A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

happy 112th anniversary

what?  what do you mean that the buenos aires botanical gardens is reusing the sign from their 110th anniversary?  that's crazy!  obviously this sign was made specifically to celebrate their 112th anniversary.  shame on you for even thinking otherwise.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

the blog of bad pants revisited OR seen in san telmo

apparently, cusco is not the only south american locale plagued by bad pants ... as we see here, bad pants can be encountered right here in fashionable buenos aires.  let's examine the offense more closely, shall we?

1.  oddly fitting bright day-glo orange pants
2.  random thick yellow strap used as a belt
3.  white crocs (i do not know what is worse, the pants or the fact that they are being paired with crocs)

c'mon people, get it together!  we can dress better than this.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

not quite a hanukkah miracle

so not to be rude or disrespectful, but i've been noticing that things here in argentina are made in a way ... oh, how to say it politely ... like crap.  we have this thing in our kitchen called a calefactor.  the calefactor heats, or is supposed to heat, the water in the apartment.  it is a simple idea, really.  there is a pilot light which is to remain lit all the time as a signal that gas is not leaking into your apartment slowly killing you.  then, when it is time to use hot water, there is a great whooshing of flames inside the calefactor which immediately heat the water you are using.  simple, right?

here are the problems:
1.  often the pilot light goes out for no reason.  we have told numerous handymen this, but they say that the problem is not the innocent calefactor but the fact that the calefactor is so close to the kitchen window.  obviously, it must be a breeze from the kitchen window which we keep CLOSED AT ALL TIMES that is blowing out the pilot light.  i ask you, why put this thing near a window then?  and why is  it constructed in a way that a small passing breeze could blow out the flame in the first place?  sometimes, and this is my favorite, when someone tries to use the hot water and the calefactor actually works, the whooshing of the flames is so intense that the wind that the fire creates (or lack of wind?) actually puts out the pilot light.  ironic, isn't it?

2.  frequently (usually in the morning when i am trying to take a shower before work) even if they pilot light is lit, the flames do not catch, and then the gas is going but it's not on fire, and therefore it is not heating the water.  when this happens, you need to go over to the calefactor and turn the knob ever so slightly, testing it out in each position, until you are able to find that magic spot where the gas will actually catch fire (please note: the magic spot is different every time).

so recently we had a handyman in to "fix" the calefactor.  and for about 5 days we actually didn't have any problems.  the pilot light stayed lit, and when we turned on the hot water, the calefactor automatically began heating the water, without any fidgeting or fussing.  AMAZING!  it was, as the bolshevik brought to my attention, quite nearly a buenos aires hanukkah miracle.  but as we approached the eighth day, with fingers crossed that the pilot light could stay lit for eight whole miraculous days without needing to be attended to by us or a technician, what happened? ... the calefactor failed us!  and now we are back to this (several times a day) ...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

spare room buenos aires: the exciting conclusion OR the bartender and the bolshevik

living room with cable television
 (not just a physical cable,
but also a connection to a
paid account that transmits
television programming
into the tv for us to watch!)
you may be wondering to yourself, "self, i wonder what happened with miss dewey d and her apartment dilemna?" well, we were able to find a very nice two-bedroom apartment only a few blocks away from our old apartment. it's good because that way we still know where everything is in the neighborhood.  and i am happy to say that our new landlady appears to be a non-psycho. say what? yes, it's true.

1 out of 2 balconies
and get this, when things are broken in the apartment, she promptly sends people to fix said things.  now, that is not to say that these people actually fix the things that are broken ... on no, that would be expecting too much.  but they do show up with tools and tinker around and make loud clanging sounds as though they're hard at work.  and even though that isn't quite as good as actually having things be fixed, i appreciate the illusion that they're creating.  

living room
anyhoo, we've been living here since november and i think it is safe to say that we will not be moving into another apartment during the remainder of our stay.  (fingers crossed!)  for those of you who may have lost track, this is now the third apartment we've lived in here in lovely buenos aires.

the apartment has a kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms, and two balconies (one off the living room and one off the master bedroom).
master bedroom

you may have picked up that we do in fact have a spare room in our apartment.  what on earth on we doing with this spare room you ask?  well, the bolshevik and i have taken on a flatmate who will hereby be referred to as "the bartender."  the bartender is someone we knew from nyc (yes that's right all the cool kids from nyc are moving to buenos aires) and he has a tendency to make us cocktails.  not a bad trait in a flatmate if you ask me.

kitchen (with the world's
weakest washing machine)
so all in all it's pretty amusing here in the new apartment, much like an episode of three's company, except that none of us are pretending to be gay in order to live in the building.

the bar
this brings me to a question that has been plaguing me as of late ... why did people have to pretend to be gay (or cross-dress) just to get an apartment in the 70s?  was the housing market that bad?   i think we can assume that television was accurately portraying a serious societal issue here.  i'm so glad that we live in a time where people no longer have to live a life of deception just to get a decent place to live.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

adventures in vino

cute little guest house
hola chicos, i do so apologize for the blogging delay.  but if you are a reader of this blog, you know that my blogging schedule is sporadic at best.  disculpame.

entonces.  maybe you are wondering how our trip to mendoza was.  i hope that you are because that is what i am going to write about today and you will be sorely disappointed if you were expecting something else.  here goes:

pool within a vineyard
mendoza is awesome.  and after a few ho-hum trips to uruguay, this was a well-deserved real vacation.

our first night there we stayed in a little guest house at a vineyard.  it was super cute and we had access to a little swimming pool surrounded by plum trees and olive groves.  adorable!  and the plums were delicious.  easily the best plums i've had in my life.  and for breakfast we were served fresh peaches with our tostadas which were also quite delicious.

the only problem with staying in a cute little guest house at a vineyard is that you are very far away from civilization.  we made the mistake of staying there on a sunday and then we were sort of stranded there and the one nearby restaurant was closed.  extremely hungry, we took a bus into town.  of course, everything in town was closed too, so we wound up buying gas station snacks, and much to our dismay, the girl at the counter refused to give us any change for the bus back.   due to this moneda shortage, we found ourselves unable to collect enough change to get back.  apparently they sell a metrocard type card for the buses, but all the kioskos that sold this card were closed on sundays.  so we went from store to store begging for change.  now, when i say "begging for change," i of course do not mean that we were asking for a free handout.  i mean that we were begging people to give us coins in exchange for bills.  often we even offered to buy something.  but it took quite a while until we were able to scrape together enough change to return to our cute little guest house.

exclusive bike parking
but once the week began and we returned to the land of the living we were able to hoard our change and ride buses and dine at fine restaurants and everything was peachy keen.

so what can you do in mendoza?

you can ride bikes to wineries and drink lots o' wine.  they even have special bike parking at all the wineries!  this biking and wine combo might seem like a bad idea, as we did have a little problem with this one time in uruguay, but the biking in mendoza was lovely.  the roads are all perfectly flat, and the drivers there seem accustomed to having tipsy tourists biking from vineyard to vineyard, so it all was very safe.

wine tasting + baked brie
we visited many vineyards, and learned a lot about how wine is made.  we also were able to visit a place that grows olives and produces olive oil, as well as a place that makes various chocolates and liquors.  but our favorite place was a vineyard called tempus alba.  they had this gorgeous roof terrace where they served food and did wine tastings.  we went there twice we liked it so much.  i recommend the baked brie if you go there .... deeeee-lish.

and of course we went on exciting adventures.  one day we did a rafting / biking combo.  we spent the morning white water rafting, and then we biked through the mountains.  while we were biking a small torrential downpour began and we needed to take cover in a tree.  yes, in a tree.  we found a tree with a nice opening in it (kind of like the tree the gummy bears live in) and we hid inside it.  we were then joined by a stray dog, also looking for shelter.  let's just say that three's a crowd when you're hiding inside a tree.
biking through the mountains

once the rain let up we resumed our biking and our canine friend began running alongside me, much like people used to run alongside departing trains in the 1950s.  have i mentioned that i do not really love dogs very much?  well, this dog was freaking me out running alongside me, and then all of a sudden he ran straight into my front tire.  i have never seen a dog do this before.  thankfully i was able to swerve out of the way without falling, but i ask you ... is there any other person who could possibly have a biking accident with a kamikaze dog?  no, only yours truly.

el bolshevik rappelling
off the side of a cliff
moving on ... once the rain subsided we saw many beautiful sights on our ride back.

on another day we decided to do a hiking/rappelling/hot springs combo ... we hiked up a mountain for about 45 minutes and then we rappelled down using ropes and harnesses and things.  now, we had done this once in belize, and you may remember that i had a minor freak out and refused to walk off the side of a cliff.  well, i was much better this time.  i'm an old pro at walking off the sides of cliffs!  so we rappelled off a few cliffs and then we walked to a nearby hot springs.
a "not that hot" hot springs,
but at least there was a view



this hot springs was way classier than the ones we visited in Colon ... it was built into the side of a cliff with lovely pools where you could sit and relax and look out on the "pre-Andes."  pretty cool.  of course, most of them were not all that hot (much like Argentine cuisine) but what can you do?  it was pretty awesome all the same.

and that was our trip to mendoza.