Monday, January 15, 2018

The End Of 2017 And The Beginning Of 2018

So, another year has come and gone, and we're still here, living abroad. Our friends and family are thousands of miles away, and sadly, the distance has forced a silent rift to grow even wider. But, we've made two Argentine friends, who have shown us surprising acts of kindness, like no one else here has. So naturally, they were on hand to celebrate four of my favorite holidays.
Whether we're preparing for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Or New Year, we always try to buy a few extra decorations. 
Alright, so I fudged up the mouth. Sue me! 
During Halloween, our friends Franco and Melisa came over for a ghoulish good time. This was the second Halloween we celebrated with them. Last year's Halloween was a bit fudged up because we had gotten robbed, but this year, we were in a more festive mood. 
For Thanksgiving, we hit a snag. Don't get me wrong, Zach and I did celebrate, but our friends were going through a breakup. We knew it would have been difficult for them to be in the same house together, and it would have been tough to choose who to invite. In fact, we couldn't, so we decided to just celebrate it on our own.
It was just the two of us, but we made the best of it. I helped Zach with the cooking, but I also had to work because my boss is Argentine, and they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. So, I couldn't get the day off.  
Thanks to the power of digital streaming, we were able to watch The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, albeit in the afternoon, instead of the morning, when it actually airs live back home. We also watched A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, which neither one of us had seen since we were kids. 
For Christmas, we decided we wanted to celebrate with our friends. In order to make this work, we celebrated Christmas Eve with one friend, and Christmas day with the other. 
On New Year's Eve, we celebrated on our own. Again, thanks to digital streaming, we were able to watch the ball drop in Time Square. At this time of the year, New York is two hours behind because of daylight savings time. So, we waited until 2 a.m., when the ball dropped to officially celebrate New Year 2018.
Then we celebrated with our friend, Franco on January 1st, and had a great time. The menu was a bit simpler because by this point, we were practically broke, and I wasn't scheduled to get paid until the middle of the week. But all in all, I'd say we did good. 
On January 5th, our friend, Melisa came over for a belated New Year's celebration. So, we ended 2017, and started 2018 on a good note, but on January 6th, something terrifying happened... 

To Be Continued... 

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.


********************************************************************************

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.