Week 1

I

'm on my own this time, staying in an apartment in the Recoleta barrio.  The apartment is within walking distance of much of beautiful (and warm) Buenos Aires. 

To see the advertisement for the apartment  look here

The plan is to fly to BA via New York on 2/16, arriving on Saturday 2/17. I'll be attending a language school www.ebatrust.com for at least some of the time starting Monday.   The weather predictions are fine for the end of summer.

Saturday
Clear. High: 75 F. / 24 C. Wind SW 11 mph. / 18 km/h.
Saturday Night
Clear. Low: 60 F. / 16 C. Wind South 4 mph. / 7 km/h.
Sunday
Clear. High: 82 F. / 28 C. Wind North 6 mph. / 10 km/h.
Sunday Night
Partly Cloudy. Low: 68 F. / 20 C. Wind West 4 mph. / 7 km/h.
Monday
Clear. High: 73 F. / 23 C. Wind SSW 8 mph. / 14 km/h.
Monday Night
Clear. Low: 59 F. / 15 C. Wind SSW 8 mph. / 14 km/h.

 

If indeed the apartment does have a functioning wireless internet, I'll continue the travel log below.  Else ...

viernes y sabado

Well, the flight from JFK to BA was interesting.  A major snowstorm hit the US northeast on Wednesday, and airline schedules got massacred.  There was a crowd of folks at JFK who had been waiting to go home to BA for three days, and they stormed the gates.  Many got on the plane without a boarding pass.  Didn't seem to faze security.

A little late arriving BA, but everything went nicely.  The apartment is in a more affluent neighborhood than the one P&A&D stayed at in San Telmo, but the aartment is not as well appointed.  The neighborhood  streets are as noisy or worse, but the bedroom is well isolated in the back  (see movie).  And, the wireless internet works, very much to the surprise of the young Venezuelan senorita who closed the deal, and who didn't even know that it was part of the package.

Did the usual SuperMercado thing, buying goodies para comer y beber.

 

domingo

A gorgeous dia, went for a walk west on Av del Libertador.  A very upscale part of town, an Aston Martin in the auto showroom.  Many parks along the way, and went for a walk in the Rosedal gardens, where Raquel had a picnic con Arturo (for Destinos fans).

Portenos love their dogs!  Many joggers and their pooches out for a stroll today.  Those unfinished patches in upscale sidewalks mean only one thing - watch your step.

A pleasant lunch at a conveniently located Buller's Cafe, and a stroll around the Recoleta artisan stands.  Get your orders in early!

Language progress - today I helped a little old lady buy the right kind of toilet paper, although I'm sure I mispronounced higienico (she almost laughed.)

 

lunes

So Little Red Riding Hood went off to school ..., no wait a minute, maybe it was Little Bo Peep, down Las Heras to Callao and then across to Santa Fe, and then  ... you get the picture.  It's another stupendo dia for a stroll to school, about 45 minutes each way.

The school is downtown, around the corner from the other Buller's (IPA) and a block away from Kilkenny's (Guiness).  Perfect location, 7 or so classrooms in one floor of a standard Buenos Aires building.  All the 20 or so students are young, excepting me, and I'm sharing the beginner's class with a youthful Lufthansa steward from Berlin, whose English is better than mine, but whose Spanish is about the same.  That's Andreas on the left, compleanos.

The professors change every two hours, different styles and interests.  Lorena on the right is very interested in the changing social dynamics of BA.  She says that the Puerto Madero neighborhood is rapidly becoming a microcosm of wealthy foreigners, mainly European, who have their own separate culture.  She worries that class structures might gravitate to a Rio de Janeiro type dichotomy between the very rich and the very poor.  Lorena's English is also better than mine and she is certainly smarter and better looking!

6 hours a day is too much.  Estoy muy cansado.

 

martes

Same old, el mismo viejo.  Classmate Andreas arrived a little late to class, obviously not enough sleep and obviously having more fun in BA than David.  The professors had more anecdotes and min-lectures on the Argentine economy (the latest major crisis in December 2001), and the different cultural adaptations to political and economic turmoil.

A scare in the night.  I had noted that in my building, and in every Argentine building I had been in, that there was only one way in/out.  If there's a fire, adios.  Tuesday night the fire alarm started blaring around midnight.  I couldn't smell smoke, so I got some things together and walked carefully down four flights of pitch black staircase.  Nobody else, no firemen, the porter didn't respond to his buzzer.  I walked outside the building - there were a couple of amused vendors nearby.  No fireman, no nada.  10 minutes later, the alarm turned off.

A mini-heat wave is forecast in BA.  They say 95F in BA on Saturday.

 

miercoles

Last night, fire alarm.  This morning, no hot water.  Makes for an exciting shower.  Also, the washing machine broke.  The housing agency went to work.  It turns out that the fire alarm malfunctions regularly, and David was the only resident who didn't know this!  Claudia the porter can re-light the water heater easily, and she will also arrange to have the washing machine repaired.

However, after 3 days of language lessons, Claudia and David still can't understand a word each other says.

The Buenos Aires air is, ummm, rich.  Half the vehicles on the street are taxis, most or all of which use natural gas as fuel.  Clean.  There is also a huge fleet of buses - it is common to see 5 in a single glance.  These guys spew clouds of diesel smoke that permeate everything, including your lungs.  According to one of my professors, during the most recent economic crisis, pollution regulations were relaxed, things may get better over the next several years, but don't hold your breath.

Andreas showed up in class today with a t-shirt: "I am a flight attendant.  I am here to save your ass, not to kiss it."

 

jeuves

"All work and no play makes ..."  Well, David was dull to begin with, so big deal.  A professor and several students went to a show at the Auditorio Buenos Aires, near the Hard Rock Cafe in Recoleta. 

"Sano and Salvos" features many young acrobats and jugglers performing for the family.  David positioned himself for an early exit, but one of the acrobats yelled at him to join the rest of the audience.  On embarrassed compliance, she hugged David, and then later in the show stepped over several audience members to come back and hug him again.  This really helped in the embarrassment department.

A very warm weekend is being prognosticated, so no plans as of yet.

 

viernes

Today Andreas the Lufthansa flight attendant said goodbye - he is heading back to Berlin on Tuesday, but before he left he confirmed a longtime suspicion - on long overnight flights, attendants have nice comfy beds downstairs.  You didn't know there was a downstairs, did you?

This was the last day of the first week of school.  When I got back to my departemento, the porteria rang the doorbell and, I think, volunteered to do my laundry because the washing machine is broken.  I caught a couple of words, and she took my laundry, so she's either going to wash it or burn it.  Whatever.

Dinner with another American (estadounidense) student, Bob from Texas is a man of grand appetites who says he is a tree-hugger.  Mainly Oak.  Years ago he bought a cask of fine 100 year old cognac for $1000, and has recently been offered $60,000 for the same. Spare that tree.