a regional misunderstanding

February 22, 2008

Here’s an excerpt from a wonderful book Streetwise Spanish:

A Mexican lady married a man from Buenos Aires and went to live in that city, where she encountered some problems with linguistic differences. One day she called the maid and began to explain the tasks that she would have to do in the house. “In the evening,” she said, “You should clean the table after dinner and then you have to wash the dishes.” (In Mexico, trastes means dishes, pots and pans, but in Argentina it means bottom or buttocks.) The maid almost fainted and replied, “All right, ma’am, I’ll do it for you and the girls, but not for the mister!”


daylight saving time

February 13, 2008

For those of you in the United States and, especially, traveling to and from the United States, did you know that daylight-saving time begins March 9? We’ll spring forward one hour. Don’t forget!

My partner and I discovered a glitch in American Airlines’ reservation system last year. They didn’t account for daylight savings time in Argentina (our departure time shows 11am when it should have been noon), so we arrived an hour extra earlier at the airport. No wonder we were so confused by our flights and gate numbers (as in where the **** is our flight/gate? Duh we were ****** too early). Imagine how horrible it would have been if the time change went the other way??

Anyway, here are some details about Argentina’s recent time change:

An important new change has taken effect in Argentina…DAYLIGHT SAVINGS.

Daylight savings went into effect on December 30, 2007. Remember that the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed so the old spring ahead fall back works EXCEPT THE OPPOSITE. Argentine clocks will be turned ahead one hour because it’s spring in the southern hemisphere. To make it more confusing, at least for North Americans, the time will return to normal on March 16, almost one week after the U.S.

world poker tournament on the travel channel ?!?

February 3, 2008

Can anybody try to explain or justify to me what a world poker tournament is doing at the Travel Channel?

A TV show with the word world in it does not qualify it as a show about travel. Does anyone else see or think how absurd this is?

beauty travel survival kit

January 31, 2008

Next time you visit the wonderful city of Buenos Aires, you might want to bring these items that I found invaluable during my last visit there:

1. ionic travel hair dryer

This is my favorite holiday present of 2007. It is not as expensive as the T3 travel hair dryer and it has that nozzle that is missing from the very very expensive T3. This hair dryer is dual voltage so all you need is an adaptor plug and you’re good to go! Don’t worry if you forgot to bring an adaptor plug. You can easily buy one in Buenos Aires for cheap. I really love this product. Sometimes I don’t even need to flatiron my hair after I use this dryer.

2. 220V flat iron

This device is a great saver for those bad hair days. I find that my hair goes through an ugly phase a few days after I travel while adjusting to new locales. If you know where I can buy a tourmaline dual-voltage flatiron, please let me know. My hairstylist has one but he got it at some fashion trade show somewhere. Luckyy. I searched the internet high and low and couldn’t find a dual-voltage ceramic flatiron. Anyway, I used this particular flatiron in Buenos Aires. It’s not the best, but it worked pretty well.

3. TRESemmé instant heat tamer

If you’re going to be using a hairdryer or a flatiron, I highly suggest you use a heat protecting spray. This product makes my hair smell good and so much more manageable and shiny! I bought this at Jumbo, Buenos Aires’ version of Walmart. This place kinda rocks! Did you know that the mosque right across this store is the largest mosque in South America? Wicked.

4. DHC Cleansing Foam

I brought with me 4 packet samples of this amazing product. It kept my face clean and comfortable after spending humid afternoons and evenings in B.A. A little goes a long way with this product. The samples lasted me throughout my entire 2.5 week trip. I can live without this product in cold climes but would hate to live without this product in humid weathers.

5. pumice stone

If you visit Buenos Aires in the summer, you will want to roam around in your sexy flip flops. To me, wearing flip flops for weeks mean rough bottoms of the feet. So rub those calluses every day while in the shower. Again, if you happen to forget to pack your pumice stone, you can easily buy one at any of the numerous farmacias in the city. And they’re cheap too!

argentine cell phones, why the special treatment? it’s confusing!

December 30, 2007

Calling a cell phone in Argentina by long-distance can be a challenge (Read: pain in the *ss).

In general, you follow this simple step when placing a long-distance call to Argentina:

International Access Code + Country Code + City Code + Local Number

However, you follow this tricky step when placing a long-distance call to a cell phone in Argentina:

This number indicates an international phone call from the United States

This number is Argentina`s country code

This number indicates that you are calling a cell phone

<city code>                    
The complete and latest list of Argetina’s city codes or indicativos can be found here. Cell phones in Argentina have a prefix of (15). So for example, if a home number in Buenos Aires is listed with a (11) prefix, a cell number in Buenos Aires will be listed with a (15) prefix. So, taking this example further, if calling a cell phone within Buenos Aires, you have to dial the (15) prefix. However, if calling a cell phone outside of Argentina, you have to dial the (11) prefix which is the city code for Buenos Aires, and not the (15) prefix. Confused yet? I hope so.

<local number>

So… to summarize, when placing a long-distance call to a cell phone in Buenos Aires from the United States, you have to dial:

011 + 54 + 9 + 11 + local number

The (15) prefix is the giant elephant in the room you are supposed to ignore. Good luck!!!

powerful quakes rock indonesia

November 26, 2007

Here’s an excerpt from the most detailed news report that I have found about the latest quakes that have hit Indonesia:

Two powerful earthquakes have hit eastern Indonesia, leaving at least three dead and dozens of people injured in the latest in a series of tremors to shake the archipelago.

A government official on Monday said at least 45 people were injured and dozens of buildings destroyed or damaged.

Indonesian officials said the first earthquake of magnitude 6.7 struck about 50km northwest of the island of Sumbawa just after midnight on Sunday. A second earthquake of magnitude 6.8 hit the same area about four hours later. The tremors were also felt on the nearby resort islands of Lombok and Bali.

One of the dead was reported to be a 5-year-old boy, killed by falling masonry. Suriyani, a local doctor, told AFP on Monday that most of the injured were being treated at the general hospital in the worst-affected district of Dompu on Sumbawa island. “We received 34 people injured. Some with slight injuries have gone home already but some 20 people are still under hospital treatment, with broken bones, open wounds and head injuries caused by collapsing walls.”

The Indonesian meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning but it failed to reach the media via the text messaging service usually used to send out alerts. “There were some problems with the technical equipment and the quake was read as being on land, when actually it was undersea,” Ali Imron, an agency official, told AFP. “The threat has already been lifted.”

Witnesses said electricity was temporarily cut in some places including a hospital, which was briefly evacuated, Antara state news agency reported. A worker at the hospital in Raba town about 50km east of Dompu said the tremors caused panic and led to the evacuation of 300 patients, but no casualties were reported in the area. “All the patients in the hospital rushed to the open air outside, they felt the quake quite strongly,” Nining told AFP. “There was panic but I have heard no reports of damage.”

Agung Prasetyo, a local police officer, said the ground shook violently for around 30 seconds.

Earlier on Sunday, a separate earthquake rattled residents on the west coast of Sumatra island causing dozens to flee their homes in the earthquake-prone region. No death or injuries were reported.

Where is Kalimantan?

November 26, 2007

Kalimantan is Indonesia’s region of Borneo, the third largest island in the world after Greenland and Papua. It is divided into 4 provinces: East, South, West, and Central Kalimantan.


According to The Nature Conservancy in Indonesia, East Kalimantan Province contains some of the last remaining large, intact wilderness areas in Indonesia. Primal rain forests, limestone spires and huge tracts of undisturbed mangroves and seagrass beds all converge here.

According to API Tours, East Kalimantan is the home of the original inhabitants of Kalimantan, the Orang Gunung or Mountain People. The tribes are collectively called Dayak, although this name is not embraced by many tribes-people themselves, who prefer to be known as separate tribal names such as Iban, Punan and Banuaq. Local tribes traditionally live in communal longhouses called Lamin or Umaq Daru and many of those are artistically decorated with carving using animals and plants as motif. They are built on wooden piles, sometimes 3 meters high as protection against animal and flooding. The interior of the longhouse is divided into separate family quarters with a communal where village meetings are held and ceremonies are performed. Guardian statues are usually placed in the front of the house to protect them from evil spirit.

South Kalimantan is divided into two distinct regions by Meratus Mountains, in which the eastern part is mountainous with dense tropical rain forest, while the southern part is much flatter with large rivers meandering through the lowlands to vast mangrove swamps along the coast make the areas exceptionally fertile, and is where the indigenous Banjar people dwell. South Kalimantan is full of colorful and distinctive traditional arts and cultures which can be seen in its people’s way of life, art, dance, music, traditional costume, and ceremonies. The Barito Rivers are literally the life-blood of the city and everything revolves around them. A lot of business is done on the waterways; floating markets flourish selling enormous variety of daily needs.

Central Kalimantan is the biggest province on the island and most of which is dense jungle. The northern area is mountainous and difficult to reach, while the central area is lush tropical forest, and the southern area is swampy and has many rivers. The climate is hot and humid. The art of Central Kalimantan clearly bears the marks of the Kaharingan religion, a form of ancestor worship mixed with elements of animism which is the traditional belief of the Dayaks in the hinterland of Central Kalimantan. Aside from their aesthetic properties, many objects are appreciated for their magic value.

West Kalimantan covers an area rich in a variety of mineral and precious stones, and remains largely unexplored. Kapuas River which is the longest river in Indonesia (1143 km long) divides the town into two providing an essential and historical communication link, and like Java and Sumatra, West Kalimantan was once an important cultural cross-road around the 4th century during the arrival of Hindu and Buddhist and the coming of Islam around the 5th century. The coastal area of west Kalimantan are mainly swampy land with more than 100 rivers sculpting the flat plains, while in the mountainous eastern parts of the province, away from the city and plains are where the Dayak people live.

el refugio del burrito

November 8, 2007

Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.


El Refugio del Burrito, literally meaning “donkey’s shelter”, is a registered Spanish Association primarily concerned with the welfare of donkeys and mules. It is involved with rescue cases in Spain and have now established their own refuge in Fuente De Piedra, in the north of Malaga. It provides a safe haven with wonderful facilities for many donkeys and mules.

According to visitacostadelsol, El Refugio del Burrito is located in a traditional Andalusian country house surrounded by leafy olive trees and other typical houses. It is housed in a traditional Spanish cortijo or farm. The nearby Flamingo Lake is famous for the fabulously coloured flamingos that flock to it. Entrance to El Refugio del Burrito is FREE. It is open daily from 11am until 7pm.

El Refugio del Burrito investigates cases of neglect and cruelty and lobbies for improved legislation for donkeys and mules in Spain and the rest of Europe. In Mijas it helped ensure the proper treatment and care of the famous ‘burro taxi’ donkeys that are used to ride tourists around the town of this beautiful white Andalucian village.

El Refugio del Burrito is a subsidiary of The Donkey Sanctuary in Southern England.

no matter what your parents told you, it’s perfectly ok to lie

November 4, 2007

I found this useful list of bargaining tips when traveling, courtesy of pbs.org.

HOW you bargain:

  1. SMILE. It’s like the monster ride at the amusement park. If you’re not having fun, get off.
  2. Don’t bargain with the first person who approaches you (i.e., when looking for a taxi at the airport.) In general the further you go from the center of action, the cheaper the price.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use walking away as a bargaining tool. You can always come back.
  4. Don’t let pride get in the way of coming back (or Rule #3 is useless).
  5. If you really want something and the price isn’t coming down, give in gracefully. (It’s that pride thing again.)
  6. Don’t always assume you’re getting ripped off just because you’re in a third-world country. Sometimes the price they’re asking is the real one.
  7. Bargaining is a time/money tradeoff. If you’re in a hurry, be prepared to pay for it.
  8. Ask fellow shoppers the price of an item before you begin bargaining.
  9. Always carry small bills. Otherwise all that work is likely to be for nothing.
  10. Always bargain in native currency. Conventional wisdom says anyone who has dollars can afford to spend them.
  11. If possible, keep going back to the same person until you’ve gotten to know him/her. Most third world countries have a name for this kind of relationship. The deal is that you offer your business on a regular basis and the seller responds by saving you their best tomatoes (fattest chickens, etc.). Caveat to Rule #11: Trust but verify.
  12. No matter what your parents told you, when you’re bargaining it’s perfectly okay to lie.

universal traveler

November 4, 2007

I have always loved the band Air. One of their songs, Universal Traveler, is very simple but gives a poetic view of traveling. This video captures the joy I find in travel. Make sure to watch the ending!

I know so many
Places in the world
I follow the sun
In my silver plane

Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler

If you have a look
Outside on the sea
Everything is white
It’s so wonderful

Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler

So far
So far
So far away

I met so many
People in my life
I’ve got many friends
Who can care for me

Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler

Just feel everywhere
At home tomorrow
Is a brand new day
Let’s go somewhere else

Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler
Universal traveler

So far
So far
So far away
So far
So far
So far away
So far
So far
So far away
So far
So far
So far away