Gearing Up For My Return

26 10 2009

Since I am recovering from an unknown stomach issue yet again (Buscapina is a life saver), I have some more time to update my blog.

Coming home for a few months before I head to South Korea will give me time to pursue more of my interests.

Interest #1: Keeping track of business ideas. My interest in entrepreneurship has always been high, and I would say that it’s at an all-time high right now. Consequently, my mind cannot stop thinking of random business ideas, both domestic and international. So, I’ve decided to write every idea down and keep a log of them.

Interest #2: Update my website on my MacBook Pro and figure out a way to update it remotely.

Interest #3: Think about and implement video on my blog. I’d love to be able to capture my experiences on camera.

Interest #4: Continue learning more about social media.

Interest #5: Learn about online advertising.

Interest #6: Learn how to make short movies.

Interest #7: Learn more about photography.

Interest #8: Read more about investing. It’s a fascinating subject in which I’d like to devote more time.

Interest #9: Find a place to play racquetball. I played in college, and I really miss it.

Interest #10: Learn more about wine and cooking, and experiment with different spices and foods.

Random Buenos Aires fact: Love hotels, otherwise known as “telos,” are common here. Basically, it’s a pay by the hour place to go spend time with your special someone. Since most people live with their families until marriage, they go to these places to get it on. From what I hear, they are actually quite nice.





Uruguay + More Thoughts

23 10 2009

Uruguay

I spent a few days in Uruguay this past week, and I loved it. My only “complaint” was that I was in the capital, Montevideo, over the weekend. Weekends mean family time and church time for South Americans. Thus, the city was pretty much deserted on Sunday.

Montevideo reminds me a a little bit of Buenos Aires in the sense that it has European-looking buildings. It’s just way smaller and way less congested. After Montevideo, I took a bus over to Punta del Este, a city known for its beautiful beaches. During summer (tourist season), it’s packed with people. Since it’s only Spring here, there were very few people there, both tourists and residents.

The beaches were really beautiful and relaxing. It had been the longest I had ever gone without seeing a beach (five months), and it was so great to stick my feet in the sand and walk around with the beaches to myself. I thought about going to a few other more remote beaches a few hours away, but I decided against it for safety reasons– didn’t want to be by myself.

Here are a few pics of my trip.

Wine and Steak on the Grill

Wine and Steak on the Grill

Interesting Graffiti

Interesting Graffiti

Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Empty Street

Empty Street

Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach

Hand Sculpture

Hand Sculpture

More thoughts, Experiences and Observations

  • The service in South America is slow and inefficient. There are two or more lines for almost every store you enter. Example: One line to get a ticket for what you want, another line to give the ticket to the cashier to pay, and a final line to give them your receipt and get what you paid for.
  • Many people think I look Argentine. I’m not sure why.
  • People trying to make money pass out stuff on the metro and at coffee shops and want you to look at it. They range from pens to flashlights to toys. If you want it, you buy it. If not, they take it back. It makes the coffee shop experience less enjoyable.
  • The Halloween and costume stores here are very enjoyable. They have tons of accessories and props, which are really fun to look at.

Coming home in a little less than a week!





Recap: Buenos Aires

16 10 2009

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is an awesome city. It reminds me of New York, San Francisco, Barcelona and Paris all combined into one. There are endless amount of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The Subte (metro) and the bus lines are very efficient (except when there is traffic) and easy to navigate. There are also quite a few nice parks.  Not to mention, the nightlife is great.

Like any big city, there are all types of people, friendly and unfriendly. For example, a recent friend and I were lost, and we asked a local businesswoman for directions. She spent several minutes talking to us and showing us the right way to go. The unfriendly person I encountered was a professional dog walker. There are tons of dog walkers here who walk between about  five and twelve dogs all at once. They take their job very seriously, and I learned that they hate it if you take pictures of them. So unfortunately, I didn’t snap any good pics of them. I’m not sure that anyone picks up the dog droppings though, because there is dog poop everywhere! Luckily, I have been careful, and I have avoided stepping in it.

Here are some more observations I’ve made about the city and culture:

  • The Spanish here is much harder to understand and speak than in other parts of South America. The accent is different, and they use the “vos” form instead of the “tu” form. I hear Chileans are the hardest to understand.
  • Marijuana is just as prevalent or more prevalent than in San Francisco. I went to a soccer game, and people were smoking it close to the front row. No one seemed to mind since it’s so accepted here.
  • The men here are aggressive. They will usually say something to you when you walk past them. Also, many of them have mullets, and it’s a completely normal haircut here.
  • There are McDonald’s and Burger Kings everywhere. It literally seems like there is one at every corner.
  • Porteños (people from Buenos Aires) are proud.
  • The expats are really friendly. I’ve enjoyed some great meals and delicious Argentine wine with new friends.
  • All the taxis are yellow and black.
  • Tango is the national dance. People dance on the streets, in restaurants and professionally in theaters.
  • Soccer is obviously very huge here. Maradona, one of the most famous soccer players of all time, is the coach for Argentina’s team. There are photos and statues of him everywhere.
  • Empanadas and alfajores are everywhere. For people who don’t know what an alfajor is, it’s basically two cookies with filling inside. The cookies can be chocolate or sugar, and the filling is usually chocolate or dulce de leche. They are delicious and deadly.

Next Steps

Tomorrow, I go to Uruguay for a few days. Then, I’ll come back to Buenos Aires for a day or two. After that, I’ll head to Cordoba and Mendoza, and then Chile.

I have decided not to pursue work here in Buenos Aires. It’s a great city, but the pay is not worth it to me.  I could look for other, non-teaching jobs, but I’d rather stick to teaching. In Chile, I have a couple of job interviews lined up. However, it is not really hiring season. So, I am seriously considering teaching in South Korea. The benefits and pay are phenomenal, and they are always hiring in Asia. I figure I can teach in South Korea for a year or two, save up some money, and then return to South America to teach when I have more spending cash. That way, I can enjoy my time here more and take more time to learn Spanish.

If I go down the South Korea route, I’ll tour around South America for another month or so and then return to California for a little bit. If that’s the case, there’s a high chance I’ll be back in California for New Year’s Eve.

Below are some snapshots of the city.

La Boca

La Boca

La Boca

La Boca

Maradona Statue

Maradona Statue

Tango

Tango

Soccer Game

Soccer Game

Soccer Game

Soccer Game

Obelisco

Obelisco

Financial District

Financial District

Ecological Reserve

Ecological Reserve

Ferry Entering the Harbor

Ferry Entering the Harbor

Apartments

Apartments

Night Club

Night Club

Park

Park

Alfajor

Alfajor





Change of Plans?

10 10 2009

It’s currently thunderstoming in Buenos Aires, so I have decided to update my blog. A lot has happened since my last post.

To begin, I decided that I made a hasty decision in choosing my new apartment. Thus, I decided not to move in and look at more places. I think this was a wise decision because there turned out to be a few things that I didn’t like about it. I have looked at about ten different places, and I haven’t really been impressed with any place that I’ve seen.

Secondly, I got hired for a part-time teaching position during an impromptu interview when I dropped off my resume somewhere. I have now decided to turn down the job because I’m not sure Buenos Aires is the city for me.

I had been so busy running around trying to find a job and an apartment the first few days here that I completely didn’t make time to actually figure out if BA would be a good match for me. So, I am now going to book a private room in a hostel, explore for the next week or two and see if I want to live here.

I am leaning towards a smaller, different city. Why?

  1. The pay for teachers is low here. It’s not too difficult to find work, but it’s difficult to find work that pays well.
  2. The city is huge. I love big cities. However, it takes a long time to get from one side to the other. Also, there have been transportation strikes recently, and the subways have been closed on some days.
  3. I would like to work at a language institute or somewhere with more structure. Many of the English-teaching jobs here have no curriculum and few resources.

So, the next week or two, I will be enjoying myself in Buenos Aires and not worrying about finding work or an apartment. The only thing I have to think about is where would be a good city to work next. I am thinking about somewhere in Uruguay or Chile. I still miss Cusco dearly, but I think I want to try a new city.

Anyway, I’m sure things will work out. I’m just a bit confused on where to go next to work. After Buenos Aires, I will probably visit Uruguay for a few days since it’s so close.

Stay tuned for touristy pics!





Buenos Aires: The First Two Days

7 10 2009

I’ve officially been in Buenos Aires for two days now. It’s been a LONG two days because I’ve already done so much.

Unfortunately, I caught a gnarly cold in Paraguay, so I have been too tired to really go out an explore. I’ve pretty much been all business.

The night that I arrived, I ended up going out with some super friendly people I met through a BA expat networking site. One of the girls swung by my hostel to pick me up, and we went to an expat bar that was packed with young Americans (mostly men) watching Monday Night Football. I met a lot of nice people and had a great time. It’s good to know that there are places where my fellow Americans hang out. However, I’m even more excited to go to the local, Argentine hang outs.

The next day, I ventured out to see three apartments. The last one I saw was the best because it had a “buena onda” (good vibe) and it’s in a stellar location: Palermo Soho, near bars, supermarkets, restaurants, shopping, a gym and public transportation. The room is small, but it can fit my belongings. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. Two guys (one from Argentina and one from Morocco) live there. The Moroccan, a student who speaks about five languages, will probably be leaving in about a month, but the Argentine, who is a musician, is there to stay. Both are in their late 20s and are very friendly. In fact, so friendly that they invited me to stick around for dinner. So, I hung out with them and their friends for over six hours, talking in Spanish and a little bit of English and listening to music. We all pitched in for dinner, and they cooked delicious Argentine steak, bell peppers and potatoes on the terrace barbecue. This was all of course accompanied by fine Malbec Argentine wine. We didn’t eat until around midnight! This is something I’m definitely going to have to get used to. Then, they walked me back to my hostel.

The Terrace

The Terrace

One of the Friends on the Hammock

One of the Friends on the Hammock

BBQ

BBQ

BBQ

BBQ

Mohammed From Morocco Serenading

Mohammed From Morocco Serenading

The Argentine, Ramiro, told me that other people had made appointments to see the place and that he would let me know if I could move in. Today, he called me to tell me that I could have the room if I wanted.  I gladly accepted, and I’m moving in tomorrow.

I had a great interview today with a potential employer for a full-time position. If I don’t get the job, I won’t be disappointed because I couldn’t have had a better interview. The only issue they could have had with me is that I’m new the city and don’t know my way around. However, I can figure it out quickly, I’m sure.

I have another interview for a part-time position tomorrow. And, I may set up another one if I don’t get the job that I interviewed for today.

Here are a few observations of BA that I’ve made so far:

  • People usually eat lunch between 2 and 5 pm. The lunches are huge.
  • People usually eat dinner between 10 pm and midnight, sometimes later.
  • Argentinians seem to be very friendly and helpful.
  • They use the “vos” form instead of the “tu” form, and the accents are different from other Spanish-speaking countries.
  • You can drink water from the tap.
  • The time here is four hours later than Pacific Daylight Time.
  • The currency is the peso. There are four pesos to one dollar.

More pictures to come when I’m feeling better and start exploring! Can’t wait to move out of my suitcase and into my apartment!

* October 9, 2009 Note: Upon moving in to my apartment, I realized I needed to see other neighborhoods and other options. Thus, a few hours after I moved in, I moved right back out.