Wednesday, December 31, 2008

future me

This afternoon I received an email from 'future me'. I thought to myself "It finally arrived!!!"

On August 27, 2008 I was still on the fence about making the move to B.A.. I really wanted to do it, but I had some worries about 'giving it all up'. I heard about a website called future me. It's a site that allows you to send your.... well... you're future self an email. So I wrote myself a 'pep talk' email, but I forgot what date I had it set to send.

Here is just some of the email I wrote to myself. I won't put it all because it's kind of cheesy.
Dear FutureMe,

You better be in Buenos Aires now. You wanted this so badly. If you are not there, get your butt there. You belong there....

If you're there, big congratulations!

If Buenos Aires is tough right now, you anticipated that. In one years time you will be on your feet. Keep your chin up, keep salsa dancing, keep smiling....

Love your past self,

p.s. You BETTER BE IN BsAs!!!!
2008 was a good year for me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

hair cut

I had my first Argentine hair cut today!

I'm glad I told a friend I was going. She's been in B.A. for over a year now, so she has experience. She told me that:

1. the price of a cut does not include washing and blow drying.
2. washing, a cut and blow drying are all separate prices.
3. "brushing" means "blow drying".

Ha, I thought #3 was funny. When I first saw "brushing" on the price list (when I was shopping around) I thought to myself, don't they have to brush it to cut it?

The place I choose charged 25 pesos ($7.30) for the cut and 25 pesos for a blow dry.

When I went into the salon I still wasn't convinced I'd cut my hair, but I found in one of their magazines the cut I wanted, so I went for it.

The guy who cut my hair had some different techniques than what I'm used to. I asked for bangs (I know, so daring!). He combed the hair forward that he would make into bangs and without holding the hair between his fingers he just snipped away right in front of my eye balls. Naturally I kept my eyes lids closed trying to preserve my eyes. Same thing when he trimmed my hair, he combed it straight and without even pulling it between his fingers, he snipped off the ends. A bit strange, but ok.

I'm happy to report I love my hair.

The salon gave a 10% discount on Tuesdays, but when I went to pay the lady didn't take off the discount. We went back and forth for a while because most of the Spanish I know comes from the context it's within. After a couple min. I figured out that if you pay with credit card you don't get the discount. Fair enough. Argentina isn't a credit card society and I know that, it's just that I didn't bring cash with me (I only take out of the apartment what I think I'll need) and I wasn't planning on feeling 'dangerous' today by getting my hair cut.

Monday, December 29, 2008

looking back

i got into a rut sunday night. i wanted to rent an american movie to watch in spanish. i rented 'the break up' (bad choice - good movie, but it was a downer - guess i should have known by the title, eh?). i also 'stopped by' for some of my argentine addiction; it was right next to the movie store. you guessed it! 250 grams of helado!

i started out watching the movie in spanish (dubbed). They spoke such fast Spanish, I couldn't follow. I tried to endure it, thinking it would get easier, but then I just put on the English subtitles. Then I realize that i wasn't even paying attention to the Spanish because I had to read so quickly in English to keep up with the bickering dialog.

Looking back, I should have put the movie in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. I'm better at picking out words in text rather than catching them in dialog.

Throughout the movie, the two main characters were constantly fighting and they were so mean to each other. It didn't make me laugh and it put me in a funk. It reminded me of not so fond memories of the past.

Lately my mind has been getting stuck in the past. I keep replaying events that happened before I left. Things were so good. I had it so good. Was it smart of me to leave while things were good? I think it would have been easier to leave if things were bad; I know that I wouldn't be looking back as I am now.

I also miss hanging out with my close friends. I've met wonderful people here, but the relationships are still in their new stages. There is just something about 'old' friendships / or friendships that are so comfortable where you can just let go; these feel so good.

I don't regret my decision to move here. It's still the right decision for me, but I can't help but look back and remember the good times.

The best, easiest, and cheapest way out of a rut is exercise, so that is just what I did this morning. Last night I left my bedroom door open, knowing that the cat I'm watching would come in my at precisely 8:30 to bother me for her feeding. I don't like her morning kisses, but it does get me up. By 9am my sneakers were strapped on and I headed out. Within the first 1/2 hour I was still replaying my past life; mostly the last month at home, but I soon cheered up and started thinking about now and how I want to build my life here, how I've always wanted to live abroad and how lucky I am to be living my dream.

I enjoy not working, but I think come February or March I will be very ready to start working again. I don't do so well without a schedule. I plan on going back to group Spanish classes next week; for structure and to improve my Spanish.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a buenos aires feeling

Last night took on the theme 'That's so Buenos Aires'.

A friend met me at my apartment around 9:30 to go into 'Micro Centro' (business district) to see a free concert. Once we arrived in the city, via subte, we walked just one block to the concert. The city closed a major street to set up a stage for an orchestra that played tango music. On our one block walk, a bus approached us and slowed down so that the driver could blow us a kiss. (That's so Buenos Aires) (I still find these gestures endearing)

The music was beautiful and there was a decent size crowd. It was a warm evening. Older ladies were fanning themselves with their oriental fans and there was a couple that began tango dancing in the middle of the crowd. It really had a 'Buenos Aires' feel to it.

(photo below: taken on Avenida de Mayo)
(photo below: man selling fresh bread on his bike)

After the show we walked to get something for dinner (around 10:30, which is typical dinner time here). We chose a restaurant in front of the Obelisco (pronounced: Obo - lee - sco). The Obelisco is a major landmark in B.A. We ordered a bottle of white wine. We chose the one we wanted off the menu but the waiter brought us the most expensive bottle (36 pesos / $10.50) and said they were all out of the other kinds of white wine; which was very Buenos Aires of him to do to us 'tourist' looking girls.

I ordered a Waldorf salad for 22 pesos / $6.50. When it arrived, it was obvious to me that I didn't learn my lesson when ordering salads in B.A. Again, my salad did not have lettuce on it. It was just a bowl of celery, apples, nuts and a cream sauce. "Ok, lesson learned now... don't expect lettuce with your salad unless it's written within the description."

(photo below: the view from our table. (the obelisco))

We spent around 3 hours having dinner, enjoying the warm evening weather, the beautiful view and chatting. (3 hour dinners are also typical in B.A.) When it came time to leave (around 2:00am) we both pulled out our Guia "T"; which is the bus bible of B.A.

My friend found both the buses that we needed to take and the location of their stops. The Guia "T" takes some practice to be able to read it. I haven't mastered it yet.

She was very kind and walked me to my bus first and she waited with me. We waited for the 110 but she saw that just 50 feet away was the stop for the 152. She saw the 152 coming and she said "oh you can take that bus also". The driver passed the 152 stop, but I just ran towards him and put my hand up. He waved me on, so I quickly ran back to my friend to give her an Argentine typical cheek kiss good-bye an then ran back to the bus which was now in motion. Like an Argentine, I jumped on the bus while it was moving. What a rush.

When I arrived back to my barrio (around 2:30), there were still quite a few people on the street. There was a group of girls singing and carrying an open bottle of wine (my American eyes again...that's a no-no...oh wait, we're in Argentina)

Unlike an Argentine on the weekend, I went to bed at 3am. 6-7am is typical bedtime for the weekends.

It was a very wonderful Buenos Aires evening.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Plaza Serrano


Around 1pm today I left the apartment to go check out Plaza Serrano

I walked down a major street from my apartment and then took a right towards the plaza. It was maybe a 15 min. walk. As I started to get close, trendy stores began to appear. Also the buildings in this area look like the older Spanish style and they're well kept. Once I was at Plaza Serrano I became a shutterbug. I don't know what took me so long to get there. I really like it...








(photo below: Yes, it really does say that. (There goes my American eyes again))






(photo below: On my way back I stopped at a new empanada place. They also have something similar called a "Baston" (I think). They were just as good. I got one with pumpkin, but I didn't like it that much. I appreciate their creativity though)

Friday, December 26, 2008

you are lying to me

I woke up at 8 this morning to start studying. I really didn't study these past couple of days and I wanted to be ready for my Spanish lesson today.

Then at 9:30 I headed out to meet an American friend and her Argentine friend. Last night they mentioned they needed to go to "Moviestar" (a cell phone company like Sprint, ATT, etc...) and I said I wanted to get a cell, so they invited me to join them.

I met them in the business district at 10am. When I arrived she told me the Argentine guy would get the cell phone for me so that I could have a plan rather than pay for the minutes each time I ran out. It's cheaper to have a cell phone plan, so I took them up on the offer. (you can only get a plan if you're an Argentine and have the proper documents to prove it)

The 'Moviestar' store was huge. On the second floor there were 4 separate sections, each was a mobile phone company like Nokia, Ericsson, ect... Each section had someone from that company working at the booth. I just wanted the basic model, nothing fancy. The one I choose was the most basic; its a Nokia. It actually looks like the same phone I had 10 years ago. Without a plan the phone costs 200 pesos ($58), with a plan 100 pesos ($29). The phone with a plan will cost 65 pesos ($19) a month. It will include unlimited calling to 3 phone numbers and a text message plan too.

We waited and waited, they called our number, we told them what we wanted, we waited, they said there was a problem, we solved it, we waited...

12:30 rolled around and I needed to head back to my apartment to meet my Spanish tutor. I paid for the phone and then I left. My American friend said she'd wait for it and take it back to her apartment once she got her new phone too. (turns out there was more of a problem, so I don't have my Argentine cell phone yet. I don't know what the problem is. She sent me a quick email, but her parents are in town, so I still didn't hear from her yet)

at 2pm my Spanish teacher arrived (she was late). We went over present continuous today. It's how to tell what is happening 'right now'. example: I'm writing, I'm driving...

One of the examples was the word 'lying' . She then started to teach me saying that she says I'll need to know if I start dating an Argentine guy...
No te estoy creyendo nada (I don't believe anything you're saying)
Me estas mintiendo (You are lying to me)
Sos un mentiroso (You're a lier)
I was laughing so hard. She literally circled these saying in red pen in my notebook. She said it probably won't do any good saying these lines, but I should know them. I'm still laughing...

Tonight I just stayed home, cleaned the apartment and studied.

The radio station I've been listening to does different renditions of common songs. I've noticed them playing my favorite 'Coldplay' song 'Clocks' with a cha cha cha beat (cha cha cha as in the dance, like salsa). They also played a 'Jack Johnson' song with a cha cha cha beat.


Christmas is quiet in B.A.; eerily quiet. There aren't a lot of Christmas decorations adoring the city, but Argentines take Christmas very seriously closing down everything so that everyone can be with their families.

At 2pm I walked to the park to meet a friend for a picnic. She brought a blanket to sit on, some fruit and some peanut-butter, which you can't get here. I brought two types of cheese, crackers, olives and water for us. It was a beautiful sunny day (82 degrees). There were people in the park. A group of boys played soccer next to us and an older couple sat on a bench near by.


Then this scary 'homeless' looking 20 something came over to our blanket. He wasn't wearing shoes or a shirt and he was very stinky. So he came over to our blanket and sat down and just started eating our food, which included the expensive peanut butter and drinking our water. I was pretty scared, I didn't know if he was going to mug us (which is kinda common), but after 5-10 min. we just got up and left and it was fine.

In the evening I went to dinner at a friend's apartment. Her roommates parents just arrived from the U.S., so they were cooking a traditional Jewish meal. They also invited one of their Argentine friends. It was a really nice dinner and I ate A LOT.




When I was leaving their apartment, which is only 6 blocks away, we conversed which was the safest way home for me. Since there aren't many people on the street because of Christmas, we decided walking home wasn't a good idea. Their Argentine friend (guy) walked me to the bus stop and then asked how far from my apartment I was. Since we were so close he offered to walk me home, which was very kind. He also pushed me to speak Spanish, which I also appreciated.

I had a very nice Christmikkah in Buenos Aires.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

mate and medialunas

(wednesday december 24, 2008)

mate (pronounced - ma-tay) is a traditional Argentine drink, somewhat like coffee and tea is traditional in the states.

today i drank my first mate in the park with an Argentine friend. she brought the mate, the wooden mate cup, the metal straw, the yerba and the hot water. I brought the medialunas (I've talked enough about the medialunas, everyone by now should know they're croissants, right?)

if you've never seen mate before, it looks like a drug with it's metal straw and wooden or natural gourd cup. The mate itself looks like dried grass and it gets passed between friends.

(photo below: the yerba in the plastic container and the wooden mate cup)

(photo below: fill half way with hot water)

(photo below: insert metal straw and full the rest of the way)


i only took small sips; it has a strong taste. i can't really compare it to anything. tobacco was my first thought. it takes getting use to.

after mate and medialunas in the park i braved the grocery store (christmas eve). there weren't as many people there as i thought there would be

(photo below: my american eyes still see things that 'wouldn't be right' i the U.S.)

on my way home, carrying two heavy bags i passed a familiar face...."who is that, who is that, how do i know him........shit, it's that guy from the park who wanted me to be his english teacher...crap" so I looked back and he was gone....then to my right i see him crossing the street coming towards me! (So, to back up and recap, he walked towards me, then past me, crossed the street, turned around and then re-crossed the street. creepy no?) then he started talking to me in Spanish about me teaching him English, i stopped walking, said no, i wasn't interested and then said good-bye. he re-crossed the street and walked away. i wanted to watch where he was going but the fruit stand guy asked me what I wanted. I bought some strawberries.

Since I was only 1/2 block away from my apartment and I didn't know where the guy went, I circled the block with my two heavy bags. I'm still not sure if he followed me.

In the evening I had two friends over to cook some Mexican food. We had chicken tacos, yellow rice, beans and guacamole! Arriba! Around midnight we went up to the roof to watch the fireworks that Argeninians set off. It was a warm evening. Each of us wore a summer dress and flip flops.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

it's not late in argentina

It's 1 o'clock in the morning and I'm headed to bed. I feel it's too late to stay up. As I'm thinking that I should get to bed, I hear children (small children, 5-8 years old) playing outside. No, there isn't a crazy parent on the block, this is common.

After dinner tonight (midnight) I walked back to my apartment and there were still children playing on the swingset. Not just one, but many. Then I passed the ice cream shop and saw 2 year olds eating ice midnight!

To add to that, my Argentine language exchange person asked me today..."I've seen people in movies eating dinner at 7pm. Is that true"? When I told him that it was very common, you should have seen the look of shock on his face. (seriously, I'm not over exaggerating) "Why so early"? he asked. (typical dinner time in B.A. is 9pm - 11pm) (this is why I can get ice cream at 11:30 at night!)

ok, this American girl needs to go to bed, I'm not Argentinienfied yet..

a walk in the park

First thing this morning I sent out my resume to my friend's work for a possible position come the new year. To be working in my field, in B.A., would be a dream. Fingers are crossed.

I left the apartment around 11:30am to practice my spanish out on a poor bicycle store owner. My spanish is not good by any means, but I'm able communicate. I wanted to know if they rented bikes. He said no, but told me where I may be able to rent one. So, I took a walk.

(photo below: this is a common site. i still try to count how many dogs one person can walk. in this photo there are 13 maybe 14 dogs to one walker. they're big dogs too!)

(photo below: they are so well behaved. this is common too)

(photo below: they are left unattended because their dog walker is returning other dogs to their owners)


(photo below: typical street in Palermo. This photo is taken on the street next to the zoo, "Republica de la India". Beautiful street, but it didn't smell very nice...being next to the zoo and all)


Palermo is one of the greener neighborhoods in B.A. There are numerous parks and I would guess that majority of the streets have old sycamore trees that create a canopy. Buildings are mixed; some newer and some very old Spanish style. Most apartments buildings have balconies and on the street level there are many small shops. There are two major grocery stores that I've seen and several privately owned smaller grocery stores and then there are the fruit stands and kioskos. The kioskos sell candy, cigarettes and I'm not sure what else.

View Larger Map

The bicycle store owner told me they rent bikes in the park called "Bosques de Palermo" (Forest of Palermo). The park is huge. As I was walking I wished that I asked for more specific directions...whether I would have understood or not is another thing. Although the park is huge, there are streets crisscrossing through it, so you're really never away from cars. I made my way towards the lake and I found the bike rental place which was just a 'hot dog vender looking stand' and the bikes parked in front of it.

I spoke 100% Spanish with them, but struggled. They couldn't come up with a price for a bike rental for 3 days (since they're closed the 24 & 25), they only rent bikes by the hour. They quoted 100 pesos ($30), which isn't bad but I would have thought less. I feel successful that I was able to communicate with them.

Next to the bike rental place was a lake and I noticed a beautiful bridge going over it into a sort of island so I went to explore. On the island there was a beautiful rose garden which was free to enter. It was truly beautiful. Anyone who comes and visits me will get a tour!!

(photo below: you can rent paddle boats)



On my way home I walked past a well guarded building. I looked up on top of the roof and sure enough....there was the flag of the United States of America. Ohhh, how strange to see it here, so I went for my camera and as I pulled it out the security guard gave me 'the look' and wagged his finger. eh, yeah, I should know better. The U.S. embassy here is in a gorgeous building, I say this with surprise because the U.S embassy in Denmark is down right ugly. The one in Spain was HEAVILY guarded with a tank parked out front.

On my way back I walked through a different part of my neighborhood. It had the same canopy trees over the streets and the buildings were well kept. It seemed a little quieter than the streets around my apartment. The buildings were the same mix of new (1970's) and old charming ones. It seems like no matter where you go in Palermo there are cafes with tables out on the sidewalks and mini grocery stores.

(photo below: book vender in the middle of the street (there's a small platform that divides the street (This street is called "Santa Fe" it's near "Plaza Italia")

When I came back I went for 2 empanadas at the small restaurant near my apartment. They know me now. After I ordered I noticed my weekend door man having lunch there, so I sat down with him and spoke 100% spanish...well, he spoke to me and I kind of followed along. He is super friendly and talkative. I've warmed up to him. At first I would avoid him, too scared to speak, but now I just roll with it. Although I do need to tell him to slow down.

At 3pm I met with a conversation exchange person and we spoke majority english. I told him for next time I would take my homework so that I have more to talk about since my Spanish vocabulary is so limited.

We sat at some tables outside of a cafe. I always have my purse next to me, between my feet or the strap wrapped twice around my arm. A group of young boys, 11-13 walked past, said 'excuse me' in spanish and swiped one of my medialunas (croissants) from the table. eh, ok, so it was just one croissant, but I think if it would not have been on the sidewalk side of the table they wouldn't have done it. I'd much rather part with a medialuna than my purse. hoodlums.


Sun.Dec.21.2008 evening
My friend and I went to have dinner a couple blocks away at a new wine bar that just opened. We shared a bottle of white wine (20 pesos / $5.88). We both ordered a sandwich. I chose the salmon (so I'm not a complete veggie any more). The salmon was so so. I ate it, but I wouldn't rave about it.

We talked about renting bikes for Christmas day. Buenos Aires isn't a city you'd want to bike in. (Crazy bus drivers and taxis and then the busses thick black diesel exhaust). On Christmas it's tradition for everyone to be with their families and it's a rumor that the taxis may strike. That may make for a pleasant biking experience?

After dinner we went for.... yup, you guessed it 'helado'!!! We went to a place near the restaurant. 8 pesos bought a small cup. 'My' heladeria place gives you a big container for one peso more. It was a very nice evening.

I met with my Spanish tutor at 1pm for an hour and a half. This weekend I practiced practiced practiced my reflexive verbs, so I was ready. She had me read a paragraph in English and translate it in Spanish. It was the most simple English paragraph but it took me a good 5 min. to first find the verb in my head, then conjugate it, then change it to past tense and then say it out loud. I feel for people who had a stroke! Man! I have the knowledge, it's in there, but it is so very difficult for me to process and get it out. (52 pesos / $15)

After the lesson I went to pick up my laundry from the lavandaria. This time it cost 15 pesos / $4.40, but it was a bigger bag of clothes with a towel and my sheets too. Then I headed to the veggie stand for an avocado to put in my salad (2 pesos / 58 cents). I added tuna to the salad too. Again, I ate it but the tuna wasn't that great. You know though... I'm not a big 'tuna in a can fan' anyway.

At 7pm I met another person from conversation exchange. She is the same age as me and lives in the same area. I spoke more Spanish with her, but still I struggle to find simple words and make complete sentences. She was very kind and patient. We agreed to meet again. (one Stella Artois beer 6 pesos / $1.75)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

one month anniversary!

I didn't do too much yesterday, but heres a quick synopsis for Sat.Dec.20.2008...

Around noon my roommate and I laid out in the park (in our swim suits, strange, but it's what people do here). It was 90 degrees and sunny. I came home showered and studied for a bit. I went back out to drop off my laundry to be washed and I then headed to the veggie stand for some lettuce, strawberries, an avocado and an apple. How you ask for strawberries is different in Argentine Spanish (which is called 'Castillano' prounounced 'Cast-i-shaun-o') compared to the Spanish I was taught in the states.
"Tienes fresas? - in Spanish using the 'tu' form of 'you'
"Tenes frutillas" - in Castillano using the 'vos' form of 'you' and another word for strawberries
The lady where I buy my veggies is very sweet and helpful when it comes to my Spanish.

(Sunday, December 21, 2008)

I have a tear in my eye as I write it's been one month since I've been in Argentina!!!! Where has the time gone? I'm very happy here. Yeah for me and Tina!

This morning I went for run/jog/walk for an hour. I ran past the zoo and then circled back home. I went on a sort of 'American' photo shoot/tresure hunt. I wrote a different blog post on that.

(photo below: it's a real photo. I live a block from the zoo. The buildings you see in the back could very well be my block)


At 1:30 I met up with an American for a cup of coffee. It turns out that we have so so much in common. Easily, we sat at the cafe for 5 hours. I almost fell off my chair when she said she works for a company in my field! (my field isn't common, especially in Argentina) She likes her job and said they may be hiring come March. We made tentative plans to hang out on Christmas. I suggested laying out in the park. The weather report says it will be 83 and sunny (28 C). I'm not a Christmas person, so I'm perfectly fine not celebrating.

I think by meeting her today and hearing that she works for a company in my field, it's a small reminder for me to ENJOY my time not working instead of secretively worrying about not working and not having money. I wish I would have enjoyed my summer off while I was unemployed, but instead I stressed my summer away. Come March, it will be no problem at all finding a teaching job...and I have a good chance at contract work from the states. Ohh, a job in B.A. was my long term plan; if it were to happen so sooner, I would be overcome by joy and the feeling of good luck.

After we met, I rushed back to the apartment at 6pm to say good-bye to my roommate and wish her a safe travel back to the states, but when I arrived home she was already gone. She wrote a note saying she decided to leave earlier than planned. I was a bit sad she was gone and I felt a pang of loneliness, so I turned on the radio and called over the cat. I'm fine now.

I think I'll be meeting with the same American tonight for dinner. She lives in the same neighborhood and knows where to go. Since arriving, (I've written before about my eating difficulties) I've turned complete vegetarian. Fish just isn't the best in Buenos Aires, therefore I don't know, yet, where to go and buy it. Chicken tends to be dry and therefore, to me, has a similar texture to beef. So, for the last 3 weeks I've been a complete vegetarian. (this could change if I find a fish market).

5,175 miles from home and still very happy, but I do miss people. (but not things)

Breaking the rules

Before my move, I set rules for myself. My self imposed rules would not let me slip into an American life in Argentina. I wanted to force myself into Argentine culture and language. I realized it would be uncomfortable but the outcome would be beneficial.

Either I'm not that strong or these rules were unrealistic.

I broke my American food rule by indulging in a McDonalds hot fudge sunday week 3, but I've now warmed up to Argentine ice cream, so I don't think I'll be visiting Mc.D's (until I visit the states).

I promised myself that I wouldn't watch any American TV while here. Last night I truly tried to find a Spanish movie to watch on iTunes, but then gave up and watched 2 episodes of 'The Office' which was soooooo funny!

I'll only have Argentine friends here. This rule was silly and just plain dumb. First, I don't have the Spanish words to carry on a conversation unless I want to hang out with Argentine 3 year olds. I really need to build my Spanish vocabulary before I can have conversations with Argentine friends. Second, the Americans I met so far have been a wealth of knowledge when it comes to living here. They've already experienced and ran into problems that they can advise me on. For example: a good Spanish tutor, how to buy an Argentine cell phone (and it's not expensive either), volunteer opportunities, places to go....

eh, I wasn't one to follow rules anyway.

not far from home

This blog post was inspired by my friend Janet who is in South Korea teaching English. I loved seeing, in her blog, which American stores are in South Korea, so I 'borrowed' the idea for this post.

(photo below: do you think my Blockbuster card would work here?...darn it! I forgot to bring it.)

(photo below: there are, so far, only two in Buenos Aires. I'm predicting by next year there will be one on each corner)

(photo below: I just had to go in and see if it was like the Starbucks at home. Dork dork, I know. BUT I didn't buy anything, just browsing. If you squint your eyes, you can see they have 'Argentina' and 'Buenos Aires' Starbucks mugs on the top shelf!!!)


(photo below: too bad the security guard who normally works the door wasn't working on Sunday morning, that would have been a good photo. I'm serious, there is usually a security guard working at the front door)

(photo below: two days ago I just had to go in and peek at their menu. Was it the 'real' thing?? Oh yes baby, you got your Jack Daniel's seasoned steaks, your buffalo wings served with celery, your Cobb salad. yup, it's the real thing)

(photo below: The sign reads: "Christmas Eve and New Years Eve Dinner"


Staples just opened up in Micro Center (business district) and of course there are plenty of McDonalds here.

You know, I bet you if I dug deep enough CVS has to own 'Farmacity'. The two stores are eerily similar.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Naaman knows Spanish.

Its strange that my computer knows that it's in Argentina. All webpages I visit are in Spanish. My home page was set to, but here it automatically goes to So, when I do a google. search, most of the time I get Spanish results.

Two nights ago I couldn't sleep, so I pulled up the NBC website to watch an episode of 'The Office'. I was shocked and deeply sadden that I'm not able to watch it because I'm not in the country. NOOOO, can't I just enter my passport number somewhere to prove I'm American and have the right to watch an American show! Come on! foo-ee

Friday, December 19, 2008

looking down on my barrio

This morning my roommate and I cleaned the apartment together. She'll be leaving for the states Sunday evening.

At 1:30 we both headed into 'Micro Centro' (business district) to meet a friend of hers and then we went for lunch together. It was my (American) suggestion to go to 'California Burrito'. The food wasn't 'real' Mexican, but it was close enough for me! (25 pesos($7.40) for a large burrito and small soda) There really isn't Mexican cuisine here and if there's not spicy; the Argentines don't like spice.

At 5pm I met with my Spanish tutor for 1.5 hours. She explained the reflexive verbs more clearly than my Spanish school. This weekend I'll study the most popular reflexive verbs and then next time we meet I'll practice with her.


At 7pm I met with a friend of a friend. Before leaving the states, my family's friend told me that he has a colleague in Bs.As. I contacted him and his wife via email and we arranged to meet for a coffee. He sent me his address. Just before I left my apartment I google mapped the address (I knew it was somewhere in my neighborhood). I didn't realize their home is only FOUR blocks away! Small world!

Their apartment is AMAZING! They live on the 21st floor, next to a park. When I walked into their apartment I noticed the view right away! 'Is that the river???" I had no idea my neighborhood was THAT close to the river!

They are a very sweet couple. We went for a cup of coffee two blocks from their apartment and just 2 blocks away from mine.

(photo below: my neighborhood, Palermo (pronounced: paul-air-moe)! When I look at it from this view, it looks SO intimidating, but it's really not. Can you see the line of green trees? My street is one to the left (not in photo))

(photo below: Can you see the river! on the right.)

(photo below: one of the two parks I live next to. This park is called Las Heras)

On my way home I stopped at the grocery store for two bottles of wine (11.50 & 9.50 pesos ($3.30 & $2.80)), a 4 pack of TP 3.5 pesos ($1) and some citronella incense for my mosquito friends (5 pack cost 1.75 pesos (51 cents))

Tonight, I'm at home studying my reflexive verbs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

250 grams of helado please

this morning i defrosted the freezer. does anyone do this anymore??
i needed clear instructions for the process. during the 2 hours that it took, the fridge needed to be off and the freezer door left open. I needed to empty the tray of water underneath the fridge and I also empty a tray between the fridge and freezer where the defrosted ice fell. I emptied the trays two times. I'll need to do this every two weeks.

Next time a guy bothers me in the park, I'm going to say "I'm sorry, I have to go, I'm defrosting my fridge".

At 3pm I met with a person from conversation exchange. I really wasn't looking forward to it, I thought it would be the same as my last convo.exchage but it went much better (not that the last meet was bad). Anyway, this guy was very kind, spoke slowly with me, explained words I didn't know and I didn't feel like he was hitting on me. We spoke a lot of English but he kept pushing me to speak Spanish (which I need and liked). When I spoke Spanish he was very patient and corrected simple mistakes that I made, which was helpful. We met for a cup of coffee in the local mall (it's a busy area). I felt like i learned a lot and I was able to comfortably practice.

At 7pm I met another conversation exchange person. This time a woman. She's the same age as me and lives just 3 blocks away! We spoke majority English, but I really like her. We went to a cafe and shared a liter of beer (2 pints). Maybe once I have more Spanish lessons I can add more to the conversation in Spanish. We'll meet again. Even though we spoke a lot of English I feel like I learned a lot about the Argentine culture. Hopefully she'll be my first Argentine friend? (lol, I sound pathetic)

Both people bought my drink for me, which was very kind; I wasn't expecting it. So I didn't spend any money today....

BUT....damn it, that ice cream again! It's 11 o'clock at night and I think I'm going to sneak out for another 250 grams of my Argentine addiction.

Tonight I have to remember to sleep with the fan on. I think it keeps the mosquitoes from biting at night. Last night I didn't put it on and I'm paying dearly.

p.s. The ice cream was so good!!! 250 grams of heaven costs 10 pesos ($3). It was not only an ice cream run but a spanish practice session too! Tonight was the first time I pronounced vanilla correct. (via - knee- sha)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

why do people look at art?

This morning I met with a friend. We went for a cup of coffee and some 'medialunas' (croissants). We went to a cafe and sat at a small table along the sidewalk under some trees. (10 pesos ($3) the medialunas were big too)

After coffee we walked to the MALBA, 'Museum of LatinAmerican Art of Buenos Aires'. The museum is in my neighborhood so we were able to walk to it. Today was the museum's free admission day. It was a small museum, but the building plan was very open.

We made our way up to the second floor. The floor was hardwood and the space was very open so noise traveled freely. As we walked into the exhibit an American woman with her baby carriage was on her cell phone talking loudly, making an appointment of some sort.

In this particular room there was modern art. Up in the corner, hanging from the ceiling was a rather large (6 foot) U.S Air Force airplane pointed downward, nose first. Attached to the airplane was Jesus, how he appears on the crucifix. Obviously, the artist making a statement.

After the American woman finished scheduling her appointment on the cell, she must of felt that she was neglecting her child. As she hung up the phone, without any thought, she pointed to the Airplane hanging from the ceiling and said "Look Tommy, It's Jesus! He's on an Airplane! Wow"

I don't think that is the reaction the artist was trying to provoke...but I could be wrong.

So so bad....but I'm still giggling to myself. Why was she at an art museum?

Afterward, I said 'ciao' (chow) to my friend and I headed back to my apartment. (ciao is how the Argentines say good-bye) Along the way home, my feet were killing me. My new shoes that I bought last week are so so cute, but the bottoms are hard, they hurt my heels. So I bought a pair of standard, cushy, flip flops (28 pesos($8)) Ahhh, my feet thank me.

At 5pm I hopped on the 'subte' to meet my Spanish tutor for the first time. We met at a cafe along the walking street in the business district. Ohhhh, she's so nice, I really really like her. She's patient, she speaks slowly, she repeats herself and she uses simple words that I already know and says just a couple words that I don't. I'm really trying to watch my money, but this lesson made me so happy, built my confidence and I feel like I learned a lot. It will be 35 pesos per hour ($10). I'll meet with her for 1.5 hours twice a week. (no more clothes and shoes for me, this is so worth it) (52 pesos today ($15))

Confession time....last night at 11:30 i walked 2 very short blocks to the local 'heladeria' to get a rather large container of ice cream! I'm addicted. Ciao McDonalds hot fudge sundays (or until I get back to the states at least). The container was just 250 grams (9 oz), it wasn't so big right? 3 flavors, vanilla, tiramisu and chocolate rocher cost just 10 pesos ($3) and it was so worth it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Free Spanish class

(Wednesday, December 16, 2008)

Free Spanish Class
At 3:30pm this afternoon I went for a free Spanish lesson in San Telmo (neighborhood). The class is free because I have a membership at an Expatriate / Travelers club. I left my apartment at 2:40 on bus 29. I caught it just 2 blocks away. The bus took for-ever due to traffic, construction and everyone getting on and off the bus. I arrived 10 min late.

The class was informal. A group of 7 others, myself, and the teacher sat around a table reading a hand-out about Argentine holidays. It was a little tuff to concentrate though... the teacher was really cute, he sat to my right and a miss know-it-all chatty lady sat to my left.
Nevertheless, It was fun. I'd like to go back next week, but this time I'll take the subte and then walk 8 blocks.

Conversation Exchange

Tonight I went to meet another 'conversation exchange' person. I waited for 15 min and left. I also wasn't feeling it, so I wasn't upset. I later found out that he was late.

English School
I walked back to my apartment a different way and to my surprise I walked right past an English School! I stopped in, they said they're looking for English teachers, so I asked for their direct email. (I've already emailed their central office)

socks and sandals


oh yes, Bs.As. has found the solution to wanting to wear your socks with your sandals, the all in one sock sandal.

I've seen them several times on several ladies here, but not until now was I able to sneek a photo.

La Bomba

Tonight my roommate and I went to see a percussion band, LaBomba de Tiempo. (15 pesos ($4.50)). It took place in an outside area, where at one time, there must have been an old factory. It was in the middle of an old neighborhood. In the center of the open area, there was a huge orange metal stair case. The staircase had two platforms, the first is where the band played. Pretty cool concept, the staircase didn't take up room and they were up high enough for everyone to see.

The band was wonderful, they were really into it and so was everyone there. It felt like a Grateful Dead concert. Everyone was dancing in that 'deadhead' fashion. It took me a while to find my 'deadhead' roots. The energy there was great, but the smell was another thing. I guess hippies everywhere in the world like their marijuana and boycott deodorant.

Here's a youtube video I found...

(photo below: we stood around the back of the stage/staircase)



(photo below: as you may know, Tango dancing is king in BsAs. I think this guy is a well known musician in the tango world. Most if not all tango songs are with the accordion (but I really won't know, I haven't gotten into it yet)



after we came home we ordered a half a pint of ice cream EACH. I'm warming up to Argentine ice cream...I had no trouble shoveling it in. Did I mention the ice cream places here DELIVER?