Moving to Buenos Aires

14 March - 4 April 2012. Filed under category Personal.


Beatrice and Kragen

Beatrice and Kragen (Photo by Kate Stanworth)

I arrived in the city three weeks ago, and I could not have wished for a better start. I was blessed with an airplane seat with no one in front of me (lots of legroom) and no one to my left (lots of room to spread my stuff).

I worried about clearing customs. Argentina is notorious for having rabid dogs staff their customs offices. Their latest stunt, which was just now overruled, was to confiscate every book brought into the country, forcing people to reclaim them (by paying out) because the ink could contain lead and thus were potentially poisonous. (Lying thieving mad rabid dogs.)

On board the plane, I got a customs form to sign stating that what I was bringing into Argentina didn’t cost more than $300. Anything above that would be charged by 50% again! I lied and wrote down my cameras, tablet, laptop, mobile phone and other belongings to add up to just under $300, an obvious underestimation to anyone, but I thought that if they could play the crazy game, then so could I. I walked through customs dressed in my most calm face and forcing myself to walk casually. No one even asked for the customs form, so I had been worrying for nothing.

I blagged myself a free shuttle ride from the airport to the city. (It’s not my fault if they thought I belonged to a certain hostel.) My new home lay only a few blocks from where I was dropped off. As I walked there, I got a first glimpse of Buenos Aires. The sun was shining, people were smiling, quaint restaurants and cafes lined the streets and the buildings had that old worn charm of Europe. I felt amazing!

My new home

I knew I had struck gold as soon as I stepped into my new home. The place is divided into two separate places, the main apartment and, across a sun-blessed courtyard, a cosy one-bedroom house with its own kitchen and toilet. That is where I am staying, with all the privacy of a ‘real home’ and plenty of space. The main apartment is a great looking shared space with exposed brick walls and a balcony overlooking the bustling streets below.

Beatrice and Kragen, the people I rent from, are as cool as their flat. Both are chilled out and easy to get along with. She is a photographer and he is a programmer. They organize both board-game evenings and programming days, my two favourite things! They have also taken me out to dinners, bars and even a storytelling evening! (My third favourite thing!)

The location is wonderful. I’m in the middle of San Telmo, the old poor area of town that has lately become trendy and arty. It is also famous for their drums. Every weekend, the sound of heavy drumming echoes throughout the streets of San Telmo, like the quickened heartbeat of the city. You might think that going to sleep with that noise would be annoying, but for some inexplicable reason, I love it!

The only thing bringing the location down is the freak thunder-and-hail storms. Egg-sized hails broke our skylight in what was the most humbling hail storms I’ve ever experienced. [Update: I wrote this post in the middle of a thunderstorm that I now, the next day, found out killed at least 14 people and featured wind speeds up to 100 kph (62 mph).]

What I’ve been up to

I had let my online life slip while skiing in Switzerland, seeing friends in London and cavorting in the US, so much of my first three weeks in Buenos Aires was a mad scramble to get myself back on track. I worked on a couple of website projects, wrote a few articles and did some programming on the blog. (More on this in the next post.)

One of my deliverables (you can take the nomad out of the bank but not the bank out of the nomad) for my time in Buenos Aires was to start working out and get fit. It has been a partial success. The success part is that I have sorted out my diet. There is a fresh produce market outside my door every Saturday where I buy a week’s worth of healthy food for about 220ARS (~$50/£30). I now cook all my own food, something of a miracle to those who know me. (My previous attempts at cooking began with the removing of a film lid and ended in a ping.) I now eat mainly chicken, eggs, ham, turkey and vegetables. The failure bit is that I have not started the actual workouts yet. Maybe tomorrow. (If anyone has a thumb-remover, please send it over.)

I also wanted to learn Tango, and I’ve begun taking some lessons. My best bet, however, is to meet some handsome tango-dancing Argentinian man who doesn’t speak English. That way, I’m forced to learn both tango and Spanish! (If you have one of those, send him over as well!)


What was your best ever start to a holiday?

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  1. DanNation says:

    Glad you are doing well and very jealous!

  2. Johan Persson says:

    Bolivia sounds, just as
    Brazil did, great:)
    And you coocking is something that makes me watch over my shoulder for the apocalypse too arive.
    The whole time reading i kept asking myself What’s your fourth favorite thing. Please dont make it a cliffhanger. And about the thumbremover. Sorry i lended mine out to Martin Johansson:)

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I am sure that Martin would be pleased to get a mention in that context. 🙂

      1. Johan Persson says:

        Yes i’m shure he will be very pleased.
        He also asked me to write his memorial-speach.
        I just watched the videos and i have to say that you struck gold this time. what a place. Really nice.

  3. The best start of yours could be forgetting those workouts and tango-ing all over that magnificent palace to get in shape. Enjoy!

  4. Richard says:

    You are one lucky, lucky b*stard! 🙂 Happy everything is going well for you again.

    The best start to a holiday? Well, today, first day of our con, Kimera and I were eating lunch at a restaurant across from the con hotel, and some anonymous stranger offered to pay our bill for us (through our waiter). That’s never happened before! And it’s a great way to get in a good mood. 🙂

  5. Keep cooking your own meals! The food in most restaurants is either very high in calories or very expensive (and usually both).

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I know, but the Argentine steak is just so damn delicious!

      1. Arturo says:

        no es nada más facil que cocinar bife en casa: lo mismo rico y por lo menos 3 o 4 veces más barato que ne cualquier restaurante (bueno, estoy mintiendo: por lo menos 10 veces más barato que en cualquier restaurante de Puerto Madero). y podés pedír bola de lomo en cualquier carnicería del barrio (te puedo recomendar algunas): es un corte bueno con poca grasa.

        1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

          Si! Es verdad. Y cocino bife tal veces. Pienso que es un poco mas dificil, pero no mucho. Tienes recomendaciones de especias?

          1. Arturo says:

            je, soy perozoso: todos los supemercados chinos tienen ¨condimiento para carne¨. y si no uso sal, pimienta negra, tomillo y ají picante, un poco aceite de oliva, nada más.

            y no es nada difícil cocinar el bife: condimentalo de ambos lados, poné un poco de aceite, también de ambos lados (sobre la carne, nunca en sartén!), calentá la sartén y cociná el bife de ambos lados según tu gusto. me gusta el bife bastante jugoso entonces lo cocino 30 – 60 segundos de cada lado.

  6. J. says:

    Don’t underestimate the value of a thumb…

  7. Imogen says:

    Did customs really use to claim that ink could contain light emitting diodes? xxx

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Imogen, I should turn you into a WordPress plugin! Main text fixed from [led] to [lead]. In my (wobbly) defence, I really thought that was how you spelled lead.

  8. Peter R. Geiser says:

    Brilliant! I’m really happy for you, that you had such a good start in Argentina. Your home looks really cosy and very inviting ;-).
    For the PhysEd might be the same procedure as for the Tango. You have to watch out for a handsome argentinian personal trainer.
    Enjoy your time and have big hugs from Switzerland.

  9. Craig Brown says:

    The first time I used my pass after getting hired by American and I became my own Airline Patron. Tryst in St. John in the Caribbean. We went swimming on Sandy Beach far from anyone. Romance behind a circular wall of rocks, the ocean periodically spouting warm water on us up through a blowhole. A thunderstorm flashing in the distance.

  10. Hogarth says:

    That hail storm was ridiculous! No wonder peole died! It’s a lovely space and people that you have found.

    I think you will find it difficult to move on as and when the time comes? Have plenty of BBQ’s and just watch the weather reports very closely, killer hail storms is no joke!

    Hogie :)x

  11. Beatrice M says:

    What a nice write up and what a great tenant! It’s great having you here and am so glad we can provide a respite for your time here in Buenos Aires. Hopefully the storms will die down. Que disfruta la ciudad!

  12. Allan says:

    Dear Gustav,

    I went to BA in the mid 90’s with my ex, my sis, and 4 others. It was the first stop of a 18 day holiday to Argentina and Brazil. I remember falling totally in love with it and the people (nothing to do with the fact that I have never seen so many good looking men in my life!). I went back to BA a few years ago and I was worried that my mid-30s self would not be as impressed with BA as my mid-20s self, but I should not have been worried. I think I liked it more. BA is unique. Its a mix of South America, Europe and North America, there is loads to see, the food is great and the people are amazing (did I mention they are very good looking?). Enjoy your time there and like your other followers I am very jealous. Allan

  13. Nicolas says:

    Well, welcome to Bs.As. then.
    The storms are not common, it surprised us too, but some people say that the weather is getting rough, so it may happen again sometime, nobody knows, our weather forecasting is bad because it’s on low budget.
    But anyway, enjoy!.

  14. Arturo says:

    jajaj, ¿se puede aplicar para la posición del tanguero bello? claro, tengo algunas desventajas: no soy argentino y hablo inglés. por otro lado, tengo algunas ventajas también: soy muy bueno en ¨olvidarme¨ de que hablo inglés y, lo más importante, todo el tango que he aprendido lo aprendí de los maestros argentinos.

    un abrazo y suerte,

    p.d. y, che, decime ¿cómo se puede aplicar para el puesto de beta probador de la pared de imágenes? tengo mi blog de tango ( y manejo una página de un hospedaje que está hecha en wordpress (

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I can vouch for Arturo’s qualifications in every aspect of becoming a fine handsome tango teacher in every way. He is such a handsome dancer and skilled teacher that I can ignore that he isn’t Argentinian, but a charming Latvian instead. (Arturo, I mentioned Maris yesterday (my favourite Latvian!), and you can see I mentioned him a bit on my Guide to London.

      Anyone wanting to participate in my Image Wall WordPress Plugin Beta Program (IWWPBP) should head over to the plugin page and read up on it there.


      1. Arturo says:

        no me hables raro, por favor: como ya te expliqué, no entiendo nada de inglés. entonces todo lo mismo en castellano, intentalo. che, vos podés, lo sé;-)

        1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:


          Puedo confirmar los calificaciones de Arturo. El es un danzo muy profesional y guapo. Tan mucho que voy a olvidar que no es Argentino pero Latviano. (Te recuerdes que hablo de un amigo latviano, Maris, ayer? Puedes leer mas de el en mi guía de Londres.)

          La gente que quiere participar en el beta de el plugin de Image Wall puede visitar la pagina del plugin.

          PS. Me encanta el tango!

  15. Verena says:


    I just found your website through a link of Beatrice.
    So funny. I also stayed with them when I travelled through South America. I had a great time in BA.
    I will follow your blog. What a courageous decision.
    All the best for you!

What was your best ever start to a holiday?

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