Northlands School and a Visit to the Canadian Ambassador of Argentina

We woke up today realizing half of our trip had already passed. The Stellae gang woke up and had the usual breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast we went to Northlands School for our second performance of the trip. When we arrived, we were surprised to see hundreds of little students, squirming through the auditorium into their seats. Since the auditorium was stuffed to the teeth, we were all very hot. With sweat streaming down our arms and legs, our hands were extremely sweaty. They were so sweaty that when we tried to shift to second position, our hands resulted in slipping to 8th position. Despite the odds, we managed to pull it off, and the crowd of primary and senior students thoroughly enjoyed it. Northlands School then kindly had us for lunch. Many Stellae members enjoyed pasta, chicken, and rice. During lunch some Argentinian chicos asked us to do a quick interview on the northwest passage in Canada. Joel volunteered to do the interview partially because he was the only one who knew the answers to their questions.

After lunch at the first school, we bussed to the second location of the Northlands School. We enjoyed playing cards and socializing on the bus. We were then guided to our warm up room to prepare for our second concert of the day. Before we played we got the opportunity to hear Northlands School orchestra play a few songs. It was really interesting for us to hear another ensemble from the other half of the world. Then it was our turn to play. The concert was a success! The crowd was very supportive and enthusiastic. After the concert there was a brief Q and A. The students were able to ask us questions about us and the violin. Some of the questions were: “when did you start learning the violin” “how do you feel when you play the violin” and “how long do you practise a day”. The questions allowed us to further understand ourselves as a violin player.

After the concert we headed by bus to the Canadian Ambassador to Argentina’s house. On the bus ride, many Stellae members sang a Capella style to our Stella repertoire. I could say we harmonized nicely, and it was a fun time. The bus ride also included a game of president and the braiding of Devon, Sofi, and Jezlyn’s hair. We finally arrived at the house, and we discovered it was incredibly beautiful. The inside was decorated with elegant furniture, but the backyard stole the show. It was equipped with a swimming pool, a trampoline, a soccer field, and badminton and volleyball nets. Truly a kid’s paradise. Stellae enjoyed using these activities, eating a delicious meal, and mingling with the ambassador and his family. Sadly it was time to go back to our hotel. When we got back to the hotel we all played some cards against humanity which was a hoot to say the least. Then we all went to bed, thinking about the great day we had.


Doing the Tango

by Judy

Tonight, many of us went to the tango show at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in Argentina.  It was supposed to be all of us but unfortunately there was a protest and none of the taxis with the girls could make it!  The guys were there in full force. It was a beautiful show.  Afterwards, outside, the guys were inspired to strike poses they saw in the tango show!  Their performances of tango music will be so informed after this!  Cafe Tortoni management very graciously offered to let those who missed tonight’s show see the show Thursday evening.  They are in for a treat!  After this first exposure to authentic Argentine tango, we are looking forward with great anticipation to a tango dancing class later in the week at La Viruta, a milonga in Buenos Aires very popular with Porteños and visitors.

Not Doing the Tango!

March 14, 2017

Today was an interesting day; we had a chance to visit the downtown shopping street, Florida Avenue. To get there was possibly the longest taxi ride of my life. Although the distance to downtown is only around 7km away, it took us 1h to get there because of traffic. Our taxi ride was quite terrifying since Argentinian traffic does not follow the same order as Canadian traffic. As Daniel put it, our drivers seemed to be driving in “all lanes at the same time”. Blinkers were never used to change lanes and lane markings were merely guidelines.

As for Florida ave, the narrow walking street was fairly busy, lined with expensive clothes stores such as Nike and Adidas and sprinkled with small kiosks selling souvenirs. Every few metres, a person would shout, “Cambio, cambio!” – change your money. We walked into the the Gallaria, a shopping mall. Its Victorian architecture fit in with the rest of the buildings around it. In the centre of the mall was a Sistine chapel remake and a fountain. There were many familiar stores to us such as Timberlands and Lacoste, but to our dismay, they were a great deal more expensive than in Ottawa. For lunch we had delicious empanadas and for desert a few of us went to Freddo, an ice cream chain that almost tops Stella Luna for the “world’s most expensive ice cream” award. The smallest size is very small (2/3 the size of a Stella Luna small) and costs $6CAD. We walked around a bit then attempted- and failed- to hail taxis outside the shopping mall for all 20 of us. A few people managed to get taxis and the rest of us headed to a bigger street and successfully got taxis.

At the hotel, we rehearsed our pieces and went swimming. Today was the warmest day so far 26 degrees in the afternoon.

Dinner was pizza at the Kentucky pizzeria, that we went to on Friday. Ordering skills have greatly improved since Friday, most of us can get by ordering food with minimal help from Sofi.

After dinner came quite a strange ordeal. Arlene, Minh Anh, Sofi and I got into a taxi, on our way to a tango show. The show was downtown, close to the “Casa Rosada” (Argentinian Parliament). Two taxis had already left (an all boys taxi and the Rentenaars). As soon as we got into the taxi, the driver started rambling at us in Spanish. Sofi was quick to translate: “he says that all the roads to the tango cafe are blocked!”. We kept talking to him and eventually understood what was going on: there was a protest going on downtown that was blocking many the main street (Avenido 9 de Julio). “Well can’t we walk?” we asked. The answer, to our dismay, was no, the rioters were too violent. He warned us that the protesters would cut our bags open and steal our phones. We decided to turn back, and met a few others at the hotel. As it turned out, the boys’ group and the Retenaars had made it there safely, and had walked a few blocks to the cafe when the cabs could no longer get through. At the hotel, those of us that were left (aka all the girls) gathered in Sarah’s room for a girl’s card game night. We drank matte (traditional Argentinian tea), ate snacks and talked. Although we are sad that we missed the show, the tickets Judy (who was at the show) managed to change our tickets so that we can go Thursday night, so at least we are not missing out. (Now begins a part written by the boys who went to the show)The tango show was nothing short of spectacular. It was a great way for us to explore the Argentinian culture and traditions. On the way back to the hotel, the stellae guys took taxis, which led to the “epic taxi race” between the senior stellae guys and the intermediate stellae guys. The taxis were neck in neck all the way to the hotel. Once the taxis got to the hotel, all the guys sprinted out of their taxis, and ran up the stairs at such a fast rate to see who would get to the ninth floor first. In the end, the senior stellae guys came on top as Austin took the elevator instead of walking. They celebrated by taking the W and think that the intermediates are sore losers.


Se habla Español

by Joel L.

Day 4
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel before having rehearsal at 9:00. Our rehearsal was supposed to be outside, but unfortunately the winds were too strong, thus we had to move indoors instead. During the rehearsal we reviewed mistakes that happend during yesterday’s performance. After the rehearsal, we returned to our rooms to prepare for lunch. When Joel, Adam and Aaron had opened their door to their room, we were greeted by a room service maid, spewing spanish like fire. All the boys were flustured so Adam said: NO HABLO ESPAÑOL!!! She responded in spanish. Afraid that we were inturupting we left the room. Later, we left for lunch at 11:45. We headed to nucha for an exquisite pasta lunch. During our time there, we had the pleasure of listening to Felix sing the Chinese anthem.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel before embarking on our 6 hour long tour of the city. The buses arrived at 1:00 and thus we started our 6 hour journey. While on the bus, our tour guide explained the city’s system. We learned about how few people live in Buenos Aires. Instead many of the people on the streets are from outside the city.  Our first stop was Rosedal park. There we saw a variety of life forms, from enourmous trees to beutiful wildlife and plants. Taking advatage of our time there, we explored numerous places in the park. We attempted to talk to the ducks but unfortunately no hablo español. After the great scenery and life, we headed to the pilar church. There we admired the large amount of traditional christian art while maintaining a respectful attitude. Following our trip to the chruch, we headed to a very large cemetery. Entering the cemetery, Aaron was called out by a police officer. Joel, as a good friend told the police offficer, “No hablo español” , the police officer was intimidated by Joel’s broken spanish and ended up letting them go. Both Aaron and Joel quickly ran away. After rejoining the group, we quickly ran through the maze of the tomb houses. While wandering the maze, we noiticed a knock on a tomb house. Intrigued by this, Aaron knocked. The creaking of the door spooked all of us and ended with 6 teenagers running from a creaking door. Finishing the journey through the maze of tombs, we then proceeded to the market, where several of us bought souvenirs. While walking down the street, we happend to come across a very muscular image. The glistening muscles in the picture quickly clicked in our head as we immidiately thought of Austin’s grandé muscles. After the quick trip to the market, we headed to the barcelona stadium.
Unfortunately the price to enter the stadium was very expensive, turning many people away. Inside we had a great view of the soccer stadium. During the time at the stadium, Joel left his water bottle there. After the visit at the soccer stadium, we headed to the flea market where there were several muscians and shops. After regrouping from shopping, a Stellae Boreales member had their phone stolen. This is a reminder to us that as we are in a forgein country, we have little to what we may expect, such as the loss of technology or personal information. Next we headed to the Casa Rosadale, where we witnessed a stunning performance by the guards of Buenos Aires, thus concluding the 6 hour tour.
Arriving back at the hotel, we then headed out for dinner at Rio Alba. When waiting for the enourmas platters of meat, Adam feasted on the large pieces of bread. When the main course came, we all dove into the pile of meat but resulted in only half of what we ordered,  eaten. Only Adam with his monterous appetite was still breaking down on the rich, juicy pieces of meat.
All in all the day was great, as we had the opportunity to explore the city and eat exquisite food.

It’s Day 3!

by Adam T.
Day 3
To plunge into our brand-new day, we ate a satisfactory breakfast. Although most of the items were sweet, it was filling enough for a few hours until we would eat a lunch. After breakfast, we practiced our Stellae repertoire for about an hour and a half for our upcoming concert at the Villa Casa Central. Following the rehearsal, many of Stellae’s performers practiced their pieces to improve on what was reviewed during the rehearsal.
By high noon it was time for lunch. All of us walked to a plaza to eat and look around. We all ate delicious tacos and quesadillas from a taco stand called Urban Taco. While we were eating, many piegeons lurked around us, attempting to take our food. Fortunately, Austin bravely fended them off with his grande muscles. Felix then proceeded to befriend a particular pigeon. Both Felix and the pigeon felt a deep connection between eachother. Felix named his newly found soulmate Pigeon. They had their sweet honeymoon next to our table, in which we were eating at. After their honeymoon and our tacos, we continued our adventure and discovered a marvelous ice cream shop, Freddo.  The ice cream was so delicious almost as if it were fit for a king, making all of us want more. Unfortunately we had to head back to the hotel.
Arriving back at the hotel, we had some free time. Many of us proceeded to enjoy the beautiful weather in their outdoor pool. Devon, walking out onto the balcony for some fresh air, observed people swimming in the pool, while engaging in a conversation with those above and below his floor. Austin, Aaron, Adam, Felix and Joel explored the rest of the hotel as they ran up several flights of stairs. At the peak of the paramount, we came across the gym and strolled inside. Checking out the exercise equipment, to our amazement, we discovered that Austin really is the strongest of us. Lifting 200 pounds with his legs, Austin proved to us that he is superior. Some of the Stellae ladies swam in the pool, whereas others took time to relax, read and rehearse. By 3:00 everyone was preparing to head out for the performance at Villa Casa Central.
Being greeted by many police officers, we entered la Villa Casa Central. After fifteen minutes of practicing, we were ready to preform at the best of our abilities. The Canadian ambassador also came to see us while we were practicing. Entering the stage, Joel noticed both of our bus drivers in the audience. The ambassador introduced us as a Canadian chamber music ensemble and we began our concert. The concert as a whole was not perfect but it was adequate. We all played our hearts out and our notes were filled with zeal, emotion and affection, hypnotizing the audience in an unbreakable, yet beautiful trance. After the performance was over, there was a reception in the main hall with cake, and soda. A young girl signaled Joel to come over. She quickly spoke a few words in Spanish. Unfortunately, no hablo espanol :(. Flustered by this, Joel quicky asked Sofi to come over to translate. She then helped the young girl follow us, Stellae Boreales, on Facebook. Before heading out to the buses, two girls came up to Austin to take a picture. After many seconds of intense scientific analysis, we concluded that Austin’s GRANDE muscles were the cause for the girls’ attention. Leaving la Villa Casa Central we left a great impression on the audience, creating unforgettable memories.
On arrival to the hotel, we found out we couldn’t eat at the hotel. Instead, we walked two blocks and ended up at a restaurant named Nucha. The restaurant was very clean and the staff was nice. 10/10 on TripAdvisor. In addition, the food was absolutely heart-warming. They were serving beef, chicken and something else. It was so well cooked that we all cried in joy. Also, the guys had another great conversation, talking about Austin’s GRANDE muscles. For dessert there was apple cake, lemon cake and some chocolate thingy, joined by strong shots of espresso. By 9:30, everyone was still up so we all grouped in Alan’s room to play CAH. We can all agree it was a good time but the joy ended shortly when the parents told us to go to bed (feels bad man) :(. By then everyone seemed to be tired so they headed back to their rooms to recharge for another day.
All in all, the day was great. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the food was absolutely amazing. It was a day full of fun, laughter, exploration and Austin’s GRANDE muscles. Last but not least we would all like to thank the chaperones and our coaches for a great time so far. We are all looking forwards to a new dawn and creating more unforgettable experiences.