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

Monday, March 30, 2009


Holly gave me the swift kick I needed to get this post done. I´ll answer all the questions, and then tomorrow I will probably upload some photos to go along with the answers.

How does your water taste?
- I think the water in the city tastes completely normal. When we first started in the program back in March, they warned us to slowly drink the tap water to get used to it. I had already been drinking huge glasses of water from the sink and nothing happened. However, mix Colombian mountain water with plates of beans and rice, and you have a whole other story.

What's the weirdest cartoon on television?
- All the cartoons that they have here are US cartoons that are dubbed over. However, one thing I did not know, but that Anabel told me the other day, is that Dora the Explorer is in spanish here, with small english frases that the kids can learn. In the US, it´s the other way around. I never really thought about it, seeing as I dont watch it, but I thought it was pretty neat. To add to the TV subject, Argentines love shows or characters of men dressed up at females. Not drag queens, but just men, dressed up overly female, and acting as if they were a women. Kind of weird

The strangest guy in the club: what's his deal?
-It has literally been months since I´ve went to a club club, but from what I remember. Usually, if it´s a electronic club, you have the blacked out sunglasses guys that are in their own little world, or the creepy Porteño who is listening for girls speaking english so can he do the, "Hi, you espeaka englis. I love you country. You very beautiful. *attempt to make out*"

Breakfast cereals: give us a list and a description of the boxes.
-I´ll snap some pictures and answer this tomorrow.

What's dominating the political news circuit?
-Currently, exactly like one year ago, the farmers, el campo, are angry over government retentions on the export of soy. Last year I was uninformed, but this year I feel better informed.
No one in Argentina eats soy, it´s a product only for exportation. The government needs to import other grains because the farmers refuse to grow anything besides soy. By farmers I mean huge multinationals that coerce small farmers to rent out their land for soy production. The soy that is planted is a transgenic hybrid. It´s called something like Soy R, R stands for RoundUp, the superchemical from the US. This chemicals kills absolutely everything minus the soy, destroying the land for future planting. I recently read that about 5 or 10 years ago, 1 million liters of RoundUp was purchased by the multinacionals. The past year, 180 Million liters was purchased. On a sidenote, I feel the news is really lacking here. The "nightly news" really doesn´t exist here. There are multiple news channels, but nothing like NBC News with Tom Brokaw/Brian Williams. The news websites are broken up at follows. 50% about Cristina(the president) and what she and the government are or aren´t doing, 35% sports(I´m sick of reading about futbol!) and 15% gossip about showgirls and trashy telenovela stars. I really miss the the community, technology, and cultural stories than run on US news channels.

It's Wednesday at three. I'm a local. What the am I doing?
-Wednesday at 3am the majority of locals will be sleeping if they have to work the next day. Right now, it´s 2:10am and Eugenio is study for school and I´m blogging. However, if you change it to Friday at 3am, it all changes. Besides the usual party scene, every outdoor patio at the numerous coffee shops in town is filled with anyone from 25-65 years old, drinking a strong cup of coffee, smoking cigarettes, and conversing as it if were 6pm. I still find it amazing to walk through Palermo and see groups of people older than my parents, having a cup of coffee and laughing the night away. I wish it was like that back home. On a sidenote, if you meant 3pm, its still the workday. However, banks in Argentina open at 9am and close at 3pm. "Late night drivethru banking" like in the US will never exist in Argentina.

What was the luckiest thing that's happened to you in the past month?
-I can´t think of any specific event that would be considered super lucky, but I would consider the fact that I found my roommates(and through my roommates all of their friends) to be the height of good luck. I´m living the Argentine summer exactly as I imagined, I couldn´t ask for anything more.

What was your wtf moment? It happened, and you literally thought: what. the. fuck.
-This question has to do with the cartoneros(people that collect cardboard and recyclable goods to resell for money) in the city and the harsh poverty that intermingles with the wealth of the city. I will dedicate a whole post to this tomorrow. It´s an intense theme.

What smell will you miss the most when you leave?
- One of the most distinct smells in the streets of Argentina during the weekend around 8pm is the smell of the parilla. This is the big grill that people usually have on the terrace of their building where they cook the meat. The smell of the dripping fat of a chorizo burning on the large chunks of natural wood charcoal is something that I´ll never forget. You get the slightest wiff, and you someone in the vicinity is about to start a great argentina dinner with red wine, french bread, and absolutely amazing meat.

I can literally smell the smoke just look at this picture. The red sausages in the middle are the chorizos.

What do you think you won't miss immediately after you leave, but probably will miss six months after you've left?
-I just talked to Eugenio and some friends about this. In the US, if you have a house party, everyone plans on getting hammered. By the end of the night, someone has puked in the bathroom, and someone is probably passed out on a couch or the floor. Here, drinking doesnt have anything to do with getting drunk. Last night, we all went to a large house party, and everyone just drank beer and fernet, and talked all night. No one needed to carry anyone out, and no girls were in the bathroom asking "can someone hold my hair while I puke." So, that being said, I´m sure the first time I go to another big house party in the states during the school year next year, I´ll remember what it was like drinking to have fun and talk, and not to get drunk.

Of all the Buenos Aires strangers you see on a semi-regular basis (convenience store clerk, bus-drivers, etc.), who's the weirdest?
- I´m going to toss this one around in my head for awhile. I´m sure something will come to me.

The best thing you've eaten had in Buenos Aires. In the past day.
-Today I wanted to try making una tarta. Imagine a piecrust, pilled with sauteed vegetables, ham and cheese(or however you want to make it), covered in whipped up eggs, and then cooked for 40 minutes in the oven. I made my first one today, and it was absolutely amazing.

I even took a picture of it because I was amazed at how great it turned out.

McDonald´s Double Cheeseburger
-McDonalds in Argentina are EVERYWHERE. I´ve seen more McDonalds in this city than anywhere I´ve ever been. However, they are usually really nice buildings, super clean, with a McCafe coffeeshop inside, nothing like the majority of McDonalds in the USA. They are also quite expensive. Obviously there is no Dollar Menu, but even the cheapest hamburger still costs U$S 2. A combo meal costs around U$S 7. This may not seem too expensive, but you can get a bottle of wine, a huge steak with a side of potatos, and dessert for less than U$S 20.

Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great post--i just love those little details. people in mexico and el salvador also have an obsession with men dressing as woman, i'm sure there must be an excellent explanation for it, i just get really irritated and weirded out by it. same with adults dressing as kids, or animals, or geeks, or just wearing costumes in general and talking in obnoxious voices on the tv shows. it bothers me on some deep level. you can even look at yeshua's pictures if you are his friend on facebook. dressing up in random costumes and making strange faces... it grosses me out.

can't wait for the poverty post.

love you!