I’ve had my fair share of crappy birthdays. In my second year of college, a friend and I had planned on a dual baking party for our birthdays, which were only a couple days apart. At the last minute she told me she didn’t want to have a party anymore and the plans fell through. That night I decided to treat myself and have a movie marathon and order delivery, when I went downstairs to pick up my food I saw her and a big group of our friends having a party in our dorm’s kitchen. My first birthday after graduating culminated in one too many cups of jungle juice, a blacked out memory, and a painful trip on the pavement that ripped my new dress and cut up my knee. My first of three birthday in the UK was incredibly fun, but the next two were terrible, the last one I made my own dinner and cake and the guy I was dating feigned a headache and wouldn’t eat with me and made me pick out my own present.
I’ve also had some great birthdays, in my family we treat the day before your birthday as Birthday Eve, and everyone gets you pumped for the next day which is truly your day to celebrate. If it’s your birthday you get to pick whatever you want for dinner, choose your favorite kind of cake, and the whole day you’re treated like royalty. It’s a blast. Out of every birthday, good or bad, the absolute best one of my life was this past weekend in Argentina.
I had an entire week of birthday excitement, each day Alejandro built on the excitement of my upcoming new year. Monday I went with him while he worked on a video project. I spent my time laughing andtrying to prevent a headache from his group’s constant yelling, laughing, and fooling around creative process methods. We were there quite late but afterwards Alejandro surprised me with a drive around one of the most beautiful areas of the city, Puerto Madero.
By night the barrio Puerto Madero is alit with lights. Located on the Rio de la Plata, this port neighborhood was recently renovated and is full of trendy nightclubs, fashionable shopping, and posh restaurants. Porteños consider this an area of particular pride, with impressive redevelopment that occurred in less than a decade, many say this is their favorite place in Buenos Aires. The east and west docks are connected by several bridges, one of which is the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge). Puente de la Mujer is a rotating footbridge that swings away to allow boats to pass by. If you get the chance to visit Buenos Aires, be sure to plan both a day trip and a night trip to see Puerto Madero. There are amazing photo ops in this classy barrio where you can pair a museum visit with a fancy dinner or go for a nice stroll by the water.
|Puerto Madero and a view of the Puente de la Mujer.|
Tuesday was a nice follow up, we ate dinner at a friend’s apartment and I drank my fair share of fernet. I still don’t have the whole fernet to coca-cola ratio worked out yet. The right amount of fernet to mixer is a delicious cocktail. Too much fernet and you’ll be wondering why you ever agree to trying new things. Wednesday I took the train into downtown for the first time by myself and was treated to not one, but three musicians who played in succession in my train cabin. I met another one of Alejandro’s friends and enjoyed some delicious milanesa.
|This man was blind and the second of three musicians.|
Thursday, on Kristance Eve, I got a traditional asado prepared by Alejandro’s mother, Cris. Beginning early in the day, she prepared salads and went to the store to buy everything for the asado. She cleared out their asado and put aside wood and pinecones for burning. While some people cook the asado with heat above and below the meat, Cris cooks the meat from underneath, leaving the top rack as a space to heat bread and keep finished meat warm. Cranking up her stereo, Cris spent the entire evening toiling over the asado, turning the carne and adding different cuts and types of meat to the fire. Unlike the typical American barbecue, which has a pit for the coals, an asado is flat without a pit for the fire. The grill is raised above a flat platform that the wood is burned on. It was an amazing meal, and my favorite thing to eat at an asado is morcilla. If you look it up, you’ll get images of blood sausage, but morcilla is not black pudding. I’ve had black pudding all over Europe, including Finland and Scotland where they bloody love it (har har, see what I did there?). I am not a fan of the European traditional blood sausage, Argentine morcilla on the other hand is delicious. It has texture to it, and not just that of a gelatin, mixed with different ingredients such as cumin, onions, rice, etc. Taking with a bite of asado meat gives the meal a juicy quality that the asado lacks. To be honest, there are some things about the asado I’m not such a fan of, such as how the meat is a bit more tough rather than tender. Then again, I was always spoiled for barbecue since my dad was truly the king of barbecuing. His specialty was chicken and ribs. I can whip up his infamous chicken, but the ribs I have yet to master.
|Watching the asado being made is half the fun!|
Beginning with choripan (chorizo and bread), we had several courses of food, by the end I could barely move and was wishing I had chosen to wear Thanksgiving pants. Some serious sport eating was happening by the end of that meal. If you don’t know what sport eating is, it’s when you keep eating even though you’re full because it’s just too delicious to stop (don’t lie, you do it on holidays, especially Thanksgiving). The night culminated in a homemade cake that had a layer of dulce de leche and was topped with homemade cream and chocolate. After all of that delicious food it was time to get some much needed rest before my actual birthday, I changed into pajamas and was ready to call it a night. Before I had a chance to lay down the clock struck midnight and Alejandro’s whole family came to me singing Feliz Cumpleaños with a cake. The best part? In Argentina you get three wishes when you blow out your birthday candles.
|Beer pong, that’s water in the cups…always more sanitary.|
The day of my birthday I didn’t know what to expect, Alejandro wouldn’t tell me anything except to be ready by 9pm. He came home from class with flowers and chocolates in tow. Then he mysteriously had to go to the store, twice, and wouldn’t let me into the kitchen. I had an inkling he was throwing me a party, a suspicion that was confirmed when two people blew his cover by wishing me happy birthday on facebook and saying something about seeing me that night. We had sandwiches made with pork loin that had been cooked on the asado the night before (something I had been completely oblivious to when I was watching Alejandro’s mom grill the asado). We enjoyed Cuban rum, fernet, and a ton of good ole American beer pong. The night ended with another cake, only this one was made out of chocolate (my favorite). After we finished the food off, we danced to all kinds of tunes and everyone kept grabbing me and having me dance Argentine dances. It was my first ever surprise party, and one of the best birthdays of my life. Taking risks and going for what feels right, like me moving here, can really pay off. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, don’t be afraid to go after your dreams. You may be surprised at how good they turn out to be.
Having heard from readers and friends, Digging To Roam will add some more organization to the blogs each week. Mondays will be a story from current travel adventures, Fridays will stay Foto Fridays, and Wednesdays are readers choices! I want your ideas for what you want to hear about, do you want a travel tale? Travel advice? Memorable moments? A video? A specific place in mind? Want to know the top five things to see in certain city or country? Let me know and your idea could become Digging To Roam’s next article!