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Monday, December 31, 2012

La Bomba De Tiempo

For the most part, after I visit a tourist site once or do an activity in BsAs, I'm done and I have no desire to go back and do it again. I mean, there's only so many times that one can stand in front of Evita's grave and ooh and ahh while taking photos. However, every so often there is an event that left its mark on you and leaves you coming back for more. Experiences like "La Bomba de Tiempo" at the Konex Cultural Centre every monday rain or shine.

La Bomba de Tiempo - Monday Night Drumfest at Konex

Monday, December 24, 2012

Camembert and Wine Soup Recipe

Have fun doing some fancy feasting. And while you're at it, you may want to add this wonderful recipe I found for Camembert and Wine Soup.  This is one dish that warm, comforting, and tastes luxurious while being very low cost and easy to make at the same time.

Happy holidays everyone........feliz navidad a todos  ;)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Day Scarcity Kissed Generosity

Beetlejuice with Chia Seeds_01of03
Beetlejuice with Chia Seeds_01of03 (Photo credit: Food Thinkers)

In previous blogs I have made mention about the value of networking as well as the law of scarcity.....when the value perceived value of an object increases as its availability decreases. I made mention that here in South America, things like salmon, foreign books, electronics have a new level of appreciation here seeing as the gov't has put heavy import restrictions and taxes on these type of items.

But the law of scarcity works backwards too in that if I were to say the word "Chia", what would come to your mind is the exotic seed eaten by the Aztecs to prolong health and vitality. Chia is that thing that you people in North America pay big shipping expenses for. Whereas here, the name "chia" is that plant that is grown locally and accidentally spilling some chia seeds on the ground is no problem because you can just walk down to any open air market or store and get a couple hundreds gram for a few dollars. The law of scarcity has nothing to do with actual value, it is about perceived value.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fending Off a Femme Fatale

"Which do you prefer or women?"  hissed the Argentine Serpentine

It all began one night with a group of girls from church. We were sitting at a table talking and laughing when one of them asked me if I had a boyfriend. And I answered quite honestly that I actually have tendancies towards both sexes. But in this moment i was single and I didn't have neither a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

*** just a note that this was during the Argentine Serpentines pre-serpent days when we actually had some semblance of a normal relationship

The Argentine Serpentine was across the table from me and she watched as the girl besides me her jaw dropped.  None of the girls at the table were judgmental or anything but it was obvious that they are not accustomed to hearing about girls liking other girls.  Jaws dropped and eyes went wide open as my little "secret" came into full broad day light.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Livin' la Vida Local

Choosing to share a home with someone instead of having your own personal space may not seem like a glamorous idea to some people. But there is no doubt in my mind that there are invaluable insights about the Argentine culture and people that have come to me because of my decision to live with locals. Money can rent a private apartment but money cannot buy the experience of what it is like to see the day to day life of a modern day middle class couple.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rock and Vida 2012

One of the perks of having immersed into the Argentine culture is that I get to do things that go beyond all the regular tourist traps. The church has a mandate to spread awareness on AIDS. On this particular day, we were based in a park handing out flyers and taking surveys of people's knowledge about AIDS. In addition to that,  free condoms would be given out to encourage people to be safe and take care in all activities that they participate in.

In first world nations and more conservative countries, walking up to someone asking of they want to do a survey is considered highly intrusive and that kind of behavior is frowned upon immensely. But here in Argentina it was surprising how open people were to talk to us and take time out to do the survey and get informed on AIDS.  90% of the people that we stopped to see if they would talk to us welcomed our efforts to spread awareness and information on AIDS.

The thing I love most about watching Centro Cristiano Nueva Vida  is that their fight against AIDS doesn't just happen once a year. They have projects all year round and can regularly be seen on the streets of Buenos Aires distributing pamphlets and engaging the public in discussions about AIDS and spreading the mission of Rock & Vida.


If you happen to be in Buenos Aires don't forget to stop by the Plaza de Congreso 7pm this Saturday, Dec 1st. See u there :)

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chicken Recipe

I'm a big fan of trying new things that you've never done before. For the most part, I've done alot of story telling because that is my forté.  Although I'm not a food blogger and never will be, it doesn't mean that I can't put a fresh spin on things and share a recipe or cooking experience. Today's blog will be a combination of story telling and recipe sharing.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is a wonderful ingredient that has received quite alot of press over the last few years.for its health benefits. So I sought a way to incorporate EVOO into my diet and stumbled on this wonderful recipe for Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chicken

The reason why I found it appropriate to share it here today is because we are at that time of the year again where we crave rich luxurious food. However, things like stuffing, cranberry, mashed potatoes, and butternut squash stew ain't cheap. But the nice thing about this recipe is that it did end up tasting really luxurious with only a few basic ingredients. I'm an amateur cook living in a country with limited resources and even then the dish beat all my expectations and I ended up with something that tasted luxurious with very little time and cost.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vitamin E & Me......

Olive! (Photo credit: Bibi)

There have never been any fantasies in my mind about the challenges of living abroad can bring. But one advantage to life in Argentina is that the amount of natural resources this country has. Being one of the greatest wine exporters in the world results in the fact that I can walk into a grocery store and buy an exceptional quality bottle of wine for $8 USD.

As it turns out, I find myself needing to make every possible resource available to me to keep my health in tip top shape. In my hunt for ways to stay on top of things, I found out that not only is Argentina one of the largest wine producers in the world it is also one of the largest producers of olives in the world as well. Olives are important because it is a great source of vitamin E.

As frustrating and scarce it may be feeling like one is scrambling for good ingredients, more and more I began to realize that there are little things I can do and incorporate into my daily routine that will make all the difference. I decided to take advantage of the fact that olives are one of this country's natural resources and began using Extra Virgin Olive Oil in even the little things like cooking chopped onions. Every little chance I got I used it to squeeze Vitamin E rich olives or olive oil into my diet.

When you are living abroad in a country where health products can be scarce, if you wish to survive you have to make every moment count.  It can be challenging especially in BA where around every corner there are snack shops and empanada stands.  It is all too tempting to make it daily habit to fuel up at those places because they are quick, convenient, and plentiful.

Often you here when you travel to try and experience the local culture and do what the locals do. This is the one time I definitely recommend that you DO NOT do as the locals do if you want to live long in another culture with a different language. Instead, raise the bar and find creative ways to eat cheap and healthy. And once you do, you can teach your Argentine friends to do the same. They will love you for it ;)

Today's episode has been brought to you by the letter "E" as in Expat or as in Eat. Or "E" as in  vitamin E.  Expats Eating vitamin E......

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Señoras y Criadoras

"Señoras y Criadoras", that would be the name of what we know in english to be the book and movie called "The Help". Here in Argentina having a once a week housekeeper isn't uncommon but having a live in-maid is becoming more and more a thing of the past. There was once a time which many houses had one and the evidence of that is the setup you'll find in many homes where it is a two bedroom home each with its own bathroom but the 2nd smaller room was originally for the housekeeper.

In this setup, everything is literally all enter into the bedroom and then attached to it is a bathroom. Inside the tiny bathroom, there is the toilet, sink and also a shower head all in one place. So when it comes time to take your shower, the whole bathroom gets wet. But seeing as I have a video to show you what it's like, you don't have to stretch your imagination wondering what I'm talking about.....

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Dodging & Fudging the Issue of Death and Dying

Cementerio de la Recoleta - Buenos Aires - Arg...
Cementerio de la Recoleta - Buenos Aires - Argentina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my stay with a local Argentine couple, there were two occurrences of deaths that happened within the family. The first time, I didn't ask too many questions but assumed that they deal with death the way we do in North America. But the 2nd time around, a brief interaction with the girl that lived in the house led to a startling revelation. The conversation went like this:

"My grandmother passed away yesterday"

"Oh, I'm sorry to here that"   (me)

 "Thanks....yeah we are gonna go bury her today"

I walked away for a few brief minutes and then the conversation sank it and I went back to my housemate and asked her if when someone passes away in Argentine culture, it seems as if the funeral is the next day. She confirmed to me that in their culture, burial is very quick and can even happen on the same day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Argentine Serpentine Spits Venomous Poison From Her Fangs

There is nothing more entertaining in the world than watching two people arrive at the same destination on the same day, each with a plan on how they were gonna mess with the other persons head. Every 3 months, my church has a massive gathering of all the churches in the region to mark the end of another trimester. It is a HUGE family event and I knew everyone would be there. And in my gut I knew that somehow, the Argentine Serpentines path would cross for the first time ever since my arrival in Argentina.

In my mind I made a resolve that if I saw that sneaky snake, I was gonna ignore her. One of my greatest strengths as a person is my ability to stick to any resolve that I make.  However, there are a few times in my life when my resolve gets overridden because someone else had plans for how she would handle an encounter with me and had made up a resolve of her own.  I can only imagine that when the two of us woke up that morning, we were thinking the exact same thing. We knew the other person would be at the same event and each of us had to make a plan in advance to gain the upper hand.  One of our plans would indeed triumph that just wouldn't be mine.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Canning Candida

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...
English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) offered for sale at the farmers' market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are expecting a baby girl and you are considering "Candida" to be lovely name, I advise you to think again and perhaps come up with some variation instead unless you want your child to go through life getting made fun of for having the name of a fungus.

Unfortunately for me, I became quite familiar with Candida during a brief brush with Oral Thrush. I'll try to explain things to you in a way that will cause you not to lose your lunch. On your tongue there is a whole ecosystem of microorganisms. One of these is Candida at it is harmless in itself because its population is regulated by the other organisms living in the ecosystem. However, every so often a situation arises where the population of Candida somehow does not get regulated properly and the growth gets out of control.

Eventually what happens is the fungi spreads to sides of your mouth, throat making painful to swallow or eat or drink anything.  What I believe happened with me is that I was coming to a time where i had confront some deeply painful events that happened to me in Canada. To make a long story short my stress went up, my immunity went down and all of a sudden Oral Thrush appeared out of nowhere like the Joker in Gotham City.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Flirting with Fair Prices in a Feria

There is no doubt in my mind that if the government and the people of Argentina had a fb page where they had to set their relationship status, their status would be set to "complicated". It seems as if every single time is ready to throw in the towel and give the "It's not you it's me" speech, the other throws a curve ball to keep them at arms length.

One of the places I hadn't been to on my last few trips was a little park called "Plaza Almagro". Sometimes exploring even the tiniest and most insignificant of places can bring gigantic results and this day was no exception.  It somehow worked out that my first visit would happen on the weekend. Unbeknownst to me there is a large open air market that happens in Plaza Almagro only on the weekends. Prices for food are dirt cheap and as a result lineups are long and getting there early is an absolute if you want first dibs.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Madonnas Sticky & Sweet Tour: Live in Buenos Aires

"I don't know if everybody knows about my history with Buenos Aires and Argentina. It's been 13 yrs since I have been here. I have an incredible relationship with this country.  There is something magical about this place and it's not tangible."     -Madonna

Dec 6th 2008, Madonna returned to Buenos Aires but this time for a performance that was bound to draw alot alot less protest than when she portrayed Eva Péron in Evita. 3 hrs and one day of presale was all it took for 70 000 tickets in River Plate Stadium.  The overwhelming response to Madges return to Buenos Aires prompted them to add another show date the very next day on Dec 7th.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cannabis, Carne and Carnage

Every morning that I wake up in Buenos Aires, there are three different voices clamoring for space and attention in my head. No, I don't have multiple personality disorder or anything of that sort. It's more like the voice of a Porteña, a Chinese person, and Canadian girl fighting for attention.

In order for me to qualify as a true native porteña to this city, there are several rites of passage. Firstly, when I wake up in the morning I have to look out the window and make some sort of statement complaining about the weather.  But that isn't the only complaint of the day that I have to register if I truly want to be considered one of them.

The 2nd area which I have to gripe about is about inflation and how prices are getting so high and how I remember the good ole days.  My relationship with Argentina started in 2009 so in terms of "the good ole days", 2009 is about as far back as I can go in terms of complaining and comparing prices.

But there is a third thing that I can do that I am 100% sure will qualify me instantly as porteña without having to do the above two activities  And that is to join the 20% of Argentines from Buenos Aires who enjoy being able to smoke weed in the comfort of their own homes. Ever since 2009, the gov't has legalized weed for recreational use in private residences

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Law of Scarcity

Español: El asado mas grande del mundo 2011 en...
Español: El asado mas grande del mundo 2011 en General Pico. (Argentina) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first glance, it may appear that the Argentine gov't and the Argentine Serpentine may have nothing in common. One is the gov't of a nation who spends their time pissing off countries like Spain by expropriating national oil companies like YPF. While the other is a seductress who wakes up every single day of her life scheming on how she can make a career of being a puppeteer........with me as her puppet of course. But there is a tremendous secret that both the Argentine gov't and the Argentine serpentine knew of, a secret that almost guaranteed success in their ventures to overthrow just about anything. And that is knowing the Law of Scarcity. The Law of Scarcity dictates that when there is less of something, its perceived value increases.

Monday, September 10, 2012

FIESTA!!! 3 Yrs Today I Landed in BA....

LIFE IS A HAPPY SONG :D  Three years ago today marks the day that I would set foot on Argentine soil for the first time ever.  And I spared no expense in celebrating this incredible milestone. The weekend began with tucking into a delicious 3 course smoked Brisket and Ribs dinner by El Tejano.  But good company makes tasty food even tastier, company like the team from Anuva Wines who decided to pop in on friday nite to indulge in brisket and ribs as well.

***On a side note if you come to BA and want to do wine tasting there is no other company I would recommend other than Anuva Wines. Great local people who are also seasoned professionals when it comes to the art of wine tasting and offer the experience at fair prices.   @anuvawines

My story is not unlike many people, nothing was working out in Canada and one day I had enough and came to BA for a life change. Like many expats I thought I would be here for a short time and then something happened that made me keep coming back. When I set foot on Argentine soil for the first time, nothing in me could have imagined the things that would happen in the next 3 years. It's also hard for me to fathom that 3 yrs later I am having conversations and giving advice to people who are the same place that I was who are needing a life change.

I could have never imagined becoming the writer here on "Making the Same Difference", one of the most influential blogsites not only on the Buenos Aires scene but in the world of travel as well.   Nor could I have fathomed that I would be the first writer to truly tackle the issue of how to deal with relationship with someone from another culture who speaks another language with my "Cross Cultural Caring" series.In addition to that within the past 3 years I've written an autobiography "Argentine Eyes" as well as have created a 2 day self guided itinerary  to help visitors spend less and see more of the city's hidden gems.  Opportunities have also opened up for me to write for other travel websites like GO and non travel-related sites such as Tiny Buddha.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Growth That's Louder than the Radio

"I heard your name on the radio"  My bible group leader gushed.

My eyebrow raised for a moment with curiousity for a brief moment before she explained that she had been listening to the radio station the church ran called Parque Vida. The church based radio station is another way that CCNV extends its hand towards society in the world and participates in social justice issues. Radio Parque Vidas purpose isn't just to keep the members informed with the latest activities of the church but also to reach the people outside and deal and discuss issues relevant to Argentina and Latin America. Like any radio station, there are promos and ones that announce that an english program is starting at CENV with a native english speaking professor ANGELINA.

I had met with someone from the school on Wednesday to discuss the plans for the course I would be teaching for this new year in school. The representative from the school mentioned that they were gonna promote it but I had no idea that they were gonna put an ad for courses with me on their national radio station. When I arrived at my church group on Friday, my bible leader had heard my name mentioned on the radio and was gushing all about it and telling the other group members.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Brisket Hits Buenos Aires

Brisket sandwich Gorilla BBQ
Brisket sandwich Gorilla BBQ (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

If you landed on my blog then today is your lucky day.  Because today happens to be the day where i dish out a delicious dish of one of the greatest secrets to settling down successfully. With the influx of social media, there is no end to the message "follow me" "sign up for me" "listen to me". And to a degree you do need to push people abit to get your name and your brand out there......for a little while.

One of my greatest secrets to success as an expat is adopting the philosophy that "Less is More". The less that I make it about me, the more I end up having.  Each person has their own interest, mine is filming, literature, books, writing, and languages. Although those are areas that I am inflamed with passion, it doesn't mean that I can't let sparks and embers of other interests hit my firewood.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dummies Guide to Surviving a 10 Day Subway Strike

Scripture states time and again that the little things that are kept in secret eventually come to light. Much like the racy explicit text in this video of Jane Lynch and Bill Maher mocking Antony Weiner. The same applies to things kept in the dark in the gov't  system here in BsAs. We all know the tragic story of the crash at Estacion Once on Ash Wednesday 2011.  But the truth is that there had been problems brewing for decades that one day manifested in the ugliest form possible.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beginning and Ending Life in Buenos Aires: Don't stop believing.....

In the same way that it is fascinating to watch the seasons change, it also fascinates me to watch how each expat seems to be in a different season of life.  One expat may be at the prime of life here with business booming and everything anew while another expat is announcing that they are leaving and their relationship with BsAs is taking a final bow. Someone in the city is excitedly announcing a new business venture while another person is ending a business venture that was once flourishing.

A big key to life here is to stay grounded and good at what you do. It's fine to see what others are doing and even feel abit of envy when they are having their day while you are struggling to get established. But keep in mind that things change in an instant here and the same expat that is having a great season of their life may be the same one that is announcing that their departure a few seasons from now.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Science of Neuroscience: Creating a Sense of Connection While Abroad

Neuroscience fascinates me to no end. It is the study of how the brain creates connections with the world around us. It is a branch of science that is still relatively new and discoveries about the brains capabilities of connecting have only been made within the last 10 yrs.  Themes that you'll find in neuroscience are things like the brains ability to regenerate and make new connections after the loss of a relationship or even the physical bodies ability to heal after an injury and become good as new. Neuroscience helps us answer the question to why we do the things we do. Like why we prefer an old shirt or an old shoe that is falling apart as opposed to a nice new one. This is because we've developed a connection with our favorite object, a relationship of sorts.

Coming into BsAs for the third time, I understood the importance of creating connections while in a foreign country. After you've had your Buenos Aires buzz and visited all the tourist sites and the big attractions, if one intends to last long in another country then establishing connections are vital. In previous blogs I mentioned about how upon landing in the country, I realized that some of my previous connections were now a loss. That person had gone downhill and it would be toxic and unhealthy to maintain close ties with them. The moment I realized that the relationship was a dud, I knew that i had to make new healthy connections and started to make contact and make plans with people who I knew were on a healthy positive path.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Finding Love in a Jar of Nutella

NutellaNutella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I talked a little bit about having a rendez-vous in a café with two Argentine girlfriends of mine and seeing them taste North American style fare for the first time. A week later, we were back at it again only this time in the house of one of them tasting a jar of Nutella that I had brought from Canada.  All I can say is that one taste of Nutella, the girls lived as if they have never lived before.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Muppets: Pöpcørn (featuring the one and only Swedish Chef)

 "So what is a cupcake Angelina?"

My eyes must have gone wide for a brief moment. Never in my life had I been asked that question. It took me a moment to gather my head for a sec and try and describe the difference between a cupcake and a muffin to my Argentine friends. One look at their faces when they scanned the menu at Café Crespin and read things like brownies, muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake, french toast, scrambled eggs etc and those two girls might have been in another country.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plastic, Water, Metal, Fire and I

My mind raced at 100 mph to figure out a way to douse the flames that were quickly spreading. Without further hesitation, I grabbed a cup from the cupboard, filled it with water and dumped it on the flames that were burning brightly on top of the kitchen stove. It took me 3 or 4 times of filling the cup, dumping it on the flames, refilling it and pouring it on the flames once again before i had totally doused the flames. Life can be a roller-coaster ride here in Buenos Aires and it can often start with the simplest mundane everyday thing you can think of. The simple task of making scrambled eggs wound up with me scrambling for a cup of water to douse out flames on the stove top in the kitchen.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Argentine Serpentine Delivers a Snakebite

There are 3 times in ones life where the words you are using should be utter with upmost reverence and only after careful consideration. The first time is when you are getting engaged and ask a woman to marry you. The   second time is when you actually standing at the altar saying your vows. However, there is a third instance where the words you are speaking shouldn't be uttered unless you are completely ready to stand behind them. And that is when you tell a woman that it is OK for her to kick you in the balls as hard as she can.

The reason why you should be prepared to commit to your words in all the above scenarios is because in each one of them, she is likely to accept your offer.......especially the last one.  This is because in the first two scenarios with engagement and marriage, those only happen once in a blue moon. However for the third instance, those words for her are like a coupon that she can use to reak havoc on your life whenever she pleases without explanation like a coupon she uses at the grocery store.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Modern Family: The Many Mispronunciations of 'Gloria'

As one edges more and more towards becoming bilingual, there are certain subtle things you begin to take note of that you don't when you are in the early stages of learning a new language. For example, the part of the body used to pronounce words in spanish is the throat whereas in english it would be the upper part of the mouth and the teeth. That's why spanish speakers have a hard time saying things like "teeth" or "three". Their language never requires them to put their tongue against the upper part of the mouth in order to pronounce things.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Supersize Me: The Argentine Edition

English: A Big Mac sandwich taken at Velika Go...Image via Wikipedia

It is no big secret that Argentines have a love and affinity for big American fast food chains such as Wendys or Mcdonalds etc  But what maybe truly one of Argentina's worst kept secret works out to be the best deal for tourist and expats wanting to save a buck or two in the midst of inflation  ( For those of you who don't know, the gov't insists that the inflation level is at a modest 10% but stats done but independent researcher indicates that inflation level are between 25-30%)

What is this deal that I am talking about? It is a deal that exist in any mcdonalds that you walk into in Argentina that isn't advertised as part of the menu. Over the years, the mcdonalds brand has become synonymous with its all famous big mac meal.  Yet in Buenos Aires, you'd be hard pressed to see any pictures of the big mac combo being advertised. However if you asks for it, it is available and not only that, the bonus for your dilligence and perseverence in pursing the Big Mac is rewarded by the fact that it is 30% less than all the items offered on the main menu.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Culture of Argentina Beyond the Boundaries of Buenos Aires City

Cityscape to the south of Cordoba, Argentina.
Cityscape to the south of Cordoba, Argentina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The culture of Latin America is often associated with the words "friendly"  "open" and "hospitable". At times those three words seem synonymous with one another. Being friendly and open automatically means being hospitable too.....right? After extended experience here in Buenos Aires and multiple conversations with expats that have lived here, I want to challenge that idea.

First lets define "hospitality" or "hospitable". The dictionary defines it as actually welcoming guests or strangers into ones living space and hosting them well. It's more than simply being nice to someone in the grocery store.  Hospitality denotes creating an environment for someone where they feel loved and taken in and I am not so sure that definition really accurately describes Buenos Aires.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Derailing and Demistifying the Dangers of the Argentine Rail System

If the nation of Argentina had its very own facebook page with updates and statuses, the relationship status between the gov't and the people would be set to "complicated". On that note, this would also be the relationship status most expats would choose to describe their relationship with Buenos Aires,  complicated.  I'll leave that for another blogpost, for now let's focus on the gov't and the people.

A couple months ago I wrote a blogpost Reeling from a Real Rail Disaster. It was about one of Argentina's worst rail disasters that happened this year on Ash Wednesday.  In that blogpost I chose to focus on my personal feelings of having to challenge myself not to live in fear but to trust God instead. There wasn't enough room in that blog to really explain the ongoing drama that had been happening between the gov't, the people and Trenes de Buenos Aires.  It is a situation that has been going on for more than 30 yrs before this accident ever happened.  And I hope that this blog will open your eyes to see that this was an accident that didn't quite happen by accident.

Monday, June 04, 2012

YaYa Bean: Homeless with Hot Sauce

As you know I have my own Youtube channel  where from time to time I'll create a video of footage I shot with my flipcam to document life here.  One thing that I'm extremely grateful for is that I've never had to document what it is like to be homeless because I've never been homeless. I've had other crazy experiences but this isn't one of them thankfully *sigh*

However, on August 18 2011, the apartment lease of the boys of Ya Ya Bean ran out and the beginning of the least on their next apartment was until 2 wks. Ya Ya Bean consists of Mark and Kevin.....two best friends who make music and hot sauce here in the city.  You can find them every Sunday at 250 Defensa in the San Telmo fair selling their famous hot sauce "La Boca Roja"

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's in a Name?

The rose has thorns only for those who would g...Image by Parvin ♣( OFF for a while ) via Flickr

 If adapting to the Argentine culture wasn't already different enough, learning to adapt to the Argentine culture of church would be a whole new ballgame. Imagine already trying to keep up being in a country where they speak a whole different language. Not only did I have to learn spanish for everyday life, but I would have the added task of learning the special vocabulary that the Christian community in Argentina uses. As well, I would become aware of the many cultural differences between the Argentine church and the culture of church I grew up in.

There are many differences and I can't highlight them all in one blogpost. As best as I can, I've tried to bring to life the world of the Argentine church through video, blogs, pics and various forms of social media. One of the biggest differences I notice in the church culture down there is that exclaiming "OMG" "Jesus Christ" as an expression in daily life isn't considered an insult or taboo the way that it would be in the North American church. If I stubbed my toe and yelled "FOR CHRIST SAKE", I might end up with a pep talk about taking Christ name in vain.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fueling Up on Food, Fun & Friendship at Full City Coffee House

Some of the biggest waves ever recorded that have knocked surfers off their surfboards often began with a small breeze of wind causing friction against the calm ocean water. Here in BsAs we've seen just about everything and in many ways we've been here done that. However, every so often someone comes along with an amazing idea that sweeps us off our feet the same way a wave can wipe surfers out.

It was a day that began just like any other day but the events of the day wound up being anything other than ordinary. I kept hearing a variety of sources rave about Full City Coffee House and how this was one of the best things to ever happen to the food scene down in BsAs.  I came expecting to taste just the food but I left the café that day with something more than just food............friendship :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Slithering Past those Sneaky Serpents of Stress and Separation

There is no doubt in my mind that some may be out there looking at my life at feeling green with envy. The grass always looks greener on the other side....when you don't see the price the other person has to pay. For me, seeing the world and making friends on other continents is a perk that I wouldn't trade anything int he world for. But this perk has a price that costs more than even the costliest ticket to Buenos Aires. And that is the effects of separation when it comes time to leave.  What makes separation even more difficult is when you happen to have someone in particular that actually does not deal well with separation.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Untangling the Mysteries of Tango

One of the best decisions I ever made was to get tangled up in the world of Argentine tango. Not only did I meet people from all walks of life in the lessons and milongas....I gained respect and bragging rights among my peers. This is because most modern day Argentines do not dance tango. In the minds of many of the youth, this is what people their grandparents age do or something that you read about in history books. It's so funny to see the puzzled expressions come to their face when I tell other people my age that I dance tango :O

Monday, April 30, 2012

More Timbits: Making or Breaking Cross-Cultural Relationships

العربية: دونات معروضة في أحد المحلات المشهورة ...Image via Wikipedia

I hoped that the last time I tossed some tasty timbits your way that it whet your appetite for more. Because today I've got some more juicy morsels that my mind has been chewing on in regards to the theme of cross cultural relationships.  It is something I like to call the "Monkey in the Middle".  This is a key element that can make or break your relationship with someone from another language and culture.

What I mean by the "Monkey in the Middle" is finding someone who understands both cultures and both sides. Those of you who are well versed in our story know that Marisa and I came to a point where all the talking in the world wasn't getting us anywhere. It wasn't that I didn't understand spanish, I understood what she was saying but we still weren't able to piece together exactly what was going on.  This was because at the time of the conversation, we didn't have understanding about the other person's culture.

Monday, April 23, 2012

From Friend to Frenemy.......

As all of you know, I periodically write article from time to time with tips on how to have success in cross-cultural relationships. This article takes on a very different nature in that it will be teaching all the steps you need to take if you wish to end up hopelessly caught in the coils of a snake and eating out of hands of a powerful enchantress.....a friend turned frenemy. Bonne appetit  :)

We last left off with me telling you the story of the seemingly random incident where I couldn't call my friend after redialing her from the airport. I ended up boarding the plane without having one last chance to speak to her. But separation turned out to be a good thing because being on another continent would allow me to see a whole other side of this friend of mine whom I have dubbed the "Argentine Serpentine"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buenos Aires Best Kept Secrets : Two Day Itinerary by Unanchor

 Unanchor is a company that provides self-guided itineraries so that you can skip researching your destination and enjoy a pre-made itinerary that has been put together by local experts. They are constantly looking for travel writers to put together fantastic itineraries that will be available for purchase by travelers wanting to travel more, spend less while at the same time going at their own pace.

It has given me great pleasure to announce that Unanchor and I have put together an 2 day itinerary that reveals Buenos Aires Best kept secrets. Anyone can say that they've been to Evitas grave in the Recoleta Cemetary or have stood in front of the Plaza de Mayo. But not everyone can say that they've been to a hidden gem like the Evita Museum or seen Floralis Generica (giant metal flower) in Recoleta.  And where in the world is Parque Tres de Febrero and what exactly is it?

With this two day itinerary, Unanchor and I have taken the work of thinking and researching out of your hands.  The price of the itinerary I've created costs $4.99  and consists of maps, pictures, restaurants, means of transportation to each destination as well as an appendix full of secrets about the city that only an expat would know.  The itinerary consists of a balanced mix of museums, popular attractions, parks and hidden gems that most tourists miss.

When I first landed in this city in 2009, it was then that I realized how rich, complicated, and fascinating Buenos Aires was. Selecting the right guide to take with me before I left home made all the difference and I saw and experienced things that went beyond cliché tourist traps.  My guide kept me busy every single day for a whole 6 wks for hours and hours per day.

Because of that experience, I have always valued and understood the power of a good guide and when my turn came, I wanted to use my knowledge of the city to make sure that others are spending less and seeing more. Why spend money on hiring a guide? Beat inflation, get more bang for your buck and see your dollar stretch further by being your own guide.

 The link below will take you straight to the itinerary where you can view it for purchasing.  There are places in my two day itinerary that were a surprise for my Argentine friends who are native to the city that they didn't even know about.......

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Monday, April 16, 2012

An Argentine Serpentine

Before the death of Harry Houdini, he and is wife created a password of sorts. This was so that any charlatan or psychic claiming to be channeling Houdini had to give the password so that his wife knew that it was the real Houdini. After the passing of Houdini, many psychics came to his wife saying that Houdini was being channeled through them. But not one of them got the password correct.  In the end Houdini's wife came to the conclusion that it was impossible to bring Houdini back from the other side.

Houdini may have been master illusionist but an Argentine friend of mine wins the award of being MASTER HYPNOTIST :O  Putting this story on my blogsite was absolutely irresistable but in order to maintain some level of privacy, I had to make some compromises. Firstly that the name of this person is not going to be mentioned nor am I even going to let on to which season I met her in (we are currently in season 3 on this blogsite). Let's just say for now that she's someone that I've know for awhile.

One of the first things I do when I meet a friend is find out what Chinese animal they were born in. To each his    own and some people may not think to much of Chinese astrology or the Chinese zodiac but I do and the majority of the time there has been a high level of accuracy in sizing up people.  But no amount or reading or research could have prepared me for what it is like to receive a snakebite from someone born in the year of the snake and come face to face with a true Argentine serpentine.

When I was reading the profile of someone from the year of the snake, there were descriptions such as "seductive" "possessive" "suave" "calculative". It was my folly to have skimmed over lightly those descriptions thinking nothing of them.  Ultimately it led to me succumbing to a giant snakebite whose venom there is no cure for.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Tasty Timbits: 2 Tips for Maintaining Cross-Cultural Relationships

I LOVE chocolate glazed timbits. i can eat a w...Image via Wikipedia

Hope that all of you did some fantastic feasting over the holidays but saved room for dessert.....and by dessert I mean timbits.  That is the theme of todays post, timbits.  There are some random thoughts and pearls of wisdom that have been rolling around in my mind. These are things that I have learned from experience and observation but are not necessarily big enough to be the only theme of an entire post.  So I created a blogpost today where I can serve up some timbits for you to chew on.

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Whale of a Life

Whale Fall (after life of a whale) from Sharon Shattuck on Vimeo.

It's that time of the year again where some of you out there will be going to a church service. Others of you will find yourselves in the middle of an easter egg hunt. And there are those of you may end up doing both :)  I am so aware of how diverse my audience is and I have made a constant effort to appeal to the human spirit and the things we all have in common.  This ingenious short film someone made using cutouts to show what happens to a whale after it goes to that great ocean in the sky.  I thought that it would be the perfect video with a theme that encompasses the idea of death and new life in a way that anybody can relate to.

A whale is one of those creatures whose death is just as significant as its life. Because the body of a whale can sustain organisms for 50 to 75 yrs after its death. It literally becomes an island of life. In death there is life for so many creatures that live in the city. I am in my 30's and it blows my mind that a whale that died the very day I was born is still sustaining life to other organisms at the bottom of the ocean.

 I realize more and more each day that so many things I thought on my life were a beginning when really they were an end. But on the flip side, so many things that I thought were an end are only the beginning.....

"Death is lifes best invention" - Steve Jobs

Monday, March 26, 2012

Love is in the Air

In the Asian culture, right from the moment that we are born and even before little black hair follicles start sprouting out of our heads, we are given the message "Work hard" "Have a plan for your life" "Strategize". I take many of these cultural values to heart especially when it comes to trying to ensure the success of cross cultural relationships.  I would LOVE to tell you that for ensuring cross cultural relationships, love is in the air and all you need is love. But if I told you that, I would be breaking one of the 10 commandments, the sin of lying.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Old Now........New Now.......

With the rise of Groupon, within the last few yrs we've seen almost an epidemic of similar sites where once you find a deal, the idea is to name it and claim it within the time frame allotted to you. I personally have never grabbed anything off some of these daily deals sites but it was while listening to an podcast by pastor Paul Scanlon of Abundant Life Ministries, that I realized the greatest daily deal  is waiting to be claimed every second of my life.

Normally I don't talk about the sermons or messages I listen to but this particular message caught my attention and I realized that there was something in it for everyone.   The pastor was talking about what "Now" exactly means in the context of the length of time.  Would "now" considered be weeks, days, and minutes? In the message he brought to light that scientist discovered that "now" as defined as 5 secs. So every 5 secs. you get a new moment and that is an opportunity for a new reality.

There are two activities in the world that I believe help people understand more than anything the idea of moving from moment to moment. One is Argentine tango to which many of you know that I do participate in when I can. The other activity is surfing which I have my heart set on trying at least once

Monday, March 12, 2012

Déjà vu

There are times in life where a little moment happens that catches you completely off guard and makes you see how much you have changed and grown as a person. For me, that moment came when I walked into a grocery store for the first time after having just landed. As I was browsing through all the products available, I realized that I had something that I didn't have on my last trip.........awareness.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Stranger than Fiction

"Cómo estás?" she said to me, the usual Argentine greeting.  But as the words came out of her mouth, her countenance did a 360 degree turn.  Her tone of voice, her expression, her eyes looked like she was in some kind of dreamlike state.  All around us, a rainbow of vibrations permeated the air space.
Body language experts say that when it comes to eye contact between friends,  it is normal to look intermittently back and forth between them and other things in the room.  But when one stares at another individual with an unbroken gaze, it means something else entirely.  The only time that you have that kind of interaction between yourself and then other person is when you are in love.
The ambience was that of a magnetic field, electrically charged.  When I responded "Te extraño" (I miss you),  I could barely look at her for more than a few seconds before diverting my eyes away.  Her presence felt larger than life and seemed to be calling my name, beckoning to me and slowly drawing me in.
The service began and our attention turned from that powerful moment to the church service that was happening.  15 mins later when I turned to look at her to ask her something , she was completely back to normal like nothing had happened.

This may seem like a scene right out of a movie but in reality it's a scene right out of a book..........MY book "Argentine Eyes". And my book happens to me an autobiography meaning that this scene between Marisa and I is actually a clip straight from our personal lives.  It may seem strange but it definitely is not fiction. But rather it is stranger than fiction.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reeling from a Real Rail Disaster


 "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name;  you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through fires of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."
Isaiah 43: 1-2

As I sat on my bed in Canada reading those words from this ancient book, those words jumped off the page and became so much more than just words......they were a revelation. Especially having read them the day after one of Argentina's worst rail disasters.  The day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is supposed to be a time for mourning and reflection as Lent commences.  This years particular Ash Wednesday in Buenos Aires would be met not just by mourning but by chaos and tragedy.

 Argentina's railway system has long been under criticism and scrutiny with pressure on the government to create better regulations. I've been on these trains many times and one glance at these trains and I could tell that they definitely did not have the maintenance of  a Disney theme park ride.

It was on a Wednesday morning that started out like any other. This would be the very first run of the day and unfortunately it would be the only run that day.  As the train pulled into the station, it failed to slow down and smashed into the barrier at full speed on the platform, causing the first two carriages to collide and literally mesh into each other.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fun, Foam & Fat Tuesday

*** Just a note that parts of the above video tends to be of a revealing nature.

A spray of foam hit my face at 90 miles an hour and in that instant, the Fat Tuesday celebrations had turned my body into a living target.  What had meant to be a routine trip to the grocery store turned into an all nite fiesta that went into the early hours of the morning as I found that the block had been closed off as a parade of dancers filled the empty streets. Stalls of street vendors selling hamburgers, pop etc. were set up to fill the public's food and drink needs in place of the supermarkets that had closed earlier than usual.

Growing up in North America, I had only heard of Carnival being celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the Samba dancers.  It never occurred to me that Carnival gets celebrated in so many other forms in different parts of latin america. If you've already been to Rio de Janeiro and had your carnival fix, there are still other great options for you to explore in seeing how carnival is celebrated in Latin America. Uruguay is another country that is off the beaten path that hosts fantastic carnival celebrations.

One day I would love to find myself caught in an endless sea of bodies watching Brazil's annual Samba parade. But I gotta admit that there was something sweet and enduring at watching the community in Boedo come together to mark Fat Tuesday. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is something that many people know about and lots of people have seen.

However, local community celebrations (called "Corsos") that take place all over Buenos Aires is something that is precious on a whole different level.  These are things that you'll never watch on TV or read about in a travel brochure or plan a trip to see. But experiences like watching a neighbourhood community celebration are the hidden gems of travel abroad that divide those who are living like a local and those are who are merely passing through the city. What began as a routine 10 min walk from my apartment to the grocery store resulted in a lifetime of memories....

Murga & Foam

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ojos Argentino (Argentine Eyes)

"Don't get it right, just get it written." Author James Thurber

It gives me tremendous pleasure to announce that after over 50 hrs of writing, editing, promoting and going through draft after draft, "Argentine Eyes" is available through major online retailers such as Amazon, Apple ibooks, Barnes & Noble and of course Bookrix.  Seeing as it is a story about friendship and love, it seemed rather fitting that its official publishing date fell on february 14th.........Valentines Day   :D

Thumb through the pages of the novel and you'll discover a treasure trove of stories from my adventures at the end of the world. Like the story of how I stood 10 hrs in a lineup to enter the Casa Rosada to see the coffin of ex-president Néstor Kirchner where he was lying in state. Or there was the time where I passed out while hanging out with a group of friends in Costanera Sur. And let's not forget about my spanish professor who also happened to be a surfer. Read "Argentine Eyes" and you'll discover the two words she said to me in a reply that would change the course of  my relationship with Marisa forever.

In addition to compelling stories, within the pages are revealing insights on travel and the various aspects of Argentine culture whether it would be historical, political, cultural etc. Part of the fun of writing in first and second person narration is that I can take a pause from narrating the story and talk directly to the audience about other topics. The narration was a tremendous opportunity for me to reveal pearls of wisdom and keys that would be useful for planning a trip to Buenos Aires.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Making Gains in the Mundane

Black pearl and its shellImage via Wikipedia

I can't help but wonder if for Marisa, doing church cell groups every Thursday nite must have been somewhat mundane at times. I gotta respect that woman for the dedication and commitment she made to the church in her willingness to show up week after week faithfully.

If anything can be learned from this woman's life is that some of life's greatest gains comes from the mundane. Because it would be through this cell group that she poured her heart and life into, this would be the means in which God would give her something that she had been longing for............a third child.  And for those of you who are regulars at this blog, you all know that child was me :)  And for those of you who don't know our story, you can read the story in my novel "Argentine Eyes"

All of us have dreams and desires. Society teaches us to "look out for number 1" and our goal in life should be to get to the top of the ladder as fast as possible using as many people as we can. But what happened between me and Marisa is a classic example of how her faithfulness and dedication resulted in her getting one of the deepest desires of her heart.

She showed up her cell group on a thursday just like any other thursday. But this thursday nite there would be  a young woman from Canada who happened to be in Buenos Aires for a life change.  And that one encounter would lead to a chain of events that took off like the way a snowball turns into an avalanche.

Her life is a constant reminder to me to be dedicated to all that I've been given whether it would be writing a blog or teaching english.  More and more I'm coming to realize that my destiny isn't going to get realized sitting and wishing that I could be doing anything other than what I'm doing right now. On the contrary, it is gonna be in the midst of pouring my heart and soul into every person and project God has given me that one day I'll stumble upon the pearl of great price.....

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Monday, February 06, 2012

The Fallacy of Normalcy

Quite number of years ago, I was on a family trip to Miami and we took a tour of one of the neighbourhoods. The tour guide's commentary was that in this neighbourhood, anyone who had bought a house there had to abide by the rules of the council. You had to have your grass cut or you would be fined $100. If you didn't get your grass cut, someone would be sent to your house to cut it for you and you would not only have to pay the fine but you would have to pay $100 to the person as well for cutting it. The paint color of your house had to fit within the certain acceptable colors or you would get a fine.  Also, you car had to be kept within the garage out of sight or you would receive a fine. The tour took us by one house where the people broke all the rules and the guide told us that if these people ever sold their house, they would have nothing left due to the amount of fines.

Latin America may have many struggles economically and politically but the one struggle that they never have had is with the fallacy of normalcy. Latinos are very well of the fact that the fairytale life with the perfect family and white picket fence doesn't exist. As well there is next to no pressure to have your life planned out or to be a certain way. Come to think of it, the opposite is quite true, quirkiness is a welcome is seen as having life and flavor.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spare Keys

Abasto shopping center. The city's wholesale m...Image via Wikipedia

When I sit back and reflect at all the different types of companies out in the world, it amazes me the attitudes and mindsets that lie within the company's origins. Some companies were born out of pretentiousness. Others were born out of pride and presumption, assuming the world would like what they had to offer. Then every so often, a company is born because someone took a good long look at the actual needs and decides to create a company to address those issues in question.........a company like Spare Rooms BA.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Seven Deadly Screwups

Description: Luna Park stadium, Buenos Aires, ...Image via Wikipedia

"The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked" 
Proverbs 24:16

Everyone has heard of "The Seven Deadly Sins" but I highly doubt that many people know about my 7 deadly screwups. This passage from proverbs is especially comforting to me, because it is no big secret that I have tripped more than 7 times during this whole adventure that God has sent me on.  One way in which I've grown is realizing that if I commit myself to the path, God will have a way of pulling me back up each time I trip.  And you may have just clicked for the first time onto this site with a big beautiful picture of the Casa Rosada and amazing blogs and wonder "how could this girl could possibly have tripped up?"

Oh trust me, there at least 7 ways and counting that I make mistakes while on the this path. But the good news is that each time I learn from my error and find myself less and less in situations that drive up my blood pressure :o

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ethic Cleansing....

Buenos AiresImage by via Flickr

A big question that hits me on an ongoing business in day to day life in Buenos Aires is how to remain ethical.  As a Christian, respecting the laws of the goverment are a huge part of my value system.  And for even those of you out there who may not come from a similar background as me have some kind of belief that we need to be law abiding whether we live here or are passing through.

In many of the first world countries, the law is clear and it would be a no brainer to whether you are breaking the law or not. But how do you remain ethical in a country where just like the subway, laws can be shut down one day and new ones installed the very next day?  And without any notification to the rest of us :o So the one thing that I could be doing that was legal one day could be outlawed or only semi legal the next day.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Strangers Like Me

It was on a clear starry nite in a private residence in San Telmo that I would experience my very first "puerta cerrada", a restaurant in the house of someone. Lively chatter in english would accompany me as I picked my way through the 4 or 5 course meal that nite. Dining in the house of someone wouldn't be the only first that nite, there would be another........meeting strangers like me.  Young people from North America who had left everything behind to begin a new life here at the end of the world

Monday, January 02, 2012

Great Expatations

I don't need to state the obvious that Argentine history is nothing less than rich and colorful.  There are countless wars, bloody battles, and an endless list of heroes to many to name. If you don't believe me, just spend an afternoon the the Recoleta Cemetery.  The amount of names, dates and event are enough to go to the moon and back.

But as interesting as Argentina's history may be, there is another type of history that is being made.....expat history.  Just because the history of the expats landing here may not be as extensive, doesn't mean that it is any less fun or interesting. In a previous blog "Chili Experts and Chilly Expats", I gave you a tiny glimpse into the expat world.

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas