Thursday, October 02, 2008

Apartment, politics, and bacteria, in no particular order

I’ve been in the new apartment for two weeks now and so far, so good. It’s pretty big for one person and has great views of the cupolas in the city. The major drawbacks are 1) it’s next to a parking lot (which they call ‘playas’ or beaches here, totally random) that has this obnoxious bell that goes off day and night when a car or a person crosses the threshold, and 2) at night the cell phone towers blink into my bedroom, which really isn’t a big deal since if I don’t close the blinds the beating sun wakes me up at 6 am. Otherwise it’s very comfortable and I love the location!

Let me take you on a virtual tour. The pictures manage to make it look smaller than it is, but you get the idea. It's set up along one long hallway with the rooms jutting to the left. When you open the front door, you look into the kitchen. The oven is new which is nice, but in no way heavy or secured to anything, so every time I light a burner I have to also hold it in place so it doesn't move. What can I say, it's a lightweight. There's also no microwave which has been less complicated than I originally thought (although I am already worrying about Thanksgiving logistics, for many reasons, and hope to borrow the essentials from my neighbor).

Next in line is the living/dining room. This room is pretty big. The chair is actually a single sofabed, and very comfortable! Now that the modem is set up the way it is (see below re: internet), I'm thinking about rearranging to avoid so much cord interference. I'm also working on a way to fully open the metal shades - they are an engineering failure and are partially kept open by bungee cords.

Check out the rad blue fixtures in my all-blue bathroom! I also like the two-tone tiles on the floor and the blue floral motif flower tiles on the walls. No, I don't use the bidet.

The shower is flat, and if you look in the corner you can see a squeege on a stick I use to shuffle the water to the drain after each shower. It's actually sort of fun.

Here's my bedroom through the mirror. It's funny, a lot of people ask me what the most important thing I brought with me is, and I've never opened up about the true answer, so what better place than a public blog? I admit, I am most grateful to have decided on the last-minute inclusion of my teddy bear. It's amazing what a little stuffed company can do when I'm feeling lonely, and he's an excellent snuggler that I can squish any which way.

Here's the bedroom again. The windows are original and very cool, but their large size and ancient levers make them tricky to operate, and a wind hazard once opened. The bed and the pillows are NEW, which is a rareity here in South America. You can't see the sheets, but they have boat paddles on them in a green and blue pattern.

Although the view is pretty cool, it doesn't photograph very well, so I'm going to wait to take view pictures until a nice sunset or sunrise can highlight it. And, this officially concludes our virtual tour.

Back to the internet: I was unable to find a neighbor with wifi to share, but had I realized just how simple it was to set up my own account I wouldn’t have wasted two weeks in the begging process. One phone call in which all I had to give was my name and document number – I still use my Chilean ID – and two days later, I’m all hooked up. I didn’t have to give bank or credit card information. I didn’t have to pay a deposit. I didn’t have to sign a contract. I didn’t have to supply my own modem. And all at the amazingly reasonable cost of $44 pesos a month, or about $15. So easy! My appointment was for between 2 and 6, so imagine my surprise when the dude showed up at noon. I’ve never heard of such a service coming early! Good thing I was home (though not quite dressed yet), otherwise I wouldn’t have been so marvelously connected all day. It’ll be nice not having to lug the laptop to wifi spots to get work done and I should be able to stay in better contact – and blog more frequently – now that I can roll out of bed and on to the internet.

In other news, I’ve done absolutely nothing worthy of talking about in the last week because I have yet again been laid up with what I suspect is e coli. Although now that I’ve had it three times in a 12-month period it could be some other recurring form of gastroenteritis – fun times! Either way, I’ve gotten very close to my blue-tiled bathroom and watched a disgusting amount of television. Luckily it’s been nothing but grey skies and showers since I fell ill so I’m not really missing the nice part of the spring, and my main going-out friend Paula has been studying for a big test, so my social calendar was pretty clear too.

The one time I went out in the last week was on Sunday to watch the Eagles (yet another disappointing game) and I regretted that decision – there’s nothing that makes me not want to return to the U.S. like a bar full of drunk Americans doing what they do best (fill in your own version of what that may be here). One refreshing thing about Argentina's culture is that, even though people go out all night, they don’t drink to get drunk. In fact, I don’t think they could party as long or as hard as they do if they hit the sauce like the average U.S. partier on a Saturday night. It’s quite normal to leave a club here at 8 or 9 a.m. and be surrounded by reasonably sober people, whereas back home you’re lucky to leave a bar at 2 a.m. and not see someone getting sick. I’ve often been annoyed by the pressure to drink in the states and have, on more than one occasion, had a lot more than I would have preferred because at a certain point it’s easier to just take the shot than have it shoved in your face for five minutes with someone screaming, “Drink it! Drink it! DRIIIIIINK IIIIIIIT!”

Today I feel better and the sun is out for the first time in a week (coincidence? I think not), so I'm going to head to the Japanese gardens for a stroll and some sushi before checking out the VP debates tonight at the Democrats Abroad event. The organization is really well run and each event draws hundreds of people, as well as local news crews and cameras. On October 8 I get to go to the U.S. embassy to either submit my absentee ballot or cast an emergency ballot if the normal one doesn't show up in the mail. It's a whole event and they even provide "fun American treats."

Despite the high volume of television watching, I’ve managed to steer entirely clear of the news and people wanting to talk about the news, but I know that both center around the U.S. financial crisis because I sometimes have to flip past those channels to get to the good stuff, and even with a week in bed I’ve had to venture out for potato chips and limes (oral rehydration solution, you are my savior). The doorman and the cafe guy across the street both literally stopped me in my tracks to ask me what I thought about it. Fortunately I’m too broke to own stock and my 401k is entirely divided among European banks so, other than the sentimental distress of Washington Mutual collapsing under its own weight (though I never approved of the switch to just WaMu) I’m relatively unscathed. Unfortunately I have neither the vocabulary nor the desire to communicate this to my Argentinian comrades, so I mostly say something along the lines of “yep, everyone’s freaking out” and scurry away as fast as I can. I know it’s an avoidist policy, and I feel good about it. There isn’t a whole lot I can do from down here, or from up there even, so although I feel terrible for people affected and anxious about what might happen next, I try not to dwell on it too much.

I’d like to end on a happier note, so let me take this opportunity to give some birthday shout-outs. First, my dear brother Eric is turning the big 3-0 today! Happy birthday, bro. (Until I turn 27 in January my siblings and I are all exactly 4 years apart. I'm always messing things up...) Also today is my local friend Marcos's 34th birthday, which he is spending like he spends every other day, working his butt off. I promised to celebrate for him. And tomorrow, Casey Rogers will be celebrating his 27th in Africa. Anyone else want to jump on the birthday bandwagon? Leave a comment!


Sarah P said...

Hey :) I'm about to run off to work, so this is a short comment, but I'm so sorry to hear you have been sick! I hope you're OK. I would totally bring you soup if you weren't, well, super far away! Thanks for putting up pics of your new place. Looks great! Enjoy the debates tonight, Mark and I are going to watch them. Boooo Palin! :)

Renée said...

Nice digs. I can't wait to crash there! :p

What does cupola mean?

ElizaBeth said...

You are welcome any time! A cupola is a domed ceiling on a building. I sort of loosely used it to mean both real cupolas as well as cool church tops that are more spiked than domed.

Sara said...

Your new apartment looks cute. I'm a little jealous.

Momma Archer said...

Your apartment looks great! Glad you're all settled in and finally have internet service.
I think it's sweet you brought your teddy bear. Didn't he have a name?

ElizaBeth said...

Yes, his name is Sleepy. I remember because as a child, always thinking, I wrote the names of all my stuffed animals on their tags. I got him for a birthday present when I was 8 or so and I remember you saying it was tacky - not to me, I overheard - because it was a Christmas bear (for those of you who don't know my birthday is January 5) but I loved him anyway!

Sara said...
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