Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bolivar: The Quiet Town You Might Not Know About

If the excitement of La CABA in Buenos Aires isn't your thing, then you should definitely head down to Bolivar. This quiet little town is also located in the province of Buenos Aires. But it's approximately 6 hours away on bus from the metropolitan area of La CABA. You could even say that Bolivar and La CABA are worlds apart.

Now I'll admit, I've been curious about this place, but I haven't gotten the chance to visit there. Fortunately, my friend, Franco, was raised in Bolivar, and visits his mom there frequently. So during his last trip, I asked him if he wouldn't mind taking a few photos of Bolivar, and then sharing some details of what this town was like, and he was more than happy to oblige.

It's Home To Marcelo Tinelli
Bolivar is home to famous Argentine TV host, Marcelo Tinelli, who is known for his generosity, especially in his hometown. He actually gave money to restore the only movie theater in Bolivar, but, unfortunately, the money never made it to the right hands.

The Perks Of Living In Bolivar
According to Franco, one huge advantage to living in Bolivar is that it's secure, safer, and quieter than La CABA, or even Cordoba. It's also the kind of town where everyone knows you, which could prove to be an advantage and a disadvantage. You really can't mess up in Bolivar, at least, not without the entire town finding out about it. So, I'm assuming cheating scandals are very rare here.

The Entertainment Value

There's only one movie theater in the entire town, and can only play two movies at a time. But you can always hang out with your friends at Grido, a popular ice cream shop in Argentina. On a nice, sunny day, you can hang out at the park, or you can go to the main square and sit between the sidewalk and the parking lot and just talk.

What You Won't Find

Just don't expect to go hang out at the mall, because there isn't one. You can also say goodbye to a Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets, cause Bolivar doesn't have any American fast food joints. Maybe some day, but not now.

Supermarkets

You won't find Disco, Libertad, or even a Walmart in Bolivar either. But you'll find a decent supermarket, which is equivalent to one of these three popular supermarket chains.

Don't Drink The Water
In Cordoba, most people drink from the tap. I know I certainly have, and to this day, I haven't died. But in Bolivar, the tap water is bad. Aside from bacterial contaminants, there are low levels of arsenic, which is why locals buy plenty of bottled water instead.

Schools
There are 4 schools in total and 1 university where locals can go to study law or social studies, but not much else. In general, most people prefer going to Buenos Aires or La Plata to pursue a higher education after high school.

Foreigners
Foreigners are just as rare as tourists here. To Franco's knowledge, there was only one foreigner and it was the result of a foreign exchange program only. You also won't find English groups like they have in Cordoba, where locals and foreigners get to mingle.

Bolivar's Dialect
The Dialect in Bolivar is similar to the one spoken in La CABA, which is more commonly referred as the "PorteƱo" dialect. But Franco finds that it's slightly more subtle in Bolivar.

Food
The food in Bolivar is typically Argentinian (empanadas, asado, aka Argentine BBQ), but Franco claims that the locals in Bolivar put no effort in using food seasoning. As a result, the food tends to taste bland. So bring some salt and pepper packets if you come visit. You might end up tasting a dish called Pastel de Carne (which loosely translates to Meat Pastry). But it's really more like Shepherd's Pie with meat at the bottom and mash potatoes on top.

The Rich Countryside
Some of the locals in Bolivar are considered super rich because they work in the countryside, but according to Franco, they still behave like they're not rich at all. In some cases, they will show off that they're rich by buying stuff you wouldn't expect someone with money to buy. One example he gave was of someone buying a pickup truck instead of an expensive sports car.

Enjoy The Night Sky
There aren't a whole lot of buildings in Bolivar, which is great if you're a stargazer, because there's nothing blocking your line of sight, and the lights aren't so bright that they block out the stars like they do in a big city.

Siesta

Yes, Bolivar observes the siesta religiously like most other provinces in Argentina do. But in some cases, it's hard to tell when it's the siesta. Franco shared that Bolivar can sometimes feel a bit like a ghost town.

It's Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime

The only time you tend to see more people walking around is during the summer, but that's usually because the homes tend to get very hot, and no one can stand being indoors. So, the warm summer weather brings everyone out to hang at the park or the town square.


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Once again, I'd like to thank Franco for the photos and his invaluable information, which allowed me, and hopefully you, get a better insight into the quiet town of Bolivar.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Grocery Shopping Prices In Argentina In 2017

I've had two or three people ask me what grocery prices were like in Argentina, and I explained to them that the prices undoubtedly vary by province and are in a constant state of flux as the Argentine peso continues to decline.

But if you're living in Cordoba or planning to move to Cordoba, here's a glimpse of what you'd have to pay in 2017. Some of the photos on this list show comparison pricing from 2013 versus 2017. I'm sorry that the list isn't more extensive, but most supermarket managers don't like it when someone takes photos of anything in their store, and I almost got caught twice. So, at some point, I had to stop taking photos, but hopefully this will give you some idea of what you can expect.

The Argentine Peso Versus USD
Before I begin, I wanted to share this updated list of what one USD is worth per Argentine pesos since we moved here in 2012.

On December 31st, 2012, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 4.90
On December 31st, 2013, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 6.51
On July 29th, 2014, the cost of one US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.19
On December 24th, 2015, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 12.97
On June 19th, 2016, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 13.89
On June 13th, 2017, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos is 15.90.
On September 26, 2017, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos is 17.31.

Let's Shop!

158.99 Argentine pesos to get some dry food for your dog ($9.18 USD)
93.89 Argentine pesos for 4 steaks ($5.42 USD) 
43.99 Argentine pesos ($2.51 USD) for a dozen white eggs. But in my observation, the cost of eggs can very significantly by the brand you buy.
In 2016, a Kit Kat bar was worth 15.99 Argentine pesos (.92 US cents using today's currency conversion) and in 2017, it went up to 24.99 Argentine pesos ($1.44 USD)
In 2013 These Cup-A-Soups were worth 9.99 in Argentine pesos (.58 US cents using today's currency conversion) and in 2017, it went up to 28.49 Argentine pesos ($1.65 USD)
In 2013 a bottle of Gatorade was worth 9.99 Argentine pesos (.55 US cents using today's currency conversion) and in 2017, it went up to 19.00 Argentine pesos ($1.10 USD)
In 2013, a can of Pringles, with 20% more chips, was worth 24.59 Argentine pesos ($1.42 USD). But the cost of the regular can is 49.55 Argentine pesos ($2.86 USD) in 2017.
In 2013 a packet of Tang cost $1.79 in Argentine pesos (.10 US cents using today's currency conversion). In  2017 the cost went up to 5.99 in Argentine pesos (.35 US cents)
In 2013,a 1.5 liter bottle of Pepsi Light was worth 10.40 Argentine pesos (.60 US cents using today's currency conversion). In 2017, the price went up to 23.21 Argentine pesos ($1.34 in USD)
In 2013, a 500 gram box of Quaker Oatmeal cost 12.99 Argentine pesos (.75 US cents using today's currency conversion). In 2017, the price went up to 47.49 ($2.74 USD)

Shoe Shopping, Anyone?
I know it's just two items, but I ran into the same issue with security as before. So I apologize for such a short list.
From left to right (top shelf): 1,230 Argentine pesos ($71.04 USD) / 1,280 Argentine pesos ($73.93 USD) / 1,290 Argentine pesos ($74.51 USD)
From left to right: $750 Argentine pesos ($43.32 USD) / 590 Argentine Pesos ($34.08).

Prices in most supermarkets like Dino, Vea, Libertad, and even Walmart, vary in Cordoba, but the difference isn't huge. At most, you might save a couple of pesos more in one supermarket versus another. The same goes for shoes! You can find all kinds of prices based on quality, but I just wanted to give you all an idea of what to expect before you come over. I hope it helps. I'll be adding more items in the future, so keep an eye out.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Living In Cordoba? Try These Restaurant Alternatives To The Local Cuisine

If you're looking for a place in Cordoba, Argentina to eat that doesn't sell lomitos, empanadas, pizzas, or sandwiches de miga, then try Chilli Street Food. It's fantastic! 
Located on Fructuoso Rivera 273, the restaurant has a hipster vibe to it that most Millennials will love, but old timers like me will also get to enjoy great quality food that's a huge departure from the local cuisine.
The thing I love most about Chilli (not to be confused with Chili's from the States) is that their business hours aren't limited to a few hours in the evening like some establishments here commonly are. They also don't adhere to the dreaded siesta, which is a major plus. They're open every day from Noon till 2 a.m. The only day they're closed is Monday. 
They serve alcohol, so if it's beer you want, then beer you shall have. But you can also order some ice tea, which isn't very popular around these parts.
Another cool feature about the restaurant is that they have an open kitchen, so you can see them making your food before the server brings it over to your table.
They offer a wide array of culinary options like Asian, Middle Eastern, American (like fried chicken with coleslaw), and Latin food!
Cochinita Pibil is my personal favorite, and I say this having ordered this frequently over the last month or so for $95 Argentine pesos (which is $5.56 USD).
My partner preferred the Pita De Pollo Jooleh for $110 Argentine pesos (which is $6.43 USD).
The prices on the menu are all in Argentine pesos, and since 1 Argentine peso is worth 6 U.S. cents, this is perfect if you're just vacationing here.

They also have assorted side dishes. My favorite happens to be the refried beans, which I haven't had since I moved to Argentina. Trust me, it's a lot tastier than it looks.
It's important to note that Chilli opened in July of this year, and it certainly deserves a lot of credit for bringing a diverse mix of food. I just hope that they manage to beat the odds of most new businesses in Argentina and actually become successful.

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(Update 10/31/2017: Las Tinajas has unfortunately gone out of business)

Of course, there's always the all you can eat buffet called Las Tinajas in Boulevard San Juan 32. Unlike some places in Cordoba, you only have to pay a set price of $220 Argentine Pesos per person and you can eat till you burst. The only thing that you have to pay extra for are the drinks.
There's a variety of food here like meat, seafood, and veggies! There's also plenty of Asian cuisine to sample, particularly Sushi, which I don't personally eat, but some of you might enjoy.
Once you empty a plate, you can go grab another and fill it right back up and keep on packing those calories until you simply can't anymore.
If your food gets cold, don't worry. They have a microwave that you can use to heat up your food, and don't worry about crowds. We've been here for lunch and dinner and it's never too crowded.
At this point, you can try grabbing some dessert. There are different types of pies, cakes, fruits, as well as ice cream. Who could say no to that?
The prices during the day are slightly cheaper, and a bit more expensive in the evenings, but certainly not enough to burn a hole in your pocket. 
The only downside are the hours. If you go during lunch time, make sure you go at 12:30 p.m. because if you get there by 2pm, you'll feel rushed because they close at 3 p.m. and generally stop making new food so the patrons will leave. At night I would recommend that you get there at 8:30 and no later than 9 p.m. if you want to spend a couple of hours pigging out. I know I do.

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Chicken Brothers is another favorite of mine. Aside from their delicious Texas burger, they also have fried chicken. Granted, it's not KFC. They use corn flakes to make the chicken crispy, but you definitely have to give them kudos for ingenuity.

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About a year ago, Jardin de Jade, one of the best Asian restaurants I've seen in Cordoba so far, closed. Fortunately, we found other alternatives like this one.


The egg rolls are to die for, but I'll admit, I'm still looking for a restaurant that makes spring rolls.

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There are plenty of other restaurants that I look forward to trying and reporting back on. Some are new, and some old, But there's one thing they have in common and that's the fact that they offer a taste of home.