Wednesday, April 29, 2009

litter of the day: april29

I think I could do a blog post a day on the small pieces of paper that litter the streets in the Centro. Each night they get swept up but almost every morning there is a new message scattered about the streets near Plaza de Mayo, protest central.

I saw these blue and white pieces of paper for 5 straight blocks. You know, this is a good way to reach the attention of women. I've gotten so use to looking down when I walk, because if I look up, then men will are more likely to cat-call and comment and possibly follow me if they think I looked at them for longer than a split second.'s litter of the day contains a message about "Christina", the president of Argentina.

end of the line

Tuesday April 28th
This morning I woke up around 6:45am. I got ready, ate a banana and left my apartment around 7:45am for an 8am class. Last week it only took 15 min to get to my student's apartment via the colectivo, but today it took me a 1/2 hour. So, I was 15 min. late.

After our class, I ran out her door at 9am to catch another colectivo to my 9:30 student who is about 14 blocks away. I could have walked, but I would have had to walk past Retiro station (a not so good part of town). So, I stood at the bus stop waiting for the 93. As the 61 approached I flipped through the pages in my Guia "t" (bus bible) to see if it was going where I needed to go. As I found the route and determined it was indeed going where I needed to go, the 61 had already passed. Now the 92 was approaching, so I quickly flipped through the pages and learned that it was going down the street where I was headed. So I quickly put up my hand to signal the driver to stop and then I hopped on. Since it was a new colectivo for me, I kept out my bus map to see where we were going. The driver was making all the correct turns but then he made a left instead of a right!!!! no no, I need to go right on this street, not left!!! crap crap what do I do......oh wait, why is the bus pulling over and stopping??? Why is the driver getting off the bus??? End of the line??? really? I thought the colectivos just made loops? Well, I now know that the end of the line is the end of the line.

So, I step off the bus in the neighborhood I was trying to avoid. Danger Danger. As I was walking to find another bus I was starting to think my salary wasn't worth this, but I luckily and safely found my way. However, I was 45 min late for my next student. I had to cancel and reschedule the class because of this colectivo silly mistake.

At 11am I met with a private student and then at 1pm and 2pm I met with other students. Between students, around noon, I stopped at a cafe for a salmon bagel sandwich. Again, I should know better not to get my hopes up. I was looking forward to a crispy hard bagel...but, instead I got a soft as bread bagel. It wasn't a bagel, it was a round piece of bread with a hole in the middle. 22 pesos for a fake bagel with salmon.

After my class I raced home. I didn't know what I wanted more, a nap or some food. So, I quickly ate some pasta and then dove in bed for a quick siesta.

Leaving the house late, I met up with a friend at the Buenos Aires book fair (Feria del libros). She was so kind to give me a free pass, saving me the 13 pesos entrance fee. At 6pm I attended a book reading by Donigan Merrit. He read a chapter from his newly published book. Afterward, I walked around with a friend and then went back to the U.S. Embassy booth to catch the tail end of a talk by the writer of the Frommer's Buenos Aires guide book.

(read Donigan's blog at:
I ended the night by having dinner with friends. They so so kindly treated me to a delicious, Hake fillet in curry sauce with vegetables and a couple glasses of red wine. What a nice way to end the day after a crazy start.

cinco meses

El veinte tercer de Abril fue mi aniversario con Tina. Hace cinco meses y seis días llegue en Buenos Aires. Cuando llegué no conocí nadie y mi nivel de español fue muy bajo. Ahora tango muchos amigos simpáticos pero mi español es no mucho mejor pero estoy aprendiendo un poco mas día a día. A veces estoy todavía tímida hablar y me pongo miedo o nerviosa.

En cinco meses vive en tres departamentos y un hotel por tres días. Recordé un trabaja y ahora tengo veinte cuatro alumnos y tres de los veinte cuatro están alumnos privados. Viaje a la playa, a Uruguay y un pueblo chico en el sur. Quiero viajar mas, pero necesito ahorra mas plata.

Yo se que Buenos Aires es un grande ciudad pero a mi me siento como es chico. En mi barrio la gente conoce mi...posiblemente porque soy extranjera y mi español es divertido a ellos? Sin embargo, cuando voy a la lavandería la mujer que trabajar allá conoce mi nombre y el mozo al café sabe lo que quiero comer (café con leche y tres medialunas tibias). Para mi esta bueno caminar en mi barrio porque les mando saludos a los porteros y mi vecinos.

Un poco mas que un ano pasado pensé que mudarme a un otro país. Estoy muy feliz elegí Buenos Aires.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

one year ago: april 28

i remember what i was doing one year ago today.

i don't remember the reason why i asked to work at home, but i did. frequently when i would work at home i would get up a 15 min before my start time, meander into the kitchen and make a real breakfast with coffee or loose leaf tea. i didn't normally, and still don't, make a decent breakfast for myself. I opt for that couple extra min of sleep instead.

so, after making some breakfast and hot tea i sat on my sofa, booted up my work laptop. while waiting, i turned on the tv to see what meridith, ann and matt were doing on the today show. i'm not sure what time it was, but the segment 'where in the world is matt laurer' came on. matt's anchor friends were trying to guess where he was while i was going through the morning emails. once his friends merideth, ann and al guessed where he was and the camera panned back, i was almost fell off my sofa. matt was in buenos aires.

i had such a reaction to this segment because i started throwing around the idea of moving to buenos aires. i liked that they spoke spanish, i was interested in south america, in a big city, the european way of life and so on, but at this point i still didn't decide where i would move.

not that matt laurer being in buenos aires made me choose buenos aires, but it seemed like after this point buenos aires kept popping up, whether it was in the news that i read or people bringing it up, but it seemed like Tina started to hint that she was the one.


I went to Chascomus this past weekend. Chascomus is a small town 1.5 hours south of capital federal (the city center). The town is next to a lagoon. When I first heard about Chascomus I called it "Chac-a-mouse" (to my ears that's what it sounds like). I spent this weekend there with 5 of my close B.A. friends....

(photo below: what the landscape looks like once you leave capital federal (the city))
(photo below: as soon as we arrived my friends father had an asado (bbq) ready for us!!)
(photo below: there's chicken in there!!! not typcial in an asado, but it was requested for me)(photo below: nothing but goodness!!!)
(photo below: Homemade flan with cream and dulce de leche!)(photo below: pirate VW)
(photo below: home of Alfonsin. (a president of Argentina who recently passed away))

Friday, April 24, 2009


dinner was fabulous tonight! cooking was fun and so was the anticipation of how it would turn out.

on my walk home there were many people out. i was almost home when i stopped at the small kiosko (tiny convenience store) for some chocolate. in the evening they typically have the gate down and only a small opening to pass money through. this makes things challenging for me because i'm not familiar enough with what chocolate i want. in the states i would have gone for a kit-kat but there's nothing like that here. well....there is, but it tastes like a stale kit-kat. nevertheless you can find twix, snickers, m&m's and oreos at most kioskos...but i didn't want them.

so, it was my turn in line, i tell the attendant that i wanted chocolate. he goes to the other side of the counter (since i can't go in the tiny store because the gate is down). i tell him in my best spanish that i want chocolate...all chocolate. he was so kind and patient, he held up chocolate bar by chocolate bar for me to see. i kept saying 'smaller, smaller' or 'no all chocolate, no almonds' until he held up the one i was pleased with.

i thought he'd be perturbed at me, but instead he smiled so big and told me to have a good night.

i will follow his orders.

black market cilantro

i haven't been writing as much as i have in the past. things are starting to seem normal. the morning subte smoosh is to be expected. people bumping into me without apologizing or acknowledging they stepped on my foot is normal, but i understand that when your all just trying to get to the Center, no body does it on purpose. i've started bumping without apology as well, in the subte and on the street.

today while teaching a class, protesters passed the office I was in. they had loud drums and even louder fire-crackers. it sounded like a revolution, but since i've seen many protests now, it seems almost normal.

after teaching this afternoon i was finally able to sit down with my landlord. he said the second bedroom should be ready by this weekend. he wants me to find a roommate next week, by the first of may (which is on friday). i told him that if we want to find someone quickly we need to make the room and the apartment as presentable as possible. right now the apartment has the bare basics, it doesn't have a homey or comfortable feeling at all. he said he would see what he could do, but said he doesn't want to spend additional money since he just repaired everything in the apartment.

tonight i'm headed out to a friends house. we're going to make dinner together. between the two of us we have most of the ingredients for the meal, except for green onions, limes and cilantro. so, i went out on a mission...and it IS a mission to find these things. in my neighborhood there are at least 2 vegetable stands on every block, but they have the SAME thing as everyone else (this is the same case with empanada places. there must be 5 empanada places on everyblock but they all sell the same ones!) (when people say argentina isn't diverse they aren't just talking about how the people's everything from empanadas to shoes!)

back to the veggie mission..... the fourth place i tried was one of the Chinese Stores. again, their dirty appearance seems normal now, but almost oddly comforting in a strange way. so, i made my way to the back where the veggies are and asked the veggy guy who was sitting on a bucket with his 7 year old kid. i asked in Spanish if he had some cilantro. he paused, then said he had some, but it was his. he reached into the cooler, behind the milk and pulled out a bag of cilantro!!! i couldn't believe my eyes! not that he was stashing it, but that he had cilantro. i bought a fairly large bushel from him for 6 pesos; i paid him directly. i was a little nervous walking out of the store, but the Chinos didn't stop me. two veggy stands later i found my other things.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

i heart mullets

I taught my first student this morning at 8:30am. I left my apartment around 7:45am, took the subte and walked a mile to his office. It was nice weather, so I don't mind (mid 60's). I also like the hustle and bustle of the city. There were many things going on in the city this morning. The catholic kids had a churchy concert next to the plaza (plaza de mayo) in front of the president's office (like the white house of Argentina) and in the afternoon there was a protest of some sort.

(photo below: (casa rosada / the pink house). it's like our white house, but pink and the president doesn't live here, just works)
(photo below: the church where the catholic kids had their concert. it's in front of 'casa rosada' to the right)
After my first class I walked back to Centro (near casa rosada) to teach a private student at 11am.

(photo below: clean up after the concert)
(photo below: school bus)(photo below: these guys came out of no where as i was passing through. not sure why they were in front of casa rosada and not sure where they were going)
After my private student in the Centro, I walked back to Puerto Madero (another mile walk) to teach four more students. The first student canceled on me last week, so this was our first time meeting. He is now cute student #3.
My last two students canceled on me (I'll still get paid for my time since they didn't cancel 24 hours in advance).

(photo below: waiting in puerto madero for my last student of the day. i forgot my cell phone at the apartment, so i didn't get the student's text that he was canceling. i sat on this bench and studied...i also watched the parade of men. i was thinking how cute they were...then i laughed out loud at myself. i never thought i'd think a mullet was so cute! many argentine guys have longer hair on top and let it get a little longer in the back. it's a mullet all-right, just not as short on the top as the 90's. I heart argentine mullets)(photo below: small pieces of paper thrown on the street. i believe it's from the protesters. it's quite common to see the street littered pieces of paper that has the same message on it. i didn't stop to pick one up...maybe it was an earthday message telling everyone not to litter?)

i understand

Tuesday, April 21st 2009
My boss called me last night at 10pm to ask if I could teach a new student today at 8am. (typical of her, right?) I need the money, so I said yes. I taught a new student in her apartment. She's a lawyer and she's around the same age as me. She was really nice to talk to, so I'm looking forward to more classes with her. After our class, I got on the collectivo and headed to my 9:30am student. Since it was a new route for me, my boss offered to call my 9:30am student to let her know I'd be late. Of course she didn't call and I was late. I don't know if it was because I was late or she was just in a bad mood but she was stand-offish. When she read, I asked if she had any questions on any of the words. She quickly responds with a no, but when I ask her a specific word...she didn't know the meaning. Not sure what her reasoning for being so difficult was?

My 11am student canceled, so I headed home. Later in the day I had my Spanish lesson. I always get so tired during the lesson. In the middle of a worksheet I stopped reading and just had conversation with my teacher. She asked if I was practicing my Spanish and I told her I met a conversation exchange person this Monday to practice. She said something in Spanish and I said I didn't understand what she was asking. So she said in English "I asked you last week if you wanted to have conversation exchange with me and you weren't interested". Wha??? Oh no.....she asked me and I totally didn't understand! So much of my Spanish comes from taking a couple words that I do understand and forming a meaning from them, rather than understanding word for word. I'm sure I heard 'intercambio" and thought she recommended I look for someone on the internet to exchange languages.

I apologized and said that I was interested in doing a conversation exchange with her after my lessons. I apologized again. I hope she believed me (I really didn't fully understand her)

I guess this doesn't make me much different from my difficult student this morning...pretending to know when I really don't understand.

Monday, April 20, 2009


as promised, i received the rest of my march salary today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

this is unacceptable

tonight i called my boss to ask if she confirmed a class time with a new monday student. she said she hasn't gotten a hold of him yet. before hanging up i asked when i will be paid the rest of my march salary. (we're in the 4th week of april now). she said "sometime" this week.

i told her again, in a stern voice, that "i need to be paid." and "this isn't acceptable." she said yes and then we hung up.

less than 2 min later she called me back in a tizzy. she began hysterically telling me that i am right and that she apologizes and that this won't happen again (she said that last month and it did happen again, which is our present situation). then she began to tell me that other teachers haven't been paid yet and that she hasn't been paid by the companies we work for and that her account is in the red. then she told me that she doesn't appreciate how i spoke to her. (i did not yell or scream or even raise my voice. i just said "this isn't acceptable")

i let her continue with her rapid explanation and then asked if I could speak. she kept speaking and then speaking over me after i found a pause. i continued to let her go on and on because she was clearly upset with what i said. finally she let me have 30 seconds to say that "I know English teachers are taken advantage of because they are foreigners and I feel like I'm being taken advantage of."

end result: she said she would pay me the remainder of my march salary "tomorrow".

more polo

another argentine night = another day of sleeping in until around noon.

before getting in the shower this morning i checked email. the dueno (landlord) sent me an message. he wants me to start looking for a roommate. he also said the rent will go up to $500 each in july. it's an average rent for the neighborhood i live in, but to be honest the apartment isn't worth it. my room is too tiny to have a desk, there is no tv or radio in the living room or in my room, the kitchen is very tiny, there is no washer /dryer and no terrace (which many apartments have). it's a nice apartment and i like it, but it's just not worth $500 a month. so, i'll talk to him about the price, but i may have to move again in july. ugh.

after a shower and getting ready i went to my favorite cafe to study some more direct and indirect fun. they would be much easier to learn if they went in the same order as english, instead they're all messed up (from my English perspective of course). Here's an example of what i mean: " To her it I owe." (I owe it to her). My favorite waiter wasn't working, so I had to order like the rest of the cafe goers.

Another impromptu polo match day. My neighbor girls called me to see if I wanted to go so I called another friend to go with us too.

We left our apartment around 3:35pm walking and arrived at 4:05pm. Along the way we walked past the U.S. ambassador's residence where there was a protest taking place. Apparently we (the U.S.) has Argentine people in jail? We (us girls) kept our English on the D.L. as we passed.
When we arrived at the field we were hot from walking, so we tried to get into the good seats, which were shaded and but more expensive. (we paid for the bleacher seats). I suggested to the girls that we just give it a try; to see if we could sit with the elite. There were 5 of us girls total. I told them all to smile big. I walked up to the male ticket checker, smiled and with full English said "Hi"! I made no attempt at Spanish and then I looked so sad when he turned us away. But after two "pleases" and 5 sad girl faces, he turned his head and let us into the expensive 'good' seats.

(photo below: poop patrol...somebody's gotta do it)
(photo below: dialog - me: "i want a gaucho hat." friend: "i want a gaucho") (the gaucho is the argentine cowboy)

pony express

we had many questions while watching the game. besides wanting to know the names and numbers of the players we wanted to know the rules, when you're allowed to switch horses (which is done without even touching the ground) and how are the horses transported?

my curiosity got me to google how the horses are transported between countries. (yesterdays game was England vs. Brasil).

the horses are put into special crates that are then placed on a plane. their care taker gets a seat next to them.

check out the photos of the pony express....

party polo asado

this weekend i kept thinking over and over how i got so lucky. i would have never dreamed this moved would have gone so well. i don't own anything anymore, just my computer and my clothes, but i feel so rich in so many ways. i have so much, but all these things, that make me feel so rich, don't carry a price.
Friday, April 17th, 2009
Around 10:30pm I left my apartment to go to the 'Mercado Chino', (Chinese Grocery store) for some wine to take to a party. They're the only ones who are open late. However, for some reason they were closed AND the next Mercado Chino I tried to go to was closed too. Was it a Chino holiday? Since I couldn't buy a bottle of wine for the party I stopped at a kiosko (mini convenience store) to buy some chocolate.

We arrived to the party around 11pm. A friend hosted a birthday party for another friend in her 'party room' of sorts. (Her apartment building has a common gathering room). There were around 80 people there. I spoke only a little Spanish; I felt so tired since I didn't have a nap. (waaaaa). Around 4am a couple of us got a taxi home (early to normal time to leave a Argentine party)

Satuday April 18th 2009
Around noon I woke up, but I didn't get out of bed until 1pm. Around this time I received a text invitation to a polo match in my neighborhood. Giddy up! By 2pm I headed out the door, stopped at a restaurant to pick up a sandwich and then took the bus to the game (10 pesos ($2.60). At the match I met up with 4 of my B.A. girlfriends.
The first match started at 2pm and then there was another match around 4pm.

(photo below: the horses being walked to their staging area. they're wearing their jump-suits and leggings)
(photo below: the next argentine polo star)
(photo below: the national anthem was playing before the second game)

Towards the end of the game a horse went down. A medical van and a horse trailer sped onto the field. At first I thought someone was performing CPR on the horse. I just saw a man flailing his arms wildly. After more thought, I realized he was undoing the saddle straps. The horse was down for a good 2-3 min., without moving or trying to get up. What would they do if they had to put the horse down in front of all those people? Luckily after what seemed like forever the horse rolled over and stood up. They walked him off the field as the crowd cheered.

(photo below: Argentine against the rest of the world (seriously)....and Argentina won!!!)
(photo below: for the game, all the horses tails are tied um, in pony tails? anyway, this guy has the job of letting their hair down after the game)After the game there was a 15 by 15 fenced in area where the players got changed after the game. It was like their locker room; but everyone stood around and watched them. No complaints complaints here.
(photo below: here's a close up for you. shirtless polo player giving his friend an argentine man kiss. honestly....i think it's so cute)(photo below: everyone stuck around after the game for a drink, to listen to a tango band and to watch the tango dancers.)
After the game I started to get a bad headache. I know it's from not eating well and not drinking enough water. I'm still having trouble with food. I eat, but eating makes me bored. This morning I had a deep craving for a chicken cheese steak with onions and mushrooms...ummm. If I could eat out in restaurants each night I'd be fine...but I'd also be broke.

After I made some food (chicken salad zzzzzz) I rested for a hour. Luckily I woke up head ache free. Around 10am I met up with two of my friends, jumped on a colectivo and headed to my first asado (Argentine BBQ). It was a smaller sized dinner party, 11 total. We were celebrating a friends last night in B.A. before she goes home.
I didn't get to see the asado action. It was very non-Argentine of them to have dinner ready shortly after we arrived. We ate around 11:30pm and finished up around 2am. Since I don't eat beef I just had salad, potatoes, dessert and ice cream!!!