Buenos Aires? No thanks! Mar del Plata for me.

Dan and I had a great skype chat with listeners Elizabeth and Chris Lovelace, a couple from the US who live in the city of Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers south of BA. Continuing with the topic of discussing expat life in Argentina, but  outside Buenos Aires, that we touched with Katie Metz de Martínez on Episode 14, here are some highlights about living in “La Feliz” (nickname for Mar del Plata city, the most traditional vacation spot for Argentines). Pictures are courtesy of Elizabeth, who’s a professional freelance photographer. Chris is a freelance translator.

Elizabeth: First of all, I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by NOT living in BA. MdP has almost every kind of entertainment available, and it’s year round. I think perhaps the rest of the country thinks that after the summer, MdP turns into a ghost town. It doesn’t; it just returns to normal. We have the Culinary Festival in the summer, Jazz Festival in April, the International Film Festival and book fair in November, and the Iberoamerican (if that’s even a word in English) Cultural event in the winter (I forget the month). León Gieco had an outdoor concert for that event; MdP does draw some big names. The municipal theater has events/shows year round at a decent price. (There are probably more fairs/festivals but I can’t think of any more.)

Chris:  I always wanted to live in a place that makes a good vacation spot. All of Argentina (and people from several other countries) come here regularly to relax because this is a nice place to do it. Rather than deal with the hassle of having to drive here for a vacation, why not just live here? That way, any time there’s a nice day, I can go to the beach if I feel like it.

Elizabeth: It’s not just music and theater, there are sporting events year round. Since the sports complex was built for the Panamerican Games in 1995, MdP has hosted some major events (there was some major basketball competition going on not too long ago but I’m not sure what it was…preliminaries for the world cup perhaps?) We don’t have any club teams in the A division, but neither is River, so who needs that? 🙂

Sure, if you want to see U2 or Aerosmith, you have to to BA/La Plata, but so does the rest of the country. And those groups don’t come to Argentina that often anyway.

Chris: The fact is that there is more than enough to do here every week. No one person could attend every event in MdP, which is pretty impressive considering how small the city is in population and area.  Of course, the events that Liz mentions are just some of the big, general events. There are also thriving Pan-Arabic, Russian, Italian, Jewish and other communities here that have events at least once a month (and usually several times a week).

Eli: there might be things I can’t buy here, but we’re more than ok with what we do find. (We are more than happy to NOT have a Starbucks here!) Chris: Why do you need a Starbucks when so many cafes serve Cabrales coffee? If you want “foo-foo coffee drinks” filled with sugar and whipped cream, go to Havana. You have your pick of a Havana cafe overlooking the ocean, or Havana on the Peatonal.

Chris: It’s also generally cheaper to live here, though prices are climbing steadily. The fact is that, if we lived in BA, we probably would not be able to afford to live in Capital; so, we’d have to live in one of the less desirable neighborhoods. Again, why do that when we can live by the ocean instead?

Elizabeth: We have more than just cheap seafood restaurants here. The cuisine might not be as international as in BA, but there are some very fine restaurants in the city and we’re still finding them all.

Chris: Since our plan right now is to be here for the rest of our lives, it’s important to be part of the community – not just the party scene. MdP is big enough to not be out in the “Sticks” (El campo), but it is still small enough that we (or our family) know a lot of people in the community. We get the chance to participate in civic life here (if we want to); that’s doesn’t really seem possible in BA. For example, Liz has had photography gigs at some of the main venues here; why compete in BA when you can be more successful in MdP with less headache?

Elizabeth: What I love about MdP is that it’s big enough to offer a lot but small enough that these places are easy to get to. We live on the northern side of town in a residential neighborhood, but I can get downtown in 15 min. by car (about 30 min. on the bus.) It’s easy to get around. You can’t get lost because there’s always an ocean to navigate the city by, and it’s laid out on a grid. It doesn’t get any easier. 🙂 Of course, then there’s the ocean view year round. It never gets old. If you’re here in the winter you can watch the sunrise without getting up at 5am. 🙂 And if you’re looking for some country side weekend, Sierra de los Padres is only 30 min. outside of town.

 Chris: MdP also has a decent golf course, as does Sierra de los Padres (from what golfers tell me). I’m sure it’s not St. Andrew’s; but if you’re looking for St. Andrew’s… I suggest going to St. Andrews.

Finally, a lot of musical groups and other performers come to MdP. So, we can still see Les Luthiers or Ricardo Arjona, and we don’t have to go to BA to do it. Of course, if we really want to do something in BA, we can get there and back in a day (even if it IS a long day of driving). So, why live in the pollution, crime, and congestion Buenos Aires when you can live in MdP and drink mate on the beach with friends any time you feel like it? 🙂

Furthermore, why endure the sweltering summers in BA, when the summer days in MdP are almost always blessed with an ocean breeze keeping the temperature livable?

 

 

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Foto del Día – 29 noviembre + Uruguay

We went on our first trip to Uruguay recently, to the beach town of Piriápolis via Montevideo.  Here’s a picture of a man rolling in wood bound for the parrillas of Mercado del Puerto in the capital.

Man, the Uruguayans give the Argentines a run for their money when it comes to parrilla.  They have some mean asadores there.  We had what might have been our best parrilla yet at El Mercado de la Abundancia.

Let’s start a discussion comparing Argentina to their neighbors across the Río.  Mate customs, fútbol teams, music, you name it.  I’ll post some thoughts tomorrow.  Add yours in the comments below.

Meanwhile, send in your Foto del Día to photo@bacast.com.  Doesn’t matter where you are, send your view…

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Cheat sheet for Episode 15, Season 2

Cheat Sheet for E15S02

Listen to  episode 15 here

 

  • Kiosco: it’s the ubiquitous store where you can find everything you need. It was fashionable in the 90s to call them “drugstores”, if they had more space, more products, and payphones. Now it’s back to kioscos, plain and simple.
  • Cordoba y Callao: One of the busiest corners of Buenos Aires.

Cordoba y Callao por michell zappa @ Flickr

  • Mychael Henry , chef at POKE pop-up restaurant

 

 

Local Chat with Diego Macadar from Quierobagel.com. He summons everybody to join the BA Bagel community at Bagelog.com

 

Spanglish Playground: Automatic Nicknames

  • Luis/Luciano…Lucho
  • Ignacio…Nacho
  • Dolores…Lola
  • Francisco…Pancho
  • Constanza…Coti

No one under 35:

  • Carlos…Cacho
  • Oscar…Oski
  • José…Pepe
  • Manuel…Manolo
  • Rodolfo y Adolfo…Fito
  • Ernesto y Roberto…Tito
  • Alberto…Beto

 

  • “I have a crush on you”: we agree that there’s no exact translation, but one that could be is “tengo un metejón con vos/estoy metido con vos”.
  • Grinding: Perreo. But it’s not an Argentine word, it’s mainly used in other Latin American countries.
  • Chabón: Dude. For other expressions for “dude”, listen to Episode 13
  • Jewish Community of Buenos Aires: the largest in Latin America, with around 200 thousand people (before WWII and the creation of the State of Israel historians put the figure at around 500 thousand).
  • Cuddling: Dan refers to it as “Cucharear”, from the Spanish word “Cuchara” (Spoon). And it can also be called “hacer cucharita”

 

 

 

Expat Chat: Israeli Aviv Cohen says he came down to BA before the country collapsed. In 2001, December there was a total economic and political meltdown, that marked the end of the 10-year convertibilidad process, by which 1 dollar was pegged to 1 peso, by law. He also mentions the three intelligence agencies of the UK (MI6), Israel (Mossad) and Argentina (SIDE; which stands for Secretaría de Inteligencia del Estado).

 

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S2 E15: Eat the Face and Different Types of “No”

Bi-national couples on the show!

Mychael Henry from LA and his porteña girlfriend Vero.

Alan Epstein from San Francisco and Daniela Capillé from Brasilia.

Spanglish Playground: built-in nicknames according to the name.

Local Chat: Why there are no bagels in BA?

Expat ChatE: A bi-national couple with a triple-passport pair of daughters.

Does anybody know what Furbies are??

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¡Gracias che!

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, when people travel sometimes thousands of miles to be with their families, roast a turkey, stuff themselves like there’s no tomorrow, watch football (not fútbol), and then shop like maniacs for Christmas tomorrow (the insanely excessive practice of Black Friday is even spreading north.  Could there be a more American holiday?

My family is entirely thankful we’re not in the United States, but rather right here in the heat of Buenos Aires.  We are making a scaled back Thanksgiving dinner, roasting a chicken instead of a turkey, and having some friends over to share it.

It’s clear why Thanksgiving hasn’t caught on in the southern hemisphere – the last thing you want to do is eat hot turkey and mashed potatoes when it’s 30 degrees centigrade outside.  Our kitchen is so hot from the oven right now I think the chicken could cook just fine sitting on the countertop.

Anyway, the redeeming value of Thanksgiving is it does provide a moment to take a breath and give thanks, for our families, for our health, for the things that make this life worth living.

I give a mountain of thanks for being in Buenos Aires, for mate, for “che boludo”, for the $1.10 Subte, for weekend ferias at Parque Centenario, for my portero Gustavo, for the wonderful teachers and children who have welcomed my daughter like one of their own, for bares and cafés notables, for Manu Chao playing on my wife’s birthday tonight, and, of course, for our guides through this crazy wonderful city, Dan and Fer.  (My daughter says she’s thankful for James Brown.  We raised her right.)

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, what are you thankful for on this steamy, sunny day en La Capital?

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Agree or Disagree: An End to Some Subsidies in Argentina is Good

Interesting… very interesting. Many Argentines have referred to the country of Argentina, and themselves, as a society of people dependent on the government, even calling it a paternal state.

But now, Economy Minister Amado Boudou and Planning Minister Julio de Vido have announced a repeal of about 600 million pesos worth of public subsidies including water, gas and transportation. Even though they are getting rid of these subsidies, they maintain that the prices of each service will not increase. This writer wonders how that is possible. Mauricio Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, remarked that a subway ride would have a price of 3.30 to 3.50 pesos without these subsidies. These costs have been exceedingly low in the past… 1.25 pesos per bus/subway ride…. 10 pesos for 2 months worth of gas use… 30 pesos for two months worth of electricity, etc (the latter are approximations, but you get the picture).

In my opinion this is a step in the right direction toward transparent and fair management of government money, assuming that the extra revenue generated will actually go toward public improvements or lowing the debt level and curbing inflation. The ultimate conclusion of this act remains to be seen and will surely take years to play out fully.

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Foto del día: 22 noviembre 2011

¡Macanudo!  Our first listener/reader submitted Foto del Día, from Jenn L:

[pullquote]This was actually taken in 2009, during the end of my semester abroad in Santiago, Chile, where during my last few days in South America I went to visit one of my best friends in Buenos Aires. This was taken in El Caminito, and being the clueless gringuita I was, I had no idea what the dude was drinking. One year later living in Buenos Aires, and it now seems crazy that the mate and bombilla were such foreign objects to me. Whether it’s 1999, 2009, 2019, or beyond, you will always find at least one random pibe drinking mate. [/pullquote]

You can be next!  It’s a movement!  It’s a BsAs photographic revolution!

Send your photo from wherever in the world you are to:

photo@bacast.com

Please include your name, where you’re living, and a caption.  Abrazos!

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¡Feliz día de la música!

I had no idea until the good people at Nacional Rock facebooked it.  Today is the saint day of Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of musicLooks like she played a mean harp.

So here’s some special love to all of you who create and play music for all of us who love to listen to it.

Why not go out and check out some live music tonight?  Looks like there’s some acoustic singer-songwriter action going on in Almagro, jazz in Colegiales, and Jam Afrobeat is celebrating its last weekly Fela Kuti homage of the year tonight in Barracas.

I’m celebrating día de la música right now with the jazz brother from another planet:

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