Back in Chicago (8th – 14th October 2007)

Monday, 8th October 2007: Got up at 5am to get ready to go. Merce is just one of a kind – she got up early too to make breakfast for me and sent me to airport. Merce, thank you so much for being such a wonderful host during my stay with you! Both you and Jorge made me felt so welcomed. I will definitely miss you both and please keep in touch. You are always welcomed to my home when you guys come visit, anytime!

Photo of a not-very-nice Chicago day taken from the plane:

Arrived in Chicago at 8.15am. There was a baggage delay and poor Antonio was waiting for me in the car outside till around 9am. He looked so sleepy even after gulping down a mega-sized takeaway coffee. Ops, sorry but thank you for picking me up :) I’m very fortunate to have nice friends like Antonio and Merce!

Was thinking of sleeping but my brain seemed to be fuel with caffeine – tired but want to be on-the-go.

Antonio and I went out to Las Tablas for dinner – it was a Colombian steak house that served the best meat I've had in Chicago to date. We had a couple of empanadas (stuffed pastries with filling of beef, chicken, spinach or cheese inside) for starters. I had a Sangria (fruit punch wine) - hmm, very nice! Antonio and I shared an main meal (hehe, lesson learnt from previous dinners), the Bandeja Paisa (traditional Colombian mountain platter of char-broiled Colombian-style cut rib eye served with fried pork rind, rice, beans, fried egg, corn bread, sweet plantain, and avocado). I love the food – it was so good! Definitely recommended :)

We took a walked around Lincoln Park area – nice quaint shops, lots of variety of food places and people. This is the area where Luca has recently moved to.

We went to see a Spanish movie called Pudor at Landmark's Century Center Cinema. It was one of the many movies screened for the 43 Chicago International Film Festival held from October 4th-17th. The movie was about the most dysfuntional family you can think of (Dad’s dying, Mom’s having an affair, their teenage daughter hates herself and their young son sees ghosts). Interesting movie though had a rather sad ending.

Tuesday, 9th October 2007: Spent the afternoon with Maria shopping for Paco’s birthday present and had lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Works (it has similarities like Subway where you build your own sandwich). It was a nice day and I enjoy hanging out with Maria. Photo of us in the city:

Oh, did I mention to you that Maria is super creative? She made those earrings she wore in the photo. Hey Maria, you should set up a little shop to sell your jewelry pieces! Anyone interested to see Maria's collection, just click on the link to her blog "Maria Pozo".

Laura had invited some friends to a Brazilian party at Ñ bar. I’m not sure if the others enjoyed it because it wasn’t really a party but a live Brazilian band playing wonderful bossa novas. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love if there was a band like this that plays at Latinos bar in Wellington (so far there’s only Batucada which plays samba carnival music in Wellington and several salsa bands in town). I wouldn’t mind listening to a band like this every week! And I need to learn how to samba – it was nice to watch a couple dancing slowly together to the beautiful songs and I was unable to fully participate (sob, sob!).

Wednesday, 10th October 2007: Went over to Maria’s at 1.30pm to help her with party plans for Paco’s birthday tomorrow night. I was introduced to her classmate Dilsia from Republic Dominican. Dilsia, like Maria, came to Chicago because their husbands work/study at the university. It was a nice afternoon for ladies to have coffee and chat – I can see the 3 of us hanging out a lot more. We just click!

Tonight was takeaway dinner from Caffe Florian again - it's becoming a regular place to grab dinner these days. Tried the lemon pepper catfish tonight – yum! Didn’t go out tonight and stayed to watch a DVD.

Thursday, 11th October 2007: Stayed at home in the morning and tagged along to IKEA with Antonio later that day. We somehow got lost trying to get to the other IKEA (there are 2 located in Chicago) when we stopped at the gas station on the way there. After probably half an hour going around in circles, we managed to get back on track.

Antonio bought a few more items for his apartment (now he’s got a bookshelf so his stuff won’t have to cover the floor). A quick coffee and shower later, we headed to Maria’s place for Paco’s birthday party. It was a small party of 12. Maria made tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette) and Dilsia made her signature flan (a cream based dessert). Maria also made some gazpacho (a cold Spanish soup) for us to try. Yum - need to ‘steal’ the recipes off the two cooks! Photos at the party:

Friday, 12th October 2007: Stayed home to update my blog and fixed up some IKEA furniture for Antonio. Also watched a movie online titled The Tiger and The Snow. If you enjoyed Life is Beautiful, you will love this movie - similar actors and storyline.

At night, Antonio and I went to visit Jonathan and borrowed his electric drill to finish up the rest of the furniture at home before heading to this Mexican place for dinner. I decided to be brave tonight and tried 2 new dishes - lengua taco (which is tongue taco) and milanesa (breaded meat fillet). Hmm...the lengua didn't taste as bad as I thought but one bite is enough for me...We ended the night watching another online movie with wine and cheese at home.

Saturday, 13th October 2007: Antonio and I went out in the afternoon to shop for a birthday present for his friend Hellen (also an Uruguayan). Hellen threw a small birthday party at her place in Irving Park and she made lots of food for the guests – sangria, caviar, dulce de leche (milk candy) etc. A nice night socialising with new people (and promoting NZ to them!).

Sunday, 14th October 2007: Stayed home to apply for more jobs and I have to admit, it is starting to stress me out. Am I not getting shortlisted because I'm out of the country??

Football was cancelled today due to bad weather. Antonio and I had a quick dinner at Aladdin Eatery before heading back to Century Center Cinema for another festival movie. The one we watched tonight was an Italian movie titled One Hundred Nails. Strange movie about a modern day Jesus Christ-like person...


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