend a lot of time enjoying the atmosphere and soaking up the vibe.

We see a looooong line outside of a parilla and decide to join the queue. :) The guy cooking the meat insisted we take photos with him and his butcher knife. He kept saying, "Mine is beautiful."
Not sure what he was referring to.

Chris is leaving a day early and heads back to the hotel. Awww. . . Ciao Chris!!

I catch a cab to get to the Okinawan center for the closing reception.

Found in a Mall on Florida Street

Okay. This struck me as an extremely odd mural to have in a shopping mall. . .

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Good Tango Show!!!

WUB Argentina organized a tango dinner show for the group. WOW!!! This was a good dinner tango show!!! We took up the entire place. We had front row seats. The food was good. Steak, of course! Chikako challenged me to an arm wrestling match to see who was the strongest. She kicked my butt.

The tango was amazing and mesmerizing!!

There was also a rendition of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" that was quite soulful.

But my favorite was the conductor who just jammed on his accordion!!

OMG. OMG. OMG. The gaucho performer was HOT! HOT! HOT!

I must have been drooling because he stopped to wink at me. . .two times!!!


Clarence got us some WUB Peru silk scarves and one of the ladies taught us how to tie it to look like a tie! Okay, I didn't learn (we were drinking a lot of malbec) but it was pretty!

They ended with a kachashi that was hilarious. The tape kept freezing. We'd be dancing, then the music cut off abruptly and everyone froze in place. The music would start up later and dancing resumed. Then we'd have to stop. go. stop. go. It was funny.

The end of the evening found Leon sitting on stage singing opera. At least, I think that's what he was doing.

Amazing Parade

We met up with the group in time for the parade which went through one of the major streets!! :)

We ended up with the WUB group and for some reason I was given the Maui banner to hold.

l-r: Kozue dancing; Daniel on the ukulele, which rarely left his hands the entire trip; and Ed decked out in flags.

I loved seeing the families. There were so many cute children!!

During the parade, Bobbi Kuba led the way, dancing hula while the rest of us sang "Pearly Shells." There was an amazing crowd lined up on the streets cheering and waving. Many yelled "Aloha!" to use and flashed the shaka as we walked by. RMD Argentina provided an amazing beat for us to march to.

La Boca

We visit La Boca, a barrio or neighborhood of BA, to do some shopping. It's also home of Boca Juniors!

Marianna gives us an hour there. :( We're having so much fun, Chris, Hiro, Chikako and I opt to stay behind and have lunch on our own. This is a very fun and funky neighborhood!

The restaurants and cafes are extremely aggressive. They have tables and chairs setup on the street and if you slow down they swarm around you to get you to sit down. We find a place that has a band and tango dancers. Chikako insists that Hiro try his hand at the tango. :) The waiter didn't want to dance with Hiro, tho.

We catch a cab in time to get to the parade.

Another Day

I have breakfast with Kozue at a little cafe several streets away from the hotel. We have some medialunas (sweet "half moons" croissants) with milk tea and fresh squeezed orange juice. Things are so cheap in Argentina. The peso to dollar is 3:1!

We tour the city and visit a wonderful cathedral. I hang out at the park watching an old man feed the birds.

We visit Cafe Tortoni for some amazing dark hot chocolate. Chris and Robert argue over who would pick up the tab. They arm wrestle but just settle for just throwing money at the waiter, who giggles at their antics.

Having lost the battle to pay the bill, Robert tries to run away with a cart of produce. We have to tackle him down and forcibly drag him away.