26 June 2008

I'm Out!

After a few short calls, a quick shoeshine and one last CBC burrito, I'm pretty much done in Buenos Aires. I've got a flight tomorrow to Peru (following tonight's fiesta at the Alamo), a few days in Cusco, the 5 day Salkantay trek to Macchu Picchu and then a rather horrendous 48 hours of travel to get back to the Estados Unidos.

On a related note, our funding for a second phase got approved! This is very exciting and means that I'll be headed to Africa sometime in August, so stay tuned...

Anyways, I've had an absolute blast here, BsAs is a great city and I've met some wonderful people. I'll certainly miss it. I do wish I had gotten to travel around more (but hey, whats new?) and not getting to Patagonia is a definitely a bummer. But hey next time, right? Also, I'm still looking for some other investors for the vineyard in Mendoza...

So I'll try to put some stuff when I get to Peru, but until then, here are my favorite Spanish words (you really need to hear them to appreciate, but whatever):

  • Espectacular
  • Barbaro
  • Claro

Gracias para leyendo!

Embajada Francias Fountains

21 June 2008

I'm legal!

So after three months here (and with less than one week left), I am finally legal to work in Argentina! This morning I braved the rain, wind and darkness (summer solstice in US = winter solstice in Argentina) and was rewarded with a new work visa to stick in my passport. It also involved a truly comical amount of paperwork*: a full copy of every page of my passport (including blank ones), the legalization of the translation of the apostille of the notarization of my FBI criminal background report and my signature on no less than fourteen certificates.

So while we are on the topic, I thought I would give a brief summary of some of the work that I've done here (I'll try to edit out the consultanteese). Our client is an organization made up of 22 non-profits that work together to find ways of using technology to further their missions (i.e. help people). The idea of our project is to see if there are "back end" or business pieces that the members could share. So rather than twenty two members each having their own purchasing department, the twenty two could use one common purchasing department that could do a better job than any of them could do individually. This idea is called shared services (and shares some characteristics with outsourcing) and apparently its been pretty successful in the private sector for a number of years.

We started with six potential shared service areas with a plan to narrow that down and develop some good ideas and materials (deliverables!) for two of them. Over the first two months we created teams for each area made up of people from five or six non-profits. We worked with the teams to identify their needs, try to get some numbers (how many people work in that area, how much money is spent - this was vastly more difficult than you'd think) and figure out the benefits of moving to a shared service. We then worked with the executives in the client and the member organizations to figure out that the two areas to focus on were a shared IT help desk and shared procurement department.

That decision happened in early May and for the last seven weeks we've been working to figure out how these shared services could really work. In the end, we've come up with some draft ('high level") ideas about:

  • where the services would start and could grow ("scope" or "vision")
  • what the services would do ("operating model")
  • who would run the services ("governance model" and "staff model")
  • why the organizations should use the services ("business case")
  • and the benefits of using them ("benefits")

So what happens next? Well, assuming our funding comes through, we will have a second phase of this project where we put together the detailed costs, make some decisions about the pieces that are still up in the air (for example: there are a couple of options for who would run the services) and really try to involve the field**. So far we have been working almost exclusively with people from headquarters, but since the whole point of these organizations is their field work and the conditions in the field are vastly different than at HQ (or what most of us are used to), it is really important that these services are designed for the field, by the field (pick either a FUBU*** or Tommy Boy reference there).

So there you have it, four months of work in four paragraphs and one bulleted list. Ah the beauty of consulting.


Abrazo Gratis This picture is from the San Telmo feria and has nothing to do with anything. But I love the idea and the last time I saw a "Free Hugs" sign was sophmore year when I made one of our pledges run around west campus with one during Springternational. Also, if my memory is right, that was the day I got the incredible picture of Lundy smoking a cigarette with a plastic dinosaur gripper thing.

* Now I tend to exaggerate a lot, but I swear that this is 100% true.
** Also, I figure out a catchy blog name that starts "East Africa by _____"
*** I hope you pick the FUBU reference cause wow, I pulled that out of nowhere

16 June 2008

Los Pumas vs. Escocia

Yesterday we headed out to the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires (technically Capital Federal) to watch Argentina take on Scotland in a little south versus north rugby action. We had awesome seats, 7 rows up right on the midline, and though it was a bit a touch windy it would be hard to ask for a better day to play rugby. And now as a special treat, my best impression of an English style rugby write-up:

Argentina beat the Scots 21-14 the previous week, but were picked apart by Chris Patterson's near flawless boot and ended up on the wrong side of a 26-14 rout. Scotland looked crisp and precise from the outset and were backed by stunning defense against a multi phased Puma attack inside their 22. Following the patient slotting of three penalties and a well worked try from Ross Ford in the closing moments, the visitors were rewarded with a 16-0 lead at the interval.


Argentina showed signs of life in the second, and in his last test match, "Nacho" Lobbe's touch down and the resulting conversion narrowed the gap to 19-7 at 60 minutes. The Pumas continued to assert themselves and had seemingly added a second try four minutes later, but the video referee ruled a knock on and the score remained. Argentina's composure did not and they again showed the nervous indecisiveness that plagued them in the first. A lazy pass from the Pumas' 5/8th led to a clever interception by Dan Parks who set up Graeme Morrison to finish under the posts, sealing the match for the visitors. Horacio Agulla added a last second try in the corner for the Pumas and Todeschini hit the extras at the final whistle.

Anyways, things are starting to wrap up here. I've got under two weeks left in BsAs, then I'm off to Macchu Picchu and then back to Denver. I've got one postcard stamp left, so if you want one leave me a comment.

Ciao, ciao

09 June 2008


I was searching on the internet the other day for a good food market in BsAs (fyi theres ones in Belgrano, San Telmo and at the end of the A line) and came across the term "foodporn". I guess it means enticing pictures of food and seems to fall into the whole Warren Miller "skiporn" theme. I mention it because 1) I like food, 2) I like photos, 3) I like photos of food and 4) I totally support adding the word "porn" to other words.

So here is my list of the best ways to spend a couple pesos in BsAs, with some accompanying foodporn (work in progress):

1 Peso = $.33 USD: The Chinese empanada on Arribenos St. Chinese Empanada
2 Pesos = $.65 USD: In a country obsessed with helado/gelatto, the best 2 pesos is still the McDonalds vanilla softserve Helado
3 Pesos = $.98 USD: Choripan = Chorizo (sausage) + Pan (bread). Mmmm, street food Chorizo
4 Pesos = $1.31 USD: Tea. By itself, 4 pesos for tea would be a good deal, but here you get a whole spread of tea plus ice cream (or cookies) plus sparkling water Tea
5 Pesos = $1.63 USD: Two napolitana empanadas from San Juanino, conveniently located across the street Empanadas

Otherwise, its been a week of good-byes. Michael (another ADPer) left last Thursday, Patrick and Marjan left Sunday (for DC, the Dominican then who knows) and Tracy and Cy were back this weekend and since they are leaving tomorrow which means we're all off to Siga la Vaca tonight.


05 June 2008

Its June??

So June has descended upon BsAs, bringing with it cooler temperatures (the whole opposite hemisphere thing), my last month in Argentina and a shitload (well, two) visitors. The grand recap of the last two weeks is below and in the next post, but the short version is: La Cabrera, U2, San Isidro, Whiskey, U2, Tigre, La Cabrera.

Last Thursday my dad (hereafter just called "Gore") got into town for a quick six day visit. He rented an apartment in Recoleta and unless you are crashing with friends, dorming it at hostels or a crazy hotel points whore, renting a place is definitely the way to go (www.bytargentina.com.ar and www.buenosaireshabitat.com are two of the bazillion companies that do this). After settling in to his apartment I sent him on the obligatory (though excellent) bike tour then met up for dinner at Gran Bar Dazon. Its a really cool / upscale / trendy wine bar and restaurant (though its hard to imagine a wine bar that is not trendy), we sat at the bar, drank two bottles of wine and ate some good fusion-y chow.

Friday we hit up Campo Bravo in Las Canitas which is probably the best stereotypical Argentine steak house, the type of place you can get a really good steak and really good red wine for less than $15. We wandered around Canitas a bit, tried to ignore some annoying 50 year old American wearing an all denim outfit and arrived at the Matias about five minutes before the start of the U2 show. We think it was Bono's birthday, so the first set they played a whole bunch of stuff, some in English, some in Spanish and some in between, though no U2. Luckily, they made up for it in the 2nd set playing pretty much non-stop awesomeness. I'll let the video speak for itself.

Shocking as it may seem, got a bit of a late start to Saturday. Did the feria, went to the MALBA (pretty cool modern art museum), checked out the pallermo parques then checked out my couch.

PICT0469Sunday we took the tren de la costa (overrated) out to Tigre, one of BsAs northern suburbs where the river spreads into a delta. Tigre in itself is a nice town and has a big market on the weekends, but the really cool stuff is out in the water. There are tons of little canals dotted with homes, restaurants, hotels, schools, etc, all complete with docks and boats since you don't need roads where we went (anybody?). You can take a river tour on a big boat, hire a river taxi to take you wherever or if you are really lucky (or unlucky) hitch a ride on the police wave runner. After the tour we took the regular train back to BsAs and then went to the greatest restaurant in town, La Cabrera (photo below). Three bottles of champagne, two steaks and 18 little side dishes equals one awesome dinner.

Monday Gore wandered around the city while I worked (what is wrong with that picture) then we went to a tango show at El Viejo Almacen. The tengo dancing was impressive, the tango band was great but I think the folky-indian band covering 'Hotel California' might have been the highlight of the show for me. Authentic.

Tuesday was Gore's last day so after checking out of his apartment we went for some 2x1 happy hour. Of course the cab came before the drinks did, so I was left with two frozen margaritas at a bar outside the cemetery. On the plus side, I learned that you can get drinks to go from bars here. Thanks for the visit Gore!