Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mom's visit, Day One.

Hello readers. I know it' s been quite a long time since my last blog. I do apologize. The last two weeks have been most exciting, and most "exciting". For starters, my mom and sis-in-law came visited me here in Buenos Aires. We'll begin there:

Mom and Amanda arrived on April 15th at 9 in the morning. I wanted to pick them up from the airport to save them the hassle that I endured upon landing in a country will no native language skills whatsoever. But in order for me to get to the airport (quite far from my place), I would have needed to take this bus, that bus, this shuttle, and such. I would have had to wake up around 6am and spend around $50 pesos to get there. Then we'd need to spend about $100 pesos to get back to my place. Well, Juge made a wonderful suggestion: hire a driver. We did, but wouldn't that be really expensive?

Oscar was his name and he was such a sweet little older man. He picked me up at my front door, speaking no English, and we headed off; successfully picked up the family and went back home, costing me all of $120 pesos. Amazing! Lesson learned, call a "remis"! Heck, call Oscar. I'd certainly pass his number along. We used him time and time again.

This has been a tough time in "renting an apartment in BsAs". Noah, Margot and I have been having problems with our living situation and the height of the confusion and turmoil was at its peak around this time (so I thought... it got worse), during my mom's visit.

Plans: as soon as mom and Amanda arrived I wanted to show them how to make homemade empanadas. But dealing with apartment issues were abound. Well, I finally decided that I was not going to be stopped! We rushed to the supermarket, got some tapas and roast; to my local veggie stop, got some tomatoes, red peppers, etc.; to my laundry lady, got some clean blankets for the family. Rushed home. Made some yummy, yummy empanadas.

I rushed to a job interview and let mom and Amanda check out Caballito. Then we headed downtown to exchange their US dollars. But we ALL left our passports at home!!! And you need your passport to exchange. So, no money for us. Well, that's not entirely true. I had money. Not tons, but some.

Met Juge in Puerto Madero, walked around. Checked out the "pink house" where Presidente Kirchner "works". We saw her take off in her helicopter too. She left work early, it was around 3pm. Hence, "work". Walked, and walked more.

Showed them San Telmo. Mom had her first mate from a little shop owner in the market in San Telmo. Showed them lots of pieces of meat. Lots and lots.

Mom and Amanda's first "bondi" experience:

To see more photos of this first day, click:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Here's what I remember.

I remember thinking, after I finally arrived in this country, on my insane journey into almost complete unknown, "oh my, these folks don't speak the same language as me."

Then a few months later, I'm told, "your Spanish is really improving." "Nah," I say. But it's true, it is. I must realize, I've had three weeks of formal classes in Spanish. Total. Ever in 29 years of life. Yes, "having" 29 years. But I've lived here, and that makes me hard on myself.... like, "why aren't I totally fluent already?"

Well, Spanish is hard. Harder than I thought. BUT!, I did go to a job interview yesterday where the employer spoke in Spanish. And though he said, "stop me if you don't understand" (in Spanish), I decided to let him go. Vamos! Ramble on! And you know what? I think I caught 70% of it. Sure, in the lacked 30%, he could have said, "hey listen grasshopper, you're an idiot and if you agree to eat this job, I'll roast your toes for lunch and make whoopie in your cheese," I wouldn't have understood. But I'm 70% confident he did not say that. I mean, that would be a really, really odd thing to say in an interview, right? (I doubt myself in oddness these days, so bring reality to the forefront if you're capable. POR FIII!!!!)

Certainly one of the reasons I moved here, opposed to a French or German speaking country, is because I have NO experience with learning this language. And indeed, I didn't really KNOW French or German, but I had some knowledge and had studied both of them. And sure, I knew 7 words in Spanish before I moved here. But the challenge was being somewhere with a brand new language for me. Yippie! And yikes.

Alas, Spanish will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. It has to be. And not just Spanish Spanish, but Argentine Spanish, which in many ways is quite different. Of course, Spanish speaking folks from wherever can understand one another, I'm interested in this dialect most. Why? Well, ummm, I live here. And will be back here. And need to talk to people who also live here. Said and done... (mostly).

Random, surfacing thought of the moment: Riding behind a 4-wheeler with a "ski rope" through the sand dunes of Villa Gesell on my bum for Easter vacation is fun!

P.f'ing.S. My mom and sis-in-law arrive tomorrow for a fun-filled vay-kay. They get to see my life down SOUTH!!!! SOUTH, SOUTH, SOUTH! I am totally ecstatic! Updates, pictures, and fun-ness from the visit will be displayed and reported here. And only here. Look out!

Chau! Besos!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not for children.

You know I had a really funny dinner the other night, with a “porteño” family; father, mother, sisters. (“porteño”? See: folks that inhabit this city.) My Spanish is still so far from anything worth writing home about, but luckily for me, like in most recent situations, their English is far better than my terrible Spanish.

But here’s the new topic, after a little wine, yummy pizza, and laid back chatter: bad words. In English. Curse words. They know several! And because English isn’t their native language, these words have little meaning to them. At least, true meaning. They’re just sounds, words that they vaguely understand the deep context of. I’m not saying, they don’t understand their meaning, mostly, I’m just saying, it ain’t their native tongue so there’s a distance there; between them and these word’s meaning.

Here are the sound bites, transcribed to “paper” of course, that ensued over the next several minutes:

(Oh and first, this is rated R. Or maybe rated, “I can’t believe I’m actually posting this”. Kids, turn and walk away, there’s nothing for your innocent ears here.)


(I can’t stop laughing at this point; maybe I’m blushing too?)

Shit fuck slut.

(And yes, I decide to join in, just a little.)


(and last but not least, my favorite, de Papa…)


P.S. Thanks for the kick in the tush Jenny.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Once you accept you live...

Once you accept you live here or anywhere, life is different. Eventually you realize, it's your life. Your "regular" life. And that doesn't seem very interesting. Which is terrible, I know. I couldn't imagine a blog about the great city of Chicago because I lived there but it would be super interesting to many. I didn't always see or discuss the beauty of Chicago with the world. Because, well, I lived there. And the same is happening here... I live here. Sure, sooooooo many things are still interesting and different here, different from the states. But it's becoming, and is, more natural. And I forget, it's not for you. It's odd and different and/or interesting for you. Or at least, most of you. I've slipped into the "regular" life here. And I say that with caution... I am still no where near fluent in Spanish and I still cannot understand most conversations! NO ENTIENDO!!!!! But the lifestyle, or at least, my lifestyle, here has become. It is. I grocery shop in the few same stores I have; stores that would be odd for you stateside folks, but that are "normal" for me; now. Odd. Walking. Streets. Ahhhhh! I've adjusted. I needed to be reminded that you don't know this world. And this world is so interesting and worth bloggin. It is.

And I've fallen.

And yes, I've had some wonderful cocktails tonight, after some homemade "Philly cheese steak sandwiches". Yummy! ...Jui agrees.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Things not to forget about Uruguay.

(crazily written... stream-of-consciousness taken word-for-word from thought-from-memory journal entry of Uruguay; translated a tad for a slightly easier read.)

Colonia: is amazing. Met Aussie Jackie as we're getting into our Thrifty rental Chevy Corsa. She joins us in Punta del Este at hostel after Andrea heads back to Montevideo.

Montevideo: Picked up Andrea in Monte from her Spanish school and from the short time there, I realize I want to spend lots more time there. Rental car was genius. Montevideo!!! Red Hostel. Horse-drawn trash collector. UR folks drink even more mate than AR folks. Counted 1 out 7 at one point in time while strolling the streets. (P.S. I just bought my first bag of mate and had some in the comforts of my home... it's yummy.)

Punta del Este: "Conrad Girls." Had "paella" (pronounced: "pah-eh-sha") seafood gumbo at HOP in Este. Dinner ended at 2am. Margot and Andrea get carded at Moby Dick... 1st time ever in South America. They didn't have IDs. We went to Soho. Danced at Soho. Tight, tight. Too many people standing around on the dance floor. Hard for us to move.

Waves at Bikini Beach kicked Andrea and I's ars! I had so many colorful little rocks and shells in my trunks, it was a bit crazy. Bumper sticker ads.

Route 10 from Este to Diablo: had to cross a river w/ the craziest ferry, only held 3 cars and was powered by a tiny boat tied to its side. Free.

This route stayed unpaved for miles and this countryside along the beautiful coastline made me so excited!! I want to to know how much land is!! These (all over) super cool, square, windowed beach houses inspire the architect in me. A LOT! I love them.

Jose Igancio: most beautiful, perfect beach so far; little getaway town; $$$; beautiful peeps; best ocean experience ever.

Punta del Diablo: tiny little fishing town w/ very small fishing boats, amazing house rental for us (no HOSTEL!!!!), square, windows, feels like I'm outside w/ all of them open. Diablo seems like a cheaper place to hang at the beach; can't believe same of these "houses" but lots are still super adorable. No ATM. Had to go to Chuy.

Chuy (the last city before Brasil): got searched by UR police on return to Punta del Diablo 'cause we were so close to Brasil; cracked-out mate drinking guy tried to help us park; Noah not allowed in supermercado shirtless, gets one of Margot's.

Lost outlet adapter so phone, iPod, and camera are dying. Dang it. Bicycling on the highway seems dangerous. $ conversion: about 26UR$ to 1 US$.

I wonder if I've done anything worth posting.

And the consensus is "yes". Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I'm not entirely sure I've done many interesting things for others to read about. Sure, my life has been entirely interesting and exciting, but for you? Not sure.

Margot, Noah, and I had a house warming party. Homemade empanadas, guacamole, salsa and sangria included. Great fun!

I've been looking for a job. Yikes. I mean, I certainly do need one... money is hitting low.

I can't stop cooking! Everyday, I have something so wonderful. Lately, I've been making some of the best sandwiches and pizzas I've ever had! They are delicious and amazing.

I've been ldoing ots of everyday, living and surviving things. Cooking, eating, exercising, walking, grocery shopping, emailing, thinking, writing, practicing, running, breathing, creating, dodging, sleeping, waking, absorbing, etc-ing.

I've ridden some rollarcoasters in the last couple of weeks. Not real ones. Metaphorical ones. That's been both fun and a bit insane. Overall? Fun.

I'm still enjoying beautiful summer weather. Sunshine, heat, breeze and all.

And. I'm still alive. Yayyyy! If you have any questions, just ask. I'll spill guts.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sitting down to blog about Uruguay... finally.

This posting might be spattered with a bit of ADD, but alas, you'll probably understand most of it.

As mentioned earlier, I fell in love with Colonia, Uruguay. We arrived there via Buque Bus, a ferry service that takes you from BA to Colonia and/or Montevideo (capital of UR). There are two options: one hour or three hour rides. We opted for the one hour, Linkbut mostly because the others were sold out. Loving ride.

Colonia is a quiet little town that sits itself across the river to BA. And in case you didn't know, BA is not really on the ocean. It sort of is. But it doesn't feel like it, because it's not. The water is brown, sediment from the river, Rio de la Plata, hitting the Atlantic Ocean. Want to know more about Colonia, dig my previous post: here.Link
We rented a car in Colonia. From Thrifty, for just over $200 for the week. This turned out to be a super, super wise decision. Sure, there are a few buses that transport folks to most of the destinations we wanted to visit, but not all. I remember on one tank refill, the bill came to $960!!!!!!! Of course, that's UR pesos. 23 to 1 US dollar.

(P.S. I'm starting to upload pictures of Colonia... see them here: Colonia I)

Easiest way to convert UR pesos to US dollars: chop of the last digit (they almostLink never use cents). So, let's say something costs $250 UR pesos, like a bottle of Smirnoff vodka (not that I'd know...hee, heet). Whop of the 0. You get $25. Divide by two, 12.5, and now take off a little. So, in the end, that bottle costs about $11 US$. What a fun and easy way to figure out costs. Now you try: this meal for four at this nice restaurant, HOP, in Punta del Este costs $2775!!!!! About how much is that in US$?

We did eat at HOP in Punta del Este. It was yummy! It was also the first time I'd had fish since being in South America. Tuna. It was yummy. I also had some "paella", which they were cooking out in front the restaurant! Paella is very similar to seafood gumbo. Oh, and seafood gumbo is like a big vat of various sea creatures (and/or crawfish). It was very, very tasty.

(this blog is sort of intimidating because there's soooo much to write... TBC)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of course, I´d love to post pictures...

But at the moment, I can´t. Computers at hostels are usually quite slow.

I´ve stayed at El Viajero hostels for the last several days. They have four in Uruguay, and I´ve stayed at the one in Colonia and Manantiales, just past Punta del Este. They really are nothing compared to Kapake in Palermo, BsAs, but I guess I don´t expect much. They´re hostels. They cost around $15 a night. Plus, I´m not even at the hostel much; just sleeping and waking, drinking cups of the worst coffee ever. Worst! I really need to buy instant coffee and carry it around with me. Oh, this morning, for some reason, the water has turned cloudy, green. Yikes. Maybe I´ll use bottled water for my oatmeal instead of tap water.

Speaking of coffee. I´ve noticed this before and this thought has crossed my mind lots. Let me spill it:

The folks here (BsAs y Uruguay) really like to sit and enjoy their coffee. It´s rare to see to-go cups at the cafes. You sit down. You order your coffee. And you are served. You always get a little cookie or two, and a small glass of water (usually ¨con gas¨... I prefer ¨sin gas¨, but I survive). And you sit and sip your coffee. It´s yum. Each cup is always freshly made and it´s always espresso. Mi gusto!

We´ve picked up a new Aussie friend for a couple of days in Punta del Este and now we´re heading to Punta del Diablo. I´m pretty sure it´s the last little town before you hit Brasil.

Yesterday was spent at one of the most beautiful beaches I´ve been to: Jose Ignacio. It´s known for being the hideaway/getaway for not only wealthy Argentine familes, but celebrities (US moviestars included) as well. The only famous person I saw at the beach though was the great bassist, Matthew Golombisky. I couldn´t believe it!


Bloggin´ from hostels....

Is hard.

The connections are usually bad or down all together, or there´s a line. It´s tough. And....

I´ve been on the road, living in hostels for the last week or more. But, I´m not trying to paint a bad picture; I have been hosteling along the coast of Uruguay and it´s one of the most beautiful places I´ve ever been. In its own sweet beachy way. I love it. I have fallen in love with Uruguay. Would I have ever thought of this 10 years, 5 years, 1 year or two months ago??? No. I´m sorry that I never yearned for this place before.

I´ll update you more later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I have absolutely fallen in love.

Yesterday, Margot, Noah, and I left BsAs one a ferry. But like a semi-high tech ferry; comfy, reclining seats and TVs (showing some silly circus act with trampolines and fire spinning), etc. There are two ferries that go between BsAs and Colonia, Uruguay (our first destination on this one week Uruguay costal tour). One ferry, three hour trip; another ferry, one hour trip. The three ferry is cheaper, but it was booked up. We opted for the fast ferry, rapido! I mean, it was only like $7 more expensive.

We arrived around 7:30pm. The short walk to our hostel, El Viajero, excited us a tad. After we paid for two nights (at $15 a night!!!!), dropped off our bags, we headed out for a wonderful, long sunset. Now, I was totally excited to be here. Oh my, the views!

Colonia, Uruguay is one of my most favorite places! I love it! It´s cute; adorable! Anywhere and everywhere you turn in the old section of town is worthy of a picture. (But because this computer and connection is sooooo slow and unreliable, I won´t be able to upload pictures... soon enough though.) The sunset was beautiful. It´s interesting to note that because the way Colonia is situated in this cape/bay, it´s one of the only places on the east coast of South America that you can get a sunset over the water. It was beautiful. It is beautiful. You can also see the skyline of BsAs from Colonia. The sun sets just over the skyscrapers...

And it´s pretty darn queit. I didn´t realize how much I needed the quiet after living in BsAs for a month (or more). BsAs is extremely noisy, in most places. It is a huge city afterall. But this tranquil feel, here in Colonia, immediately relaxed me. And forced me to fall in love with this little city.

Lots and lots of scooters and little motorcycles...

Let´s get some stats on Colonia del Sacramento (the full name):
Population: 21,000. Founded in 1680. We did read that Uruguay has a 98% literacy rate!!! The whole country has 3.5 million folks.

Wikipedia has a few things to say further. ¨According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America (along with Chile), with its political and labor conditions being among the freest on the continent. The word, Uruguay, comes from the Guarani language, meaning ´river where the painted birds live´.¨

Gotta run for now. Thanks for reading! Check up on more interesting facts on Uruguay. It´s a pretty neato place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some down time and then I'm off to Uruguay.

Hi all. These past few days have been pretty relaxed. Noah (stateside friend, now in Argentina for three months) and I did lots and lots of walking. We walked through the lovely parks of Palermo and the Japanese Garden.

Lots more pictures here:
Palermo parks

And here:
Jardin Japones

I moved out of my apartment a few days ago. Thanks to Ivan and Tomas for a great month!! Those guys are good people and helped me out quite a bit.

Noah, Margot (Noah's novia and my friend from Potbelly, stateside), and I are waiting to move into our new place in a week or so. We've got a place in Villa Crespo, but if you remember, we can't move in until Feb. 12th.

We're staying at this great hostel right now. It's awesome! Referred to us by Andrea (friend from Spanish school). Kapake, check it out. Most hostels look really nice online, but in real life, kinda shabby. This is not the case for Kapake; it really is amazing.

Margot just arrived! Yayyy!

Tomorrow, to pass the time before moving into our new place, we head off for a little vacation. We're spending a week on the beaches of Uruguay. Down time. Hang time. Fun time. I think most of the hostels have computers, so I'll keep you updated. Here are a few places on our loose itinerary: Colonia, Montevideo, Punta del Este, Punta del Diablo.

Ver mapa más grande

Side note: I had a "carne muy picante" empanada yesterday. "muy picante" is supposed to mean, "really spicy." So far, it's been a lie. Hahahahaaa! Well, yesterday's carne muy picante was really spicy. Wait, not REALLY spicy, but spicy. Such pleasure from having to blow my nose from spice. First time since I left the states has this happened. Yayyyy for the little, little things in life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Have I told you....?

...how much this place reminds me of New Orleans? No? Well, it certainly does. The dirty, gritty feel of hot, humid culture; the un-needed sense of urgency; the sidewalks; the obsession with food; the drinking on the streets (though, you can't buy alcohol from stores after 10pm, which is odd and silly)....

...how crazy driving would be here? Lanes? To be determined by the driver. Stop signs? Absent. And when they are here, they're ignored. Pedestrians? Be on the look out or you will die.

...how much dog poop exists for you to step in? No, no, I have told you that. And lots.

...how late night life starts here? (Oh, again refer to being reminded of New Orleans.) Late! Going out to dinner starts around 10:30pm. Or later. Oh, let's meet at the club. Cool, what time? Let's say 2:30am. Perfect. The place doesn't open until then anyway. Cool.

...that they speak Spanish here? They do. I knew that, right? Yeah, I knew that. Well, did I know that I didn't speak Spanish? Yeah, I knew that too. But it's coming along. Fun times.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lots of photos for you...

It's a tad tedious to upload ALL the pictures I take to this blog. It's much easier on FaceBook, but I realize many of you don't have a FaceBook account. Yesterday, I learned that FaceBook will allow me to share my photo albums with all of you! Here are some links to click around:

Argentina Pt. 1: NYE, Villa Gesell

Argentina Pt. 2: Mi casa.

Argentina Pt. 3: Palermo + Parque Rivadavia

Argentina Pt. 4: San Telmo + more

Argentina Pt. 4b: "Open Door" Series

Argentina Pt. 5: Palermo

Argentina Pt. 6: Puerto Madero + pool party

Argentina Pt. 7: Recoleta

Argentina Pt. 8: Palermo (river parks)

Argentina Pt. 9: Jardin Japones

Friday, January 30, 2009

Note to self: learn to take naps.

Friday, like many days, starts with a very tired Matthew. That’s me. Folks take naps here. It’s great, except that I haven’t totally gotten into that habit. Everyday at 1pm, after class, I think, “well, I’m really tired and could use a nap.” Next thought: “nah, I’ll just go to bed early tonight cause I know I’ll be ready for bed by 10pm.” Oh, wait. That didn’t work yesterday. Or the day before. Or the day before. And it’s not going to work today, deep down, I know it. So that’s the cycle. My cycle. Silly me.

It was another one of those days I found myself saying, “man, I’m really tired and should take a nap or I’m not going to last past 10pm.” And what happened? Did I nap? No. Oh well.

The plan: Noah and I would meet up with our new landlord at 9pm, pay some rent as a security for the place, and meet up with Andrea (friend from school, she’s from San Francisco) for a drink. Darcy (Chicago friend of a friend) invited us to hip-hop night at Club Araoz. “Meet us there at 1am.” Woah. Ha!, yeh right. There’s no way I’m going to make that. Noah agrees.

Ramiro, our new landlord, is really nice and relaxed. I’m really excited to rent from him. Noah digs the apartment; it’s the first time he’s seen it. I dig it even more after this visit. And Ramiro is recommending all his favorite spots in the neighborhood. He’s also recommending his favorite thing to do on Thursday nights: go to Club 69. He said that we really, really should go and hang with him. “Yeah, you should really make this! Meet up with me. I’ll be there at 2:30am.” WOAH! Hahahaaaaa! But he went on and on about this particular hang. I think Noah and I both were simultaneously thinking, “yeah, we should make this happen… impossible! But possible? Impossible.” Ramiro says, “guys, you gotta learn, take naps. I’m getting dinner then coming back here to take a nap. That’s what we all do.”

Ok, let’s make it possible. But without the nap.

Off to meet up with Andrea at (text) “the plaza.” Yes, I know the one. Of course. We meet a couple of her brand new friends; they’re hostel mates: Marie (from France) and Darcy (from Australia… and now, that there are two Darcy’s in this blog, this one will be Daussie. And he’s a he, the other Darcy is a she. She will be referred to as Darchi. “chi” as in Chi-cago, of course). These are good people. We chat for a while. Have some empanadas. Taste Andrea’s new favorite drink (I forget the name, Noah forgets too). Andrea, what’s the name of that drink? And what’s in it again? Sugar, limes and ???

I mention the hip-hop hang with Darchi and the 69 hang with Ramiro. Everyone’s into these ideas, but wow, that’s hours and hours away. And these folks, including myself, are on the descent. Dissension into sleepy-time. But, let’s do it! Pace, pace, pace.

Club Araoz… outside, out front, 1:15am. Again, woah. Ummm, nah. Let’s just head to Club 69 instead.

This Club 69 spot is just a few blocks from our new place, that’s cool. There are also lots of restaurants and bars around. We find 69. Why is there a huge, fat Argentinean transvestite dancing and singing out front? Wait, there are more inside. We can see this. Craziness. Ok. Well, lets grab a drink at that place across the street first, Carnival.

Carnival has a really nice roof top terrace. We all like it quite a lot. And now, it’s time for everyone to have some Red Bull. I think I’ve had two Red Bulls in my life, or maybe five, but I’m desperate for energy right now. Super desperate.

3am, mas o menos. Okay, lets do this. Lets go to Club 69. I think we’re ready.

After paying the cover, we were greeted by two dancing transvestites. They were very enthusiastic to see us. Along with everyone else that entered. Our ticket stub got us a shot of the worst tasting Tequila on the face of the earth. Again, I ask, Andrea, what's the name of that Tequila? I need to make sure it never ever touches these lips again.
This place is enormous! On stage, there are several shirtless young men break dancing. It’s like a break-dance-off. I was totally impressed with these guys. Bouncing up and down on one hand, doing flips and such.
This place is huge!
Packed with pounding music and hundreds and hundreds of folks dancing. And what’s up with the random robust and extravagant transvestites? Well, what are we to do? Well, what else is there to do other than dance? Not much. Though, one could spend a long time people watching, some people wouldn’t necessarily want to people watch here. Very, very eclectic.

Every so often the stage turned into a dance show of sorts with women (I'm pretty sure. No, they were women). It was quite an entertaining show. Very, very entertaining. Very entertaining. I can't emphasize this enough. But I'm trying to keep this clean. There are kids reading this blog.
Here's what another blogger says about Club 69: here. And like, Olivier, I suggest going to Club 69 on a Thursday night, if you haven't already.

So, we danced. We danced for a very long time. We finally decided to leave, but somehow ended up dancing more. Then we all decided to go home. It seemed as though we were the only ones that decided to go home. The place was still packed. This was around 6am!!!

Noah and I went on our journey to find our 15 "bonde" (the hip way to say "bus" or "colectivo"). But why is this random Argentinean girl following us? And why does she want to know who our favorite celebrity is? Jajajjajaaa!

We get home. And decide to check out the sun rise on our roof top. It's not too impressive because it's sort of cloudy and gray.

Now to sleep.

P.S. Dig some more pictures and videos from the night:
(still to come)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lease ends, new lease starts, but with 12 days in between.

Well, there you have it. My one month lease ends at my current location on Jan. 31st. Alas, I found a new place to live in Villa Crespo, just outside Palermo. We´ll be renting from another musician; a guitarist who´s leaving BA for a few months for gigs in NYC. Exciting, as playing in other cities and countries is. Again, it´s musicians supporting musicians (in case you forgot, my current roommates are also musicians).

The new place will bring new roommates and old friends. Well, they´re not that old. I´m older than them. These friends are from Chicago. Margot and Noah. Noah arrived to BsAs yesterday and it´s great having him around. He´s fun and funny. Margot will get here on Feb. 4th; she´s spent the last month in Nicaragua.

We won´t be able to move into our new place until Feb. 12th. And that´s no problem. There are plenty of hostels in the city to hang in for those, almost, two weeks. But wait!, why pay for hostels in BA, when we could just as easily pay for hostels somewhere else, like in another city or province or even country!

We don´t have any specific plans as of yet, but we are going to Uruguay. And we will hit some beaches there. We´ve heard they are beautiful. But we need to double check, see for ourselves. Jaajaaajajaaa! And that´s about all of a plan we have. Go there. Camp or hostel it. Beach or city it. Boat or bus it. Not fly it. It should be fun...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You'd never believe how difficult it is to find spicy food.

I'm telling you! Spicy food is not present. Nope. And!!!, after a night of cooking last week, I realized that it's also difficult to cook spicy food. Why? Well, because ingredients required to spice things up don't exist here. And if they do, I'd love to learn where. Please, readers in BA, inform me!

Last Thursday, I was hanging out at Julieta #2 folk's house. We all had cake and tea. It was yum.

(Now remember, this family is the nice family that took me in on New Year's Day at Villa Gesell. See funny previous video in earlier posts.)

When I first met this lovely family, I couldn't speak Spanish. At all. Well, now I can converse a little. Tiny amounts. And of course, my sentences are full of nouns. I need to learn more verbs.

We got into conversing about some "traditional" (United) stateside dishes. I tried to explain New Orleans cuisine to no avail! Try explaining crawfish to these folks (some of you know these little creatures as "crayfish"). No way. I finally used my hands to shrink an imaginary lobster, but then, of course, explain that's it's not a lobster. And how to cook it? A crawfish boil? Ha! Wanna see a crawfish boil, do ya? See below:

Then, I talked about food that I like to eat and cook. I talked about burritos and quesadillas especially. Because they are on my mind quite a bit. Their absence in this city make me weep a little. Instead, they have "empanadas" which are yummy. They're filled with different meats, or cheese, or veggies. They are everywhere. And I dig. I had some today actually; from Solo Empanada.

I was explaining the ingredients that I use: pollo (chicken), red/yellow bell peppers, onions, salsa, guacamole, etc. Well, little did I know that they were asking me to actually make dinner. Uh, it's 10pm! The next thing I heard was "supermercado." We were off.


We head to a special store for tortillas. Wait, this is a bakery?! We can't find torillas here. Julieta #2 holds up "tortillas". Ummm, those are tortillas. Those are squished pancakes, like crepes. Well, heck, this isn't a good way to start off tortillas. But maybe that's all I'm getting here? I have no idea. I'm crossing my fingers they'll have some at the Disco!!! Jajajajaaa, I love saying that: "Disco!!" It's the name of the grocery store.

"Salsa", the way folks from the states think of salsa is quite different here. Salsa just means "sauce." They don't really have much salsa. Guacamole is rare too. Okay, I'll just make fresh, homemade salsa and guacamole. Guacamole is better that way regardless. I've never made salsa though. Grab some limes. And then put them back, Julieta says they have a bunch. Get some "sour cream." For sure need some jalapenos. NOPE! Absent. What about any hot pepper? NOPE! Absent. Oooookay. Ummm... Grab a yellow onion, and then put it back. #2 says she has that too. Luck: they had traditional tortillas at the Disco!!! Etc.

Get back to her house. Make some salsa (mushed up tomatoes and fresh cilantro). Dee-lish. Okay, where are those limes? I need to add the finishing touch to this yummy guac. Where are those limes? Wait, those little round things are yellow. Those are lemons. Dang it. Oh well.

Time to prep the yellow onion and bell peppers that are awaiting in the fridge. Open fridge. Wait! Those red peppers are old. And not for consumption. Okay, I can salvage some of one. And that's a green onion! Silly #2, yellow and green onions are not the same. Silly. Oh well.

#2's dad has refused to allow me to cook without also drinking wine. No problem. About an hour later, I've got a very colorful thing going on in the kitchen. Chicken is all done. As an experiment, I cook up one of the quesadillas in those crepe-y things. Didn't work, as expected. The "regular" tortillas did though.

Slab of guac. Spoonful of salsa. Quesa triangle. And now where's that sour cream? Ah yes. Open lid... ummmm... it's very liquid-y. Very. This is not sour cream. It's like sweet cream. Some sort of sugar-y cream. And water-y. Ooooookay. Hmmmm.... Ah, what the hell, dashes of "sweet" cream.

Results? Family verdict: yummy!!!! I agreed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have I told you about not being able to do my own laundry?

Well, unless you have your own washer and dryer, you can´t do you own laundry here. At least, not that I´ve seen. And not that my Argentinian roommate has seen either. Odd. I want to wash and dry my own clothes. I like it. Plus, I´m a tad particular with some things.

Saturday I dropped off my clothes. It´s the first time I´ve done a load of wash since I left the states. Yes, some of my clothes are quite dirty. But I did bring a bottle of Fabreze with me. (Don´t you think it´s funny that I hyperlinked ¨Fabreze¨? I do.) So I´m so-so fresh scenting (a new word... scenting). I mean heck, it´s so hot and humid here, I just sweat anyways. Especially after getting out of the shower in the heat box that is my apartment.

And it´s funny, the lady at the laundry spot, of course, doesn´t speak Spanish. I´m used to that in my barrio. Most folks are natives in my hood. Totally cool. I like it! But it was funny trying to answer her questions. I had no idea what they were, as I often don´t. Like, at one point in time, I thought she was asking me if I wanted to wash my own clothes? Or maybe she was asking if I wanted her to fold them? Or maybe she was asking me if I wanted a job? Or maybe she was asking for my digits? Or maybe she was asking if she could give me ah million dollars? Not sure.

So, I just pointed at the washer and said, ¨aca¨, then pointed at the dryer and, again, said, ¨aca¨. ¨Here and here.¨ Luckily, in these situations, I can just smile, then laugh at myself, outloud, of course, and the local folks usually start laughing with me. And when we´re all done laughing and we actually figure each other out, mas o menos, we look at each other in a sort of, ¨wow, we accomplished something here today and we don´t even speak each other´s language.¨ It´s sorta cute. And sorta fun. (Please note the use of ¨sorta¨ in those last two sentences.)

I picked up my fresh and folded clothes today. No worries. And I´m wearing all clean clothes for the first time in a little while... sniff me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Catching up with you... (here's last Monday).

Yes it’s been a week since I’ve really written. It’s been quite a busy week. Quite busy. Let’s see if I can sit here long enough to bring you up to speed. …

But first, I’m revisiting the record Third Eye by "Ben Allison and Medicine Wheel" right now and I am totally re-amazed by Allison’s compositions. What a great record!!!

Monday. Of course, Spanish class in the morning (wait, why did I say "of course"? Seeing how I've missed class before... didn't hear the alarm one morning last week. Oops.). I'm really enjoying my class. Even though I have barely scratched the surface of the language, it gives me lots o' confidence. The school is a tad on the expensive side, so I think after this next week, I'll start private lessons, which are normally pretty cheap. Teachers here, in general, in the public schools, including universities, get paid, so I'm told, NOTHING! Ok, well not nothing. But very, very little.

People are always telling me about this thing, this thing I've just got to experience. "La Bomba", some call it. Some referred to it as "Konex", some "La Tiempo". I never put two and two together. (And even if I had, I would've ended up with five. Thanks Radiohead! (YouTube: live on Letterman or with neat cartoon action). (P.S. Radiohead's coming to BA soon. Noah's trying to get tickets for us!))

So, I finally decided to scope out this show. After some folks at school were talking about going, I decided to go as well. With no cell phone, it's a tad hard to make many plans or connect. But I thought, I'd totally run into these folks at the show. I mean, it's a regular, every Monday, gig. How many people would really be there? Attending? From my experience, not tons and tons. Boy!, I was totally oblivious. The line to get in was down the entire block and around the corner. It was crazy!! I had no idea. I tried finding school friends to no avail.

And to clarify. The group is called "La Bomba de Tiempo" which means, Time Bomb. The venue is Konex. The group is a large percussion ensemble that's conducted, improvisatorily, with hand signals, similar to Butch Morris' Conduction. The grooves were super bad ("bad" as in "good", of course). It was amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of people dancing! The venue was open air. It was a beautiful night. I don't have pictures because I didn't have my camera. But there are lots of videos on YouTube and pix on their site. Check them out for sure. I'm going back Monday. I'll grab some shots. (...photo shots!!! that is! geez.)

Later Monday night, I HAD A REHEARSAL!!!! A tech rehearsal for my upcoming gig. Yep, that's right! Dan Godston of Chicago, of Chicago Calling, of Brown Rice, of Telematic Arts, of lots more, connected me with Azucena Losana, an artist here in BA. We were attempting to connect our music with Dan in Chicago, and folks in Mexico City, via Skype, as part of the "Sonic Bridge" project. Sonic Bridge is described as such:
"Hundreds of miles of wall and fence stretch along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the U.S. Immigration Policy could change soon since Barack Obama is now the U.S.’s 44th President. Performers at Brown Rice [in Chicago] were part of a telematic performance event which perpendicularly ran through the U.S.-Mexico border wall/fence, in conjunction with sound artists and musicians who live here in Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Artists in these remote locations interacted with each other in real time."

Peter Margasak, writer for the Chicago Reader, even suggested this event in his "Post No Bills" blog. Read it: here.

We would play/improvise together thousands of miles apart via internet. We had some issues to work out, mostly audio distortion. But after some trials and errors, we came across satisfying results. We were actually all playing together. It was great! Plus, I was excited to meet some new folks, as I always am. Very creative and innovative peoples.

Well, that sums up last Monday, at least. I've got to run at the moment. Tonight, I'm meeting some more musicians, referred to me by Martin Urbach (I used to play with Martin in New Orleans. He's a great drummer who moved to NYC after Katrina)! I'll catch you up more later.

BUT wait!, P.S., more news. I got a cell phone and number here. It was cheap. I pay for it as I go. No contract. And I think incoming calls are free. ALL INCOMING CALLS, even from the states. At least, that's what I'm told by a few friends. If you're interested in my new number, let me know.

Much love. Peace!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update... but not.

I know it´s been a while since I´ve written. Yikes. Busy, busy, busy times.

Here´s an update: I am alive.


...Just kidding, much more tomorrow because, well, there´s a lot more. Music, MALBA, quesadilla cooking, etc...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

¨Weekend Update¨ with Matthew Golombisky and Cat.

So, I had a social weekend. Let´s see.

Friday night I hung out in Palermo with lots of folks from my Spanish school. Some of them are getting TEFL certified, some are volunteers, some are language students (like me). Well, needless to say, considering most are from the states, it was a night of English, English, English speaking! It was fun. Good people. Late night/morning. When I finally inquired the time (because I still don´t have a watch!!!), I was told, ¨Son las cinco y media.¨ Oh my. I should head home... I guess? I did anyways. I shared a cab with a lady from the US who lived in Australia cause her husband was Australian. (...more on Australia in a few paragraphs...)

Saturday? Jog, exercise, grocery shop. And... ummm, what did I do Saturday night? Ahhh, si! I hung out with my Argentine friends! Julieta #2 y Fiorella y Martin y Isabel (and sister) went out for drinks. Isa is a TV/film producer. Martin is going to France soon. And!!!, Saturday night was the first time I rode in a car that wasn´t a taxi! I know. Isa lives in Boedo (my barrio) too. So she was nice enough to drop me off. Sweet.

(AND, I think it´s time to make a promised ¨shout out¨. To Laurie.) I have, of course, looked and checked out many cars here. I notice cars. I can´t help it, with my childhood and all; being surrounded by cars and the fixing of cars growing up does that to a man (and woman, I´d imagine). And at a later date, I´ll add more and more pictures, along with a full post, of the car attendence and scoping here in BA, but for now, I only want to say one thing: THEY ARE ALL STICK SHIFTs! I have not seen one single automatic transmission! (ok. not true, I have seen three Volvo´s here. They were automatic). BUT!!! All other cars, and I´ve looked and looked, are manual transmissioned (official term there for ya: ¨transmissioned¨) Even the cute little taxis. Eveything. Amazing. I love it!

Tonight? I went to Isa´s house. My newest Argentine friend. She invited me over to her casa (which is 9 blocks from me and really beautiful!) and I learned how to prepare ¨mate¨. The tea-type drink that´s everywhere here. I had it the first time on New Year´s Day on the beach at Villa Gesell with Julieta #1, 2 y Fiorella. Loads and loads of folks drink it. And they drink it everywhere!! I see people preparing mate in the car. On the street. Homeless folks, bums, making mate. All over!!! Well, I learned how to make it tonight. Or at least I learned how to make it, Isa home style. She says all homes/families make it slightly different. But yummy.

Then we strolled the area. Then, in conversation, she told me that the movies, big screen style, here are in English! The movies from the states are still in English here, in the theaters! I got really excited. I expected that they would already be overdubbed in Spanish. BUT NO!

In my excitement, she asked if I wanted to go see a movie? Umm, yea. Even though I haven´t been to a movie, on the big screen, in forever it seems, I certainly wanted it now. Really, when was the last time I´d been to the movies? It may have been when my aunt Alice and I went to ¨Borat¨when it came out. I donna know? I can´t quite remember.

BUT!, now I´m in Argentina. They speak Spanish here. ..a lot, duh. I have an opportunity to hear English on screen? Let´s do it! We saw a sort of independent film called ¨El Rastro¨. I´m not sure what it means, but it was great! (and odd... this is what Wiki says El Rastro is... click here) The movie took place in Australia! Some of you know that I was totally fasinated with Australia as a child. I never knew why. But kids don´t really ¨wonder why¨, do they? The movie was great! Highly recommended.

And now, I do my homework for tomorrow. Later folks.

P.S. Dad, this is where I live:

Ver mapa más grande

Friday, January 16, 2009


Glass of cab sauv, yes, right now. Si, son las tres y media!!! Por que?!

Yes, I´m having a glass of cab sauv right now. ¨It´s 5pm somewhere.¨ Yes, I put a few ice cubes in it. It´s 89 degrees here! And maybe hotter in my apartment. Estoy mucho calor pero soy alegre!!!

I´m celebrating my first week of Spanish school. I deserve it! Yayyy! Oh, and yes, I know what the name of my wine means, Los Arboles... the trees.

Oh, someone just called. They were looking for Ivan, my roommate. I said he´s not here. I understood that this caller asked if he was at work. I said no. After that, he lost me, but whatever. More and more and more, yo entiendo. And that´s great!

This wine is yummy. Really yummy. And really, really expensive! It´s Argentine, si. 15 pesos for the bottle. Know the math? Yep, you got it, just under $5.

And today, I met Jordan, a friend of Leah´s in Chicago. They went to college together and he´s from Cali. He´s lived in BA for 3 1/2 years and owns a burrito shop, California Burrito Co., near Florida St., which is also near school. And the food is great! Great homemade guac. The topper for me though... fresh arugula! Never thought of putting arugula in a burrito before, but I certainly will now. Dee-lish.

Congresso pictures are wonderful. Pizza is wonderful(ler).

Bloggin’ away. I’m sitting here at this little pizza/pasta place (night time). It’s called Roma, I believe. And it’s in Congresso (area’s name); called such because I have this spectacular view of the Congress building. It is amazing. I could probably spend all day (and even more so, all night) taking pictures of this building. I want to go inside! Very badly. After I learn more Spanish, I’ll figure out how to ask, “hey, is it cool if I walk around in there?”, pointing my fingers up the marble (or some sort of stone) stairs. I doubt they’d say yes, but I would try regardless. I’ll report back on this little adventure slash goal slash dream slash naive notion. Wanna see some day shots of the area? Do see:

But!!!, today was great. I had class. Yes I had class. I made it. Yesterday, I did not. My didn’t hear my alarm. Or wait, did I? I have tiny bits of memory that say I hit snooze several times. And on the last time, I turned the alarm off and told myself, “ok, it’s time to get up,” but fell back asleep instead. I donna know.

Today was different. I woke up. Took a shower (much needed after a long sweaty day running AND night existing in my mucho, mucho calor apartment). Had a bowl of oats and dried fruits, accompanied by the new, beautifully tasting Ades soy milk I’ve discovered at the Disco. Thanks Julieta #2 and friend (I forgot his name).

(P.S. Dig this, it’s happening right now, and it happened already today at “The Coffee Shop”… dudes or kids stop by your table, wherever you are and drop little gadgets or cards explaining their handicap and walk away. They just leave it on your table and walk away. Then, minutes later, come back, hoping that you’ll buy whatever they left. Just now, a book nite-light was left. It’s actually really nice. And I would use it if I were reading late, after my mate was attempting to sleep. But that’s not the case. I have my own room and bed and can stay awake reading as long as I want. …..update, two minutes later: two of the folks here bought this dude’s book lights! That’s great!!! Dig it, the first time I’ve seen cats buy this stuff.)

Class today. Learned a lot. Ay Dios mio!!!, and the new vocabulary. Today I described characteristics of family members (and my favorite music person…what came to mind today? Well, even though I listened to Avishai Cohen’s Continuo, Yesterday’s New Quintet (the Stevie Wonder record) and Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors, I choose Henrik Gorecki. I love him. I love him. If you have a moment (OR SEVERAL), please make sure you listen to his most famed, Symphony No. 3. Have a calm place for this listening excursion. Class was great! Today, we had a new teacher, and I dug him; very animated and excited and down-to-earth and such.

After class, I walked around the area, Madero. Walked down Florida st., again. A street I really don’t enjoy, but lots and lots (mostly tourists) love. They must, because they are everywhere. Alas, I went to an ATM, because, ummm, I HAVE NO CASH WHATSOEVER on me. I haven’t for a couple of days. I’ve run out of the US dollars I brought with me (exchanged for pesos, of course). And I haven’t figured out the best method for getting Bank of America to give me more US$, so I can change it to pesos. (AND WAIT, is Bank of America asking for a US government bail out?!??!?!?!?!?! I read that on someone’s FaceBook status today and was totally confused. I didn’t have time to research what could possibly be MORE and MORE NON-SENSE! Fill me in…)

So, I a CitiBank, they’re stateside, right? I tried their ATM for cash flow. They said no. Wait, they said Bank of America said no. (P.S. I just asked my waitress the name of this restaurant, AND IN SPANISH!!!. It’s called Napoles…. I dig. And I’ll tell you why later.) No cash for me. And I was very hungry. Matthew gets hungry a lot when he’s exercising regularly. And he is.

Few blocks later. Corner of eye. Itau (name of bank, as I recall. But could be wrong) had an ATM that had the U$S symbol plastered on it. Odd. Interesting. I investigated. And lucky me, it took my ATM card, I thought. All the menu options were in Spanish, and they were all words I hadn’t learned in my first three days of basic Spanish classes, but I still just pushed buttons. And you know what? Out popped a 100 in pesos! Awesome. Now, I have no idea what sort of charges I inflicted. I have no idea what exchange rate this or my bank was using, but I was hungry and I needed $$$. And I got it.

Headed over to CBC, as it’s nicknamed. It’s a BURRITO shop!!!!! And yes, I knew about it. A friend (Leah) of a friend (Margot) introduced me via email to her friend back in November. He’s Jordan and he moved to BA. He then started a little burrito shop. I sought it out. Chose a burrito, by pointing (like at Chipotle or Subway) and saying, “aqui”, which means “here.” (side note on “aqui”: in most Spanish speaking spots, aqui is pronounced “ah-key”. NOT HERE! It’s pronounced, “ah-kah”. And that’s what I said/say, cause, like, I’m learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, and not Brasil, or Mexico, or the United States, or Spain. ‘tis fun indeed.) I didn’t actually meet Jordan, but the burrito was yum. And since it’s close to my school, I’ll probably hit it up again. Oh, and again. Have I mentioned yet, that I miss burritos? No (or you don’t remember)? Well, guess what? I MISS BURRITOS!!! (even though I haven’t had one in a very long time, I still miss them. Problem, when it is a problem, solved.)

I eventually walked my way to a totally different area, Congresso. Neato hang. Restaurants, visually stimulated apartments buildings and such. I love it. Then I happened upon where I sit now. In the courtyard (of sorts) of the Congress building for Argentina! It’s great. (see pix above for Congresso, daytie

BUT! (I say, or type, that a lot, huh? “BUT!!!,”??? I do. But it works a lot, in lots of different contexts.) BUT!!!, before I ended up here, eating a most spectacular meal, I went to my very first Tango lesson. Mind you!!!!, Laurie, my girlfriend of 6 years, now my ex-, was a professional ballroom dancer and teacher for some time. I wonder (I don’t really wonder, cause I know the answer. But pretend like you wonder.), what was her favorite dancing style/vibe? Swing? No. Salsa? No. Tango? Yes, but be more specific. Argentine tango? YES!!! And in those six years, did I ever learn a lick of Argentine tango? (your answer aqui:______, which is probably correct based on my sarcasm.) For those of you not hip to catch on to written sarcasm, the correct answer to the previous question is, no. No, I did not learn a lick of Argentine tango from Laurie.

Tonight was my first lesson. And you know what? It was really cool. Very different than I expected. Very close. Not as hectic (at least to me) as other dances. Smooth, slow with quick jolts, but smooth. Sure it was my first class. But it was neato. I will go back. How could I not? It’s great and it’s 12 pesos a lesson, which lasts over two hours!!!! BTW, 12 pesos is less than US $4! A few of the other class members were also from outta country: two from Germany, here on an internship, one from…wait, go ahead, guess… ….guessed yet? From Chicago!!! Small world. Small, small world.

After class, I again, walked around Congresso, because it’s wonderful and took similair pictures I did earlier, but this time I got to use my most favoritest camera trick/method of all time: long/extended exposure. Dig:

And then, I moved in for dinner. Yes, it’s 11:30pm. Yikes. But tonight, I totally went crazy and had a pizza. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had pizza since Jan. 1 2008!!!. That’s 2008, you see. And not because I don’t like pizza. I love pizza!!! Hello! But I cut out dairy back then for lots of different reasons (to be discussed on a one-on-one basis if you so desire). And this pizza. This pizza I had tonight!! Well, just look at it:

Does it look amazing? …less the olives mom! …I do love olives. And less the tomatoes Laurie! … I do love tomatoes!. But oh, you say, rather, some of you, say, “it looks amazing!” Guess what? (I have you guessing a lot tonight, don’t I?) It was amazing!!!!!!!! It was. And now it’s in my belly, via my mouth, of course.

I’m all done typing up this blog posting. And now, I need to figure out how to get home. Wish me luck.

“Luck.” Oh, thanks random person that wished me luck. Gracias. Buenos noches.
living in Buenos Aires