Sunday, June 5, 2011

I've moved!

The time has come to merge my personal blog with my travel website. I will no longer be updating this blog as all of the old posts and further posts will now call Travelated home.

Please visit me on Travelated where you will find my blog as well as all kinds of other awesome stuff.

Goodbye blogspot! See you on Travelated, beloved readers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting Locked Out: Human Perspective vs. A Dog's

Today I locked myself out of my apartment. This was literally the first time in my life I have locked myself out of a home or car. In fact, for about 5 years I had AAA lock out coverage. I used it exactly three times- once for my friend Abby and twice for my ex boyfriend. Sure, when I was a kid and not deemed responsible enough for a set of keys, I got locked out a few times. However, my brothers and I were masters at the art of breaking into our own home. A lockout might have been one of the few things that could fully unite us. For each house we had different plans. My favourite lockout plan involved the condo we lived in; Benjy and I would lift our oldest brother Billy high enough to reach the balcony so he could hoist himself up and enter the house that way. The reasoning behind this being that he had the most upper body strength which he built up over years of beating the crap out of us both.

But I digress. The point is, today was the day when I finally locked myself out. I was actually having a rather pleasant, dare I say lucky day. I came home to my dog Padfoot frantically throwing himself at my legs. I decided I should take him out immediately. I set the keys down so I could attach his leash and proceeded to exit and close the door. The second the door click I realized what I had done.

I stood there for a couple seconds, simply staring at the door. I tentatively pushed on it, as if it would recognize my touch and simply swing open. Not only were my keys inside, but also my cell phone and cash. I fell back against the wall and repeated to myself "no no no nooo"

I looked to my right to see the door of the neighbors who I am pretty sure do not like me. They have an incredibly annoying wiener dog who Padfoot seems to reserve a special amount of hatred for. I opted to go left to the apartment of a girl whose name I do not know and have seen maybe a total of 3 times in 10 months. Luckily, she was home and super friendly. She allowed me to log onto her computer so I could look up the phone number of my apartment agency. I had to call them to get the cell phone number of my landlady, who is the only other person with keys. She informed me she would be home soon and I could walk to her apartment.

I thanked next-door girl whose name I still have not learned and went downstairs to exit and begin my walk to my landlady's home. When I got to the door I realized you also need a key to exit the building. I was forced to ring another bell and asked to be let out of the building.

The walk took about 30 minutes, not too bad. Padfoot was thrilled, of course. He didn't even care when we almost got hit by a car. Honestly, I have never been that close to being hit before. I mean, technically the care came in contact with my body, that's how fucking horrible that driver was. It went down like this:

- Walk sign turns on, I begin to cross the street
- Taxis continue to turn with little regard for pedestrians
- I walk across after said taxis have finished being assholes
- Black mini van lady comes swinging around and plows towards me
- At the last second, I am able to jump and catch myself with my hands on the hood
- I see Padfoot under the car

For about 1.5 seconds, I though my dog was dead or at the very least, severely injured. Instead, Padfoot trotted out from under the car, untouched. The woman behind the wheel had a look on her face that said "Oh My God I had no idea people walked here! That seems dangerous!"

Honestly, in the end it was just an inconvenient situation with one mild near-car accident. I came home hungry and annoyed by the waste of time. However, I couldn't help but think how differently Padfoot must had viewed this whole situation.

I enter apartment
I get out the leash
I close the door and realize I have locked myself out
We enter the neighbor's apartment
Arriving at the front door and having to double back to find someone to let us out
Running into the dogs that live on the floor below us
Walking to my landlady's apartment
I love you, mom. I love outside. This is great. Thank you mom. OUTSIDE I LOVE OUTSIDE!
Nearly getting run over by a car
It's dark under there let's find grass! More grass, mom! I love you mom!
Waiting in the lobby of my landlady's building were the glass reflects dogs from outside
Arriving home

If only I could have enjoyed this as much as Padfoot.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Argentine Pick Up Approaches AKA Why I'm Single

You may hear "Argentine men" and picture smoldering hot guys whispering sweet nothings in Spanish, but I know the real deal. While I admit there are some good looking guys here, I tend to run into men that look more like this:

As for the sweet nothings, well, I'm not sold on that either. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I understand the words, making them less exotic and thus losing their sex appeal, but I think the technique is the main issue. 

There seem to be a few different pick up approaches that Argentine men use. I'm not saying these are the only ones, I'm sure there are plenty of worthy Argentine males who are much classier than the men I'm about to describe, but I am a Creepster Magnet, and these are the types of pick ups I am exposed to each and every day. 

The Louder the Better Guy
"Hola, linda!" (hello, pretty girl)

Oh, Louder the Better Guy, you just can't take a hint, can you? I heard you the first 3 times you called out to me in such an abrupt manner. I was trying to be polite and simply pretend my headphones blocked you out, but you just had to keep on yelling, didn't you? Yeah, I heard you and no, I don't plan on responding to your poorly thought out greeting.

The Dog Wrangler
"Chi chi!"
(Insert whistling and other weird noises used to wrangle dogs)

Really, dude? Really? I know making weird whispering sounds involving "ch"s works on dogs, but it turns out I am a human being. My instincts are a tad more advanced than a canine, so those weird noses are both incredibly annoying and wildly offensive. What exactly do you expect, that I will come bounding toward you like a loyal animal? Save your wrangling skills for your dog walking job and keep your distance.

The Hit and Run
This involves a guy whole walks past you, usually at quickened pace, and quietly mutters something like:
"Que linda que sos" (How beautiful you are)
"Que belleza" (What beauty)
"Que hermosa" (How beautiful)

Now, on their own those seem like pretty nice compliments. However, when they are being whispered in your ear as an unknown man rushes past you, it it more likely to send a chill up your spine than give you butterflies in your stomach.

The Horny Old Man
To be fair, these exist everywhere, but they seem to be a lot more verbal here. These men usually spring up while I'm out for a run. As I sprint past them, sweaty and in work out clothes, they yell out things like:
"Mira que cuerpo" (look, what a body)"
"Hola, mi amor!" (hello, my love!)
"Hermosa" (Beautiful!) *Usually said with a snake-like hiss on the S, upping creepiness about 50%.

The Honk-Happy Driver
These guys don't even bother with words, they just show their enthusiasm by blowing their horn at you, repeatedly. You might think you are about to be hit by a bus, but no, some douche bag driver just thinks you are hot and has decided to show this sentiment by laying on that horn as if his favourite soccer team just won the World Cup.

So, if you're wondering why I have not taken an Argentine lover, now you know.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

(Still) Sick of Goodbyes

I think it's time to dedicate another post to saying goodbye to people. Being an expat means that I am constantly having to say goodbye to friends and try to make new ones. I wrote my first Sick of Goodbyes post only about a month after my arrival. Since then, many people have come and gone, but I'd like to highlight a few.

I met Jenny my 2nd day in Buenos Aires. She was a fellow Au Pair and we seemed to click as soon as we met, even if she and I occasionally had trouble understanding each other's accents/slang. Turns out US Midwesterners rarely meet Northern Irish girls. We spent a couple months discussing playing Squash before she and I created Squash Wednesdays, a day dedicated to playing Squash and going out for lunch. Jenny left in December, we said goodbye as she climbed into a taxi. Very cliche, but sad all the same.
Jenny and I, so different but an excellent duo

Sara saved me from a painfully boring conversation at a yoga event. After she rescued me from a over the top hippie couple, we bonded over the fact that we had both brought our dogs with us from the US. We spent a lot of time walking our culture-shocked puppies together. She left just a few weeks ago and I still haven't quite adjusted to Buenos Aires without her.
Sara and I at the LCD Soundsystem concert

Phil and I met in Boot Camp class. We quickly realized that we motivated the other by being slightly competitive. He kicked my ass in arms, I came out ahead in legs. He's been one of my key male-friends, reminding me that life in Argentina does not mean I cannot have a conversation with a guy who isn't trying to sleep with me. He'll be leaving Monday and he will be missed!

Nina and I also met in Boot Camp class. We are boot camp regulars and live only a few blocks away from each other, so between classes and our night runs together, we see each other almost every day. She is also my fabulous hair stylist. Nina will be going back to Sweden at the end of May and I will be very sad to lose a friend, running partner and the best hair stylist I've ever had!

Nina showing off her work when she cut Phil, Jenny and I's hair

I wish everyone would stop leaving! I also wish I could visit my friends back home. I miss you all!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Maraton del Agua: 6K in Buenos Aires

A little over a week ago I signed up for a 6K run here in Buenos Aires. I didn't really train for it at all, I was just doing it for fun with a group of friends. I ended up finishing in 36 minutes. I didn't have a set goal so I can't be unhappy with that. I really wanted to be in St. Louis today running the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. This 6K just made me crave a half marathon, I'm dying to beat my Denver time and cross the finish line in under 2 hours. I know I can do it, I just need to train properly.

There is a half marathon in Buenos Aires September 11th. It's too soon for me to know if I will be able to dedicate the training time I'll need to beat my time. I will not run unless I can kick my old time's ass. I also might be traveling in September. However, I have already figured out my goal pace time in both miles and kilometers.

I now stare at a sticky note on my desktop that says "9min/mile=1h 57min. 5.5min/km=1h 56min". I don't think I'll be able to shake the need to make those times a reality.

That being said, today was a blast. I signed up for the race with girls who started out as fellow Boot Camp attendees (and the instructor) but have now become some of my best friends here in Buenos Aires. We ran the race and then enjoyed a delicious brunch together. Excellent day!

Boot Camp Ladies! Nina and I are pretending like Katrina and Nadine need our help.

Cute and candid at brunch.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Overdue Life Update

My apologies, I haven't written a proper life update in a while and it occurred to me that some of you might care what I've been up to. A lot is going on in my life!

I finished Fitness Challenge #2! That was awhile ago but I realized I posted a 50% finished update and never said I finished! I did skip 2 days total, but for 60 days and  fitness challenges, I think 2 days is a pretty good record, don't you?

I still have not started my job in Buenos Aires. This is probably one of the most frustrating things I have ever been through. I got the job at the end of December and here I am, 3 months later, still not working. All the papers arrived in the country a few days ago and were passed over to the legal translators and lawyers. I was thrilled, thinking I was almost there. However, my Missouri background check may or may not be accepted, I might need the FBI one which will take a good 20+ days more to arrive here. We're not sure, I'll find out at my appointment on April 6th. If they say no, I will probably burst into tears on the spot or punch someone. Perhaps both. Let's hope none of that is necessary.

I am not currently in Buenos Aires, I'm actually in the middle of a two week trip through La Pampa region of Argentina. I have officially started working on the Argentina Go! Girl Guide. I am thrilled, to say the least. In 8 months the Argentina Go! Girl Guide will be out and available for purchase, written by yours truly. Please buy one then come visit me!

This trip includes 5 cities (6 if you include the few miserable hours I spent in Paysandu, Uruguay, which I do not- see: Dear Uruguay).

My first stop was Colón. I know what you are thinking, but it's not pronounced like the body part! I did, however, humour Emily by purchasing her a keychain that says "Colon tiene magia" (Colon has magic).
It's a tiny beach town. The river beaches are pretty nice and the town is so small you can leave your stuff on the beach while you swim. However, I was unimpressed with Colón until I went on an ecotour that involved a boat ride to an uninhabited island between Uruguay and Argentina. The tranquility and natural beauty was stunning.
The beach in Colon

No people, no buildings, just me on an uninhabited island

Next was Santa Fe. I was very happy to get to a pseudo-city but quickly saddened to find they practice the "no work between 1 and 5" rule. That means you can do NOTHING during that time. No eating. No entertainment. Nothing. However, it was a city on the river with a decent night life and some cool sites.
I didn't stay here, I just enjoy the sign. Very Don Quijote.

Fountains near the river at night

I spent 1 day in Paraná. It's a cool town but in many ways just mirrors Santa Fe, which is only 40 minutes away.

Church next to Plaza 25 de Mayo in Parana

One of the many ice creams I have consumed during my trip.

Currently, I am in Rosario and absolutely loving it. Not only has this been my favorite city on this trip, it is one of my favorite cities I have ever visited. The architecture is beautiful, the monuments are amazing, I saw Che's birth home and the people are awesome. I'm staying with a married couple I found on couchsurfing, they are excellent. I feel guilty because they treat me so well. Tomorrow is my last day, I wish I could stay longer! I'll definitely be back.
Monument in Parque Espana. I climbed ALL those stairs.

At Che's birth home, holding a sign that says "(El Corazon de) Jose Velez estaba aqui. -the heart of) Jose Velez was here. 

The pedestrian walkway at night

In short: I am getting paid to travel and write a book and eating ice cream at least once a day. My life is wonderful.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Uruguay

Dear Uruguay,

Your border towns suck. I mean, they really suck. I mean, I know some people think Colonia is a charming historical town but that is just code for "old and boring". Also, Paysandu is a shit hole. Your city center looks a paint store threw up on stone henge. We all know these border towns just get tourism because Argentina forces tourists to leave every 3 months. Your citizens are super nice, but that's really all your have going for you.

Unhappily yours,

Ps- Your pizza is disgusting and chivitos are only for fat people who can't make up their minds about what to order.