The pursuit of Happiness

I have been thoroughly enjoying my time here in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There have been many adventures and I have met many beautiful people.

In the beginning of my stay here I was able to write every day. One of the many joys of having this time has been to be able to write this BLOG and share my experiences. But as time moves forward, life gets bigger and bigger. For me this time has been to fulfill myself with experiences that I have always wanted to do but haven't. Besides enjoying the food, city and culture, I now have a tutor 3 times a week, with homework. This alone has drained me quite a bit. And I still face a battle in my head with Spanish/English. I am slowly becoming more relaxed with this reality.

I have just begun singing lessons in Spanish and I have looked into another dream of mine, yoga. I am hoping that these two activities will add more of a center to my core. Also, I’ve begun a search on culinary schools. With this I am unsure what I want to do with food. I always thought that I would run a restaurant but lately other options with food sound more attractive. For example, working back stage on one of the cooking shows that I love to watch.

For now, my short term goal is to have some kind of job by the end of the month.

I’m reaching another level here in Buenos Aires, which has been thinking about if I could live here. I could. I would enjoy it. Maybe not forever and maybe still only for another 2 months but certainly while I discover more of myself.


All I want for Christmas.......

Dear Santa:

All I want for Christmas is a Red onion. Thank you.
Love Molly.

Many of us will be enjoying new electronics, phones, computers or other items that run on electricity over the holidays. All though we may intellectually realize that people in many other countries don't have every household appliance, it is another thing to witness this first hand.

What a decision it can be to purchase these items. In the US, we rarely think about these purchases. Our biggest concern is what brand we want to buy. If we don’t have the money, we get credit.

I, for one, have been living without credit for some time now, so I have adapted to the system that I am currently in. If you don't have money, you don't purchase.

The people talk about not being able to afford electronics. It is true. But some people can afford them, but only if they are able to purchase them in the United States. Because of this they are constantly looking for connections to purchase.

I thought it was strange the first time I saw a very busy shop with daily planners, calendars, paper, pens and stationary. But I quickly realized that in the US, we live our lives with palm pilots and blackberry’s. This is not an option for many of the people in Buenos Aires. They need calendars, pens and paper.

For me, the most frustrating products have been make-up and nail polish. It is expensive and bad quality. Also, I miss other little items, that I took for granted, like a good quality band-aid or a clean chicken breast. Many times, I can find what I used in the US but it isn’t worth the cost. Other times, it is just not available.

What I have enjoyed the most during this holiday season is the lack of capitalism. Here people get together with the ones they love and celebrate. Many of my friends are like Santa for their family because they live in the US; they can purchase items and bring them home for the holidays.

Here in Argentina, if you can afford to buy something, great, but if not, let us eat, dance and sing!

Items that I have issues with, be it cost or quality.

Paper towels




Curling iron

Sun block

Clothes Iron

Nail Polish
Feminine supplies

Brita filter

Vacuum cleaner



Kitchen supplies

Contact Solution


Senorita Dora

I rent a small room in the apartment of an older woman. She is an angel. Or really, more like a little fairy with wings. I know it sounds strange to say that but it is actually true. She is very funny and a tad bit flighty. For example, she occasionally forgets to turn things off, like water or fire. I think it is a combination of her age and her natural personality. And for some reason, I am rarely worried. There is something about her that feels really lucky. All that said I sure hope nothing disastrous happens to me. She likes to dabble around the house. She enjoys cleaning up random areas, with seemingly little purpose, since the house is chronically dirty. She likes to dress up and go out to lunch with the ladies, looking fabulous. She tells cute little stories that I am just beginning to understand, those have been fun. She makes simple yet delicious items in the kitchen, which have lately been pureed or shredded finely because of a sore tooth. I have had mashed tuna fish with avocado on bread, her cold beet soup with onions and her empanadas. She is many times here to offer me food when I am walking out the door or coming home from a long day. She has the sweetest grandchild, who has become fond of me, and she tells me every time she is here. She is just a top of the line first class lady. And I couldn’t be happier in her sweet little humble abode.


A COMER !!!!

Today has been one of my favorite days. Nothing that extraordinary has happened. In fact, it has been raining all day. But today, I fulfilled a deep desire inside. Since I arrived, I have been trying desperately to understand the meat cuts and general menus without spending tons of money.

My good friend Wendy, here in Buenos Aires, is a fluent Spanish speaker but because she is from Mexico many of the food words she knows are different then the words used here. She is also vegetarian. So, although she helps me out quite a bit, when it comes to food, I have been on my own. Those of you who know me well understand the subject of food as being an important one to me. But now I can honestly say, that I didn’t even realize how much it meant to me until my communication of it was taken away.

I stumbled into a place, called La Payuca on Av. Santa Fe. I was certain when I entered that it was touristy but I didn’t care. What it gave me was priceless. First off, it was a slow time of the day, which meant they had a lot of time and the hostess spoke some English. They provided a menu in English and in Spanish. Within minutes, I asked for table for one and literally began to take notes. By the end of my meal, of course, my tummy was happy. But I also had a decent grasp on the Argentine style of Beef, Pork and Lamb cuts, including the traditional starters, salads, sides and deserts. For me, this is a serious relief. Thank you, tourism. And thank you to the very kind hostess who spoke a little English.


The Puente de la Mujer

The other night I went to Puerto Madero. This area of town is basically restaurants along a river. There are several types of fancy restaurants in one spot. It is reminiscent of Navy pier in Chicago but without the Disney land effect. It is surrounded by upscale Chicago-like condos and near a Gold coast style Neighborhood. Apparently all the fancy or famous people live in this neighborhood. I don’t quite get the attraction. To be perfectly honest, I probably won’t go back. What I did really enjoy was this beautiful bridge called The Puente de la Mujer (Women's Bridge), designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava . Every street in Puerto Madero is named after women, hence the name. It has a single mast with cables that suspend a portion of the bridge so it can rotate 90 degrees to allow water traffic to pass. When it swings open to make a passage the far end comes to a resting point on a stabilizing pylon. I don’t quite understand this and if I do go back it will be to bear witness to this incredible event.



Pigeons don’t seem fun when you think about them, right? In Chicago, I once had a pigeon literally fly over and let the poop fall right in front of me, like it was a joke!! If you are a city dweller like me, you know how pesky pigeons can be. Personally, I get a bad feeling when people feed the pigeons because of what Pavlov told us about conditioning. Here in Buenos Aires, they exist just like in any other cities but for some reason people seem to kind of like them. It’s cute. It’s kind. Am I just not that kind? I am sure there are others like me here. I've always thought of them as rats with wings, but for now, I'll let myself appreciate those wacky-doodle birds.

FUN FACTS: to help us appreciate and better understand the pigeons.

• Pigeons are found almost everywhere on Earth; however, they don’t live in very cold places or in very dry places. There are no native pigeons on the Hawaiian Islands or on the islands of the mid-Atlantic ridge.
• Pigeon and dove are synonyms: they are the same thing.
• Pigeons drink water by sucking it up through the beak, a feature unusual in birds.
• City pigeons, carrier (or homing) pigeons, domestic pigeons raised for meat, and racing pigeons are all the same species, descended from the Rock Dove of Europe, North Africa, and South Asia.
• Because of their amazing ability to find their way home, even over very large distances, homing pigeons have been used to deliver messages since the time of the early Egyptians.
• The Passenger Pigeon may have once been the most numerous birds on Earth. In the early 1800s there were between 3 and 5 billion Passenger Pigeons in North America.



In Buenos Aires, rarely is there pepper on the table at any restaurant. However, what they do always have is salt and sugar. The sugar struck me as strange when I first arrived because everywhere I would go the sugar packets were different. I began to collect them and investigate. Where is this magical sugar factory? Or, from what it appears to be, several factories? I came to found out I was not alone. My friend from Argentina used to collect them as a kid. I can completely understand this. They are fun and it’s always a surprise what you will get! Unfortunately, the tradition of creating personalized sugar packets is dying. The ones that I have collected are pretty generic, just the logo of the restaurant or the logo of the coffee company they use. Here is a fun BLOG about sugar packets from Argentina! AZUCAR!!



More photos to come

Please forgive me in advance. I will not be writing until next Tuesday the 15th of December.

The reason why is because since I have begun my classes in Spanish, I have also begun to think more in Spanish. Today I noticed that the pressure of my post was interrupting the flow of my thinking in Spanish. My teacher suggested that I should post in Spanish and English. I would really like to do this. However, I need more time in my head to begin thinking in Spanish so I can feel more confident. I will work on posting more photos until then. Chau y Besos.


My friends who have been here or who are from here know this issue very well. Change or Coins. The problem is that there isn’t enough in circulation. There are several different reasons why but it’s forcing the people to hoard their change. The first time I spoke to a store owner I had to use the phase, “no tengo cambio,” which means that ‘I have no change.’ The store owner laughed and said to my friend, “She already knows!” Store people do not feel bad about digging through your purse or wallet and being rude while harassing you for change. I have heard this creates many arguments and lost sales. Their cash registers are literally empty of change. I don’t quite understand why Argentina cannot produce more change and put it in circulation. I am sure that is a common curiosity. I read that the buses, that only take change, were selling their change to shop owners on the black market for a 5-8% markup. Allegedly, the city has cracked down on the private bus companies black market. Still there are other sources that are selling for a mark-up. Shop owners are desperate and so are the people. I have noticed that many people walk here. I’m assuming because they would rather save their change for a long bus ride, literally on a rainy day.


Hablando en Espanol

For me learning a language has been difficult. Is it because I am getting older? I don’t know. I think, maybe I didn’t study enough? Or maybe, I shouldn’t be speaking English, at all. Or, well, it’s true; I am a little slow, at times. Whatever the reason is, for me learning another language has been challenging. It has taken serious patience from inside. I myself have a habit of pushing myself to the limit with goals that have immediate results. This does not happen with language. Language is gradual. Language is gentle. It softly seeps through your pores and envelopes you. You must simply wait till it arrives. Perhaps, for me, I face another challenge. I am, many times, still learning patience and serenity. I had a teacher who told me not to compare myself to others. I have teachers who tell me to relax. Today my teacher told me to have fun or it isn’t going to work. Language is life. Life is a journey. My journey is here.


Fiesta Nacional !!

Today is a holiday in Argentina, The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8th, was established as a universal feast in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV. It is an Italian holiday. I thought before I came here that my Argentine friends had too many holidays. But in reality the United States has more holidays. Maybe it’s the fact that the holidays here are many times in the middle of the week, or because of random observations like animal or children’s day. It could be because most people actually take the day off. I am not sure why it feels different. I just get the sense that people here allow themselves time to relax while enjoying their friends and family. Maybe they have no other choice. In the United States we reward our employees when they work a holiday, with overtime, time and a half. In my personal life, the only holiday in 10 years that I know I will have off is Christmas. Yes, I am from a Capitalist Country. And yes, I am enjoying not being in one right now. Yesterday I found a Spanish teacher and my classes begin on Wednesday. She asked me if I could meet in the morning, since it’s after a holiday. I said yes, “What time?” I thought for a moment 9 am or so. She responded 12 noon. Ahhh.....Molly, Welcome to Argentina, Aprovecha!!!


Mr. Miga

After one week here, I already have something that I am craving. Sandwich de Miga!! I first discovered them at a small little shop that I stopped into while I was looking for a quick bite. It looks just like a thin sandwich with the crust cut off and it is very common, even the Starbucks sells their version. It is filled with all different things. Ham is big here. There is always a choice with Ham and something. Egg salad is another filling. Argentines eat a lot of eggs in their meals. Another common choice is anchovies and Roquefort. The cool thing is that I actually found a shop that prepares them in public and they use large sheets of crust-less bread to make them, then they cut them in fours and diagonal. So they turn out to look like regular sandwiches. My favorite place is Mr. Miga, I go to the one in Palermo on Av. S. Ortiz 2429 but there are other locations. I will be eating one today.


Fin de Semana

This weekend, I was able to see more of the ‘nightlife’ with friends. Last night, we arrived at a small Argentine party around 11:30. Everybody kisses on the cheek to say hello and to introduce themselves. We arrived a little late but the food had just started cooking. We talked and laughed while waiting an hour for the asado. One thing I’ve noticed is that people here are connected. People will look in your eyes from across a room. People here will sit next to you. They will hug you. People will walk arm and arm with you. Not just men and woman. With all people, there is a feeling of being comfortable with whom they are. After the asado, at 2:30 am we went to a VH1 party that we had been invited to. In any club, there is a cover charge and it is crazy, almost like Las Vegas but without pretension. There is no ID required,ever. Inside, English music played and many people knew the words. Dancing, singing and laughing, people here allow themselves the freedom to really have fun. No wonder Sunday is for relaxing here.



As soon as I decided that coming to Buenos Aires was what I wanted to do, the universe has allowed me to do it. I have met so many wonderful people over the last year. I have helped me in extraordinary ways. Just weeks before I left a friend of mine thought to connect me with a girl named Wendy. We have many mutual friends but, oddly, have never met until now. She has been here for 6 months. She is from Mexico and Chicago. She is smart, fun, interesting, active and curious. She can keep up with me when I walk. She’s tough but kind. She can communicate with all the people here. She has given me the grand tour in English with a little Spanish. She helped me find a place to stay. She generously and patiently explains everything she knows to me about this city. I was prepared to do this alone but the universe brought me Wendy. Mi Chica Latina de Chicago!


This one is for you Genesa

I have a best friend and her name is Genesa. She is 50% Italian, 50% Polish from the United States. Her last name comes from the Italian side, it is Garbarino. Her dad still speaks Italian.

FUN FACT! Argentina was second only to the United States in the number of European immigrants received, and at the time, the national population doubled approximately every two decades as a result. Up to 25 million Argentines have some degree of Italian descent, around 60% of the total population.

I had heard that Genesa's last name was the name of a local electronics store. Above is a picture of some of the sales people! But what I didn't realize was the deal they were offering, only 2499 pesos ($655) for a NETBOOK HP. When I reflected on the 350 peso ($100) Brita filter I price checked yesterday. I understood why everyone drinks the water and works with computers.

Las especias (The spices)

In the States, when I make eggs I put garlic and black pepper, maybe tomatoes or cheese if I am feeling frisky. One thing that has surprised me the most about this country is the sense of spice in their food is practically non-existent. In the store, black pepper is located in a small section and is very expensive. It is not on any table, in any restaurant, that I’ve been to in 3 days. It seems the spiciest they like to get is with garlic (ajo) for the chimichurri sauces. Yesterday, I found McCormick’s black pepper for 15 pesos. So, today I was able to make a delectable breakfast (desayuno), my regular way, with garlic and pepper. Delicioso!


Food, I love it. I crave it. I need it all the time. I am sort of obsessed with it. Food!! I can’t stop thinking about how I’m going to get it and in what form. I was once crowned (nicknamed) the ‘Queen of Food’. My sister believes I should train to be a competitive eater. Consequently, I have gone through blood tests to make sure my insatiable hunger was healthy. I was told by my doctor that I have the ‘lean gene’. Just hold your jealousy; I assure you that I received many bad genes to make up for it. My favorite food in whole world is the banana. I do not like banana flavor. Only the actual banana. This one from Argentina came with a split down the middle. It was delicious.

Vereda or Sidewalk

The very first thing I said when I got to Buenos Aires was “My, this place is dangerous!” It is true. The queen of safety was living on the edge. As I familiarized myself with the surrounding areas, I began to realize more of what that meant. Yes, I am at risk of having a very poor person steal my purse inconspicuously but what my clumsy self really needs to watch out for are the sidewalks. There is rarely any long stretch of sidewalk (vereda) without holes or loose tile. Sections of the sidewalk go up or down without warning. And the stray but friendly dogs provide a random poop or enjoy filling in the holes to make what I now call a, pee puddle. The dog waste problem is also due to the dog walkers that will walk 10-20 dogs at one time!


El bano

In the United States, we have luxury in our bathrooms. We have privacy, we have space, and we have our own personal everything, with our name on it and coated in silver, if we wanted. Argentina, especially in the older buildings, typically the bathroom ( el bano) is small and the shower head lives on the wall spraying everything in its path. There are metal covers for the toilet paper (pictured). Other than that, you must protect everything on your own, squeegee the floor and dry down when you are finished. This morning as I finished my shower I wondered how the Argentine people felt with this in their daily routine. Then I thought how nice it must be to not have to worry too much about cleaning the bathroom floor.