Get Ready to Sweat

I am happy to announce that Buenos Aires is in full bloom! This was a strange winter for me. My first without snow, and while Buenos isn’t particularly “grey” it was a lot greyer (wait gray vs grey. . .) than what I am accustomed to having lived in both Colorado and New Mexico. But, the tempts are rising, along with the humidity levels, and as I mentioned in my previous post – at first glance this city doesn’t come across as a healthy one. But, then you look at the people, and you rarely see a fat person here. Everyone, for the most part, is fit and fine. It is safe to say Argentinos take beauty, fitness, and their well-being very seriously – to quote my girl Flor – “all women do here is squat, because they know that at some point they are going to be showing their asses”. It’s true, have you seen the bikinis? Don’t be shy ladies, embrace the tanga and let your cheeks get some, I am assuming, much needed sunshine.

While I have been pretty dedicated to eating well and my yoga practice, I have not been so dedicated to cardio. I love to run, but for some reason I can’t get the motivation in the mornings, mostly because my iPod was stolen, waaaaa. Anyway, I could feel it in my bones – the need to be active – to move – to work my muscles. Soooo luckily a friend of a friend teaches Crossfit here with Vitruvian. The best part, the classes are super affordable! 30p a session and 250p for the month!!! Not motivated? Think of it this way – you can eat 4 empanadas – orrrr you can get a work out in. . . . just saying. With that logic, Flor and I got off our asses and made our way to our first Crossfit class last week. There was a time in my life when I worked out religiously – but it’s safe to say it’s been at least 2 years since then. Were we super intimidated? You know it. Was it hard? Let’s put it this way, their motto is, “look good naked”, and after that workout I have a feeling we are well on our way ;). I do love a good ass kicking so, Bring. It. On.

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Carne, Verduras, and Everything In Between

I realize I have talked some big talk about loving food on here, but there is little content dedicated to food. How that’s possible, I have no idea. It’s not fair – to me, to you – to the food!

I think everyone’s first reaction to the food here (aside from how amazing the beef is – because everyone knows that) is – “it’s so hard to eat healthy here.” Yup, those very words came out of not only mine, but every other extranjero’s mouth. At a glance this attitude is easy to understand, you have heladerias every 10 feet, and restaurant menus seem to mainly consist of – carne, queso, empanadas, pizza, and or pasta.

Eating here can also be an adjustment as the food isn’t that diverse, it’s delicious, yeah, but diverse? No. Argentine cuisine is infamous for not using spices and don’t even think about getting anything picante (spicy), I am serious. For a Mexican girl like me, this has been difficult. And due to the ridiculous restrictions on imported goods, it can be hard to find your favorite chili sauces, herbs, spices etc. And when you do find them, they are insanely overpriced.

Now, the majority of my money goes to food, in my opinion, it’s money well spent, and while I tend to eat out often (shh) I have to say that since moving here I have seriously stepped up my cooking game! I have always loved to bake, but cooking is a different breed. I am a slight control freak, and with cooking you to have to learn to let go. But, the teacher of desire has pushed me to take a step back, relax, and let go en la cocina. I I have noticed that in cooking here, I have really cut back on carbs, processed foods and sugar. OK, not sugar. I’m sorry the helado is too good.

The key to cooking, and eating, here is knowing where to go. Once you know what is going on when it comes to where to shop and what to ask for etc. you will find that there is a lot of room to be creative, and yes, healthy here. Thanks to the verdulerias on every block you can count on fresh seasonal produce -WINN! Some neighborhoods offer a better selection than others and if you can find one owned by Bolivians, you are in luck, as they always have cilantro and jalapenos.

I always avoid “the chino”, Asain owned supermercados (fyi all Asians are referred to as “Chino” here – just the way it is, ask my Vietnamese friend). Why? Their selections are limited and often overpriced. On that note, if you want to splurge on imported goods, Barrio Chino, albeit far, is your one stop shop for imported goods. But, it’s not your only option. There is a great little health food store off of Anchorena and Santa Fe that carries Sriracha, Nutella, and yes peanut butter! They also carry quinoa and other health items. There is another place near Carranza and Caballido (think Palermo Hollywood) that sells quinoa, coconut milk, popcorn kernels and other random delights. Also, there is a huge Coto (think Alberston’s) in Abasto that pretty much has everything you might need – and they deliver – just saying.

All this said, I still avoid buying and cooking fish. Back home, I cooked fish all the time, but here – I just can’t trust it. I know there are good places to buy fish here but . .. I can’t do it. But, ughhh how I miss it. Also, keep in mind – if you are only here for a short time – 6 months and under – AVOID sushi. You will just be disappointed. Everything is stuffed with cream cheese and the tuna, the tuna,  is canned tuna. There are places that sell “red tuna” but the price isn’t worth it. Yes, you might cry. But, who needs sushi when you can order asado de tira, or bife de chorizo?! “Healthy eating”, vegetarianism etc are starting to catch on here and as a result there are some great restaurants to feed your healthy appetite. They may be a little more expensive, but then again, everything is expensive here – so if you can, go for it!

Long story short, it’s possible to eat well and healthy here, it just takes time to figure it out, and that is half the fun right?! So, get out there and get cooking! Buen provecho!

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**I am unable to load images for a minute, until I purchase a new cord or laptop. Somehow I imagine the cord will come first ;). Until then, allow the random ones I will be uploading :D.

Adventures in House hunting

Winter has been in full swing here in the land of “good air”. Good air is right if you are talking about the biting wind that comes in from the south. As I have stated before, I am a desert girl. Yeah, Taos gets cold as does Colorado, but it’s a dry cold. Not wet cold air drifting from the Rio smacking you in the face. I am a delicate flower when it comes to cold weather – wilting at the slightest breeze. I ran away from the winter . . . or so I thought.

OK, it’s not THAT cold – but at least it doesn’t snow and I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is a house that has no insulation, is not heated, a balcony door that wont close and a landlord that continues to raise the rent and refuses to fix said door.

I have stayed in the house because I love my housemates. They were/are all so wonderful and we all had a very special bond. It’s a rare thing to put 9 foreign strangers together in a house and have them all get along famously (dueno aside). But, because of the aforementioned reasons and the fact that they are (mostly) gone this birds gotta fly. There were nights when would I literally sleep in leggings, socks, leg warmers, sweats, a t-shirt and a sweater topped with a comforter and a wool blanket; and would still I wake up slightly chilled. Not cool guys, not cool.

Looking for a place to rent is here is exhausting if you don’t have papers be ready to pay way more than you should. Craigslist is still a great resource but littered with some pretty terrible overpriced options.

I have mentioned before that there are two different currencies here – the legal and the “blue”. When it comes to apt/house hunting you have – the legal, the “blue” and the in-between. Not kidding. The legal exchange rate for dollars is around 5.08 and the blue rate is around 8.7 YES, 8.7. So, say you find a place that looks great and it says $400 – if you try to pay them in pesos they will accept the blue dollar rate which will come to just over 3000 pesos etc. This situation can be great if you have dollars to work with. If not that is a pain the ass. But, that’s the way things are, what are you going to do?

So the hunt was on what did I want?

  • A decent real bathroom
  • Hot water that lasts more than 5 minutes
  • HEAT
  • *bonus points for a double bed – but that’s not a deal breaker as twin beds are all the rage here.

It took me 8 months (I have secretly/not so secretly been hunting for alternative housing since day 1 but nothing really caught my eye) and I finally lucked out!

I found an amazingly priced apt with a double bed and a private bath. It isn’t heated, but I can’t move in until Sept, so it won’t be too bad – and the place I am staying at until then is plenty toasty :).

Moral of the story – keep hunting. It is tiring, it is annoying, you will travel all over the city looking at twin bed to another but eventually you will find something – even if it takes you 8  months ;)!

Life takes over

I know I have said this before, and I haven’t meant to stay away for so long, but life has the ability to take over and can eat you whole. I have been putting off writing for the “right time” but I know better, and have realized that we simply must MAKE time.
This past month has been very transformative. I have hit the point in this journey when everything sort of falls apart and reality makes her great entrance back into my life. As a result, this has been a very introspective time.
It hasn’t all been bad. I have had some rather interesting opportunities arise and as we all know (yup I’m going there) when one door closes. . . without going into too much detail please allow me to catch you up:
Majority of my friends here have said their goodbyes and are on to their next adventure or respective countries. I have said farewell to the house I have lived in for the past 8 months as, well, it was time. I have been so blessed to have been taken in by a few friends until I can move into my next home in Sept. Happy to say the new place is an “upgrade” of sorts in regards to amenities – so long twin size bed – hello queen bed! So long shared bath – hello private! The neighborhood I am moving into is pretty much the bees knees. It’s safer, cleaner, close to everything (great bars, restaurants, cafes etc), including my office, so all in all things are looking up!
I have said goodbye to 2 spanish teachers and am in the process of finding another. My spanish is slowly improving. My vocab is building but my grammar is still mierda. Boh. That said things are starting to click now – really click. I feel like I went through a period in which my spanish was getting worse jaja! But, the new house is a “spanish only” environment so I am ready for what I am sure is to be a Spanish boot camp ;).
I say this often but I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for having this opportunity, for so many reasons. I think the most valuable one is the reminder that no matter how many times I get knocked around – there are always people around to help me up. We live in this world where we are told, and believe, that we can’t trust anyone and while you shouldn’t trust EVERYONE, sometimes you have no choice but to put your faith in others. I am so humbled and floored by the amount of goodness in my life. All I can say is I have a lot of paying it forward to do.
I have missed this blog and writing. It is such a useful outlet and I hope you will continue to join me on this journey!
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The Journey Continues – Purmamarca

After our, ahem, interesting night in Salta – we woke up and were excited to get out and continue North. Deciding to rent a car was the best idea we had. We were able to rent one for a pretty reasonable price – 420 pesos each! We had originally asked for a smaller car, as it was cost efficient, but luckily for us the car had issues so we got this baby instead! DSCF5774Considering the roads we were to drive on in the next coming days; we lucked out. I like to think they did this on purpose. . .

BTW, I highly recommend renting a car – it gives you the freedom to travel at your leisure, and take as many photo ops as you want (lord knows we did).

Tip: If you are going to drive outside of Buenos Aires, and you are American, you need an international drivers license. I also recommend being able to drive a stick as they are more readily available and cheaper to rent. I don’t have an IDL, nor can I drive stick, so all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the views :).

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Next on our newly dubbed “Salta, it’s natural” circuit was Purmamarca – home to the famed Cerro de los Siete Colores.

Cerro de los Siete Colores - Eva Pederson

Cerro de los Siete Colores – Eva Pederson

There are two ways to get to Purmamarca from Salta (we learned this a little too late) – on your typical highway, or through the jungle. We, of course, crossed into the region of Jujuy through the jungle. IMG_7838The drive was beautiful, yet slightly unnerving. Prepare yourself for hairpin curves and steep drops. On this road, 2 is a crowd, so be courteous and pull to side; if you can.  Don’t allow this to sway you out of taking the jungle, be adventurous, it’s a gorgeous drive.

Lastly be warned – the closer you get to the Bolivian border the more frequent the check points are. This can be time consuming but, luckily for us, most of the time they would look in the car say something like “todas hermosas” and wave us through.

We arrived at Purmamarca right as the sun was setting and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The rosy skies, adobe buildings, and el Cerro de los Siete Colores all blended together and left everything draped in pink.

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And So It Is

Real talk? I think one of the biggest lessons I am learning in my time here is – how to say goodbye. I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how it’s the people you meet when traveling that make the experience amazing. So what do you do when it’s time to go your separate ways? My social life is about to be drastically rocked in a few weeks and having to come to terms with that is hard.

This is the second group of people here who have come into my life, twirled me around, and are about to make their grand exit. Now, when I say that I am learning to say goodbye, I don’t mean it get’s easier, I mean that I am learning how to accept it.

I still cry every time I say goodbye. I cried before I came out here – standing with my friends in the Steuben’s parking lot on a frozen night in Jan – and again in the airport. I’ve cried in this house, in a cab, and as I write this, I know that I am in for more. But, I am OK with that. I do wonder, if I kept this lifestyle up, if I would grow weary of new people. I can see myself becoming distant and cautious to protect myself. Someone once told me that my best quality was my openness, and asked me to not allow the world to make me hard. So with that said, I honestly think it would be a shame if I allowed that to happen.

I think this goes back to an earlier post of mine about living in the NOW. We gotta love the ones we’re with because most of the time you don’t know when you’ll have to say goodbye. I guess that makes me lucky, in this situation, I know when the end date is. As a result, I am less judgmental and more forgiving. I find myself weaving a tapestry of mental notes/snap shots of special moments so I can curl up with them later.

Thanks for the good times chicos, and you know what they say – This isn’t goodbye, just a see you later.

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With that said, Universe – Yes, Thank you, More please. Yes, thank you more please.

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“There’s Only This”

The song, “Another Day” from Rent has been stuck in my head all day. And I think it’s rather fitting, as I can’t think of a song that better describes how I am currently living. Luckily, my circumstances are better than those depicted in Rent, but the urgency to live in the NOW is felt.

A member of my new found family here is making her great return to London this week (sob). As I prepare to say goodbye to another person that has become a staple in my life, I have begun to analyze my relationships here.  This lifestyle offers a very unique and special situation. Every relationship created is intense because we all understand that it is temporary – we only have so much time together. So we squeeze it all out, eat it all up and ask for seconds. The bond that is created as a result is one that would take years to cultivate if we were all back in our respective homes. Some, perhaps, would not have happened.

I had a conversation with a dear friend from home the other night and he mentioned that when I return I’ll need to really think about my future. Upon hearing that I realized that for the first time in my life, I am living in the NOW. Naturally I am a planner, I like to have things mapped out – lists – 5 year plans etc. For the first time in my life, I am fully present, everyday. The meat tastes better (well actually it is the best meat in the world soooo), the wine is smoother – everything is heightened.

Traveling, immersing yourself in a world that is completely new, is the most incredible high you can ever have. It’s addicting. It’s because these moments are so fleeting that they are incredibly special. You nourish them, you cherish them, give everything to them. You are selfless in them. I can honestly say that I have never been more giving, and yet I feel that I am not giving enough.

I am so grateful for this time – the people – this space – the crazy – the good – the tears – the frustration – the worry – the hugs – the simplicity of having anothers hand resting on yours – to have someone stroke your hair – the smirks – the full belly, gonna pee your pants laughter – spilled drinks – cigarette burns – Italian – Spanish – English – Humahuaca – Hebrew – the support – the confusion – the inside jokes – the dance parties . . .

So with that I am going to get a little cheesy here and quote the song I am referring to my title –

“there’s only us, there’s only this, forget regret, or life is yours miss, no other road, no other way – no day but today.”

Yes, I do need to think about my future. I need to figure how to continue to live with this much fervor for the rest of my life, wherever I am.