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What’s Inside Eat! 03 Breakfast in Brief 06 Mex in the City

Sip! 09 Six for Six: six wines under AR$6

Go! 11 Barrio Chino 16 On a Wing and a Paw: can dogs fly? 18 Spring Breaks: four options for getting out of the city

See! 34 BA Book Walk: walk in Borges’ footsteps

Ojo! 22 Virtual Kidnapping

Buy! 24 Price is Right: are they ripping you off?

Do! 32 Bluffers Aires 36 Behind Closed Doors: a secret hangout of BA 38 American Football

Get! 26 Find a Fixer 30 Real Est. Abbrvs.

Use! 28 A Breakneck Guide to Medical Care


Staff Publishers Stefan Bielski Graham Hatch Editor David Labi Assistant Editor Hannah Shanks Advertising Sales Manager Marc Nieto Advertising Sales Sarah Braun, Julieta Olivares Art Director Estefanía Giandinoto

40 Porteño Sign Language

Additional Graphics Andrew Knox, Laura Nowydwor

Extras 37 The Tranvía of Puerto Madero 37 Halloween 48 Know your Colectiquet?

Writers Marcelo Ballve, Lucy Cousins, Brendan Lanctot, Mariana Mazer, Molly Malone, Clare Nisbet, Hannah Shanks, Nick Stern, Gabriela Widmer and Darren Wimhurst.

Regulars 42 Community & Essentials 44 7 day Insider 46 Calendar SEP-OCT

Cover Photo Manuel Archain

Edition No 1 Vol. 1 (September/ October). Copyright 2007 Insider SRL Directors Graham Hatch and Stefan Bielski. BA Insider Magazine is published bimonthly by Insider SRL. Edición Nro. 1 Vol. 1 (Septiembre/Octubre) Copyright 2007 Insider SRL Directores Graham Hatch y Stefan Bielski. Propietario: Insider SRL San Martin 981 PB 21 Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires C1004AAS Argentina +54 11 5917-8236

Cover Boy Agustín Hanono Illustrators Ana Carucci, Fernando Rodriguez Vilela Photographers Manuel Archain, Alexandra Lazar, Gabriel Reich Web Guru Samuel W. Warde Start-up Consultant Emily Palmer

Distribution: RB&M, 4301-3315 Santo Domingo 2618 Printer: Casano Grafica, 4249-5562 Ministro Brin 3932 - Remedios De Escalada, BsAs

A BIG THANK YOU to all those who helped make the first issue of BA Insider possible, including: Salvador Batalla, Armando Bou, Kate Comiskey, Edgar Delfino, Mara Duer, Caroline Frauman, Lisa Giménez, Carolina Gonzalez, Greg John, Gustavo & Sandra, Brenda Lazo, Christian Lódise, Gena Mavuli, Sean McAlister, Laura Melton, Layne Mosler, Jeannette Neumann, Daniel Shumski, Stan Sinberg, Chris Swientek, Alejandro Vilas, Simon West, Rose Zuffi, and if we’ve inadvertently forgotten anyone, it’s probably time you dropped us a line.

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 1

Eat! Breakfast In Brief By Hanna Shanks

Sick of medialunas? *Average price per person at the end of each listing. ->

Editorial Issue 1 You know how it is - suddenly something bureaucratic worms its way onto your to-do list. Something that means heading downtown into the swirling maelstrom of the microcentro. Your Spanish will have to be on top notch – and that’s just one of the variables. And it might all end in a tiny office with an old man shaking his moustache and murmuring that there is nothing he can do. The worst thing about it all is that there must be a simple way to do it – if only someone could give you some inside advice? And that’s not all. What about your craving for real peanut butter? Or genuinely spicy food? Maybe some friends are visiting and you want to take them to the coolest underground places, but you’ve never actually found them yourself. Living in a city is complicated. Especially if it’s a foreign one. A city is a labyrinth of experience and secrets. ‘What’s London like?’ people ask me. “Are groovy things going on?” “Of course they are,” I reply. “You just have to know how to find them.” Everybody’s got a secret about Buenos Aires. Among the growing thousands of extranjeros living out here, most people have their way of dealing with life in this big, beautiful and barking mad city. Time to pool the knowledge. BA Insider is a magazine for, and by, foreigners living in Buenos Aires. It is based on the concept of service journalism; we aim to identify the reader’s needs and offer tips and strategies to meet them. We hope you’ll find that everything in this magazine fits this ethos of usability. If you have any feedback on what we’ve done, ideas on what we should do, or what you’d like to do on our behalf – email

2 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007


Palermo Hollywood Decorated in shabby chic with accents of 1980s toys, Nina is a charming little café. Jolly Nina serves the delicious dishes herself – her dulce de leche waffle is great for a cold, wet spring morning. Humboldt 1732 | 4899-1800 | Mon-Fri 9am-8pm; Sat-Sun 10am-8pm | Cash only | AR$12


Gorriti 5870 | 4776-7677 | Tue-Thu 12pm-1am; Fri-Sat 12pm-2am; Su 10am-1am | Major cards | AR$18-39


Establecimiento General de Café


Various The Argentine answer to Starbucks, with imported coffee and Norah Jones-esque music. The house blend has a hint of mocha; try it with a dried fruit pastry for an afternoon snack. The coffee is freshly ground and you can take away some magic beans of your very own, from $16.25 per 1/4 kilo. The Pueyrredón branch has an outdoor patio. Pueyrredón 1529; Lavalle 1701; Lavalle 1518; Tucumán 1365 | 4828-0400 | Mon-Fri 8am-11:30pm; Sat 9am-10:30pm | Cards | AR$10 | | Wi-Fi


Palermo Hollywood Make a reservation for Sunday brunch because Ølsen fills up sometimes with Argentine celebrities. The breakfast smorgasbørds mix savory (omelettes and smoked meats) with sweet (waffles and croissants). Pricier brunch options include champagne.


Las Cañitas; Martinez Novecento also has branches in New York, Miami, Córdoba and Punta del Este, which gives you some idea. NY style grub including eggs benedict and Canadian bacon. Baez 199, Las Cañitas | Tel: 4778-1900 | Av. Del Libertador 14186, Martinez | Tel: 4792 3829 | Mon-Fri 10am-1am Sun 10am-12am | Major cards | AR$25


Eterna Cadencia

Palermo Hollywood This combination bookstore and café is a calm destination for a morning reading and sipping on coffee. Bring a book, or buy one next door, and then retreat to the peaceful

Las Violetas Almagro Look for elderly porteño couples reliving first dates at this iconic, restored café. The meriendas (afternoon teas) are abundant, particularly the María Cala tea service—a sugary mountain of scones, pastries and cakes. Or check out their fruity Brazilian breakfast in the morning. Rivadavia 3899 | 4958-7387 | Mon-Fri and Sun all day | Amex only | AR$20

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 3

Sick of medialunas? restaurant to enjoy Breakfast at Tiffany’s (remember, it was a book before it was a movie), one of the signature breakfasts. The excellent book selection includes books in English and the atmosphere is pleasantly artsy. For late mornings and afternoons – these bohemians don’t get up very early. Honduras 558 | 4774-4100 | Mon-Fri 11am9pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-8pm | Major cards | AR$9 | | Wi-Fi

try tubes) served with thick chocolate are legendary. It’s a rich meal and high on the grease factor, but if you’re strong of stomach and prepared to hit the gym for several hours to work off those calories, La Giralda cannot be missed. Corrientes 1453 | 4371-3846 | All week, all day | Cash only | AR$10


Malba Barrio Norte Prepare for a gruelling day of culture in the museum with a muesli and juice in its light and airy café restaurant. One of the city’s few places with healthy food on the menu, you can enjoy a muesli and fresh juice -- or a large cake if you don’t hold with all that roughage. Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415 | 4808-6500 | Sun-Wed 9am-9pm; Thu-Sat 9am-1am | Major cards | AR$15 |


Viva Victoria

Palermo This hole-in-the-wall café is a Palermo hidden gem. Stop in for savory scones or rich ricotta pastry. Breakfasts are ample and satisfying, and the wide pastry assortment is high-calorie heaven. Black and white parquet, cozy tables and a friendly staff make a Viva Victoria experience one worth repeating. República Arabe Siria 2982 | 4804-4980 | Mon-Fri 8am-10pm; Sat-Sun 9am-8pm | Cash only | AR$12


La Giralda

Centro This is one of the most traditional bars in the city, and its churros (deep fried pas-

4 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Alvear Palace

Recoleta No breakfast here, but the legendary high tea at this five-star hotel makes up for it, with white-glove service is just one of the luxe touches. Held for more than 70 years in the evergreen Jardin D’Hiver, the meal is an event, with exquisite pastries, dainty sandwiches and exclusive tea blends. Don’t forget to dress posh. Alvear 1891 | 4808-2949 | Mon-Sat 4pm-7pm; Sun 5pm-7pm | Major cards | AR$60



Various Persicco is one of the premier ice cream chains in Buenos Aires, but they also have a pâtisserie open for breakfast with free coffee and tea refills from 9am-11am and freshly baked medialunas. Salguero and Cabello; Rivadavia 4933; Vuelta de Obligado 2092; Migueletes 886 | 0810333-7377 | Sun-Thu 8am-2am; Fri 9am-3am; Sa 9am-4am | Major cards | AR$10 | | Wi-Fi



Oui Oui

Palermo Hollywood Argentine standbys and American and French fare are combined here in an ample brunch. Tr y spinach crepes, the “Oui Oui” paté or seasonal fruits with honey and cereal, or go for a simple bacon and

Nicaragua 6068 | 4778-9614 | Tues-Fri 8am-9pm; Sat & Sun 10am-8pm | Cash only | AR$25 | | Wi Fi

Missing those homeland breakfast ingredients? Bacon – Masquerades as panceta or tocino out here. Try deli-looking places, or the fiambre section of your local Chinese supermarket.

Maple syrup – available at Disco for AR$29.99; or get the much cheaper mapleflavored corn syrup in Jumbo.

Smoked salmon cream cheese bagels – Oui Oui has bagels for takeout.

Aroma Café sells the finished product, as does Delicity and the US deli in Palermo Viejo. For cream cheese, local brand Mendicrim is the big cheese (green – light, blue -- middle, red – fat fest!). Peanut butter is sold in Barrio Chino (see page 11) and in Jumbo. Baked beans – Jumbo, imported food section Sausages – go for the local chorizos in any fiambrería, or find the more home-like varieties in the larger supermarkets, like, yes, Jumbo again... Toast – if you’re not into using the flat square grills that you place directly on the hob, you can get a toaster for around AR$69 at places like Frávega. Waffles - Frávega also has waffle irons for sale for just over AR$100.

Found these?

The Embers

Acasusso, Zona Norte A polished classic snack bar best known for its fast foodish menu (think burgers and onion rings) that starts the day off right with the pancakes and waffles that keep the expat crowd in maple syrup. Av. Libertador 14638, Acasusso | 4792 1347 | All week, 10am-1am | Major cards | AR$25

eggs. Oui Oui boasts authentic bagels and abundant portions. Be prepared to wait for a table in this petite boudoir with eclectic décor.

Boxed Pancake Mix Marmite / Vegemite Well don’t keep it to yourself! Email our hotline on

Revuelto de Gramajo Containing potato, cheese, egg, ham, onion and practically anything else, this dish can often be found on the menu of Porteño cafés and restaurants. Various stories exist about its origins, including that it was created by Colonel Gramajo in 1880 to deal with the familiar hunger-while-gambling situation that also supposedly gave birth to the sandwich. What is a fair bet is that this hearty meal will go some way to satisying your non-Argentine desires for a large and savory breakfast.

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 5

in Eat! Mex the City We’ve counted at least 38 Mexican restaurants, bars, and cafés in Buenos Aires where you could celebrate Mexican Independence Day on September 16 (or visit any time you feel a Mariachi moment coming on). Lucy Cousins has been talking to the BA Mexpat community to find out the key places they head to when the homesickness is too much to bear...

Light lunch California Burrito Co Find it at: Lavalle 441, Microcentre. Tel: 4328-3057/3056 If you haven’t eaten a beef, chicken or vegetarian burrito yet at the California Burrito Co. in the Microcenter, then you are really missing out. Not only do they actually serve hot, hot salsa on request, but the burritos are so big that you won’t be hungry for hours. Yes, you’re right – there’s no such thing as a Mexican light lunch. They will cram whatever combination of food you choose into a neatly rolled burrito. I say, let’s challenge them. Eat: Huge burritos, nachos with proper guacamole, and real sour cream. Drink: Cold Coronas with a slice of lemon Authentic Mexican friend says: “TexMex at its best!”

Drink it up Maria Felix Find it at: Guatemala 5200, Palermo Soho. Tel: 4775 0380; Olivos – Libertador 2701. Tel: 4799 9992; Martinez – Dardo Rocha 1680. Tel: 4717 1864. We went in search of the best margaritas and ended up at Maria Felix (yes, it WAS tough). There are three branches, 6 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Olivos, Martinez and Palermo Soho, and every Tuesday is ‘Noche de Margaritas’ where they take 20% off the price of their ice-cold speciality beverage. Also every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night they have their very own Mariachi band. Eat: Fajitas Maria Felix- chicken fajitas with a mixture of their special sauces Drink: I think we covered this... Authentic Mexican friend says: “One of the best margaritas in town”

Dress Casual Frida Khalo Find it at: Ciudad de la Paz 3093, Núñez. Tel: 4544-1927 Frida Khalo is set in an old refurbished house, and is decorated as colorfully as the artist herself. Even though it is small, cozy, and full of tables, you’ll still have to shout over the sound of the live band that plays on weekends. The food is served on brightly colored plates, and the drinks – especially the margaritas- are delicious. Book a table because it fills up quickly. Eat: El arrollado Coyoacán for dessert (An ice-cream sponge roll with Tequila flavoured cream) Drink: Margaritas in tall blue cocktail glasses Authentic Mexican friend says: “Frida Khalo has good frijoles a la charra!”

Posh dining DF Restaurante Find it at: Olga Cosentini 1611, Puerto Madero. Tel: 5787-4004 If you feel like dressing up for a swanky night on the waterfront, book a table at DF Restaurante in Puerto Madero. This restaurant is situated in a very relaxed, quiet area and has views of Dock 1 to one side and the luscious Faena Hotel to the other. The menu is extensive and includes some innovative ideas (see eating suggestion below) as well as a few traditional dishes. Eat: Carne de cerdo en mermelada de piña marinado acompañado de escabeche de cebollas (Pork in marinated pineapple marmalade and marinated onion salsa) Drink: A sharp shot of Mexican Tequila before dinner Authentic Mexican friend says: “DF has a Mariachi band…. and they are pretty good too!”

Staying in Mole Find it at: Your house, (or their new restaurant in Cabilldo 1368). Tel: 4896 0803

Why even get up off the couch? Invite your friends around, hire the movie Once Upon A Time In Mexico” with Johnny Depp and live it large. Mole will deliver nachos, enchiladas, guacamole, and salsas straight to your door. Best if you have fitted your front door with a remote control. No need to exert yourself. Eat: Chilaquiles de Pollo (Fried tortillas, with chicken, hot sauce, cheese and cream) followed by spicy chocolate mousse Drink: A cold Negra Modelo - smooth dark Mexican beer Authentic Mexican friend says: “A favourite! Just up my street!”

Party at your house! Silvia Ibarra Find her: Wherever the party is… Tel. 4772 4051, Prove to all your friends how cool you really are by having your own Mexican Independence Day party! Call Silvia and order delicacies such as Ceviche de Camerón (spicy lime-marinated salad of raw shrimp), Cochinita Pibil (Oven-baked strips of pork cooked with tropical flower herbs, oranges and lemons) and my fa-

Useful websites: The Mexican Embassy in Argentina Mexican art, music, cooking, and communities in Argentina. For the Mexo-Argentine community Complete guide to all the best restaurants in Buenos Aires Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 7


vorite, Tequila Mousse. Got no music? Not to worry, just hire your own private Mariachi band (email Really, how much better could it get? Authentic Mexican friend says: ‘Can I come?”

Mex: You Can! Roll up those sleeves Find it at: Big supermarkets, like Disco & Jumbo, and imported food shops in Barrio Chino (see our article on page 11). For a simple, spicy snack or something more ambitious, DIY. You’re not likely to find the likes of huitlacoche and escamoles here but a combo of fresh and packaged products will do the trick. Mexican

baked goods biggie, Bimbo, sells flour tortillas, christened ‘Rapiditas’ here, though with more Filo flakiness than back home. Two other brands, Casa Fiesta’s Tex-Mex and the perhaps more authentic La Castena, sell jalapeños, refried beans ‘Mole Poblano’ and other salsas like verde and chipotle. Eat: Quesadillas. Queso cremoso melts, plus favorite fillers and salsa. Drink: Paloma, THE tequila cocktail that Mexicans really drink: 1 part tequila, 3 parts grapefruit soda. Add some lime and salt the rim if you want to go crazy. Authentic Mexican friend says: “Call me if you need a recipe” 6

Six Under Six:

A Guide To Cheap Red Wine By Marcelo Ballve

My grandfather used to say, there are no bad wines, only wines that are better than others. Depending on occasion and budget, a good cheap wine might be more appropriate than a ho-hum standard red. You might even receive more value for money. Market pressures are forcing large winemakers like Trapiche and Norton to compromise on quality to keep prices steady. Not to say you won’t notice the difference between a AR$5 and AR$10 bottle, but dropping a few notches in price doesn’t necessarily mean lapping at the dregs of Argentine wine production. Plus you might find some genuinely exciting new experiences. So in the spirit of my grandfather’s irrefutable wisdom, here’s my pick of half a dozen easyto-find red wines at AR$6 or less:

VASCO VIEJO Price range: AR$ 3-4 The low-end workhorse from the old-school and dependable López winery. Their self-titled López brand, at AR$8, is a surer bet if you’re worried about making an impression at an asado (barbecue). But this one is good enough otherwise, especially watered down with soda or ice. When you see a grizzled wino drinking at a traditional café, he’s probably sipping Vasco Viejo, cutting it with the soda siphon ready at hand. Ideal for: Summer barbecue or outdoor party, unless your hosts are snobs.

VALDERROBLES CLÁSICO Price range: AR$ 4-5 The floozy of Argentine reds. Everyone has tangled with it at one time or another, and with mixed results. Its only quality is functional efficiency: it tends to go down without gagging. Perhaps best to stay away unless you have a bottle of something better under your belt already. Ideal for: Dinner with the Argentine in-laws.

SANTA ANA SELECCIÓN Price range: $ 2-3 Remarkably tolerable for the rock-bottom price, and sometimes downright pleasant. It seems safe: I’ve drunk it often over the course of this year without developing rashes or seizures. Though it definitely has that acidic aftertaste common to cheap red wines, it retains its drinkability. Ideal for: Drowning your woes in penury.

8 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 9

RODAS TEMPRANILLO Price range: AR$ 5-6 This wine is like an HBO movie: respectable, smooth and even interesting, but nothing to rave about. It’s a little fruity and not as dry as I like my wines to be when I have money to back up my tastes. But it holds its own against wines that will set you back four additional pesos. Ideal for: Taking to a dinner party without offending.

Go! Barrio Chino

TITARELLI MALBEC Price range: AR$5-6 This wine was great— for a while. For two months this year, I drank nothing else. I was so happy to find a drinkable, and even tasty, cheap red wine that I became fanatically loyal. I plucked a bottle or two from the shelf every time I shopped for wine. I converted friends and neighbors to the faith. Suddenly everyone was talking about what a revelation Titarelli was. Then one day my cup brimmed over. I had overdosed. Waking up sour-tongued the next morning, I vowed never to buy Titarelli again as long as I lived. I can still taste it in the back of my throat; ugh. Ideal for: Developing an ultimately gut-wrenching addiction.

COLON BORGOÑA CLÁSICO TINTO Price Range: AR$ 5-6 A friend turned me onto this after the Titarelli episode. Wiser now, I try not to buy it too often. I branch out and try other cheap wines in order to stave off the inevitable day when I will no longer be able to drink this one either. Solid and completely bereft of charisma, Colon Borgoña is blessed with an inoffensive taste and mercifully low acidity. I recommend it. Ideal for: A rainy Friday night at home.

The Barrio Chino (Chinese neighborhood) of Buenos Aires may be a fraction of the size of the Chinatowns in other major capitals, but it is nonetheless stuffed with enough pork balls, obscure items and lively characters to compete with the biggest of them. Insider Hannah Shanks gets to know this barrio-within-a-barrio.

Welcome to the Barrio: You won’t find ‘Barrio Chino’ in the Guia-T, since it is actually part of Belgrano. Based around the junction of Arribeños and Juramento, this small collection of streets receives over 15,000 visitors every weekend (according to the Belgrano website), when the grocery stores are packed and the streets are clogged with groups of people munching on pork balls and tempura. The neighborhood’s roots stretch back to the arrival of Taiwanese immigrants in the 1960s. Casa China was one of the first grocery stores in the area. In the 1990s the influx of Asian immigrants caused the number of restaurants, markets, Chinese bookstores and video stores to multiply. Today, Barrio Chino is an amalgamation of different Asian cultures: Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese. As far as real estate goes, buying an apartment in a new building there averages about US$1600/ m2 (in older buildings prices vary greatly). Monthly rent for an unfurnished 50m2 onebed apartment in a new building is around AR$1500-2000/month.

10 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Buy! Chefs from throughout the city frequent the markets here for spices – indeed Barrio Chino is the place to find unusual food items and intriguing house wares. Be warned that on weekends the stores are packed with Argentines ferreting for goods, and that on Mondays most restaurants and stores are closed. For inexpensive crockery, woks of all sizes, rice cookers, vegetable steamers, electric tea kettles, incense, fake flowers and more, visit the second floor of Sogo Supermercado (Arribeños 2257). Prices are reasonable and the selection is excellent. And if you’re in the market for hog’s bristle tweezers, this is the place to go. Productos de Soja (Arribeños 2212) sells a variety of fresh buns and sweets, alongside packages of chicken feet and gizzards and a decent selection of tofu. Homemade soy milk is sold in former water bottles – no sanitary guarantees, but you can’t argue with AR$3/liter. Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 11

Alexandra Lazar

Casa China (Arribeños 2173) is a large, attractive store that has an excellent selection of not only Asian products, but Middle Eastern and American delicacies as well. The fresh produce section carries Fuji apples, passion fruit, papaya, mango, ginger root, fresh and dried mushrooms and star fruit on display. Other products that stand out are sushi logs for AR$9 (often heavy on rice and shy on fish), stacks of ramen noodles, Sapporo beer (some imported from the USA), Tabasco sauce, goat’s milk, Newman’s Own salad dressing (expensive at AR$20), pecans, sake, capers, Belgian beers, curry sauces, capers, blueberry juice, tahini, ghee, quinoa, gluten free cookies, pretzels, seaweed… every visit will add something new to your shelves at home. At Venta de Productos Internacionales (Arribeños 2145) brown sugar (azúcar integral de caña) is piled next to stacks of seaweed. Display cards advise you, for example, on how to use wakame seaweed for making soup. Other seaweeds sold here are nory (for sushi), kumbu and hiziki. Corn kernels, blocks of miso, enormous bags of wasabi, gluten-free cookie mixes and flourfree cookies are some of the other exotica sold at this store. Peruse the medicine selection to discover, among other herbal remedies, diente de león (lion’s tooth) for rheumatism, or baila bien (dance well!) for sexual health. A little galería (Arribeños 2155) has two bookstores with Chinese language books, 12 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

two video stores and an herbalist. The herbalist sells medicinal herbs at Local No. 9, but is only open weekdays from 12-7pm. Numerous colorful shops are interspersed among restaurants and grocery stores, with the standard Chinatown kitsch – giant gold piggy banks, plastic key chains, ornate wall hangings and paper fans. One store is named Feng Shui, though its tall shelves crammed with rainbow-hued goods certainly give the concept a 90º turn to the east.

is good, but not particularly different from other restaurants like Todos Contentos, El Dragón Porteño and more continuing along Arribeños. Siempre Verde (Arribeños 2127) is vegetarian and has vegetable “chicken”, lots of tofu options and mushroom “meat”. BuddhaBA (Arribeños 2288) has mouthwatering pastries, along with teas like ginger

and orange and jasmine, for about AR$20 total, while the restaurant portion has more expensive meals and outdoor seating.

Sip! Not the typical hot place for a big night out, but there is the nearby cinema and bowling alley (see ‘In the area’) for post-dinner

Eat! If you’re short on pesos or time, the stalls are an excellent option. All along Arribeños on weekends and holidays freshly prepared street cuisine can be found, including fish tempura, pork balls, and seaweed with rice on a stick. A stand outside Sogo Supermercado has steamed buns and spring rolls for AR$1-2 apiece; they also sell bubble tea for AR$5 (ask for té rojo con perlas). During the summer, another stand serves heavenly pastries filled with red bean paste for AR$1.50 each; it’s hypnotizing to watch the woman work the pastry machine as she rapidly flips and fills, and then pops the tasty treat into your waiting hand. If your stomach is not accustomed to rougher street fare, Hsiang Ting Tang at Arribeños 2245 is a more upscale option. This Taiwanese restaurant is well decorated with bamboo screens, dark wood and mood lighting. Meals are about AR$25; the food Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 13

diversion. Another option is Puerta Uno (Juramento 1667), a secret bar for people in-the-know. No windows or signs betray the bar’s existence, but a bouncer often lurks outside a forbidding door up a black awning. Inside however, the atmosphere is relaxed, with an outdoor patio perfect for summer sipping, and low couches and soft lighting inside. The mint-lemon daiquiri is a refreshing twist on an old favorite.

Do! Flyers are posted around the neighborhood advertising classes for Tai Chi, KungFu, Feng Shui, Reiki massage, traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese language and

In the area:

bonsai cultivation. Free Feng Shui talks are given every Wednesday at BuddhaBA (Arribeños 2288) by Gustavo Ravaschio, whose impressive CV boasts years of study with other Feng Shui masters. Centro Wudang offers traditional training in Kung-Fu and Tai Chi for advanced practitioners. There is also Tai Chi outdoors at Av. Libertador and Kennedy on weekends, Tuesday and Thursday. Grand Master Chen Quan Zhong (who has more than 30 years’ experience with digitopuntura) gives intensive classes on traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. BuddhaBA, a restaurant, tea house, Oriental garden and art galley is also the location for traditional Chinese music concerts;

catch the next show on September 16 at 6:30pm ( Bonsai classes are given here on Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 pm and free Feng Shui and Reiki classes also happen here. The terrace, reached through the tea house or art gallery, has a peaceful garden filled with lush plants and bonsai. The Fo Guan Shan Buddhist temple (Olázabal 1645) is one of two in the area (www. The temple’s permanent location at Crámer 1733 was destroyed in a fire; normally, Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong classes are offered there. Vegetarian cooking lessons, flower arranging and Ch’an Meditation are other ac-

tivities offered by the temple. Ceremonies take place on Sundays. The Chong Kuan Buddhist temple is at Montañeses 2175. There are at least two acupuncture/Eastern medicine clinics in Barrio Chino. Carlos Lin (Arribeños 2164) offers Chinese massages, acupuncture (without needles) and therapy for neck, back, hips and knees based on ear pressure points (auriculotherapy). Fang, a center that specializes in natural Chinese medicine, also treats patients in the reception area. Don’t be surprised to find the tiny room crowded with patient, practitioner, waiting spouse or friend. Fang offers reflexology, digipoint therapy, auriculotherapy and natural slimming products. 6


Barrancas de Belgrano – adjacent to Barrio Chino, this lovely park contains grassy hillsides (barranca = sharp drop), spreading trees, a gazebo with occasional weekend shows and a fenced-off dog run which is a barking riot at midday. Carrefour and Showcase Cinema, Arribeños and Monroe – bowling, pool, ping pong and arcades accompany a multiplex and superstore. Asana, Arribeños 2386 – find affordable styles and artwork by independent designers and artists at this hip design fair (

Transportation: Barrancas de Belgrano is a major bus hub, and also contains Belgrano C train station; 15 minutes and AR$0.50 from Retiro. Plenty more buses can be found on Av. del Libertador or Av. Cabildo close by. The subte is also an option with Juramento (line D) about 7 blocks away on Cabildo. 14 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 15


On a Wing and a Paw Flying with Fido by Molly Malone

5. The Argentine Agriculture Dept. demands that rabies and health documents be translated to Spanish, signed by a notary and validated with your U.S. state’s apostil stamp, all prior to leaving the U.S. 6. Freeze water in Fido’s travel dish and attach to kennel door before boarding, so the little critter can keep its chops wet during travel.

Send Spot Home Flying Buenos Aires to U.S.: 1. Contact your airline and make a reservation for the furry fellow. Have weight, age and name readily available. 2. Vaccinate against rabies 30 days before travel to get formal proof. 3. See a certified vet for your dog’s health examination (AR$50) 5-10 days before travel. The vet signs the official health certificate as you wait (AR$20). 4. Take the rabies and health certificates to SELSA, a.k.a. Instituto Lazareto (Brasil and José C. Balbín, Dársena Sur, BA Port). It’s just beyond the floating casino’s car park entrance. Tel: 4361-4632, Mon-Fri 12:00-4:00p.m. 5. SELSA will exchange your certificates for the official Certificado Sanitario de Viaje. 6. Present this at the airport to Customs on both sides. Tape one copy to the kennel, give one to the BA customs official, and keep one on you.

This information focuses on dogs traveling between the US and Argentina, but regulations are similar for cats and other small pets, and for other major destinations.

Expatriated pups quickly get used to days spent with a personal dogwalker in Buenos Aires. But how do you get your furry friend into (and back out of) Argentina? Below is a quick to-do list to ensure travel success for Fido and less headache for you.

Traveling to Britain ain’t as tough as it used to be. Argentine dogs are eligible for the PETS microchip scheme to skip six month quarantine. Info: quarantine/index.htm Check with your airline for taking pot-bellied pigs to Cuba and other combinations, or look online at:

Red Tape for Red Rover Flying U.S. to Buenos Aires:

1. To get started, visit the Pet Travel Center website at, with upto-date USDA regulations and links to your airline’s pet page. 2. Contact your airline and make a reservation for your pup. Have weight, age and name readily available. Transport regulations vary from airline to airline. 3. Buy a carrier, which must be sturdy, properly ventilated, and large enough for your pet to stand, lie down, and roll over in. 4. A rabies vaccination and a pet exam must be had within ten days of departure. The vet will then issue a formal health certificate.

16 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 17

Go! Spring Breaks Cowboys in lederhosen riding antique trains on an island? As the September sun warms the creak out of your bones, consider our selection of four rather different trips covering both the near and the far. Perhaps best to do one at a time.


San Antonio de Areco has a fair claim to being the provincial home of gaucho culture, being the setting place of Güiraldes’ classic Don Segundo Sombra (1926). And here, just an hour and a half from Retiro, is a place where even the most pasty-faced city geek can get in touch with his or her inner cowboy. The main square, Plaza Ruiz de Arellano, is ringed by storefronts showing the intricate work of local silversmiths and leatherworkers who have produced wares for Argentine military heroes and

VILLA GENERAL BELGRANO Long weekend or more There are the Sierras Grandes and the Sierras Chicas; and Villa General Belgrano in between. 750 km from BA and 90 km from Córdoba, this replica Alpine village owes its architecture to homesick German founders, who brought their music, food and language along too. General Belgrano has more than visitors – it has fans; people who reserve in the summer for the winter, and in the winter for Oktoberfest, the Germanic-influenced National Beer Festival. Accommodation is not a problem if you book ahead. Choices range from top notch Howard Johnson Inn (US$200/night) to dorm beds for much less. Perhaps the

18 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

presidents. The town’s pride in this artisanship is well illustrated by a sidestreet mosaic near the plaza telling you that Nuñez, the town’s most celebrated rope maker, braided rope as “hizo música Bach, pintura Goya, versos el Dante” (Bach made music, Goya paintings, Dante verse). The rebuilt and picturesque Puente Viejo over the river is gateway to the Parque Criollo, which houses the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes (M-F 8am-2pm & Sa-Su 11am-5pm, AR$3) and its pulpería - an old bar and meeting place popular with local and traveling gauchos, immortalized in a passage from Don Segundo Sombra.

most popular option is a cabaña (cabin) – see end of this article. Oktoberfest – happening October 5-16 – is the highest point of the year for locals and visitors. Families might want to go on the first weekend or during the week when there are fewer tourists. The second weekend (a holiday one) attracts younger people out to party until sunrise. Festivities run from 11am-11pm, with the focus a colorful parade of 600 people representing various communities – though center-stage belongs to the Germans and Austrians. Delicious food, live music and gallons of beer abound, and although it may not be the Mineral Water Festival, there is enough security to ensure a safe family vibe. Take a lightweight coat and sensible shoes – you’ll be

Fantastic as a serene year-round getaway, this sleepy village explodes into life once a year for the Día de la Tradición in the Parque Criollo. The actual date is November 10, the birthday of José Hernández - author of definitive gaucho epic Martín Fierro - but the celebration tends to stretch over two weekends in early November. It’s advisable to book ahead. Modern and traditional gaucho culture mix, with parades in traditional

Getting there:

costume, back-bending bucking contests and close encounters with horse ropers. There are several bars and restaurants across the bridge in town, but the only food at the festival proper is giant slabs of frighteningly rare asado from one stand. One 2006 festival attendee claimed the ability to barbecue meat is the number one priority these days for a gaucho. Surely it always was? by Clare Nisbet

Bus - Nueva Chevallier or General Belgrano from Retiro about

AR$35 return.

Accommodation: From riverside camping at AR$10 per tent, to weekend ranch packages US$100+, usually with food and activities. Check hostels and hotels in town at

walking all day! If you miss Oktoberfest, investigate the village’s other fattening festivals, e.g. Alpine chocolate in July and Viennese pastry at Easter. But even between the festivals there is plenty to be done. Whole summer days can be spent picnicking and sunbathing by Los Reartes river, horse riding to El Pozo Verde (Green Well) or trekking to the Pico Alemán (German Peak). In the winter, the Central European patisserie is mandatory and guilt-free, as is a ride to the nearby village of Cumbrecita where the

snowy landscape will make you feel time has stopped. by Gabriel Widmer

Getting there: BA-Córdoba from AR$256 (LAN promotion, only for residents). Bus ‘coche cama’ (sleeper) round trip: AR$170, e.g. with Chevallier. Accommodation: Hotel with pool, view and breakfast – double: AR$120, apt. for 5: AR$250. Cabaña for 5: AR$300. All prices are estimates for high season. More info at and Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 19

Go! Spring Breaks FERROCLUB ARGENTINO Day trip Located in Avellaneda, half an hour from downtown BA, the Argentine train club offers a unique glimpse into the glory days of Argentine locomotives and an alternative day-trip destination. The club is run by an eclectic group of train enthusiasts who work weekends to preserve and refurbish mostly donated artifacts of Argentina’s railroading past for the benefit of the public. Today, visitors come from as far as the U.S. and Eu-

ISLA PAULINO Overnight / Day trip Ideal for a day’s hike, a brisk trail through pristine riparian vegetation such as poplar and magnolia trees, river cane, yellow irises and hortencias spills out onto a vast swath of empty beach and open sky. More than 200 species of birds make Isla Paulino a favorite for local enthusiasts, while year round fishing (corvina rubia and catfish, or mochuelo in spring) is possible for free off the shallow banks of the Río de la Plata, the widest estuary in the world. After arriving in Berisso, a port next to La Plata and 65km south of Buenos Ai-

20 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

rope to peruse vintage, wooden passenger cars like the 1925 British Midland Ry carriage or the luxurious Argentine Ferrocarril Sud, made on site in 1925. Steam engines and diesels from Europe, the U.S. and Argentina in various stages of repair are strewn about ad hoc on tracks within and surrounding the workshops. The mish-mash, work-in-progress arrangement of the club lends it a photogenic quality, which you don’t have to be a train geek to enjoy. Some of the club’s more attractive examples have starred in

res, head to the dock and find boat landing ‘3 de Abril’. Passage to and from the island aboard charming, wooden passenger boats is AR$3, and departures are regular on weekends all year round and all week in the summer. Most visitors just spend the day, but camping prices at AR$3 (beach) or AR$1 (dock) might persuade you to stay. Both campsites are close to a reasonably priced, low-key parrilla and small provisions store. Picnics on the beach are recommended if you’re not interested in typical parrilla fare. If pitching a tent isn’t your thing, there is also the Recreo El Faro - a few rooms and small house run by one of the island’s five families -

films like Evita and Seven Years in Tibet, and the site has also been used for documentaries and commercials. Inside the gritty workshops and up a steep flight of stairs, a museum contains a few impressive model couche and antique cross-lights and signs. Historical documents are available for the experts. Ricardo Campbell, club president, keeps his “office” – a desk and chair – inside the library and is happy to answer any questions, in English or Spanish.

kiddies – eager adults can ride too – called La Trochita. A charming wooden dining coach will provide a sandwich and a beer for about AR$10. The more technically adept may rent out (AR$50) a parrilla by one of the coaches which includes kitchen facilities and a table and chairs. By N. C. Stern

Entry: AR$3. Free parking. Taxi from downtown BA: approx. AR$30. More info at:

Look for an operating steam train for

for around AR$20 per night. First settled by Italian immigrant Paulino Pagani, who helped construct Berisso port in the late 1880s, the 15 km2 island became home to generations of wine and fruit producers. Though agricultural production here has slowed to a trickle, plums, liquors, and a sweet homemade

wine known as “the wine of the coast,” made with grapes of American origin, are still available thanks to the dedication of the islanders. Abandoned plantation and vineyard tours are occasionally organized; ask at the hotel or parrilla for further details. By N. C. Stern

Getting to Berisso: Bus: Via La Plata bus station, Tel: (0221) 421-0992/2182 Car: Autopista south to La Plata, exit highway. Av. 122 (Ruta 11) 3 km to rotunda. Follow calle 60 east (away from La Plata,) through another rotunda or two, all the way to dock (street name changes). Train: For the hardy – La Plata from Constitucion. 0800–222–TREN (8736) Further info: Berrisso Secretary of Tourism, Tel: (0221) 464-4554.

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 21

Ojo! Virtual Kidnapping By Darren Wimhurst

Virtual kidnapping might sound like a new Playstation game; but it is actually a telephone extortion tactic. Insider spoke to Lucy, 24, from England, who was woken up by one such telephone call. “This is Doctor Gómez from Hospital Fernández. There has been a serious accident – a pedestrian was brought in this morning after being run over by a car. I have been given this contact number and address [states address]. Are these your details?” “Yes.” “Did your partner or a family member leave the house this morning on their way to work?” “Yes, my boyfriend left to go to his Spanish class.”

“If you hang up Lucy, I will kill you. You live at [states address] and I am waiting outside to kill you.” At this point Lucy ends the call to check on her boyfriend, who is in his Spanish class with all his fingers intact.

Been the victim/near victim of a scam or other crime? Email us on The caller goes on to ask the name, age and nationality of Lucy’s partner to assist with identifying the accident victim. Upon being asked for her cell-phone number, Lucy becomes suspicious and refuses. The ‘doctor’ gets aggressive. “If you don’t give me your cell number, I’ll cut off your boyfriend’s finger.” “What?” “That’s right – I have him here. And if you want to see him again you have to pay.” “I’m hanging up.”

22 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

so we can warn people about it!

The accident premise is a trusty tool in the virtual kidnappers box. Your cell number is requested so they can keep it busy to stop you determining the whereabouts of the allegedly abducted. The ‘virtual’ kidnappers are usually actual prisoners in jail. Police confirm that they will usually attempt to talk you into buying hundreds of pesos of phone cards from a kiosko, to scratch off and read

the codes over the phone. Your phone number, address and other personal details are found online (they really should filter internet access in prison), to add weight to their demands. The police investigation seems limited to adding your name to a scrap of paper with other victims’ names on it, but they do offer the following common-sense advice: •Never accept a pre-recorded call from a voice messaging service from ‘una unidad carcelaria’. This is a reverse charge call from prison. •Do not disclose your cell-phone number or other personal details. •Most people carry ID, which would negate most of the phony caller’s questions. •As soon as you become suspicious, end the call. Past cases have included phony doctors, police, firemen, but the format remains the same. These scatter-gun ransom attempts are generally long on scare tactics and short on details. If in doubt, remember the old maxim ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and the marginally lesser known ‘don’t give strangers free phone minutes’. 6 Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 23


The Price is Right?

where I was told a 2L bottle of coke would cost AR$4.50. Rip-off? Almost certainly. Special extranjero price? No. We were just in an expensive part of town – Joaquin’s 2L caffeinatedsugar injection cost exactly the same as mine.

The Keys to the City


In the name of impartiality I should reveal a bad lock-related experience during my first weekend in BA. The antique apartment key broke in the door, locking me in, and I was forced to dial the nearest locksmith. There was a AR$25 call-out charge, and once he arrived (and realized I was foreign) our friendly locksmith said he could break the door down for AR$250 pesos, but could not fix it afterwards. Naturally I could have smashed the door down as well, free of charge. Imagine my surprise then, when Joaquín and I obtained four identical quotes from locksmiths across the city for exactly this problem.

Fernando R. Vilela

Get Healthy


After the weighing, and before the scribbling of a figure on a scrap of paper, I am certain that a price is conjured, which does not necessarily relate to the amount of fruit you have just bought. Let’s face it, most people could not say that their combination of bananas and strawberries should cost a peso less then what they were charged. Take comfort in the knowledge that mangoes and melons are no more expensive for extranjeros than porteños, at least not in the two greengrocers we tested, in Palermo and Barrio Norte.

Plomeros (not a fruit)


In order to investigate the integrity of BA plumbers I had to learn some Spanish phrases that I may well never use again. We spoke to five firms across the city and received identical quotes for the work required in all but one case: one cheeky plumber (Okey Service, Cabrera 3485) had decided that Joaquin’s toilet problem would cost him AR$160-200, while my identical problem would cost between AR$200-250. Given that they were only offering an ‘Okey’ service, I didn’t feel like parting with the extra $50 for no apparent reason.

Perhaps you understand the mystical workings of the Guia-T. Perhaps you appreciate that monedas are worth more in BA than precious stones. But every time you open your mouth you give yourself away -- you’re no porteño. But how much does it cost you? Insider sent hapless foreigner Darren Wimhurst, with wily porteño Joaquín Dondo, to investigate over 20 vendors and services around the city to answer the perennial question: are they ripping us off? Darren reports back.

Down on Leather Street


We started on Florida and repressed all natural instincts to say ‘Yes, I would like to see your array of excellently priced, 100% cow-hide leather jackets’. Joaquin enquired after prices in the President’s porteño, and later I asked about the same jackets using only English and a series of pointing gestures. Of all the stores visited we found only one price difference; Alanis Leather Clothing (Florida 860) quoted a price AR$70 less than the one quoted to Joaquin. The only possible interpretation could be that the shop assistant felt more likely to complete a sale with a tourist. But whatever the true reason, if I go to buy a leather jacket I’ll make it very clear that ‘I no understand Spanish.’

Diet Coke Break


Pick a kiosko any kiosko, except one on Santa Fe, or particularly Santa Fe and Arabia Siria 24 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

*** Roller-coaster Rides BA Style (Taxis) We took separate taxis from Once to LN Alem and Corrientes. Normally I would get in, state my destination, and then immediately engage in an ‘I know the way to my apartment better then you do’ argument with the driver, so as to demonstrate that I’m not interested in the scenic route. But not today, today I point at the location on the map, give him an ‘I’m new here’ winning smile and sit back to enjoy the ride, which cost exactly the same as Joaquin’s ride. What does a guy have to do to get ripped off in this town? 6

Verdict: Maybe Buenos Aires is more honest than I thought. There have been occasions where I have been certain that a taxi driver is squeezing a few extra pesos out of me. I have also been charged different prices for the same alfajor at different kioskos. But this is not borne of a desire to rip off the tourist; after all, we are only talking about a peso here, or 50 centavos there. Rather this is an example of the Argentine viveza criolla (Creole cunning). The motivation is not the monetary gain, but the idea of occasionally pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. Not an easy concept for a foreigner to grasp, but it is inherent in the culture here. Cheating is ok, as long as you do it with guile and finesse (see Maradona, for example). Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 25


Finding a Fixer

some kind of verbal guarantee agreement that If the same problem recurs next week he will return to fix it free of charge.

When the bathroom floods or the light explodes, who you gonna call? Insider Marcelo Ballve poses the question ‘How do you find a reliable professional in this damn town?’ It doesn’t save time in Buenos Aires to search through phonebook or internet when you need to contract specialized services like a plumber or electrician. While the phone book has a billion entries in such fields, and some doubtlessly will lead to qualified professionals, it’s something of a lottery. Often you’ll be strung along by dispatchers, and kept waiting for hours if not days, while the items in your refrigerator develop a thick fur.

have an electricista who makes house-calls on staff, as well as numbers of repairmen that can fix your big appliances. Plumbers (plomeros) can be found through stores selling bathroom tiles and fixtures. Most plumbers in Argentina also double as gasistas (gas technicians) and can repair gas leaks or install a water heater. Make sure that any gas man is matriculado (registered) to be extra safe. It’s good to engage in friendly conversation. If the worker likes you, they’ll make an extra effort to be helpful. I made friends with my roofer and last time he came he spent an extra hour with me on the roof putting up anti-pigeon barriers.

Serrucho It is usually best to let your feet do the walking instead. Often, the most trustworthy artisans and technicians are working right in your neighborhood, and it is a fairly simple operation to acquire cell numbers and names. Neighbors are good sources and can also give you an idea of what they were charged. Also, most buildings will have an encargado (superintendent or doorman) who can give recommendations or even offer his own services if it isn’t a big job. If these options don’t work, go to the appropriate stores in your neighborhood and ask. Even if your language skills aren’t great, it only requires phrasebook Spanish to make the request. For example, every neighborhood has a store that sells light bulbs, adapters and other electrical gizmos, generally known as la casa de electricidad. Often these will 26 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Pinza area businesses provides an extra layer of assurance that you won’t be compromising your safety. Also, you’re less likely to be ripped off.


Finally, every neighborhood has idiosyncrasies, and local workers will navigate them best. Once I called an electrician who worked in Barrio Norte where buildings tend to be better maintained than in San Telmo, where I live. He took a cursory look at our apartment, and immediately asked to look at the building’s switchboard. I admit it looked scary: an industrial-size tangle of frayed wires, the whole mess caked in dust. The electrician shook his head and gave me a pitying look, as if the days were counted before my building exploded. He left in a hurry. The next week I went to the electrical store nearby and in a matter of minutes every light fixture and electrical socket in our house was working. For best results, sometimes it’s best to stay local. 6

Of course, it’s always good to research prices. Prepare to be flexible, but ask continually and politely for estimates, even while the plumber is bent over your toilet. One way of bringing the cost down is to go and get any necessary materials yourself. Get your man to write you a list and then hop along to your ferretería – nine times out of ten it will work out cheaper. And make


Martillo The local ferretería (hardware store) is also good for making contacts, and the place to know if you’re a do-it-yourself type. The old school ferreterías can be fun to shop at; when I bought nails recently they weighed them on an old scale and wrapped them in newspaper -- a tabloid newspaper page illustrated with a half-naked pin-up girl. There are many advantages to this face-toface method. One is security. While there’s no reason for paranoia, letting a stranger into your house never seems natural in a large city. Contracting someone known to Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 27


A Breakneck Guide To Health Care By Clare Nisbet

AR$160, depending on the branch (Microcentro is the most expensive). If you throw a rock in this city, chances are you’ll hit a Swiss Medical branch. Those here long term or in need of long term care might consider a medical plan.

Eight hours into a 20-hour bus ride from Bolivia to Buenos Aires my eardrum burst. There I was with my gear (including Ibuprofen stash) below deck in the luggage compartment, weeping silently in a non-reclining seat as cockroaches scurried into my ponytail. My boyfriend gave me strong advice from the “suck it up” school of coping mechanisms, so upon my return to Buenos Aires I tried desperately to pretend nothing was wrong. Two days later I awoke to find my pillow covered in blood from my ear. Ill, scared and far from home, all my fears about visiting a foreign hospital with a language barrier taunted me. A friend recommended the Hospital Alemán on Puerreydón. After discovering that the emergency entrance was for ambulances and missing limbs only, I walked into the main entrance on Puerreydón, followed signs to the Policlinica, and joined the line for the caja (cash register) inside the main door. For an unscheduled, urgent care visit I paid AR$70. The cost varies for scheduled appointments with specialists, but most consultations cost about this much. The only requirement was photo ID - I had my passport with me. The waiting room sparkled with cleanliness and there were only 3 people in my line. Within 20 minutes, I was speaking to a kind, sympathetic, bilingual doctor, who let me speak in my broken

28 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Spanish even though his English was far superior. He calmed me, wrote my prescription and scheduled me for a (no charge) follow-up appointment and hearing test a month later. My prescription was redeemable at any city pharmacy save the hospital one, which is restricted to patients on medical plans. The total cost came to AR$70 for the consultation plus AR$20 for the prescription medicine. If that seems too costly, it is possible to receive quality attention at no cost at all. The UBA’s Facultad de Medicina has excellent resident doctors, who are often accompanied by training medical students. Waits are generally longer in public hospitals, ranging from under 30 minutes to over four hours. For this reason public hospitals are a bigger gamble, though the care is generally said to be impeccable (rave reviews for Hospital Dr. Cosme Argerich in La Boca). At Swiss Medical branches, waits are 15 minutes to an hour depending on the time of day, the number of patients they’re dealing with, and other factors. Unscheduled consultations cost between AR$80 and

Prices vary depending on what it covers, but the most basic will cover typical medical care and a discount on medication. A full coverage plan from a good hospital will cost around AR$150 to AR$200 a month, which might ease the bloody pillow anxiety moments somewhat. 6

useful numbers 107 / 911 - Medical Emergencies (ambulance service). Argentine ambulances are crewed by doctors, not paramedics, so sometimes they can fix the problem without taking you to hospital * 0800-333-7258 - General health care info * 0800-666-8537 - Women’s rights line. Mostly for violence against women, but also to get appointments for breast exams or OB/GYN appointments * 0800-333-6262 - Assistance for pregnant women * 0800-999-7100 - Health care for senior citizens * 0800-333-56836 - Youth health care. STDs, birth control (including free condom distribution centers), info on free services for young people * 0800-222-6466 - Emergency health care under-14s. Call to arrange a home visit by a pediatrician

some hospitals Private: Hospital Británico, Perdriel 74, Barracas. Tel: 4309-6400 Instituto Argentino de Diagnóstico y Tratamiento, Marcelo T. Alvear 2346, Recoleta. Tel: 4963-9500 Hospital Italiano, Gascón 450, Almagro. Tel: 4959-0200 Hospital Alemán, Av. Pueyrredón 1640, Recoleta. Tel: 4827-7000 Swiss Medical, various branches. Tel: 5239-7300. Public: Hospital de Clinicas, UBA Facultad de Medicina, Av. Córdoba 2351, Tel: 5950-8500, 5950-8484, Hospital Dr. Cosme Argerich, Pi y Margall Nº 150, La Boca, Tel: 4121-0735

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 29

Get! Real (Estate)

Got a question on property or other financial issues? Tell us and we’ll consult the experts for you and all readers.

Adspeak Home hunting? Confused by the matrix of meaningless letters in the classified pages? To help you out Insider has declassified the code. s/gtía - sin garantia (no co-signer necessary – don’t trust this one!)

t/incl - todo incluido – everything (fees and utilities) included

temp - alquiler temporario - available for short-term rental

amb – ambiente – room (not bedroom!)

a estr - a estrenar - brand new

ptio - patio - back yard

t/nvo - todo nuevo - ever ything is new (might be recycled)

coc - cocina bñ, bño - baño

cat, categ - de categoria - upscale luxury building/apt

pisc - piscina - pool

exc - excelente - excellent

mucam - mucama - maid service

Others: dño - dueño - apartment is rented by the owner, not a real estate agency (no commission!)

vig - vigilancia - security guard

1amb - studio apartment, 3amb - 2 br. amobl - amoblado – furnished Position: fte - frente – faces street Money: D, u$d, USD - American dollar. Otherwise peso assumed

cfrte, cfte - contrafrente – not facing street

expens - expensas – building fees (tenant pays unless stated otherwise)

lat - lateral - on the side of the building

gtos - plus gastos – utilities

pulmon - windows open to shaft in middle of building

V/14-18 - you can see (ver) it from 2-6pm

apto/prof, apto profes, a/p - apto professional – can be used as office lum, lumin, luz, t/sol - sunny, luminous

You might see this:

Which means:

Recoleta 1200 | Alquiler ofrecido | Departamentos | 1amb 1amb +gtos 34m sol a/p ampl div temp pisc mucam 14-18 Guido 1888 8ºP XYZ INMOBILIARIA 5555-5555

Recoleta AR$1200 | For rent | Apartments | Studio Studio, utilities not included, 34 m2, sunny, can be used as an office, short term lease possible, pool, maid service, see it from 2-8pm, 1888 Guido, apt 8ºP (8º = 8th floor)

30 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

bc - balcón - balcony

Based upon a South American Explorer info sheet

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 31

Do! Bluffers Aires By Darren Wimhurst

The seventh rule of BA Poker Club is that you do not talk about BA Poker Club. Yes, there is a set of rules and apparently six are more important than that one. The game takes place every Wednesday at 9pm in the heart of the city, and you need a password to enter the premises. Why all the secrecy? Best head down to find out: the club actively encourages newcomers under current incumbent Señor Brains (details below). Right, let’s get down to business. Vegas this ain’t. You are not going to get dancing girls with your Quilmes, but you will get a genuine no-limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament. Shame about those dancing girls. Each player receives a set starting amount of chips and blinds increase regularly throughout the evening. Unlimited “buy-ins” are allowed for the first hour and a half, after which the game goes knock-out. Just as you are unlikely to blow next month’s rent, you are never going to walk away with enough to quit your day job either. The emphasis is firmly on having a sociable game of cards, and to this end the club appeals to both the uninitiated (the fresh meat) and the internet professionals (the unemployed). English and Spanish are the languages of choice at the tables, and it is worth noting that as a mixed club, this is not a boys’ night in – it is said that the female of the species never bluffs and can spot a liar as easily as an alfajor in a biscuit line-up. But Insider would never endorse such poker stereotyping. So if you are looking for a friendly card game, or have an inscrutable face and a penchant for lying, or you just enjoy giving money away while receiving table service, then BA Poker Club could be for you. Rumors abound of other top secret games among expat groups – ask around, but you didn’t hear it from us. 6

Contact to reserve your place at the table.

32 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

Sept-Oct 2007 . BA insider . 33

Do the BA Book Walk

Buenos Aires has been home to some of Latin America’s greatest writers, and the inspiration and setting for much of their work. Brendan Lanctot follows the footsteps of some key porteño authors and their characters, treading the line between past and present, and between Buenos Aires’s mythology and its reality...

Let’s begin our literary excursion where Buenos Aires was founded -- not Parque Lezama, as the history books claim, but a certain block in Palermo Viejo. Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), who explored the unstable boundary between fact and fiction perhaps more than any other writer, imagines in his poem “The Mythical Founding of Buenos Aires” that the city came to be on “a whole square block, but set down in the country, /.../ identical to that block which still stands in my neighborhood: Guatemala-Serrano-Paraguay-Gurruchaga.” If you go in search of this mythical block, be aware that the city government decided to honor its most famous native writer in 1996 by renaming this portion of Serrano “Borges”. Palermo is no longer an outlying barrio of one story homes and working-class immigrants, but you can still find vestiges of the old neighborhood. As Borges mentions in “The Mythical Founding”, there is a building on the corner of Guatemala and Borges that is “pink as the back of a playing card”, which houses the Preferido de Palermo, a classic bodegón (a restaurant and market). Walk up Serrano – Borges, that is – towards the Avenida Córdoba, and you eventually arrive at the Plazoleta Julio Cortázar, also known as Plaza Serrano, named for the author of the experimental novel Hopscotch. Though Cortázar (1914-1984) spent most of his adult life in Paris, “The Gates of Heaven,” one of his best short stories, takes place here in Palermo. In the fictitious Santa Fe Palace, couples dancing tango “twirl slowly without speaking, many with their eyes closed, enjoying at last complete parity and fulfillment.” These words 34 . BA insider . Sept-Oct 2007

come to life late at night, as you watch the packed dance floor at either the Salón Canning (Scalabrini Ortiz 1331) or La Viruta, located in the basement of the Armenian cultural center (Armenia 1366). A few blocks away, at the intersection of Santa Fe and Scalabrini Ortiz, begins another great Cortázar story, “Omnibus.” Like its protagonist Clara, you too are headed towards Retiro, but chances are slim that you’ll find yourself barreling down Santa Fe in an otherwise empty bus. In fact, it might be a better idea to read the story and take a taxi instead. Once you arrive at Retiro, walk over to the Plaza San Martín, where you can’t help but notice the art-deco Edificio Kavanagh, one of Buenos Aires’s most iconic buildings. Whatever your taste in architecture, you probably won’t be as opinionated as Borges. In his brilliant detective tale “Death and the Compass”, he describes it as a “tall prism sitting high above the estuary whose waters are the color of the desert,” which brings together “the abhorrent whiteness of a sanatorium, the numbered divisibility of a prison, and the general appearance of a house of ill-repute.” From the Plaza San Martín, make your way down the pedestrian street Florida. Travel books invariably call attention to the street’s bygone opulence, but Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) reminds us that there has always been as much grit as glitter. In a newspaper column titled “Aguasfuertes Porteñas” (Porteño etchings), he cynically observes the crowds that “come and go, just because” and jostle in long lines in order to see window displays full of cheap jewelry and the latest fashions from Europe.



He claims the street is “the least porteño street that we have” and even speculates that “this is where the word cursi [‘tacky’] was born.” The Buenos Aires of Arlt rarely overlaps with that of Borges. His writings follow marginal figures – immigrants, anarchists, poets and pimps – through the city’s sordid underbelly. His novel The Seven Madmen, for example, portrays a failed inventor turned small-time embezzler, who encounters a cast of equally disreputable types in a series of downtown cafés. At the intersection with the Avenida Cor-

rientes, take a right and walk towards the Obelisk. Crossing the 9 de Julio, stroll past the theaters and the numerous bookstores that are a testament to the city’s literary tradition. It is here on Corrientes that Juan Pablo Castels, the psychotic artist who is protagonist of Ernesto Sabato’s fascinating The Tunnel, notices after wandering aimlessly for hours that “something very strange was happening: I was seeing the world through sympathetic eyes.” Take this walk through the literary heart of the city, and you might find the same thing happening to you. 6

Bibliography English translations of the mentioned texts are easily found. Collected Fictions and Selected Poems, Jorge Luis Borges (Penguin Books) “The Gates of Heaven” and “Ómnibus”, Julio Cortázar, included in Blow-up and Other Stories (Pantheon). Pantheon also publishes Hopscotch. The Seven Madmen, Roberto Arlt (Serpent’s Tail) Arlt’s “Aguasfuertes Porteñas” has not been translated into English. The Tunnel, Ernesto Sabato (Ballantine Books)

Further reading The Argentina Reader (Duke), edited by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo, contains diverse excepts of literarature and historical documents. Jason Wilson’s Buenos Aires: A Cultural History (Interlink Books), is organized geographically.

Books in English Walrus Books, Estados Unidos 617, San Telmo. Alternatively, the big chains on Florída tend to carry a selection in English.

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CHOO! Do you speak the language of love? And can you give concrete and practical advice based on your knowledge?

BA Insider wants your words, on: Porteño dating rules and etiquette. How to land and keep the Argie of your dreams (or get rid of the Argie of your nightmares). Dating dos and don’ts.

A Streetcar Named Tranvía Covering just 17 blocks on its 12 minute journey from terminus to terminus and helping you skip one of the most beautiful routes to walk in the city; you would be forgiven for asking why national and city governments invested AR$47 million (US$16 million) on the pristine, “prototipo experimental” tranvía (tram) of Puerto Madero. Though still just one stop short of Retiro, BA’s main transport hub, the publicized intention is to eventually extend the tram to La Boca, Constitución and Barracas, southern zones of Capital Federal that have perennially been cut off from the major investment seen in the center and North of the city. Head down to marvel at just how shiny and expensive-looking the tranvía is, and how

few people actually use it, and then have a nice stroll down Puerto Madero. Runs every 20 mins Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm, along A. Moreau de Justo between Avenues Córdoba and Independencia. Tickets for AR$1.

DO! Behind Closed Doors By Gabriela Widmer The huge decorative doors of Buenos Aires conceal all manner of secrets. In this regular feature, Insider tips you off, door by door, allowing you to join that select group of people in the know...

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Eight blocks from Plaza Serrano, but across the frontier of Palermo in Villa Crespo: you won’t find this restaurant-bar unless you know what you’re looking for. A clue? Its name, OCHO7OCHO, is part of the address. But you’ll have to call 4773-1098 for further information. “We prefer working with people that look for us than passersby”, says Agustín Bertero, barman and manager. All this secrecy does not prevent the place from being crowded on weekends nor from being cited as one of ID magazine’s ‘Best New Bars in the World’. Ring the bell and the doors open onto a large, tranquil space. Arrive early to strains of jazz or bolero, or later for Zeppelin, while you wrestle with the endless drinks menu. 300 bottles, including 90 whiskies, are proudly displayed, and as many wines. Try the Boscharov (vodka, pepper, orange and rosehip) while you wait for your Lamb with Stuffed Potato. You’ll be back plenty of times to fully explore all the possibilites. (Open 7 days, 8pm to 4/6am; major credit cards; free entry; drinks AR$15-50)

BOO! ¡Truco o Dulce! Halloween, though still not widely celebrated by porteños, is growing in popularity. Most foreigner-favourite nightclubs throw parties with some punters even dressing up for the occasion. For upmarket costume soirées, check out the Faena Hotel + Universe (Puerto Madero) and ultra-posh Circulo Italiano. Trick or treating (¡truco o dulce!) occurs more in suburban gated communities, but even in the big bad gateless world some households put decorations outside to indicate candy for the taking. Pictured is (Lavalle 2160), one of several costume shops sprinkled around the city. Check in late October for tips on parties - and if you find a good one - invite us!

A few more costume shops: Todo Disfraz, Paseo Colón 1159 1º, San Telmo, Disfraces Pierret, Av. Rivadavia 4975 L30, Caballito, DiverDisfraz, Lavalle 2275, Balvanera, Disfraces Ilusión, Juramento 4792, Villa Urquiza,

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Do! FULL CONTACT BA NFL Europe might have just packed it in after 15 years, but pigskins are flying on this side of the pond. Insider investigates the (South) American Football scene...

Football Americano Argentina (FAA) manages the national league for full contact American football, with hard helmets, padding and the works. The league is in its fifth official season with six teams in Buenos Aires and another one in Córdoba. National playoffs start on November 17, just after the third annual ‘Silver Bowl’ against Uruguay on October 6 in Montevideo. For those willing to risk their spinal integrity, the FAA holds an annual draft for new players. Flag football is also organized for those who prefer to score without seeing any tackle. This might seem like an expat drinking scheme but most players and administrators are Argentine. Using a translated lexicon imported from Mexico, Spanish

Classify! Get your message heard! Small ad, small price.

huddles (peletones) are run by quarterbacks (mariscales de campo) with words like la carga for “blitz” and el saque largo for “long snap”. The international community is well represented though, for example by New Yorker Mitch Cohen, a 2006 third round draft pick, and his Ukrainian teammate first-round, first-round pick Vasyl Mospan. Age is no barrier to participation with Cohen still formidable at age 52. FAA president Sergio Biagini is a BBDO advertising agency executive by day. His crew also runs a division for 15-19 year olds, with younger players providing fresh meat for the Tiburones (Sharks), Osos Polares (Polar Bears) or other adult teams to chew up. 6

FAA games: Sat, 1pm at Club Comunicaciones, Av. San Martín 5125, Barrio de Agronomía. New players are welcome and spectating is free. Season breaks in September for team ‘clinics’, with playoffs starting October 13. More info online at

Missing your Monday night NFL? Find the solution in BA Insider’s 7 day calendar, pages 44 - 45!

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Sign Ape! Porteño Language Actions speak louder than words. Which is great if you don’t speak Spanish. But what about those peculiarly BA gestures that represent a language of their very own? Insider gives you the low down on a few key non-verbal tools...

The ‘Todo Bien’

The ‘Cuiqui’

‘Stay cool’. With undertones of ‘I’m a guy from the street’, this is best served with a healthy dollop of irony.

Afraid, are we? Pronounced “quicky”, this faintly scatalogical gesture is used for provoking someone in a playful and infantile manner. Good for use in bluffing games, e.g. in classic Argentine card game ‘truco’. Add a puckered lip kiss for extra effect. What’s the matter McFly – you pollo?

The ‘No Sé’

The ‘¿Qué onda?’

A serious insult in Italy (famously used against reporters last year by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia), this forward under-chin brushing of the tops of your right hand’s fingers, often finishing up in an almost Gallic shrug, means a less belligerent ‘I don’t know’ out here in the River Plate. N.B. Can stray into the dismissive, especially if you lose the shrug.

More expressive than aggressive, this gesture has various meanings, such as: ‘What the bejeezus are you talking about?’ and ‘What on earth are they doing?’ (when preceded by a narrowing of the eyes in their general direction). Swing your arm more violently to add intensity.

The ‘Ojo’ Watch yourself mister/missy. At home it might mean ‘Have I got something in my eye?’, but out here this is a beady warning which plays a significant part in the repertoire of girls in nightclubs and lorry drivers.

The ‘Cafecito’ You’re not calling into question your waiter’s manhood with this one, it’s just a way of ordering a ‘little coffee’ across a crowded café.

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Pen! Colectiquette

Are you witty and informative?

Submit responses to the following bus-related etiquette problems to The most apt will be printed in the next issue. Dear Insider, The Guia “T” is my bible, but my driver today is an apostate: he’s deviated from the One True Path — and where I need to go. (How) can I ask for my fare back? I’ve noticed there are two fares: 75 and 80 centavos. Am I just being a rich foreigner, or what’s the damn difference? Should I fight for my nickel? And how far does 75 centavos get me, anyway? I’m reasonably young and healthy. Without unduly slighting someone in this appearance-obsessed city, how old should the woman standing at my side appear before I surrender her my seat? I’m reasonably young and healthy. The driver seems in a hurry and has no reason to “stop” at this location, except to let me off. How slow should I expect the bus to get before I’m expected to jump? With my change, the fare machine spits out my tiny receipt. Should I save it? For how long? For what? I have pockets full of ‘em. They certainly don’t cut it as rolling papers. Can I turn them in for some frequent flyer program? Signed, Lost in Transportation

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BA Insider Magazine, San Martin 981 PB 21 | Retiro C1004AAS Capital Federal | Buenos Aires | Argentina

BA Insider Issue#1  

BA Insider magazine Issue#1