Saturday Nov 4th – Our first house guest, Joe, arrives! Our other friends, Steve and George will show up next Wednesday. I take Joe on a quick walk around our neighborhood so that he can get his bearings. We take him to a favorite neighborhood restaurant for a huge “bife de chorizo”, which he thoroughly enjoyed. We all laughed when the steaks arrived because they were so big, but we all ate every last bite. Joe wanted dessert and wanted to order flan, I suggested he get it “con dulce de leche” which is with a topping of the super sweet caramel that you can get on just about anything in Argentina.
Sunday Nov 5th – We start the day with coffee on the balcony. Joe took a walk in the morning and found a fantastic bakery to buy us some sweet “media lunas” (translated as “half moon”, or what we call croissants) to have with our coffee. The morning was bright and fresh.
Then we walked to the subway to go to the San Telmo antique fair which happens every Sunday, turns out this is the 30th anniversary of the Plaza Dorrego antique fair and it’s packed. Of course, after becoming exhausted walking, going in lots of stores and looking at everything, we stopped and had a Chopp cerveza and tostado mixto in an outdoor cafe’. Then a cafe’ to give us the strength and caffeine to keep walking.
The day was nice and warm and much busier then when Ron and I had come here 3 weeks ago. Either the 30th year anniversary or the warm weather must be bringing everyone out! Joe was noticing the architecture on the walk home and this building was very cool!
We got home took a siesta and then went out to a club for some fun. We left the club about 11pm and headed home. We decide to stop for a small dinner at the restaurant next to our house.
I’m about to tell you about something a little scary, first let me say that no one was severely hurt and we are fine. I wasn’t going to write about this as I didn’t want to upset anyone, but as I write this almost 2 days have passed and I’m pretty much back to normal.
We entered the restaurant around 11:15pm, saw our favorite waiter and introduced him to our friend Joe. We were getting to the end of the meal when someone started saying, “He has a gun”. I was blathering some dinner conversation topic, looked over and saw a kid waving a gun at the waiters and taking money from them. It didn’t register what was going on, I just kept talking. Ron said, “He has a gun” for the 2nd time and it finally dawned on me what was going on. There were 2 robbers who looked like they were 16 years old, it’s hard to say, your mind does strange things under such circumstances. One had come in the front door and we think one had come in the side door. They were going around to each table and demanding people’s wallets, jewelry, watches, etc. They came over to our table and started yelling at us in Spanish. Now, you all know how good MY Spanish is, and under such circumstances I don’t think it would matter if he was speaking English, I still probably couldn’t understand him. Joe had taken off his watch and put it on the table, we were all stunned and were just sitting there. I looked around and saw people just sitting at their tables with their eyes facing down. The kid yelled at Ron for his wallet and then pushed him back in his chair so he fell backwards onto the floor, at this point I started getting angry, stood, yelled at the kid and was trying to decide if I should throw the wine bottle at his head. Thank God I didn’t. He came over to me and asked for my wallet, I wasn’t carrying one and only had a small change purse in my pocket with about $30 dollars in it. I don’t know why I didn’t give him the change purse, it only had a small amount of money in it, but I said I gave my wallet to the other guy. As I mention, you don’t really have time to think and act rationally, you’re just reacting. He started yelling again and waving the gun around. He was at the end of our table when all of a sudden the gun went off, it didn’t sound as loud as I thought it would. We think he shot himself in the leg because he started to keel over and I saw his eyes roll back in his head, either from surprise, shock or pain, I’m not sure. The other robber “kid” came to help him and they shuffled out the side door near us. At this point, Joe thought they robbers might start shooting out of revenge or frustration, so he bolted for the rear of the restaurant. When we realized the robbers were gone, Ron said, “Where’s Joe?” We looked around and people, visibly shaken, were starting to get up, gather their things and leave. Joe appeared after a few minutes and seemed to have sprained his ankle when he tried to flee. We supported him and walked him back to our apartment where I immediately put some ice on his ankle, it was already very swollen but not turning any colors. We hoped it was just a strain but after 10 minutes you could tell Joe was in a lot of pain. I remember seeing a woman in the restaurant who had fainted during the robbery and I decided to go back down to the restaurant in the hopes there was an ambulance there. There were several police around and I asked for an ambulance, thank god Joe is pretty fluent in Spanish, he was able to talk to everyone and at least be understood. Once in the ambulance they took us to a general hospital where if you aren’t insured the health care is free. As I wheeled Joe down the hallway I noticed that there was no rubber on the wheel chair wheels, not a good sign of new facilities. They X-rayed Joe’s ankle, the room and equipment looked ancient. The X-ray technician came back into the room to talk to us and he had a cigarette in his hand, god. They then wheeled us into a room to see a doctor, it was now about 1:30am. The doctor showed us the X-ray and it was clear that Joe broke his ankle in 3 places and would need surgery to fix it. The doctor seemed very professional and knowledgeable but I was not impressed with the facilities. Ron and I decided we would feel better if we took Joe to the hospital that we had signed up with for our health care. The doctor was hesitant to move Joe because in might do further damage by moving him to another hospital. He put a temporary cast on his leg and asked him to write a short message saying that he was requesting to be moved to another hospital, probably to alleviate them of any responsibility in moving him in case it did further damage when we moved him. We took a taxi to our hospital where we checked Joe in, they weren’t too happy with the fact that he had insurance from the USA but I said that I had insurance through them, so I guess they figured they could go after me for payment. We saw another doctor who confirmed that Joe would need surgery to fix his broken ankle, Joe was debating whether to go back to the USA to have the surgery done and decided to have it done there. We checked Joe in for 10am surgery and walked home, it was now about 5am. The 20 minute walk home gave us time to reflect on what happened. You want to say, “oh, I should have done this” or “If only we had done that”, but as we all know, what is done is done. Things could have been much worse, luckily, no one was shot or killed. Joe fractured his ankle, but things could have turned out much worse. In the next 2 days, we would all do our own personal soul searching. Now that a day has past, I can write about this.
Monday Nov 6th– We go to see how Joe’s surgery went, however, we got there about 1:30pm and he was still in surgery. We returned later that afternoon and saw him awake and in good spirits. Joe said that everyone was very nice and he was very pleased with the medical care. We stayed with him awhile but he said he didn’t get much sleep before the surgery and just wanted to sleep. Ron and I went home and had dinner in our apartment. We talked about what happened, “Could we have done anything different?”, “If only we didn’t stop for a bite to eat”, etc. But it just turns out to being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This could have happened in any city in the world, just thank god no one was shot. We are still shocked that this happened right next door to our home. I’ve been chatting with an Argentine on the internet and I told him what happened, he agreed that it is rare that this type of thing happens but then he says that since we live in the expensive area of town and that is where the “silver” is.
Tuesday Nov 7th – We go to visit Joe in the hospital and Ignacio is also there. Joe seems to be in good spirits and still comments on how well he feels they are taking care of him. We all feel like we’re getting back to normal, but it still feels very surreal.
Wednesday Nov 8th– I went to the hospital to pick up Joe. Ignacio had graciously volunteered to pick up Joe and I thought I would help out. I’m very glad Ignacio was there as there was lots of questions Joe had of the doctor and it made it much easier for Ignacio to figure out everything for us. Joe’s Spanish is good, but sometimes he doesn’t understand the doctor. We need crutches for Joe, so I walk 8 blocks to the medical pharmacy to get them. Once I’m there I discover they only take cash and I don’t have enough, ugh, so I walk back to the hospital to get some money from Joe. By my second trip to the pharmacy, Ignacio has figured out how to get Joe checked out, pay his bill and get his prescriptions for antibiotics, anti-inflammatorys, and pain pills. We get back to the apartment and George and Steve had arrived, they were still in a little bit of a shock from Ron telling them the story of the robbery, they kept hoping we would come in the door and say “April Fools”. No such luck. Plenty of hugs and concerned looks followed, after awhile everyone relaxed a little bit. It turns out that the crutches I got for Joe were a little big, so George and I walked to Puerrydeon Av. to exchange them giving me a chance to give George a little tour of the neighborhood.
I decide to make dinner since George and Steve are a little jet lagged, we had a great meal and drink lots of cheap, Argentinean, good red wine. Lots of laughing and story telling, we hope we will all laugh about this some day.
Thursday Nov 9th – George, Steve, Ron and I took a tour that included a bus ride to Palermo (a rich suburb neighborhood in the north). The tour included a ride on a coastal train that goes through some exclusive neighborhoods, at one of the stops there was a church and a little mall where we got empanadas and Chopp beer for lunch, perfect.
We then got on the bus again and proceeded to “El Tigre” (The Tiger) to take a ferry ride, this area is a bunch of deltas and waterways that people have vacation, weekend and summer homes. You can only reach the islands by boat and the homes range from modest to mansions. We met a couple of guys from Moscow, had a drink with them on the boat and heard some very interesting stories of how life there is changing and evolving.
George in blue, Steve in beige George asked for a Gin and Tonic and
got a huge glass of Gin. He was VERY happy!
A house on the delta of "El Tigre"
That night we wheeled Joe in his wheel chair down to the Recoleta cemetery area (where Eva Peron is buried) to have dinner, this is a very touristy spot with lots of restaurants and we had a great dinner outside. Things almost seem back to normal.
Friday Nov 10th – Steve, George and I take a city tour bus which takes you to several spots in the city. The tour was nice, but our tour guide seemed like she has been doing the job too long, she was very repetitive and monotonous.
George and Steve at Casa Rosada. Doing our Evita impersonations!
The balcony where Madona sang Don't cry for me ARGENTINA!!
and Eva Peron gave speaches is over
George's right shoulder.
Steve in Plaza de Mayo.
The tour ended at the Recoleta cemetery by our house, so we got off the bus and had a nice lunch in an outdoor café. We then headed over to the Fine Arts Museum and on the way went through the area where artists sell their wares every weekend. George found a beautiful silver ring with a black sapphire in it, it was very nice and the woman said it was $65, George offered her $55 but she wouldn’t budge. Hoping that she might sell it for less, George said he wanted to think about it and we headed off for the museum. Unfortunately, she didn’t come after us to sell it for less. The Fine Arts Museum was great and FREE! It had a nice selection of sculpture (lots of Rodin), impressionistic, gothic, renaissance, modern and digital art; lots of variations and styles presented. On the way back George stopped to look at the ring again, she wouldn’t budge on the price so George finally bought it, he was very pleased with his purchase. It started raining and we got home just in time. We sat on the balcony and it started pouring rain, sheets and sheets of rain. We were all enjoying the storm when there was a crack of lightening and thunder that was so loud George almost flew off the balcony and broke Joe’s other leg!
Sunday Nov 12th - I repeat the trip to the San Telmo antique fair with Steve and George that we did with Joe the previous week. I didn’t realize it, but Steve turns out to be a real shopper and loves to look at stuff. It takes us quite awhile to get through all the stores and the flea market area, it seems even more crowded then when we were there last week. We stop at the same outdoor café and have a Chopp beer and tostado mixto sandwich. Steve doesn’t eat red meat or pork so I ask if they can do a tostado mixto with chicken, no, only cheese, so Steve orders it. Turns out they also put tomatoes on it which Steve doesn’t care for. On the way back George spotted an art gallery which we went into and it was fantastic! Turns out the owner of the gallery has been collecting art for 50 years and in 1960 she wanted to donate her art to the Argentine government if they would give her money to find and open a gallery to exhibit it. She said that it took 10 years for the government to accept her offer, but now the government pays for the gallery space as long as she doesn’t charge admission. I was drooling over the artwork as I liked almost everything that was there, but alas, it’s not for sale. Probably a good thing, I might do something stupid if it was for sale! She said they change the exhibits every month so I’m sure to go back next month to see what she has.
We go out to dinner with Ignacio and his friend Pierre. George wanted to go outside the city to see what other local areas looked like and it turns out that Pierre owns an apartment in “Punta del Este” in Uruguay. “Punta del Este” is a small coastal town that is a popular vacation spot in the summer. Since it is now still spring, Pierre rented it to us for $40 a night, a real bargain. They met us for dinner so we could pay him for the apartment and also meet Steve and George. Pierre recommended a restaurant that serves good local Argentinean food, when they were filming “Evita” here, Antonio Bandaras had dinner there with Mellonie Griffith so their picture is hanging on the wall. The restaurant was great. We walked home afterwards, the air was brisk but very nice.
Monday Nov 13th – We get up early to go to “Punta del Este”. We had arranged to have a taxi pick us up at 7am and I was worried that we’d miss it, so I didn’t sleep very well, plus it was late when we finally got into bed the night before from packing. We took the ferry over the 160 mile wide Rio de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay. The ferry was very fast and only took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to make the trip across. The river is very flat, so the ride was too! We arrived in Monte Video and there was a bus waiting to take us onto “Punta del Este”, a very easy connection. They seem to have very good bus service down here to get to places. The ride to “Punta del Este” was great, once we got near the coastal town areas there were lots of little beach houses along the coast that looked very cool (and affordable). We arrived and the bus driver told us our apartment was only 6 blocks away so we walked (and dragged our luggage) to the apartment. Once there the caretaker of the building somehow magically appeared from nowhere, we showed him the note that Pierre had written a name on, it turns out it is his wife. I was able to understand most of what he was saying but then it got complicated when he started to explain the stove. Joe had been waiting outside in his wheel chair because we were just going to throw the luggage in the room and then go for a walk to check out the town but the caretaker seemed to want to talk to someone who could understand more. The apartment was up one floor and there was no elevator so Joe hobbled up the stairs to talk to the caretaker. Turns out he just wanted to explain the gas shutoff on the stove, and that the water heater is automatic. The apartment was nice with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, and at only $40 a night is a great deal. We headed off for lunch and had another great meal. The chef came over to talk to us and at the end of the meal gave us a nice lemon liqueur aperitif. We went back to the room and had a little siesta, then took Joe on a tour of the island. It was a little cold and cloudy but the ocean was magnificent. There is a nice sidewalk that circles the island so we could take Joe in his wheel chair, when we got right to the point of the peninsula it was very windy and the waves were crashing, the sky was a great charcoal color, the water dark and foreboding. I would NOT want to be in the water right now. We saw a little flashing light and we hoped it wasn’t a small boat, Ron thinks it was a light to mark the location of a crab trap.
Dinner that night we went to another great restaurant. Four of us ordered Paella (a rice dish with chicken and sea food), it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was still and enjoyable meal.
Tuesday Nov 14th – Ron and I took a nice long walk in the morning. The weather was still windy and cloudy but it was great to be outside, the air smelled great and you can never get tired of walking by the ocean. It is still spring and the town really hasn’t opened yet, most things are closed but you can still see a whirlwind of activity of people getting ready for the coming summer season. Workers are painting houses, railings, balconies, etc., gardeners are planting flowers and trimming hedges, you can tell this place is VERY busy during summer. There are also several casinos in town. Ron stops to use a rest room and I go over to a realtor that has houses for sale and rent in the window, there is a small house with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that rents for $5,700 for the month of January and $3,000 for the month of February, wow! This is something Olga told us, if you buy a place here and rent it out for 3 months in the summer, it will pay for itself for the entire year. Something else to consider. We go back and find Steve, George and Joe in the apartment. We go out for lunch but Joe stays behind because he hasn’t been that hungry since he’s not that active in the wheel chair. We find a great restaurant right on the point of the peninsula, it has a great view of the stormy weather with nice big waves crashing on the shore. We order fish and everyone has a great meal, I’m always surprised seafood isn’t bigger in Bs. As., it’s right on the ocean and yet fish isn’t big on the menus. Odd. We go back to the apartment and pick up a bottle of Run and Diet Pepsi to have a drink while we play cards, everyone thought this was a great idea! Steve had never played hearts and he ended up winning, he took my mom’s “quiet as a church mouse” strategy of not bringing attention to himself. Ron always tries to shoot the moon so usually we’re always ganging up on Ron to stop him, meanwhile, Steve is just quietly playing his cards and accumulating no points! Later, George teaches us “500” and we discover a new card game that’s lots of fun, kind of a variant on Bridge, I can hardly wait to play it with Mom and Aunt Hazel when we go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico next February! We stay up till 2:30am but end up each winning a game so we have to “play rubber” as a tie breaker. We’re all too tired so we go to bed.
Wednesday Nov 15th – We wake up and discover that it’s the rainiest, cloudiest, coldest day yet. It’s still nice enough to be there, but I feel bad for our guests since they only have a limited amount of vacation time here in Argentina. I suggest that we see if we can change our tickets and go back to Buenos Aires early and everyone agrees that there will be more to do in Bs. As. George and I walk down to the Buquebus station and they graciously exchange our tickets, free of charge. We went back to the room and let everyone know so they could start packing, we discover there is still a 1/3 of a bottle of Rum left, and not wanting to waste anything (heaven forbid), Steve suggests we have an afternoon Rum and Diet Pepsi. I sweep the floor, I’m sure they have a maid to clean up after guests, but I’m not sure and would hate for Pierre to be embarrassed by the next guests if they say it was messy. Between sweeping the rooms I have a sip of my drink and by the time I’m done with the apartment I’m in a great mood! We go out for a quick lunch, then down to the bus station to catch the bus to Monte Video. Of course, as soon as we decide to leave, the wind dies down, it gets warmer and it even looks like the sun is coming out. We get to the Buquebus station two hours later and it seems that the president of Uruguay is there to christen a new 1,200 passenger Buquebus. I don’t think he was there yet, but there was lots of folks all dressed up and ready for the reception. It took another 2 hours to get back to Bs. As. and during the trip a nice Argentinean woman started talking with Steve, seems she was born in Europe but came to Argentina when she was 5 months old, then moved to New York 40 years ago. She said that she was in a theatre in San Telmo and was bitten by a dog that’s lived in the theatre for the last 10 years (insert surprised look here). She wanted the dog tested for rabies but the dog had to stay at the vets for 2 days, this outraged the local patrons of the theatre who have come to love the dog and didn’t want the dog to leave. They wondered why she wanted to take the dog and have it tested as it clearly doesn’t have rabies as it’s lived there the last 10 years (another surprised look). She had lots of other stories and talked Steve’s ear off for most of the 2 hours to get back to Bs. As. When we arrived we tried to get a Remis (private) taxi to take us home, but there was lots of people waiting for them and it was going to take awhile. We had been warned by several people that it’s not wise to take a taxi outside the ferry station that you haven’t called yourself. Steve went out to the curb because he saw a radio taxi and asked them if they could take us and call another cab for us. There were 2 police who looked like they were writing down all the license plate numbers and talking to the cabbies. This made me feel like the police were trying to make sure the cabbies were on the up and up, still, I wrote down both of their license plate numbers myself. The cab ride home was the typical Bs. As. thrill ride, best fright you can get for $3.50, just keep looking out the side window and don’t look forward and you may be able to keep your heart rate down! Once home we said hello to the pussy cats, they seemed fine as always. We then went out to a neighborhood restaurant for a nice dinner, Ron got the bife de lomo, Joe got the bife de chorizo, I got a beet salad because I wasn’t that hungry, George got a pasta dish and Steve got an anchovy pizza. Very good meal and afterwards they asked if we wanted a complimentary drink, this guy doesn’t know us very well, OF COURSE we want a complimentary drink. He brought us a glass of sparkling apple hard cider that was very tasty and topped the meal off wonderfully. Once home we played cards again into the wee hours of the morning.
Thursday Nov 16th – Steve and George went exploring while Ron, Joe and I stayed in, did some laundry and worked on the computers. Typing up this journal is fun, but it does take me awhile to compose everything. My Uncle Pete and Aunt Rosemary stopped by to see our apartment. They are down here on a vacation and they had gone up to see Iguazu Falls at the country borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. They were in Bs. As. for the night so we took them out for dinner. The next day they were leaving for a cruise up to Rio de Janeiro.
Monday Nov 20th – Ron and I go to our first Spanish class in over 2 weeks. I tell our professor about our ordeal with the robber in the restaurant, explaining almost all of it in Spanish. I feel pretty good that I can at least explain “something”, I guess I am learning SOME spanish. Feels good to get back to our classes but also realize we haven’t been studying. We get back and Steve and George want to go on the Teatro Colon tour, this is their famous opera house. The tour is great but they didn’t take us underground to show us the sets, storage areas and wardrobe rooms like they did when we took the tour 2 years ago. I ask about this and they say they will be including the underground areas of the theatre again next year, a little disappointing since the underground tour was so fascinating.
Steve offers to make supper for our last night together, sounds like a great idea so we stop at the fish market on the way home. Steve buys some calamari and shrimp. We go across the street to the pasta store and buy some linguini, I’ve wanted to buy something from this store before because all they sell is fresh pasta, but this is our first time here. We ask how much pasta for 4 people and he says 1 kilo, we nod and he puts a huge amount of pasta on the scale, gawd! It’s only $4.50 though so we take it. Once home I help Steve get the sauce going, we put some olive oil in the pan, add garlic, then onions, then tomatoes, then basil, salt, pepper, little sugar to cut the acid and oregano. Now it needs to cook for a little while so it gives us time to have a rum and coke and play Yukor. Steve doesn’t like playing hearts anymore since he thinks we gang up on him and give him the queen all the time. Us?!?!? Gang up on someone in hearts?!?!?!? Never! After the sauce cooks for awhile we make a salad and George makes some garlic bread. For the last 5 minutes, Steve throws the calamari and shrimp into the sauce and we get the fresh pasta cooking. Open a few bottles of red wine, and viola! A fantastic dinner!
Blooming Jacarandas Steve and George No sure what they’re doing!
Loretta looking cute
all over the city!
with his bunny!
Tuesday Nov 21st – Steve and George’s last day here. George went out early again to get our morning croissants, I’m not sure where he’s getting them but they sure are good. George found a modern art gallery in a guide book that he thought might be fun to go to, turns out it is in San Telmo in the antique area where we went for the flea market on Sunday. We decide to take a taxi there because otherwise you have to take the subway (subte) and it’s still quite a long walk from the station. We’ve been wanting to try the bus system but haven’t had the nerve yet. Even in the books you buy to figure out which bus to take, it tells you that the buses won’t stop to pick you up unless you flag them down and they won’t stop to let you off unless you tell them to. We want to try the buses because they seem fast and cheap but didn’t want to risk ending up in Tim-Buck-Tu by taking the wrong bus on Steve and George’s last day. The 15 minute taxi ride is only $5.50, well worth the money and time saved! I wasn’t sure how many of the antique stores would be open during the week, but most are and Steve drags us into several stores.
We go to the modern art museum and it’s one that I remember going to when we here 2 years ago. I love modern art, but I remember that 2 years ago I was not impressed with the collection. We enter and it’s only 1 peso ($1) to get in, seems reasonable enough. We go in and the whole first floor is a photo display of architecture, not very interesting. We go up to the 2nd floor and ˝ the second floor is devoted to one piece; the room is very dark with 6 circular rotating bases lit from above, around each base is a whole roll of 4 inch wide accounting tape unraveled in a disheveled pile. Next to each base is a video monitor with a videotape of a person from above, standing on the rotating base, chanting. We circle the room, looking at all 6 monitors, trying to guess what it might be representing. Each monitor has a different person, seen from above as they look up, all spinning around their own little ocean of white paper, chanting. Hmmmm, I’m open to interpretations, but this just looks like crap. George said it might be interesting if they were at least naked! Sorry artist, whoever you are, it just wasn’t working for us!
The next room has several displays, all non-inspiring or thought provoking. Oh well, it only cost a buck. We leave the museum and look for a place for lunch. Dorrega Plaza, where they have the flea market on Sundays, is now filled with tables from the restaurants bordering the square. The weather is clearing and it’s turning into a beautiful spring day so we have a wonderful lunch sitting outside in the square. We’re sitting under this huge tree and we keep seeing wisps of something that looks like cotton float by. We look up and the tree has huge clumps of this cotton stuff the size of soccer balls coming out of the branches of the tree. One is hanging directly over my plate and I hope the whole thing doesn’t come falling down at once. We leave the restaurant and go to an antique store that had something that intrigued Steve when we were there before. He had seen some Jewish metal plates that are hand created and then used to make scrolls. He said only certain priests make them and they are usually buried in a religious place after making a certain amount of impressions. He thought they might be illegally obtained since they are usually not sold, especially without the scrolls. Because of the unknown nature of how they were acquired, Steve was hesitant to buy them when we were at the antique store 1.5 weeks ago. He wanted to see them again but when we got there they had already been sold. I told him it was probably for the best, now he won’t buy them and have any guilty feelings about the purchase. I don’t think Steve bought this reasoning. I wanted to walk them down Av de Mayo from the Casa Rosada down to the Congreso Nacional (Congress Bldg), a pretty impressive building and park area. Along the way, Steve and George’s friend from San Francisco, that we met the other night in a bar, was just then walking out of a café with his friend, small world. We go inside for a café and it turns out to be the friends friend’s restaurant, sorry, didn’t catch his name. He said that there is a 36 hour general strike planned for the coming Thursday, I had read about this in the paper and wasn’t sure what it meant. He said that he was going to be closed Thursday and Friday because his store is along the avenue between the Congress building and the Casa Rosada and a lot of times the demonstrators walk between the 2 plazas. Since they are union workers who are striking against “the system”, it’s not wise to have an open business while they’re marching along, they might target your business. We think we’ll stay inside on Friday! We order 2 beers, 2 cokes and then Steve wanted to order 4 empanadas to go to take on the airplane with them. In the past 2 weeks, Steve had become a BIG empanada fan. When we got ready to leave, the owner wouldn’t let us pay. I tried to insist but he wouldn’t budge so I thanked him for his hospitality. We get home after a very long walk. Steve and George barely have time to pack and shower before their taxi comes to take them to the airport. Lots of hugs go around, we’ve had a great time having them here.
Wednesday Nov 22nd – Our first day without our guests, the apartment seems very quiet and no one to fetch fresh croissants, what is one to do?? The kitties keep asking where their favorite 3 cat toys went! We get a new Spanish professor, Sophia, who speaks very little English, she speaks quickly, too quickly. We spend the day puttering around the house, not doing much.
Thursday Nov 23rd- We’re still relaxing after having guests and then we realize that it’s Thanksgiving. We decide to go see a movie, “Sociedad Secreta”, which I think was originally called “The Skulls” in the States. Wasn’t bad, nothing special. We came home and had a salad with Tunafish on it for our Thanksgiving dinner. After eating so much when our guests were here, it was nice just to have a light dinner.
Friday Nov 24rd – We go to our Spanish class and get another new profesora, Jorjelina, she is very cute with lots of energy. I like her a lot. After class we go to “Garbarino” which is an electronics store. I want to buy a small radio/cd player for the living room. The only radio we have needs 110 V which means if we want to listen to music in the living room we have to take a voltage converter into the living room with us, not fun. As we walk to the store we notice most stores are closed because of the general strike. Luckily the store is open when we get there and we find a nice radio/cd player. I notice the DVD players are very expensive, the cheapest was $400. In the USA DVDs are now under $200. We then walk to “Coto” which is like their “Walmart”. Ron wanted to find some glue or epoxy for plastics. Looking for something simple like glue is always exciting when you can’t read the packages. We finally find something that we think will work (after much debate on what the packages says). Ron also goes looking for dish soap, it’s amazing how something simple like dish soap can have so many confusing pictures and words on the package. Just when Ron thought he found a good one, I told him it was for floors!
Later, Olga called us and said that she was selling an apartment so I said I’d like to see it. Ron and I went to go see the apartment and met Olga there. The building had an impressive, large lobby. The apartment wasn’t that large, only 80 square meters, but not small, had 2 bedrooms and a storage/maids room with ˝ bath. It was in a good part of town but the kitchen and bathrooms would need to be redone. Olga said they were selling it for $89K and it would take another $10-$15K to totally redo the bathrooms and kitchen. I then asked Olga how much she thought it could rent for and she thought anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000, so for a $105K investment, it would return 17% a year. Not bad, something more to think about. Olga took us to a small apartment that she bought and totally reburbished, she showed us the improvements she made to give us an idea of what could be done in the apartment she showed us that was for sale. She did a great job and it looked very nice. On the way home she mentioned that she was giving a Thanksgiving dinner party on Saturday and asked us if we would come. I said we would come only if Ron could bring a pie, as I said this I turned to Ron and saw a look of horror on his face. Olga laughed at how I volunteered Ron and said dinner was at 9pm! When we got home Ron decided to go to the market to see if he could find the things he needs for his pie, he went looking but couldn’t find his Betty Crocker pie mix in the store so he ended up getting a premade pie crust. I went to the internet to try and find a peach pie recipe, I tried recipes.com and bettycrocker.com, finally found one and Ron started baking. I wanted him to make the pie the day before because they usually taste better the next day. Ron was concerned about baking in our gas oven since there are no temperature controls on the oven. We asked our friends Steve and George to bring us an oven thermometer when they came, so we at least had an idea how hot the oven was. When it came out of the oven it looked perfect, we’ll see how it tastes. Later that night Olga called and told us not to bake the pie as she was postponing the dinner till Monday. Well, no problem, we can try Ron’s pie for breakfast to see how it came out.
Saturday Nov 25th – We try Ron’s pie for breakfast, glad we didn’t serve it to company! Hah! The inside tastes fine but the crust is terrible. We think that the premade dough was for empanadas or meat pies instead of fruit pies. I’m hoping he’ll make a pie crust from scratch for the next pie we’ll take to Olga’s dinner party on Monday night.
Sunday Nov 26th – I surf the internet and find a recipe for making a pie crust from scratch along with a new recipe for a peach, apple and almond pie. Ron takes the ingredient list and heads off to the market. When he returns it seems like no one has ever heard of Crisco so he ended up getting an animal lard for the pie crust. He starts cooking and I play on the computer, Ron whistles why he bakes which cracks me up. He said his mother always sang while she worked, so I guess it’s in his genes! The recipe says to put tin foil around the crust edge so it doesn’t burn but we haven’t bought any foil yet, and it’s late so the stores are all closed. I see some chocolate wrapped in foil and wonder if that will work, Ron thinks the foil will burst into flames so we decide just to keep our eye on it as it bakes. Like the first attempt, pie # 2 looks great when it comes out of the oven but we don’t know what the dough will taste like.
Monday Nov 27th – We have our Spanish class and then Ron goes to the embassy to try and get his social security checks started. Ron thought he had set this all up while we were still in the States to have the checks start on November 1st, however, the checks never started so he went to the Embassy to try and figure it out. Right after Ron leaves I hear lots of yelling, screaming and fireworks going off outside. I knew that they Argentine soccer team was in the playoffs and I figured that was what all the commotion was about, they either won or they lost, and I was hoping Ron would be safe out in the streets.
Olga called to say that her husband had some emergency surgery so she needed to postpone Thanksgiving dinner again till Friday, bummer, well at least we can try Ron’s new pie crust. Turns out it’s pretty good but Ron used canned peaches in the recipe and it just doesn’t have a very good flavor (funny, it tastes like canned peaches). Also, the almonds in the pie are just plain weird, I love almonds but the crunchiness in a pie just doesn’t seem right. Well, we’ll know for next time. When Steve, Joe and George were here, George taught us a new card game that we really liked called 500. Ron wants to play some cards and it’s a nice warm afternoon, so we sit on the balcony, have gin and tonics and play cards for a few hours.
Tuesday Nov 28th – We have peach pie with a café in the morning. I’m getting peach pied out so I look on the internet for a Kahlua Pecan Pie recipe. I have a great Kahlua Pecan pie recipe that I make every year at holiday time, but it’s buried with the things we have in California waiting to ship to us once we get our visas. It’s pretty easy to find things on the internet, just go to yahoo.com, type in “Kahlua Pecan Pie” and viola! There you go, tons of recipes! What did we ever do before the internet? I had also messaged our friend Dana to see if you could substitute butter for Crisco in pie crust recipes and she had sent us a recipe to try. I thought butter had different characteristics then shortening and would make a different pie crust, however, Dana’s recipe used mostly butter with just a little shortening so Ron decided to use the animal lard he used on the 2nd pie he made. I translated the ingredients into Spanish and Ron went off to locate ingredients, he returned a few hours later and it turns out that not only is Crisco a mystery to Argentines, but no one has ever heard of pecans! What?!?! Life without pecans?!?! Surely, I figure, they just misunderstood him. Ron bought walnuts instead to substitute for the pecans. Hmmmm, walnuts should work! We’ll see if the 3rd pie is the charm. We again enjoy a gin and tonic on the balcony in the afternoon as I stomp Ron at 500.