Tuesday, June 30, 2009

fin de junio updates & recommendations.

Yet again, I have neglected my blog. Apologies. And yet again, I find myself sans excuse. As the five-month-mark approaches, I feel the need to write something, however brief, to keep my faithful readers (Hi, Mom) updated.

My last post ended on a bitter note: I was bitching – my normal state, it seems – about the lack of heat in my home, and at the time I had had enough and was ready to pack up my shit and go. As soon as I found a new place, I said, I was outta there, and my roommate would have to deal.

Funny story. Turns out I’m still writing from good ol’ calle El Salvador. I haven’t moved. In the end, I am the one having to bancarsela.

Shortly after I told my roommate about my plans to move, she gave in and bought an electric heater for my room. So now I can live, work, and sleep quite comfortably in my room. Granted,  I’ve remained somewhat isolated here, as the rest of the house is still uncomfortably cold. But beggars can’t be choosers, eh?

Moreover, the apartment search was going no where fast. I saw about 10 places or so, and none of them were just right. Perhaps I was too Goldilocks-esque in my criteria, but at the end of the day I didn’t find anything that would justify paying significantly more rent. And I’m lazy. When the prospect of actually having to pack up all shit started to materialize I thought, “well, everything’s here now…it might as well stay here.” So stay I have and stay I will.

Also, there may (or may not) be a slight change of plans, if all goes according to plan. Meaning there’s a slight possibility I’ll move to another part of Argentina for an apprenticeship (no, not internship; apprenticeship – how 19thcentury/bad-ass is that?) in August or September – in which case I might as well stay put for another month or so. I’m waiting to hear back from my potential hosts, and until then I’m loath to divulge any more details. Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll know more.

So, what have I been up to? Good question. The past couple of weeks have gone by so quickly, and when I look back on them and try to recount everything that has happened, not much comes to mind. Really I’ve just been busy with classes; somehow or another I’ve gotten into a routine: I teach several classes a day, and then plan for the next day’s lesson at night. Yes, the routine is good: teaching is becoming more easy, more natural, and I have less and less material to create as I’m recycling my lessons. But I’m also the sort of person who begins to chafe once I have settled a bit; as soon as I’m comfortable part of me wants a change of scene (although yes, there is the lazy part of me that whines but it’s so comfortable here!) I’m itching to get out of BsAs and travel, but I also know that it would be better to keep working now and travel later when the weather is better.

Yes, here in the southern hemisphere it’s winter. Though it was nice to rub it in everyone’s face when I was sunbathing at February, now I have to listen to my family’s tales of picking crabs on our deck in the warm summer sun. I’m a bit jealous, to say the least. If I had been smart, I would have planned to go home right about now so that I would have two summers in a row. Beat the system, if you will. But not really, because four months abroad, for me, is not enough.

To be fair, winter in BsAs (so far) has not been that cold. It’s been in the upper 40s recently, and though it will probably get a bit colder (July being the coldest month) it won’t be getting Canada-cold, and so I shouldn’t complain.

But even so, the cold weather has completely fucked with my sense of time. The other day, for instance, I thought of Christmas, and got excited because, hell, it’s cold, it must be Christmas soon! Right? Hold the phone, not so much. But Christmas or no Christmas, I’ll be mulling some Malbec soon enough.

So as much as I hate to say it, it’s been same old, same old around here, at least in my day-to-day life. I have a couple café/restaurant recommendations, so here goes:

Status – Virrey Cevallos 178, Monserrat – I’ve been to this Peruvian restaurant twice and have enjoyed it both times. It’s great food at a good price. I’m no connoisseur of Peruvian food, but the crowds of people make me think that this is the authentic stuff. There are many fish dishes (which are very welcome in this city) and some are even spicy (do mine eyes deceive me? Spicy…in Buenos Aires? Yes, they are indeed a bit picante.) I went a couple days ago with two friends, and we each got a pisco sour and split three main courses (all of which were fairly large portions.) I ordered the ceviche mixto – a mix of raw calamari, mussels (possibly?) and some kind of fish – and though it’s not exactly a winter dish, it really hit the spot. Ceviche is kind of my latest obsession…I know, a raw fish dish isn’t exactly craveworthy for most people, but damn, it’s good.

Oui Oui – Nicaruaga 6068 – This is a small café in Palermo Hollywood. Actually, there is a café and then almacén, or small, general store, but both places seem to have the same café menu. It’s a cozy, French-style bakery/café that is very popular, particularly among the expat crowd. I’ve been there several times and English always seems to be the dominant language among the clientele. One possible explanation is the bagels (as in Europe, bagels in Buenos Aires are practically non-existent.) Other menu items – fresh salads with legitimate lettuce (I’m sorry, iceberg doesn’t count) and savoury ingredients like avocado, goat cheese (!) and sun dried tomatoes and whole wheat bread sandwiches - also attract the expats. So if you’re willing to put up with crowds and pay a bit more (a salad is around $25 AR, but in my opinion, it’s worth it), check it out.

La Poesía – Bolivar y Chile, San Telmo –  This is a favourite haunt of mine; it’s one of those places where you can sit, have a caffé and then spend the whole afternoon reading and people-watching. It’s quite cozy, though it can get a bit loud with people coming and going. It’s no secret, so you’re likely to find crowds of tourists and porteños alike. It’s a five-ten minute walk from Plaza Dorrego, making it a great place to relax after perusing the (amazing) antique fair on Sundays.

Los ojos del surrealismo – Abasto Shopping –  This is an exhibition of over 230 works by the brilliant Dalí, including a series of Tarot card and Don Quijote-inspired pieces. Though I’ve been to many Dalí exhibitions, he never ceases to fascinate me; this one was no exception. Here’s an article (en castellano) about the exhibit:


It opened a couple of weeks ago, and if I’m not mistaken will stay until August. At AR$35 it’s a bit pricey (though there’s a discount for students on weekdays), but I think it was worth it.

Chipá vendors – Retiro – I won’t go into my chipá obsession again (see my last post). Suffice to say I was in the Retiro neighbourhood (ok, in reality I went 15 minutes out of my way to get there) and so hit up one of the chipá vendors. I was not disappointed. This particuar chipá was excellent: a lot of cheese, probably more than the traditional chipá, in fact. There was also a bit of anís, which I had not had before. I may or may not be planning another trip there for some time this week.

Finally, elections (congressional, provincial, and municipal) were held yesterday. I’m still trying to catch up on Argentine politics, so I’ll just post a link to an article in the New York Times lest I sound like an ignoramus.


And thank you, Governor Sanford, for making the word “hypocrite” easier to explain to my students. 

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