Random Observations on Our New Life in Buenos Aires

Here we are into our eighth week living in Buenos Aires.  Right up front I have to say we haven’t put much effort into truly becoming invested in and exploring our new home town.  When we arrived in mid-October, we knew we were going back to the States 1st December to see our son wed his beautiful bride.  (More on that later!)  Our focus has been elsewhere.  That being said, I do have a random collection of observations that I’ve made in the totally distracted short time we’ve been here.  In no particular order –

On speaking Castilian

Right off the bat – in BA, the language is referred to as Castellano, not Español.  Growing up in Florida and living in Atlanta for 15 years, we’ve been exposed to A LOT of Spanish.  None of it sounds like the language of the porteños, as the locals like to call themselves!  Double Ls are pronounced like “zha,” not like a y.  To a CASL (Castilian as a Second Language – I just made that up) speaker, that tiny difference creates an entirely new language!  Fortunately, every single local that we have met has been kind and sweet and gently helped us along.  Truly, every encounter we have had has been lovely.  And then there are somethings that don’t need translation….

Somethings don't need translation...
Somethings don’t need translation


On food

The produce available is exactly that which is in season.  Novel idea considering where we come from everything is available year round.  Friends and relatives who know our passion for coffee, brace yourselves.  The local coffee, at least at our neighborhood Cafe Martinez, is better than the local Starbucks.  It’s tastier and less expensive.  And another huge bonus to life in BA?  There’s nothing you can’t get delivered.  Food of all sorts, ice cream – yeah, read it and weep, and groceries, too!  That’s right.  When you finish your grocery shopping for an extra $5 or so, you can get it delivered to your house.

We haven't met a pastry we didn't like
We haven’t met a pastry we didn’t like

On architecture

We love the old stuff and our neighborhood is full of it.  Beautiful old houses.  Gorgeous old shops.

Drool worthy streetscape
Drool worthy streetscape

Sometimes there will be an entire block of old houses, but most times what we see is a gorgeous old belle squished between boring boxy high rises.

old & new
Old & New

I never stop trying to image what the streetscape looked liked before the neighboring old buildings were torn down to make way for the new.

On dogs

Before we arrived, we heard quite a bit about the copious amounts of dog poop on the sidewalks here.  However, much to our pleasant surprise, it really isn’t that bad.  Every now and then we’ll encounter an “obstacle,” but no more than we would in the States.  Buenos Aires is a city of dogs.  We see them everywhere, in singles, doubles, and variety packs.  Dog walking is a major business here.  And!  The vet will come to your house.  That’s right!  Our friend, Margarita Maria, has a vet who comes over for the regular check ups, shots, whatever.  Oh, that must be awfully pricey, you’re thinking.  Nope.  She pays less then we would in the States.  A lot less.  I had some great pictures of dog walkers walking their packs, but I can’t seem to find them.  So here’s a picture of a dog enjoying a little time at an outdoor cafe.

Who doesn't like a sidewalk table?
Who doesn’t like a sidewalk table?

On the Tango

If you know how to Tango, you can do it just about anywhere!

The Victory Pose


Study: The Pose of a Champion is Innate

(from livescience.com) – It turns out that the stereotypical image of a victor — head tilted back, chest puffed out and arms in the air — may be an innate human response to success.

A new study found that blind athletes who have never seen such a display make similar gestures of pride as sighted athletes when they win, and also slump their shoulders and narrow their chests in shame when they lose.

I took this picture of G-man last Sunday while we were out on a bike ride.  Little did he know I was taking the picture hoping to be able to use it for this very post.  And joy of all joys, the results are in.  He passed the Spanish test!!

Thank you everyone for the positive thoughts, prayers, ritual dancing, chanting, spirit fingers (who know who you are!) you sent our way!

Request for Positive Vibes

Here’s the deal…  Back in September or October, the G-man’s company posted an announcement for an opening in their Buenos Aires office.  Figuring the odds were not in his favor, but keeping our fingers crossed all the same, he put in for it.  You know how it is.  You really want something, but don’t think you’ll actually get it so you kind of downplay it to yourself to keep from getting excited so you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen.  Makes perfect sense….and a really long run-on sentence.  Around December-ish he found out he had been selected for the position.  WOO HOO, we said.  Cheering!  Jumping for joy!  Calling family!  Calling friends!  We don’t speak Spanish, but how hard can it be, right?  We knew his company would send him to six months of language school and, shoot, we’d never heard of anyone not passing the test.  See, he MUST make a minimum passing score in an oral proficiency test or he doesn’t go.  For whatever reason, the company believes he should be able to communicate with his Argentine counterparts.  Since January, we have been living in Spanish 24/7.  Spanish TV, actually American shows in Spanish, Spanish radio, Spanish labels all over our apartment.  In case you were wondering, NatGeo Mundo is a great show to watch in Spanish as they speak slower.  Documentaries, in general, are great for slow speech patterns.  NOTE – When learning a new language, DO NOT attempt to watch any type of reality television in said new language.  When people get excited, they speak very fast.  It doesn’t matter what the language is when we get emotional, our mouths switch over to full auto.  We have been so intense that I have started dreaming about Spanish.  Make it stop.

Funny side story.  I get distracted easily.  Bear with me.  A few weeks ago, the hallways in our building were being repainted.  In my comings and goings, I passed the painter on several occasions and said a polite hello and apologized for getting in the way.  I’m pretty good with accents and I would have sworn the guy was from an eastern European country.  Of course, I had only heard him say two words….and they weren’t both spoken on the same day.  About day four, he knocks on the door to ask if he can tape the threshold so he won’t get paint on it.  Ah ha!  That’s a Spanish accent.  So I ask him in my amazing and newly acquired Spanish where he is from.  (I’ve been doing Pimsleur while G-man has been spending 7 hours a day in a total immersion class – more on that later.)  He says, A R G E N T I N A!!!!  Now picture this.  I’m standing in my open doorway and he is kneeling at my feet with painter’s tape in hand. Based on the look on his face, I’m pretty certain that, based on the look on my face, he was 100% certain that I was going to attack him.  Yeah, so my eyes got really big, my hands shot up in the air and I started screaming, “OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!  NO WAY!  OH MY GOD!”  What else could the poor fellow have thought?  Once I explained to him the cause of my slightly over the top reaction, he stopped clawing and scratching and trying to get away from me and agreed to come over for lunch that weekend and speak Spanish with us.  No lie.  Martin the Painter came over for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, during the World Cup mind you, hung out, ate ribs, and took on the role of new Spanish teacher.  He was an absolute delight.  Detailed story of that day to follow.  Wow, I have so much catching up to do.

Alright, so where am I going with all this and what does it have to do with positive vibes?  THE TEST is Wednesday the 30th.  NEXT WEEK.  G-man needs all the positive vibes he can get.  We have discovered one thing in the last six months.  G-man is not a linguist and never will be.  His first language is English and he still struggles with it sometimes.  He is good at so many other things, but language is his Achilles heal.  So please, please, if you have a moment, send your best positive ray beams in his direction.  If he doesn’t pass this thing, not only will he be crushed (and seeing him crushed will rip my heart out), but we’ll have to think of a whole new adventure and I’m really starting to like the idea of this one….especially since we just got pictures of the new digs and they aren’t too shabby.  More sharing on that later.  So, please, please, please, if you have a moment, just point your ray gun at the G-man.  And I point mine back your way tenfold!