Saturday, March 28, 2009

You Know You're Argentine If ...

... You wait a week to have someone fix your modem. OK, I guess that goes for expats, too; either way, I have the internet in my home again. :)

Today I documented a few examples of what it means to be Argentine.

You know you're Argentine if ...

... You drink mate (pronounced MAH-tay). You've built a mate-holder into your dashboard.

... You smoke religiously. Even in the grocery store.

... You love dulce de leche. You put it in everything, even Oreos.

... Your driving puts New Yorkers to shame. My boss put it best when he said, "Where we see lanes, they see a spectrum of opportunities." I will film a taxi ride sometime to show you what I'm talking about. It's insanity.

... You're a flogger. OK, I don't have an illustration of that, but you know you're Argentine if you're all about design and being hip. These pics are from this design fair we went to today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Believe It Or Not

FiberTel didn't come yesterday. We got a fluent Spanish-speaking friend to intercede on our behalf, and the "customer service" people told her they had THE WRONG NUMBER for us, so they were unable to get ahold of us to confirm their appointments Mon. and Wed.

I am flabbergasted. Not only did Neil confirm our phone number and have them read it back to him after they said no one had answered on Monday -- but I have NO IDEA how they could possibly have the wrong number because they successfully called us last month when they initially set up our internet.


We'll see if they actually make good on our appointment tomorrow, Friday, one whole week since our modem died.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It´s Not All Tea Parties and Roses

Just so you know that I´m keeping it really real here in B.A., I am writing this from a grimy little ¨internet cafe¨ in the back of a convenience store. What´s this --> รง ? I know, I know, but it doesn´t need its own key on my keyboard.

Our modem died on Friday, and the roller coaster ride that is one way to describe dealing with FiberTel began (and you know how I feel about roller coasters.) Oh, they said they´d come on Monday (yesterday) between 8-4 p.m.

Or, rather, between 8-16:00 because they insist on using military time here (yes, sometimes the honeymoon clears for a minute and I see the dog crap all over the sidewalk -- no, really, that´s another big, bad, nasty problem here). Side note, that whole 24 hr. clock thing is odd and annoying.

Anyway, so after a long internet-less weekend, they said they´d show up Monday, and what happens? Neil stays home ALL day so he will be there when they call; he gets two calls that are dial tones when he picks them up. He calls at 2 p.m. to see when they´re coming and they said they called earlier and no one had answered. ARRRGHHHhhhh!! So they rescheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday).

Another side note, FiberTel is so difficult to deal with, that it´s recommended to leave your bill in the name of the previous tenant and just continue to pay it. It confuses them too much to think that a different person with a different name might want internet in the same apartment where someone with a different name used to live. So we pay the bill under the last name ¨Ailfkod,¨ which, as we found out from my co-workers, is phonetically close to being similar to the name of the people who lived in our place before us.

Hopefully the FiberTel people actually show up tomorrow, because it´s kind of hard to do an online Master´s program when you don´t have the internet. Hence, I have spent the past 2 hours and 58 minutes here doing research and h.w. (there´s a counter on my screen -- the cost so far is 9 pesos, and with an exchange rate of $3.70/1, that´s not bad -- but the secondhand smoke, bad reggae music and staphylococcus-laced keyboard kind of make me the loser here). Wait, I think what makes me the bigger loser is that I don´t have internet at my house!

OK, so there´s my gripe. Back to structural realism, hegemony and international relations. Which is another gripe altogether when it´s a perfectly gorgeous, sunny HOLIDAY (Argentina´s Memorial Day -- wait, there´s a bright side, double holidays off work!) and I´m stuck inside doing homework allllll day. Boo hoo!

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UPDATE: As soon as I pressed ¨publish post,¨I got a little Valentine from fate -- Fidel Nadal´s ¨International Love¨ came up in the otherwise and heretofore described as ¨bad¨reggae mix. YouTube this song, it´s great; I first heard it a couple weeks ago but that´s another story.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tea Party at the Palace

The Ambassador lives in a palace right by the Embassy. No, really -- it's called the Bosch Palace. It's on both Buenos Aires' and Argentina's lists of historic places, and is on the Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property.

I went to a tea party there on Tuesday, which was a lot of fun. Plus I love tea, and Teeson had some amazing mixes.

It was St. Patrick's Day -- the Ambassador and I were both sporting green.

Everyone is so patient with my limited "Castellano" (Spanish).

Teeson's "Lemon Flower" was my favorite. The palace's tea set was the perfect complement!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Undoing

They deliver.

And they let me choose three flavors to put in my one-kilo container.

I recommend:
Choclate Tentacion/American Cookies/Mousse de Maracuya (passionfruit!)

If you click on the link above, look at the Echeverria location, which is a few blocks from my apartment. It will give you a good idea of what my neighborhood is like. Who doesn't love an ice cream shop that's hopping till 4 a.m.?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Falling Back

Today we "fell back," that sign that fall is near. In March? So weird to get used to this southern hemisphere thing. And today was sunny but much cooler than its been. Could it possibly be fall?? It wasn't THAT long ago (a week and a half?) that I posted about summer. I hear there is a rapid transition between seasons here. On our walk home from church (we live four blocks away, hooray) I noticed a marked transition from the summer tanks, shorts, skirts and dresses ladies were wearing yesterday. Today it was sweaters, slacks, scarves (!) and hoodies. A lot of the older couples, both women and men, were wearing sweaters knotted preppy-style around their shoulders. You definitely get the feeling that there is a huge European influence here.

Another thing I've mentioned that I have a little illustration of below is the dog walkers. Today, because it's the weekend, I saw a lot of people walking their dogs, both on and off leashes. I have no idea how they train them, in the city, to walk off a leash, but the dogs do and I haven't seen any get run over. Maybe it's because they are used to walking around the city every weekday with their dog walker. It's funny in the morning to see the dog walkers collecting the dogs: You'll see an unattended but well-behaved band of dogs tied to a railing or something outside an apt., patiently waiting while the dog walker is inside, retrieving another dog to add to the group. They go on like that until they've got all the dogs. Usually they are out walking on the sidewalks, but I noticed they make their way to the many parks in the city midday to hang out and play. This sight is very common on my way to work, but this is the only picture I've taken of it:

Friday, March 6, 2009


One of my co-workers described winter here as "spring gone bad." That just sounds hilarious to me. I am wondering what exactly "spring gone bad" looks like. Luckily it's still summer.

Makes me think of this song.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Two to Tango

People here love to stay out late. And they love to dance. Tango.

Before I got here, I thought these were generalizations or stereotypes. But they're not -- they're absolutely true.

I didn't understand how Argentines are notorious for staying out till 6 a.m. How was it possible? Now I understand -- EVERYONE is out, restaurants are open, old people, families, babes in arms and strollers are out -- it doesn't FEEL like it's midnight. If octogenarians and newborns can hang, I surely can!

I love strolling around our neighborhood. Several blocks from our house is a park -- remember how I said Argentines LOVE their parks? -- with a gazebo in it. I've gone by there in the evening after work and there are always lots of people out, walking their dogs, sitting on blankets, enjoying their summer. And there is tango in the gazebo. Hip, young dancers. Middle-aged people, enjoying getting dressed up to dance. Old people, still perfecting their moves, holding on to one another.

It's so beautiful. Some people like me stand and watch them. Argentines aren't all about personal space. Strangers share small benches. I saw a teenage couple, talking and kissing on a bench by the tango gazebo, and beside them was an old lady, watching the dancers. I wish I would've taken a picture, but that would've been weird!

After dinner Friday night, all our friends went their separate ways and Neil and I found ourselves walking home past the tango gazebo park. And they were having a dance! They had an outdoor projection screen playing old black and white film of tango musicians performing, and a stage with a professional couple dancing.
When the performance was over, everyone was invited to dance and they played waltz music and then more tango. It was so amazing!!!
I took these pictures at 11:30 p.m. Friday night. I am of course still learning about the culture here, but I just know that in the States, you would never, never, see such a variety of people, especially older people, dancing in a park at midnight.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back To School

Well, today was my first day of school.

Three years were apparently enough to dull the memory of the pain that six years of undergrad brought me, and I am now pursuing a master's degree in diplomacy.

It's an online program (no lectures in Spanish for me, thank you very much!) through Norwich University (in Vermont -- I hadn't heard of it either till I searched for online programs in the field).

It's still dawning on me that it will only take 1/3 of the time it took me to get my bachelor's. Phew.

Wish me luck!