Tuesday, June 30, 2009

'on' day

'on' days and 'off' days.

as for my language progression, yesterday felt amazing. when i read the newspaper, i could really read. typically i just read the headline and the first paragraph, but today i was able to read a full article; i still used my dictionary, but i didn't use it for every word this time around.

while i was waiting for a student, another student of mine walked past and greeted me in spanish. i said something in spanish back, but i totally messed up. how could i read so well that day, but not speak a simple sentence?

i read more of the newspaper when i arrived at my second to last student of the day. when i entered his office he was on the phone with his son. so i sat down and continued reading (and understanding) i was also to understand his conversation with his son too.

it feels like some days spanish is in my head and there are no walls up that block it from coming through. other days i get so mad and frustrated because i know it's in there. i know that i must have read a word 3-4 times and i still don't know what it means. is it really in there, but i'm just setting up blockades?

Monday, June 29, 2009


at 8:30 this morning i was explaining the word 'dreary' to a student. my definition was 'today. today is dreary'.

the winter is here. i hate it, but i know it's not as bad as it gets at home, so i feel sort of guilty complaining. when i left my apartment this morning it was cold, dark and raining. luckily i only walk around the corner to catch the bus.

this past week my boss fell back into her normal self. i knew it was too good to be true. here i had faith that people could change. nope, i'll keep hoping. last week i sent her 2 emails asking for the remainder of my may salary (tomorrow is july). she paid me the majority of may, but there is still money owed. then, last night at 10:30pm she called in a tizzy. she promised a new student that i would meet with him but forgot to tell me about it. i had time open in my schedule so i agreed to meet with the new student. i was surprised that when she thanked me, she actually sounded like she meant it.

so, this morning i taught 3 students at one office, than got on the subte to the other office. it was about a 6 block walk to the subte stop and then a 5 block walk once i got off the subte. it took only 35 min, but then i found out my new student canceled. this is typical. i think i have about 5 cancellations a week. i welcome cancellations. if the student cancels less than 24 hours before the class i still get paid.

so, i headed back to the subte (just 1 block this time). when i went down the first set of stairs i make a turn and then go down another flight of stairs. there is always the same man standing on these stairs. he is always holding the same 5-6 year old child and the child is always sleeping on his shoulder. i would say that 1 out of 3 times (various times of the day) he is always in the same place with the sleeping child. is the child sick? is the child part of his begging act and told to stay still? is the child napping? does the man's arm get tired from holding such a large child for a long period of time?

when i arrived home i dove into bed only having 1/2 hour before my spanish teacher arrived. this past weekend, both friday and saturday night i didn't get into bed until 4am. so, by last night i couldn't fall asleep for the life of me.

my spanish lesson went well. i still make silly mistakes that i should not be making at this point. lazy / forgetful or a little bit of both.

after my spanish lesson i headed out for a private english lesson and then after teaching i stopped at 5 veggie stands looking for small red potatoes. after not finding them i settled on large white potatoes.

for dinner we had lemon chicken with basil and potatoes.

money spent
1.20 pesos for the bus to work

1.10 pesos subte
1.10 pesos subte
30 pesos spanish lesson
1.62 pesos 10 potatoes

4.67 pesos chocolate bar

4.30 pesos 1 mango

cash only

i've acclimated to B.A.'s cash based society.

i realized today that i haven't logged onto my bank account or credit card accounts in months. this is something i used to do on a daily basis.

i didn't even realize until today that my citi card is now owned by bank of america. i realized this when i went to log-in to pay for my visit home in a couple weeks.

here, i get paid in cash. usually in 2 or 3 installments because my boss can't take all of my monthly salary out of the atm at once. i pay my rent in cash, i pay for groceries and food at restaurants in cash. well, everything i pay for in cash. this is very different from my life in the u.s.. in the u.s., at any given point i probably only had $20 on me.

the idea of paying cash for everything was weird when i first arrived. now it seems normal. it actually felt strange to log-on to my bank and credit card today.

*you can use credit cards in buenos aires. i have on occasion, but it's not nearly as common as in the states.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

i heart Peru & mis amigas

last night after teaching i met some friends out for a sort of gallery hop. on the way to meet up with them i chatted up the taxi driver. some days i'm 'on' with my spanish and other days i feel like i'm trying to speak with marbles in my mouth. last night was luckily an 'on' day. i understood everything the taxista said...i bet he was speaking slower to me though? nevertheless i love to feel some sense of progress on the spanish front since i generally feel more disappointed than accomplished.

well, we didn't do much gallery hopping, well i didn't anyway. we went into a swanky hotel to use the bathroom and decided just to hang out in the super luxurious lobby and chat. we must have spent more than an hour there. it was quite nice.

afterward we hopped in a cab to go to dinner. we ate at a peruvian restaurant in the centro. i think i've found my new cuisine of choice. it was my 2nd time having peruvian food and i'm hooked. (and this week i'll have it for a third time (*big smiles*).)

we finished up dinner around 1:30am. it feels strange to write this, but it felt so normal leaving the restaurant at this time. i can't imagine this happening in the states?

after dinner i went with my friends to a party. i didn't know where we were going or whose party it was. it feels really nice to be able to trust the people i'm with. i feel that doesn't happen too often in life.

the party was fun & i was home in bed by 4am.

drunk voting

the argentine government is apparently concerned with drunk voting. similar to drunk dialing?

tomorrow (sunday) is voting day, so tonight there will be no alcohol sales after midnight. i'm curious how that will work since most argentines don't go out until midnight on a saturday?

ups & downs

this afternoon i went a cafe to read the newspaper and study some spanish but i'll admit i spent most of my time looking out the window, people watching and thinking.

i think that i've hit the mark in my journey where things are no longer perfect, not that things are horrible either, far from that. maybe it's the winter weather, maybe it's a hint of culture shock that's setting in, maybe my honeymoon with Tina is over?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

american style spinach

American Style: Buy and Eat, because 'that's how we do.' What other way is there?

welcome to 1940

yesterday i was late to my afternoon class because i was arguing with my landlord.

i think i've become a little argentine because i can now have a heated argument and have a little fun at it too.

so, the argument started when i made the comment that flirting goes far in this country. he said, "oh, like it doesn't go far in the u.s.". sure, flirting helps in the states, but it's nothing like here. i actually feel like i have to flirt if i want something to get done (not that i mind). 'work smarter not harder' right?

then the conversation went to women's rights in argentina vs. the u.s.. my opinion being that women have way way way more opportunities and rights in the states compared to argentina.

my opinion stems from working in the corporate world in the u.s. and now working in several corporations in argentina. in the u.s. i saw many women in high level jobs. i haven't seen any women at the director level here.

in argentina, in a job announcement, it is ok to put that you are looking for a woman between the ages of 20-30. this is a huge no-no in the states.

so, my landlord's rebuttal was women should not be in high level positions because of their period. yes, because once a month (in his opinion) women can not make rational decisions because their hormones get in the way.

i think at this point i had steam coming out of my ears. periods??? this was the argument??? what era is this??? i told him he had a very outdated, old fashion way of thinking.

he said that he would not hire a woman over a man because statistically women miss more days of work than men and a woman between the ages of 20-30 is more likely to have a baby and cost the company more money.

i'm living in the 1940's.

(photo from: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/2549460867_00b1dbf80b.jpg)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

safety optional

Yesterday and today I learned just how dangerous my road trip was this weekend and how lucky I am to be in one piece.

My student yesterday told me that the terrible road we took back to the city (the only road to take back) is very dangerous at night, so that's why there weren't any other cars on it. He said when it rains they often close down the highway because the fog gets so bad.

Then my student today told me that that road is called "death road" because...well you can imagine. She said it's the only main road that goes to the northeast and all the trucks take it to get to Brazil and Uruguay. It's just a two lane road (highway if you want to call it that, but it's a road in my book). The trucks are moving slower than cars, so the cars pass the trucks using the left lane. I saw some of the trucks passing the other trucks too. A couple of times I didn't know if they were going to make it. Second, there was no shoulder on the road...well dirt if that counts?

Then I told her that I was surprised that the new rental car didn't have an airbag, something that is standard in the states nowadays. She said she had to pay 2000 pesos extra to get an airbag in her car when she bought it. I don't know why this surprises me.

We really take for granted the roads in the u.s. the lights over the road, shoulders to pull off on, the mandatory safety features in our cars.

I'll still go on another road trip in Argentina if the opportunity presents itself, but this time I won't drive at night and I'll avoid driving in the rain...and I'll request an airbag the next time instead of a gps.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

argentine road trip

It was difficult to sleep Friday night. I was so excited to go on my first Argentine road trip and I was also nervous that I didn't do 'enough' research, but over all I was more excited.

looking back, i had so many reasons to be uberexcited.

Saturday at 8:30am I was at the Hertz signing all the papers for the car. I eagerly asked the agent what kind of car she was giving me (hoping for a VW), but they game me 'a similar' car. Chevrolet Corsica. It was new and small so I was still happy. (new car with an ashtray but no cup holders)

I also rented a gps, but it was pretty much a waste. In the states I had a Garmin which was super easy to use. The beast of a gps they gave me was horrible. So horrible that YOU had to tell the gps where you were starting from. Shouldn't the gps know where it is? It was so difficult to use the Hertz guy took 5 min to figure it out.

So, once I was ready to go, my first time driving in 7 months, it just felt so natural to put it in first gear and just pull away from the curb. The first street that I turned onto was the widest avenue in the world (9 de Julio), I was only on it for 1 block before I made a turn.

I wasn't sure how I would feel driving in Buenos Aires, but it felt so so good. It was really fun and not as difficult or as complicated as I thought it would be to drive in the city (although I really enjoy driving).

I picked up 3 of my closest friends and we headed out of the city towards the town of Colon Argentina and Paysandu Uruguay.

My co-pilots were wonderful. They helped me watch out for signs, they helped navigate, they sang and they prepared mate! It's so typical in the states to drink coffee while driving and while in Argentina it's typical to drink mate while driving. So, there I was, driving with a gourd full of mate, sipping it through the metal straw.

(photo below: a store in a town off of the highway. a road trip isn't a road trip without getting lost. )
We arrived in Colon 3.5 hours later. The town was small and charming. The tourist office was in a beautiful building and the woman who worked there was so helpful. She gave us information on the Thermal baths in Colon and told us that crossing the bridge to Paysandu Uruguay would be no problem. (I needed to go over for a new tourist visa since mine is about to expire).

(photo below: our American car without cup holders or an airbag.)(photo below: tourist office in Colon)
(photo below: looking out the window of the tourist office at the river)
(photo below: driving around Colon)
(photo below: it was such a warm day! i wonder if it's always like this? look at how green the trees are?)
So, being the crazy adventurous girls we were we crossed the bridge by car instead of waiting for a bus. I felt like I was in good company that if something would have gone wrong we all would have all dealt with the situation in a calm way. Also two of the girls are native Spanish speakers and one knows how to flirt (which gets you far in this country).

The bridge was very very close to the town of Colon and since nothing exsists outside of the town (no suburban sprawl) the route to the bridge was very easy to find (no gps needed).

When we could see the bridge we came up to a checkpoint with uniformed officials, but when we got close they just flagged us through. We were all shocked thinking that that was the passport check point. Since I really needed the new visa we turned the car around and went back. This time the officials came out to our car. They told us that it wasn't the checkpoint. (It's funny that we thought it was an Argentine checkpoint, because it seems like that's something Argentina would do, just flag us through.)

(photo below: welcome to uruguay sign)
Once we crossed the bridge we pulled up to the real passport check point. We were all relieved that it was a man (again because flirting goes far). After a couple of minutes of them checking our passports and the documentation of the car we were through! No problems!

Paysandu Uruguay was very cute. The road that is directly after the bridge ran along the the river. There were beaches with sand and a park with grass. We ate lunch at a restaurant, outside under a thatched roof . It felt like we were on a vacation on an island, it just had that kind of atmosphere.

(photo below: horse crossing the street)
(photo below: Paysandu Uruguay)
(photo below: "Enjoy the new beaches of the Uruguay River. Sun and River." The lady in the advertisement is passing mate.)
(photo below: a building in Paysandu)We drove around the town of Paysandu, but there wasn't much to see, so we left and did another successful bridge crossing.

(photo below: under the bridge back to Argentina (where the passport checkpoint is). there were horses just walking around)
When we arrived back into Colon we went to the thermal baths. They were at the edge of town near the river. We drove on many dirt roads to get there. (many of the roads/streets in Colon aren't paved)

(photo below: dirt roads in Colon Argentina)
The thermal baths were amazing amazing amazing. To swim in hot water was the most amazing feeling.

The baths were just swimming pools filled with natural hot water. The set up looked just like a public pool in the states, but instead there were about 6 different pools. One was inside a glass house, another was inside a large white tent and the others were outside. They all had varying temperatures. We stayed for 2 hours. We were there at night, so not many people were there.

(photo below: thermal baths before we went in)
I think we left Colon at 8pm. We started to drive home and discussed possible options for dinner. One suggestion was to stop in another town called Gualeguaychu. When we passed the exit on the highway we spontaneously decided to go!

We drove around looking for the river, got lost in a ghetto and then we found it. We walked around the town for a bit and then had some ice cream.

(photo below: there were many stray dogs. all of them were so sweet. when you talked to them they rolled on their backs looking cute or put their paw on your leg.)
The drive home was not fun. It started to rain. There weren't any lights on the highway nor were there any cars. The road had such bad grooves where all the water was pooling, so that left me driving in the middle of the road. Thank goodness no one else was around. There also weren't any reflective material on the road so you could barely see the faded yellow line and there was no line to tell you where the road's shoulder was. It was very difficult to drive back.

Once we came back to civilization, where there were lights, I felt better, but i could feel my eyes getting tired.

As we came into the city, I started to switch lanes to prepare to get off the highway, the next exit was mine. When I went to switch lanes I noticed the guy far in front of me was backing up! on the highway...not the shoulder, but I guess there wasn't a shoulder on a 7 lane highway, so I changed lanes to avoid him. Then, luckily I noticed traffic was stopped in front of me. Once our car came to a stop we heard screeching tires. Without any reaction of any sort we saw a car slam into the car next to us...in the lane next to us!! 30 seconds later my emotions kicked in and i was shaking inside and with my hand over my mouth as i was repeating over and over 'thank you it wasn't us, thank you it wasn't us, thank you'.

After more thought, i realized our new car....new American Cheverolt car did not have an airbag...not even one. Why? It's not standard? It's 2009 people! no? again, 'thank you it wasn't us'

We didn't sit in the stopped traffic too long. I thought we would be there all morning long, since at this point it was already 3:30am. The traffic was stopped because of another car accident. When we passed through, I didn't want to see, so I don't know how bad it was.

We dropped of the car and caught a cab home with all our things. On the way home the cab driver told us there was a bad accendent on the highway involving an overturned bus. I feel so so lucky that we all made it home safely.

Minus the nervracking drive and the other highway events I think yesterday was a near perfect day. One of the most memorable anyway.

Money spent (estimate)
205 pesos to rent the car
45 pesos to rent the gps
190 pesos gas
14 pesos brigde toll x 2
20 pesos tolls
30 pesos lunch
10 pesos thermas

Friday, June 19, 2009

beep beep

tomorrow's my big day!

i'm going to get to drive tomorrow for the first time in 7 months!

i believe the car will be a VW (my favorite kind of car), but the confirmation says "VW or similar", so my fingers are crossed that they don't give me a similar.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

food food food

three weeks ago i lost my appetite for more than 5 days. i knew it would come back at some point, but i must admit i was a little scared that i'd never like food again (and what a terrible life that would be)

my appetite is back and in a really big way.

since my roommate moved in, i've been eating wonderful meals every night. i've cooked a couple of them, but she's prepared majority of them. we always share dinner with a bottle of wine and talk for a couple hours.

a couple days ago the neighbor girls invited me out to an 'all-you-can-eat' restaurant. we were 15 people total. the neighbor girls and i easily out-ate everyone at our table. each time they got up to announced 'time for more', i was right behind them.

that night i had paella, sushi, pasta, nachos, cheese plate, ice cream, crepe, and a plate full of desserts. i felt no guilt in making up for 5 days of lost time.

(photos below: all three were mine)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

winter so far

said in a grumbling tone "i guess the winter here isn't so bad"

1/2 of the days are cloudy (boo hiss) and half of the days are sunny (shouts of joy)

this time of year is the equivalent to our december 20th. (the shortest day of the year)

most of the trees in b.a. still have green leaves and the others...just have brown leaves that never fell off.

the temperatures have been hovering in the high 50's low 60's for the past couple of weeks.

i guess it's not so bad.

(photo below: flowers are still being sold)
(photo below: some leaves are still hanging on.)

standing in traffic

my first student this morning was at 8:30am. it takes me 45 min to travel there by bus or subway during the morning rush hour. i prefer the bus (i always get a seat and it brings me closer). my first student of the day is so studious. he reads the articles i give him, looks up the words he doesn't know and is very polite.

the next student of the day is not so studious. he has a case of the attention deficit disorder, doesn't do his homework, doesn't take notes or seem interested in the notes i take for him and what i dislike most is when i ask him if he knows a word or phrase and he says yes, but he really doesn't. i ask generally ask him what a word means and then i tell him what it really means. he jokes with me, so we always have fun, but i don't think he's learning a thing.

my next two students canceled on me. i couldn't find the third to ask if he could meet earlier so i canceled the class. i don't like to cancel the class, but i did a quick cost/benefit analysis and decided if i waited for him for 2 hours i would wait in a cafe and likely buy food that cost the same or more as my hourly pay.

so, i went home and napped (*big smile*). i also made some lunch and then headed back out around 3:30pm for my private group students.

the subte and then train to the class was no problem. i taught for 1 hour and then headed back to the train station. there was a train already at the station so i ran to catch it. i was not even 4 feet away as the doors closed. i didn't think it was a big deal...but it turned out to be one.

i stood on the platform for 1 and a half hours!

by the time i realized there was a problem, it was too late for me to go find a bus. i'm not familiar with the neighborhood, so i didn't think it was a good idea for me to roam around. so wait i did.

by the time the train came the platform was packed with people. luckily the doors of the train car opened in front of me. i didn't even have to push my way on, the people behind me made sure i was going to get on.

i don't know which is worst. sitting in traffic or standing on a platform waiting for a train.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

boyfriend delivery

yesterday my roommate and i spent our day off together. (yesterday was a holiday in argentina (flag day if you're wondering)

in the morning we went grocery shopping. since we bought many things for the week, we asked for delivery. the cashier told me 2 hours, so i thought we had time for some coffee on our way home. we arrived home precisely 2 hours later only to find out they tried to deliver our food 45 min after we left the store. how un-argentine of them to be early.

i had to call the store and explain, in the best spanish i could muster up, what happened.
my attempt failed; they put an english speaker on the phone. (*weep*)

however, 1 hour later our food arrived at our apartment. the portero let the food delivery guy in and sent him up in the elevator (normal). when the delivery guy arrived at my door, i told the him to put the stuff on the table. right away he started with the questions 'do you live here alone?' 'do you have a boyfriend?' 'are you looking for a boyfriend?' 'do you like to dance?'... i played along until he asked for a glass of water. ummm, no.

i just ordered my groceries to be delivered, i didn't order a boyfriend to be delivered.

maybe i was a little cold not to give the guy some water, but i had all my stuff (cell phone, computer, purse ) out in the living room and my roommate was in the other room. besides, there is a kiosko down stairs that has a decent water supply.

Monday, June 15, 2009

expat shuffle II

my tourist visa is about to expire. last time i left the country (to uruguay) was almost 3 months ago.

this past friday i planned on going to 'migraciones' (the immigration office) but after more research i decided it wasn't the route i wanted to take to renew my visa. if i were to go to 'migraciones' i would have had to arrive very early to stand in a line, take a ticket, wait, than hope that the window i walk up to the person likes me and they're in a good mood. if they're not in a good mood they'll likely demand a document that i don't have. (these are the rumors anyway). next, 'migraciones' raised their rates from 100 pesos to 300 pesos. (i found this out through another persons blog; thanks sallycat).

my next option i looked into was going to Colonia Uruguay for the day. I think Colonia is a charming town, but I've already been there twice, it's cold now, i didn't want to go alone and it's 200 pesos.

third option is to rent a car for the day and drive up to Colón Argentina. not too long ago a friend did this boarder crossing. it's definitely cheaper to take a bus (100 pesos) as opposed to the estimate cost of a car for the day (250 pesos). sure, the car is almost as much as 'migraciones' but it's way way more fun AND there are hot spring baths in Colón!

next weekend = road trip

Sunday, June 14, 2009

jazz flamingos

saturday june 13, 2009
i slept in today. we got home last night...er um this morning at 4am, so some sleeping-in was needed.

i just took it easy during the day strolling down santa fe (a main street). i set out looking for a new shower curtain. our current one looks a little old ladyish. i found a store that had some bathroom rugs and shower curtains for a reasonable price. i was deciding between yellow flowers or pink flamingos.

the pink flamingos won.

on my walk back i stepped into a clothing store to look around. i found the cutest long sleeve, v-neck, short dress and an adorable leather belt that is worn high in the waist. both were 70 pesos ($19), but when the sales woman, who i was chatting with, rang me up, she only charged me 105 pesos ($28).

in the evening my roommate and i (and my new cute dress) met up with some of my friends at a jazz club. the club's atmosphere was beautiful. the band was good too. the atmosphere and my good friends made the night!

money spent
32 pesos shower curtain ($9)
9 pesos inner curtain ($2.50)
34 pesos on two bathroom rugs
105 pesos on a dress with a leather belt ($28)
7 pesos pantyhose to keep my legs warm ($2)
6 pesos for 2 avocados ($1.50)
20 peso entry fee for jazz club ($5.50)
34 pesos for a martini and indv.pizza ($9)

long way down

i've written before about some of the dangers in b.a.. here is another...

my elevator door doesn't always lock. yesterday when i stepped out of my apartment i pushed the button to call the elevator. i didn't hear it move so i thought it was already on my floor, so i opened the door. (see photo above)

if the elevator isn't on my floor, the door should not be able to open; today it did. it's the 3rd time it happened and it's a real hazard since i'm on one of the top floors.

i warned my roommate yesterday. she tried to tell me that it locks and i tried to tell her 'not all the time'. ojo chica (watch out girl)


friday night i went to a party for my friend's birthday. during the day i had some class cancellations so i had time to bake a cake. I made an american/argentine or betty crocker/argenTINA cake.

when my mom came to visit, i requested a boxed cake mix from the states. ummmm betty croker (seriously yum)

i split the batter in half to bake two cakes. i then stacked them on top of each other with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


get out!

i just had a meeting with my boss and it was normal. i didn't leave steaming.

last week i wrote her an email asking for a raise. i felt confident that i could get a pay increase. the other native english teacher left unexpectedly and my boss called to ask me to pick up more students. she also asked if i could refer a friend. she later asked me to give her my materials that i use with my students (all the current events articles that i find online and my english magazines).

in my email to her, i stated the reasons why i deserved a raise and i told her that with the raise i would email her all the articles i used with my students (once i exhausted the articles) and i would give her all my used magazines that i'm finished with.

she was the one who made several attempts to schedule this meeting and today we met in a cafe. she not only agreed to the raise (just a little less than i asked for but that's ok because i made the request higher than i thought was needed, so she actually met the amount i wanted), so anyway she agreed to the raise and paid me half my salary for last month before i even asked for it.

after we discussed the money she told me that my students are all happy with me which was really nice to hear from her, since she's never given me praise. she also asked how i was, if i had a roommate and if my family visited. when i answered her, she seemed truly interested in my response. she didn't interrupt me or say anything crazy. it was just a nice conversation like she tells me to have with my students.

money spent today
1.10 pesos f/ subte
pesos f/ 2 medialunas
pesos f/ subte
pesos f/ a pack of plain m&ms
pesos f/ subte
pesos f/ subte

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

chef roommate

i didn't realize how much i wanted a roommate until mine moved in.

i find myself excited for her to come home. my apartment feels more homey now too. i'm excited to see how her day was and to cook dinner together. thank god she's crafty in the kitchen. when she asked me where stuff goes in there i told her it's her domain.

tonight on her way home she asked me to meet her at the Chino (chinese grocery store). she just got a bunch of things to throw together, which i must say was fabulous. she asked me what i did before she moved in and i really didn't have an answer for her.

money spent today
1.10 pesos colectivo to work
3.25 pesos for 3 medialunas

58 pesos for lunch

--18 for 12 pieces of sushi

--10 pepsi
--5 table service (cubierto)
--15 brownie with ice cream splurg

--10 hot tea
1.10 subte to teach
1.10 than a colectivo to teach
0.80 train home
1.10 subte home

*lunch was not a normal thing, but i'm glad i treated myself today.

Monday, June 8, 2009


at 7:45am i was at the bus stop this morning, it's just around the corner from my apartment. even though it's winter, the temperature was only in the 50's. i should be thankful for that, but i still miss the summer morning weather.

a line started to form for the bus. i was third in line. after a couple minutes the bus appeared. all three of us put up our hands to signal the driver to stop. he didn't even slow down, he just zoomed by. the same thing happened to the next two buses! why didn't he stop? i think the answer is, because he just didn't want to.

i taught two students at the same office this morning, then i left to head to another office in the centro so i walked about 6 blocks to the subte. as soon as i walked through the turnstile, to wait on the platform, i pulled out my book. the train arrived and i got on almost without looking with my nose buried in the book. when i sat down i could feel many people around me. there was also the normal sounds of the hustle and bustle, but there was also a violin playing. i looked up but didn't see anyone playing the music. it almost felt like i was in a movie since i couldn't see the violin player. i continued to read, but then stopped to enjoy the music; it was really beautiful. at the end of my ride i gave the musician 2 pesos. i don't normally give my money to the beggars or to the street musicians, but he moved me.

when i left the subte i rushed down 'florida street' (a pedestrian street). as i rushed down the street i passed an 'arbolito' (which literally means 'little tree' but this word is used to describe the shady characters who stand in the middle of the busy walking street in a suit and tie and chant the word 'cambio' (exchange)). there is one 'arbolito' character that i love to smile at. he looks like the shadiest swindler you've ever seen. i've now made it a habit to smile at him when I walk past. when he sees me, even though i don't speak a word, he says 'dollars' knowing that i'm a foreigner.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

new roomie

Saturday June 6th 2009
Saturday night I went to my Spanish teacher's apartment for dinner. I was there for 3 and a half hours and we spoke Spanish the whole time. Towards the end, I could feel myself getting tired and grammatically lazy. At times I could notice her looks of confusion, trying to figure out what I was saying, but overall it went really well. I switched to English at points thinking she'd want to speak English, but she always answered in Spanish. On the way home, in the taxi, I felt myself thinking in Spanish; it was a first for me.

Money spent: Saturday
17 pesos for 2 cups of coffee and 3 medialunas
10 pesos for a bottle of wine at the Chinese grocery store
15 pesos for a weeks worth of laundry; washed, dried and folded
1.20 bus to dinner
12 pesos for a cab back
$15 usd

Sunday June 7th, 2009
When I got home on Saturday night ; around 12:45am the girls downstairs IM'd me. They asked me to go out dancing, but I just crawled in bed so I said no. Their next IM asked me to come down for ice cream. I didn't even respond or put shoes on, I just jumped in the elevator and walked right into their apartment. They were laughing at how quickly I got there at the offer of ice cream. The 3 of us lay on her bed eating ice cream talking and laughing. I didn't return to my apartment until 2:30am. These are the moments I love.

Sunday morning I slept in and it felt so nice. As soon as I got out of bed, I got ready to go meet some friends for a birthday brunch. It was just the 4 of us. I prefer small groups to big groups, so I really enjoyed myself talking with the girls. For dessert we each got a.....*prepare yourself*.....dulce de leche empanada. it came as a strong recommendation so I agreed, but I can admit I didn't think it would be very good......but...wow....good...good...good.

After brunch I met my new roommate at my apartment. She brought her bags up and then we went out for coffee at my favorite cafe. After coffee we went to the grocery store and then she unpacked while I read articles for homework for my students. I also baked some Dunkin Hines Brownies!!! and now the apartment smells amazing. Around 9pm we cooked dinner together. I'm really happy she moved in. It's nice to have someone here. It was a really good day.

Money spent: Sunday
26 pesos for brunch (coke, sandwich, dessert, tip)
12 pesos for birthday flowers
2.40 pesos round trip bus
10 pesos coffee and 3 medialunas
52 pesos food at the grocery
$28 usd

Saturday, June 6, 2009

grabby hands

thursday night i went to a club with the girls from my building. the club is near our apartments, so it's convenient to walk over. it was the usual argentine club experience; deep long uncomfortable stares from men when we walk in the door, then they start to circle like vultures and then they start their grabbing ritual. last night was no different. their behavior, that use to piss me off, now feels normal and part of the fun of going out. one guy last night renewed my faith in argentine men. he came up to dance with me, he wasn't grabby and after the song was over he went back to his friends.

last night moira reminded me of when we went to the beach, in the u.s., last summer. she reminded me of when we went to the clubs, how i yelled at guys for touching me as i walked past them in a crowd. back then i thought that behavior was out of place and disrespectful and i had no problem telling them that. i have to laugh at myself now, because of the crap from guys that i now put up with. how did i let my standards of appropriate behavior flush down the toilet so quickly? those innocent u.s. types of moves now seem so harmless compared to the grabby hands of argentines.

money spent:
free club entrance
25 pesos for a tall baily's frozen drink ($6.75)

ticket to paradise

yesterday evening after i hung up with moira, i bought my ticket to the states! i'm going for 2 weeks in july. i'm looking forward to the all-you-can-eat food at my parents, the swimming pool, the hammock, taking walks in the forest, sitting outside at night listening to the crickets and the entertainment of my 2 year old niece. all things that were once common are going to feel amazing. it will feel like being at a tropical resort after having winter weather and living in a city for 8 months.

overall, i'm so excited to spend time with the people i love.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

i'm unitedstatesian

until this week, i forgot about the "i'm american" issue.

if you tell someone here that you're "american", it's likely you'll get the response "i am too" even if they're from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Columbia...you get where I'm going with this? south AMERICA, central AMERICA....

so, to be safe, and like a nice little politically correct unitedstatesian, i say "i'm from the states" or "i'm from the u.s."

with that said, i found a very funny tee-shirt on www.bustedtees.com that made me laugh.
i like this one too...it's for the geographically challenged.

classroom behavior

Wednesday June 3rd, 2009

Thursdays use to be my long days, now Wednesdays are a close second. I leave the apartment at 7:45am to make it to my 8:30am class. I take a collectivo now, it gets me closer to my destination. So far, each time I've taken the bus on Wednesday, I get a seat and spend my commute reading (it was a good book this week).

I taught for 6 hours straight, well, not quite. One student canceled, so I just read in the lobby for one hour; it was a nice break.

A Wednesday student of mine always surprises me with a new inappropriate comment. In the U.S. I would never let him get away with his behavior (comments that are usually sexual in nature...and not hinting around either), but I've learned many...many things are different in this culture. Personal space nearly doesn't exist, men cat-call on the streets like it's their job and the list could go on. So, it's difficult for me to tell where the line is when it comes to my job. I guess that is up to me.

Today's comment of the day was this. He asked me if I had a cold. I told him no, then he said, well, you should sleep with clothes on so you don't catch a cold. I gave him a look and he laughed saying oh it's a joke. I still gave him a look, something like, why are you telling me this. he continued to say, well you know, after you have sex you're hot so you fall asleep without the covers and that is how you catch a cold. I asked him if he spoke like this to all his co-workers and he said yes, he's very casual at work....

I can't wait to hear what he has to say next week.

When I was finished teaching I left the office and walked past a sushi take-out place. I noticed a sign advertising 12 pieces for 18 pesos, so I got it to-go. I just sat on a bench, near the harbor and ate my sushi..which I must say was good.

Around 3pm I got on the subte (different line than mine) to go teach 3 private students. I rode the subte to the end; about a half hour ride. When I got off, I met the father of my new 3 teenage students. I taught the boys at their house while their father was in the other room. We had a good first class. Afterward I took a train to the subte to go back to my apartment. When I was on the subte I laughed out loud to myself; My 3 teenage boys were better behaved than my 35 year old student.

I ended my day at 6pm and then at 8:30pm I met a friend for sushi. (yes, more sushi). Normally I don't spend a lot of money on going out to eat, but with my recent eating issue I don't mind spending money on eating.

money spent today
1.20 pesos colectivo to work
18 pesos
($4.90) for 12 pieces of sushi ($4.90)
7 pesos ($1.90) for a bottle of diet coke
1.10 pesos for subte to teach
0.80 for train to my subte line
1.10 pesos for subte home
40 pesos ($10.81) for a large plate of sushi
7 pesos
($1.90) for a diet coke
3 pesos for cubierto (service)
10 ($2.70) pesos for hot tea

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2hrs de espanol

i went to dinner tonight with an argentine friend of mine. we spoke ONLY espanish for 2 hours. sheesh...i didn't know it was possible for me to do that. i'm sure more than half of what i said was grammatically incorrect, but just being able to speak spanish for 2 hours makes me proud that i have the ability.

i also ate food and liked it. it was a good night.

shld i stay or shld i go II

yesterday and today i've been in a better place. i haven't had any pangs of homesickness in the last two days. i called home last night and got excited thinking about going home for a visit.

i was worried that if i was feeling some symptoms of homesickness and went home, it would be very difficult to come back and then to overcome even stronger feelings of longing for home.

i know that homesickness is to be expected, but i was surprised by it because when i lived abroad before, i didn't experience it at all during one year of being away.

well, i hope that was the last of it...

new roomie

this morning, at 7:20am, my computer temperature gauge told me it was 37 degrees outside and that it would warm up to a pitiful 52 degrees. brrr.

when i left the apartment 10 min later it was still a little dark. the porteros (doormen) were out watering their sidewalks. ok ok they were cleaning off their sidewalks with a running hose, but it looks like they're watering them. i imagine they're cleaning off the dog poo and what was left behind from the cartoneros (garbage pickers) the night before.

my student at 8am is always enjoyable to meet with. after her, it's a mad dash to get to my next student. traffic is always crazy at that time and buses are always full. so after rushing to her work, she wasn't there. so, i turned around and walked all the way back to the bus stop, waited again in rush hour traffic and caught a bus home (45 min it took when i should have taken 20min)

my spanish lesson at 11am was fun today. my teacher brought all these flashcards, but my ability to speak doesn't feel like it's improving.

after lessons i met with a prospective roommate; now that the apartment is finished being painted. she was so nice. she's also from the states, but she'll just be staying for two months. she said she'd like to move in this week, she just has to talk to the owner of the apartment where she is staying now. i'm excited to have some company.

after meeting with her i hopped on another bus to head to the same area of the city where the student who stood me up this morning is. i met with more 2 students and hopped on the same bus coming back home.

tonight i'll go out with an argentine friend of mine who always 'makes' me speak spanish. i'm looking forward to it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

i don't know

one of my classes today reminded me of a conversation i had this weekend. one of my friends asked 'what do i do if a student asks me what a word is and i don't know'.

first. i try to always be prepared. i always choose the article that i have them read, based on their ability and what i think they may be interested in. some students i need to challenge and others i need to take it easy with. some like to read articles related to their job, others would rather read about gossip or movies. so i always choose the article. i also ALWAYS read the article before i give it to them to read. i look up words in the dictionary if i don't know them and i try to anticipate what they may ask.

today, some religious words came up; we were talking about a new movie called 'doubt'.
my student's question: "what is the difference between: sermon, mass, and service."
my answer: "that's a good question. i don't know. i didn't grow up with a religion. i'll look into it and email you."

i also, always, carry an english dictionary with me. to be honest sometimes the easiest words, that i know, are difficult to give a one word explain. i usually start off by using the word in a sentence or two, then i'll look the word up in the dictionary.

overall, i'm honest with them. i just say i don't know, it's not a common word. sometimes the word is industry / profession specific and i tell them just that.

with that, i almost always look up the word when i get home. out of my own curiosity and to pass on the info.

heaven's deli

this morning started early and cold (scarf and winter coat weather. i think this morning was around 47 degrees and by mid-day it was 53 and cloudy).

before getting on the bus this morning, at 7:45am, i grabbed some medialunas for the ride. my first student is through the institute and his co-worker, who i teach after him, is a private student of mine. since my private student isn't a manager or director, his company doesn't pay for his classes, instead they give him a monthly stipend. he's my most convenient private student (no travel); i teach him right after the first student of the day, at the same office.

i had three more students shortly after, all at another company, but one canceled last min.

around 4 i met up with a friend. we headed over to 'mark's deli' (on el salvador and armenia), but i think it should be called 'heaven's deli'. i ate food and really...really liked it. my sandwich was of average size, toasted roll with goat cheese, spinach and toasted apples. even if i had expectations it would have met or exceeded them. i can't wait to go back. i'm happy about food again. hip hip hooray! (p.s. my stomach pains are gone too. big smiles from me.)