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.

A Little Late But Not Forgotten

Now that I have caught you up I need to backtrack a little. I am not sure if you can recall but I had gone on a trip to the north with some girlfriends back in June dubbed the “Salta, It’s Natural” tour.

In my last post on the topic I left off when we arrived at Purmamarca

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We took our time watching the sun set on the Cerro de los Siete Colores before we began our journey of trying to find a place to shower, drop our things, and fill our bellies. Because we arrived during the low season a lot lot of places were closed but we were still able to find an affordable hostel and a restaurant with live music. While the north is known for its cazuelas (stew), tamales, and locro – you will also find a lot of llama featured on the menus.

LAMAS!!!

LlAMAS!!!

So, naturally, I had to try some.

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It was. . . dry jajaja.

It was so cold and Purmamarca doesn’t offer much in regards to nightlife so we called it a night. The nice thing about traveling during low season is there wasn’t a shortage of beds and, though it was freezing, there were plenty of blankets to go around. The next day the desert embraced us with perfect weather to explore the bazaar in the plaza.

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Purmarmca was really refreshing for me. It was nice to leave the Eurocentric Buenos Aires and get a taste of indigenous Argentino culture. I found that so much of the north reminded me of my roots and New Mexico – the use of adobe, tamales, the colors the music. It is only natural to look for the familiar in the unfamiliar, and of course it was not the same, but it was comforting and familiar.

* All images courtesy of Eva Pederson

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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Journey to the North – Salta

I had hoped to post as we went along our trip but, knowing that we would have limited access to the internet and, in an effort to pack lightly, I decided to forgo packing my laptop. An effort I failed miserably at BTW.  I was preparing for what I thought was going to be a blistering cold journey, and if I had to bundle up, I wanted to look cute doing it. That said, in the back of my mind, I knew I would end up wearing the same things anyway. The vanity, the vanity. . . Luckily for me, I didn’t have to carry my bag much.

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Anyway – after about a 23 hour bus ride we arrived in Salta – tired, needing a shower, and hungry. After having asked a few people were we should go to eat, we got a little excited when everyone mentioned the same place – Panadería del Chuña. With all this hype, how could we NOT try it out? So, we showered and marched our hungry asses in search of what seemed to be a legendary restaurant. And, legendary it was. . .

Just east of the plaza we came upon the restaurant and each of us just stopped and stared in . . . amazement. Was the building huge? Yes. Incredible architecture? Meh. Beautiful? Not particularly. So what was the big deal? The wall opposite the entrance was lit up by a huge curtain of Christmas lights that changed colors. -_-

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There was a small debate about whether we should find another and then we succumbed because A) we were starving and B) “well, when in Salta”.

The food was mediocre at best – the empanadas were the smallest I’ve ever seen, the meat was the worst that any of us have had in Argentina, and the wine list was limited. At one point we were drenched in a savory blue lighting followed by a light show sure to bring on an epileptic attack. All the while there was a mix of Folkclorico dancing, singing, ANND a video of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World which included (of course) Iguazu Falls. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cultural event – I did major in Anthropology in college with a focus on Cultural Anthro, but this was too much, even for me.

The strange thing is, we seemed to be the only non-Argentines there. And everyone was LOVING IT. They were clapping, cheering and dancing along. It was all a bit awkward, to say the least. I am sure Salta has some wonderful restaurants but this is not one of them.

Maybe it was the long bus ride, maybe it was the lighting that made my food look like black ink,IMG_6989 or that this place was INSANELY over priced (I am serious you can eat 10x better in Buenos Aires for less, and that is saying something) – whatever the reason we were eager to finish our wine and get some sleep.

All of that said, we still had a great time and it was an experience. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?

**** I have had issues with loading images this week, thus the delay in posting AND the lack of pictures. But don’t worry, I will be providing images as soon as I can ;).