Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Train Ride Experience From Cordoba to Buenos Aires and Back Again

Argentina has 23 provinces and one federal district. Taking a train may be the cheapest way to travel between provinces but its destinations are limited. For example, you can't take a train from Cordoba to Mendoza or from Cordoba to San Juan. It wasn’t always like this though. There was a time where you could travel practically anywhere in Argentina by train. Then the regime of President Menem decided that the train system took business away from trucking distributors. So he shut down most train service routes. Over time, those old railroad tracks turned into dumps.
This used to be a train track

Dead trees and trash now litter this old railroad
Fortunately, under the Kirchnerista regime, the railroad systems became operational again. Companies like Ferrocentral were once again able to offer train services to provinces like Cordoba which connected them with routes that lead to Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires.
We took the train route from Cordoba to Buenos Aires

Check out the video footage we took of the scenery throughout the train ride.
On our journey to and from Buenos Aires, we noticed a whole lot of farms, soy and wheat processing plants, as well as a couple of small towns. I didn't see anything as industrialized as Cordoba Capital or the Federal Capital “Capital Federal (LA CAVA)” of Buenos Aires.
Passengers get ready to board the train. Nice beanie hat dude!

The interior of the train is similar to those used in the United States. There are overhead compartments that allow you to store your carry-on luggage.  

There are men and women’s restrooms in each cart. You can always go and buy yourself coffee, tea, soda, croissants, or a milanesa (breaded steak) sandwich.
Some passengers might like the menu on the train ...
Others might hate it

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting Other Expats

My spouse and I have been in Argentina for almost 16 months now. Making friends has been as difficult as finding work. For one thing, money is pretty tight and without cash we really can’t go anywhere or invite anyone to our house. On the other hand, the few Argentinians I’ve spoken to have had a rather grim view of Americans. A friendly conversation usually turns into someone accusing us of being brutal conquerors who see ourselves as perfect. That’s not who we are and that’s certainly not what America is about. Zach and I are peace loving and friendly.

Fortunately, I’ve recently reached out to a fellow expat and that’s quickly resulted in meeting other expats too. Let’s face it. No one understands what you’re going through better than someone that’s going through the same thing. It’s been wonderful to sit with someone over coffee and compare expat experiences and discuss what our lives were like back home.
Landing work is still a challenge in Argentina. Thankfully, my new friend was able to introduce me to another expat who hired me to become a freelance writer. The experience has been great because I get to do something I love, which is writing, and get paid for it at the same time. It’s still no substitute for a permanent job, which I hope to land someday, but it’s better than nothing.   
That's me with the glasses
Quite recently, we celebrated one of my expat friend’s birthday at the Catre Diem Cultural Hostel here in Cordoba Capital. Zach and I struck conversations with people from Cordoba (who spoke English), the United States and from other parts of the world as well. Afterwards we went to a club called Dorian Gray. I’m a bit of a square so I haven’t really frequented many clubs in my life. In fact, this was my first club experience in Argentina.

We noticed the bar as soon as we walked through the doors but we couldn't really drink because we're both taking medication There was also a group of actors dressed in aboriginal clothing taking clients and forcing them to take part in some kind of act. It was quite interesting.
Zach's ready to jam!
Then we headed for the dance floor and started dancing. Zach accused me of dancing like a white person. Haha! He’s of Puerto Rican descent so he’s got dance moves written into his DNA. I on the other hand only know how to swivel my hips and shuffle my feet. Plus, I suffer from social anxiety so I was a bit overwhelmed (despite my anti-anxiety medication). Nevertheless, I had a great time! More importantly, Zach had a great time. I haven’t seen him this alive in months.

Speaking to other expats has broken the social ice for us. It not only allowed us to meet people from back home but it also allowed us to make friends with other Argentinians who are either friends or in a relationship with our fellow expats.