Blog Content - What's happening?

Firstly, thanks for visiting my blog! Secondly, I should explain the logic behind the posts. Some posts I'm doing 'on the fly' while others are posts relating to past experiences. I'll try to title them accordingly or you can search using tags.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weird Doors & Why I'm NOT a Vegetarian

This is just a random 'unpublished' journal entry from our trip to Argentina in 2010

This blog post is inspired by some weird things concerning doors and some of the best meat I've ever tasted. Firstly, the doors here in Buenos Aires are a strange phenomenon. This phenomenon includes the height of the doors and the way they lock. As for the food, tonight I was completely blown away with how good the meat is here (especially considering the price); not to mention the intensity of the wine and the freshness of the pasta and vegetables.

I have never been to Paris but so many people have been comparing it to Buenos Aires (BsAs). I'm not sure if the similarities extend to the way doors are made (doubt it) but I wouldn't put anything past the French (or any other 1st world country for that matter). The first thing to point out is that the doors here are exquisite. The doors range in size and width; some being at least 11 feet high and others being as narrow as 2 feet such as one of the bedroom doors in our apartment. When we walk down the streets here in BsAs sometimes we stop just to look at the doors that form the entryway to apartment buildings, huge mansions and government buildings.

There is however a quirk to the doors here (as far as we've seen so far) and it has to do with the locks; this leads me to multiple WTF moments of the week: 1) I've noticed that a few stores have locked doors; from bakeries to luggage stores you need to stand at the door like an idiot wondering why it doesn't open and then you hear the buzzing sound letting you in. 2) All doors swing inwards which makes sense in terms of not 'taking out' pedestrians when existing a shop but I'm not used to this... so this 'WTF' refers to my stupidity when risking the dislocation of my shoulder everything I forcefully try to pull a door open towards the street. 3) Doors lock, all the freakin' time.... WTF?!!!! Let me paint the picture for you... In our case, let's say the apartment is on fire and we need to get out FAST. We run to the door, turn the handle and we can't get out because we need the key (from the inside). Okay, where's the key? I don't know because it's too smokey in here... next option?  Our next option is a 70 foot plunge into the concrete.  Okay, so I'm not from BsAs and I'm sure there's a logical reason for all this but seriously this place would be hell for people who can't find their car keys. On the other hand, if your kids are grounded there is zero chance of them escaping the house if you take the keys with you. (I did think about locking Vicky in the room the other day though... :-).


As we're getting more familiar with the butcher, produce markets, fish-monger, pasta maker and cheese makers along our street, our appreciation for the food here is increasing. Along one side of a block a few blocks away from our place all of these food places are next to one another. Today we learned that 'Ojo de bife' in Argentina means 'Rib Eye'. We learned this from our new friend (the former Mr. Gay Argentina), Marcelo explained to us what the best cut of beef is around here. We walked straight to the butcher with paper in hand and told the butcher, 'Ojo de beef?', he responds, 'Si, Oho de biff' and walks to the back with a smile on his face. I could tell he respected our fine choice. After collecting some fresh pasta and sauce (salsa) we grabbed some beer and headed home.

I won't elaborate on my food preparation but I will say that when I put the first piece of steak in my mouth I think a tear came to my eyes because it might have been the most tender and fresh meat I've ever tasted. I'm not even joking either, it was that freakin' good. As somebody who can be very money minded, let me break it down for you:

1) 2 kilos of 'Ojo de bife' = 25 pesos
2) 2 kilos of fresh vermicelli and sauce = 25 pesos
3) 1 bottle of Malbec = 12 pesos
4) 1 baguette = 1 peso
5) fresh vegetables = 5 pesos

Total = 71 pesos, with enough pasta and sauce to last all day tomorrow, is around $16 (CDN, USD). Are you kidding me? I really think I'll have a hard time leaving this city, just the thought of leaving makes me upset at this point. I can only IMAGINE what would be possible with a full kitchen, my knives and fresh spices (the only thing eluding me so far). Thankfully there is an abundance of butter, salt and olive oil here.... this place is a cook's heaven.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Are you about to travel with a baby? Some answers to common questions.

In response to some common questions about traveling with a 6-12 month old baby (or even older) I have written some tips:

1) strollers (of all sizes) fit on planes so BRING A GOOD ONE. We brought the cheapest stroller of all time but it worked for us. Keep in mind that we had back packs. If you travel alone and you have luggage that rolls then you'll have trouble pushing a stroller. I wrote a blog post on Airports & strollers. Every airline has NO restrictions on checking a child stroller.

2) baby carrier is a must -- for places that strollers don't fit. They are very light weight and compressible so it's worth it. We have had up to 4 different types but the one we brought was called ERGO BABY -, purchased at a store on Bank street in Ottawa. It's big enough for me & Vicky to wear comfortably (front, back OR side). It has good head support for when baby sleeps. Rather expensive though, especially if you opt for the 'organic' material (which we did for some reason).

3) TOTSEAT - For 15$ at SuperStore this is a no-brainer. We actually thought of inventing something like it while we traveled. It allows baby to sit on ANY chair without risk of falling off. Absolutely perfect for restaurants that have dangerous high chairs (or none at all). In Argentina, only 50% of restaurants have a high chair, 5% are actually safe (no kidding). Our alternative was to use a long sleeve shirt to tie the baby to the seat or leave him in the stroller.

4) DIAPERS & WIPES - bring the absolute minimum as they are probably available EVERYWHERE and because the diapers take a lot of space. Wipes can be used to clean your hands as well so you don't need hand sanitizer ;-).

5) FOOD & FORMULA - baby food was gross in Argentina & Uruguay, so Jack ate what we ate. He wouldn't eat the crap baby food. However, baby formula was available everywhere and it's the same as here. Everywhere else in the world may be different but I wouldn't suspect any problems, even in underdeveloped countries. There is almost always a road between 'the beaten path' and the middle of nowhere... just don't be afraid to ask questions and prepare accordingly.

Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of is HOW PAINFUL it CAN BE to fly with a baby on your lap for any flight longer than 3 hours. Do absolutely everything possible to get a row with an extra seat. Spare no expense/effort to find good neck pillows, back supports, something to rest your feet on and even something soft to sit on. I thought my 24 hours of flying Ottawa-->Tokyo --> Bangkok was dreadful... 13 hours from Montevideo-->Miami with a baby on me took me to a new level of pain. I didn't mention that I drank 2 glasses of wine, 3 extra strength Tylenol, and 2 sleeping pills. I couldn't feel my ass after 90 minutes. I have pain on a good day so you might actually be fine... just beware. Google for solutions just in case you don't get the empty seat next to you. If you do get the extra seat, use the TOTseat mentioned above to let the baby sleep in a sitting position because he/she won't fit laying down on the seat (even with 2 empty seats it can be challenging with the gap/armrest. Almost forgot... good luck eating food with a baby on you... the tray won't have room to come down. Hopefully you have a friendly neighbor or you're traveling with your spouse.

Please leave me your comments!!! I want to know if there are any more solutions for our next baby!

Totally unrelated to travel:

If formula feeding: Costco saved us a few hundred dollars because their Kirkland brand is really cheap and has all the same stuff in it as the other brands (practically identical). Don't waste money on formula with Omega-3, -6; it's a scam (same with every other food as well). Practically the same amount of linoleic/linolenic acid (3 & 6) are in both option but you won't pay twice the price.  Funny, when traveling in South America they've either made this scam illegal or they haven't figured it out yet.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bruce's Airport Nightmares

Airports (mostly) SUCK!

I passed through security, bought 2 small bottles of water for Jack's formula at $6.00 US at the store and had them taken away 2 minutes minutes later, only 10 meters from boarding the airplane. You never know what to expect in airports.

On a recent trip to and around Argentina my family and I passed through a number of airports:
  1. Ottawa, Canada
  2. Newark, New Jersey, USA
  3. Orlando, Florida (free WiFi)
  4. Sao Paulo, Brazil ($$$ WiFi)
  5. Montevideo, Uruguay (free WiFi)
  6. Jorges Newberry, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  7. El Calefate, Argentina ($$ WiFi)
  8. Salta, Argentina
  9. Iguazu, Argentina
  10. Miami, Florida, USA
  11. Washington D.C., USA
From the most disgusting airport of Sao Paulo, Brazil to the most amazing Carrasco Airport of Montevideo it certainly helps to be prepared when traveling with a child. I've learned that airports & airlines hardly ever have similar protocols and that you should NEVER assume things will be the same. For example, some airports will make you go through security even if you're taking a connecting flight within the same terminal and others won't. Some airports will make you dump all of your water (used for making baby juice) even if the bottle hasn't been opened and other airports won't. Some airlines will make you pick your baby stroller up at the baggage claim (huge pain in the ass) and others will have it opened up and ready to go when you get off the plane. My point is that you should expect the worst and prepare to practice patience when traveling through multiple airports. There are also a WHOLE BUNCH of 'grown up' issues (departure fees, lack of clocks, etc) as well but I won't get into the details.

What I would really like to talk about is the stark contrast between the Sao Paulo airport in Brazil and the Carrasco airport in Montevideo. Sao Paulo is hot, smelly, poorly organized, has disgusting bathrooms, is ugly, has overpriced disgusting restaurants, annoying security placements, long walks between terminals and mediocre duty free stores. On the other hand, Carrasco has beautiful architecture with beautiful views, floors so clean that you can see your reflection, modern restaurants at respectable prices and an amazing duty free shop, calming music and most importantly it has happy people everywhere.

Carrasco also had a nice light show in the mezzanine, an upscale McDonalds restaurant (only coffees, deserts and homemade sandwiches) and FREE Wifi (I think Sao Paulo charges 10 USD / hour). Check out the pictures of Carrasco below. There are no other airports worth mentioning... they are all somewhere in between the two mentioned above.

(more pictures if you follow link)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crazy Peruvians Stole My Purse

We had our first Spanish lesson the other day and before our teacher left  she mentioned something about Peruvians practically invading Buenos Aires. We would have basically brushed off the comment but she persisted in telling us more about the evil Peruvians.

"It's not that Peruvians are bad people in general, it's just that they come here and steal from us and cause trouble; I had my purse stolen when I was walking down the street with my two kids, I hate them."

We're thinking, holy crap we need to watch out for these guys.

"What do Peruvians look like?" we asked.

"They are short, the have very dark skin and they are REALLY ugly. You would recognize them right away because they really are ugly." Below is a picture of your standard Peruvian at the beach.

(my brother Scott)

I was a little shocked at her comments but everything came to light; a few hours later when we took a walk in BsAs's downtown area. The so called 'Florida' street which is supposed to be 'so cool' in this city became part of our plans. For those who are from Ottawa, it's basically a Sparks street on crack; except many blocks longer, much wider and has curious looking people everywhere. Bottom line is that we didn't take any pictures because our eyes were peeled for Peruvians. It didn't take long before we found our first one... our Spanish teacher wasn't lying... damn UGLY and suspicious looking.

We decided to bail on Florida street because it wasn't living up to the wonderful memories of Khaosan Road in Thailand. The thing about Khaosan Road is that at least you don't know that pick pockets are eying you. We made our way back out to one of the main streets and started heading towards a famous cafe that he heard about (not before taking a wrong turn through a Peruvian nesting area... creepy!).

Now the sound of crazy drums beating, helicopters and people flocking in the same direction as us made us turn around once again. I have omitted at this point that we're pushing our 8.5 month old son in a stroller that can barely roll. I'm not afraid of large crowds but I'm not an idiot either; Argentinians are very fond of protesting! The speed at which the crowds were growing across a 9 lane highway were interesting.

We escaped just on time to avoid some huge crowds of people marching up the street. When we finally reached a quiet area we looked up just on time to see a women get her wallet stolen right out of her purse. The victim was an early 40s women sitting on a curb across the street (waiting for a bus or to meet someone). As she opened her purse this Peruvian comes out of nowhere and swipes her wallet out of her purse and takes off. We are frozen in amazement that this kid has the balls to do this in a wide open space. After ten 10 meters the Peruvian looks over his shoulder to see that no one is chasing him... he slows down to a jog with a smirk on his face. His victim sits back down on the curb and starts crying.

I could have easily caught him because he ran towards our side of the road but in a direction 45 degrees away from us; I could have blindsided him. Let's say that if  I was with my brother (see picture above) and not with my wife and baby, things might have happened differently for that little asshole. Not knowing what type of backup this kid had is another issue. So that's the story of our Peruvian encounter... hope you enjoyed! Make sure that if you visit any big city that you're not familiar with you take precautions against thieves!


Saturday, March 20, 2010


I've traveled to Thailand a couple years ago with Vicky and I remember laundry being a constant challenge. Paying someone else to do it is way too expensive, even in Thailand when traveling on a budget so before traveling to Argentina I knew that a proper solution would be in order. I would have totally forgot to look into this problem if it wasn't for a travel guide that I was reading which suggested bring some rope to hang clothes. Well my friends, I've discovered something better...

The 'FLEXOLINE' is pretty cool because you can dry clothes much quicker! Unfortunately, the company I ordered it from didn't have any in stock so I just got regular rope instead. I did figure out a way to create my own variation of the flexoline and now I will remember this trick whether I'm traveling or camping.

STEP ONE: Buy a good length of nylon rope, approximately 1/8 of an inch & a universal sink plug adapter (available in most hardware stores).

STEP TWO: Travel somewhere.

STEP THREE: find a sink, tub or whatever and wash your clothes (or find a place to go swimming and get your towel and bathing suit wet).

STEP FOUR: fold your rope in half (what's the wording I'm looking for here?) and twist it as much as possible before tying the two open ends to a hook, door or whatever.

STEP FIVE: insert your clothes into the twisted rope so that you don't have to fold it over the rope... no need for clothes pegs and your clothes will dry really fast!

Enjoy your dry clothes!



So here's a problem with planning long term travel with a family, in fact it's a very common problem people face when preparing to make a dramatic change in their life. The problem is FEAR created by your own mind to stop you from making the change that you are trying to make. These fears are mostly bullshit excuses but a necessary step to achieving life changing goals. Now that I'm actually in the process of achieving my goal to travel to Argentina with my family for over 1 month these fears outlined in my journal entry below seem completely ridiculous. In this particular journal entry I discuss how my fear of not having enough money attempts to sidetrack my end goal. Money is not the only fear... let me tell you some more that I remember having kept me awake:


1) would if I get sick while out of the country?
2) would if baby gets sick?
3) would if we don't know where to go, where we will sleep?
4) we won't be understood by people (Spanish speakers),
5) would if I go way over budget?
6) what will happen to my job?

OF COURSE, they're all valid fears and the solution is to find the solution to the problem so that you can move forward. There are many more complex problems in the planning process that can arise and they are fully discussed in the book: 'Six Months Off' by Dlugozima (and 2 other authors) which I recommend.

Taking time away isn't for everyone... but if you need a change in your life then a good bit of traveling might be a good transition.

Here is an unedited version of my thoughts from 3:45AM, January 9, 2010.


I supposed to write this entry last night but I wasn't able to because I was too tired. Instead I continued reading the book 'Emergency' by Neil Strauss. Apparently it takes less focus to read than to write. Regardless of my fatigue, this is the second night in a row that I've awakened at 3:45AM to the sound of a howling baby, unable to return to sleep. I'm experience something while laying in bed that probably isn't foreign to most people... rambling thought syndrome. I don't think that's a real syndrome but what the hell.

My strategy is to write things down so that I can feel secure in knowing that I won't forget anything, everything will be okay, etc. The only problem with this strategy is that it's now 5:15AM and I think that I just finished writing things down. The more I write down, the more overwhelmed I feel. The source of my anxiety stems from money (or lack thereof). I'm not very happy about this because my motto lately has been 'I don't care about money' so where has this problem come from?  Oh yeah, traveling to effing S. America for a few months. I suppose my brain (id, ego, whatever) had decided that it's time to come up with every reason in the book to keep doing what's comfortable (stay here, don't move, get a job, etc).  What was that brain?? Get a job?? Screw you brain, Argentina, here we come! I wonder what the exchange rate is between CD & ARD? Damn, there I go thinking about money again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010



I've been meaning to write a lot more before leaving for the next leg of our trip; unfortunately I tried to pull a super-hero workout. The workout left me in a world of pain that drastically reduced my willingness to live. Regardless, being 90% useless doesn't stop the world from turning or my brain from thinking! On a similar wave length I'm wondering how many days into our travels to South America will it take my digestive system to turn on me (leave your guess in the comments)! FYI, our trip to Mexico landing me in trouble after day 3 with pretty standard food poisoning for a total down time of 4 days. After 25 days in Thailand I suffered an intestinal breakdown that forced my hand of antibiotics and 5 days of being fully aware of the nearest toilet.


We're leaving on March 15 for Montevideo, Uruguay and returning to Ottawa on the 28th of April. The trip isn't nearly long enough in my opinion but at least it's not a 2-week (or 'too weak') vacation.

We plan on spending a week near Montevideo (beaches, countryside) followed by a boat ride to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We're hoping to last a couple of weeks in the metropolis before jumping on a bus to Mendoza. After a couple of weeks in wine/olive country we'll jump on another bus ove the Andes to Santiago, Chile for some good food, mountains and relaxation. We'll then head south to Patagonia for the remainder of our trip before flying back to Montevideo for our return flight.

The specifics are subject to change of course but at least we have some type of plan right? Hopefully this info will give you something to look forward to reading about!

Stroller's fit on planes! Who would have known that leaving our stroller (aka, The Tank) at home was a mistake? Apparently, everybody with kids except for us. It turns out that all 5 airlines we'll experience this trip don't have any restrictions on stroller size. They even have it available for you when you step off the plane. We did buy an umbrella stroller for $18 US, hopefully it will survive the trip.

Shopping online for plane tickets sucks. There is a lot to know! Start with Expedia and Orbitz. Find the cheapest fare that works with your schedule and then check prices with the airline directly (checking multiple carriers prices with multiple connecting flights isn't worth your time though). Also, flights are typically cheaper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and if you purchase 2 months in advance or 1 week from departure. Kids under 2 years are practically free if they sit on your lap (but if you're lucky you'll snag an empty seat on the plane). There are other tricks as well... let me know if you're interested in learning more...

From Duggleby's Travels

Reciprocity fees. No, not recipe fees... these are fees that some South American countries charge us for visiting because we charge the same fee to them when applying for Canadian visas (United States, Australia, U.K. Also apply). The fees vary by country and you can mostly avoid them by finding ways around their international airports. This is why we're landing in Uruguay and taking the 3 hour boat ride to Argentina... (savings: $75 USD per passport) and a bonus experience in Uruguay!

Babies make a lot of noise when they sleep. We hope that we'll have a 2nd room for Jack for at least some of our trip. He makes a lot of noise and moves a lot when he sleeps! Another reason to bring ear plugs with you on a trip! Not to worry though, a baby cries at louder than 40 decibels so you'll still wake up if the baby needs you!