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  • GRIPE A OR SWINE FLU IN BUENOS AIRES

    ¿Panic griping the nation?

    Arriving in Buenos Aires in the midst of a global epidemic was an unsettling experience, especially in July when Argentina was reported to have the second highest number of deaths attributed to Gripe A (H1N1 or Swine Flu) among countries of the world. Of course, it’s important not to be insensitive about, or underplay the effect that the Gripe has had on many people in Argentina and throughout the world. Although statistics are extremely unreliable, it is clear that this outbreak has caused hundreds of deaths in Argentina alone (totalling 407 by mid-August according to the Ministry of Health of Argentina). Equally, this is a pandemic which predominantly targets the vulnerable within societies, in other words those with inadequate access to healthcare and underlying health problems. Having acknowledged this and the rather cushioned, middle-class position from which I write, there are some more comical observations to be made about life in downtown Buenos Aires in the face of the Gripe.
    Gripe A Or Swine Flue In Buenos Aires

    Firstly, the international media reports about the ensuing disaster affecting the nation and Buenos Aires seem to dramatically differ with the reality of living in the city itself. The medical staff in the arrivals lounge at Buenos Aires complete with masks and suits which look like they could stave off a radioactive disaster, do little to fill you with confidence when entering the country. However, the behaviour of porteños (people of the port of Buenos Aires) and the ‘business as usual’ approach to life soon make you feel much more at ease. The people of this huge city either have collective amnesia, have decided to take a chance or have become bored with the news story of the hour. How quickly the masks appeared and disappeared on the streets of Buenos Aires, as rumours spread about the effectiveness or otherwise of wearing protective headgear. Sales of alcoholic gels must have the pharmaceutical companies quite literally rubbing their hands with glee and small bottles with pump action sprays are the essential must-have accessory of Buenos Aires, winter 2009! Whilst this trend continues, giving the air an alcoholic scent reminiscent to that of an English city-centre on a Friday night, so do the enduring customs of the people of this city. (más…)

    SPANISH FOR EXPATS

    students drinking mate

    If you are planning to relocate to Argentina – either temporarily or for good – , learning Spanish is a must in order to get the most out of your experience. The real world – full of Porteños 😉 –  is right outside your door and by speaking just a bit more of Spanish you will quickly find life is so much more exciting! If you are buying something in a shop, ordering in a restaurant, or if you need to get something done, or if you are moving to a new home, or when setting up a business… speaking Spanish to local trades people, builders, utility companies, bar tenders, means you will get superior, faster service and you will be in a better position to negotiate if things go wrong.

    (más…)

    A Typical Argentine Fiesta

    Be sure to use your siesta time wisely when studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, because there is no partying before midnight in this town! If you are invited to a party at someone’s house, do not plan to go before 1:00am and plan to stay until around sunrise (unless the cops are called first). Generally, people will get together with close friends in their own homes before heading to a party or a bar. If you’re lucky, they’ll grill some meat for you on a parilla for dinner.

    It’s very typical to have a DJ and dance floor, but drinks are generally BYOF (bring your own Fernet). Fernet is technically an Italian liquor, but the Argentines LOVE IT. They drink it with Coke and a popular nickname for the drink is “Fernando.” The taste is similar to that of black licorice, so watch out!

    In the summer of 2009, I was studying Spanish and  lived in a great house near the Abasto shopping mall. There were 6 huge bedrooms, a huge open terrace, kitchen and a great living room. Above all though, was the asado (grill) that occupied a corner of the terrace. Within two weeks of living in Buenos Aires, my roommates and I decided to have a party and take advantage of the parilla. Off we went to buy meat, drinks and other assorted party things.
    A Typical Argentine Fiesta (más…)