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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanksgiving in Buenos Aires

Last Thursday I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in Buenos Aires with my Argentine friends and with 1 reader of this blog. It was an interesting experience to share a piece of Americana with Argentines and explain to them the significance of Thanksgiving. I also found that it was a good opportunity to give thanks to all my friends here who've made me feel so welcome and helped me integrate into the society.

Get Your Turkey Early

After celebrating my first Thanksgiving here, I can offer some advice to others... a few lessons learned. First off, its not so easy to find a turkey unless you go EARLY. I remember seeing two huge tubs filled with frozen turkeys at the Jumbo supermarket in Palermo. There were probably 100 turkeys total. What I didn't know is that after they sold those 100 turkeys, there were no more! I returned to Jumbo two days before Thanksgiving and low and behold, nada.

I had just invited 10 people to celebrate Thanksgiving with me and there I was... the Tuesday before with no turkey. I felt pretty rotten at this point. One of my friends in particular told me he was very excited about coming because it would be the first time in his life that he ate turkey. So, it wouldn't go over too well if I switched out the turkey for a chicken or something.

I didn't give up, though. I proceeded to start calling all the Jumbos in Buenos Aires. The Abasto Jumbo had 9 turkeys left and after I bought the biggest 10 pounder, they were down to 8. I doubt anyone who waited until the day before was able to find one. So, make sure you get your turkeys ahead of time.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Buenos Aires - Now Smoke Free!

Buenos Aires just earned another point in my book and simultaneously rid itself of one of the biggest complaints I've heard from US expats and tourists -- the smoke filled restaurants and bars. Those expats who are here from Europe, of course, may not be so thrilled, but if you're among the 80% of US expats who don't smoke, you're probably feeling a little less congested after walking out of a restaurant in Buenos Aires.

This weekend I remember leaving AcaBar, a restaurant / bar in Palermo, with some friends and I realized how much different the experience was from just 5 months ago when I went there with this same group of friends. The last time, the place was so smoke-filled that you could hardly see across from one end to the other. I remembered that after I got home, I had to strip off all my clothes and take a shower just to get the smell of smoke out of my hair.

Since the bar provides free table games for everyone to play, in the past it was full with groups of people chatting away and smoking up enough cigarettes to supply an army. Now its possible to enjoy a board game with friends there without having to take an antihistamine and an aspirin beforehand.

Kudos to Buenos Aires! If I could vote, I'd reelect whoever decided to do a little something to improve public health. Now all they need to do is start fining the dog owners who let their dogs crap everywhere and pick up the garbage more frequently and the city would earn another 2 points.

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