BUENOS AIRES
May 1 - The Food of Buenos Aires

Continuing the tradition of applauding and bitching about the food in my new home cities (my last one was Hong Kong), I'm starting an entry about the food here and I'll update it over the next couple of months. (...updating this now, I should have taken more pictures of my food before I ate it!)

In general, the main draw here is the beef. Steaks are ubiquitous, delicious and relatively inexpensive. I've met three vegetarians since I've been here and I just shake my head sadly for them. Here's a link to a map that one of them made of the veggie restos in BA. Bread, cheese, and pasta is also big here. They also tend to use very little spice, so everything is quite bland. Although, you're assured to have salt as the Argentinians seem to over-salt everything. McDonalds in Buenos Aires: Saltiest. Fries. Ever.

One fun fact is that The 29th of every month is Gnocchi Day in Argentina. Restaurants in Buenos Aires will only have gnocchi on their menu this one day per month. It's also superstition to put a peso under your bowl of gnocchi to attract prosperity for the next month.

But I do miss Asian food (chinese, thai, vietnamese, japanese, korean, etc)--it's difficult to find. And the only place I have found fresh seafood is at the markets in Chinatown in Belgrano which is strange considering that I'm right by the ocean.

D&H Restaurant (Carlos Calvo 801): This place across the street from my apartment in San Telmo is my saving grace, giving me easy access to Chinese food. It's really good food and seems to be popular with the locals. It's much better than the meal I had after schlepping out to Barrio Chino in Belgrano. In fact, I think I'm going to go across the street right now to get some chau mien (or as they call it here, fideos salteados).

Siga La Vaca: The name of the restaurant means Follow the Cow. It should be more like Eating the Cow cause this place is all about that. It's a buffet style place serving the ever-popular Argentine asado--steaks, sausages, meat, meat, and meat. It gave me a chance to try out a few different things (note to self: blood sausage is disgusting). Now I just have to pump out my arteries. I went to all the other standard tourist steak places (La Cabrera, La Brigada, Cabaña Las Lilas), and they all had amazing food.

La Tranquera (corner of Piedras and Mexico): I can't count the number of times I dropped by this place on the way home to grab a ready-made steak, pastilla de papas (shepherd's pie), or roasted chicken. Lots of locals dropping by there to grab dinner for the family. There isn't a lot of fast food places in my area, but this place really made up for it. Excellent!

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NUMBERS 10.05.01 BUENOS AIRES
D&H Restaurant:
- stir fry rice with chicken: 16P
- beef with spicy sauce: 20P
- veggie singapore fried noodles: 15P
- add shrimp: +7P
Siga La Vaca:
- full buffet: 75P
La Tranquera:
- steak and roasted potatoes: 18P

BUENOS AIRES
May 14 - Frequently Asked Questions

What are you doing in Buenos Aires now?: I finished Intermediate-3 Spanish classes last week. I was feeling a bit frustrated that it felt like I was always in classes, so I decided not to continue. So this week I've really just been bumming around doing nothing. I kind of feel guilty about doing nothing--I find myself constantly thinking of things that I "should" be doing. I guess that's what happens after working so long and then going on sabbatical. I feel like it's a waste of time to read a book, watch tv (I'm so mad that the cowboys didn't win! And it's so sad about Sun and Jin!), surf mindlessly on the internet for hours, play computer games, practice guitar. But...it's actually kinda nice.

One thing that is allowing myself to let myself go is knowing that the summer is going to be busy. I'm just organizing my "summer job"--I'll be doing a crazy amount of training in Asia for my company. From mid-July to mid-October, I'll be visiting clients in Manila, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Mumbai.

How expensive is it to live in Buenos Aires?: The cost of living here is probably 2/3 the cost of living in Canada. Especially with the dollar doing so well nowadays. At some point, I'm going to make a side-by-side comparison of the different cities I'm living in during my time off.

Is Buenos Aires dangerous?: Well, other than the bird poop incident, I haven't had any bad run-ins with the locals. The streets can look pretty scary at night when everyone has gone home, the streets are full of the garbage pickers, and all the stores are completely shuttered with sliding metal walls and grilles. I think it has the potential to be a dangerous place, but generally it seems as safe or unsafe as any other big European city. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. And when I walk, I just follow the main bus corridors which are constantly roaring with the damn-noisy collectivos and everything is peachy.

How are the guys in Buenos Aires?: This is a very profound and philisophical question young grasshopper. But in a word: HAWT! I would say a good chunk of the guys look exactly the same (and you thought it was just us Asians!). Dark hair, dark skin, thick eyebrows, strong noses, hairy--and then it's just little variations on that. No one really goes to the gym here. They don't have that gym-body standard of beauty that we have in North America, which is a refreshing change. So if you like that, you're in luck!

But it seems they have a pretty macho culture. The straight boys have a history of catcalls and piropos to the pretty girls and I was told that they even get out of their cars at a stop light to applaud a pretty lady walking through the crosswalk. I'm not sure if this is appreciated by the ladies or not. And the naked women pictures in the locker room at the gym really has to go.

But still....when the guys greet eachother, they do the kiss on the cheeks which kinda makes me feel giggly nervous.

Have you gotten laid yet?: This question basically comes from all of my gay friends. In the gay community, it seems like the success of a vacation depends on how often you get laid. In that sense, I'm probably one of the least successful gay travelers...ever--I actually find it kind of gross to have sex with complete strangers (please don't take my members card away!). I want to have fun during my year off but I don't want to go back home remembering what a slut I was when i was away.

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LEARNING SPANISH
May 19 - Moments / Instantes

Hace dos años que murió mi padre. Si todavía estuviera vivo, me pregunto que pensaría de mi viaje. Sobre mi fuga de la realidad. De hecho, fue su muerte que me puso en este camino. Cuando cerraron su ataúd, me di cuenta que la vida es temporal. La muerte es real, es final. Si me muero con o sin el conocimiento de mi propósito, al final no importa. Si logre o fracase, al final no importa. Al final todos morimos.

Entonces, todo lo que queda es ser feliz durante el tiempo corto que tenemos. En la última semana de mi clase de español, leímos un poema se llama “Instantes” por un poeta desconocido. Cuando lo leí, me dió escalofríos porque ví que el poema nos da las verdades en la vida. Fue un momento cuando una luz dentro de la cabeza se encendió e iluminó las cosas que ya estaban allí a la vista. Me puse feliz porque me dí cuenta que mi padre habría aprobado mi decisión como si lo hiciera el mismo. Quiero aprovechar cada instante porque al final nosotros todos morimos.

Here's the translation of the poem in the sidebar:

Moments - by Jorge Luis Borges (...or not)

If I could live my life over again, the next time I would try to make more mistakes. I wouldn't try to be so perfect, I would relax more. I would be more silly than I have been. In fact, I would take very few things seriously.

I would worry less about hygiene. I would take more risks, I would have told that redneck who called me a "chink" in Regina to fuck off, I would humanely kill that dog in the apartment across from me that keeps barking day and night, I would have stopped drinking before I puked in the bar. I would have bought a house during the recession in 2002 and sold it before the crash last year and made a shit load of money, I would eat more carbs and worry less about how I'm going to look during Pride, I would have no problems--who wants problems?

I was one of those people who lived sensibly and productively every minute of his life; for sure I had times of happiness so stop asking if I've gotten laid yet. But if I could go back, I would try to only have good moments. Because if you don't already know this, this is a truth in life, it's only made of moments; for the love of god don't lose the "now".

I was one of those people who never went anywhere without my laptop, a high speed internet connection, my debit card, and a toothbrush. If I could live life over again, I would find someone to travel with so they could carry my stuff.

If I could live life over again, I wouldn't feel guilty about walking barefoot in my friends' apartments. I would play more video games, sleep through more sunrises and fart more with the kids, if I had more life to live. But I'm already 36 and I know that I'm dying.

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Instantes
por Jorge Luis Borges (...o no)

Si pudiera vivir nuevamente mi vida. En la próxima trataría de cometer más errores. No intentaría ser tan perfecto, me relajaría más. Sería más tonto de lo que he sido, de hecho tomaría muy pocas cosas con seriedad.

Sería menos higiénico. Correría más riesgos, haría más viajes, contemplaría más atardeceres, subiría más montañas, nadaría más ríos. Iría a más lugares adonde nunca he ido, comería más helados y menos habas, tendría más problemas reales y menos imaginarios.

Yo fui una de esas personas que vivió sensata y prolíficamente cada minuto de su vida; claro que tuve momentos de alegría. Pero si pudiera volver atrás trataría de tener solamente buenos momentos. Por si no lo saben, de eso está hecha la vida, sólo de momentos; no te pierdas el ahora.

Yo era uno de esos que nunca iban a ninguna parte sin termómetro, una bolsa de agua caliente, un paraguas y un paracaídas; Si pudiera volver a vivir, viajaría más liviano.

Si pudiera volver a vivir comenzaría a andar descalzo a principios de la primavera y seguiría así hasta concluir el otoño. Daría más vueltas en calesita, contemplaría más amaneceres y jugaría con más niños, si tuviera otra vez la vida por delante. Pero ya tengo 85 años y sé que me estoy muriendo.

URUGUAY
May 20 - Renewing my Visa

So every 3 months, I have to leave Argentina and return to renew my visa. It was really easy as all I had to do was book a ferry over to Colonia del Sacramento, a small pretty town an hour away which is actually located in Uruguay. I just stayed there for a few hours and walked around the old city. Beautiful cobblestone streets, and they seem to put old cars all over the place to add to the ambiance.

And it seems like a good time to try an antique vignette in Photoshop:

colonia del sacramento antique

Or the quicker way is just to search for a texture like "old paper" online and just layer it on top of the original photo.

colonia del sacramento antique

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NUMBERS 10.05.20 URUGUAY
fast return ferry, busquebus: 218P
cost of visa renewal: free

BUENOS AIRES
May 25 - 200th Anniversary of Argentina

So if you noticed the banner at the top of the page, I pulled the idea from the flag of Argentina. I wanted to recognize the Bicentenario celebrations this month. Today was the last day of a huge celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the revolution that led to Argentina's independence from Spain. The entire length of Avenue 9 De Julio, one of the widest streets in the world, was blocked off to traffic and just choked to the brim with people, stages, parades, displays, and flags. It was pretty chaotic with race cars peeling down the street and jet fly-bys. And it was a great chance to see all the people. A lot of families, a few DILFs.

Yesterday was also an exhibition soccer / football / fútbol game between Argentina and Canada. Wow, how lucky was I that Canada got invited to play in such a symbolic game? I guess Argentina wanted to get huge confidence before they shipped off to the World Cup. It was my first soccer game and was fun with the crowd chanting and singing. It's too bad soccer isn't played on skates, cause then I'm sure Canadians would be great at it! But it was pretty lopsided--all the action was constantly in front of the Canadian goalkeeper. It's sad to think of all the bake sales the Canadians did to get this far just to get throttled 5 - 0.

And to get into the game I had to stand in what was definitely the longest line EVER. I'm looking on a map and the queue, about 4 persons wide, went 750m away from the stadium and then doubled back! WTF? And then once inside I stood in another line up. It took me over an hour to get in the stadium.

I felt a bit guilty about cheering (quietly!) for Canada in an Argentine stadium. It was like cheering for the bull at a rodeo. But it was fun to sing Oh Canada in Argentina!

Pictures from soccer are perfect for converting to fake tilt-shift photos.

tilt shift argentina canada football match

tilt shift argentina canada football match

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NUMBERS 10.05.25 BUENOS AIRES
ticket, Canada vs Argentina: 350P

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