First Month in Buenos Aires

Hola everyone. Tomorrow morning will mark one month in Buenos Aires, so I figured I should document what I’ve been up to, for my own sake and in the event some of you might be curious.

Arriving

Asado de Tira

Asado de Tira

I got here February 1st, and took a pre-arranged shuttle to my apartment in Palermo. I found my apartment on a site called Spare Rooms BA, which is certainly worth checking out if you are looking for a cheap option for temporary housing in Buenos Aires. After arriving, I spent some time checking out the basics nearby, grocery stores, butcher shops, restaurants. My first meal here happened to be one of the best I’ve had. I ordered Asado de Tira because I knew that meant some kind of beef, and to go along with that I ordered a penguïno of wine (which I was pleasantly surprised to find was a vase-like penguin filled with wine. A lot of wine. Luckily my new roommate from Holland was there to lend a hand in this endeavor.

Un Bueno Penguïno

Since then I’ve probably eaten, on average, more than one steak per day. A few days ago I had to take a day off to recover, but now I’m feeling ready to get back into the action. I recently discovered a lunch place where I can get a 3 course meal and drink for about $12: My choice of sausages for appetizer accompanied with french fries, then salad and a large steak, the topped off with my choice of ice cream or coffee. I’m not a huge ice cream guy, but it sure is a nice treat to sit down and just enjoy my lunch time now and then. All that said though, I’m basically sticking to my usual Paleo approach here, I’ve only really gone off of it on maybe 3-5 occasions.

Cooking

So as I’d mentioned, I quickly started scoping out places to buy food and supplies. My kitchen here was very limited in terms of pots/pans/utensils, but I figured I could make due. I quickly discovered, however, that Argentines are not known for their keen use of spices while cooking. They have salt and pepper and maybe another kind of pepper… (ok maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, they did invent chimichurri I think).

Spices from China Town

Not wanting to blow all of my money in the first month eating at restaurants, but also not wanting to eat plain ground beef with tomatoes, I set off in search of spices. As it turns out, the place to find them is China Town (or Barrio Chino in Spanish). It’s just a short bus trip from my house, so I headed down there and after some wandering into various grocery stores, and scouring shelves, I finally came out about $80US lighter, but loaded up with everything I should need for the next few months spice-wise. Since then I’ve made chili, thai curry, meatballs, and a few random concoctions. My landlady thinks I’m some kind of bizarre cooking feind, but she figured it was ok after I let her try some stuff.

Gym

Before I got here, I’d scoped out for any CrossFit gyms in the area. It turns out that there are only like 3 of them in the whole country, but one was only about 3/4 of a mile from my apartment. CrossFit Tuluka is the name. So far it seems pretty standard CrossFit gym, the trainers seem knowledgeable and people are nice. Luckily I kind of know what I’m doing because I don’t always understand what’s being said. I’m actually considering moving to a different gym though, because I want to go through a phase of strength training and they’re pretty much strictly metcons (metabolic, high-intensity, workouts — my metabolic capacity is fine, my strength is not so much). We’ll see though, most of the other gyms here are small and just have machines. It’s amazing how hard it is to find a place with some decent barbells.

Office Space

Japanese Garden

It only took me a few days to lock down a place to work. I really didn’t want to work from my apartment (what’s the point of being here if I do that?). I’d done a bit of research beforehand and knew that there were some coworking offices around here. Some more google-ing turned up this page, which eventually led me to find Areatres. As it turns out, Areatres is owned by Martin, a cool US expat. He’s been very helpful on several occasions, as well as the women at the front desk who have helped me order things I needed (like a monitor, then after that a mini-display to VGA adaptor so I could use my monitor — seriously, who still uses VGA on 1920×1080 monitors??).

Parks

My first weekend, I took advantage of the famous Palermo parks. There’s a decent zoo and a decent Japanese Garden pretty close to my house, so it gave me a great chance to get out and see a new area as well as enjoy both of those. I’ve since then been to a couple of the other parks there. Pretty good for people watching, and there are some pretty cool artificial lake to enjoy as well.

Tango

One of my main reasons for coming here was to improve my Tangoing skills. I started back in September in LA, then found classes in Missoula as well. So by the time I got here I at least knew a little bit. My landlady found out that I wanted to learn how to tango (and conveniently she has been dancing for years), and took me to a milonga (a tango dance party) shortly after i got here (I struggled there in case you’re curious). From there, I just started asking people for good places to go. I met an Australian woman who’d come here to learn how to tango years ago, who gave me a number of good recommendations, then from there I did a lot of searching and talking to people. I still have a few other places on my list to check out, but the last two weeks I’ve gone to classes and dances at least 4x/week. It’s been a rewarding/frustrating experience. I realized this last weekend that I finally broke out of the beginner phase and into the daunting position of realizing how little I actually know. So now it’s just time to dig in and keep investing the time to get better. FYI, here’s map of various places I’ve found to Tango here:

View Tango in a larger map

Spanish Classes

The other main reason I wanted to come here was to learn Spanish. Again, looking online, I found what’s turned out to be a pretty decent deal here. I did some private one-on-one classes to check out the teaching quality, which turned out to be good, then I went on to try 20 hours of intensive classes in a group with 3 other students. Turns out that 20 hours/week is a lot of time though, so I’ve settled on just doing 4 hours/week of private classes, then dedicating time on my own to studying. I’ve managed to go from being basically unable to speak to being able to communicate some basic things (like ordering steak medium rare and asking if I can try on a pair of shorts before I buy them). I can still understand far more than I can speak, but my speaking is getting better and my teacher informed me that I only have a very slight accent, so that was nice to hear.

The Future

Alright, well that’s about all I have for now. I’ve made a few friends, both local and foreign and am looking forward to the next two months here (I’m heading back to the states on April 30th). In the mean time, I’m hoping to keep meeting people, and get a chance to head down to Patagonia and possibly make it up to Iguazu Falls. On top of that, I have to get in my steak quota and learn a lot more about tangoing. Hopefully I’ll manage to pick up some more Spanish along the way. I’m moving to a new apartment tomorrow morning with a bigger room and bed (and as a major bonus, a stone bbq and patio area!). The new place smells like their dog, but I think it’ll be great. It’s only 1/2 mile or so from my current place, so I’m excited to start the next phase of this adventure.

Hasta luego!