Sunday, January 30, 2005

Found this in a grocery store

This is a really bad name for a brand of frozen hamburger.

(NB: finally uploaded a few (7) photos, more coming soon, and hopefully the ability to organize them and post them directly here.)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

International Karaoke Guidelines

Last night I had my first taste of the famous Buenos Aires nightlife. OK, I admit, it´s probably not famous for it´s amazing karaoke scene, but that´s what we did. (Unfortunately, it is lately infamous for its club scene, due to a fire that occurred Dec 30 and killed 191 people.)

Juan, one of the guys who works at reception at this hostel, is leaving Sunday to spend a year working at a hotel in Florida, and about 15 people from the hostel went out to send him off. As is typical in BA, we left the hotel at midnight and came home at quarter to five. We were a mixed group, mostly Argentine, but also 3 French and one Swiss guy from Zug! (Incidentally, if anyone stays at the Marriott in Marco Island Florida in the next 12 months and is looking for a karaoke buddy, I can recommend Juan.)

Once the cerveza started flowing, several of our group got up on the stage, and once there, it wasn´t easy to get them down again. You may be happy or disappointed to know that I did not get up there. Maybe next time. But while watching the other crazy people (mostly singing Argentine favorites I didn´t know) I realized there are certain international standards at work in the karaoke world. Here are a few:

1. People take themselves too seriously, and sing inappropriate songs. Really, why sing the Titanic Song?
2. You often get the suspicion that some people do this A LOT.
3. Karaoke brings people together. Where else will you see a room full of strangers singing "Can´t live if living is without you" (or for that matter a similar obscurely famous Spanish song) at the top of their lungs?
4. There is sometimes a very sketchy drunk woman who befriends strangers and offers them advice. Hopefully this is not one of your party. Bostonites will of course recall Tequila Sheila.

Well, that´s your Argentine culture lesson for today. Never mind the Spanish class I signed up for or the political demonstration that happened.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The ups and down of youth hostels

As I write this, I am realizing that many of the people who read this are probably not all that comfortable with the idea of sharing a room with strangers and possibly sleeping in bunk beds. (Well, to be honest, i don´t know how many there are of you, maybe you´re only 5 or 6 people, but still...) But for a trip like this, the youth hostel is really the best way to go. If I spent 6 months in hotels, I might be a bit cleaner on average, but I would spend all my time alone and would be broke at the end of it. In a youth hostel, there are always people around to chat with. They come from all over and everybody has a different story to tell. This hostel is relatively quiet, and people tend to stay for a while (at least a week or two). However, there are others where there´s a little more of a party atmosphere and it´s a little louder--on the other hand sometimes it´s easier to meet people in that type of place. Yesterday I finally met some of my co-hostel-dwellers. In addition to Adolphe from France, with whom I share a room (just us in a room for 5 is not too bad) I met Jacob from Holland who is trying to buy a motorcycle, Celia from France who works in London for Eurostar and is volunteering at an elementary school, an Ecuadorian guy who´s been staying in hostels for 8 months and a girl from Buenos Aires; i haven´t really figured out why she´s staying here but she says it´s cheaper than an apartment! At 6 dollars a night that´s not hard to imagine. Another good thing is there´s a kitchen and tv room where people gather. I could get stuck watching CSI Las Vegas or the King of Queens so I´ll try to avoid it. Although this afternoon Top Gun was on, dubbed, and that was kind of fun.

The downside? Well, the bathroom is down the hall and I share it with whatever women are on my floor. And sharing the room with a stranger is, admittedly, sometimes a little odd. This morning as I rolled out of bed at 10, Adolphe said "you like to sleep late, don´t you?" I could only think to myself, oh, you have no idea. And unfortunately it seems that the air conditioning vent leads straight from the tv room to my room, so i can hear piped-in echoes of whatever crime drama or thriller happens to be on as i drift off to sleep.

Anyway, I´m enjoying the experience as odd as it may seem. In other news, I had a gigantic Argentine buffet for lunch with all kinds of food and especially meat! Which led me to realize that I don´t know the vocab words for any kinds of meat, so I don´t know what I ate. I´ll have to look in to that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I spent the day strolling aimlessly around, getting to know the city. I saw some big monuments and a lot of streets, but due to my extreme reluctance to pull out a map in public, I´m not sure what they were. Tonight I´ll have to check my guidebook to see what´s what. (You´ll note I found the apostrophe, or a similar mark anyway, but it´s still strange--I have to type two in order for them to appear, and then delete one. This can´t be how Argentines type. I´ll keep working on it).

I walked along the Avenida 9 de Julio, which is huge and has about 7 lanes going in each direction. Then I sat in the sun for a while, and later found my way back to the central shopping street, where I always seem to wind up. There are lots of familiar names, some European, some American (e.g. Zara, Nike) but it is refreshing not to see a Gap on every corner, and not a Starbucks in sight!

On my way back to my hostel I chanced upon my first tango dancers! I really feel like I´m in Argentina now, never mind that I think all the other spectators were American, and it was obviously a tourist attraction. It´s a beautiful dance. hmmm, tomorrow maybe I will look into taking some lessons...

By the way, I can´t access gmail from this computer, so if anyone has e-mailed me I won´t be able to respond until further notice. Sorry!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Buenos Aires

I am here! And just as a warning, I am on an extremely old computer, so there will be no photos, and it is an argentine keyboard so there will be no apostrophes and some punctuation might be messed up.

I got on my flights with no problem yesterday and even flew the Washington, DC - Buenos Aires leg in Business Class! This was so great, because the seat reclined almost all the way back and I was able to sleep (not to mention the free champagne).

My first impression is, wow, this is a big city, which is an obvious thing to say if you have ever seen a map. But it sprawls out and from the airplane you can see city blocks and buildings as far as the eye can see. I havent really gotten my bearings very well yet, but I spent the afternoon wandering near the Casa Rosada (Pink House, the seat of government) and then took a placement test at a potential Spanish school. I am staying in an area called San Telmo which is supposed to be a cool neighborhood, and I will be going out to take a wander around later today and tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more news from BA...hopefully one of these days I will get to a computer that is a little less ancient, and I will be able to upload some photos. In the meantime, if you are feeling desperate, you could always go out and rent Evita.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Just two days until departure!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I've just started using Flickr so I can share my photos. Notice the pictures to the left... Now you can see the three most recently posted photos in my archive at any time, and I'll be posting more as I go on, so you can see what I see. To start off, I thought I would share this, the view from my street over the city of Lucerne, Switzerland, where I was living up until November 2004.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Last week I was vaccinated against several tropical maladies: Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Typhoid Fever, and Tetanus (while this is not strictly a tropical malady, apparently South America is a high-risk area...maybe they are less careful in disposing of their old rusty nails). Thankfully I've had no unpleasant side effects, although my arms were sore for several days afterwards, and my wallet was considerably lighter! These four vaccinations cost over $500, and I haven't even filled my prescription for 4 months' worth of malaria pills yet. Now the countdown to departure can begin...T minus two weeks or so.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Just Experimenting...

I'm just testing out my new blog. I'll definitely need some guidance, but for now i'm stumbling around in the dark. I'm just happy to have found a site address that wasn't already taken, after hours and hours of trying to come up with just the right name.

Anyway, this is where I am headed. I hope this blog will be a fun way to keep up with me while I'm there.