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October 2001

Cariló with Gary, Colleen and the kids!

Tuesday October 2nd Our one year anniversary of arriving in Buenos Aires and we totally forgot it!  My college friend Jill was scheduled to arrive this coming Sunday for a two week visit but she emailed us and said that she’s concerned about what may happen if the USA was to start military action against Afghanistan.  I understand her being concerned but I also think we all have to get on with our lives.  The world has been dealt a terrible blow and we’re all coming to terms with it on our own, so I’ll respect her decision whatever she decides.

Wednesday October 3rd Ron took the bus to “Home Depot” to buy some hardware for several projects he’s been concocting, he got back a little late so we decided to skip the gym today. 

Our friend Colleen has answered Ron’s questions on Crisco substitutes, vanilla wafer substitutes, good Japanese restaurants, etc, and I call her the “Answer Goddess” because she and her husband Gary have been living here 4 years and every time someone asks a question on the expatriate email list, she always responds with the answer.  I was talking to Colleen about how I was kind of shy about ordering delivery service from a restaurant because of my poor Spanish.  She sent me the URL for a Japanese restaurant that does free delivery, www.furusato.com.ar so we decided to try it. 


I still can’t figure out why sake is so expensive here, but we ordered the combo 2 which was 34 pieces of nigiri and sashimi for $28.  When I called for my order the guy spoke very good English and asked if we want to get on their email mailing list, “HELL YES!” I said.  He asked for our phone number and asked if this was the first time we ordered from them.  We’ve lived here a year and I’m embarrassed to say that this is only the 2nd time we’ve ordered delivery.  Delivery service is VERY BIG here and you see restaurants delivering food all the time on these motorized bicycles with a storage compartment on the back.  The man on the phone said it would be an hour and a half at the maximum for the delivery and after about an hour our buzzer rang.  I answered it and the delivery guy was talking in Spanish, I thought he said, “¿Señor Brown?  I said, “¿Sushi?  ¿Sushi?”, and he said, “No”.  I wanted to make sure that I understood him correctly so I went down to the lobby to see if it was really our delivery or not.  As I approached the lobby doors the delivery boy came out of the front elevator (apparently after delivering Señor Brown’s dinner) but luckily the other delivery boy was standing outside the front door with our order.  I paid for the food and took my stash of Japanese food up to our apartment.  I opened the bag and was instantly impressed, I had noticed that their website was excellent and when I opened the delivery bag there were 2 sets of chopsticks in expensive cardboard sleeves with a cool Japanese logo on it, there was a computer laser printout of our order with my name on it, there were 2 colorful magnets with their name and logo on it, a high gloss multi page color brochure of their menu and a sheet of coupons.  The sushi was wrapped in elegant black plastic plates.  All in all a VERY professional company, I hope they stay in business a long time.  We opened a bottle of champagne and sat down to a wonderful meal.  I was happier then a pig in mud!   

Thursday October 4th  – The phone rang and when I answered it this woman started talking in Spanish.  She kept saying “Lucas” and I had no idea what she was talking about, she then said “Catadral”, which was the place we stayed in Bariloche.  My first thought was that the hotel was calling us, possibly about a charge we didn’t pay or something.  I then remembered Lucas was the owner of the restaurant called “Manú” that we liked.  Ron had told Lucas that we were looking for an apartment to buy and he excitedly told us that his mother is a real estate agent in Bs.As.  Carlota spoke very little English but I was surprised how much I understood her.  We spoke for a little while and agreed on a time to see some apartments for sale.

Sunday October 7thWe started military action against Afghanistan.  My friend Jill had cancelled her trip here and this was the day she was set to arrive.  I’m sorry she didn’t come but I certainly didn’t want her feeling uncomfortable while she was here, and considering that this was just the event she was concerned about I’m glad that she is home with her family.

Tomorrow is an Argentine holiday so I decided to go to the gym since I knew it would be closed on Monday.  I saw Ignacio there and he introduced me to Alberto.  Alberto is learning English and his level of English is about equal to my level of Spanish.  Ignacio thought it would be a good idea for us to meet to practice speaking to each other so we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet to practice on each other. 

Monday October 8thRon baked a chicken for dinner using a roasting rack he created from a napkin holder.  A new cooking store had opened up near us and we had gone in to inquire about a roasting rack.  We explained what we wanted and were informed that Argentines do not roast chickens on a rack, they just put them in a pan.  They did say that they had a rack on order, but when it arrived the store clerk told us it was $28.  Ron said, “Oh, I don’t have enough money with me, we’ll come back later.”  After we left the store I told Ron, “GAWD, that’s expensive!” and Ron said, “That’s why I didn’t buy it, I had no intention to pay THAT much!”.  Ron bought a wire napkin holder for 89 cents that when pried apart served very nicely as an oven roasting rack.  Ron was quite proud of himself.  I, once again, marveled at his ingenuity (or his cheapness, I can never be sure!)

Wednesday October 10th –  Carlota took us to see an apartment and the VERY first apartment she showed us was quite nice.  It was a good size for what we want, it faced North (a good direction for sun), had windows on all sides of the apartment and had low monthly expenses.  The only real issue was that it was on a pretty busy street.  I was feeling guilty because we were seeing apartments without Olga and I thought, “I’d hate to find the perfect apartment with another realtor and then have Olga find out!”  We looked at 2 other apartments that we didn’t like nearly as much and agreed to meet on another day to look at more places.

Thursday October 11th – I was feeling a little more confident in ordering delivered food for dinner so I called the place where I placed my VERY first delivery, the Kahlua café.  A woman answered the phone and there was a loud THUMP THUMP THUMP in the background, the sounds of an apparent nightclub, but at 8pm??  Not likely for an Argentine nightclub to be open so early.  I asked if this was the “Kahlua café” and she said, “No!”.  I asked if this was a “restaurante” and she said, “No”.  I hung up and dialed again, the same woman answered with the same THUMP THUMP THUMP in the background.  I asked one more time if this was the “Kahlua café” and she said, “No!”.  Oh well.  I picked up another flyer that someone had handed us in the street and ordered dinner from “Teodora”, I did the whole transaction in Spanish and was pretty proud of myself.  The dinner showed up 20 minutes later and I was really quite happy till I unwrapped the food and looked at it.  We will not be ordering from “Teodora” again!

Tuesday October 16thThe days have been wonderful, although it's been cloudy and rainy for a week, it's been nice and cool.  I got my first paying job, tutoring someone who wants to learn what all those little icons do on his computer screen.  It's very enjoyable, but the best part is walking to Ricardo’s house.  The street I walk down is Monte Video, a street right on the corner from us.  It's a great walk, along bustling streets, looking in all the store fronts, at the flower stands on the corner, the antique stores, the crazy ladies fashions, the bakeries filled with croissants and sweet cakes that we enjoy with our coffee in the morning.  We really like it here, it's so much fun to just walk around.  Of course, it's great not to go to work too!  We have Spanish lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 1.5 hours each day, then the gym everyday (when we don't find some lame excuse not to go) from 3 to 6:30 to try and keep those pastries and croissants from sticking to our bellies (it doesn’t work!). Our days seem very full although we don't really do anything! 

Thursday October 18th –  Ricardo had asked me about a cartoon that was printed in their local paper here, “La Nacion”.  There is a woman cartoonist, Maitena Burundarena, who usually draws about feminist woman issues, but two days after the New York terrorist act she drew a cartoon to express her feelings showing an Argentine man embracing a crying statue of liberty.  It became quite popular and was being passed around via email.

Here is a link to the article if you wish to read it http://www.lanacion.com.ar/01/09/20/dx_336745.asp

Friday October 19th A few weeks ago we attended our friend Diego’s house for his birthday party.  We had no idea what to get him as a gift, so we decided to give him a birthday card stating that we would treat him to a dinner at whatever restaurant he chose (See my selfish ways??  This way I get to enjoy a night out too!).  We set up a date to visit “Restó”, a restaurant we had previously gone to with Dee and Tom where Diego knows the owner.  Usually they have a prix fixe menu which includes an appetizer, entree and dessert, but Diego said that they can do a special dinner that is pared with an appropriate wine with each course.  This sounded like a fantastic suggestion so we told Diego to make us reservations.  Ron and I walked to the restaurant and it was a beautiful night, spring is here and it was cool but very pleasant walking.  I was enjoying the walk but was also in total anticipation of the meal ahead.  We met Diego and Ignacio at the restaurant and Diego was dressed in a VERY stylish black and white cotton weave suit.  The owner, Maria, came out to greet us and told us of the meal she was preparing, of course this was all in rapid Spanish but I could catch some of the delights we were in for.  They started the meal with a glass of wine that was slightly sweet with a hint of pear along with some liver paté on toasted rounds of garlic bread.  I LOVE liver paté but usually restaurants tone down the liver flavor until they’re mostly meat patés.  I’ve never understood this since the WHOLE point of paté is that they’re made out of liver, but who knows why they tone down the liver.  However, this paté was wonderful, the liver flavor strong and delicious (like it should be).  Next came a salad with huge prawns, walnuts, dried and grated orange peel and with a barely discernable vinaigrette dressing, WOW!  This was followed by a roasted quail (not a squab) and stuffed with foie gras.  Finally a delicious chocolate mousse dessert matched again with the semi sweet pear wine we started the meal with.  I’m not a big choco-aholic (that’s Ron’s job) but this was perfect; whipped, almost frozen, velvety and delicious.  In Argentina, coffee is served after dessert, along with miniature cookies, brownies and muffins.  The owner came out with her other chef and talked with us, it was a great meal and made even nicer with the great conversation.  When we got home I noticed it was 12:30am, we had been eating, laughing and drinking in the restaurant over 3 hours.  ¡Maravilloso!

Wednesday October 24thTonight we had dinner with Dee and her boyfriend Fernando.  Previously, Fernando had received a computer virus that had wiped out everything on his laptop and he was having some problems reloading his software so I offered to help him out.  As a “thank you” for working on his laptop they offered to take us out to dinner.  Fernando owns a taxi and offered to drive us to the restaurant, this was a big treat for us because we were going to visit an area of the city we hadn’t been to before and is very trendy at the moment because of the number and variety of restaurants there.  Dee had a tourist map that listed restaurants and we were trying to decide where to eat, of course Ron and I love everything so we were very non-committal in helping Dee decide on a restaurant.  We drove around a little and saw a Mexican restaurant on a corner, I pointed to that and said, “Let’s have Mexican food!”  Everyone agreed that sounded like a good idea so we stopped.  We all ordered a margarita and boy were they strong!   Had a great meal!

Thursday October 25thColleen and Gary invited us to a seaside resort called Cariló, I was very excited about it and Colleen mentioned, “Don’t get too excited, you do know my 2 young boys are coming too!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  Colleen said they were also bringing their house keeper, Emma, to help with the boys so there wasn’t room in their car for everyone to get there.  Ron and I took a bus from Buenos Aires to the neighboring town of Villa Gesell where they picked us up and took us back to the house they rented.  Cariló is a coastal town that is nestled in woods near the ocean, it’s beautiful and feels like the forest from the J.R.R. Tolkien “Hobbit” novels.  The trees tower over all the homes giving the whole town the feeling it’s draped in a forest canopy.  There are huge mansions, but a lot of the homes look like cottages with decorative brick work, wooden shutters and peaked roofs.  The house they rented was deceiving because from the front it looked like a small cottage, but it actually was built long and narrow, so once inside it was quite large.



More Cariló Pictures around Town

Gary has a nice 4 wheel drive Jeep so we took a ride out on the beach with it.  Their boys kept saying, “Do a doble daddy, do a doble!”, a “doblar” is Spanish for a turn around a corner, so a doble is swaying the car back and forth in the sand.  This brought great squeals of delight from the boys when Gary swerved the car around in the sand, Emma was in the back of the truck with the boys and I hope she wasn’t getting beat up to bad!  Emma speaks only Spanish to the boys so Ethan, who is 4 and Christian, who is 2, both speak Spanish better then we do.  Very discouraging when a 2 year old conjugates better then you can!

That night we played dominos and taught Colleen and Gary our version of it.

 

Friday October 26thWe visited Mar del Plata which is about an hours drive south of Cariló.  Ethan was sitting next to me and he was playing his GameBoy and then passing it to me for a turn.  We kept this up for almost the entire ride.  Colleen said that he is only allowed to play the GameBoy in the car, so it keeps him occupied and he enjoys the time with the GameBoy.  I had to keep asking him, “OK, in this game, how do you get the frog across the pond without being eaten by an alligator?” or “How do I get the car to jump over these mountains?”

We visited the aquarium in Mar del Plata which turned out to be quite a big “marine world” amusement center with animal shows, aquariums, and hands on museums.



More Aquarium Pictures

That night we ate in a restaurant that had outdoor seating and right besides the restaurant was a children’s park.  No wonder Colleen suggested this place as the boys could play on the swings as we ordered and waited for our dinner.  We had ordered a cheese platter for an appetizer and the boys rushed over to join us.  Ethan put some cheese in his mouth, gave it a few mastications, and then promptly spit it back onto his plate.  Colleen said, “That’s not a very nice thing to do Ethan!” but I think it wasn’t a very effective scolding as we were all laughing at Ethan’s “on the spot” review of the cheese.

 

Saturday October 27thWe visited the beach and Ethan and Christian dived in with both feet, dancing about, plastic shovels flying, digging away.  Something about watching a kid play in the sand, it’s just magical.  Why can’t adults act that way without someone thinking we’re crazy?

Colleen and Gary thought it would be fun to bury Ethan in the sand and then Colleen got creative and shaped him into a MerMan.



More Beach Pictures

That night we wanted to have an asado at the house since there was a great parrilla grill outside.  We didn’t have any lighter fluid to start the charcoal so Gary went into the woods to get some kindling.  I helped him out and we soon had a big smoky fire going in the parrilla grill.  There were parrots in the trees far above the grill and they started squawking like we were killing them.  Ron came out to give us a beer, which everyone the world over knows is a major ingredient for a proper BBQ.  Next came Ethan with a plate of crackers and cheese, but I think he eat most of them, trying to poke the coals with a stick while his dad was telling him to be careful (Or as Australians say it, “Carrrrrrrful”).  Somehow what started out as Gary’s grill turned into my project.  I turned around at one point, poker in my hand, trying to get the perfect bed of coals for grilling, and saw Gary and Colleen sitting in chairs with a drink in their hand.  How did that happen?  I’m sure some strange Australian hex was put on me to switch places with Gary so he could enjoy his beer.
After a nice parrilla dinner of roasted sausages and ribs, we sat down and Colleen taught us Mah Jong.  She assured us it was much easier then dominos, which we taught her the night before, but I beg to differ.  It was LOTS of fun though as we clacked tiles (for good luck) and drank red wine with a fire going in the fireplace.

 

Sunday October 28th – Gary and Ethan rented 4 wheel motor bikes to ride on the beach.  They had done this the day before and Ethan loved it.
 


Ron and I decided to just have a nice walk on the beach, Ron forever collecting sea shells.



More Motor Bike Pictures

Unfortunately, Ethan had rode up the side of a small sand bank and the motor bike had tipped over on him.  Ethan seemed scared but otherwise fine but Colleen wanted to take him to the hospital just to be safe.  Gary offered to let me ride Ethan’s bike and Gary and I had a blast flying around the beach.

When we were done with the rentals we walked back to the house, it was only about a mile walk but we figured that Colleen would go to the house after taking Ethan to the hospital.  It’s always nice to walk in these beach get-away towns and check out the homes!  We were only back about 15 minutes when Colleen pulled into the drive.  Ethan was given a clean bill of health, with “no broken bits” as he called it, and proudly showed us the X-Rays of his chest.

We took the comfortable bus back to the city after a pleasant few days at the beach.