La vida en Buenos Aires

Monday, February 27, 2006

the death of sweet dreams

So last week Frank had this momentary desire to "go native" and learn how to drink mate.
We've been here a total of what...6 weeks, and the number of times I've been invited to drink mate by a porteño is well, zilch. Ouch. How can that be that me, the participatory anthropologist who prides herself on not just visiting but living a culture, has not a single Argentine friend who has initiated us into this most sacred of traditions? Who are these so-called locals we call friends? Wow, maybe the concept of "friendship" in our new world is different that what I'm used to.
Perhaps Frank was also feeling kind of lame that neither one of us has ever been properly introduced to the whole mate thing so one day he came home with a mate gourd and a bombilla. I scoffed. What on earth would we do with that? I put it in the snazzy light up cabinet with all of the guide books like it was a trophy and I thought it looked kind of cool.
But he was determined and the next day bought two different kinds of yerba at the grocery store and as soon as we got home he fired up the tea kettle.
Now, just in case you are, like I was until about a week ago, pathetically unaware of the complexity of the mate ritual, do yourself a favor and read this cheat sheet:
http://www.miyerbamate.com/content/Yerba+Mate+the+history+of+this+dietary+aid.htm

Keep in mind that is the short version, it is so much more complicated than that. But since we had no one to show us the mate ropes, we were left to our own devices. Boil some water, throw it in the gourd, suck through the straw. Hmmm, nice happy subtle buzz. It wasn't until our Peruvian electrician nearly fainted with horror as he watched me pour boiling water onto the yerba that we started to learn how intricate this process was. Having since been (somewhat) properly schooled by other kind souls, I think I gotten the hang of it. And now I'm almost at the point where I prefer the tingly ebb and flow of the mate buzz to the crushing wave of coffee addiction.
But it is just tonight that I have grasped the concept that yerba mate does in fact have caffeine too. Maybe not as much as coffee, but as I sit here mindlessly web-surfing at 4:30 am, awake and alert, damned if it hasn't completely killed any possibility of me getting my much-needed beauty sleep.
At least Frank will be happy that I FINALLY posted.
And in the meantime I can contemplate how to make some friends to invite over for a mate round. Someday...

Monday, January 30, 2006


Buenos Aires Clubhouse Has Found a Home!
We are proud to announce that we have found a space to serve as the temporary home of the Buenos Aires Clubhouse. While it's not exactly a palace it's centrally located and spacious. Best of all it has a fabulous roof terrace that will make an excellent spot for asados and soaking up the summer Argentine sun.
Meanwhile we are furiously working to open our doors to members by the first week of February and we'd love some helping hands. If you're as excited as we are about the new clubhouse then put your buff arms where your mouth is and join one of our upcoming work parties. Contact us at mailto:baclub@saexplorers.organd we'll give you the dirty details. Or just come by and see us on Sundays with lot's of nice people working, hanging out and having a good time.

In the meantime we are desperate for any donations to help furnish the clubhouse from top to bottom. Unfortunately, garage sales and charity give-aways are a bit hard to come by in Argentina. Thus we turn to our loyal members and cherished friends residing in (or hailing from) the land of consumer excess.
We need furniture, kitchenware, office supplies, electronics, tools, anything and everything you can imagine. If you live in BA and need to de-clutter your space we'll gladly come pick up any unused items. If you are traveling and need to unload some excess baggage, your local SAE clubhouse will gladly provide a new home for your abandoned goods. If you are heading down here and want to bring us something (an old printer, some extra dishes, your aunt's funky drapes) we'll welcome you and your stuff with open arms.
Imagine how your well-worn sofa would lovingly cradle the behinds of tired and wary travelers, how your shelves could carry the educational material of a new generation of do-gooders on their mission of cultural understanding, and how your old coffee mugs could offer potions of reinvigoration to the armies of righteous explorers. Or what about the old tool-box that your former neighbor forgot in your basement before he moved to live on a sheep farm in New Zealand?
We are also always in need of people to handcarry items from our Ithaca, NY office to us down south. If you are coming to Buenos Aires and have extra space in your bags please contact Fabina at mailto:orders@saexplorers.orgor 1 800 274 0568.
On another note, you can sign up for the SAE Buenos Aires Clubhouse email list which will keep you in the loop about the news, activities and special offers. This is the best way to stay involved and informed. The list will be moderated and traffic will be kept to a minimum. To sign up just send a blank email to: mailto:saebuenosaires-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gestalt der Sonderklasse in BsAs

OK. Another one in German Code for you...

Also, dieser Tage gibt es doch einiges zu berichten nur zu wenig Zeit um es wirklich hier festzuhalten. Ich gebe mein bestes um eine befriedigende Zusammenfassung zu schreiben. Erst einmal: Nein wir sind noch nicht in unser neues zu Hause eingezogen. Das stereotype argentinische Verhalten sich konstant zu verspäten, scheint sich auch auf versprochene Mietverträge zu beziehen. Dementsprechend haben wir leider noch nichts unterschreiben können und unser Clubhaus ist momentan noch ne Baustelle, die wir uns offiziell nicht einmal betreten dürfen um ein paar Abmessungen vorzunehmen.

Glücklichweise (!?) sind wir bei einem unserer Clubmitglieder untergekommen. Eine Gestalt für sich! Er, 24, voluminös (einfach gesagt fett), Brille, schmierige, zum Zopf zusammengebundene Haare, absoluter Rollenspiel-Nerd (das Haus ist zugebaut mit Miniaturburgen, handbemalten Zinkfigürchen, Schwertern und Morgensternen als Wandbehang) und obsessiver Taschenmessersammler hat sein eigenes Tour-Guide Unternehmen. Sein Job: Er führt Abenteuer Touristen in die abgelegenen Gebiete Argentiniens (sprich: Las Pampas) um zu jagen. Und zwar nach traditioneller Gaucho-Manier. Zur Erklärung: Gauchos sind hier sowas wie die Cowboys in Nordamerika. Stramme Männer die die rauhe Wildnis zähmen. Furchtlose Reiter wilder Stuten und kühne Jäger furchteinflößender Bestien deren Machotum ausreicht um eine ganze Armee von FeministInnen auf der Stelle in glühenden Wahnsinn zu treiben. Ausserdem dafür bekannt nicht genug Kohle auffer Täsch zu haben um sich ein Schiesseisen zu leisten. Was macht also so ein traditioneller Gaucho? Der jagt mit Messer! Genau das macht unser Freund auch: Er jagt Wildschweine (!) und Berglöwen mit Messer... Man muß sich also vorstellen: Ein leicht schmieriger, kurzsichtiger, hoffnungslos übergewichtiger Rollenspiel-Heino namens Francisco (aber er könnte ebensogut Roland oder Heinz Gieselmann heissen) der zudem auch noch bei Mami wohnt, lebt davon das er Jäger-Touristen in die Wildnis führt, wo er dann ein Wildschwein so lange provoziert bis es versucht ihn niederzurennen und ihm mit seinen zwei großen Hauern den Wanst aufzuschlitzen. Und dann? Na, hoffentlich Ausfallschritt und Stich! Denn so ein Wildschwein lässt sich auch zwei oder dreimal bitten wenns böse auf dich ist. Die wiegen oft über 80 Kilo! Bizarr sich bei unserem Freund allein das vorzustellen.

Aber gerade als wir dachten das es nicht mehr viel bizarrer werden könnte, lernten wir Franciscos „Freundin“ kennen. Wir hatten uns schon gewundert warum er a) eine hat und b) sie niemals mit ihm irgendwo auftaucht. Seinen eigenen Worten nach hält sie ihn an einer sehr kurzen Leine und darf Abends nicht alleine aus dem Haus. Eigentlich hätten hier schon sämtliche Alarmglocken bei uns klingeln müssen. Leider haben wir das Puzzle nicht so ganz in unseren Köpfen zusammenstecken können, da wir uns ja schließlich in einer uns fremden Kultur aufhalten und es ganz normal ist, dass man es heimlich treibt wenn man noch nicht miteinander verehegattet ist. Dazu gehört dann natürlich das volle Programm: privat angemietete Wohnung in der Innenstadt wo man sich dann nächtlichst treffen kann um tagsüber noch den gesellschaftskonventionellen Schein aufrecht zu erhalten. Man(n) lebt ja schließlich noch bei Mutti. Um also auf unsere Erscheinung der dritten Art zurückzukommen, ergab es sich eines Abends so dass wir zum Essen in der Innenstadt verabredet waren und gerade als wir uns zur Bushaltestelle aufmachen wollten, Francisco (frisch geduscht und parfümiert) ein Taxi bestellt hatte um zu seiner Liebsten in der Innenstadt zu fahren. Wir stiegen also mit ein und nachdem Marcie mehrmals hartnäckig und undezent nachgehakt hatte (sie macht das manchmal...) zückte er sein Telefon und rief Silvia an um nachzufragen ob es OK sei wenn sich diese beiden aufdringlichen Gringos kurz bei ihr vorstellen. War denn wohl auch OK. Als wir ankamen wurden wir von einer etwa 40-jährigen Dame in ihrer mit Rotlicht ausgeleuchteten 2-Zimmerwohnung empfangen. Das Gesicht erinnerte durch die Massen an Schminke an ein ausgetrocknetes Flussbett, das Lächeln war eine fast ständige Grimasse und die Brüste waren so prall mit Silicon ausgestopft, das ich mich aus Angst vor einer sehr realen Explosionsgefahr ständig von ihr abwenden musste. Man weiß ja nie wann man dem menschlichen Schrapnell denn plötzlich ausweichen muss... Die sonst so gesprächige Marcie war ebenso baff wie ich und konnte nur unter großer Selbstkontrolle die Contenance bewahren. Mit anderen Worten wir saßen nebeneinander auf der Couch und starrten mit großen Fragezeichen im Gesicht auf das ungleiche Pärchen: Der sichtlich bekümmerte aber doch leicht stolze Francisco und seine affektierte Silvia die offensichtlich eine leichte „Gesellschaftsdame“ war. Naja, „jedem nach seinem Geschmack“ dachten wir uns beide und verabschiedeten uns so dezent und flott es die Situation erlaubte nur um unten angekommen in unkontrolliertes Gelächter auszubrechen. Nicht sehr nett, ich weiß aber manchmal geht’s doch nicht anders. Argentinien, welch unüberbrückbare Weiten...

Zur Fairness sei hier gesagt, dass Francisco ein wirklich sehr netter und umgänglicher Zeitgenosse ist, der uns in vielerlei Hinsicht eine große Hilfe war und ist. Aber eine Gestalt der Sonderklasse ist er allemal!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sick but Happy

Hey all,
Sorry to leave you out of the loop for such a long time. No, I was not stomped to death by a squad of angry Boca fans (that story was kinda made up anyways) and Marcie is also still around. No MIA's as of yet. In the meantime we have done some quality work and we can proudly report that we have at least found temporary quarters in Buenos Aires. We will probably move in on the 15th of January or so, starting with renovation works and setting up the office. Pictures will follow as soon as we arrive back down there.
Meanwhile we have gone home to Ithaca for Christmas and of course have both gotten sick as dogs. Going from the longest day of the year to the shortest, or from 30 degrees Celsius to minus 5 is not exactly what your body rewards you for, so coughing, sniffing and spitting was the inevitable outcome. But we are back on track and will be back down there on the 11th of January.
Until then, there is not much more to report. The adventures will be continued but this time in a more advanced setting. Gone are the times where we were dwelling in the dark corners of questionable quarters - hostels, bug invested hotels or empty apartments. We are now looking at the grand opening of the South American Explorers Clubhouse with all pomp and honors imaginable. A brighter future lies ahead...
Stay tuned!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Our Life in Verse

OK people. Sorry for letting you out of the loop for a while but we had to take care of important things and it has been a lot of work. But we are making significant progress on the location search and we think that it will pay off by the end of this month. Meanwhile, I had to write a little piece for the SAE newsletter. It won't be published until next week but I wanted to give you an exclusive up-front look at it just to keep you entertained. Have fun, we'll be back with more shortly. Promise!
Once upon a time in a strange, foreign land there were two explorers named Marcie and Frank…

Ideally, they were to start pounding the pavement from the moment they landed, to establish a Buenos Aires Clubhouse explorer-style and quite empty-handed. But on the airport they got separated. The reason? Nobody has a clue of it! Arriving on different planes must have had something to do with it.

So, Frank went out in the wild to find his other and while looking around he encountered these three funny-looking brothers. “Who are you, who look oh so wise? Can you tell me why you come in this unaccustomed disguise?” “We are the three Gauchos that roam the land,” one answered. “And our dress is no gringo’s business, you understand?” “No insult intended, I beg your pardon, oh highest of Gauchos in this fairest of gardens. I am restlessly searching for my maiden and partner, in case you have seen her please name me your barter.” “No barter we take from Gringos in need, but help we can offer for no fee indeed. The honourable dame has shouldered her luggage and went to see a match of futból with a team that we think is rubbish.” “Follow this map, the stadium is quite suburban,” one of them said. “And make sure to wear this jersey so you won’t cause a disturbance,” his brother smirked. Quite thankful for receiving such generous counsel, Frank put on the jersey, consulted the map and bid farewell to the Gauchos.

Arriving at the stadium that had been circled on the map, Frank lucked out and found a wall with a gap. He slid in, an explorer in yellow-blue disguise, not foreseeing that his outfit wasn’t really all that wise. He spotted the stadium’s microphone which lay unattended, waited for the perfect chance when the fan’s chants ended, climbed in front of the stances from which he intended to call upon the masses with a message that was splendid:

“Oh mighty Boca fans please kindly listen to my call,
although most of you don’t know me at all.
I am missing my one and only partner in crime,
her name is Marcie and I pray that she’s fine.
If…”

Upon being addressed as the fans of their rival team, the masses erupted with an angry scream and unrolled little somethings – white, long and lean. (As you can see, it didn’t look clean) Ten thousand rolls of toiletry paper came flying down making Frank look like a draper. Too late the poor guy had deduced, what foul game those Gauchos had used. Clothed in the rival’s “Boca Juniors” gear, his demise in the “River” stadium would have been near, had he not – in a flash of life-saving reason – escaped his imminent lot, not to return till the end of next season. Will Frank ever reunite with his maiden fair? To find out you will have to wait in despair…
(…until the next e-newsletter.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A short Update

A short update is all too necessary but time is precious with all these meetings and other significant social obligations. Plus that starting tomorrow we will have to move out of the appartment that we have been staying in so far. A nice one-bedroom appartment in Palermo which has served us very well so far. Thank you for setting us up Andres!

But now I feel it is time to move on and stand on our own 4 feet. Tomorrow we will move to a hostal in San Telmo, the "Tango Telmo" (http://www.hostelmotango.com/) hoping that we will be right in the barrio that we have fallen in love with the most so far and trying to charm the people at this very nice hostal to maybe make a deal with us so that we can set up a temporary office in their quarters. What will definitely get a lot better by then is the email and internet situation. As we had to visit internet cafes all up until this point we will now be able to use our own computers which gives us more ressources and freedom in that sense. THe Hostal offers free ethernet connection and in the upstairs rooms we can even pick up a WiFi signal. So everything is going the right way.

Last night we saw the Yohimbe Brothers in concert again. Very good show. And after that we had the best dinner so far in San Telmo. A loud, raucus and smokey place in the middle of SAn Telmo served good house wine, steak and condiments to both of us and we hardly spend 10 US Dollars for the both of us. That's the life! You better plan on gaining a few pounds when you come to visit us here!

Gotta run!

Yours truly,

Frank

Monday, November 21, 2005

Verdammt Sauer!

This one will be in German...

denn ich bin vedammt sauer ueber eine Begegnung der dritten Art, die frueher oder spaeter (in diesem Falle frueher) in diesem Lnde passieren musste.

Da waren Marcie und ich heute Abend zu einem "Asado" (Grillabend mit gutem argentinischem Beefsteak) bei einem fuer den Club potentiell nuetzlichen Genossen und seiner Lebensgefaehrtin (Toechterchen deutscher Auswanderer...) eingeladen. Als ein halbes geroestetes Rind dann auf dem Tische darniederlag und die erste billige Flasche Medoc unsere Kehlen geoelt hatte fing unser Gastgeber dann an eine Geschichtsfiktion nach der anderem aus seinem Arsch zu ziehen:

Als erstes wurde natuerlich der Holocaust relativiert. "War ja alles gar nicht so schlimm, denn Stalin und die Kommunisten haben ja doppelt so viele Menschen umme Ecke gebracht." Da hats mich ja schon im Hintern gejuckt ganz laut einen ziehen zu lassen und mich danach gepflegt aus dem Staub zu machen. Dann wollt ich aber nicht ganz so unhoeflich sein und etwas kulurelle Toleranz walten lassen. Nicht zuletzt sind die hier unten doch ganz schoen weit ab vom Schuss und haben den Knall evtl. noch nicht gehoert.

Als denn die "zionistischen Juden sich entschieden zum Glueck nicht Patagonien (wie angeblich urspruenglich von ihnen ins Auge gefasst) sondern Teile Palestinas als ihr von Gott versprochenes Land ernannten", wurde mein Juckreiz im Hintern so stark, dass ich mich erstma fuer ne Viertelstunde aufs Klo verziehen musste um etwas Dampf abzulassen. Ich hoffe im nachhinein das die alten Rohre im Haus es NICHT ausgehalten haben und denen meine Kacke bald wieder hochkommt.

Denn als ich wiederkam erzaehlte das Grosshirn einer sichtlich nur noch aus Hoeflichkeit nickenden Marcie das der Buergerkrieg in den USA ja gar nicht um die Sklaverei ausgefochten wurde und de Fakto nur 2 Sklavenhalterstaaten in der Konfoederation waren. Das war der Moment an dem ich keinen Bissen mehr angeruehrt habe und mich zurueckhalten musste nicht auf der Stelle auf den Tisch zu kotzen.

Aber dem nicht genug. Zum kroenendem Abschluss fuhr uns unser Gastgeber dann auch noch "netterweise" mit seinem Wagen in die Innenstadt zurueck. Nicht nur das er den kleinen Genozid der in seinem eigenen Land vor nicht allzulanger Zeit von einer Militaerjunta veruebt worden ist verleugnete (auf Nachfrage meinerseits war das die beste Zeit: Keine Kriminalitaet, man konnte sich Nachts noch sicher fuehlen und von Leuten die sinnlos gefoltert und lebendig aus Flugzeugen geschmissen wurden wollte er nie etwas gehoert haben), sondern obendrein war Pinoched in Chile ein Heiliger und wird ja nur von all den linken Bombenlegern schlecht gemacht.
Obendrein machte er dann noch einen kleinen "Abstecher" durch das einzige "legale Red-light District in Argentinien". Muss man sich vorstellen: Der Typ hatte wirklich die Nerven mit Marcie in der Karre ne Extratour zu drehen um sich die Nutten reinzuziehen die Oranienburgerstrasse-Style halbnackt im Park standen und auf Freier warteten. Auf das mich niemand falsch verstehe und ich mich hier als pruede oder sonswas geoutet wissen will aber die Szene war doch mehr als komisch mit Marcie im Auto. Wir kannten den Typen erst seit ein paar Stunden und der meint uns seine Lieblingstouristenattraktion zeigen zu muessen. Jede Wette der hat auffm Rueckweg noch nen kleinen Abstecher gemacht. Keine Ahnung was der urspruenglich noch mit uns vorhatte...

Naja. Soviel zu der ersten dunklen Seite dieser Reise. Ich bin ja nen toleranter Mensch und all das aber irgendwo hoert meine Toleranz auch auf: Bei deutschen Einwanderern der uebleren Sorte offensichtlich. Schade das ich erst 5 Tage nach meiner Ankunft hier an diese Grenze stossen musste. Hoffe das passiert nicht mehr fuer ne Weile.

Wie dem auch sei. Ich musste hier mal Dampf ablassen. Ansonsten hatten wir bis jetzt eine fabelhafte Zeit. Bitte entschuldigt wenn der Blog noch etwas fade aussieht. Ich werde ihn stylen sobald ich die Zeit habe. Photos sind auch schon auf dem Weg...

Bis demnaechst und immer schoen weiterlesen!

Hasta pronto

F.

Our Project

Just to make this more complete, this is the text that I sent out to most of you, introducing our project. But nevertheless, just to be exact here is a re-post of that one. More to follow soon, including pictures!

F.

Friends,
>>As many of you know Marcie and I have finally arrived in Buenos Aires,
>Argentina. We will be calling this home for the next year or so in order to
>establish and maintain the new clubhouse for the South American Explorers
>Club (www.saexplorers.org). SAE is a non-profit with approximately 5000
>members who are aficionados of doing travel or work in Latin America in one
>way or the other. In other words the club provides insider resources and
>information to people that want to look beyond a country's major tourist
>sights and tour operators but rather like to approach people from a
>slightly different perspective and angle. The Club's overall mission
>statement stresses cultural exchange, awareness and understanding rather
>than hard-core money making. It is much more about putting people and their
>ideas in contact with each other, by that creating lasting networks of
>information and friendship.

>Buenos Aires is such a bustling city, it can be quite overwhelming at
>first. The first night Marcie took me out to eat to a really fancy
>Argentinean restaurant that was recommended to us by a friend in Ithaca. I
>had the best piece of beef in my life! No hormones or funky feed for the
>animal and it grazes on the pampas, right outside Buenos Aires for at least
>4 years before meeting its destiny. Compared to the American average of 18
>months from birth to slaughterhouse that is quite impressive and it totally
>reflects back on taste. The vegetarians among you will probably have a hard
>time understanding what a pleasure it can be for this carnivore when his
>steak literally melts on his tongue... With appetizers, champagne, a good
>bottle of wine and other condiments the bill ran roughly to 25 dollars for
>the two of us!!! We were both sold on this city on that very first night.

>But that only started our adventures. The last 3 days we have had contact
>with such an incredible amount of people that we already have a hard time
>keeping up with all of them. Socializing and partying seems by far the most
>beloved past-time of the portenos (the inhabitants of this town). Marcie,
>after stepping off the plane and meeting up with me in the baggage claim
>area (we came on different flights) was followed by some former band
>members of Living Color (now calling themselves the Yohembi Brothers) and a
>major guy in the restaurant and club owning business in BA who she chatted
>up on the plane. Of course we are on the guest list for the concert on
>Monday night and we are going out to dinner and club hopping tonight with
>Tato, the restaurant guy.

>But that is not even scratching the surface. Upon checking out
>neighbourhoods and absolutely falling in love with the area of San Telmo
>with its narrow cobble stone streets, the plazas where the portenos dance
>the Tango day and night, its cute, 2-story colonial buildings we agreed we
>had found the perfect neighbourhood for a clubhouse. Already, we have been
>checking for rent and real estate prizes and we are amazed how cheap this
>city is at the moment, especially in a neighbourhood which is considered to
>be the historical center of this metropolis. After a two-hour meeting with
>two lawyers who were recommended to us by a clubmember of SAE we are
>already thinking of ways how to buy real estate for the clubhouse rather
>that renting it. It seems to be really worth it!

>This weekend we will obviously be busy charming clubmembers who have become >permanent residents in this city to help us out in any way possible.
>Simultaneously we are trying to have a good time with the masses of
>Argentineans we are meeting left and right in order to establish an active
>social life. But in this city that seems to be the least of our problems.
>On Sunday there is an "asado" (BBQ) with a good friend who is also a real
>estate agent, than on Monday there is an evening lecture on Bolivean
>photography that we have been invited to in order to some of the big names
>of the BA art scene. In other words: We are so hooked up!!! And happy...

>So with all this, we both hope we don't lose touch with all of our loved
>ones at home. Therefore, I established a blog on which either Marcie or me
>will be posting on our progress and adventures as frequent as possible. The
>address is: http://exploreba.blogspot.com/
>If anyone wants further information about the club or the project we are
>working on, just contact us under https://portal.zedat.fu-berlin.de/email/webmail/src/compose.php?send_to=frank%40saexplorers.org or
>marcie@saexplorers.org
>and we'l put you on an internal enewsletter which we will send it every
>one-two weeks. Of course, please also just keep intouch with us hrough
>email or phone. Our cell phone number is down at the bottom. And please:
>You are all welcome to come visit. This city and the country seem to be
>amazing and promise to be loads of fun! You will always have a place to
>stay and tons of information at your fingertips.

>Keep in touch! Love you all...

>Franco y Marcia