Why do I feel so good today?

I woke up this morning feeling good. Was it the fact that I only finished 3/4 bottle of my Quilmes with my adequate chinese food? We have it hard here finding food other than steak, steak sandwiches, milanese, milanese completa, chorizo, choripan, empanadas, medialunas, followed by anything filled with dulce de leche and all washed down with wine or champagne. I know that’s not really hard but come on.

(WordPress is lame for placing photos – have i mentioned that lately?)

I realized I had not written to my faithful 4 followers for months. Porque? you or I say.

Was it trying to find cash here? I have had mornings of going to 6 banks and 13 cash machines just to get the 400 (88u$) pesos. Forget about getting out more than $2,000 pesos (442.00 US) you are not allowed. Nor are you allowed to exchange pesos for US dollars even if rent is expected in US dollars. Nor are you allowed to travel abroad and withdraw the local currency unless you file papers with AR tax department and explain why you need local currency. Yes you read that right.

Happy tangent to the cash issues? I love being able to jaywalk anywhere/time/how, putting garbage down anywhere you like, oddly named consumer goods, being late for everything and blaming it on transportation, weekly strikes (which cause cash machines not to have cash), and businesses closed  regardless of posted open hours saying otherwise. They are probably late b/c of some strike. There strikes are world-famous it seems.

Back on subject, sort of, another reason for feeling happy,  my new optimistic saying for living in BA, below every feces pile there is clear pavement. Honestly, Porteños tell me it is good luck to step in dog poo. That being the case we are neck-deep in good luck down here. 4/5, 2/17, 3/5, 1/1, 6/10, 3/3, 6/10, 2/2, 0/1, 2/3, 1/4, 0/1, 1/1, 1/3, 1/2, 0/1 (4 big smears though), 0/1, 0/4, 1/2, 0/3, 0/0(!!!), 0/2 keno numbers you suppose?

No, this is the result of my block by block observation during a walkout of actual piles of dog poo on the ground. I continue to speculate at the amount of poo on the ground in this city and decided to count them on a walk to the bookstore the other day.  The first number represents poo in a walkers direct path and the second number represents total poo on that block. I did not count long smears or wash out poo from the morning water wasters (more on them in another post).

Oddly enough I am now used to the poo. In fact, I find a strange happiness in the creative ones. If I ever saw one in a tree it would not surprise me. I had no idea it was like this in Paris.

My main question for you is what can I do to write more blogs? If only blog writing were like opening wines bottles or mixing “house sangria” (2 parts wine, 1 part gin, squeeze of citrus all over ice and stirred).

Back to excuses. I have another one for not writing. Following 10 years of procrastination, realizing my VCR and analog clock repair careers were going no where, I have gone back to school. That is right, the drawings I kept sending into the art school were finally accepted. I am now a bobcat.

Too much for now. Tune in next time to find my new path, Zoe’s good news, what Van is riding, his new local joy, what Kimberly is planning, trips to Lujan, Tigre and Uruguay.

ciao for now.

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My walkout routine and mental rambling

I have received requests (like 2) to ramble (I have a hard time saying the word blog) more often.

On my 2.64 mile walk home from morning children drop off, thoughts came to my mind on several things. Since I have no interest in working out I have created a walkout.

To crow like a cock, I am walking this route daily. I’m not nuts so I change-up the route daily but the distance is consistent. I am logging in a minimum of 13 miles a week (21 kilometers provide so as not to screw the local metric system). If it wasn’t for the large tracts of Argentinian grapes I consume in wine form, I would be losing weight.

Second, I will keep my rambles to 16 lines or so as not to allow anyones panties get in a cinch. I will reject the idea of long blogs as my reading span is that of a seaman stuck on shore – lost and lonely without his mistress the sea, savvy?

I intend to include pictures of things I encounter while here in Buenos Aires. In addition to typical dick and jane family shots I will include sightings of odds and ends I encounter walking.

What was it about this mattress that made the owner keep it as long as they did? The material finally wearing away, the rust on the springs or the bird stuck in it? This was not here the day before. This was a freshly laid rusty and shredded bare mattress. Did they keep the covering?

Another thought, I impressed upon myself during my walkout is how many “regular” words have dirty meanings or I just have a hard time saying out loud. Is this nuts? Do you have any?

Can you find the other words I have a hard time saying hidden in this blather?

This is what i think kim and i look like. I can’t wait for my pony tail come over to develop.

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We get a round

We don’t own a car in B.Aires. We have chosen not to create more fodder for passenger window side break ins. Instead we move by foot, fleet y subte. This does not sit well with Van. He is allergic to walking unless a promise of sweets or less walking is made.

Many places I’ve been, public transport seems either pushed to the side or placed on a pedestal.
Here, public transport pushes the passenger in the face, kicks them in the stomach and moves their intestinal organs all about. All this while asking you to move to the back and inside someone’s pocket so we can fit 5 more people on.

Public transport is everywhere and nowhere here. Public transport is always moving here but with no intention of efficient arrival. Public transport is up to your armpits and up your behind in the most reliable and constant of ways and achieves this through sheer anarchy, chaos and poor planning. What it lacks in cleanliness and logic it makes up in volume and affordability.
It’s as constant as the garbage on the street and about as comfortable as the squirt of water from uneven sidewalk tiles (known as clam tiles, coverage in future writing).

A part of me likes the idea of public transport being privately owned and publicly subsidized. This comes from my intense bitterness to the Washington state, Puget Sound area transportation system(s). This system is public owned and financed yet run as if a selfish 6-year-old is in charge of the system and wants all your money to finance their future addictions. By the time I return to Washington I assume it will cost $100 for a family of four to make a 30 minute ferry crossing and $20 to bus travel during on-peak cross the county line bus trips with only 6 transfers.

Is B.A.’s privately owned but publicly subsidized system an alternative? You have a country that makes some money, pays seemingly no one, generates little to no taxes yet affords to put dilapidated, smoke belching, brake squealing buses, trains and subways at little to no cost (except nerves and patience) to the passenger. How do they do it? The cost, if the system is running and not on some strike, buses .40 , subway .57 and train .20 – that’s in U.S. $ mind you. It sounds more here. Nothing should run for this little anywhere in the world!

Possible next blogs – please comment.

Jaywalking! Go when and wherever you want to.

End of summer – cleavage goes into hibernation; the end of public underwear wearing.

If dogs do it on the sidewalk, why can’t we?

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Simple things from a simpleton – Unknown Artist(s)

A foma I have come to live with, not by, while here in B.A. “behind every gray cloud there are sunny skies” or “behind all the sweet peach meat, you have a pit”. I have come to a personal conclusion that BA is a haven for optimists. What does this have to do with unknown artists? I have no idea. I just started this paragraph and then my mind went to graffiti.

Perhaps, I am amazed by the optimism of the graffiti artist in B. Aires. This artistic endeavor is performed seemingly without fear of being stopped, painted over or running out of available space. As most forms of maintenance is non-existent here, the work of street art tends to be the last resort of urban beauty along the edge of this city’s generalized blight. EVERY street, shows some degree of freehand murals, stencils and of course tags.
almost everywhere
I love street art because it is temporary. I believe these artist are unknown to the general public and perhaps each other. The art speaks for their skill level. A level I will never know (this is where you tell me otherwise). There are many sites (I assume) with BA street art but your stuck here now, so enjoy some of my favorites.
nude and boa
There is also a new art form here in B. Aires. The leading artist in this field is currently Johnny Hopkins. His work is prolific and perhaps sublime. This art form is known as “no tocar mi coche, che”, translated “whatever you do, don’t move or touch my car, dudes”. But as anything, it sounds better in spanish.

Here are some things you don’t see all the time, two works of Juan Hopkins and Sloan Kettering, together albeit briefly as many believe it is just garbage and it will be taken away at some point. Sloan works with multiple medias throughout the city. She takes nothing for granted just as most here take nothing to receptacles. But as all here know, no one here knows when it (or you) go, but all are sure, someone will get it and it all eventually goes.

That is the official optimistic phrase of B. Aires, just leave it there, someone will get it.

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Before I forget

Sunday morning, Feb. 5, gray cloudy skies make the 77℉ day feel very muggy. My memory my mom’s Filipino breakfast (fried eggs, garlic rice, tomatoes in fish sauce) for the niños and me plated, I decide we all need to journal (home school activity, check). I’m all ready to expound on our recent trip to Mendoza except I find I have no pictures to share and the words; wine, vineyards, couples biking and overrated won’t leave my mind. SO on a non-sequitur –  until I get more pictures downloaded, I thought I would share 12 lines and some pictures about 6 months.

Since we have arrived in our new homogeneous alpha city of Buenos Aires we have lived in a cool hotel, an overrated cheaply built condominium, “PH” “departamento tipo casa”, that cool hotel again and now a cool shoe box house. Aside from the hotel, I feel confident in saying every landlord and manager has taken advantage of us while in BA. If only there were some golden rule or set of laws or commands we could all follow to make us treat each other better. I generally believe I like living without a car except when I want a car.

Agua con gas in disposable 2 liter, cartridge included bottles, purchased next door at “Gran City” mercado – how will we ever live without either? Submarinos are cups of milk accompanied by a chocolate bar and liquados are smoothies that Van can order most anywhere. Very few here like spicy or salty but everyone seems to enjoy sweet and ice cream – we like all four. Yes, wine, beef and chicken are  inexpensive and we are grateful for that.

Apparently, small business is the norm in BA with perhaps a zoning regulted same 5-6 type of stores (kiosko, small market, vegetable/fruit stand, basic clothing with lingerie advertising, limited pharmacy, bar/resto) every 3-4 blocks. Hours seem random at times and are rarely posted so you just tend to go later or tomorrow or never at all. I don’t miss one stop shopping until I need something and then I feel I can live without it but get distressed when I realize “it” is ibuprofen I am doing without. I do miss the diversity of people, places and things and am grateful of having been brought up in beta city that was a small mixing bowl of such things.

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Dear Blog

Image
It has been 1 month since I wrote you and for that I apologize. I really have no idea what you went off and did with your formatting but you went off and did something. WP can’t get enough of change it seems.
We’ve been together for a month or two and I’m still not of habit to write regarding our adventures in South America. I will try to update more often from here on out. Happy new year to you too.
Now, to my faithful few readers – this is more of a get me started entry. I promise to write a “what we did on our vacation” paper and a short pour on traveling in Mendoza as soon as possible.
We have been very busy for the past two months with friends (Erin Chevrier and children) and family visiting. January proved no different as Earl & Kristin Lasher continued on and included Chris & Penny Mazzola and Jody Leidecker. The group of 6 grew to 9, stayed in 2 wonderful places within 1 country block of each other for 10 days in yet another wine area of Argentina – Mendoza. Check Mendoza off the list please. Are we done with wine areas yet?
E & K left first for Mendoza beginning with a loss of passport, late night arrival, misrepresentation of on-line hotel accommodations and next day hotel change,  smooth by Argentinian standards. E & K met up with C, P and J at the wonderful Finca Adalgisa where we joined them on the 20th. It was about this time that we realized that our next hotel location is within 1 country block of the present location. This proved only a daily distraction to some of the group and was routinely blurred by an enormous intake of locally produced wines made by over the top, preposterously built, ego (not eco) wineries located throughout the region.
C, P and J left the group after wonderful birthday celebrations for K (70) and E (71) that included surprise tango sessions, intentions of wonderful dinners out and daily crisp refreshing swims in the hotel pool. We then moved on to a more family friendly hotel without an on site winery by the name of Casa Glebinas. Both hotels locations in Chacras de Coria, provided for pleasant and  low-key surroundings albeit distant from the actual city of Mendoza. We returned to Buenos Aires on January 29 with intentions of continuing travel to Uruguay.
ImageRather than go to Uruguay I decided to have an emergency appendectomy instead. Check overseas medical operation off the to do list please. Earl asked me, what was the first and last thing you remember around the operation. Last, the anesthesiologist saying, with a grin, as he put me under “bet you never thought you would have surgery in a 3rd world county” and first, that same candy man saying “wake up Mr. Mitchell, you’re in Buenos Aires, in a hospital” – good times. I am recovering but somewhat disappointed, as I had hoped by removing my appendix I would lose 20 pounds. I gained weight, feel bloated and have the feeling of a cork in my bellybutton. At least in Mendoza I would finished a wine tour prior to feeling this way.
ImageAs they say somewhere, Ambrosia!
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Where are they now?

A belated merry Christmas from la linda, Salta that is.
Happy holidays from los curves and all that are trails 68, 40, 9 and 33 (calling them roads is a stretch) and feliz fiestas from beyond BA and back.

Kristin and Earl became our second guests in BA. Were you aware we left? With their help we finally made it out of mos eisley (aka buenos aires) and have found it true what some say, there is BA and there is Argentina.
We really enjoyed the difference in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy.

A two-hour flight, a two-hour car rental wait, a two-hour drive and a missed turn later and we found ourselves in the town of Coronel Moldes. After a brief wait we followed a truck of strangers to a wonderful farm called Finca Santa Anita. The next day we experienced our first family horse ride, a brief museum of tobacco tour then off to Cafayate, the other wine area in the country. A town of bike riders and wine drinkers kept us at bay for two whole days until off on route 40. We took a portion of the longest trail in AR, made up of tire popping surfaces and heart stopping curves to another small town, Molinos. Here we had the one evening pleasure of staying in Hacienda de Molinos.


A night in lovely Molinos and off to Christmas in La Paya. Finca La Paya everyone(!), Christmas in a remote place, no internet (can you imagine) and a power outing storm made for a romantic christmas by candle light. Relaxation, not on this vacation, now off on high blood pressure inducing route 9 to Tilcara. Bienvenidos Tilcara – four relaxing days spent in a wonderful little town that zagat calls hippie filled. We were glad for the road rest. Inca ruins, check – humitas and locro soup, check – Llama steak (yes), check, Van making friends with locals, check – we were just settling in when check out approached.

Just as we were about to rally unpack the road calls and off through Jujuy (ha-hoo-ee) and on to New Years rockets in Salta at the wonderful Kkala hotel.

I once would say, the weather is here, wish you were great but now I will say, wish you were here and the weather has been as varied as the road surfaces. I will try to share more pictures in the coming days. Any and all questions answered I was trying to keep this short so please feel free to ask.

Happy holidays to all, miss you and good luck in 2012.


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our 1st futbol match

Well we finally made our first futbol match. After being told by many a local not to go or if we go be vigilant for robbery, rape and murder we decided to put our out-of-town guests in front of us and make a game at the famous La Bombonera. With the help of an overpriced but helpful tour group, we were able to return safely from an Argentinian soccer experience. $400 us dollars and 8 hours later we witnessed a 90 minute 1-0 match and we made it back alive with all our personal belongings.

We were not disappointed and were blown away by constant chants, songs and a brief rain and wind storm. Our children’s favorite part when asked, “daydreaming while sitting down”, “the morning before we arrived” and “the fireworks at the end”. I am sure they will thank us for this experience some day, right? I will say I am glad we checked this off the must do list.

The tour aspect, after we left our 3 pm pick up time at around 4 , was perhaps the most enjoyable portion of the day. We were treated to an insightful bus ride and again made aware of all things dangerous in and around La Boca. We were served a traditional lunch (choripan or hamburgers with beer or coke) in a traditional conventillo with all the color and aspects one would expect from a first neighborhood location. Following lunch we were herded towards multiple security check points and pat downs through the streets of La Boca with the chance to peek inside and be among the locals on a Boca Juniors game day.

The stadium was quite the site and situation, as we were afforded the opportunity to arrive 2 hours before kick off. Some might consider this a bit boring (4 children present), I did find it interesting to see the build up to one of the more colorful, loudest and longest group sing and chant fest I have experienced. We were seated in a nose bleed, vertically maxed out, overbooked, literal ass to cheek, pot and cigarette smoking area known as the visiting teams section. We did have a wonderful time acting as if we were not here to see Boca but to root on All Boys in the Barrio del Mundo section, as a local next to me noted. Game’s end treated us to a spectacular fireworks show as Boca celebrated the end to their championship season.

Following the fireworks and field celebrations our tour guide made it clear to stick together as we made our way past garbage acres, down unlit stadium stair wells, through a urine river (I am not exaggerating) onto the street where we were essentially pushed by police van escort quickly through the streets back to the van parked at the edge of the tourist section of La Boca. A drop off at a recommended diner called “club eros” for 10:30 dinner an 11:30 taxi ride home and we would all find ourselves safely locked in, back home to prepare for another week in what is known as the Paris of South America.

I really did like the game though.

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Lines about lines

Grocery shopping in Buenos Aires (bueno aye-reees) is about the same as anywhere I encountered in Seattle. Take away a common language (Lake City Fred Meyer), customer service (Safeway), pride in one’s workplace being clean (Albertson), overpriced items available elsewhere for less (QFC) and similar goods on the same aisle (brown sugar doesn’t belong with regular sugar right?) and it’s really the same.  For every lack of something here, there is a new thing to work with. I enjoy playing iron chef on a daily basis.

worm

The lines here drive me plantainos. Long lines exist back home but there was space in line, whereas here you’re ass to cheek. It’s obvious Home Depot management method exists in BA “let’s build a dozen check-outs and only use, 2, maybe 3. Let’s just see how it feels. Make sure no one puts carts or baskets back. Slow down, we don’t want any precedents set”. I don’t know why the consumer or the vendor puts up with it. Eh, but we do.

Many people on both sides quit.  Why else would you see bloody meat packages left in  beverage coolers (the concern with refrigeration shows they still care, a bit), small baskets with wilted produce and warm coke sitting here and there (cigarette break gone long?) and full carts left to the wayside as if some impending disaster is about to strike and we in line have no idea. Luckily my Porteño motto of “somebody will get that” kicks in and lines go on here (like life goes on – ‘cept with lines). There are alternatives but maybe no one is in a hurry. Why exactly are we in a hurry most of the time anyway? “Slow down America” has morphed here to “We’ve altogether stopped moving Argentina”. People do take many things easy here and it shows.

An alternative to the hypermercados and a favorite of mine in BA are the supermercados located all about. These small little convenience stores, with precisely piled produce and fruit areas packed into the front or corner, a meat stand with standard issue parrilla items and breaded meats  (Van calls these meat with chicken skin) sitting in the back and generally stocked with just about everything but the 2 things you really need. But who knew I needed decorative toothpick holders and airplane size booze?!

Anyway, these little stores are located, by national law, 1 to every 3.8 blocks and/or corner depending on relative relation to and/or of local kiosk (cigarette, candy and pre-made sandwich needs), bazaar (last minute tupperware and cheap trinket needs), butcher (who’s ordering all these animal parts and do we really need to see meat sitting in this much blood) and fruit and vegetable only stands (obsessive compulsive piling needs). Additionally you are not allowed to clean and/or spruce up the front of these stores as that may look too inviting. Regardless of their hygienic shortcomings, I should not take them for granted and I know I will miss their proximity once I leave the BA.

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desde de San Telmo a kung fu fighting

Way back upon arrival, a seeming forever ago, 3 months back, the family M took a Sunday visit to San Telmo. As most of you don’t know, I love the role of tourist and historian and play the part solo within our family. Procrastination, deliberation and listening to Van complain about having to walk aside, we left our minimum security building and made our way to a celebrated tourist trap, spot called San Telmo. San Telmo is another celebrated trip advisor.com location, filled with wonderful crumbling buildings, handsome cobblestone streets strewn with garbage and poo and a square in the middle where something horrible once happened but is now an area dedicated to selling formerly cherished family heirlooms and things made by young artists who don’t shower but seem to have the time and money to pierce their body all over.

2 quick subte line trips and a pleasant walk down Avenida Estados Unidos and we found ourselves in a wonderful covered market and right next to Plaza Dorrego. After a journey like that we needed food. We quickly found ourselves a table on the plaza and waited and waited and waited for our underwhelming food to arrive. I will get into my take on the local food scene  here in the future (or look for me on tripadvisor.com) but for now go here for a laugh “pick up the fork” to discover local cuisine and insight into BA. The big deal in this blentry, is our first encounter with the now beloved SUBMARINO. Take scalding milk, pour it into a tall tippy glass, insert a spoon or other knock over helper, set all this on a too small saucer, place ALL this on a tippy table in front of a child and you have hot milk ready to be elbowed over. Now add a chocolate bar next to it and charge 4-6+ plus U$ dollars and you have yourself a submarino.

This blentry was to be about San Telmo, it’s rich history, our families (maybe just me) love affair with an area we would only dream about living in (locals tell us to avoid it during the evenings, afternoons, early mornings, holidays, large-scale events, small fiestas, while carrying valuables, while being a single woman, while being male carry $ and anytime while people are present to avoid muggings, pickpocketing, dog poop stepping, etc) and the many wonderful memories we take from ST but it all boils down to a drink served boiling hot, dios mio.

Ah well, we did walk the length of Avenida Defensa on a Sunday. We ended in Playa Mayo (pigeon park according to V) and watched kung fu fighters before our return to LIVE hotel (their name not mine). What more could you really ask for on a sunny, bright brisk lazy Sunday surrounded by hordes of pigeons, dog poo, plastic bags and graffiti while being asked to pay for things in dollars or accept 4.8 exchange rate when the official exchange is only 4.2? Oh well, you know what they say.

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