Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December Update

So, I couldn´t think of a catchy title, and I only have about 6 minutes to type before I need to leave the internet cafe. My MAC died a couple months back, so I´ve been computerless. I used to use my old roommate´s computer, but she left, so I´m really computerless now. However, in a few weeks, the guys are bringing theirs to the apartment.

Anyways, a little update. Christmas went amazingly well. I´ve got a post in the works all about that. It includes BBQ, fireworks, alcohol, and lots of laughing. Work is still going well. As opposed to before BsAs when I saved every penny, I´m actually using my tip money. I´ve purchased some very cool shirts, and I´m in the process of revamping the wardrobe. I´ve lived a rather bummish lifestyle since I´ve gotten here, meaning I havent purchased a lot. Now, I´m starting to buy fun clothes, and enjoy the summer like it should be enjoyed. Lots and lots of meat on the grill, cold Fernet, and hanging out.

On a closing thought, this city is absolutely incredible. I know I say that a lot in these posts, but until you come here, it´s just words. You have to experience it and you´ll fall in love. Both Holly and Lindsay talked about that time when you feel like you need to go back to the States after studying abroad. I was thinking today, I could stay here for a LONG time. Life is very enjoyable, the people are nice, the weather is beautiful, it´s amazing. I´m very content here, and I´m definitely coming back after I graduate.

Ok, 25 seconds until they increase my price a peso.

Bye!!!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life Is Great...Version 2.0

I just got back from looking at the apartment...amazing! I met one of my future roomates, Eugenio, and two of his friends were over hanging out. Nice apartment, and they´re in the process of painting it right now. I´ll have my own room with lots of sunlight every day, and a 9th floor view too. After the quick apartment tour, all of us sat in the living room, drank a couple Fernet and Cokes, and just chatted for about an hour. Both of the roommates are from Buenos Aires, and the two friends lived two neighborhoods away. I envision lots of warm summer nights hanging out at city parks in the future. This will be PERFECT to increase my Porteño vocabulary, and really experience an Argentine summer. On top of that, work is going fantastic. I´m starting to really mesh with my coworkers at the bar. I get along with my mangers well, and they know that I´m a hard worker and good at what I do. Plus, I´m getting some very valuable experience that I can bring back to Minneapolis. I couldnt have asked for anything more!


ps- This past weekend, my friend Mariel invited me to her family´s Sunday asado(bbq) and I have a bunch of pictures to post. Soon to come.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Move

Moving time again.

Moved out of the apartment yesterday. A LONG day filled with bleach cleaning and sweeping. Still don´t have a new apartment, but my friend is letting me crash at her place while I continue my search. I´ve got a couple nice places lined up, its just a matter of taking a look at them, and figuring out which to choose. I found one with two 22 year old Porteños who are going to school here and working. Sent a few emails and they seem pretty cool. Plus, one is a biker and I would LOVE to start biking again. I biked 500 miles last summer in the States, and I really miss it.

Besides the move, everything is going well. It´s starting to get hot now. The days are all around 85* and sunny. Honestly, I´ve never lived in a place where almost every day is blue skies and sunny. It rains once every two weeks or so. However, when it rains, it RAINS! It downpoured last week for an entire day. The streets near the house were flooded with about 1.5 to 2 feet of water. Carlos and I ran through the streets enjoying it. If we would have had innertubes, we could have travled around 20 blocks riding the current.

Well, I´m off to work. Friday night, should be pretty busy!

Les mando un abrazo,
Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Newest Bartender on the Block

I got it!

Ladies and gentlemen, you're reading the blog of the newest bartender at the hippest cocktail lounge in Buenos Aires, Argentina...Portezuelo Lounge Bar & Music.

What can I say...I just got done working my first night at my favorite bar from last semester. I always thought it would be cool to work there, but never knew if it would happen. Well, it did.

From now until sometime in April, swing on in and say Hi.




Patrick


ps- the place is amazingly similar to the Loring Pasta Bar back in Minneapolis. Vintage chandeliers, lots of brickwork, very cool ambiance.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, December 8, 2008

South American Guidos?!?

Well, it's 8:14AM, and I got home from a LONG night bartending. If it would have been hip-hop, salsa, reggaeton, or ANYTHING worth dancing to...no big deal. However, it was Eurotrash techno night. The same continuous beat over and over and over. Every so often, I thought the DJ may have been putting the song on repeat, but then, all of a sudden, the mass of dancing people would all start singing along with the song, and if you know any techno, that pretty much means saying random sentences like, "Love love love love emotion emotion emotion emotion. Keep the beat bumping bumping bumping bumping."

Furthermore(susan), I was definitely not feeling the amount of Dude-ness in the air. I'm pretty sure I was privy to witness the mating rituals of the Argentine Guido. Lots and lots of men, buying overpriced champagne and mixing it with Speed(their version of Redbull), dancing(read shaking, or better yet, convulsing), a large majority coked out of their minds, wearing Armani Exchange shirts that say...ARMANI EXCHANGE in huge letters across the front, all clad in epilepsy inducing BLING jewelery, spazzing out alongside their equally drugged up, fake beasted, sunglasses at night, female counterparts. These people were, by all means, the epitomy of Club Rats. 35 year old men, in the above mentioned wardrobe, dancing nonstop, circling ladies on the dance floor. I imagine myself to be drinking a gin & tonic at a jazz club when I'm 35, not popping a bunch of exstacy and going fratting. Different strokes for different folks.

Luckily for me, this technofest only occurs once every three weeks, otherwise it's good reggaeton or cumbia, and you can actually talk to people over the music.

Patrick


on a sidenote, I actually have an interview tonight at an AMAZING restaurant/bar in a really great neighborhood of the city, Recoleta. It was my favorite place to go last semester when I lived two blocks away. Ambient lounge music the entire time and a good crowd demographic. I'll let you know how that goes.


PS- if you don't know what a Guido is, check out the following:

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g245/errol_brownpants/guido12.jpg


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Summertime!

It's all over folks, I've finished my second semester in Buenos Aires! I aced my finals, I'm pretty sure I pulled straight As. It was, as the last post stated, pretty insane thought. Lots and lots of studying and uneasy nervousness. Never before have I had to walk into a room, sit down with the professor, and HOPE that the two questions they ask me, from the ENTIRE semester, are within the range of things that I have studied. Either way, it's all over.

Argentina summer, here I come!!!

Patrick


ps- I got a job bartending at a nightclub about 3 blocks from my house. Cool place with some very attractive customers. Can't ask for much more!


I'll write a little longer post about my summer plans, but I've gotta go make some pesos!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here Goes Nothing: Finals Week

Finals week is almost here!!!

Unlike the US college system, where you have a midterm, a bunch of homework, attendance/participation, and a final...all of which are factored into your final grade, here, it's different.

I have oral finals and presentations. Here's what next week looks like.

Monday = Logísticas y Transporte (Logistics and Transportation)
Tuesday AM= Spanish 350
Tuesday PM= Administración del Personal (Human Resources)
Wednesday= Envases y Embalajes (The Marketing of Packaging and Shipping)
Thursday= Investigación de Mercado (Market Investigations)


I need to walk into the classroom, sit down with my professor(s), and they're going to question me on all the information that I've learned in the last four months. It's going to be intense.

However, on the bright side, once I finish my presentation on Thursday night, I begin four months of beautiful Argentine summer. I'm super excited. I'll let you all know how the job hunt goes.

If there is anyone from BsAs reading this that needs a BellBoy/Server/Caterer/Tour Guide/Promoter or anything similar, shoot me an email! pmichaeljones@gmail.com

Si hay alguien en Capital Federal que busca un BellBoy/Camarero(Mozo)/Guía de Turísmo/Promotador o algo similar, que me mande un email.

I'll let you know how everything goes.

Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Friday, November 14, 2008

Human Resources...Argentine Style

In the US, especially corporate America, job discrimination is a huge deal. If you even give the interviewee a peculiar look, you're going to get sued for discrimination of some type or another.

Not so in Argentina.

In my human resources class, we recently talked about the hiring process and all that other jazz. The professor was talking about the hiring of different positions and we eventually got the secretaries. The conversation went something like this:

P for professor and M for me.


P- So, what are you looking for when you hire a secretary? You want a nice young lady who can get the job done. I'd say somewhere between 20 to 30 years old.

M- What, so you're saying that you can hire based on age and sex?

P- (Confused) Of course, everyone knows that women make the best secretaries. It's obvious.

M- But what if you have a guy who really wants to be a secretary?

P- Honestly, what guy wants to be a secretary?

M- But that's not the point, if you want to be a secretary, you're a guy, and you're qualified, you should get the job.

P- Yes, but no guys want to be secretaries. Also, what kind of boss wants a male secretary.

M- But isn't that discrimination?

P- Yeah, but it's not a big deal.




He just honestly didn't understand where I was coming from, so I eventually just quit trying.

On ALL the job posing websites here, directly after the requirements for education and experience, they have an age limit and whether it's a job for a male or female. Also, the majority of positions in the service industry require that you attach a photo to your resume. They hire based on looks too.

Another crazy thing they do here during the hiring process is come to your house to meet your family and have a look at the environment you're coming from. They'll talk with your family, have a look around your house and room, ask your neighbors questions about you, all to "make sure you're not about to hire some crazy guy with a communist flag hanging on the wall in his room."

Once again, I couldn't believe my ears when he was saying this. I raised my hand, and in disbelief asked if he was serious. Everyone in the class turned around and was shocked to find out that in the US, your future employer can't send an inspector to your house.

Pretty crazy if you ask me.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nice and Sharp!!!

Got a package from Mumsy the other day, and I just bite into a nice thick slice of Wiconsin Sharp Cheddar. I've never been more happy in my life. After 9 months of horribly bland cheese here, eating some quality Wisconsin cheese put a smile on my face. The homemade cookie bars were great too. Thanks mumsy for the package!!!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Summer Here I Come!!!

Just got this e-mail from my academic adviser at school! Woo-Hoo!!!

____________________________________________________________________

Hi Patrick,

Just a quick note to confirm receipt of your Leave of Absence form. I've entered it into the system, effective Spring 2009.

When you're ready to return to school, please email me again and I'll have you complete the Readmission form. Also, as an FYI, registration for both summer and fall courses typically takes place in April, so March would be a good month to take care of your readmission paperwork.

Enjoy your extra time in Argentina!


Best,
Laurie

_____________________________________________________________________


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spring and the traffic system

As you´ve all noticed, the blogs have been coming at a much slower rater lately. As I continally say, I´ve quit being a traveler in the city, and I´ve started becoming a citizen. I´m no longer amazed by the weekly protests by unions, student groups, teachers, inmigrants, etc. It´s just the same old same old. I still enjoy the sight of a huge group of citizens marching down main streets with flags and drums, and I still jump whenever they launch M80 fireworks into the air, but now it´s normal. I just keep on doing what I´m doing.

The weather has really taken a turn for the better lately. Spring came about nice and slowly, the days slowly got warmer and the sun started to stay out a bit longer. However, from one week to the next, it became summer. It´s just a heat wave, they say, but it has gotten REALLY hot and humid down here. 85 degree days and blue skies are what I´m waking up to every morning. I think it must be cloudy once every two weeks here. However, with the heat and humidity, comes the increase in air density. All the pollution in the city hangs a lot lower in the air, and I can definitely see significant increases in the smog levels, etc. I´ve never had allergies before, but i´m pretty sure all the smog has given me a consistent runny nose.

School is coming to a close. All in all, it has been a good experience, but I really enjoy the US school system a lot more. It´s much more organized and rigourous, and you know what you´re supposed to learn. Here, classes don´t always have a very defined structure, and you just kind of listen to what the professor says, and hope you can remember it when you have your test. Speaking of tests, almost all of my classes have just one, oral, final exam. We sit down with the professor and we tell them what we know. They decide if we pass or not. It´s pretty intimidating, especially when students have up to three chances to pass the final with the professor. I know I´ll get through them decently, but it´s definitely more relaxing to have a USA-style final exam, and know exactly what kind of grade you need to pass the class. It´s just another one of those efficiency things. I love living here, but efficiency just doesn´t exist. Lines in super markets can last 45 minutes, and no one seems to take notice. Any US citizen here IMMEDIATELY learns the times when you can go to the super market and not spend an ungodly amount of time waiting. Whatever people say, we have efficiency and working rules in the USA, and I miss it.

Speaking of these rules, I´ll give you a little taste. Throughout the entire city of Buenos Aires, you might be able to count a handful of stopsigns. If the street isnt a main thoroughfare(which has a stoplight), there is no way to metering traffic. Cars, at night time, will drive towards unprotected intersections, flash their lights(because they don´t find it necessary to use headlights) and bomb through the intersection. They expect the other cars to stop. If two cars meet at the same time, they both creep along until someone gives some gas, and goes. You can ALWAYS here tires screeching on the pavement because someone expected the other guy to stop. It the heart of downtown, in probably the most congested are of the city, there are no stop signs. Cars, buses, and motorbikes beep and honk their way through the traffic. The simple placement of two stopsigns at every intersection would make like ridiculously more easy. However, they wouldn´t respect the sign. Red lights don´t really matter if its nighttime, and cops are too busy cat-calling girls to pull people over for breaking traffic laws. If you get a traffic ticket, you either bribe your way out of it, or, after you get it, you drive away and throw it out the window. There is no way of enforcing the rules, so no one gives a shit.

That´s my only real rant about Buenos Aires. The system of transportation monitoring is absolutely horrible, but people have gotten used to car accidents being a common thing. Stop signs, simple metal objects that could change the entire way this city drives. Motorbikes fly between cars, and no one follows the speed limit. If teh cops started busting people like they do in the states, or had speed traps, and actually ENFORCED the fines, maybe take away driving privledges for months at a time, this city could really turn itself around.

Hope you enjoyed that little gem. I´ll write more on the positive side sometime soon...maybe tonight.

patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Keep On Keepin´ On

Sorry for quoting such a cliche lyric, but it just came to me, like most cliches things, which most people reject using, pop into one´s mind. However, it´s rather fitting for the situation.

So, what have I been doing lately. Well, for one thing, I speak pretty good spanish right now. As I was telling Dad the other day, I was hanging out with a friend in a park, and we were just talking, back and forth, about this and that. After a while, it just kind of hit me, that I was having a good conversation with someone, completely in spanish. It was a cool feeling to remember back in April and May, when having a conversation was incredibly stressful, and you kind of wanted to run the other way. Much like Adrian back in the States, I feel that I´m in the sponge stage. Instead of hearing a super long word, I can now pick out each sound, and that super long word turns out to be a sentence. At this point, seeing as I can hear the words, I can start to figure out words via context clues. However, sometimes, like Lindsay said, it´s very easy to just block out the words that you don´t understand, because you understand the general idea of what the person is saying. I need to start really training my ear to pick out the words and make sure I really listen, rather than just pull out the main idea. All in all, it´s very cool. I´m learning. I remember just being amazed watching Holly and Lindsay speak this foreign language after they came back from their studies abroad, and now, I´m part of the cool kids group. When we all get back, it´ll be the United Nations of Spanish Speakers. I speak like a Porteño, Holly like a Mexican, Lindsay like a Colombiana, Adrian is Colombia, and Juan Felipe rounding out the group with Salvadorean.

So, I´ll clue you all in on my plans now. Here´s how it goes down. Classes end the first week of December. Now, it would be possible for me to come home in early December, and start school back in Minneapolis in January. However, when thinking about this, I get sick. December will be the start of 4 glorious months of summer vacation with my friends. There is no way I could leave warm sunny Argentina at the start of summer, to return to cold, miserable Minneapolis at the start of a grueling winter. The mixture of reverse culture shock and change in lifestyle/temperature would put me over the edge. So...I´ll be staying in Argentina until around March or April. After classes end, I plan on getting a a job at a hotel as either a bellboy or a catering worker. Lots of English-speakers come down here, and hotels look for extremely handsome, well-versed native english speakers, so it looks like I have that job all wrapped up! It´ll be nice to make some tips in greenbacks. Haven´t seen any of those in a while.

Besides that, all is pretty well. Being down here, I see business ideas left and right. So many possibilites for tourism and so much new money available. I think it´d be interesting to come back here after graduating and seeing if I could get something set up. Like Dad said, after 4 months at a nice hotel, I very well could meet some successful local business people who are looking for business students. That, OR, get a job with a US company down here, and get paid in dollars. If you can make around US$30,000 a year, you´re living REALLY well off. Steak and wine every night of the week if you wanted.

Probably time I should wrap this up, but one thing, can SOMEONE please send me SOMETHING! I don´t even care if it´s just a random postcard. I´ve been here for seven months, and the only letters I´ve received came from my University´s Office of Transcripts. So, I pose a challenge to those who read my blog. Maybe you know me and are a friend, maybe you´re a fellow study abroad student, or maybe some blogger from England. Either way, I´d love to get some mail. If you write me, I´ll write back!!!

IES Buenos Aires
c/o Patrick Jones
Carlos Pellegrini 1069, Piso 13
C1009ABU, Buenos Aires
Argentina

I´ll try to write a little more often. Feels good to let ya´ll know what I´m up to. Two friends and coworkers from the Loring are coming down to my part of the world. Brett is currently in Peru, and is slowly making his way to Buenos Aires. Brittney is somewhere in Europe, but is meeting Brett in La Paz and joining him on his way to Buenos Aires. If either of you read this, prepare for greatness! Buenos Aires is absolutely amazing. You´re going to be here during, in all likelihood, the most beautiful time of the year.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Life Is Great!!!

Hey ya'll,
Just to let you know, I'm unbelievably happy with my life in Buenos Aires right now. I'm living in a great apartment with two really fun young Mexican guys who are living in Buenos Aires and going to school. I barely speak English and it feels great. It's not like last semester where I was speaking more English than Spanish. Now it's 100% the opposite. My classes are all going great, and the professors are all very accomodating to the foreigners in class, which consists of me and four Germans, who I have become good friends with. I've met a lot of people through my school, the Universidad Museo Social Argentino, and we are hanging out a lot. It's part of a language exchange that the school does and I've become good friends with two of my language partners. All in all, life is going really well. I'm not writing as much as I was last semester because I'm having too much fun to sit down and write it all down. Just know that this semester is amazing and I'm enjoying every second. PLUS, Spring is on the way and every day is a bit warmer, with a bit more sun. Life is good!!

Your Argentine Connection,
Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Brief Hiatus

Hey everyone,
Well, Colombia was a great experience. I had a great time with the family for the first week in Bogota. Jimmy got there the second week and we really started tearing it up. Adrian's family is absolutely amazing and I had a great time. However, now I'm back in Buenos Aires and life is even better.

The first four months in BsAs were very fun, but it still like I was this new study-abroad student. However, after taking a month off and getting away from the city for awhile, it feels so much more like home to come back. I've moved out of rich, touristy, old-money Recoleta, and I'm currently living on the border of Palermo Viejo and Almagro. Both of these barrios have a really great vide, or as they say in BsAs, buena onda. I'm not surrounded my tons of clothes stores and expensive tourist restaurants anymore. I'm just living in a really Buenos Aires-ish barrio now, and I'm super happy. If you come here, you'll see what I mean.

I am also living with some new roommates. I had a good time with Sylvia and Carlos, but it was kinda like living with my grandma and her really old stay-at-home son. Either way, it was an experience and I have quite the stories to tell from those first four months. Now, however, I'm living with two young Mexicans who are living in the city. One of them is a chef and the other is in culinary school. We'are always cooking something good, hanging out with our friends, and just chilling. It's so nice to have my freedom back again. I can play music loud, I can cook my own meals, and I can invite my friends over for drinks....life is good.

My spanish has come along amazingly. It had to be the month of intense spanish in Colombia, but wow. I recently saw an Ecuadorian friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a couple months because of school. When we were hanging out in May, my spanish was pretty miserable. However, two weeks ago, I went to her place to have drinks with her, and her Colombian friend. Well, Carolina was making drinks and her friend and I were just talking about my trip in Colombia. Midway through the conversation, Carolina comes out of the kitchen and basically yells, "Patrick, your spanish. It's amazing! I can't believe how much better is it." I never noticed it getting better, but it's those really slow changes that take someone you haven't seen in awhile to notice. Also, all the IES(my program) staff were thoroughly impressed by my increased level. Now, living with my roommates, taking all my classes at the spanish-speaking university, and living a mostly spanish-speaking lifestyle, I'm really confident I'll just keep getting better.

There you have it. A little update on what's going down in Buenos Aires. I'll post pictures soon. I'm pretty much the slowest picture poster ever.

With love from the 34th parallel south of the Equator,
Patrick

ps- I have a place for people to crash now if anyone is looking to come to BsAs? Everyone says that spring here, which is September through December, is AMAZING!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Colombia

Hey everyone,
Sorry for not writing anything appealing for a long time, but I´ve been busy doing Colombia. Here is what I have been doing with my time in Colombia. I will post many pictures and funny stories when I have more time, so this is just a teaser post.

A brief synopsis should suffice:

I spent a week in Bogota with Adrians, my brother in law, family. I mostly just hung out and helpèd at the family fruit stand and chilled with everyone. I also ate copious amounts of Colombian food, namely rice and beans. I didnt do many big tourist things because I wanted to keep all the big things for when my friend arrived.

A week later, my friend from Buenos Aires Jimmy arrived. He was fed equally large amounts of food and we did some really fun things. We went to the nationwide march against the FARC in Bogota, we went to a lookout point over the city, we went to some natural, but not so thermal, pools, and partied with Adrians family a lot.

After another week in Bogota with Jimmy, we headed off to Risaralda, where some of Adrians family has a coffee farm. INSANE!!! Mountains, cofee, and platanos for as far as the eye can see. Very relaxing and enjoyable. Learned how to pick coffee and cut down platano trees. We spent four days at the coffee farm being true outdoorsmen...except for the one day where Jimmy and I lived in the bathroom puking and pooping. Drank some bad water or ate some bad food. Not really sure. Either way, neither one of us can even look at rice and beans without gagging now. Guess out stomachs aren´t so strong. However, we did kill chickens...with machetes...and we have video and picture proof which will be posted later.

Flashforward to today, I´m currently in Pereira Colombia with my friend Jimmy and Adrians newphew Luis Gabriel. We are going to hang out in the city all day, and then Jimmy and I are flying off to Cartagena for a week of snorkeling, mopeding, white sand beaches, and more fun.

All in all, everything has been going really well. Adrians family was absolutely amazing and I´m really glad I came up here. Every day is something new and I´ve taken over 800 pictures to prove it.

Keep your eyes peel some the next posts, and while you´re at it, enjoy this great music video. The horse has the special gallop!

With love from just north of the Equator,
Patrick

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Real South America

The more time I spend in Bogota, the more I realize that Buenos Aires is not very South American. Buenos Aires is like living in Chicago or New York City or Las Angeles, expect they speak a different language. It´s a large metropolis with millions of people, intermixed between harsh poverty and absurb wealth. It seems like I´m living in the USA sometimes, except for the whole spanish thing. Not to say I don´t like it, because I do. BsAs is a great place.

However, it doesn´t have that South American feel like I thought it would, and that Bogota definitely has. Everything that I pictured in South America, exists in Bogota. There are men sitting in shabby corner stores/markets, drinking beer into the late night hours. There are kids playing marbles on the dirt streets. Love ballad Ranchera music can be heard at all hours of the day, usually coming from a car with all of its doors open and five guys hanging out around it, talking. Stray dogs dodge in and our of the streets. Small, rural areas have cows grazing in the yards of the houses. People buy whole chickens, freshly killed and plucked. A guy sells live roosters outside of Lida´s house.

I don´t know if it´s a stereotypical image of South America that I have, but that is what I thought before I came down here, and I´ve just found it...in Bogota.

My Day at the Market

So today I got to go with Lida to the HUGE fruit/veggy/meat/fish market called Carbasto. Lida and I got up at 3:30AM and Jorge was outside with his truck a couple minutes later. We headed to the market, and picked up another friend along the way. All four of us packed into the little cab of the truck, listening to ranchera/love ballad music the entire time.

Once we got the market, I could barely believe my eyes. It was still dark out, and there were thousands of people running from building to building, buying and selling their goods. The delivery men carry box upon box on their shoulders, running to the parking area to drop off the products in the buyers trucks.





Today is the Dia del Virgen, so some people we also shooting off some big fireworks in the parking lot/loading area/hangout area. I´ve come to realize that large scale, explosive fireworks can be used for everything in South America, be it the start of a fútbol game, a workers demostration in the streets, or a holiday.





Each building contained something different, carrots in one, pototoes in another, mangoes and tropical fruit in one, and so on. If you wanted to buy ANY type of fruit there, you could

I followed Lida around for about an hour, watching her mingle with sellers and figure out who has the best prices for everything. It´s interesting to note that no one uses there names in the market. Every buyer uses initials or a code for their name. This code is what the delivery people use when they drop off the goods that she purchased. Lida´s is AP, the initials of her late husband. So, as we´re walking, you could hear people yelling out "Ah-Peh!!" trying to get her attention. Lida doesn´t exist at the market, only AP does.

After we did some buying, we decided to do some whiskey shots, with a nice vendor that Lida knew, to warm up. We did three little whiskey shots each and had hot coffee, all at about 4:15AM. After the whiskey, we continued our journey buying all the things that she needed. She knew exactly who had the best deals and she was sure to chat up people and was always really nice. She introduced me to everyone, and it was definitely obvious I was a foreigner. I was snapping pictures left and right while people we working all around me.



Once we were done with all the purchases, we went to a little coffee/liquor stand, and had some coffee and empanadas. Lida´s friend Nelson showed up and we decided to do a shot of Aguardiente, a liquorice flavored liquor. Well, once you start doing shots, you don´t stop. Everyone was buying us shots and we probably did 4 in total. Good stuff.

At the coffee stand, Nelson and I had a really good conversation about Colombia´s world image, among other things, and how their president Uribe, is going a great job at promoting the country and all it has to offer. He was telling me about how when he is introduced in the US or Panama as a Colombian, people get really nervous and tense up, while when you introduce a foreigner(like me) to a group of Colombians, the Colombians are amazingly kind. When Lida introduces me as a student from the USA, they people are alway so intriuged about what I think of Colombia, the food, the women, and everything in between. They´re proud of their country, and they want to know what we think of it. They are also very impressed that a young US student is traveling in Colombia and came to see family and just hang out.

All in all, I had a great day. It was really fun to see what goes into running a fruit stand. I had a good time doing it for one day, but I don´t know if I could do it every day for four years. It´s definitely hard, respectable work. I´m becoming really comfortable with the family now and I´m really happy I came. I was really nervous before I arrived, but now it´s like I´m hanging out wiht my own family.



More To Come!



Patrick




Music Video Breakdown

Hey You! Yeah, You! Have you ever wanted to become a Colombian music video producer?!? Well, it´s your lucky day, because I´m offering my world renowned course, "Ranchera Production 101" FREE, that´s right FREE, for today only. Enjoy!!!

To make a good Colombian ranchera music video, you only need to follow this simple guide, and music video production greatness is in your hands!

1. Enter with the triumphant blast of two trumpets in harmony.

2. After trumpets, it´s best to show a clip of a man, presumably the video´s protagonist, riding a horse through an open pasture. Make sure the horse can do that special horse prance with the high hooves action.

3. Pan out to a group of 5+ gentlemen, all dressed in the traditional Colombian Ranchera outfit, swaying back and forth in unison.

4. The aforementioned group must include at least two trumpets, an accordian player, an older gentleman playing a vintage acoustic guitar, and his young protegé playing an acoustic guitar as well, a younger gentleman playing an electric bass, a keyboard player playing without the use of extention cords, and the lead singer, standing at least 10 feet in front of the rest of his group.

5. The song should be about loving a women, hating a women who has cheated you, which means it can also be about drinking, living in the countryside, having a girlfriend and a lover(Dos Amores-Jhonny Rivera) and lastly, if you´re the famous Sr. Rivera, it can be about being a taxi driver who loves women.

6. After the introductory verse, there should be a couple random shots of girls in bikinis or similar clothing, preferably entering a bathtub, entering/exiting a pool, or by chance, pampering the lead singer from all sides.

7. Enter the accordian solo. This must be quite intense for it is his time to shine. He has two options here: Play while cheerfully looking into the camera lense OR play while gazing at his accordian with a yearning expression.

8. Second verse of the song should be the lead singer discussing the problem with friends or maybe, if you´re lucky, a intimate moment between the camera and the leader singer.

9. Pan back to the musicians and they continue the sweet ballad.

10. Slowly fade to darkness, and maybe toss in that same prancing horse again, just for good measure.


There you have it folks!!! You´re now ready to attack the world of music video production. Enjoy!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hola de Bogota!

I´m in Bogota, Colombia!!! Just thought that I should get that out of the way. I honestly can´t believe that I´m in writing a post from Colombia right now.

First off, a little back story as to why I´m here. Lindsay met Adrian, her then boyfriend, when she was studying abroad in Spain. Adrian, un Colombiano, left Colombia to work in Spain and was Lindsay´s neighbor in her apartment building. They dated while she was in Spain, dated for a year internationally, and then decided to get married. They were married in January 2008 and the rest in history.

So, while I was in Buenos Aires, I was thinking about what I would do during my month long break between semesters. I had the idea of going skiing in the south of Argentina, but then Lindsay suggested that I go to Colombia to see Adrian´s family. After thinking about it, I jumped on the offer, and that leaves me where I am today...Bogota, Colombia.

This is just a teaser post though. I have a lot to write about, and I´ll definitely get around to it sooner, but right now, I really want to go to bed. I´m actually being forced to speak Spanish 99% of the time, and my brain is really tired. I´´ll lay some down good writing from a locutorio tomorrow or the next day.

Much love from NORTH of the Equator,
Patrick

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

All Finished Up!

I know this post is coming about a week or so late, pero mejor ahora que nunca.

I've successfully completed my first semester in Buenos Aires and I'm extremely excited for the second. I wrote around 35 pages of essays and had to take some difficult exams, but I did very well. I also wrote, what I think, a really great research paper on the International Monetary Fund's influence on Haitian rice growers. Thanks Holly for giving me that idea. Classes were definitely tougher than expected and the last two weeks was probably my most antisocial period of the entire time here. I was consistently in the library researching or writing a paper. However, this semester is all over, and now I have a month long break which I will be utilizing while I'm in Colombia! Next post.

It has been quite the experience so far. I really didnt have the intention of making a large group of American friends while I was down here, but, against my expectations, I made a group of amazing friends. Everyone is experiencing the same culture shock and feelings, and I think that because of this, stronger relationships are formed much quicker. Everyone is leaving or has left, and it's kinda sad not having my crew and thinking that I might not see any of them again. This next semester, I'll be able to concentrate on hanging out with my Porteno friends and speaking spanish, because I won't need that 1st semester safety net. On that note, I can't imagine having to leave Buenos Aires right now. I feel like the first four months were a nice introduction period. I feel very comfortable living and functioning here. I know how to use the subte(subway) and the collectivos(city buses). People can reference barrios(neighborhoods) and I know where they are talking about, and how to get there using several different modes of transportation. Exactly as Holly and Lindsay (my sisters who've both done study abroads) said, staying for a year in the only way to go. If you really have the ganas(desire) to learn about the country and learn the language, staying for two semesters is the only way to go.


All in all, it has been a great learning experience, and I'm sure it's only going to get better as I start my second semester.

Te mando un abrazo
-Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just a Rich College Kid

Being from the middle class of the United States, everyone has a chance to go to college, tech school, vocational school, etc, and go out there and make something of themselves. It might be expensive, but you just take out your loans, do your schooling, and one day, pay them off.

I can't help but feel like some rich college kid, just spending some time in Buenos Aires; partying, drinking, learning Spanish, etc. I'm currently staying with a friend who's house-sitting a nice house in the suburbs right now. I've been talking with the maid, which every middle class and higher family has, and just chatting. She was a teacher in Peru, but moved to Buenos Aires to be with her siblings, who moved here, and to find better work...she's currently a maid. Maids, on average, make about $6 pesos/hour here. That's around US $2/hour. I'm going to be spending a month in Colombia pretty soon, and I'm sure I'll be spending around US$1,500. That's an unbelievably large amount of money here...and I'm just going to Colombia to hang out and travel. When I'd talk with the maid at my homestay(I've moved out now), it was hard to talk about the stuff I was planning on doing, and the places I wanted to see. I'd talk about jet setting to Colombia, or spending a weekend in Mendoza in the wine country, and she would just happily listen and smile. I could financially afford all of them, but the 55 year old maid can't financially fathom spending ARG $300 for a bus ticket, which is CHEAP to Americans. She's helping support her family on US $2/hr, and I'm out blowing a week's worth of her salary in one night drinking with my friends...and not even batting an eye. It's saddening. I don't know if I should feel lucky being from the US and having the opportunity to do this, or sick because I'm doing things, at 21 years old, that the majority of this country can't even imagine.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Friday, June 27, 2008

And...

I'm alive! The surgery went really well today, and I'm already back at home writing this. A brief synopsis:

So, I got to the hospital and went through the obligatory paperwork. Finally got to my room, put on the ass-revealing hospital gown, and chilled with an IES worker who came along with me. After about an hour of waiting I was taken upstairs and the games began.

I was in the surgury waiting room watching some field hockey on TV when the anathesiologist came in. Really cool guy who's family is from Florida. We chatted for a bit and he asked what kind of anasthetic I wanted. I was debating if I wanted a local so I could watch what they were doing, but I chose to go with general anathestic, the full knock out punch and wow, it was fun.

I'm in the middle of the operating room, and there is a team of like 10 doctors. I felt honored to have so many people watching my hernia surgery. I continued to chat with the anathesiologist, and after he gave me the IV in the arm, he said I'd start to feel funny in a little bit. Sure enough, about 15 seconds later my body wanted to get a little groovy, yes, that's right, groovy. I was in a very relaxed state. I tried to resist it as long as possible, but as soon as the gas mask went out, I was done. Very relaxing little nap. I think I dreamt about Chilton, but I can't remember for sure.

The next thing I know, I open my eyes, and I see the doc pull a huge breathing tube of my throat. "All done" he says. I was still quite under the influence of the drugs, so I got wheeled down to my original room and relaxed. Sylvia, my host mom, was there to hang out when I arrived and stayed until Belen, the gorgeous IES assistant came to hang out and take me home. Which is where that leaves me right now, at home.

I can walk pretty normally, and the doctor told me that I don't need to use gauze or bandaids or anything after tomorrow. I guess they did some special type of cut that they sewed up from the inside. I'm looking forward to getting a look at it tomorrow. I also got some painkillers, so I'll let you know how those go. On an end note, with the hopes of getting my $6000 peso surgery money's worth, I stole soap, conditioner, and the bottle of water from my hospital room! That's how we do.

I've got some more to write on other topics, but I'm going to go watch some TV.

Besos


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going Under the Knife

That's right folks, you read it correctly!

Turns out Patty Boy here has a little hernia. I noticed it about a month ago and figured I should probably get it taken care of. However, all is well. The IES insurance policy is 100% coverage, so I'm getting free surgery. Maybe even some free hospital gelatin if I'm lucky. I'll be going under the knife this Friday at 14:30. Should be a pretty smooth experience. I'll be at one of the best hospitals in South America, the famous Hospital Aleman. I'll be hanging at my homestay for two days after the surgery, and then I'm off to the suburb of Martinez to recover at a friend's place. After that I'll be heading on a month long excursion! More news on that to come.

If they take any cool pictures during the surgery, I'll be sure to post them.

Love


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Homestay Experience

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my homestay experience.

When I signed up for IES, I told them that I wanted a homestay with a family and kids. I wanted siblings and hanging out. When I got here, I was somewhat disappointed with my situation. I would be living with a 73 year old women and her 45 year old son. I've had my ups and down here, but I've come to the realization...I couldn't have asked for a more fitting South American homestay experience. I'm living in the epitome of South America. An older women and her son living together. This is exactly what Buenos Aires, and South American in general, is all about.

In the ups and downs, we've had both. Sometimes we don't talk much during the day. I'm constantly coming and going throughout the day, and they're sometimes sleeping or sometimes watching TV. Other times however, we have great conversations. Tonight was a great example.

Carlos, Sylvia, Muki(nickname for Sylvia's daughter who came to eat with us) and I were eating dinner. As usual, I wasn't let down with the food content. Little spinach dumplings, mashed potatos, lentil soup, and some fried chicken.

Carlos saw me eat the piece of fried chicken skin and immediately jokingly called me out for being hypocritical. I don't, and never will, eat the pieces of fat on steak. Carlos loves them. He claimed that there was no difference between chicken skin fat and steak fat. A hearty discussion/fun argument ensued. Slyvia and I on one side saying that they are VERY different, and Carlos debating the entire time.

I'm coming to realize that I've had many great experiences in this current situation. Studying abroad is about experiencing new things, and I can say that this was DEFINITELY a unique experience. I had become so accustomed to having my personal freedom in Minneapolis that moving into a house where my meals are cooked and my room cleaned was quite a shock. I'm absorbing these last two weeks with the family and I can happily that I've learned a lot this semester.




ps- For you spanish speakers out there. In Argentina, I'm not sure about other spanish-speaking countries, they use the phrase "Algo + Adjective" a lot. "Ella esta algo loca!" "She is something crazy!" I've found myself using it in english writing/talking quite a bit now. It's like when Holly and Lindsay say something that has such backwards syntax, you know it has to be a direct spanish translation.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Learning the Culture

A little something you take for granted when you live in your home country:

When you're having a conversation in your home country, you make references to pop culture all the time. You reference the latest news stories without even thinking about it. You reference important people and events in the history of your country all the time. It's part of your life and you weave it into conversation without even thinking about it.

However, when you're in a foreign country, you're at a complete disadvantage. Right now, I feel that my language ability is relatively high. I can understand a great deal of conversation and respond when I feel it necessary. I love conversation. Portenos love conversation. But, the thing that frustrates me is that when you're part of a large conversation, those previously mentioned references keep on popping up non-stop. I sucks being at such a loss when someone references a bombing in 1955 that you never knew existed or a politician in 1984 that everyone disliked.

Therefore, a bit of advice. When you go off to learn a new language...do your research. Learn about the big events and people in that country. Commit them to memory because they're bound to come up and you'll feel great when you can finally make that reference you've been longing for.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Little Language Mix-Up!

This is a story for which everyone who has learned a foreign language can relate. False Cognates!


I don't like tomatoes in the United States. I've never liked them. Mom always forced me to try them, but everytime was the same. I didn't like them. I don't know what it is, but they just don't do it for me.

When I came to Buenos Aires, I told my host mom that I'm not a fan of tomatoes. Because of this, she never served me any when we had dinner. However, one night, Carlos cooked, and we had a salad with tomatoes. I was reluctant to eat them, but because I always finish my plate here, I ate them. To my surprise, they were great. There is something about tomatoes here that makes them amazing. They taste nothing like the tomatoes in the United States.

Well, on to the false cognates...words that look/sound similar, but don't mean the same thing at all. A good example is "actualmente," which doesn't mean "actually," but "currently." Another is...preservativo.

One would think this means preservative, like the things you put in food to make them last. Therefore, I told my host sister,

"I think the tomotoes are better in Argentina because they don't have preservativos in them."
"Pienso que los tomates estan mejor en Argentina porque no tienen preservativos."

Direct Translation:

"I think the tomatoes are better in Argentina because they don't have condoms in them."

That, my friends, is a false cognate.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert

Not really on the topic of studying abroad, or anything of the matter, but I must say I was really upset when I learned that Tim Russert died. I remember watching one of the final debates at home with Mom and Dad and being amazingly impressed by how he really got Clinton and Obama to quit talking in circles and answer his questions. It's a shame he won't be around to moderate debates for the most historic presidential campaign in our history.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ohh Cristina...

Remember that strike that I wrote about about two months ago. The farmer strike against the government. Well, it's still going. Here's the lowdown over the past few months.

In October when the soy farmers planted their crops, the government retention rate was 26%. This was only the base retention that the gov't charged, not including taxes and all that other fun stuff. When Nestor Krischner left office in December, he increased the retention to 33%. Nestor's wife Cristina took over presidency in December. The week before the soy harvest, she increased the renentino to 45%. This put the farmers over the edge, so they strikes. Rightfully so. Within the past seven months the rentention has nearly doubled.

The middle and upper classes have been strongly supporting the farmers. Why aren't you taxing big business like you are soy farmers. Well, the strike has been going on and off for 90 days now. The farmers stop it for a week to talk with the gov, nothing gets accomplished, and they start striking. This has been the situation for the past two months. It's a repeptive cycle.

However, just this week, Cristina pulled a good one out. The government really didn't say anything about what they were going to use all the retention money for. Everyone knows it would have been used to buy more votes in an election or magically dissapeared. This is the common feeling about all tax dollars. Well, Cristina gets on the podium and says along the lines of, "We've been plannning to use this money to rebuild hospitals and public schools. The farmers are horrible, money-hoarding bastards for not wanting to help fund schools and hospitals."

This REALLY fired up the people. So now, after three months of not telling anyone where the money was going, she pulls this out. "If you would have told us this three months ago, we wouldn't have had a problem" is the basic farming community response. "We're not stupid and we know exactly what you're trying to do to us." However, it's not working. The people are even more pissed at the government for trying to swing public opinion.

It's an definitely an interesting situation down here. It's refreshing to see people actually stand up for what they believe in. If they don't like something, they hit the streets and protest. In the States, everyone is too apathetic to do anything. Prices of tuition go up, "shucks, I guess we'll pay it." Gas prices going through the roof, "darn, I guess we'll just wait until prices go down." The US could take a page out of Argentina's social demonstration chapter.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Argentine TV

In the United States, we have "Dancing With The Stars." In Argentina, they have "Dancing For A Dream." Not many differences between these two prime-time programs, except the Argentine version really loves thongs, 1/2 naked women and sparkles. I had the pleasure of watching it tonight with my mom when this gem of a dance couple performed!

It was like watching a porn with your 73 old grandma. She is completely cool with all of the nudity though. She even called that the girl was going to be naked once she started her routine. She always says "Siempre la cola!" which basically translates to "Always the ass!"

video


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motivation

It's 11:29PM and I'm currently listening to Radiohead's album "In Rainbows." A big thanks toAaron and Brett for getting me hooked on them. I must say it sounded much better on vinyl whilesmoking hookah though. I'm trying to find the motivation to write a short little paper for my Cultural Icons class. It's on Evita. Pretty cool cat. We start talking about "El Che" tomorrow, so that should be quite interesting. The professor is a 29 year old NYU Phd student and super intelligent. I really enjoy his class. Ok, off to write...I think.



I just found this quote while I was facebook-surfing and it was a breath of fresh air. Very very true if you're ever planning on learning a new language.

"The true work of improving things is in the little achievements of the day."

Much love from south of the Equator,
Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's Cold!

Don't let anyone fool you, Buenos Aires is NOT warm all year round. I came down here expecting winter temperatures to be somewhere around 55* and sunny the entire time. Nope, we're talking about 50*F right now, but it feels like about 35*. Why you ask? Well, it's because it's always humid here, and the humidity makes the cold seem much worse. We have windchill in the states, they have humidity coldness.

To restate, it's unbelievably cold here right now. This is also coming from someone who's rather experienced in the cold weather department. I've done 21 years in the the northern US. Also, I left my winter coat in the States, thinking someone would be coming down before winter, but that isn't happening. So, off to Avenida Corrientes to get my winter jacket.

Besos


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Avenida 9 de Julio


This is me standing smack-dab in the center of Avenida 9 de Julio. This is the famous avenue that Buenos Aires is known for. To quote Wikipedia.com:

Crossing the avenue at street level often requires a few minutes, as all intersections have traffic lights. Under normal walking speed, it takes pedestrians normally two to three green lights to cross it.

No lie. I need to cross this street everytime I go to the IES Center. If I'm not waiting by the sidewalk before the walk light turns "walk," I won't be able to make it across, and I walk FAST. It's a guarantee that I'll need to run the last 25 yards if I want to make it across in one "walk-light." My school is about six blocks from where this picture was taken. The Obelisco is right behind the photographer.







Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mate in Plaza San Martin


My friend Mike and I had a fun day in Plaza San Martin recently. It's probably my favorite park in the city. The canopy created by the huge trees is great on hot days. We had a hard night partying on Thursday so we both agreed that Mate on Friday would do the trick. Plus, I had my internship at 2PM, and I knew a good strong Mate(Argentine/Uruguayan drink) would destroy any potential hangover.

We're having Mate and talking when this cute little dog comes over by us and starts chillin. We thought he must have had an owner, because he was wearing a little dog sweater(very Buenos Aires-ish), but no one came looking for him in the hour we were there, so we're not sure. You can see the my entire Mate set-up in the picture. It's an addicting substance that's super good for you.
Anyways, he was all about hanging out and relaxing, so I took these pics with him.

The people on the bench came to the Plaza as we were hanging out, and we couldn't help but notice how perfect they would have been for a McDonald's commercial. McDonald's is HUGELY popular here. They are everywhere, and they're so much nicer than in the states. Teenagers actually hang out at McDonalds on the weekends because they're so comfy.



Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Cops

I had an interesting experience not to long ago. A friend from home was telling me about an incident that happened in MPLS and how my friends reported the incident to some cops that were making their rounds in the neighborhood. As she was telling me this, I wondered why they would trust the cops to help them. Then it clicked that I'm thinking about cops in the Argentine perspective.

The cops aren't trustworthy. They're sketchy guys who can be bought off very easily. I've been told that many are former military members during the Junta, and they revert to their "how it was during the dictatorship" ways quite quickly. During the demonstrations of the strike, the government-sponsored "Pro-Gov't" picketing group beat up many of the "Pro-Farmer" demonstrators, and the police just turned a blind eye.

Also, It isn't uncommon for the cops to sit with someone on the corner and catcall women as they walk by, or, my favorite...Two girls and I were walking home one night and we were all dressed up. The girls were wearing some pretty sexy outfits, and all of a sudden, we noticed a cop car driving alongside of us. The two officers were about 10 feet behind us, just creeping along checking out the girls the entire time.

These aren't the kind of men who I'd want to ask for help, in any situation. With the right amount of money, anyone can buy the upperhand in a disagreement, fight, etc.

Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Baby Caiman

Here's a video of some baby Caiman that were swimming by the dock. Note the profanity at the end was because my plastic cup fell into the water. Being a nature reserve, I knew I couldn't let it float around, but Mama Caiman wasn't too far from her babies.




Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I'm Alive!

I'm Alive!!!

Sorry for not posting anything in a super long time. I've got a lot of ideas for some future posts, and hopefully I can start making something out of them. I'm going to get some good pictures of the buildings, the streets, the gorgeous parks, etc, and let you see them all.

Anyways, three weeks ago, I went on a 5 day trip to the Ibera Nature Reserve. Ibera is a Guarani word meaning "Brilliant Water" and it's definitly no lie. The sunsets were amazing, and this was one from our first night. You can see some of the smoke from the pasture fires going on right now.

To start out, 20 IESers and myself loaded into luxury coach buses at at around 9pm. After doing some reading, eating some popcorn I made for the ride, and trying to get some sleep, we were awaken at our destination...or so we thought. It was 5:30 in the AM, and they told us that now we had a three hour ride to the resort.


The only way to get there was in the ultimate 4X4 trucks down a two-lane dirt road.

The landscape in the province of Corrientes is really interesting. It's exactly how I imagine the African savannah to be. It's endless land, with those little "savanahh" trees here and there. All that was missing was a pride of lions and some water buffalo.

The resort was right on the water, Lake Ibera, and it was amazing. Every morning we woke up to cereal, toast, coffee and fresh yogurt at 9am. From there we got into 15 person boats and cruised around the lake looking at all the Caiman and Capybaras. Everyone assumed we MIGHT see some of these creatures, but this place was swarming with wildlife. They formally made it into a nature reserve in 1983 to protect the species from being poached, especially the Caiman for their leather. A lot of the park rangers are past hunters who now protect the park.

After our morning boat trip, we'd come back to a great three course lunch. We had tortas, pasta, salads,etc. Everything is made fresh on-site. They're a very eco-friendly resort, and later I found out that the area is a prominent eco-tourism location.

After lunch we had 2 hours to relax by the pool, sleep in hammocks, or do whatever we pleased. I did a lot of reading in one of the most comfortable hammocks ever, which I dubbed, The Womb.

I also biked around the tiny little city, Colonia Carlos Pellegrini. The north of Argentina LOVES their siesta and we were all about it. Also, many people in the city, because they never have to leave, use horses to get around town. These two little boys followed us back to our lodge one night showing off on their pony.

After our siesta time, we took our afternoon trip. One day it was walking through a forest and looking at/listening to Howler Monkeys, and another day it was a canoe trip across the lake to go for another hike through the savanahh.














What city in Argentina doesn't have at least ONE futbol field.

Upon returning from our afternoon trip, we had tea time. Everyday they had three new types of snacks ranging from torts to cookies. After tea, we had an hour or so to hang out and anxiously await the sound of the dinner bell. Why you ask...because dinners were AMAZING!



All the dinners were great, including a hearty northern Argentine stew and some vealish meat with gravy, but I'll highlight the last dinner...an asado.

The cream of the crop! Argentina's version of a BBQ.












To start off, a man from the city came specifically to cook the asado. Everyone has their own special way of cooking, just like in the States, and this guy was the city's best. He prepared aspen embers and then got started on the cooking. As we was cooking, we started with our first course, which was empanadas and salads. The salads were good, and it was nice to get some greens in my diet again, but the empanadas were boss! Meat/cheese/onion stuffed "hot-pocket" like creations which I'm addicted to. After empanadas, the meat started coming. Every 15 minutes, the staff came around with huge plates of meat for us to eat. First was lamb chops, then ribs, then tenderloin, then chorizo(amazing sausage), then blood sausage, and a whole lot more. It was probably one of the best meals I've had since I've been here.

Here we have some very "Ontario-like" traffic blockers.

After dinner on the first night, I taught everyone Celebrity, and it became the "after-dinner" game for the rest of the week. Good times and very good laughs. Also, because we were in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, the stars were awe-inspiring. I've never seen anything like it, even in the middle of Wisconsin. The milky way was like a white cloud floating over the resort every night. I also got to meet about 15 new people who I didn't know before the trip, many of whom I now hang out with on a daily basis.

A bit long winded, but an all around great week.



A Capybara, the world's largest rodent














A family of Capybara













Caiman just hanging out

















Our guide Sebastian



Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Language Thought

Ok, so I was going to start getting ready for dinner, but I thought I should write this post down while it's still fresh in my head. It's about learning spanish, what else.

So, lately, when I've been listening to the radio here or reading my book, I've noticed something neat happening. I'll hear/read something in spanish and translate it over to english. Then I'll think to myself that this isn't how you'd say it in english and then I realize, wait, this is spanish, not english. They don't say things in the same manner here as they do in the states, and I'm coming to understand that.

A good example is "todo el mundo," which here means "everyone." However, in literal english, it means "all the world." We'd never say "all the world" when we want to say "everyone" when we speak english, but Argentines don't translate everything to English, like I do, before they say it. When they say "todo el mundo" it means "everyone" NOT "all the world." I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm beginning to realize that everything doesn't translate, and it shouldn't. These are two different languages and people who created Spanish didn't consult with the people who created English to make sure everything worked out just peachy during translation. I'm learning to say things the way they're said down here, instead of always using the english phrase's spanish equivalent.

Another thing that happens when I'm reading a book is that I can completely understand the idea of a sentence, but I can't, for the life of me, create the same sentence in english. I know exactly what they're saying but when I try to translate it word for word in English it just doesn't make sense. I guess I'm starting to read Spanish now, instead of English translations.

Un Abrazo


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

River Plate

In regards to my previous post, I'm going to give you a little more indepth view on the niceness of Porteños.

Last night I arrived home from a week in the north of Argentina. This is future post with pictures and videos. Anyways, I woke up looking forward to another day in good ol' BsAs. So, after waking up at noon, having some breakfast, chatting with Sylvia and Carlos about my trip, I pack up my thermos, yerba and mate and head to Parque Las Heras to do a little reading and relaxing.

After getting some empanadas on the way to the park, I find a good spot in the sun and start sipping on some mate and munching on those highly regarded tastey morsels. Amazing I tell you, amazing. I may have to write a post about Argentine empanadas and why they may be the leading factor for me NOT returning to the USA.

Bueno, so, I'm doing my thing in the park, reading my book and having a good time. A nice couple(i think) sits down in the same area and I ask to "rob them of a cigarette." They are more than happy to oblige and notice that I'm drinking mate. They say it's awkward to see a foreigner enjoying mate. I tell them that I really like it, and then go back to my reading. After I finish my chapter, I figure I should ask them if they'd like a mate.

Note- You don't really drink mate, you drink yerba. Yerba is the ground up tea-like leaves of the well, yerba plant. These go in the mate, which is usually a hollowed-out gourd or some other similar item. That being said, you can say; "I'm going to drink mate with some friends in the park" or you can say "Did you bring the mate." THE mate is the gourd, just mate is the act of drinking mate. Sorry to confuse you all.

Anyways, the guy, who I learn later is Lucas, says sure, and I walk over mate. He immediately invites me to sit down with him and his friend, Aldana(a very feminine Argentine name). You see, you don't drink mate without having conversation, it's just not right.

Entonces, Lucas, Aldana and I are sitting and talking for quite a while. We talk about why I'm in BsAs, what I'm studying, where I live, etc. They both attended a very nice business school here and we talk school for awhile. After that we talk a little about the emerging drug problems in Argentina(future post) and then we get onto the topic of futbol. I told them about the story from my homestay with Carlos and Slyvia(Argentine Grandma Ruby post.)

Well, after a little bit of talk I learn that they're both for River Plate, which makes sense. If you live in the northern parts of BsAs you usually cheer for River. After hearing that I've never seen a game, they quickly invited me to come to the River Plate game with them tomorrow, Sunday. They're wasn't even a breathe inbetween them hearing that I've never seen a game, and them inviting me. It was so cool! Of course, my jaw practically dropped when these two people I've only met 30 minutes earlier invited me to a game, but...that's the Porteno way.

So, I've got a lot more to write about from the past two weeks, but I've also got dinner plans with my friend Mike tonight. I'll keep you informed.

Much Love from South of the Equator,

Patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Who Are Porteños?

Porteños are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Case in point:

Who will give a yankee directions to an obvious location and answer with a smile?

A Porteño

Who would offer you their last cigarette, even if the nearest Kiosko was only one block away?

A Porteño

Who would invite you to a River Plate soccer match on Sunday if you've just met in a park on Saturday?

A Porteño

Who would let you look around their shop and ask questions for twenty minutes without buying a single thing, and send you off with a gracious thank you?

A Porteño

Who would hear your accent and in the next breath ask where you're from with great interest?

A Porteño

Who still enjoys the art of conversation and makes it a daily point to have coffee and talk with friends?

A Porteño

And for all those "fatty on the inside but skinny on the outside people"

Who makes the best damn empanadas in the entire world?

A Porteño


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Umm...I'm Sorry?

First and foremost, I should probably apologize for not blogging that much in the past two weeks. It's hard to post when you've been living the life, and that's just what I've been doing!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sunday, May 4, 2008

El Superclasico

So today is the day....El Superclasico. This is when Boca Juniors plays River Plate. This is the biggest game in Argentine soccer and the city is ready. EVERYONE supports either Boca or River, and if you ask, they'll let you know exactly why the other team is a piece of shit. The other night a girl taught me a little of one of songs that River sings against Boca, and one of the lines was in the area of "you're filthy people that clean your ass with paint thinner." River's name for Boca fans is the equivalent of a person who cleans up horse manure. Boca's names for River are Los Millionarios because River is the rich man's team, and also Las Gallinas, which means chicken.

Anyways, the weather is gorgeous and it's going to be a great game. I'm about to leave and find a place to watch it. Hopefully with friends in a bar where there are fans from both River and Boca. I would like to go to the game in live but I didn't get tickets early enough, and scalpers are pricey too.

Un Abrazo


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Religious Theme Park?


You heard it right...a religious theme park.

I, myself, was surprised that such a thing existed. However, when you're in an amazingly relgious country, things like this tend to pop up...by the airport...and the driving range.

Anyways, a little back story.

My friend Betsy texted me on Saturday asking if I wanted to go to Tierra Santa. Thinking that this was some place in Patagonia, and knowing that Betsy takes last minute trips, I told her I couldn't go. I'd need more time to find a cheaper flights, etc etc etc. However, she quickly called to let me know that it wasn't a place in Patagonia, but rather, a park in Buenos Aires. Seeing as I'm always up for a park on a nice Saturday afternoon, I took her up on the offer.

Well, seeing as we knew of its general location, we decided to walk from my place. After the 45 minute walk from my house to where we THOUGHT it was, we were told that we were still about an hour away. After another half hour of walking along the Rio de la Plata, we decided to get Chorizo and un litro de cerveza at a nice little park. However, knowing that a park awaited us, we decided to get a move on. As we're walking, Betsy informs me that this park is actually a religious theme park. What fun!


Anyways, long story short, it was pretty cool. They recreated Jerusalem so you can...just translate the picture.


After getting inside, I had no idea what to expect. I'm about as non religous as one can be. I am, however, an animal lover.



However, it turned out great. Betsy attended Lutheran school from start to finish so she was very well-versed about the Bible.

Our first "presentation" was the birth of Christ. Turns out it also doubles as a techno show.



After that, we toured the park for awhile. It's not really an amusement park, but more of an educational park. Besides the 747s flying over every couple of minutes and the distant THWAP of the driving range, I really felt like I was visiting ancient Jerusalem. I even had time to snap a sunset picture over the holy walls.


After techno birth we continued on to Creation. This was a pretty cool automated character show.


After the Creation show, we stumbled upon a belly-dancing show. I didn't know the Christians knew how to get down like this!



After belly-dancing, we hauled ass to catch the Last Supper show. All the shows were with automated characters and a voice over. After every show Betsy explained what we just saw. She definitely knew her Bible.


From the Last Supper we went to the hillside where Jesus was crucified. Talk about a realistic picture!


Now...for the cream of the crop, the bread and butter of Tierra Santa...Resurrection!!!

Every 1/2 hour, an 18 meter tall Jesus comes out from inside the mountain. Intense!



All said and done, I had a pretty good time. I learned an incredible amount of information. So, if you into techno births and all of the above, check out Tierra Santa.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

House Tour

Here ya go. A quick little tour of my house. Also, since I just found a program to compress huge video files, I'll be able to load longer videos now. Enjoy!




Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monday, April 21, 2008

Crazy Dreams

I've been talking to some of my fellow IES-ers and many have been experiencing the same thing: absolutely crazy, super vivid dreams.

I don't know what it is, but I'm convinced it has to be our brains expanding from all the intense Spanish we're learning. I can remember detail by detail dreams I had more than three weeks ago. I've had dreams about being in high school and forgetting to study for a Mr. Stubbe history test. I've dreamt so many weird things. The most intense and vivid ones come after nights where I speak in Spanish for the majority of the time.

Can anyone else confirm that they had really vivid dreams when they were learning a foreign language?


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

It Just Clicks One Day...Right!

You've all heard it before. When you're learning a new language, one day it just clicks and it all makes sense.

LIES!

Don't let anyone fool you; this is a blatant lie. I, myself, believed it before coming down here. I just imagined that I'd be down here, hearing people talk Spanish all the time, and then one day, it would all click and I'd magically start speaking perfectly. Well...that's not how it works.

I've come to realize that this is going to be a long process. Each day I learn a little bit more. Maybe it's using a new phrase like "acabo de (I just...)" or maybe it's hearing a object pronoun in a sentence that I'd never noticed before. Whatever it may be, there isn't a click moment. I'm not angry at all the people who've written this or said this, I'm just confused about what language they learned. I'm guessing it was Pig Latin.

Anyways, I'm not worried. It's exciting to feel yourself learning new things and getting a little more confident with speaking. It's comforting to know that I can get my point across now. It won't sound like flowing Argentine prose, but at least my general idea will be understood. I must say that the coolest thing is when I'm reading a newspaper and I find myself at the end of an article, having understood it completely.


Here's a cool article about how your brain learns a language. It's quite comforting to know that even when I don't think I'm learning, my brain is working overtime to figure it out for me.


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Future Posts

Look forward to these juicy posts in the near future!

Argentine Women (as per Holly's request)
Tierra Santa (Holy Land) Theme Park Visit
Internships News
Crazy Dreams

I'm sure I could write them all right now but it's 5:07AM, and I'm thoroughly exhausted. It's actually kind of early though. My friends keep texting me to see where I'm at...at 5Am!!!

Chau!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I've Found It!

Time has been flying in Buenos Aires. Like everyone said, you really need to make the most out of each day. It's like we're living in a microcosm. Everything happens at a super-accelerated rate. People are friends at 1pm, dating by 4pm, exclusive by 8pm, and officially broken up by midnight.

The night started off with my friend Sol's going away party. She's 1/2 argentine through her dad, and 1/2 american. She's been living here for six months with her parents and they're heading to Europe for two months next week. They had a really fun party at their apartment with tons of food and some live music as well. Great time. Afterwards, Daniel(Ecuador), Sol, Adam(Sol's friend), and I headed to a bar that I heard was pretty cool.

Anyways, as to the title of this post, I've found my bar. It's not "my" bar in the sense that I go there and..."everyone knows my name." It's more in the sense that I've been missing live music, especially jazz, and I've been searching for my bar. Well, I've found it.

Tonight I went to an absolutely amazing jazz jam session. The bar was pretty small and there was a stage at the front of it. When we arrived at 2am, the music was already going. Musicians just show up and form impromptu groups and throw down 25 minute sets. It was amazing. There were some very talented blues and jazz guitar players as well as two phenomenal saxaphonists. The groups of musicians melded very well. The bassist would stay in for two sets, as the guitarists and drummers switched out. The saxes would find a time to squeeze in a kick ass John Coltranesque solo. At the very end of the night the drummer got his moneys worth (he made his solo worthwhile.) Turns out he's actually a locally famous recording drummer who likes to come and get some improv/jazz time in every weekend.

Anyways, it was wild. Super good ambiance with many people who were definitely into hanging out and talking. I'm looking forward to going back and meeting some fellow jazz/blues lovers. Next time I'll remember by camera so I can take some video of the craziness.

Besitos!


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina