Monday, March 29, 2010

Catching Up: October

To be honest, most of October pretty much followed the same as September. Belu and I toiled with our new apartment on a daily basis (though, it should be said, not with each other). I was able to play a bit more Ultimate, though we'll save the news on that front for November. Let's get to the news in blurb form:

Did you know that Volta (one of the primo heladerias in Buenos Aires) was running a promotion whereby if you walked into one of their shops on the night that the Argentine National Soccer team was playing, you could buy one kilo of ice cream and get another for free? It's true. Guess who decided to take advantage? I'm sad to say that this was all devoured in less than two weeks. I'm happy to say it was delicious.
Of course, this was just one half of the humongous batch

Also, our balcony continued to deliver amazing sunsets and we continued to appreciated them:
I need to set the camera up to automatically capture these

The biggest news in October is that Belu and I celebrated one year of dating, and did so in style. First, on the actual date, we hit up Bengal, a fancy Indian-ish joint, and then topped off the celebration with a trip to the Park Hyatt (aka, the most posh place in this city). Speaking of posh, here's Belu living it up in a wing chair with a pricey cocktail.
She's really out of my league

She surprised me with a trip to the Four Seasons in Carmelo, Uruguay. This was one of the fanciest places I'd been, and we had a nearly perfect weekend. What went wrong? It rained the entire time. I know people say this a lot and tend to exaggerate. I suppose I am doing the same. We arrived and had about 45 minutes of overcast skies. From that point on, it rained without a break for three straight days. So that was kind of a bummer. But we had a blast anyway. I'll let the photos tell the tale:
Some first class alfajores were awaiting us in the room.

The beautiful pool we never tried

We named him Boris

Belu gave up her cat because of my allergies. Looks like she's not ready to take Boris in.

Claudia - profesora de Mate estilo Uruguayo

Take up residence in Buenos Aires and before too long, you will spot some people drinking their mate in a peculiar way. That way is to hug the thermos like it's your favorite stuffed animal. Also, to bring the mate with you wherever you go. But the question remained - why do they do these things? Turns out they're related. In Uruguay, the mate is meant to be enjoyed no matter where you are. At work, home, on the road, while walking, riding a horse, whatevs. In Argentina it is meant to be shared, and generally drunk at home or in the office. So let's say you're riding a bicycle and want to drink some mate. You need to be able to pour water into the gourd, but you need to keep a hand on the handlebars. Thus, you have to be able to manager you mate with only one limb. And this is where the tradition of toting the thermos around like Kitty Carryall began. Or so the legend goes.
My best attempt at the Uruguayan technique.

Alfajor classes. Note the name on my hat.

Our constant companion - rain. We wuz robbed!

But with a gorgeous suite like this, who can complain?

Quite simply the biggest bathtub I have ever seen... Who needs a pool?

Other writing from October:
Top 50 Albums: #45 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
Top 50 Albums: #44 - José González - In Our Nature

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video from Ultimate Argentina

This is just a taste of what's coming when we get to Catching Up November (coming eventually). I'm only in this video a leetle bit, but for those who speak Spanish, it's a spot-on overview of what we are trying to accomplish here accompanied by some excellent footage. Bien hecho, Santi! (And everyone else who was involved.)

Please enjoy responsibly:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Catching Up: September

September was when things started to become impossibly busy, and also the time this (and my other two blogs) fell apart. But there are reasons for that. The overarching event in September was my moving in with a girlfriend for the first time. I haven't moved much since my college days, and the last one was such a whirlwind (moving down here), that I couldn't really remember the details. I was suddenly reminded of what a pain in the ass it is to move, and I wasn't even leaving my building.
The new neighbors - same as the old neighbors, but with a different angle.

After looking at 20 or so places around the neighborhood, Belu and I decided that we were most satisfied with the penthouse suite atop the same corner of the same high-rise I was already living in. It was a bit smaller than we wanted, but the spacious balcony and sublime view of the Rio de la Plata more than outweighed the concerns over where we were going to put all of our stuff.
Martin and Mike showing that the Big Red family is not afraid to lend a hand, even with a heavy fridge.

Of course, my part of the move was relatively easy. I had only brought a small portion of my belongings from Chicago, and the elevator was going to do most of the work. Some of my friends from Big Red helped me with the big stuff, and I had three weeks of overlap to get the rest. Belu, however, did not have it so easy. She had been living alone for years, and accumulated, well, probably not as much as I had in my ten years in Chicago, but enough to fill some space. Most impressive was the sheer quantity of shoes. We counted something like 60 pairs in total, and that was after a dozen were given away to charity.
This is the zapatos' room.

Clearly, solutions were needed. We hunted all over the city for the correct furniture, and that was without need for a bed or sofa. Over the following weeks, we selected a table, chairs, a desk, chest of drawers, additional closet, deck furniture, futon, washing machine, and a very capable shoe-storage thingy which currently holds 36 of the pairs. Unfortunately, the guy building the thingy (me) wasn't quite so capable, and one side now has "customized exposed plywood." At least that's how it would be sold if it was real estate. The whole experience was no picnic. Many deliveries arrived pre-broken and had to be returned, making the process that much harder.
We tend to get some amazing clouds up here.

But all of this paled in comparison to the fight we had with DirecTV. Unfortunately (well, fortunately for anyone reading this), I can't recall all of the frustrating details. They jerked us around for weeks, finally came out to see us only because Belu e-mailed the company's head of the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia). When they arrived, we were told that the phone line was not digitized, therefore they couldn't install internet. They also, therefore, could not install DirecTV because we had ordered them together. That, more than anything else, led to the demise of my online writing and a hell of a lot of other frustrations. We switched to cable-based TV and internet and have been marginally satisfied ever since. In sum, DirecTV totally sucks and you should never give them any of your money. Plus, if it's raining the dish doesn't work anyway, and those are the times you really want to watch TV.

But nowadays, most of the kinks are worked out, and we live in tranquility on one of Buenos Aires' highest floors. All that pain in September has paid off.

I leave you with a video that I kept thinking about as I was building the shoe-storage-thingy. The Peach Cobbler. Enjoy!

More fancy cloudwork.

And we get to see the sun set every day.

Other writing from September:
Top 50 Albums: #46 - Caribou - Andorra
On Deals (an examination of Argentine futbol and Michigan football in darker and sunnier times, respectively)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Catching Up: August

August proved to be an extremely busy month. Pretty much all I did was work and look for apartments, with a little bit of Ultimate and blogging thrown in for good measure. I am honestly trying to remember if I did anything else.

However, the month did kick off in exciting fashion. Because we were in Chicago for Belu's birthday, and because we couldn't settle on a date for celebrating here, she decided to skip the celebration. Well, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and throw a surprise party. This was harder, but the execution went perfectly thanks to a lot of help from Belu's friends. I told Belu we were having dinner with Mike and Kyla in Chinatown. Everyone came over to my house to prepare. When I arrived at Belu's to pick her up, I feigned illness. We would have to go back to my place to take precaution because of my cat allergy. Belu, concerned for my well-being, insisted we return to my apartment. Then this happened:

In sum, it worked perfectly. More importantly, Belu had a great time, which was of course the whole point.
Belu and the girls. And Mati.

At the end of the month (or maybe the beginning of September, I can't recall), a work trip to England granted me the opportunity to stop over for a couple days in Amsterdam to visit Brad and Natalia. That took me (briefly) out of a particularly stressful period at work, and no we didn't go to a coffee shop. But riding a bicycle around town is a treat rarely offered in Buenos Aires. Follow that up with a boat cruise around the canals and you have a really chill couple of days. Thanks to my hosts for taking care of it all, and sorry the visit was so brief.

We move on to the bigger news in September. Hopefully I will get some more catch-up time soon!

Other writing from August:
Top Ten Worst Cartoon Remakes
Brad and I review Public Enemies
Kicking off the top 50 Albums of the 2000s
Album #50: Rival Schools - United by Fate
#49: At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command
#48: Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
#47: Mastodon - Crack the Skye

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Catching Up: July

So like I said, we need to catch up around here. So we're going to go month by month through the past and get back to current as soon as time allows.

At the outset of July, Belu and I took a weeklong trip to Chicago to celebrate various birthdays. Hers, my mom's and my brother's. We hit up Taste of Chicago (on a Tuesday at 2:30 PM - ideal timing!). Though far too short, it was a great trip, and we got a week of summer. Here are some photos:
The flags were a clear indication they knew we were coming

I once took a road trip that started just like this!

The best bread pudding in the world (from Rosangeli's). Apparently not so for the Argentine palate.

The obligatory Sarkis' "Disaster"

Just one small example of the best skyline in the world. From the architecture tour boat.

Obligatory Cloudgate photo. I'm in there, too (look for the womanly shopping bag)

Mmmmmm... Buffalo wing aftermath fingers...

Perhaps not a surprise, but the cheesecake stole the show. Argentine cheesecake is always weak stuff.

The famous Water Tower

Obligatory Home Alone church screamy picture.

McRae becomes part of the exhibit

What can I say? We got jealous.

La familia!

Late in the month, I accomplished something somewhat significant. I played board games in Argentina. OK, let me rephrase. I played board games in Spanish. At Adri's birthday party, Boggle and Taboo were two featured events, and I not only participated, I actually played well. Now, there are some caveats to such success. Namely, I played a hell of a log of Boggle as a kid and oms eof the Argentines were trying the game for the first time. And one could argue that a limited vocabulary actually helps with Taboo because you don't know any of the rest of the words on the card anyway. But my ability to communicated had clearly improved. Besides, after that we had a rousing game of Sexionary which traffics in international languages.
Deemed most hilarious dibujo of the evening.

Cute kids playing Jenga:

OK, so that was fun, right? Hopefully we can catch up quickly with the remaining (gulp) eight months.

Other writing from July:
First Blush: Farm by Dinosaur Jr.
Which Chick Flicks are the Chickiest?

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