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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Gigantic Guinea Pig Debate: Christmas Present or Christmas Dinner?

It's that time of the year again where turkeys are being fattened up and parents everywhere are running around to pet stores everywhere seeing if perhaps a guinea pig would make a great Christmas gift.

But let's imagine a world where things are a little bit backwards (or maybe WE are the ones that are backwards for insisting on spending half our wages on an overpriced hormone induced Turkey just because its tradition) and where guinea pigs aren't so much the X-mas present as they are the X-mas dinner.

If you can imagine that world, you are more than halfway to being prepared to have Christmas dinner with a family from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivian or any of the Andean regions where Cuy has been enjoyed for thousands of years.

Kids from North America who play with kids from the Andes regions,  might end up having a row because one kids parents have taught them that guinea pigs are pets and the other kids parents have taught them that guinea pigs are an after school snack. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Ode to Eel Soup

One of the joys of travel and embracing each countries cuisine is the surprises you get when you order something that you aren't 100% sure that you know what it is. My spanish is good enough for me to read the description of the menu and take a wild guess and what the dish is. Occasionally I come across a menu item that is out of my vocabulary. In times like these I always choose to let my adventurous side out and if the waiter tells me that it's an excellent choice I'll agree to it.

While visiting Viña del Mar in Chile, i came across a word in spanish that was foreign to me....congrio.  But at the waiter's enthusiastic recommendation combined with my taste for the unknown, I agreed to give my tastebuds their first gamble with "Caldillo de congrio"

When the dish came I knew that I had ordered a fish stew of some sort. It was hot so while waiting for it to cool I googled it on my iphone and in a matter of seconds knew the truth about this dish I had ordered. "Congrio" is the name for conger eel, a species of eel that is common in the Chilean Sea.  The dish is made by boiling together fish heads, onion, garlic, coriander, carrots, pepper. After the ingrediants are boiled stock is poured in.

Caldillo de Congrio is not only one of Chile's national dish but apparently was one of Pablo Neruda's favorites as well. He liked it enough to write a poem about it entitled "Oda al Caldillo de Congrio" (ode to eel soup). Click the link to read the poem as well as the translation into english.

The soup was warm, comforting, nurturing, as if one of the most flavorful sea creatures of ocean decided to have a pool party and invited some vegetables to join in as well. My introduction to this Chilean favorite was time perfectly as fall turned to winter here in South America and I needed something to both warm my body and soul....

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Grubs, Guinea Pigs, Goats and Sexy Cerviche

Lima is no doubt one of the gastronomic capitals of the world.  In my embracement of all life had to offer, I knew that I would be kicking myself the rest of my life if I didn't take at least one cooking class.  A great plus is that you can have a cooking class combined with a market tour and I wasn't about to pass up that opportunity. So I signed up for both and soon found myself in the middle of Surquillo Market in Lima.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Catching a Caiman 101

The Caiman's eyes almost seemed to glow more brilliantly than the flashlights we had brought along to navigate the river in the dark. I had just arrived at the lodge but traveling the entire day hadn't dampened the spirit of adventure one bit. When the guide assigned to me asked if I would like to go on a hunt for Caimans I responded "YES" enthusiastically. It was dark so we would be taking a motorized speedboat down a mosquito riddled river to search for the elusive Caiman.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Walking Dead: Skyfall

In Buenos Aires, american fast food chains aren't the only import from the northern hemisphere that has taken off. Popular american t.v. shows like "The Big Bang Theory" or "The Simpsons" have been a hit with Argentines. One of the shows that the city is crazy for is "The Walking Dead". For those of you who don't know, it is about the story of Rick Grimes, an officer who was shot while on duty and wakes up in a coma 9 mths later to find that the zombie apocalypse has happened. The series follows him and a group of survivors as they attempt to make their way in a world overrun by zombies.

All of us who are preparing for the zombie apocalypse (which means the rest of you all are SCREWED) know that there are two things that get their attention.....noise and the sight or smell of living flesh. The smell of fresh living flesh stirs up a frenzy as a mass swarm of zombies descend on whatever unfortunate living creature happens to be around for their version of "brunch"

But the real phenomenon is that this zombie-like behavior seems to manifest amongst Argentines in certain circumstances. Argentines have certain things that seems to trigger off this zombie-like behavior. One of these has been at the sight of american USD. Argentines have been known to descend on the carrier of american greenbacks accompanied by zombi-sh noises that when properly translated almost sounds like the offer of a trade from the ailing Argentine peso.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Ghoulish Amazon Encounter

While on my way to do canopy ziplining,  I had an encounter with the most ghoulish forest creature of my trip. It is called a Plant Hopper and there is no doubt in my mind that this odd insect would do very well in a vampire or zombie flick. If you think that the sight of this sends chills down your spine then check out this article by National Geographic that features  7 Demonic Creatures  But as freaky as that insect was, what was twice as fun and freaky was flying through the air over 40 meters above the forest floor.....

Monday, September 30, 2013

Coca Leaves, Canyons and Condors

In July I found myself on a journey deep into the amazon jungle.  But little did I know that 2 months later I would find myself on another journey, this time deep into one of the largest canyons in the world, the Colca Canyon.  Along the way we stumbled across packs of Alpacas feeding together.

Not to mention sucking on candies laced with coca , drinking tea made with coca leaves and the height of it all chewing on coca leaves themselves to deal with altitude sickness

But every minute of that long bumpy ride up and down winding roads was well worth it when we finally reached Colca Lodge. In this stunning photo of the Canyon if you look carefully off to the side and see a red building nestled in the Canyon, that is the hotel.


When you book a tour you have the opportunity to book the type of accomodation you would like. Colca Lodge is the most upscale of all of them but there are things that you cannot put a price on. It is the only one of the accomodations that are located in the Canyon itself. It has private thermal spas made from all natural hot springs free of charge for guests.  In addition to that at the lodge you experience the sun rising and setting and witness the Canyon coming to life. 

After one unforgetable night at the Lodge, my tour operator picked me up bright and early around 7am to do more touring of the Canyon. There were many breathtaking sights and pictures that I took but the climax of it all was watching soaring condors. 

There is so much more than I saw that I cannot possibly fit into one blog so here are links to my album  for the city of Arequipa   Arequipa Album

as well here is the link to my album of my 2 day one nite stay in Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon Album

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Peruvian Comfort Food: Chupe de Camerones

During the first wk of september I paid a visit to a city in Southern Peru called Arequipa. I know that when the average person thinks of Peru they think of Macchu Picchu. But Arequipa with its eternal sun, rich gastronomic scene, horseback riding and river rafting is one of Peru's premier destinations as well.

Being one of the country's gastronomic capitals, I simply could not resist instagraming my food findings. Most people wouldn't know what to expect since Arequipa is not highly marketed as a destination. So it was interesting to see the reactions I got from people over different pics of foods.

Out of all the food pics I took this one got the most reaction on all my social networks fb twitter instagram. Since so much interested seems to be generated in it I've decided to highlight this dish known as "Chupe de Camerones" literally translated "To Suck Shrimp"

Monday, September 02, 2013

Soul Searching in the Shack of a Shaman

Above my head billowed smoke from black tobacco that the shaman was smoking while he was chanting and waving a dried plant to spread the smoke. I kept my eyes closed and relaxed like I was supposed to, taking in every moment here in the hut of the local village Shaman. One month ago the last place I would have ever imagined ending up was in the home of a medicine man having him sing and chant over me while wearing the head band. I wasn't the only one going through the ritual, another family had come with me. The organisation has a good relationships with the village people and can arrange groups to have a session with the village shaman if they wanted.

For me, the amazon isn't just about the animals, it was about the people. And I wouldn't have felt my trip was complete unless I come away with greater understanding of native life. The shaman had greeted us and welcome us into his humble home. When we were settled, he disappeared into the back room for a moment and reappeared wearing a headband and plastic bottles that seemed to contain herbs, liquid, plants. He also brought along some other utensils as well. He greeted us in his native language of Quechua to let us know we are welcome guests in his home. Then he proceeded to introduce more of himself in spanish and talked about what he does and becoming a Shaman.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mingling With a Black Market Monkey

The black market maybe something we only see or hear about in movies, t.v., or books but the reality is that it is still very much alive and is one of the greatest dangers to the jungle communities. Amazonia Expeditions has actually two lodges within 45 mins of each other by speedboat. One one is the main lodge and the other is a research centre. For the first two days of my stay I spent it at the research centre and then switched and spent the remainder of my days at the main lodge.

 When we arrived by speedboat, my room was still being prepared so I waited around and took photos and scouted out the surroundings. I came across a beautiful Macaw. But lovely as the creature is, there was only one problem.....Macaws should be in the jungle. While travelling on speedboat i often saw two of them flying together. This is because Macaws mate for life so where you see one you'll often see their partner.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Featured Photo: Can You Spot the Bats in the Tree?

Can you spot the bats in the tree?

No? Look again


hint: Those funny looking bumps on the tree aren't really bumps.....

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Jungle Lodge

Life at a jungle lodge is far different than any type of accommodation you could ever experience. In reality there are tons of jungle lodges not just in Iquito Peru but in Brazil and anywhere that the amazon river extends to. I made my trip with Amazonia Expeditions. Looking back, coming to the Amazon was one of the best decisions of my life and choosing to have them host me was an excellent decision. My trip went way beyond just swinging on canopy zip lines and fishing for piranhas, I learned a way of life that only the jungle and its inhabitants could have taught me.In this post I want to highlight some crazy aspects that are a part of daily life at a jungle lodge.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hunting for the Elusive Poison Dart Frogs

All my life I have heard about the amazing diversity of the amazon jungle but nothing on this earth could have prepared me for the level of diversity within the forest jungles. There are many excursions you can go on depending on your needs and preferences, likes or goals. Among the millions of options available, one of the excursions is to go searching for Poison Dart Frogs. Up until now I had only seen them on the discovery channel.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pecked by a Peeved Piranha

"Look at the teeth" the guide said holding the piranha we had just caught to me. We had spent the morning floating down the river in a motorized speedboat. I was experiencing an activity that was a source of food to the tens of thousands of people that made up the rain forest communities, fishing. My guides had informed me that early morning is the best time for catching fish and seeing animals because that is the time that the animals are out and about searching for food. As the day goes on, they tend to head for territory with shade, decreasing chances of spotting any animals or catching any fish. Up until then, the only time I had ever seen a Piranha was on the discovery channel. But as luck would have it, not only would I have my first close encounter with a piranha but unbeknownst to me before the end of the day I would witness first hand the power of a piranha's punch.

 I don't know what was going through my head, maybe its because I never fished before and it didn't occur to me that the fish was dead or anywhere close to dead. As the guide held the fish out to show me the powerful jaws and teeth, curiosity overwhelmed me and I reached out my finger to feel the piranhas razor sharp teeth. The moment that the piranha felt something touch its teeth it immediately clamped down onto my tender unexpecting finger. And I can honestly say that my curiosity to what the teeth of a piranha were like were more than satisfied as blood began to ooze out of the fresh wound.

The guides wasted no time in throwing the piranha back into the river and getting out tissue and hand sanitizer from the first aid kit in the motorised speedboat. They didn't even flinch or panic at the site of me wounded and bleeding. It almost seemed routine to them and I soon found out that this was because piranha bites weren't uncommon.

In fact, when someone is attempting to reel in a piranha that they've caught, they have a special way of getting the hook out of the mouth. One has to use your thumb and forefinger to press on each side of the cheek/jaw area at the same time to make the piranha's mouth open. They cannot stick their finger inside the mouth to remove the hook. Once the mouth is open only then can they carefully remove the hook out. And I was told that in some cases the piranha is so incredibly aggressive that they cannot get their hand anywhere close to the mouth, the hook has to be removed with a plier.

 Just to demonstrate the power of a piranha bite, I'll let you know that it took about 30 mins for the bleeding to be able to slow down. We continued floating down the river catching fish without further adieu and each minute found myself learning more about the ways of the jungle. As it turns out, towards the surface smaller piranhas and deeper in the water are larger piranhas. The smaller piranhas are the ones that are intelligent because they will pick away at the bait without getting hooked. It was the piranhas down deeper that were not so intelligent and are more prone to greedily gobbling up the bait hook and all.

We arrived back at the lodge with 8 fish and a 9th being a piranha. For lunch they cooked out catch and made fish soup for everyone and the piranha was handed to me fried on a plate. Having been bitten earlier by a piranha, I felt like I was getting back at it by having another piranha served to me on a plate. Revenge never tasted so sweet…..

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cold Showers and Pink Dolphins

Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho,...
Dolphin-red, the pink dolphin - Boto-vermelho, Boto Cor de Rosa (Photo credit: josé hilton)

The world of travel is incredibly diverse and there are a million places to go and a ton of things to do in each and everyone of them. In addition to that, you'll hear hundreds of opinions on where you should go and what people consider "fun". And the really great part is that nobody is actually wrong in what they think is a good place to go and their idea of fun. But the most important thing is to know who YOU are and what fits with your mind, body, soul, likes, and budget. That can get ultra challenging when you are reading glowing reviews about 100 different places and what a great time someone else had.

Then there is what I call "traveler's intuition". It happens once in awhile when I hear or read about a place and something jumps within me and I just know I'm meant to be there and have that experience. On this particular occasion I was reading up on places to go in Peru. I was browsing through a list of popular cities and things to do in each one of them. Then I came to a place called Iquitos, right in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest.  A city filled with amazon river tours and jungle lodges that serve as accomodation.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Lapis Lazuli Love


One of the things that I highly value as a traveller is acquiring souvenirs that both benefit local businesses and enlighten me about the culture and country that I am visiting. A few days before taking off from Buenos Aires and heading to Santiago, I stumbled across a great article on the internet entitled "Souvenirs from Chile"  The article proved invaluable to me in helping me not fall into the trap of spending my money on high priced touristic souvenirs.

I ended up buying a couple of things from the list of things the article suggested. Pablo Neruda memorabilia (in my case a souvenir mug), a copper pan almost exactly like picture of the one featured in the article, and last but definitely not least this beautiful Lapis Lazuli pendant.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Near Catastrophe on the Island of Chiloe

Magellanic penguins
Magellanic penguins (Photo credit: lexusinabasket)

Dripping wet I hesitatingly walked through the big wooden doors of what looked to be someone's vacation home. Once inside, I was greeted warmly by the owner of Hostal Lluhay, the place that would be my home for the next week. Like every seasoned traveller out there, how I ended up here was story of travel plans gone amuck.  It was my near catastrophe on the island of Chiloe

I had heard and read many glowing reviews about the Archipelago islands of Chiloe and they made it to the list of some "must see destinations".  It also benefited me to read the experiences of people like Stephanie aka "The Travel Chica" who wrote this blog  "Slowing Down in Chiloe"  If you wish to see pics of Chiloe, reading her blog would your best resources because I didn't have the skill and resources to take pics that would have done Chiloe any justice.

Curanto (Photo credit: Lisa de Vreede)

Chiloe has a very different history than the rest of Chile. It is the only place that didn't go through colonization. You can see, feel, taste the difference just looking at the architecture and tasting the food like Curanto, a mix of mussels, clams, and different meats. It used to be cooked by hot stones underground but nowadays restaurants recreate the meal using pots in the kitchen

Monday, June 17, 2013

Getting Nude on a Beach that Isn't a Nude Beach

"DOWN" screamed the surf instructor at the top of his lungs. I quickly obeyed without hesitation  and dove under the water and thus swimming under the wave. On the beach he had prepped me properly and told me that no matter what happens I was gonna be OK. He's got everything under control and everything would be fine as long as I heeded to a few simple instructions. One of them being that if he every gave the word "DOWN" it meant i had to dive and swim underneath the water immediately. Sounds simple but in reality when you are out there you only have a split second to respond before the wave overtakes you.

 I had always joked about going combo on a beach but as it turns out, that is exactly what I would have to do. Change my clothing discreetly but I was in broad daylight nevertheless. This was because the Chilean sea has been and always will be very cold. You can chuck all your images of tanned bodies in bathing suits catching the surf. Here in Pichilemu if you wish to surf you'll be spending at least 15-20 mins trying to get into a wetsuit on a public beach area. Yup, I was getting nude on a beach that isn't a nude beach.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mucho Ado About Nothing in Pichilemu's Big Wave Competition 2013

Much Ado about nothing. That would be the best way to describe the Big Wave surf competitions. Or better said, the competitions that never were. After leaving Viña del Mar, I found myself at the other end of Chile in a surf town called "Pichilemu". Punto de Lobos is a famous spot where people come all over the world to brave the massive waves.  Waves known to be as high as 7 meters.  Waves this size were desirable for competitions on an international level.

The organizers of the event were working with the very best technology and experts to predict when the next massive swell. Based upon the forecast, the event was given the go ahead to happen.  It was scheduled for 9-5 June 4th.  I got to the beach around 11:30 where a crowd from all over the world had gathered. Still no sign of waves. The announce started to get on the megaphone telling people sorry for the inconvenience but they are still waiting for decent sized waves to show up.  So the crowd kept waiting and wandering around.

Monday, June 03, 2013

A Story for Tomorrow

a story for tomorrow. from gnarly bay productions, Inc. on Vimeo.

Cross-cultural relationships can be without doubt one of the most challenging type of relationships there is. Different languages, different cultures, different times one must wonder why anyone would take on someone who has a completely different language and culture and forsake the ease of going with someone more familiar in your own culture.

The joy of a cross-cultural relationship is that there are actually major benefits and gems to be discovered that you won't have with someone in your own culture. Problems are abound to arise whether you're in a relationship with someone from your own culture or a foreign culture. But where the draw of a cross-cultural relationship is that you won't have the same type of problems that you would have with a member of your own culture. You will have problems but it will be different type of problems.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Close Brush with Horse Steak

The early bird catches the worm. I would learn the full meaning of that as I was strolling through downtown Santiago towards the presidential palace, right in time for the changing of the guards. I had read about the event of trip advisor, that it happens around 10am on some days.  And that day happened to be my lucky day. To my delight I was able to capture a portion of the ceremony on video.

As you'll see in the video, there are white fences all around. Normally non-diplomats cannot get beyond the white fences. But for the changing of the guard they allow tourist and visitors to be on the front lawns to witness the ceremony. After the ceremony we were all politely ushered off the lawns. I feel really privileged to be able to have gotten as close to the presidential place as I was able to that day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Encounter with the Andes

Coming from North American society we are instilled with the idea that faster is better. And in the world of travel, for the most part it is true. If one can cut their travel time in half, then why not?  However there are times when there are hidden gems to be discovered if you are willing to take a slower unconventional path. Like taking a bus from Buenos Aires to Chile instead of flying into Santiago. It may have been a 20 hr ride but that bus ticket gave me a front row seat to see the famed Andes mountain range.

The bus starts from Buenos Aires and then goes to Mendoza Argentina. From Mendoza, the coach takes you directly through the middle of the Andes mountains.   I have heard that the Andes mountains is very diverse but I didn't realize how diverse it was until I sat there glue to the seat my eyes fixated as the sights flashing before my eyes.

The landscape literally changes about every 10 mins. It would go from massive rock formations to seeing snow capped mountains and then to lakes and rivers. The scenery would go from crevices to jagged edges in the blink of an eye.  There is nothing like it in the world.  Seeing the Andes upclose was better than any onboard movie you could ever watch....

Click here to view the full album:

Andes Mountain pics

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Monday, May 13, 2013

From One Small Step to One Giant Leap

I've mentioned in previous post the increasing difficulty of living in Buenos Aires due to radical changes that took place after Cristina Fernandez Kirchner was re-elected.  Within the past yr and a half the abuse of political power, inflation, peso devaluation resulted in a large exodus of expats from the country back to their homelands or other places in the world.

Life here is like hanging onto a mechanical bull. The one where you have to cling on to it for dear life as it gets faster and faster until you get flung off involuntarily or you choose to hang your hat and surrender to force of gravity. For many expats, it was a combination of both. They voluntarily left simply because they knew if they were on the verge of being flung off.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Inner Beauty....Outer Beauty and Everything in Between

Luisana Lopilato @ Ele Multiespacio
Luisana Lopilato @ Ele Multiespacio (Photo credit: Bruno Belcastro)

While spending time at the house of my friend on New Years day, an interesting conversation burst forth about weight, clothes, and what beauty means in different cultures.  My friend was born with dark hair, and like me she has a belly, a bust, and a roundish face.  She is the farthest thing from the stereotyped idea of what Argentine women look like.

And she has the same problem as me here in this culture buying clothing is a nightmare for her. Most clothing shops have clothes for sizes 2-6. Recently the gov't passed a law saying that all clothing shops are supposed to carry a variety of sizes. But walking into any one of those clothing shops and you'll realize that the law and its impact is one big joke.  Katie Alley of Seashells and Sunflowers tackles this subject on this article she wrote on her blog:  On Being Fat in Argentina

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Serpentine Saga Continues: Finding Love in A Hopeless Place

At one point in my journey of trying to understand the Argentine Serpentine, I stumbled upon a revelation that would change the course of how I viewed her actions forever. Previously I had been under the presumption that it was just her and she's like that. However as I started delving deeper, reading blogs and articles, having chats with other foreigners it started to appear that many of the experiences I've had with her are typical of what many others have had with Argentines.

Through trial and error, I am discovering that the value system of Argentine society is entirely different that the North American value system. In Argentina people are very friendly and open when you encounter them but whether they are trustworthy is an entirely different story. Whereas in North America people aren't taught to be open to people they don't know and we are a little closed off at first encounter. But once people break into our worlds alot of us are taught to value our relationships.

I kept hearing over and over again the theme that foreigners here were having a hard time making Argentine friends, even having lived here for years some of them have only one person they would say is a friend. In addition to that, I heard it said that even Argentine women have difficulty finding good girlfriends. There is something in the culture that seems to block foreigners from entering into the world of many Argentines as well as making it difficult for Argentines to form genuine life long relationships.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Searching for Shameless Shawarmas

Living abroad has changed me in ways that I cannot even begin to articulate as a writer even with the best of words. It would take volumes and volumes of books to describe the ways life in a foreign country has pushed me to be the best i can be. But for today I can definitely enlighten you to one way that light has been brought to my life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Trendy Temakeria: Yoobi Sushi

Life in a third world country no doubt takes its toll and when the opportunity opened up for me to vacation in London in Nov 2012, I welcomed it with open arms. Being the adventurous travel writer I am, I made it my goal to find a place off the beaten path that I could write about for others to discover.

Yoobi is a trendy temakeria located on a quiet corner on Lexington St. downtown London.  The concept is serving sushi in cones with the taste of Brazillian - Japanese fushion.  After reading multiple reviews I dived headfirst into the spicy tuna roll and the tuna tartare.  These are the tuna rolls featured in the pic above (tuna tartare on the left and spicy tuna on the right).

Both were excellent and left my tastebuds exploding. I shared the spicy tuna roll with my companions and they each took a bite and thought it was a unique combination of flavors. The spicy tuna has a mix of things you would find in a traditional sushi roll along with some ingrediants you wouldn't normally associate with sushi like croutons.

Yet even with the odd pairing of ingrediants the combination of flavors somehow magically all work out in the end, resulting in an orgasmic explosion that you mouth will remember the rest of your vacay.......

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Monday, April 08, 2013

How to Become a Snake Charmer 101: Dating an Argentine Serpentine

Argentine women are reputed to be exotic fembots. Ethereal, enticing, exquisite femme fatales who leave men drooling out the sidewalk. Everywhere these women go the sound of piropos (catcalls) filled the air. In our North American society, catcalls are what you associate with dirty mouth construction workers with no class basically degrading female that walk by. But in Argentina, depending on how a piropo is done is can be a great compliment to a woman's beauty.  It is one of those things that are a matter of debate to whether piropos are uplifting or degrading.

Not all women in this country fit the stereotype of the Argentine femme fatale but there is definitely a subsector of women in this country that still fall into that category.  The Argentine Serpentine fits under the stereotype of having drop-dead gorgeous model like features. 

However, procuring a goddess comes with a hefty pricetag........that being the cost of your soul. As Divas they demand nothing less than divine treatment from those they have bewitched. In the past I have written blogs on cross-cultural relationships. This blog is about cross-cultural dating and things you should know about your Argentine fembot. You may find her ravishing but the relationship will leave you ravished if you aren't careful and take time to learn the cultural differences between the both of you.

Monday, April 01, 2013


It was just a couple of years ago where the teaching of "The Secret" was released and part of that movement was all about perspective. Perspective is EVERYTHING especially if you are living in Buenos Aires. This is a country where the prices are going up weekly. If one develops a negative perspective to things, pretty soon all that you'll start to see or take notice of is signs on stores indicating weekly inflation. You'll start to notice in cafés that the price is going up and the quality is going down. Every where you'll walk, that's all you'll start to see.

However in Buenos Aires if you choose to have a positive perspective, it will make all the difference in your stay. You'll start to stumble upon places that offer you a great exchange rate.  Suddenly your eyes will spot signs with prices with special discounts that are lower than anything you've seen. Destiny will happen and you'll find yourself meeting people and coming into their lives just when they needed it or perhaps you needed it.

Choosing my perspective early on was crucial to my survival, especially when I landed in the country for the third time and all of a sudden things changed rapidly and Argentina soon started to become Argenzuela. For those of you who don't understand.......Venezuela is run by a dictatorship. Argentina was more of a democracy but during my third trip things started to spiral out of control and tension filled the air as Argentina started to resemble somewhat of a facist state. Thus the term "Argenzuela" was born....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Háva nagíla (Come Let's Dance)

Being Canadian I grew up being accustomed to there being about 9 public holidays. I always saw public holidays as a treat and an opportunity for refreshment.  Living in Argentina, that number jumped from 9 to 19 public holidays a year that included 7 long weekends. In fact there is a law that states that there has to be one long weekend per month.

What does this mean for all of us?  It means alot less money for those who work (because its unpaid) and alot more brunching and lazing around.  But the ridiculous amount of unpaid public holidays means that there is less money to go brunching and holidaying each public holiday and long weekend.  For example, this week we are gonna have a record number of days off.....6 consecutive days to be exact.

It works out that thursday and friday are part of semana santa (holy week), where Jesus's arrival into Jerusalem on a donkey is celebrated. Saturday and Sunday of course is the weekend where only a few work. Tuesday April 2nd is a veteran's day holiday to commemorate the war of the Faulkland's Islands War. And the gov't didn't want to interrupt all the reveling and partying so they decided to make April 1st a holiday as well so that we can down bloody marys and cure our hangovers.

The video above is an epic orchestra performance of "Hava Nagila" by Andre Rieu. For those of you aren't jewish, Hava Nagila is a Jewish traditional folksong that came out of eastern Europe. The melody's popularity caught on and it is played at a majority of jewish festivities such as weddings, bar mitzvahs and religious holidays.

Lyrics and meaning of the song translate to this:

HAVA NAGILA (Original Hebrew Lyrics)

Háva nagíla, háva nagíla,
Háva nagíla, venismechá.
Háva nagíla, háva nagíla,
Háva nagíla, venismechá.
Háva neránena, háva neránena,
Háva neránena, venismechá.
Háva neránena, háva neránena,
Háva neránena, venismechá.
Úru, úru, achím,
Úru, achím, belév saméach.
Úru, achím, belév saméach.
Úru, achím, belév saméach.
Úru, achím, belév saméach.
Úru, achím,
Úru, achím, belév saméach.

HAVA NAGILA (Literal English Translation)

Come let’s dance, come let’s dance,
Come let’s dance, and be merry!
Come let’s dance, come let’s dance,
Come let’s dance, and be merry!
Come let’s whirl, come let’s whirl,
Come let’s whirl, and be merry!
Come let’s whirl, come let’s whirl,
Come let’s whirl, and be merry!
Rise, rise, brothers!
Rise, brothers, with a glad heart.
Rise, brothers, with a glad heart.
Rise, brothers, with a glad heart.
Rise, brothers, with a glad heart.
Rise, brothers!
Rise, brothers, with a glad heart.

Whether you are celebrating passover, awaiting the easter bunny or attempting to sit through a drawn out 6 day public holiday, Hava Nagila is a great anthem to carry with you through whatever festivities you may be participating in :D

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Gorging at Ganaché & Pasterleria

One of the greatest joys of travel that is both mysterious and delightful is how a moment can go from mundane to marvelous in the blink of an eye. For us expats, the mundane would be our 3 mth Colonia, Uruguay run that we have to do to renew our passports to be able to stay another 6 mths in Argentina. What used to be a 300 peso ($75 USD) run has now turned into a 600 peso run ($150) for a daytrip to Uruguay.

Going across the waters may sound like fun but to those of us who have done it multiple times know that Colonia, Uruguay loses its spark and magic after your first trip there and you realize that you've seen all there is to see in 3 hrs. But for me, the discovery of a new place there turn what I thought would be a mundane into a marvelous afternoon.

Before going on my little excursion, I checked out tripadvisor to find out if by chance there were any places worth checking out that would make my afternoon in Uruguay more interesting. Ganaché Cafe & Pasteleria came up as the number one recommended spot and after reading a ton of great reviews I decided to give it a go.

Sometimes a place is nothing like what people describe it as, sometimes a place is exactly what peopel describe it as. I would say that the café was BETTER than anything words could have ever described.  It felt like walking into the livingroom of someone's house that had artistic decor.  Soft music constantly flowed throughout the space and there were tables and couches dotted all over the room with an open window to let sunlight stream in.

Perhaps what made the place truly beautiful was the people. They welcomed me warmly and soon I found myself set up with an iced coffee with a touch of baileys and a ganache cake.  The owners encouraged me to just sit and take my time, there was no rush to eat and then pay and take off. It appears that the place is family run and the cafe is actually in the front part of their home.

 At one point while I was eating and chillaxing, a girl brought out a puzzle game and showed me how to play it. It was one of those old puzzle games made of wood that involves thinking and strategy. She told me to play it and when I've figured out the puzzle, let her know. I sat amusing myself with the game and within a few minutes had won the challenge. I called out and let them know I had figured it out. Another lady, one of the owners brought out a free cookie for me and told me this was my prize.

There are places, people, and experiences that leave something to be desired. And then there are places, people, and experiences that leave you with the desire for more of that. This was one of them.  The good food, warmth, hospitality, laughter, chatter made 90 mins in Colonia, Uruguay fly by.  Buenos Aires can be an incredibly cold and inhospitable city to live in at times so the joy of new places and new faces served as a wonderful respite from the city of fury.

With the presence of places like Ganache Café & Pasteleria, taking a one day excursion to Uruguay to renew my passport has never been more enjoyable :)

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Monday, March 11, 2013

"Cacerolazos", Cacophony & Community

Last week I did a blogpost around the theme of the spanish word "Solidaridad" meaning "kinship" or "fellowship" Solidaridad is something that can happen to you spontaneously but when you are abroad there are little things you can do to create a sense of community and rapport.  A few things happened in Buenos Aires that increased the tension of living in the city. The government began putting restrictions on the influx of foreign cash particularly american dollars.

To make a long story short, you can change your foreign cash into pesos but you cannot change your pesos into foreign cash. A desperation for USD began to develop. And it was in that moment that I found out what a "Cacerolazo" was. A "Cacerolazo" is when Argentines take pots and pans from their home and take to the streets banging them in a peaceful protest.  Understand that Argentines aren't the stereotype of what you imagine Latin American countries where they get violent. No, they don't get violent..........they get NOISY.

Monday, March 04, 2013

And My Favorite Word in Spanish is .......SOLIDARIDAD

Todays blog has been brought to you by the letter "S". "S" as in "Solidaridad", my favorite word in the whole spanish language.  There aren't many words in the spanish language that carry a weight or sentiment behind them the way there is in english but this is one of them.  "Solidaridad" would be equivalent to english for "kinship" or "fellowship. And that is exactly what I got a sense of one fine day when two other girls and I took a day trip to the barrio of La Boca.

La Boca is one of those neighbourhoods that you visit once just so you can say you've been there. It is an important part of Buenos Aires history because it is the first place where the early italian immigrants settled in their endeavors to start a new life. They left colorful buildings, beautiful murals, and artwork all over the barrio. However mass marketing soon arrived on the scene and La Boca has become the ultimate tourist trap. My recommendation is to only go there if you have time to kill.

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas