Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To all blog readers:

I recently moved my blog over to Wordpress. The main reason for this is so that while I'm over in Asia, I can create posts on my iPhone, which I can then upload to Wordpress. Wordpress also has an RSS feature that immediately posts new notes to my facebook page as well.

My new blog address is http://parlatorepazzo.wordpress.com

Thanks for you continual support, comments, and correspondence!

PP

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Day at the Fair - Feria de Matederos

I had completely written off last Sunday as a recovery day, having gotten in at 6:30 AM from a very entertaining Saturday night. Luckily, I have some good friends here that were not content with letting me lay on the couch all day in a position that would be considered much more embryonic than fetal. So when the phone rang at about 1:00PM, I was thinking about answering it with some choice words about parentage, followed by a scolding about how no one is awake at 1:00 PM on Sunday in Buenos Aires. Instead, I accepted the invite from Gina and Javier to what became one of the most special days I've spent here.

The small town of Matederos (roughly translated as"Killers") is just on the very edge of the city of Buenos Aires. It has been, and continues to be a bustling meat market during the week. However, instead of hearing "Hey baby, wanna go back to my place and play army?" the "pick-up" lines run more along the lines of "how many kilos?" The reason being that this town is THE place to purchase choice Argentine cow by the 10's, 100's, maybe 1000's, after which the live cattle are taken somewhere else to be slaughtered. Although it would probably be entertaining to come during the week and see how this all goes down (make a purchase, take it home, laugh when it can't get downstairs), on Sundays the place turns into a locals-only fair.



The main square is surrounded by colonial style buildings, most likely used for the administration of the town's main industry. It almost feels like the old trees surrounding the plaza store the memories of hundreds of years of this weekly event. Their reaching shadows seem as if they are almost embracing the multitude of dancers, singers, or those like me who are simply overwhelmed by the communal happiness and sense of belonging during those few hours. A middle-age woman sings of good times and bad, and of loves lost and found with the frankness and matter-of-factness that many her age, having seen it all in this country, seem to possess and are willing to share with those who want to listen. The fact that she draws the same emotion from her guitar only serves to induce a sudden welling of the eyes. It is times like these that I feel an intense closeness with this country and its people, which I am easily beginning to feel a part of.


There's nothing that can break-up a nice emotional reverie like the pangs of hunger caused by a hangover. So, the three of us went off to find some sort of meat (duh). Instead of hitting up one of the many street vendors, we walked into a nearby restaurant, went straight back to the guy at the grill, at which point Javier negotiated the purchase of three pork sandwiches for about $2USD a piece. Coming from the States, "simplicity" is sometimes forgotten, and many would look at two pieces of bread with a healthly piece of grilled pork in between as something out of a Home-Ec class for special-ed students, but in my twenty-something years, I have never tasted pork quite like that. Nor will I ever forget sitting on a mound of grass in the adjacent park with my two closest Argentine friends, listening to really bad karaoke.

Afterwards, it was time to check out the gaucho games. It is my understanding that the gaucho is still a very big part of ranching in Argentina. Remembering that Argentina is roughly the size of India with a population of only 90 million, this leaves a lot of room for cattle to do what they do best....graze unconfined. So, it is still up to the gauchos to control these massive herds. Where the tango has mostly been overtaken by the tourist industry, the gaucho is still a enduring symbol of the true Argentine countryside...in other words, these gauchos-in-training below are not just hanging around for tourist photo-ops:




I don't know exactly what the game is called, but the way it works is the gaucho and his horse propel themselves down the street towards a small golden ring hanging overhead from a string. Upon reaching full speed, the gaucho tries to "grab" the ring using a utensil roughly the size and shape of a ballpoint pen. This almost reminds me of a saying of my father's; involving the eye of a needle, a hundred yards, and a bag of dried apricots.


The ring hangs from a trellis like structure the arches over the street


A moment of sheer precision

video


Success?


Gaucho games make me hungry (again). Time for crepes or panqueques with dulce de leche.


In the end, I left with a huge bottle of artesanal olive oil, and a greater (if that's even possible) appreciation for Argentine life.

Chau!

-R

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bad Ryan....Go to your room!

OK, so I know in the last posting I wrote something like "More tomorrow!" I even considering going back and editing that out in an attempt to destroy the evidence. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it's been way to easy to get caught up in the day to day experience of living in this great city. So much has happened in the last month, there's no way that I could recap everything in one post, so instead I'm going to try list some things, and hopefully post more on them in subsequent posts.



  1. Enrolled in French courses at Allianze Francaise, and attend two two-hour classes a week.

  2. Had a spectacular visit from Hallie, during which we were constantly off doing something, one of the highlights being:

  3. A ferry ride to Uruguay and overnight stay in the historically sumptuous town of Colonia.

  4. Endured the month long meat crisis, which culminated in a standoff between meat producers and the government. This includes Ryan, Hallie, and Bella getting caught in a massive pro-government counter protest, and Ryan's four day excruciating stomach parasite ordeal due to bad meat.

  5. Was finally introduced to the intoxicating tango subculture by Lyle Lovett's twin brother Blake.

  6. Day at the races at Hippodromo Palermo. Oh, the excitement of losing a 50 cent bet on a 150-1 longshot named Papel Higienico.

  7. Wine tastings/dinners with Marcos' mom and dad.

  8. The overall kindness of the Argentine people, who put up with my bad spanish, round down cafe bills, offer spare change for the buses, and taxi drivers who, if told up front that you only have 100 Peso bills that they can't break, will offer to take you where you are going for free because they are "going that way anyway."

  9. The triumphant post-strike return of meat.

  10. Long walks to all ends of town, with no real purpose other than to just be there and take pictures.

Bella in Plaza San Martin

On the border of Belgrano and Las Canitas

Seriously, do you really need a description?

When you see clouds like these, it's going to dump serious rain in 4 hours.

Fall is definitely in the air here, and I've seen the weather change drastically in just a few days. Last week it was a pleasant 80 degrees during the day, but today I'm writing this from inside an internet cafe, wearing two layers of clothes as the weather has dropped into the 50's. Hopefully this will give me no other choice but to keep writing and posting.

I know sometimes I seem to look at this city through "rose-colored glasses' (can't believe I'm using that Thomasism) so in order to keep it real, I'm installing a segment in my postings called "What I Hate about BA".

What I Hate About BA - Episode 1

Rod Stewart

He's everywhere. I hate him. Not only did I hate him back in the 80's when we were supposed to let him know if we wanted his body and thought he's sexy in his pants made out of stretched Glad bags, but now he's found a way to consistently trigger my gag reflex in his newest (and seemingly never-ending) "crooner" phase. There's no better way to ruin a good meal than by being forced to listen to his raspy-ass voice butchering standards like "Beyond the Sea" over the loudspeaker in EVERY Buenos Aires restaurant. To make matters worse, I had to sit in the same restaurant with him the other night and watch people fawn all over his porcupine-inspired haircut and those pleather pants that he just can't seem to let go of. I've heard of brushes with greatness, but being in the same room with him was more like a brush with dried dog turds, prompting me to write the following well-crafted and thought-out letter to the man:

Dear Rod,

I hate you. Go away. Forever. Starting....now.

Kisses,

Ryan

Wow, that was cathartic.

Still missing friends and family terribly. I could totally use a Rock Band party right now as long as I get to play the guitar solo on Long Time by Boston.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let's start off with a round of the game "What the HELL are they selling?"



...because I really don't think they're selling ice cream.


So it was bound to happen. After a few days of being sick, rained on, and feeling lonely, I got nailed with a major dose of homesickness. It shouldn't have been that big of a surprise, considering that it's happened before, will probably happen again, and is most certainly a part of the human condition. The fact that I'd even read about this beforehand didn't even help. In reality, there are 5 emotional stages of moving to (or living in for an extended period). Even found an article online about it:




Looking at that list, I think I hit steps 2 and 3 at roughly the same time...something like "I don't want any more fucking empanadas...when what I REALLY need is a cheeseburger from the Waterfront in San Diego...on Kettner Street...Two blocks from my old...*sigh*"


I'm grateful that in this case it didn't last very long. A few things help to jolt me out of the funk. First of all, the sun has FINALLY come out...which means all of you who have been begging for more pictures will finally be getting them. Secondly, I've been drinking mate like a madman and it seems to have kicked this cold's ass. Thirdly, I'm actually starting to feel like I have some friends here. Between the local Buenos Aires expatriot website and a nice couple (Gina-Marie and Javier) who have befriended me regardless of the fact that I did not rent their apartment, I am expanding my network of English speaking friends. That's not to say that I don't like speaking Spanish with the locals, but being that my skills are far from perfect, it takes constant attention and mental focus to have a halfway decent conversation in Spanish. There's something to be said for the effortlessness of a casual English conversation, even if it's with a complete stranger.


So today, I think I entered Stage Four. I successfully took the bus (more on those later) to the Jumbo store in Palermo (as you can guess by the name it's huge), bought some stuff for the kitchen for which my landlord has promised to reimburse me, went to the gym, bought chicken and vegetables so I can test out my new kitchen gear tonight, and had some more fucking empanadas for lunch...exquisite, beautiful, amazingly tasty, flaky-crusted and perfectly-spiced, fucking empanadas. We were on the outs for a few days, but we've gotten back together and are wondering why we ever parted...especially when they are prepared for me by this sweet old toothless man across the street who actually told me that I have to order them in even amounts, because if I buy three instead of four, "the third will not have a partner." And, yes, they're far better than any burger at the Waterfront...


I guess now I can write that book called "What to Expect When You're Expatriating"


More tomorrow!





Thursday, March 06, 2008

The U.S. is about to dump a big number two on Argentina!

And by that of course, I mean this numero dos:



Glassware all over Buenos Aires is trembling in anticipation for the arrival of Ryan #2 (El Dos) on April 21st. I guess I better stock-up on champagne flutes in case he gets lonely.

Those of you who don't know this character, THIS is the guy who for the months leading up to our Europe trip kept going on and on about how excited he was to be going to Europe for the first time in his life! Somewhere around day two of the trip, we were sitting in front of the Pantheon in Paris at which point he casually mentioned that the neighborhood reminded him of the time when he was 13 and in Denmark. Apparently, Scandinavia has only recently become a part of Europe...

So I am very excited to welcome Ryan to South America for the first time...other than the time he was in BRAZIL!

In other news, after fighting the funk for a week, I finally got the nasty cold that's been threatening me since San Diego, so the last few days I've been laying low. This is all fine as we've still been having shite weather. Luckily, Bella was able to motivate me to go for a walk this morning so we could catch our daily dose of cloud. Stopped at a cafe and for only 10 pesos (3$ US) grabbed coffee, three small croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a $25 Savings Bond.

On the way back, happened to walk right by something I'd taken a picture of a year ago. Check out the miracle of modern timelapse photography:


2007

2008


Please keep the comments coming! I love hearing from you all!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

B.A.CK in Buenos Aires, B.A.BY!

Can't believe that I've been here for a whole week already! I hope I got to everyone with my blast e-mail with all my contact information. That being said, PLEASE keep in touch, leave comments and don't forget about Bella and I!

So, where to start? Well, the trip down here went as smoothly as possible. All the prep work in getting the dog here safely paid off and when I arrived at the baggage claim at Ezeiza airport, her cage was the first thing I saw drifting around the carousel, being followed by no less than 5 children all trying to get a peak at Buenos Aires' newest celebrity. After the initial couple minutes of whimpering, she was back to normal (other than the lovely urine odor) like she'd never left my side. So, grabbed all my luggage, cleared customs with no problem, and jumped in a cab too the apartment. I even sweet talked the driver in really bad Spanish to pull over so she could get in a quick whizz.

The apartment is all that was promised. My landlord, an American named Robert Shive, gave a quick walkthrough and I was set to finally try and sleep for the first time in 48 hours....or was I? As soon as I laid down, my mind started racing with all the things I wanted to do....as if I were only going to be in Buenos Aires for 3 hours instead of 3 months. So after 15 minutes of insomnia, I jumped up, grabbed the dog, the camera, and got to taking some pictures of the hood.

The part of town I live in is right on the border between Palermo Viejo and Palermo Soho. It's a very pedestrian area, with tons of cafes, bars, restaurants, parillas (grill places), and shops. For all of it's popularity, it's very quiet and quaint with lots of trees and cobblestone streets, very reminiscent of New Orleans (especially with the humidity). Yes, the name does come from the Sicilian capitol, pronounced Pal-er-mo, and NOT Pal-me-ro. There is still a decent size population here that still speaks italian, and they absolutely love Bella.



I'm just putting up some general pictures for now just so you can get an idea...more details to come later. Oh, and the sun hasn't really come out yet, so apologies for the greynessnessness.




After grabbing some long awaited empanadas and a coffee, I went back to the apartment to get connected to the internet and make some calls. The power strip that Robert provided me with had this big giant transformer thing that the wireless hub adapter was plugged into. Well, when I was juggling all the plugs on the powerstrip to make room for my laptop, I inadvertently plugged the adapter directly into the powerstrip. I immediately heard a boing sound like from a cartoon and a cloud of smoke coming from the adapter. Off in the distance, I also hear what sounded like shit hitting a fan. Through the magic of modern high-tech photo-editing, I was able to recreate that lovely moment as Exhibit I (for Idiot):


Exhibit I - AKA My first fuckup of the trip



Robert was kind enough to provide me with a replacement router and told me not to worry about it, but I felt it was my duty to replace it anyway. So today, Bella and I loaded the backpack with dog treats, camera, towel, book, destroyed adapter, and my umbrella (which has seen more use in the last week than it would a lifetime in San Diego) and went for a 4 hour walk across town. Objective: seek out a place called "Casa de las Transformadores" or House of Transformers (and all this time, I thought they were from Cybertron). Long story short, with my absolute crap Spanish I was able to procure a new adapter.

Along the way, Bella and I were able to get some sight-seeing in around the fancy Recoleta area. We even tried to get into the world famous cemetery, but they wouldn't let me in with Bella...even though the place is loaded with cats. Something a little racist about that...or I guess it would be spec-ist? Anyhow, last pic for now...this is Bella standing outside the gates of the Recoleta cemetery, looking very pissed off at the apparent double standard.



"Just a bunch of dead people anyway. Woof."

So enough for now! Missing EVERYONE!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thanks for you continued interest in my beautiful Little Italy condo! The unit ideally will be available starting July 1, 2010. However, we are open to making arrangements for having it ready earlier if necessary!


The biggest draw to this completely furnished 1 BR/1 BA 3rd floor unit is the view. It has a very open floor plan which allows dramatic views of the downtown skyline, the central "village" of Little Italy (including a very personal view of the Piazza Basilone fountain), and impressive sunsets over our beautiful harbor. I highly doubt that one could find such a wide array of scenery in any other downtown unit.

In addition, I have recently upgraded the entire unit and it now includes all of the following (but not limited to):

750 square feet arranged in a very open floor plan
Matching KitchenAid stainless steel double-size refrigerator, stove/oven, microwave and dishwasher.
Beautiful imported granite countertop with four contemporary barstools and artistic pendulum lighting; perfect for entertaining.
Furnished with plenty of dishware, stemware, and cooking utensils. I am an avid chef, so the kitchen comes ready to use!
Recessed can lighting on dimmer switches
Contemporary furnishings from West Elm that fit the room perfectly to maximize the view.
42 inch Sony TV
Sony Prologic 6-speaker DVD/Audio sound receiver with IPhone/Ipod docking station
Two large bookshelves for storage
Xbox 360 with a selection of games available if requested
Wireless Broadband available
All living areas are covered with durable and attractive bamboo flooring.
Recently remodeled with new glass tile shower and modern European styled fixtures.
Lovely bowl sink with dramatic custom glass tile backsplash.
West Elm bedroom furnishings
Optional Yamaha digital piano
In-house stacked washer and dryer
Small balcony with loveseat to enjoy the harbor, village, and downtown views.

Being in the heart of Little Italy's village, the unit is surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants, and parks.

The unit is within a 5 minute walk to the harbor, 10 minute walk to Balboa Park, and 15 minute walk to San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter.

Again, the unit will be available as of July 1st for a 12 month lease. I could potentially make the unit available sooner depending on lease term, etc. I am currently offering the unit furnished and ready for move in. I have reasonably priced the unit at $2100 per month, or $2250 with utilities (cable, WIFI, electricity, water.)

Please contact me via e-mail at ryanjones73@gmail.com, or on my mobile at +1 (619) 571-5342


In the meantime, please enjoy the following pictures below!


Specious award-winning floor plan


Bright West Elm furnished bedroom



Custom glass tile shower with Euro-styled fixtures



Vessel sink with custom mirror and back-splash



Completely remodeled kitchen/bar!


Comfy sectional with birdseye views

...and towards the Gaslamp...

Nice big telly!


Lovely balcony on a fairly quiet street

The quaint center of Little Italy