Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Outta here.

I'm packing my things right now.

I fly out of Buenos Aires Thursday at 1:15.

Hang out in LA until the 16th.

Hang out in Seattle until the 21st.

Hang out Live in the Tri-Cities until I can find a job somewhere that isn't laying off off everybody or going bankrupt.

Wish me luck.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Long story long.

I never really do daily blog posts just because, usually, my days really aren't worth reading about, but I thought I'd share today.

So last night I tried to go to bed "early" so that I could wake up "early" and get stuff done. The realization that I'm leaving in less than a week has really sunken in and I've made lists of things I want to do and so I'm trying to get through as much of it as I can in my last few days. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep for a while so it took me longer to get out of bed than I had planned on.

I finally got up and showered and headed to the bank to get coins. If you read my blog before when I talked about the coin shortage, you know it's a pain to get coins down here. You have to talk to a teller to get coins so I was waiting in the bank line for 20 minutes and it had barely moved. They finally opened up a window just for getting change and so I stepped over to that line which moved much quicker. But when I got up there I handed the teller a $20 knowing they'll only give you $5 worth of coins.

He hands me my $15 in bills and then two rolls of 5 centavo coins, each $2.50.

Quick math problem: If a bus leaves Plaza de Mayo heading east at 45 km/h and it costs $1.25, how many $0.05 coins does it take to ride the bus?

Answer: A really annoying amount for everybody.

Grateful to at least be able get on a bus I take the coins and go get some breakfast at a sidewalk cafe nearby. That was pretty uneventful though I did manage to get a 50 centavo coin out of that transaction which required some maneuvering of bills (you get good at it after a while).

After that I took some shirts to a tailor to get repaired and I knew roughly where it was but I looked at the wrong intersection on the bus map and so I took the wrong bus and got off at the wrong place. Qué se le va a hacer. So I walked the 10 or so blocks to the tailor, dropped the stuff of and walked the 10 back so I could catch the subte (subway). But it was pretty warm today so I made a popsicle pit stop before I went down to the sweltering tunnels.

From there I needed to get some film developed and the best place for that is downtown so I took the subte there and dropped off the two rolls. Boring.

I had heard from a friend that that A Line of the subte was cool becuase it's extremely old and I hadn't realized that I'd never taken it so I walked from the camera store down to the closest stop and realized that I'd also never walked along Avenida de Mayo which is the major street that connects the Casa Rosada with the Congress building. It's a very pretty stretch and the A Line runs underneath it a ways and then out to the more residential Caballito neighborhood. While the cars on most of the lines are pretty modern the A Line is extremely old. Old enough to where they are made of wood and you manually open the doors (usually while the train is still moving of course). Light is provided by lamps hanging from the ceiling of the car like in your house. On the other lines a bell sounds when the doors are being closed. On the A Line a conductor sticks his head out the window and blows a whistle. Classic.

I didn't really know where I was going since I mostly just wanted to see the train, but I checked my Guia T (i.e. the bible of Buenos Aires; Maps, bus routes, an alphabetical street directory with coordinates for the maps) and realized it would go by a park I had wanted to see. So I got off there and realized this was a big commercial area too, so I wandered through a couple malls making my way through the hordes of teenagers (some things are universal). I eventually made it to the park where there a bunch of stalls where they sell bootleg DVD's, CD's and used books. Considering how inoffensive these things are (aside from the fact they're bootlegs), there were a couple moments where I felt like I was being offered something much more sordid as they whispered to me as I walk by "Hey kid, you want some books? I got books here. What do you want? I got what you want. You want old magazines? Here just try one..." Ok, not quite but it definitely felt that way. I resisted the peer pressure (plus I really don't need the "best of Mötley Crüe" anyway) and went and sat in the park for a while.

I was supposed to meet my conversation exchange/Argentine friend, Natalia, to go see a movie later and since I was hungry and sweaty from walking around all day so I figured out my bus from the Guia and went home using my hard earned monedas.

I got some dinner and took a shower and headed back out. I got on the bus and since I had already spent all my other bigger coins I proceeded to try and pay my entire fare with my 5 centavo coins. I'm glad there was nobody behind me becuase it was taking me forever becuase you have to wait for the machine to read each coin before it will take the next. And right when I get to about $1.15 they all come pouring out the change spout with a message saying essentially "Too Many Coins". I tried to explain to the bus driver those were the only coins I had and he told me to just go sit down, thankfully.

So I finally got down to the theatre back in Caballito and met Naty and her friend and we bought our tickets to an Argentine film called Amorosa Soledad which, of course, was all in Argentine Spanish with no subtitles. I actually followed a suprising amount of the film and even got several of the jokes (but not all). It was interesting since it takes place in Buenos Aires, so you see very familiar things. I always wondered what it would be like to live in New York and have practically every movie take place in your city.

After, we just started walking and talking about the movie and trying to figure out what we wanted to do. We eventually ended up walking up to Palermo, which was probably at least several miles, speaking spanish the whole way. For those of you who haven't learned another language, it takes an enormous amount of energy to listen what the other person is saying (especially when they mumble like argentines do) and think of you want to say and then figure out how to say it. At that point after watching a full movie in Spanish and then having a couple hour conversation in Spanish, my brain was totally fried. I probably should have put myself in more situations like that, but it's not as easy at it sounds.

We ended up hanging out at this restaurant/bar for a while until we all decided we were tired and it was time to go home. They walked with me to my bus stop and said bye. I ended up having to wait for the bus for an abnormally long time, but while I did an Argentine kid walked up in a Sub Pop shirt. I'm used to seeing other Seattle icons like Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix on t-shirts down here becuse they've reached mythical status and it's pretty much like wearing a Che Guevara shirt, but seeing a Sub Pop shirt surprised me and really made me think of Seattle. I'm taking it as a sign that I really am doing the right thing to go back there. Plus I've just realized I don't really like this place that much (more on that later maybe).

So to wrap up an incredibly long story that probably nobody (except my parents. Hi!) will read, I'll roughly paraphrase my friend. "If you want to sleep, you should do enough in a day to wear yourself out". And with that I'm saying I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed. Chau.

PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I only took one today, but I'll leave it with you here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

BA Street Art

I'm not usually into taking pictures of street art because, in my eyes, it has about as much artistic merit as walking into a museum and taking a picture of a Monet. But I've really started to enjoy a lot of the street art here and I thought I would share a little bit of it with you guys.

These are all from a pretty industrial part of Palermo Soho by the train tracks. It used to be the red light district and now its just a place with some pseudo shady bars, Mexican restaurants and a lot of good paintings on the walls.

This last one is in a very common style. I haven't exactly figured out what they're for, but I think it has to do with soccer teams. But they're everywhere around the city and outlying areas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Buenos Solo.

Sam and Kait were gone for a couple weeks traveling so I was bumming around town mostly by myself. Here are some pictures I took while I was making my rounds.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am an illegal alien.

My tourist visa expired at the beginning of this month which means I am currently in this country illegally.

By U.S. standards that would make me a criminal.

Some food for thought.

Shouted to me from across the street by a stranger at 3:30 AM:

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre un argentino y una vaca?

La vaca da leche y el argentino dice dale che.

It's not funny if I try to explain it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Photos from Mar del Plata.

I took a trip with some friends to Mar del Plata. I shot film the whole time, this is what came back.

More here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Update 2.

Click to enlarge.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Today in funny packaging.

I was expecting an Tag Body Spray ad type situation.

No luck yet.

Lawsuits waiting to happen (pt 2).

I know this is a weak gag, but here's a couple more totally unsafe obstacles I've had to avoid walking down the street.

The second one isn't totally obvious, but I was holding the camera at about eye level which put this rusty, uncapped, steel bar directly at forehead level for me. I know I'm kinda tall but come on.....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Today in funny packaging.

This is a box of tissues, and, as with any fine tissue box, it is covered in a requisite kitschy print. This appears to be a "world travel" theme (or a Family Circus cartoon) as the line loops and careens through various global cities and states. But what jumped out at me is that the designers opted to have the US reprsented by none other than New Jersey.... What? They couldn't have it veer up a couple millimeters and hit New York or down a few more and pass through Washington D.C? I mean if New Jersey represents the US to the rest of the Kleenex using world it's no wonder they have such a negative image of us.


Sorry I haven't posted in a little while. Here's what I've been up to.

  1. I got a job as a web copy writer. It doesn't pay great but it's some income (in Euros!) and I can do it whenever I want. I just finished getting trained and I got my first assignment which I still don't really understand.
  2. I went to Mar del Plata which is a beach city about 5 hours south of Buenos Aires. I forgot my camera battery so all my pictures are on film which I get back from being developed tomorrow. I'll post them up soon.
  3. I've been doing the day-to-day stuff: getting groceries, dropping film off to get developed, hanging out with friends, going to the park, taking spanish lessons, having job interviews and failing miserably because I should have studied more from my spanish lessons. You know, the basics.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Buenos Aires 2.0

Quite a few of my blog entries tend to be general observations about living in Buenos Aires followed by a personal take on the issue, but this message is purely personal.

Relax, it's not that exciting.

I just went through a period where I had a lot of things change all at once and it's been a little more significant than I thought it would be. For the last two months I've lived in the same apartment, I walked the same street everyday on my way to Johanna's place who I had been with for almost the whole two months I've been here. I haven't been working either so I had this situation that was incredibly constant. Now over the course of just a few days it feels like pretty much everything has changed:
  1. I moved to a new apartment in the Las Cañitas area of Palermo.
  2. Johanna went back to Ecuador or her summer break and since I'm not sure if I'm even going to be here when she comes back we decided it would be best to go our separate ways.
  3. I'm actively looking for a job down here.
I am getting into the groove with what feels like Part II of my adventure down here though. Today I went for a walk around the hood to see the sights and find the essentials (closest grocery store, ATM, kiosko, empenada place, and cafe that has wifi). Just walking around made me fall in love with the area. I think it was a combination of it being a late Sunday afternoon (so there weren't that many people out), it having just rained last night (so the air was fairly clear) and it being a reasonable temperature out (as opposed to that last two 95 degree days) but I think that was the calmest I had felt just walking down the street here. It was just so peaceful. Las Cañitas feels like a small town set away from the rest of the craziness of the city and that's a really nice change. I mean, at no point did I have to break into a jog to keep from being hit by a taxi (chill Mom).

I think I'm going to like it up here and I hope Part II is even better than the first.

Photo by babalucci (via flickr).

I think this blog spies on my life.

Things White People Like #120: Taking a Year Off:

"When someone goes through a stressful experience they usually require some time off to clear their head, regain focus, and recover from the pain and suffering. Of course, in white culture these experiences are most often defined as finishing high school, making it through three years of college, or working for eleven months straight with only two weeks vacation and every statutory holiday (”they don’t count because I had to spend them with family.”)

Though you might consider finishing school or having a good job to be “accomplishments” many white people view them as burdens. As such, they can only handle them for so long before they start talking about their need to “take a year off” to travel, volunteer, or work abroad.

It is most common for the person taking the year off to use this time to travel (see Post #19 for reasons why). Generally, they will start off with a set amount of money that will use to travel for as long as possible. This explains why a white person with an $800 backpack will haggle with a poverty-stricken street vendor about a $2 dollar plate of food.

If you work with this person, be sure to give them a FAKE email address on their last day on the job or you will be inundated with emails about spiritual enlightenment and how great the food is compared to similar restaurants back home. Also, within the first five days following departure, this person will come up with the idea to write a book about their travel experience. Sadly, more books about mid-twenties white people traveling have been written than have been read.

Some of the more enterprising white people will extend their time off by working abroad as a bartender, ski lift operator, or english teacher. Their stories, emails, and publishing plans will be identical to the previous white person but will include additional stories about working and complaints about “tourists.”

Finally, there is the white person who takes a year off to volunteer at home or abroad. Though they are equally likely to write long emails about their experience, these people are often using the experience as an excellent resume pad for their application to law school. This way they are able to put off real life without the crippling derailment of a career or education.

Regardless of how a white person chooses to spend their year off, they all share the same goal of becoming more interesting to other people. Sadly, the people who find these stories interesting are other white people who are politely listening until they can tell their own, more interesting story about taking a year off.

Thankfully, there is an enormous opportunity for personal gain. You see, whenever a white person takes a year off it opens up a valuable apartment, job opportunity or admissions slot. Consider it to be the most pretentious form of affirmative action."


Monday, January 12, 2009

This is your brain on urbanity.

I came across this great article that discusses the affect of living in an urban setting on the human psyche. It's interesting to me (and pertinent to this blog) because it helped me make sense of something I've noticed here: everybody looks exhausted all the time here. You see people who are clearly teenagers sitting on the subway with deep bags under their eyes like they're in their 40's. And no matter how much I sleep here I always just feel tired and like I can't think clearly. The article discusses studies that show that an uninterrupted urban environment literally hiders brain function because of the constant negative distractions.

Definitely worth a read: How the city hurts your brain.

I think I'm going to try and take a trip out of the city sometime soon. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On being American abroad.

1. You never truly think about what it means to be an American until you're the only American in the room and you realize all the things that make you distinctly that.

2. The thing about being an American in the US is that nobody asks you what you're doing there.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Plaza De Mayo fotos.

I played tourist for an afternoon last week and went down to Plaza de Mayo which is a very important place in Argentine history (It's where Madonna sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" in Evita.... and a few other things happened there too). The city has some downloadable audio guides for free on their website so I put the Plaza de Mayo one on my iPod and took the subway downtown.

Here are some pictures from the afternoon. As always there are more on my

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I guess they do.

Buenos Aires really doesn't do hip-hop at all. If you want to hear it at a bar or club you really have to search for it. I guess it must lose something in translation.

Anyway, I was standing in line today at a drugstore and Fergie's "London Bridge" song came on. And almost every person around me (most of whom where over 50 years old) all stared bobbing the heads and tapping on the boxes they were holding. It was beautiful. I even saw an old lady doing the white man's overbite.

For a place that really wants nothing to do with American culture (aside from our crappy movies), this was pretty incriminating.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How often do you...

...get a cup of orange juice squeezed right in front of you?

Never if you're me. It's the simple things that make this place so great.