Saturday Sweets–Havannets

On our trip to Buenos Aires, we picked up some sweets for the office. We kept on seeing Havanna kiosks all around, and decided these Havannets looked delicious–and they are:

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These treats start with I believe is an almond-based cookie at the bottom, a huge dollop of creamy dulce de leche, and covered in a chocolate shell.

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Decadent.

In other BIG news–I get to make a short trip stateside at the end of the month! It’s for work, so not much time to go visiting, but it will be nice to see the house, the family, and the pets. Our packing towards the end was such a whirlwind that we left lots of stuff hanging around and disorganized. It will be nice to put it all back in its place so we can come home to an organized house over the holidays!  Plus, my car’s battery apparently died in the snow, so I’ll be spending some quality time with the AAA man once I’m stateside.

The blog will finally be true to its name after this trip–Tesla will be making the trip down!  He has a vet appointment to fill out all of the necessary paperwork, and then bunny will be ready to go.

Legal!

After another experience in immigrations in Buenos Aires, T and I are finally completely legal!  No major hiccups this time, although the background check officers got mad at T and held up a handwritten sign that said that you couldn’t wear shorts in the office. (A rule that is posted no where else, and no one else had ever heard of before… but such is Argentina. Random rules, random enforcement.) In about two months, we should get our permanent cards and be official temporary residents of Argentina!

We didn’t do much sight-seeing this time around. We stayed in a different Sheraton with a view of the port, which was a change. It was even closer to the immigrations office, so it was only a short walk in the morning.

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We’ve learned to embrace a strong love of the Club Level of the Sheraton. The breakfast rooms in Buenos Aires always seem to have the best views!  We enjoyed watching the cards pile up on the roads during rush hour.

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We did take a taxi and go to Jumbo, which is a hipermercado.  Kind of a ritzy version of Walmart. We were in search of some more potent spices than we have been able to find in Ituzaingo or Posadas. We weren’t able to find everything, but we found basil, cumin, thyme, rosemary, and a few others. It was kind of nice to just look around and see all of the different products that ARE available in Argentina–just only in Buenos Aires. We also found a store called Easy that is pretty much the Argentinian equivalent of Home Depot. I think T was in heaven.

Sunday Sweet: Alfajores

I really am beginning to think that their food pyramid of Argentina is comprised solely of refined white flour, sugar, red meat, and beer/wine. Maybe add some Coca Cola to the mix.

On the sugar end, Argentinians have a serious sweet tooth. One of our coworkers went to visit her family near Rosario, and brought back these delicious treats.  Alfajores are crumbly little cakes made with almonds crushed into flour and made into tiny layers, filled with dulce de leche, and smothered in powdered sugar.  They’re delicious.

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Some views of Ituzaingo

We’ve finally remembered to take some photos of Ituzaingo for the blog!

The town has about 20,000 people, and functions primarily as a resort town in the summer, with nice little beaches next to the Parana River.  While in the hotel, we had river views every morning. Now that we’re in the house, we live in the “company town” portion of the city. When the Yacyreta Dam was built, there was tremendous investment in the towns affected by the dam, including Ituzaingo. A solid half of the town is company housing, with different types of housing for different jobs. I’ll post photos of our house later–after we have a chance to fully move in. We’re still waiting for our items from the States, so we’re working out of whatever we brought down in our nine suitcases, plus whatever we’ve picked up here.

Menu in one of the local ice cream shops

Menu in one of the local ice cream shops

View from one of the plazas

View from one of the plazas

The staircase down to one of the beaches

The staircase down to one of the beaches

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Another walkway to the beach

Another walkway to the beach

Bar across the street from the hotel

Bar across the street from the hotel

One of the many friendly dogs that wander the town. They belong to people--they just don't do leash laws or fences here. The dogs just seem to know when to go home at night for dinner.

One of the many friendly dogs that wander the town. They belong to people–they just don’t do leash laws or fences here. The dogs just seem to know when to go home at night for dinner.

One of the few "big box" stores in town. They sell large and small appliances, for the most part, as well as inflatable pools and cell phones.

One of the few “big box” stores in town. They sell large and small appliances, for the most part, as well as inflatable pools and cell phones.

Looking down at the beach

Looking down at the beach

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Manantiales Hotel and Casino. Our home for two months.

Manantiales Hotel and Casino. Our home for two months.

The Simpsons are a big deal here. This Homer beer garden isn't open, but there is a little restaurant named Moe's down the street.

The Simpsons are a big deal here. This Homer beer garden isn’t open, but there is a little restaurant named Moe’s down the street.

One of the local Catholic churches. This is the outside of the church I had the nighttime interior photo of a few posts basck.

One of the local Catholic churches. This is the outside of the church I had the nighttime interior photo of a few posts basck.

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Looking down part of the main drag in town.

Looking down part of the main drag in town.

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Lots of photos, I know–Hope you enjoy them!

Buenos Aires

Apologies for the delays! We had lots of visitors over the past few weeks, plus moved out of the hotel (after two months without a microwave, kitchen, or real fridge!) and into the house.

In between all of that, we took a few days and went down to Buenos Aires to work on our visa paperwork.

The Posadas airport.

The Posadas airport is adorably small. There are maybe five check in counters, three gates, and a single restaurant/gift shop combination. It’s the type of airport where people wait for their loved ones while reaching through the gate to the tarmac. When you board, you just walk out of the terminal, take forty steps across the tarmac, and go up into the plane. Bonus–free parking!

Flying really seems to be  a luxury here. Domestic plane tickets are expensive (the 1.5 hour flight to Buenos Aires cost us around $350 USD each), so it’s not odd to see people getting their photo taken in front of the plane, people dressed up to fly, and a core group claps whenever the plane lands.   Another fun Argentinian aircraft habit? They hurry like crazy just to wait in line. The plane touches the ground, and it’s seatbelts off, grabbing stuff out of the overhead bins, and waiting in the aisle to deplane.

Immigration was a unique experience… one that we get the joy of doing once a year now.  After we finally found the building (Google Maps is not useful in South America, and apparently every street has multiple buildings with the same street address… on opposite ends of the street), the place is a bit of a madhouse. There is no logical sequence (first you do this, then you wait in line and do this), and instead just a long line curls out of the building filled to the brim with people of all nationalities trying to navigate the system.

We had a helper assigned to us by our company to help navigate this nonsense, but we still have our US phones. We were given our helper’s cell phone number, but couldn’t figure out how to get the call to go through. In Argentina, you use a different phone number depending on if you are 1) a cell phone calling another cell phone, 2) a landline calling a cell phone, 3) in a different province than the person you want to call, and 4) other random rules that we have yet to figure out.  We blessedly found an American family waiting in line, who helped us try to find some other combinations of numbers. We ultimately found our helper, hours later, after begging the surly immigration officer to call her. (As an immigration helper, she knew everyone in the immigration office. So when we gave her name, they knew exactly who we were talking about, and refused to acknowledge us. But that’s a different story on the difference in customer service expectations in Argentina.)  At that point, we were kind of out of luck for the first day’s appointment–which we’ll be making up in a different province later this week. The next day was more straightforward–we got to the immigration office at 7:15am, where a line had already started to queue. We met our wonderful helper Georgina, who walked us through the process. I am still not entirely sure what all of  the random steps were that led to us finishing hte paperwork (there was a lot of Georgina telling us “wait here” or “sign this” without quite knowing what was going on), but we ultimately ended up getting our precarias, or provisional residencies. What this means is we will get our DNIs, or national IDs, in about two months. A random post man will show up, we will hand him our receipt from our immigration day, and he will give us our DNIs. It’s a completely confusing system.

However… when we weren’t fighting our way through immigrations, we had the chance to see some of Buenos Aires. We didn’t stray too far from our hotel (Sheraton Libertador), but still got to see a lot of cool shopping, restaurants etc.

Buenos Aires skyline from our hotel room

Buenos Aires skyline from our hotel room

The city is absolutely bustling with people–and terrifying traffic. We walked up and down Avenida Florida, which is filled with blocks and blocks of shops. There were many malls, some more upscale than others, and one was entirely filled with little tech shops where you could buy a motherboard or headphones or a router. One of the malls was very upscale and we partook of some American food (Subway, FYI, is the same in any culture. It was also the first time I had seen turkey down here). We also found the fastest WiFi yet in that mall… so we hung out there for a bit and window-shopped all the expensive clothes.

By far and large, the most popular products on the avenida were leather goods (endless coats! endless purses!), figurines (jade or stone), and shoes. Lots of clothes, and a fair number of cell phone stores, and some other random ones. I found a make up store and picked up some essentials. (I was meaning to see what they had and try some of the South American brands–plus I left all of my nail polish in the states, and with all the sandals I’m wearing down here, wanted something pretty for my toes.) Prices for most makeup is right on par for what I’d pay for it in the States–which surprised me, since most imported goods are incredibly expensive.  Other than that, we didn’t get anything too exciting–we went to the fancy farmacia (drug store) and picked up some items we hadn’t found in Ituzaingo or Posadas yet.

The other big win in our trip? We found a restaurant called California Burrito Company, started by a few expat Americans who clearly also missed Chipotle. No guacamole, but some pretty good burritos! Now we know where to get our fix if all else fails. 🙂