Monday, September 6, 2010

Parque Rivadavia: Pirated DVDs and Garrapiñadas

It’s a beautiful day in Buenos Aires, finally! It’s been depressingly cold the past few weeks, and so today’s warmth is absolutely heavenly. It’s been a while since I wrote anything, but I’ve just been so busy with the two jobs that it’s been hard to find time to do breathe, let alone write a blog (although breathing is limited anyway due to the cracked rib). My two ventures are going well so far, even though only one is paid. They are both really good experiences and are teaching me a lot about different things, including the value of free time. Gone are the days when I would just stay at home all day, working sporadically and doing lots of nothing. I’ve discovered that I would always rather have too much to do than not enough, because honestly, it was rough not working. I felt so useless and without direction, almost without purpose, although not in an emo “my life is worth nothing” way…I was just bored and mentally un-stimulated, which is never good.

Anyway, I am now busy, earning money, and loving it. Plus it’s getting warmer outside and the parks are calling…yay! This past weekend I went with the BF to Parque Rivadavia (Rivadavia and Acoyte) because it was a nice day and we wanted to take advantage of the fact that I was not working--one of my jobs requires some long weekend shifts, which is kind of a downer, but we’re working on hiring more people so that the shifts are shorter and ruin less of the day.

While we’d been to Parque Rivadavia before, I’d never seen the booths with all the pirated DVDs. On the far side of the park near Acoyte there is a row of stands selling every DVD you can possibly imagine, from the latest American releases to old classics, TV shows, and Spanish language movies and shows.  They had everything, including all the seasons of Friends, House, Weeds…basically all the popular American TV shows, so if you’re looking for some cheap reminders of home, this is where you need to go!

Each stand has several tables with thick binders holding laminated images of the DVD cover, in no particular order. Each DVD has a number, and you can browse through the binders until you find what you are looking for. Then just ask the stand owner to bring you the DVD using the corresponding number and you have your pirated movie! If you can’t find what you want, just ask the stand owner if he has it and he’ll usually be able to help you. Standard DVD movies are usually 10 pesos each.

The stands also have several binders of pirated CDs, as well as some compilations that have been so thoughtfully made. So if you’re looking for The Best of the 80s or a cumbia mix for your next party, head to Parque Rivadavia. All around the park other people have set up stands or blankets on the ground to sell their various merchandise, much of it handmade, used, or fake. Sunglasses, imitation perfumes, toys, scarves, and decorative crap are all displayed for people like me to observe and say “Oooh, I need that!” There are also several mini mobile kiosks that sell food, as well as carts for cotton candy (just like at the county fair!), homemade baked goods, and garrapiñadas.

Garrapiñadas are basically peanuts that have been cooked in a mixture of water, sugar, and vanilla and are a Uruguayan treat that has migrated over the river. You can find people with carts all over the city, cooking the nuts and keeping them warm in a large copper pot. A packet of them usually costs 2 pesos, and they’re a great snack for when you’re taking a stroll or waiting at a bus stop.

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