Friday, July 31, 2009

brrr b.a.

Friday July 31, 2009
early this morning i had two students. both students work for the same company (a company that didn't close their doors because of the swine flu, so i'm still teaching there).

it's really cold out again (48 degrees). i know it's not 'that' bad, but the apartments aren't equipped for cold weather. while i have heat, it's not efficient. luckily i have an portable heater for my room.

when i came home from teaching i slipped back into bed. not only is it 48 degrees, but it's overcast and i don't have work to fill my time, so back to sleep i went.

in the mid afternoon a potential new roommate came to look at the apartment. my current roommate will return to the states next week. i hope i can find an equally good cook of a roommate. another person will come tomorrow to see the place.

after she left i started to prep for classes next week. i'll resume teaching all of my students, except for a university student and 3 teen-age boys because school is still out (due to the swine flu). so, i sent emails to schedule classes and decided what we'll work on in the classes.

i was still cold and feeling colder, so i decided to take a hot bath, but that fell through. the water wasn't hot enough to warm me up, so i took a hot shower. i personally did some damage on b.a.'s water supply yesterday; all in the attempt to warm up. i felt better after the shower, but even better after i made some hot tomato soup for my roommate and myself.

during dinner i received a text to go out to dinner with friends. why not? since i go through ups and downs with eating might as well take advantage of the ups, right? also, the restaurant they choose was Peruvian and i love love love Peruvian food; i was game.

money spent
2.40 pesos round trip bus to work
47 pesos for some things at the supermarket
10 pesos for a cab to dinner
58 pesos for dinner and drinks (4 of us split the bill)
5 pesos for a shared cab home
123 pesos ($32 usd)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ISO a dentist

i didn't have any students today, so i spent my day looking for a dentist in buenos aires.

when i visited the states i made an appointment with my dentist because i was having some pain. an old filling cracked, infected the tooth, so now i need a root canal. i didn't have enough time to get the entire procedure done in the states and i also don't have u.s. health insurance anymore, so i'm opting to do it in b.a.

i started my research on the internet. i read about experiences and some reviews on both the website and the indextar website.

after narrowing down my search, based on location, a dentist who speaks english and what other people wrote, i choose 3 dentist's offices to visit today. i went to see their offices, talk to the dentists, ask them to explain their procedure and also to ask for a quote in pesos.

the first office i visited i spoke with the dentist herself. the office was modern and clean. she gave me a print out of what the entire procedure would cost and explained how it would be done. right away i had a really good feeling about her, but I still went to two other offices.

the next office i also spoke with the dentist. he was nice as well and his secretary gave me a quote. i can't pin point it, but i didn't have as good of a feeling about this office.

the last office i visited i only spoke with the receptionist and it was all in spanish. she told me the dentist that i wanted to see was out of the office due to an injury and that she would be back in the office in september. she also gave me a quote.

here's the range in price that i was quoted
root canal: 290 - 450 pesos ( $76 - $118 usd)
post & crown : 900 - 1050 pesos ( $236 - $276 usd)

if i were to have it done in the states it would easily be over $1000 usd. i'm going to make an appointment at the first dentist office that i visited today. her price was one of the higher ones, but i feel more comfortable with her based on speaking with her, her office and the reviews i read about her.

money spent today
17.50 pesos for coffee latte, 3 medialunas and a bottle of water
1.10 pesos for the bus

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

back in the swing of things...

It feels like I never left. It feels normal to be back and it felt so good to sleep in my bed again, even though I was cold.

I went to bed last night early (11pm) and work up at 9:30am. 10 1/2 hours of full deep sleep was wonderful... but..... so was waking up without an alarm clock and opening my eyes to summer in the states (*sigh*).

I taught from 11-12 and then met my boss at a coffee shop to be paid. this month it wasn't the normal "trying to get paid for the past months work" struggle. i texted her on Tuesday and she responded right away. We met in a coffee shop, she handed me the money and then quickly left. She gave me the exact amount too. She told me that I'll be resuming my suspended classes (due to the swine flu) next week.

On my walk home I stopped in at my landlord's apartment to give him the rest of my July rent. I also made him aware of some minor problems in the apartment. Things that if they are not fixed now, will be more of a headache to fix in the future.

In the late afternoon I went on a job interview. The prospect sounds positive, but I wasn't offered the job. I should know more by next week. I was asked to give an expected salary. This baffles me. I have no idea where to start. What is too high and what is too low? I know what I should expect in the states, but things are very different here. My expenses are much much lower in B.A. so should I expect much much lower? Should I be paid comparable to an Argentine? But that wouldn't be fair since as a foreigner I have to pay foreigner rent and do the expat shuffle every 3 months. Should my skills combined with my English demand more? What is too much? I'm at a loss.

On this same subject I wanted to go back and review ruffly what I spend in a month. So in the future, I'm going to try harder to keep track of what things cost.

money spent
80 peso cab ride home from the airport
20 peso tip (a little high but, the taxista is trustworthy and i feel that should be rewarded)
34 pesos at the grocery store
134 pesos / $35 usd

2.20 pesos round trip subway
8 pesos coffee and medialunas (while i taught)
8 pesos coffee (while i waited to meet my boss for money)
3 pesos for 2 chocolate croissants
21 pesos / $5.50 usd

(current exchange rate is 3.8 pesos to $1 usd)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

photos: home

(photo below: my first sight of philladelphia in 8 months. thank you moira and nick for picking me up!)
(photo below: what i've been craving for 8 months! crispy chicken asian salad with a hoegarrden)(photo below: my gnome is doing well...)
(photo below: "down the shore"..philly speak for "at the beach")
(photo below: at the beach)
(photo below: my toes getting some sunlight and sand)
(photo below: driving home from the beach)
(photo below: i was lucky to be the first person to take my niece in the pool this summer)
(photo below: my favorite park in Philadelphia. look how green it is!)
(photo below: walking with danielle and moira (who is taking the photo))

(photo below: i needed to buy new luggage. just making sure my niece can fit.)
(photo below: doing some grocery shopping with my niece.)
(photo below: my pink flamingo is well cared for too)
(photo below: one of my Favorite things to do in the summer...pick fresh raspberries from the back yard)
(photo below: raspberries raspberries raspberries)

i don't think i ate nearly enough food while i was home, but i sure did try. my first week was spent with my close friends and my 2nd week i spent at home with my family relaxing.

back in b.a. II

I just woke up from a very deep sleep. 36 hours of traveling took it's toll.

My last American meal was at Chili's in the Miami airport. I had the southwest quesadilla salad. The Miami airport was not put together well. Once you are inside the secure area there are NO information booths and there isn't free wi-fi either. I had my connection there so I was dropped off in the G terminal and after walking around there for a bit I realized I had to leave the secure area to walk to the E terminal and go through security again.

The flight coming back was full and uneventful (good thing).

When I landed back in B.A. I think I was the 5th person in line at immigrations. My passport was stamped without any questions or hesitations. Just like when I arrived 8 months ago, when I stepped up to the baggage carousel both my bags were there. But this time I had to put them all through the scanner at customs. The man asked if I lived in B.A. and I told him I'm visiting. He didn't ask any other questions.

Once out of the secure area strange men without uniforms started to approach me and ask if I needed a taxi. I didn't, I arranged one before I left B.A., so I gave him a call. He was just outside the airport waiting for me in the 44 degree weather.

It feels good to be back. It feels normal, like I never left.

back in b.a.

7:10am and i am finally back in b.a. tuesday morning.

Monday, July 27, 2009

sooner rather than later

with my divided love and appreciation for both buenos aires and the states, it is much easier slipping back into b.a. life knowing that there is a possible new job waiting for me. (fingers crossed) i enjoy teaching, but i'm ready to move into something more stable and within my field.....sooner rather than later.

december would have been the point where i was anticipating a switch of jobs. december is the start of summer; many english students will start canceling classes for summer vacations.

i don't mind leaving teaching early than december for a better opportunity...i'm also eager to say 'chau' to my boss...sooner rather than later.

still in philly

Sunday 8pm

i'm flying united back to b.a. i was flying on a ticket without a return flight. when i tried to do the self check-in i couldn't process my request because i didn't have a return flight. an attendant had to put the request through. she asked me where i would continue onto and how long i would stay in b.a.. I told her one month in b.a. and i would continue onto Uruguay. She asked if I had an onward ticket and I told her I was taking a boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia Uruguay. that was a good-enough answer for her to process the ticket without further questioning.

at first my flight was delayed by an hour. i took the extra time to enjoy a beer and some hot wings. when i finished up, i headed back to my gate only to find the flight was canceled. i wasn't too worried but when i was told that there were no more flights for the night AND they would not put me up in a hotel i started to freak out a bit...ok, more than a bit.

what do it do now? who can i call? where will i sleep... (united airlines was no help at all, not even sympathetic.)

i'm so so lucky to have good friends here in the u.s. and in b.a. i was also lucky that my good friend answered her phone and graciously offered me a place to sleep. so, i went back downstairs in the airport where i checked-in, i picked up my bags and then hopped a train. when i stepped off the train she was waiting for me. (big sigh of relief). we walked back to her apartment. the night was humid and the city felt different from how i left it. it felt new to me. i'm so lucky and very appreciative to have good friends. thanks jenna, you're a life saver!

monday morning

this morning i'm sitting at a charming cafe, the windows are all open looking out onto the sidewalk. the air is humid (which i love). i'm sitting here with mixed emotions. i really like being in the u.s.. i could see myself moving back, but i'm not ready to leave b.a. just yet.

(photo below: cafe latte & chocolate croissant)
(photo below: windows open. enjoying the warm morning air)
(photo below: bean exchange coffee house in philly)
(* thank you jenna matt and greg for looking out for me)

blue moon & hot wings

Sunday 7:15pm

i'm feeling sad about leaving. not regrettably sad. i mean i have no regrets moving to b.a.. by leaving i've developed a whole new appreciation for so so many things in the u.s....

i'm sitting in the airport, looking at my blue moon beer, waiting for boneless buffalo hot wings, knowing that it's my last....for a long time.

i have a feeling that either men or food will bring me back to the states. how did i not research either of these? i did such in-depth research on every other aspect of b.a. life. the food is too bland and there is no variety and the men...they are far too aggressive, have little respect and play too many games that i don't know the rules to.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

every moment

tomorrow is my last full day in the states

i'm trying to savor every moment; really taking in the feeling, the smells, the surroundings. i feel like i didn't take enough photos while home. it's strange to take photos of something i've seen either every day growing up or when ever i wanted to. maybe tomorrow i'll go on a photo shoot of home?

this afternoon i went to meet my former boss and former co-worker for lunch. before meeting them i walked around Target for an hour. i walked into Target happy, then quickly became stressed out. i felt the need to buy everything because in 2 days i can't simply go back and buy something. racing through my mind were thoughts like "oh it's cheap i should buy it, but i don't need it, but maybe i will need it, what do i need, i didn't make a list of what i need, all this is in front of me i should buy it". it turns out i did very well controlling my Target overload. i rationalized with myself and only bought what i really needed. i'm not an impulse shopper, but knowing i can't buy it a couple days from now, i felt the needed to buy everything.

Monday, July 20, 2009


i've been home for a week now. overall it feels really really good to be home.

when i first landed in the states it was weird to hear so much english or maybe it was weird to be able to understand so many conversations going on around me.

before ordering my first meal i began to think how i would formulate the sentence, but quickly realized i can, and should order in english. how strange. i didn't realize how much i preplan what i'm going to say in spanish. so, in english i ordered two chicken tacos with chips and salsa. let me tell was good good good! the chips and the salsa were amazing and there was cheese and lettuce on the taco (this was at the airport too, while i waited for my connection).

the weather is amazing amazing amazing. since landing i've worn a summer dress every day. i think i've also commented every day on how beautiful all the thick old tall trees are. they're so green and so lush. i didn't realize how much i missed this.

eats. i'm not holding back. anything i want to eat....oh...i eat! dunkin donuts boston cream donuts, their coffee, smart dogs (tofu hot dogs), macaroni salad, corn on the cob, chicken cheese steak, pizza (good american pizza...sorry b.a. it's just no the same), pretzels, kit kat, bbq potato chips....i could go on.

so, starting this post i wrote 'overall' it feels really good to be back. there is a small and growing piece of me that wants to move back to the u.s.. (it feels strange for me to write this). moving back would be so easy and it would feel so safe. i really miss my family, my friends, the trees and i have a new appreciation for the american way of appreciation i did not have before the move.

no decisions were made. i don't have a date in mind when and if i will move back. should i move back i want my heart to be 100% into the idea...just like my heart was 100% into moving to b.a..... and i don't have one regret doing it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

lazy sunday

this morning i went out to try and buy one last gift for someone at home, but the store i wanted to go to was closed. since it was a beautiful day (i took off my coat and just had on boots, jeans and a sweater), i walked around palermo soho. it reminded me of the summer. so many people were sitting outside enjoying the blue skies and the crisp fall like weather. it actually surprised me to see so many people because these last 2 months no one sits outside.
i thought i would go to a new cafe in the palermo soho area, but i decided to walk back towards my apartment and go to my favorite cafe for my coffee and medialunas...and newspaper.

i've decided not to use my taxi driver that i normally use. when i told an american friend of mine that he asked to borrow money from a friend and myself, she said i should be cautious. last night i asked my argentine friend what she though and she agreed i shouldn't use him. it makes me sad. i really like the guy, but if two people who know b.a. better than me tell me not to, i'll go with their judgment.

an older student of mine offered to take me to the airport tomorrow. he said he drives past it on the way home, so i called him to take him up on his offer.

well, tonight is my last night in B.A. for 2 weeks!

i heart b.a. cafes and chocolate

one thing i love about the weekends is going to my cafe and studying. i love my cafe because it's close, i like the waiters, it's a perfect location to people watch, the cups of coffee are big and the medialunas melt in my mouth.

i walk into the cafe with the full intention to do verb drills instead i always get side tracked by the newspaper. i love reading the newspaper (english or spanish). here there is only spanish, which is a good thing for me.

i can finally...FINALLY feel like i can read. i can't read word for word, but i can read enough to be able to understand the article.

today was the first time that i saw children trying to sell little packs of tissues in my cafe. this type of thing is common place on the subway and around palermo during the summer. the children, two of them, strolled in and went quickly table to table showing a purse size pack of tissues asking for money. the waiters never ask them to go away, which i think they would do in the u.s.? i've learned to simply say no and look away. if you maintain eye contact with them they will keep asking and not go away. it's sad, but i really don't need any tissues.

after the cafe i started to make last minute dinner party plans. at first there were 2 definites (me being one of the two) and then for dinner we were 5 total. we had some wine with dinner and and after we ate chocolate, played 'apples to apples' and then ordered a kilo of ice cream (1/2 lbs) because the chocolate wasn't enough.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

dreaming of the u.s.

the last 3 nights i've had dreams about the u.s. none of them made any sense what so ever. the dreams involved me being on a plane, me in my town i lived in and me missing medialunas.

i'm excited to see everyone, i'm excited for the sunshine and for the food.

only 2 more days until i board the plane. (for my 2 week visit)

importer / exporter / banker

importer / exporter / banker are my new titles (unofficially)

with my soon to be departure to the states people are looking at me differently. i can almost see their faces change when i tell them i'm going to the states. as their brains think "what can she bring me back" there facial movements reveal the same message.

it's difficult for me to say no. nicholas literally brought a whole suitcase full of things for me and my mom brought some things too, so it's only natural to think "umm, what do i want".

so far the requests have been...

take video equipment back to the states for someone (that was an automatic no. what would i do with it once i get it back to the states? what if it were damaged on the way?)

the next one requested a tennis racket that turned into two tennis rackets. (if they are pre-paid for and JUST a tennis racket without a bag or frame to keep it from bending, ok)

and the next one is a 'magic eight ball'.

small things i totally don't mind. small things that are easy to pick up, even last min at the airport. things that i can stick between cloths or put in my carry-on..... or even if my good friends, who i see on a weekly basis, ask for something big i would surely make an effort to do it. but the requests that i received were from a-friend-of-a-friend and two students.

then, the other day my taxi driver who i adore, who has taken me to-and-from the airport to receive friends and family asked to borrow $100. my heart sank. while i would like to loan him the money i can't afford to lose $100. i told him the truth. i told him i make enough to pay for my apartment and food and i recently i lost a bunch of students due to the swine flu. (they're not dead, they just postponed their classes until 'it's safe')

my taxi driver will still be taking me to the airport. i hope it's not an uncomfortable ride.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

happy birthday tina

today is independence day in in argentina, but it's not anything like the u.s.

yesterday i should have taught 6 students and a group of teenagers, but since all 6 of the students are in the same office that canceled english classes due to the swine flu and the teenagers are also off of school due to the swine flu...i didn't work yesterday.

in the afternoon i met up with a friend for lunch and afterward walked around the palermo soho area. when i first arrived i would always just stroll through neighborhoods admiring the architecture and the grafiti art; yesterday i realized that i haven't done this in a while and i should do it more often.
in the evening i went to the jazz club; the same one that i went to a couple weeks ago. i really love that place. last night they had a female singer and her band was really good. the music, atmosphere and company was wonderful.
after the jazz club we walked around the neighborhood looking for another place to 'take something' (tomar algo = take something = have something to drink) but all the bars were midnight! first, it's strange for bars to close at midnight here, second, the next day is a holiday and no one has to work. why aren't people going out?

today the independance day celebrations are non existent. there aren't any parades, fireworks, parties, bbqs, and there aren't any more flags flying than on the average day.

nobody celebrates tina's birthday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

home pronto

ahhh, in one week i'll be on a plane to the u.s.. i'm so happy, but at the same time i think it's such a large sum of money that i shouldn't spend when i don't have a real income. nevertheless i'm looking forward to so so so much. i need to call home soon and put in my order for my first meal. my request will be: hoegarrden beer, tofu hot dogs, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, pretzels and a kit kat. (writing this makes me want to squeel)

this past weekend's theme carried over into today. the theme was 'no sleep'. i've really fallen into the argentine lifestyle where sleep is secondary to everything else.

friday night i went out with friends and left the club at 5am (normal here...really). i woke up at 12 to have a chat with my swedish friend over skype (6.5 hours sleep, or around that).

in the evening i went out on a date. it was a real date with a real argentine. he's not from b.a. so maybe that is why he doesn't have grabby hands. we went out for drinks and he walked me home afterward. he was a gentleman and renewed my faith in the argentine men.

drinks ended at 4am. when he walked me home the streets were full of people. it seemed like 8pm at night...not 4am in the morning.

sunday was a lazy day; a late breakfast, cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping and planning for a week of teaching.

monday (today) i paid for such long nights with no sleep. it was difficult for me to focus in class. i'm trying to extend my one hour classes to 1.5 hours since i'll be leaving for two weeks. so, this morning i had three 1.5 hour classes. each one felt so long.

i had my spanish class in the afternoon (side note, i feel like i can actually speak and feel comfortable doing so, which is amazing to me) then had a private student and a new private student who can't speak any english. (yikes)

tonight the neighbor girls came up for dinner. there were 5 of us total. i cooked my favorite swedish dish "flygande jakob". it has crazy ingredients that you can't tell your guest about until they've eaten it and rave about it. (the same thing happened to me when camilla made if for me in sweden. i loved loved loved it and then she told me what was in's still my favorite dish of all time! (tusen tack camilla))

it was so nice to spend the night having dinner, chatting and laughing, just the 5 of us girls. these nights are so special.


i spent the afternoon of the fourth of july with an argentine friend. since i was so fascinated by the recoleta cemetery, he suggested we go to the 'charcarita cemetery '. famous people are also buried here, but generally it is the resting place of regular people.

it was huge huge huge. as we were leaving we read a sign that said it was 95 hectares...which would be 234 acres. it's big, but i can't imagine that big...but maybe it is?

(photo below: the entrance to the cemetery)
(photo below: the entrance to the cemetery)
(photo below: saint lujan)
(photo below: unlike recoleta cemetery, you are able to drive a car between the mausoleums)
(photo below: as we passed the mausoleums, there was nothing, just a stretch of grass. we walked more and came to a railing. over the railing we looked down into this court yard. there are rows and rows of drawers with the remains of loved ones. it was massive and all under ground )
(photo below: each square is a plot)
(photo below: underground)
(photo below: stairs to go up to the ground level)
(photo below: the wall that lines the cemetery also is a resting place. it was 6 high and i have no idea how long.)
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