Sunday, August 19, 2007

Greener Grass

The most oft posed question is "Why in the world would you move here from the US????" Argentines look at us wide eyed and incredulous when we say we are living here, making a life here not just passing by for a month to sample the empanadas and Malbecs. The 2001 economic crisis is still quite fresh in people's memory. I've been told by more than a few locals that the majority of Argentines long to move to the US ("land of opportunity" just like the too dulce sweet commercials promise). They have a cynical view of opportunities in their own country after having been robbed, fooled and lied to by the government over the years. Almost weekly the lead article in the local paper "La Nation" laments true inflation levels vs. the laughably low numbers released by government statisticians. You'd only have to be here a week or two to see how quickly the cost of basic food items can and is doubling in some cases. We paid rent on a few weeks ago and for the first time in four months the apt owner wanted US dollars not argentine pesos. At the bank that day there was a long line of locals exchanging pesos for dollars. Hoarding what they believe to be a safer more reliably currency. I'm sure some know the truth. That the strength of the US dollar, despite inflation, provides a much better quality of life for us - even if not for them. Some days I feel guilty about it, most days just grateful.

Very interesting whats going on with the markets in the states these past few weeks. Thanks to my Series 7 classes I have a better clue in to the house of cards affect of mortgage backed securities and the like. Could never happen here as mortgages don't exist. Yep, all real estate transactions are 100% cash. Interesting thing about dealing in cash is that it really strips away the facade of economic status. In the states, a grade school teacher and an investment banker could be living in the same neighborhood courtesy of fancy financing. Here, if you buy an apt in Recoleta - everyone knows you have more than $100,000 cash to spend on your housing. You're not teacher or even a lawyer or banker (unless you come from a family that already had a lot of money). Revealing in a way thats a bit too close for comfort. Do I really want everyone I meet here to have a peek at the Alexander family balance sheet? We are considering our options again as our apt lease is up end of Sept. Whether to rent another six months and see what happens with real estate market post presidential election in October (most think the current presidents wife Christina Kirchner will win easily) or settle in now? If we settle in, do we buy in a more middle class neighborhood to fit in with people our age and educational background or live in one of the ritzy neighborhoods with other expats and the wealthy argentine families we frankly have little in common with...

Monday, August 13, 2007

More pix of B-day weeked

B-day at La Candelaria

Utta ate horse poo. Luckily she barfed it back up within seconds. Other than that minor incident, my birthday weekend at La Candelaria estancia was a perfect 10. The most childlike pee in your pants laughing kind of fun I've had in a long time. Drove two hours with friends Brad and Laura sat morning, arrived in time for a meaty lunch, then rode horses - galloped through the polo field and the foresty grounds of the estate, sipped mate by the fireplace, played Jenga (Brad taught us the word actually means to build in Swahili - one of many facinating facts shared of his years in the peace corps) Sunday morning went out again. Let's just say my "culo" aka hiney is more than a tad bit tender today. Galloping is thrilling. Trotting is just darn painful but I giggled and screeched with delight anyway. After horseys, we rode bikes and went on long walks with Utta. Introduced her to cows. Leisurely meals with homemade everything, asados and Malbec wine. Our first weekend out of the city in 5 months had us both wondering....what the hell took us so long? Rested and ready to take on the second half of this decade with verve.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Animals amuse

Honestly there's not much to say about this but the cows needed airtime on the blog. we went to La Rural last weekend here in BA. Its like a ginormous state fair plus tractor trailer expo plus wine and food tasting. It was fun just to be around all these animals, especially for a city girl like me - more diverse than the zoo and you could get a lot closer too. sorry mom - i know you love the piggies but the camera ran out of juice. they were doing their piggy things, snorting and sleeping. At the end of the "show", all of the animals get auctioned off. One taxi driver said the best cows go for $15k a piece! look how fluffy the sheep are (:

expression of the month

ok - am learning new and useful spanish expressions all the time - "tengo que ir" aka "gotta go" - the always useful..."me iritas" aka "you irritate me" and the unfortunately necessary...."se me ve gorda" aka "this makes me look fat". My most recent favorite I learned from Martin my running coach and he assures me its used all the time so I'm going to try it out tomorrow on the doorman or an unsuspecting neighbor. The expression is "Peor es casarse" which means "what's even worse than that is being married!" hahahahahahahah i can already imagine how easily this can be inserted into conversations....inflation is terrible isn't it? si, pero "peor es casarse!" you got robbed yesterday, too bad. yeah well, "peor es casarse". Its so optimistic in a kind of back handed insulty way. yep, my favorite.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Friends Brad and Laura came over for dinner sat nite and brought necessary supplies for cupcake baking. so fun! Brad is an excellent baker - we've already sampled his chocolate chip cookies so i knew cupcakes would be a treat as well. I've met more than a few expats with the idea of bringing NYC's Magnolia bakery type cupcakes to BA. They don't exist here - like cookies and coffee to go. Argentines love their sweets so can imagine they'd be a hit - but how to make a profit on something that sells for less than a US dollar....hmmm And speaking of the money - inflation is getting worse and worse. No one knows the true stats (as the govt releases fake #s) but most analysts peg it at about 20%. yes, things are getting interesting. my friend Laura's company is getting ready to lay people off because their expenses are cutting into profits too much. a friend from my running group who works for a call center said this week that they've started laying people off at her company too. she had this look on her face that read "here we go again". my grocery bill is noticeably higher every week for the same things. where this goes....? am glad we have our pennies in the good ole USA for now.

saying good bye

I said good bye to my friend Anne Marie today. Tomorrow she flies back home to Florida after 8 months in BA. She may return in October as she is trying to make it work with the on again off again Argentino boyfriend Pedro. He is going to Florida in two weeks to look for a job. If he can't find one then she is going to move back here to be with him and see if she can't find work here. will be interesting to see what happens. what's easier, making a new life in the US or Argentina? earn more in the states but live better here?