Sunday, March 29, 2009

del mundo

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
On Monday, when we ran into my friend who works at the Embassy, she kindly invited us over for a drink with her husband. They told us about Embassy life (sweet Embassy life) and invited us for a tour of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires today.

First thing this morning, we headed to the post office for a very Argentine experience. Walked in, took a number, it was only 5 away from the one being called, nevertheless we sat there for 1/2 hour. Once we were called we went to pay with a 100 peso note ($28). They didn't have change and neither did we so, like an Argentine would, we walked out without complaining and tried again later in the day.

We didn't have much time left before our appointment. We wanted coffee but it's not Argentine to get coffee to-go and besides it would have been difficult to find. The culture is that you sit down and have coffee.

11am came. We walked over to the front of the embassy where there were 2 huge long lines to get in. It made me feel lucky to be from the U.S.. All these people were trying to go to the U.S. (work, study, or just simply to visit they need permission and to pay around $130 dollars...just to visit.)

We were lucky, we just walked past them to the employee entrance and were escorted in by my friend....no line, no questions.

Once we were in, it really felt like the U.S.. English was spoken everywhere, it looked like a U.S. office, the elevator had a 'lobby' button instead of 'planta baja' It was fun.

Nicholas met with a couple of marines. They told him what steps they took to apply for an embassy position. Then we went to the bank in the embassy to exchange money. Right at the last min Nicholas asked if I wanted coins!! si si si!!! (there is a coin shortage. I told him he had to save coins for me and not spend them and to just pretend he didn't have them if someone asked). The bank gave him coins and he handed them right over to me!!! It was just 5 pesos of coins ($1.40) but it felt like $25!

Next we walked to the commissary (mini AMERICAN grocery store in the embassy). My eyes watered and my knees went weak. To look at familiar food that I haven't seen in 4 months....whoa. Lime tortilla chips, blue corn tortilla chips, jelly beans, pop-tarts.....and on and on....

It was really an exciting morning.

When we left I asked my friend for a restaurant suggestion. She suggested Rio Alba in the Palermo Nuevo neighborhood (it's is next to the embassy).

(photo below: typical b.a. dog walker)
Noon time and our first meal of the day. Nicholas treated me to a wonderful lunch. He ordered the best steak on the menu which was huge! The waiter said it was the best steak "del mundo" (in the world). He was so cute and really took care of us. I had a huge piece of trout and we shared a bottle of wine.....we didn't eat for the rest of the day...

(photo below: 'the best steak in the world' according to our waiter)
(photo below: after the 'best steak in the world' we went tothe coffee shop next door for cafe con leche and an espresso. it was served with two little pieces of chocolate)
After our huge fancy delicious lunch we came back to my apartment and got a sheet to lay on in the park. We walked down Ave. Libertado to the Recoleta neighborhood. But first I turned Nicholas onto my Argentine addiction. His first ice cream was at Munchies. Chocolate and Dulce de Leche! After, we laid out in the sun for an hour. Nicholas's winter white is starting to darken.

Before heading back we stopped at the Buquebus office to buy boat tickets to Uruguay on Friday! I can't wait for the dun-buggie that we'll rent.

After so much walking we took the subte home. It was around 6pm: rush hour. Nicholas got to experience another 'real' part of Buenos Aires....squeezing yourself onto the subte and not complaining. Not that he would have complained but it seems like no Argentines complain about the crazy tight quarters of the subte...they just deal.

Later in the evening we went to an 'Alfajore and Malbec party'. Another first for him.

(photo below: Alfajores of different varieties)

4 comments:

DaVe said...

Is the Embassy bank and store open to all US citizens or just those who work for the embassy (or know someone)?

Your description of the store made me want to go!

krebiz said...

Sometimes I think homesickness is half the fun of traveling- each time I've been to Europe, I've really missed having a nice big cup of coffee to carry around, even though the European coffee was better.

It seems like Nick's vacation is something of a vacation for you! Fun, fun! You're a spectacular host in BA, I can tell. Not that I'm surprised.

yillabean said...

DaVe,
Unfortunately the embassy grocery store is only for those who work at the embassy. The part of the embassy that we walked through is where all the offices are. (as opposed to where the Argentine s process their paperwork or where we would go if we had any problems) My friend and I were only able to get into the other side because we had an escort. It was heavily guarded with multiple locked doors. We had to be with an escort at all times.

yillabean said...

Jenna,
Totally I agree with you. Nicholas also bought me Dunkin Donuts coffee with TWO travel mugs!!! I never thought I'd think a travel mug was so special!!

Now the difficult part...do I use it when I walk around the city? If I do should I just go ahead and put on a fanny-pack and baseball cap too? Ohhh, I think I'm going to break and take my new to-go mug with me one of these days...I'll risk looking like a big ol' tourist.

Totally this felt like a vacation for me. I showed him one side of B.A. and he showed me another (all the nice restaurants). I love living here but I also love feeling like a tourist here too.