New Habits

Since Cherries & Chisme originally started out as a food/health blog I thought I ought to actually write a post about food in Buenos Aires for once! Naturally moving halfway around the world means a bit of a change in routine and I’ve formed a few new habits along the way…

 

Learning to cook all over again… 

A new country means new ingredients. And whilst I love to try new things there is only so much eating out one girl’s body can take. Most of the food here doesn’t contain spices – mention any Mexican or Asian food to a typical Argentine and they’ll probably run a mile… I on the other hand love cooking with spices, albeit with a certain degree of trial and error! So I have been on the hunt for some of my old favourites – soy milk, cinnamon, ginger, tofu, etc… A little internet search told me that Barrio Chino (Chinatown) was the place to go, so off I went. I came back with a great haul (had to exercise a fair degree of restraint to be honest!).

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photo 4 (2)Unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds, spinach noodles, coconut water, tofu, mixed seeds and PEANUT BUTTER

However, sweet spices and soy milk were still eluding me… I finally took the chance to explore the natural minimarket, which is ON MY OWN BLOCK, having ignorantly thought previously that they wouldn’t have much… I happily discovered these wonders, including ginger (wahooo) and baking soda (oh hello cake in a bowl…)

photo 5 (1)Strawberry soy yoghurt (a bit too sweet but the only non-dairy yoghurt I can find here), walnuts, pecans, tofu, baking soda and ground ginger

A few days later I happily found the very last pot of cinnamon in my local supermarket but soy milk has still been a challenge! On my third trip to the natural minimarket to ask if they had soy milk I ended up giving them my email address for them to let me know when it comes in (I was told hopefully sometime next week) and they even asked me which type I prefer. So sweet.

Another enjoyable shopping experience is going to the vedureria (fruit & veg shop) which has much better value and quality produce than what can be found in the supermarket, and it’s always nice to have a (broken) chat with the people working there!

On the whole though I have been loving my new cooking challenges here as it forces me to think a bit more, even if I do end up going back to old favourites more often than not…

 

Exercise…

Back in the UK my exercise routine was pretty much a mish mash of 3, 2, 1 workouts at the gym, long bike rides, a few runs and a bit of yoga. Here, due to lack of equipment and the gyms being pretty expensive (you generally have to pay for classes on top of your membership) I’ve had to shake things up a bit. On my second day in BA I found out about Buena Onda Yoga, a yoga school run by expats in English (cheating I know, but yoga is my ‘brain off’ time…) which I’ve been going to about 3 times a week. It’s not particularly cheap but I love it.

Cardio has been a little trickier due to the crazy heat we have going on here. But when I can I run. I must admit though I have been struggling to find my motivation this week due to a whole host of things but hoping to get back into things soon. I also had the idea the other day of doing circuit style workouts on my rooftop! Will let you know how that one goes…

 

Mental state…

This is never particularly stable wherever I am (ha! *laughs to laptop in coffee shop*) but to be honest it’s been doing pretty darn good here. As I said in my post the other week, this is where I want to be right now and I am very content with it. I even said the other day that yoga ‘helps keep me grounded’ and whilst I am most definitely the worst person in my class this is completely and utterly true as I get the chance to slow down my over-thinking brain.

I have been struggling with some body confidence issues recently as eating some dairy on the weekend caused my stomach to go haywire, and this combined with the few extra drinks I’ve been having compared to at home (I do love how little people tend to drink on nights out here compared to the UK, I was out until 6am the other day and had just 3 drinks the whole night) and the change in exercise, etc. etc. has left me feeling a bit down about it. Nonetheless, life goes on and I am trying to see the bigger picture.

In other  news I got a place on my dream masters for next year! I will be moving to London in October to start my course on ‘Understanding and Securing Human Rights’! It still hasn’t sunk in!

 

 

So all in all things are different, naturally, but good. New habits are forming and with my internship commencing on Monday it is the perfect time to make them stick!

 

Have you experienced a change in routine lately?

What are your body confidence tricks?

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On the edge of something amazing…

There’s something about this city that creeps under your skin… A sense of security, belonging. You don’t notice it happening but then suddenly it’s there, and this is home.

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It was strange, when I left my home in the UK to come out here there weren’t really any nerves. Naturally, I had the sadness of leaving my friends and family but the overwhelming feeling was one of calmness, an underlying reassurance that I was doing the right thing for myself. My friends and I always say that to truly appreciate the amazing things in life you’ve got to go through the bad times first – they make the highs even higher. And I feel like I have worked so hard to get to this point in my life, and now I am finally on the right path. My journey is heading in the right direction and each day is amazing as I am finally on the way to where I want to go.

It’s as though I’m teetering on the verge of something incredible. The same goes with learning Spanish…the best way to describe it is being on the edge of a whole new world and, each day, as you learn some more vocabulary or a new tense you edge further into that world. And the further into it you get, the more of it you see, and the more excited you are to be able to fully be a part of it.

Entering this new world of a language, and the language of the city for that matter, opens up so many more doors to meet new people. And that’s the thing here, people are so open and, for want of a better word, so alive. There is no such thing as the reserve of the British. The other day I was having a drink (the best beer I think I have had in forever) with some other expats and arrived in the middle of a full-blown discussion on spirituality and religion. My perspectives on life are constantly being challenged here and it feels so empowering to open yourself up to new ideas, without judgement.

Naturally I can’t not mention that Buenos Aires isn’t perfect. Like every great person it has it’s problems. Inflation is skyrocketing once again, and speaking to porteños (locals) further emphasises what an issue this is, as the economy is heading down the same path it did when their parents and grandparents were our age. But ask them about what they love about the city and they’ll say the exact same thing – the people, their openness and passion.

Something’s a brewing. And I like it.

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The weird and wonderful

I’ve now been in Buenos Aires for about 9 days. 9 days of exploring museums, cafés, spanish school…the list goes on. So here’s a little round up of my highlights so far and a few of the weird and wonderful things I’ve seen.

  • On the way to Spanish school on Monday I passed by a man dressed head to toe in white, carrying a glass of juice on a silver tray down the street… Anyone care to explain this? Baffled.
  • I’ve been to a thing called Mundo Lingo which is basically a language exchange night. It’s a great idea and a great way to meet people, although so hard to hear and actually understand Spanish in a bar!
  • I visited the Museo Evita with my friend from Spanish school. Eva Perón was the wife of President Perón, and a celebrated national heroine for all she did for those struggling for their rights, be they women, the poor, elderly, factory workers, etc… The museum itself is housed in a beautiful building in Palermo, with a cute little courtyard café at the back.

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  • On Friday I went to Recoleta cemetery with some people I met at Mundo Lingo. I admit, it sounds pretty weird to meet people at a cemetery but I guess this is more like a museum with a fascinating mixture of old and grand tombs to wander round, if a little eerie at times… In Argentina people’s lives are celebrated on the day of their death, rather than their birth. Which I guess makes sense since it’s a celebration of what they have achieved in their life. We also visited the spot where Eva Perón is buried in her family tomb – always a crowded spot.

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  • After the cemetery we went to the park and I had my first taste of mate tea (you can read more about it here). It’s basically a very caffeinated tea, drunk from a special ‘cup’ through a straw with holes in to filter out the leaves, and comes with its own drinking ritual. It’s pretty bitter but I can see myself becoming a fan!
  • Friday night was spent eating what I am quite sure was the most amazing steak of my life – bife de chorizo in Puerto Madero. My Dad’s friends were in the city dropping their daughters at the airport and were kind enough to take me out for dinner with their son – such a delicious evening 🙂
  • I’ve discovered that Freddos (a chain of ice cream parlours here) do dairy free sorbets! Ice creams are ESSENTIAL for summer survival at the moment so this is VERY welcome news!
  • Since we’re going down the food route, they have a type of coke here that comes in a green (?!) can called Coca-Cola Life. I think it might be meant to be more naturally sweetened and it has less calories in than normal coke. I gave it a try but it wasn’t that great. And since it still seems to have a load of chemicals in it I feel  I might as well carry on going for Diet Coke as I am drinking rubbish anyway!

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  • I have been to Tigre (the delta) on a trip with most of the other interns who are all lovely. It was such a hot day and even though I wore plenty of suncream I still managed to get burnt on the little ‘beach’ there. There was also a big market selling all kinds of things including fresh fruit smoothies – I discovered ginger with banana and orange. Heaven. Oh my I am missing my blender. I also bought a Sherlock Holmes book which has a page in Spanish next to a page in English – perfect to practice!

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  • Saturday night we all went out. Here the night tends to start about 2am – a bit of a change as I’ve got used to my granny bedtimes (as some of you know)! But oh so glad I went. We danced in a club outside next to the river until the sun rose. What a night.

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  • Finally Sunday was spent wandering the streets of San Telmo and the antiques market there. We did the obligatory touristic thing and watched a tango show whilst having lunch (thanks to Lonely Planet for the tip). It seems such a shame that tango seems to only be for tourists now… We also stumbled across a beautiful church down one of the side streets where there was a band playing outside. I later retreated to my bed with pancakes and Harry Potter – sophistication at its best.

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La magia de Buenos Aires

Today I am ill in bed, not ideal but a good opportunity to catch up on various things including a blog post! I seem to be going down the route of taking my notebook with me everywhere and writing in it whenever I feel so I expect a lot of blog posts will be in this style for a while – kinda of written up diary entries!

Monday 6th January 2014

Hmmmm. That’s me right now, a kind of sleepy relaxed happiness. I have just come from an hour and a quarter yoga class, on the beautiful stress Gorostiaga. The class takes place above a deli, with no signs or clue to its whereabouts – you just have to know. (It pays to be a bit of a blog junkie sometimes). And everyone seemed to be lovely. Now I am sat in a restaurant/café nearby and have just ordered a quinoa burger… happy days.

Yesterday started out with a run through the parks near my apartment (still waking up early). Oh wow it was hot – talk about a sweat fest, my max heart rate was 207 and I definitely don’t think I was going that fast! Got a little lost at one point and ended up by an airport, nothing a cheeky u-turn can’t solve though.

After a busy morning sorting bits out I went for a wander through Palermo in search of some lunch. Not my most successful meal, ended up with  a MASSIVE Spanish tortilla the size of my face. My stroll continued and I stumbled upon the cutest café, I think it was called Panera Rosa. Definitely going to have to go back for breakfast at some point as it looks awesome. I had a kind of pear juice blended with ice whilst reading El País (with my dictionary…).

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After than I had to go home as my shoes had ripped my feet to shreds! Ended up having a lovely catch up with my friend on Skype though. Later that evening I met one of my flatmates (the other is home for the holidays). He is argentine and pretty much speaks no english – good practice! Even if a basic conversation.

So today. It’s been pretty awesome. I had my first day of Spanish school at VOS. We are a small class of 3 and speak in Spanish the whole time which is ideal. The 4 hour class was the perfect combination of verbs, grammar, political discussions and other conversations. Afterwards I went and grabbed some lunch with one of the girls from class near Av. de Julio, still speaking in Spanish, very proud (NB when I say Spanish I mean my slowwww Spanish). Then we wandered up Santa Fé to look at the shops. I bought some flip flops and, when walking home, spotted a bag which I just had to buy… (I was looking for a bag also!). Also stopped off to hide away from the heat for a green juice in a great place selling a mixture of natural foods and indulgences – check out the frozen yoghurt bar! Oh to be able to eat dairy…

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A quick change and (slow) post office trip later and it was time for yoga…and there we are!

So far my first impressions of BA are very positive! Obviously Hereford, Monmouth and Durham have hardly given me much experience of city life. But there is something more that excites me, una magia (magic)… I feel as though I am stating the obvious here but it is such a diverse place. Of course there are going to be bits that are run down and perhaps even threatening looking in appearance. The ‘typical’ South America to the idle mind. But then there are places that could be in Europe – there is everything. Trees form archways over many of the streets, including mine. There is an incredible mixture of architecture, old and new. Flowers and colour are everywhere…

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I wish I was able to write more elaborately, and less factually, to convey the beauty of this city. But that’s an economics degree for you. Perhaps you just need to see it for yourself.

Is this actually happening?

Estoy en Buenos Aires! Here are my travel diary entries for the past two days…

Friday 3rd January 2014. Madrid.

Surreal. I have used that word so much in the past few days. Yesterday, on my last visit, my Mum passed me a beautiful note to read after I left. A few hours ago I said a teary goodbye to my Dad at Gatwick. And now I am sat in Madrid airport, shortly to be departing for Buenos Aires. Is this actually happening? Really? My nerves seem to have momentarily left me and I seem to be experiencing a strange sense of calmness over the whole situation. Very odd.

Typically, I’m writing this in Starbucks. My search for an exciting dinner was somewhat futile, so this is where I have ended up. With a chicken salad. Although they have freshly squeezed orange juice here! Super exciting.

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So here we are. Off on an adventure halfway round the world. Into a heatwave. Spanish school starts on Monday. Bring it 2014.

 

Saturday 4th January 2014. Buenos Aires.

So, since Madrid. Well I met a lovely Spanish girl in the airport, who I gave my finished book. Attempted to talk in a mixture of Spanish and English – mainly English I must admit. She kept on saying how dangerous BA is and that people would grab my earrings as they looked gold!

Eventually made it onto the plane – delayed – only for it to be delayed further. Sat next to an Argentinian lady who’d lived in the US when she was younger so spoke with an American accent, very confusing! The flight seemed to go quite quickly, even though it was 13 hours. I loved flying over Brazil and Uruguay and being able to look down at the vast open space below. It made me feel very small and insignificant.

Had a bit of a wait at BA airport for my driver (!) as there’d been a protest blocking the highway. Apparently these are growing in frequency now with the current gas and electricity problems. Managed to have some pretty good Spanish small talk with my driver on the way to the apartment though (useful considering he had the wrong address!).

Magalí, my new landlady, was there to show me around when I arrived – and introduce me to Ani the cat!

After unpacking, and a much needed shower, I went to meet Paula, my contact at Connect 123 who helped organise my internship for me, at a nearby café for my orientation meeting. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome to BA – starting to get so excited for things to come! Well, once I’ve got this bus system down.

Did a quick supermarket shop on the way home – they have Tahini! But at over 100 pesos I managed to restrain myself. Now (trying) to watch an Argentinian film on my laptop, having made a beef stir fry for dinner. Felt it’d be rude not to.

I’ve only seen bits of Palermo (my neighbourhood) so far, which is said to be pretty middle class, but it’s all so beautiful. Feeling very calm and content.

1552132_10151820101606123_1550763577_oThe view from the rooftop of my apartment building