Mar 30

Life in Buenos Aires

by in Postcard Valet, Travel

We’ve been rooted in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a couple weeks now and all I can say is, “Boy is it nice to stay in one place!”

When I think back to when we left Juneau last July, it seems like we’ve been traveling forever, but when I think about all the things we still want to see and do, it feels like we’ve barely begun.  At any rate, we’ve been moving from hostel to hostel since mid-November and it was high time we got ourselves some R&R.

We had some good reasons for picking Buenos Aires for a prolonged stay.  Once we decided to continent-hop towards Africa, instead of Australia, it seemed like the most likely place to find cheap tickets.  Also, Anna, Oksana’s friend who joined us in Santiago for a couple weeks of travel, was flying home from Ezeiza, so we had to stop there.  Furthermore, back in 2007, we met a nice couple from the city while learning how to dive in Australia; it would be nice to see them again.  And finally, another couple we met on our recent tour of the Salar de Uyuni said to look them up when we got here.

We’ve only seen our friends, Cristian and Giselle, a couple times since we’ve been here, but they’ve already proven an invaluable help.  We stopped by their office on our first day in the city and mentioned our intent to stay for a month.  After politely declining their offer to stay with them in their house – rent-free! – they put us in contact with a property manager (Teresa, who spoke perfect English.)  We met with her the next day and within an hour or so, we’d signed a month-long contract on a fantastic apartment!

Teresa had showed us four or five apartments in two different buildings.  While the second building was much nicer, with a pool and laundry facilities on the roof and a much better view from the apartments themselves, the rooms there were smaller efficiency apartments.  Oksana and I agreed: The very first apartment she showed us on Corrientes Avenue was the one we wanted.  It took us three days to withdraw all $950 USD from the ATMs, but Teresa gave us the keys that same day.

Our apartment is on the 10th floor.  We don’t have a view of anything more than a wild mess of cables and wires strung between various buildings, but the balcony is nice and the windows let in a lot of sun.  Oksana loves the full kitchen and actually looks forward to making dinner every night even though the gas oven heats up the whole room.  The bathroom is huge, by Latin American standards, but it even has a shallow bathtub.  The separate bedroom was an added bonus, a luxury we didn’t expect, and the living room is perfectly comfortable with either the windows open or the AC on. Oksana spends most of her time on the couch, while I have my computer set up on the “dining room” table.

Even better: We have a 1.5Mbps cable modem and a wi-fi router. The flat-screen TV has about 80 channels with a surprising amount of English-language content on a few of them… if you like CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Bones, and House.  Which we do, but I still prefer to connect my with the HDMI cable and catch up with our favorite shows online.

It’s been two weeks since we moved in and Oksana and I are still acting like shut-ins.  I suppose that’s partly because we wanted to get a lot of online work done, partly because we’ve already been to Buenos Aires and have seen many of the sights… but mostly it’s because we really, really missed having our own place to lounge around in!

Still, we’ve had a few fantastic days away from our cozy apartment that are worth mentioning:

Other than a walk down to Puerto Madero for a night out at the movies, the first time Oksana and I emerged out into the light of day was to accept an invitation to dinner with Cris and Giselle.  The plan was to go out to an authentic Argentinean restaurant in La Boca, a sort of shady-after-dark area of the city.  (Cristian: “Now we are driving in La Boca.  If someone tries to stop us, I will have no choice but to run them over.”)

Unfortunately, we didn’t call ahead and the entire restaurant had been reserved for a party. Cris talked to the waiter and got a good recommendation for a restaurant in San Telmo, called Maraxe.  We had a wonderful dinner there, reconnecting and catching up with them.

The next week, I chatted with a friend back in Alaska and she offered to connect us with some friends of hers here in Argentina.  It took a couple days for Oksana and me to work up enough courage to give them a call, but we were sure were glad we did!

Agustina and her husband, Hernán, offered to take us sailing!  They have a yacht docked at a marina up in the delta, near a suburb of Buenos Aires called Tigre.  They picked us up on Friday morning and we chatted the whole drive there (they both speak perfect English.)  While we were fueling up the boat, a pair of curious turtles swam up to the dock and I started to feed them some our sandwich bread.  Before long, some greedy fish showed up and snatched everything away before the slower turtles could react. Seeing how tame the turtles were, I tried to hand-feed them.  It worked!

Once underway, Hernán navigated us up the main river/canal and eventually anchored us off to the side of a calmer tributary.  The sky was overcast, but the day was pleasant enough, and we ate lunch, drank some wine, shared dessert, and generally just enjoyed learning about each other.  Later that afternoon, we motored back downstream to the Tigre waterfront, where the river suddenly became rough and choppy, before heading back to the marina.

The night was young, however, so they then showed us around the touristy and construction-heavy town of Tigre before we drove back to San Isidro for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Calabria.  All-in-all, a fantastic day!

And!  Just two days later, we had another very special encounter with some new people!  A week before, I’d received an email through the feedback form on our website; Graham introduced himself as a UK-native who was currently living in Venezuela.  He and his wife had been following our travels on our website and just happened to be coming to Buenos Aires on business.  Would we like to have lunch with them?

Fans?  We have actual fans?!

Well, yes, consider it confirmed — we have (at least) two fans now!  In all seriousness, Graham and his wife, Jennie, really do seem to enjoy our podcasts; he’s been following me on Twitter ever since I posted the NASA Tweetup video.  Oksana and I hesitated for all of about 5 seconds before we decided to accept their offer to meet for lunch.

We met in Recoleta, at the Buller Pub, on Graham’s suggestion. Unfortunately their outdoor tables were all full, so instead of waiting, we decided to move over to La Biela.  They treated us to lunch and an exceedingly pleasant conversation.  We talked a lot about travel, our respective jobs (or, -ahem-, previous jobs) and just generally had a great time chatting with them.

And now, today, our friends from should be arriving in Buenos Aires.  We’re discussing plans to go to Uruguay with them before we head off to South Africa and I’m sure we’ll see more of Buenos Aires while they’re here.  Not only that, but we have already scheduled a few more parties and dinners in the coming weeks (including, if everything works out, hosting a dinner party of our own – because we can!)

All this relaxing is starting to sound like work, but we’re having too good a time to complain!

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