Tag Archives: travel guy

Apartment Hunting in Washington

26 Jul

A thousand speckled dots of clouds over the east coast. That’s what I’m looking at right now. Of course, by the time you read this I’ll already have landed in Washington DC, and my view will be quite different. At the moment the internal Wi-Fi of my laptop is turned off, the iTunes is giving me a taste of the newest MGMT album, and a frigid air conditioner is toying with my immune system. In a nutshell, this is a typical image of flight, though you can easily replace the laptop with an iPod on any other occasion. This week finds me reading “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, a creative appraisal of the creating and founding of Facebook.

It’s on the road again for me, though I’ll only be in Washington until Friday, searching for an apartment and hopefully not just wasting my time. After all, it’s not a cheap flight down from Boston and I have better things to do than kill three days on someone’s couch in DC. Down below we’re now passing by some small city. We’ve been airborne for at least 15 minutes so maybe it’s somewhere in Connecticut. This month’s been kind of a whirlwind, so who can really keep track anymore?

I’ve been surprised in finding that getting an apartment back in the States is almost as complicated as it was in Latin America, though for different reasons. Back there it was an issue of living with someone you didn’t know or possibly trust, trying to find a neighborhood that wasn’t too dangerous, too expensive, a bedbug-free environment, etc. Come to think of it, there are still many corollaries. Now, I’m more focused on a long term stay rather than month by month.

The difference allowed me to be more flexible and leave a potentially lousy situation easily. No lease, no contract (most of the time), and if lucky no deposit. But this also left us expats open for slumlords who took advantage of us and our possible illegal status. Here in Washington, everything must be legitimate and legal. There will be a lease, contract, and maybe even a credit check. This takes time. Though Washington can be a fairly transient city and there are a lot of apartments to search through, it’s not easy. Someone I know who just moved there told me it took him six weeks to find an apartment. If you’re not near a Metro stop, it can also make life difficult.

My friend Ben scoffed at me when I told him how much time I had planned to search for a place. He insisted I come home earlier, but I said I’d be okay with the time I had. A false sense of availability from Buenos Aires allowed me to think that you could walk in to view an apartment and move in that day. It was sometimes that easy in BA. You had to be there exactly at the right moment.

The next three days will be spent viewing apartments and walking around the city, trying to become familiar with what will be my new home for the next two years. I’ll move down to Washington in less than a month, but so far nothing is confirmed except the move down date of August 23rd. Let’s see if I can make this happen.

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Northwestern Argentina, in Video

25 May

Getting Euro with Eurovision 2011

15 May

Yesterday I was invited by Linnea, a Swedish girl on my running team, to watch Eurovision 2011 at her apartment with some friends. What the hell is Eurovision, you might ask? I asked the same thing. Apparently this part of European culture has never made its way to the United States, because it’s a huge deal in Europe which almost every country participates in, maybe just as important as the Eurocup. Basically, the Eurovision Song Contest is a competition between European nations for the best song. Every country chooses their representing artist, which is usually an unknown on an international scale, and one song is performed by each country. Then, Europeans get to vote for the best song, though they can’t vote for their own country.

This is sort of like an American Idol forum, though it’s not open to discussion or critique and doesn’t have to be just pop music. In fact, a year or two back a hard rock band decked out in scary costumes won. This year the competition took place in Dusseldorf, Germany, and as we sat down with some Fernets, empanadas and chips, we watched to see what Europe had to offer. Even though I never watch shows like this, I have to admit, I was thoroughly entertained.

The thing is, music goes over language barriers, even though in this case the majority of the songs had at least one part in English. It was interesting to see how everyone spoke English so well, even from breakaway Soviet nations. The only country that refused to speak English was, surprise surprise, France. As everyone was presenting their votes, only the French insisted on speaking French. Even the Spanish, so proud of Spanish, spoke in English. Oh well, c’est la vie.

My favorite act was by the Italian Rafael Gualazzi, singing “Madness of Love,” a sort of jazzy tune. Joining us in the apartment were Sergio from Brazil, and Diana and Pia from Denmark. It was funny watching the girls get so excited every time their country was mentioned or they saw a flag. Nationalism affects everyone, I suppose. One of the craziest songs was from Moldova’s representative, Zdob si Zdub, singing “So Lucky.” In the end, Azerbaijan was voted the best with Ell/Nikki singing “Running Scared.” One thing that sort of ruined it, however, was that every country voted for their regional neighbor. Thus, a country with many neighbors and borders was more likely to get courtesy votes than a country with less allies. It didn’t seem very fair, but maybe this delicate system is actually what’s keeping Europe from going to war with each other. “Vote for my pop singer and I won’t invade you.”

Next year I’ll have to see if I can get access to a European channel and show some friends this crazy spectacle, because at the very least, it makes for some humorous comments on the avant-garde European styles.

Southwestern Bolivia, In Pictures

8 May

Sillar, outside of Tupiza

Snow capped volcanoes on all sides

The view from San Antonio de Lípez

High altitude living

Foreigners: Defined

16 Jan

Just to clarify some of the terms that often get thrown around here:

Expatriate: a person who lives in a foreign country; resident in a foreign country; exiled or banished from one’s native country

Immigrant: a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence

Emigrant: a person who emigrates, as from his or her native country or region

Tourist: a person who is traveling, esp. for pleasure

Local: pertaining to or characterized by place or position in space; spatial

I use these words quite often, but to really understand the difference between them you should become more familiar with them. There are many subtle differences which the dictionary doesn’t make mention of but which are socially known. For example, you would think of Bolivian or Peruvian migrants in Argentina as immigrants because they have come in search of work and a better life. Yet you would call an American or Englishman an expat because they aren’t moving solely based on the need for more income, but for perhaps personal growth. Or maybe their profession sent them here. But in reality, the word immigrant is more closely associated with those who are poor and trying to elevate themselves, where as expat has a flexible bank account, education and options to pick up and leave whenever the winds change.

One word is a developing nation while the other is a first world nation. One word is seen as the reason for lack of jobs, increase in crime and too many students in public institutes. The other word is seen as a potential for more foreign investment, progression of intercultural exchange and the growth of a nation. All of those things aside, when you break it down we are simply all foreigners. A tourist is not an expat, and someone living abroad for a couple of months is not a resident. A resident is not a citizen. A citizen is not a foreigner, expat, immigrant or emigrant. Yet they can be tourists and locals at the same time. In summation, they can all coexist and be friends together if they choose to work together, or they can mock each other and hold resentment against one another for various reasons. The potential is there for anything.

2010 In Review – The Stats for Travel Guy

2 Jan

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 251 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 689 posts. There were 154 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 304mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 21st with 4,522 views. The most popular post that day was Crisis Averted.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were alphainventions.com, facebook.com, jon-brandt.com, ttravelguy.blogspot.com, and calwalks.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for travel guy, fuerza bruta buenos aires, “buenos aires”, ecuador hospital fighting, and ba cast.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Crisis Averted December 2010

2

About TG May 2010

3

Why Travel Guy? May 2010

4

How to Ride the Bus in Buenos Aires July 2010

5

Videos May 2010