Thursday, March 12, 2015

It’s Time To Say Goodbye

I've been trying to find a way to make this, my final expat entry, special somehow but saying goodbye has never been easy for me. For the last two and a half years it’s been a pleasure being able to share photos, videos and info on the province of Cordoba as well as San Juan and Buenos Aires.
Those of you who have followed my journey know that the transition from the U.S. to Argentina hasn't always been easy for my spouse or I.  To say that the emotional and financial stress has been difficult would be a huge understatement. 
We've worked hard to adjust to life here but it hasn't always worked out the way we imagined. We've also made some friends along the way, some as it turns out … not-so-friendly, and we've made some enemies along the way.

Now some of you might be reading this and wondering, “If it’s really that difficult why don’t you just go back to the States?” Well that’s easier said than done and I wish I could go into details as to why we can’t just hop on a plane and leave today but for now you’ll simply have to be satisfied with this answer … we can’t go back for now.
However, our goal (at least in our hearts) is to find a way to go home regardless of whether it takes 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or 30.

And now it’s time to say goodbye because as the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end. So it’s with heartfelt thanks that I bid farewell to all of those who have followed my blog over the last few years.
While I can’t promise anything, don’t be surprised if I pop back in and start writing again in a few years.
Until then … good journey! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marriage Reconciliation At Johnny B. Good

When Zach and I got married in NY in 2012, we thought it was going to last forever. Then the stress that came with moving abroad to Argentina practically tore us apart. We were separated and our 12 year relationship, of which we had spent a year and a half married, had come to an end.

During our 8 months separation, we realized that we still loved each other and needed one another to get through the challenges we faced since we moved here. So we are officially back together!
To celebrate, we went to a restaurant that I’ve been dying to go to since we moved here two years ago. It’s called Johnny B. Good and is located in the heart of Nueva Cordoba.
The place offers a variety of Americanized dishes. The first thing we noticed as we came in is how much it reminded us of Uno’s Chicago Grill or Chili’s, two of our favorite restaurants back home in the States.

We got there at noon but were afraid that they weren’t serving yet. We’ve had some previous experiences with other restaurants in Cordoba where they won’t serve you unless it’s 1 pm. I’m not talking about the fast food restaurants of course but the fancier restaurants. So it was very nice of Johnny B. Good to open their doors at 12. We were one of the first customers.
 The menu had an assortment of appetizers, main courses, and my favorite, desserts. Zach and I started out with the potato skins. They’re not exactly like the ones they serve in the States but it’s close enough. The inside is stuffed with cheese and there’s no way you can avoid noticing how thick these puppies are. Potato Skins are usually thin and have cheddar and bacon bits sprinkled over them. These were gigantic but still delicious.
Then I went ahead and ordered the Philly Cheesesteak which I haven’t had in ages. They call it the Golden Baguette here and it only costs 83 Argentine pesos (9.86 USD as of the 9/8/14 exchange rate).
Zach had a burger with huge onion rings, not those scrawny shriveled up things they give you at BK. The bacon wasn’t really bacon because it’s hard to find in Argentina. They have something similar here but the texture isn’t the same. It’s softer and feels raw in your mouth, but Zach loved the burger just the same. The cost was about the same as the Philly Cheesesteak.
We were stuffed but decided to go ahead and push our stomachs beyond their limit and order some dessert.
 Zach had something that looked like an Oreo ice cream cookie with vanilla sauce on the side. While I had a brownie cup … well … it’s kind of difficult to explain. The first layer is whip cream with a layer of fruit, followed by a layer of "Dulce de Leche" (A caramel-like spread that is very popular here) and a brownie crumbled at the bottom of the glass cup.

With drinks (non-alcoholic), the bill came up to 425 Argentine pesos (50 USD as of the 9/8/14 exchange rate).

All in all, it was money well spent to celebrate our reconciliation.
Debating whether or not to go into the book fair
Afterwards we went walking around the city and saw that the annual book fair was in full bloom in Plaza San Martin. I’ve covered the last two fairs but this year I felt that there wasn’t anything new or special to report. Zach and I went through the fair rather quickly. We were looking for novels in English but since they don’t sell those here much, the bookstores that take part in the fair didn’t bother to bring their small selection of English novels.
The fair did serve one purpose and that was to kill time until our movie started. In case I haven’t mentioned it, we have a history of going to the movies over the last 12 years. Our ticket stub collection is almost as big as the thousands of DVDs we own. We watched the comedy “Sex Tape” with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz. We were the only people who laughed at the jokes because we were used to that type of humor but the film wasn’t that good.

On a different note, Zach recently became the proud uncle of a beautiful baby girl (I guess that by marriage that makes me an uncle too) and we'd like to take the time to congratulate his brother and his wife for their new addition.

I would also like to congratulate my very dear friend Amber and her husband Chris on the birth of baby Nathan.

We love and miss our friends and family back in the States but are grateful for the wonderful friends we've made during our stay here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Going Global At Global Village 2014 In Cordoba Argentina

Global Village was an event held at Studio Theater in Cordoba Capital Argentina. It brings people from diverse cultures and backgrounds together to share and to celebrate their uniqueness with music, dancing, information and most importantly, food!
There were tables representing Spain, Croatia, Paraguay, Cuba, the Middle East, Poland, Germany, Canada and Italy (and if I’m forgetting anyone I am deeply sorry).
 There were performers entertaining us with Polish dancing. Performers from other countries like Germany and Italy performed as well. Enjoy this short video I made of the event.
I loved that everyone at the event respected the different cultures present at this event. I’ve recently dealt with three separate situations where this was not the case, leaving me a little disheartened. So Global Village was a very refreshing experience and frankly it gives me hope that it will open people’s minds to allowing people of all cultures and walks of life to express themselves freely without the fear of prejudice.
I'm looking forward to the next event and I hope that people from other cultures will be encouraged to participate as well.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Product Pricing Comparison: Argentina Then And Now

So the international rumor mill suggests that Argentina’s economy is hitting an all-time low. So I decided to do a bit of pricing comparison with products I spot-checked last year versus the actual cost today. Have the prices dropped? Do they ever in any part of the world? The answer would be no. However, are things really that drastic? Let’s find out.

On July 29th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.19
On August 1st, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.23
On August 4th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.26
On August 8th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.27
On August 24th, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.39
On September 2nd, 2014, the cost of the US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.40

The photo on the left is the cost of the product from a year ago. The one on the right is the current price.
Yikes! That's a 3.10 increase in Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would cost you $1.04.

Wait! What? Can it be? No. That's not possible. He must have switched the images around. Sorry to disappoint you folks but the prices on these products are correct. The Gatorade on the left was once 9.50 Argentine pesos and a year later it has dropped to 7.25 Argentine pesos. That's a 2.25 drop. In US dollars this would be .88 cents.

Activia's liquid yogurt might give you the runs but you'll be 51 Argentine cents richer. The price went down from 15.50 to 14.99. In US dollars this would be $1.81.

Oh man! I was really looking forward to cleaning the wax out of my ears this weekend. Q-soft, which is basically a Q-tip has risen by 2.30 Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would be $1.69.
Oh ... SUGAR! The cost of cereal has definitely jumped in a year by a whopping 18.14 Argentine pesos. In US dollars this would be $4.41. Don't fret boys and girls! There are plenty of generic brands on sale at local supermarkets that taste just the same but at a more affordable price.
 
Hellmann's Ketchup has a nicer looking package but the price has gone up from 8.65 to 11.45 Argentine pesos That's a 2.80 mark up. In US dollars, that's $1.39.

Now you're probably wondering what the big deal is. After all, as long as expats have U.S. dollars, the prices are affordable more so in Argentina than they are in the States. That's a good point, but you need to consider the fact that every expat has a different financial situation. Those who continue to earn money in US dollars are better off than those who have depleted their supply of dollars (like yours truly) and are now solely dependent on Argentine pesos.

I should point out that a lot of these items have generic brands or have Argentine equivalent products that are (in most cases) cheaper.