Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Hola Chicos!
I think it is about time to give an update on life in Buenos Aires. We have been busy. When I think that we have only been here two weeks it is amazing. This city is always offering something new. I think the next two months will go by fast.

We have been doing lots of walking and trying to remember all the little cafes and restaurants we want to return to later. There is a cafe on every corner and they seem to be always full. We are also trying to get used to the schedule of daily life. After finally pinning someone down to lay out when exactly "tarde" begins this is what I learned: morning is 9am to 12pm, mid-day is 12pm to 4pm, afternoon is 4pm to 8? (still unclear), dinner is at about 9:30 on weekdays and 11 or later on weekends. The bar scene starts moving at about midnight and the "clubs" or better bars at about 2am. I don't know when sleep figures in, but we have been getting lots of it as our apartment is really dark and it is very easy to sleep until 1 or 2 "in the mid-day" after a late night. It has been fun so far having the apartment and learning everything that comes with it including answering the telephone, putting the garbage out everyday, lighting the stove, maneuvering the grocery stores (bakery, butcher, veggie stand, pasta place, etc) all Argentine style.

We connected again with Cecilia and Cristian, a couple we met while they were on vacation in Mendoza back in February. They are incredibly generous and helpful, taught us how to make empanadas and kindly pronounced that "we will do something every weekend". Great! We have met or connected with a few others and are slowly trying to build some kind of rag tag social scene. We've gotten quite interested in futbol (soccer, but don't say that too loud) adopting Boca Juniors as our team. In the last match between Boca and their arch rivals, River, we could hear our entire neighborhood screaming out our open window. There is a big match tonight, this time we are headed out to a neighborhood bar to watch the action with the masses (of mostly men).

So, on my front, I got a job. I started working in a bilingual school on Tuesday. I am a classroom assistant for four classes, ages 8 and 9, in the afternoon. The pay is little, but that's life here and I am happy to be paid at all. I'm not too sure about this whole "job" idea after being so fancy free for the past five months but my boss seems very understanding and the gig is at most only three months. Really, it is pretty perfect.

The kids are great, they are only allowed to speak English in the afternoons so that makes it easy on me, hard on them. I am completely overwhelmed trying to learn the 90 names of these urchins all dressed the same; foreign nicknames at that like Lili, Pilo, Eugi, Fofi, and more! But most of my first day was trying to teach them how to pronounce mine. Today I answered a lot of questions, the most important, of course, being: Am I for Boca or River?

We are learning more about the economic situation in Argentina and I plan to write a second installment about economics after we have gathered more insight. Buenos Aires is a wonderful city but is a much harsher place due to its size than what we have seen before in this country. We witness the economic harship here more and it is much talked about.

Beyond that, we are just enjoying being in one spot and having our own space. It was hard to get off the backpacker track but things are looking good. We are really liking our neighborhood, San Telmo, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and are hoping to find a few regular haunts.

Ciao Ciao

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Monday, June 14, 2004

OK. If you haven't read our last post, Raegan and I have settled into an apartment in Buenos Aires. Not bad, eh? We'll be here until the end of August. Our address is posted bellow, and our number (if calling from the US) is 011-5411-4300-6645. Also, we just had more pictures put online from our first few months of traveling. There are lots. I hope you enjoy them.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

I apologize to all for the lack of communication. We are very far, both mentally and physically, from when you heard from us last. I have a lot of catching up to do...

We've been on the road for nearly 5 months, and although it looks like we've barely scratched the surface, we've seen many things in many places. It's time for a break. So, we've settled in to our new home until the end of August. If you would care to send us something, write to...

Raegan or Jacob
Peru 687
1 Piso B
Buenos Aires

We can also be called. I think the international and city code is (5411) and the local is 4300-6645. Isn't this exciting? We're really psyched. We love this city so far and are excited to have a little break from the backpack. Here's what we've been up to since we wrote last:

Once over the border, our first stop in Argentina was Salta. This city -- perhaps the Argentinian Santa Fe -- quickly reminded us how much we love Argentina. Our first meal of meat, red wine and salad helped, but really it was more the people we loved. The second night we were there, Sat night, we were looking for a little action and our book was no help. We stepped outside and asked the first young folks we saw, they recommended a bar on a lively street (we would have never found on our own) and came later to meet us. We experienced this kind of generosity in the south of the country, but attributed it to the fact that most of the people we met were on vacation. We were wrong, it's just the Argentinian way - big city or small. More examples are forthcoming.

After Salta we took a beautiful bus-ride to Cafayate, which after Mendoza is Argentinas' second wine-growing region. The beauty of the area was stunning. And the wine you ask? Well, I'll never have a wine column because all I can say is that it was damn good. The best part was that most of the Bodegas in the region had free tasting rooms (if not the entire winery) in town. So our few days there slipped by, walking mere blocks from tasting to tasting. From there on to Cordoba, Argentinas' second city.

We really liked Cordoba a lot, but we were too excited to get to Buenos Aires to do it much justice. Our stay there, however, was not without its highlights. One afternoon we were employing one of our favorite travelers tricks: the early afternoon beer. This trick has worked better in Argentina than anywhere else due to the hours they keep here: the Argentinians usually (because of their late start and long siesta) don't get off work until 6 or 7, dinner starts somewhere between 10:30 and midnight, and if you are young you don't want to be seen in a bar before 2:00. So when we belly up to the bar at 6, the bartender is our captive audience. Every city has one, and in Cordoba the Irish bar was called Dublin. Carlos was our bartender.

After talking for a few minutes, Carlos was pouring us a few on the house. After a few more minutes he was inviting us to an asado (Argentinian BBQ) at his house the next afternoon. When we were getting ready to leave to take our (late) siesta he was writing down his address and number. At this point we hadn't yet exchanged names. I ask you: where else does this happen?

We met Carlos the next day with a bottle of wine from Cafayate in hand. From there we hit the grocery store for.... you guessed it: about a pound and a half of meat and sausages per person and more red wine. After hugs and kisses, we left his apartment 7 hours later with enough meat and coffee in our stomachs to lessen the effects of the wine. Even better, we left with Carlos, his girlfriend and roommate all calling us friends and vice versa. They're thinking of visiting us in Buenos Aires and I hope they do. I extended to them the same invitation that I do to all of you now: you have a bed in Buenos Aires. Come for a visit.

I'll have loads of time to cover this city, so I'll just stick to last night: Boca Vs. River. If you don't understand, let me explain... Boca Juniors and River are soccer teams, each from different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Between these teams is the biggest rivalry in the world of soccer, and some say in any sport. Both teams have always done well, but both teams are perhaps as good as they've ever been. Of all the soccer clubs in world, Boca is currently ranked 3rd and River is ranked 11th. Last nights' match was the semi-finals of the Liberators Cup: a tourney to see who is the best team in South America. River fans were not admitted (for the first time) for fear of deaths, but gringos were.

Raegan nor I have ever seen such excitement and passion at a sporting event (and neither have you unless you've been to a Boca-River match). The entire crowd sang team songs, jumped up and down, and waved their flags without rest. Last night was the first time Raegan and I heard Argentinans swear and it was the first time we felt concrete shake. It's impossible to explain the scene after Boca's goal (Boca won the game one-nil), but it was incredible. We're hooked. Oh, and we're with Boca. The way we see it, Boca is more like the A's in the Giants-A´s rivalry.

That's about it for now. I'm off to cook my first dinner in our new kitchen. Don't forget to write. Or call.

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