Monday, June 22, 2009

5 Days Left

We are finally leaving this place. Next saturday, we will have our bags packed and be in the taxi that will take us to the train station in Tigr'e where we will be able to, for about 10 pesos, catch a boat that will take us and our dogs to a little island in the delta of the Parana River where we will all finally be able to get off our city leashes and run free in the grass and the trees. Oh my god! Grass! I can´t wait! Today we bought the part for the cook stove that we forgot in Iowa and learned that, although that cheap rum we had does burn, it just wasn´t sufficient for powering the stove. I guess next time we will have to buy a stonger liquor.
Harvey and Suka have almost successfully starved us by eating everything we leave in, or near the house. Including some articles of clothing, a book, and a brand new box of granola that Shaun isn´t too happy about. I feel bad for them. We take them on walks for hours a day, but it´s just not enough to get their energy out. Soon, dogs, soon. Today I put everything they could possibly eat or destroy on top of the fridge before we left the house. And they still managed to find something. Luckily most of it was just trash, but Harvey did chew the flower off of a really nice ankle bracelet a friend gave to me. I don´t blame him. I guess I would be mad also if someone took me off of a farm in the country with 6 other dogs and all the fresh air I could handle and put me on the end of a leash to scramble and dodge between trash, cars, and people on a dirty, narrow city sidewalk.
But as I said. 5 days left and we can lay out under the stars and run around all we want. We are traveling to this little island about an hour north of Buenos Aires where a friend has some land that he is offering as a sustainable living program for anyone who wants to stay there. We will be camping and living and providing everything for ourselves and/or working with anyone else staying there to create projects for ourselves. Since it is winter here, and cold by Argentine standards (but montana summer temp for us) I think we will be the only people camping there. We are planning on creating a garden space somewhere and cooking up lots of fun stuff in the clay oven that has already been built on the island. It should be a good time, and it will be a really nice break from the city.
I´m pretty bummed out that we may not be able to go the the farm like we had been planning. Since they have limited space, Mama Roja isn´t accepting any more volunteers for the month of August. We decided that by the time we spend a week on the island then make our way North to Mama Roja, we would only have about 3 weeks left to stay on the farm, and then it would be an equally big challenge to get away from the farm to the western part of the country. Since we will have to rent a car from Tigre, we have decided to just cut straight across the country to Mendoza where hopefully it will be alot easier for us to move around and there will be alot more outdoor activities for us to partake in. From there, hopefully we will be able to find some sort of part time job for a while, or go south to the ski towns and maybe find an instructor job there.
I am really not looking forward to renting a car, since it will be so expensive for us, however at this point there seems to be no other way. Buying a car is way more difficult than we anticipated, and the train only allows dogs less than 6 kilos. Ours are around 25 kilos. Since we live in kindof the business center of the town, there are alot of transient people and people in transit, so it has been difficult for us to make many friends... especially friends with cars...who want to travel. We have met a couple travelers who have already moved on, and some bartenders, and some business people from around town, but nobody with a car. At this point, I kindof feel like taking a taxi as far out of town as they will take me and then just walking. We explored taking a canoe upriver from Tigre to Mama Roja, but if the farm is closed the month of August, we would arrive and be out of luck. Oh well. I have faith that everything will work out fine and we will be able to travel alot easier outside the city.

I finally took a few pictures.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Zoo

I feel pretty lame right now. Shaun and I have been so overwhelmed by the size of this city and all of the people rushing about. Sunday, I literally left the house for only 5 minutes all day. Around midnight, we took the dogs for their walk, while there was nobody around. We live in one of the largest cities in the world. It is crazy. Why would anyone want to live here all the time?
The only things I have been able to take pictures of ar the zoo animals. Which were pretty sad. And a couple landmarks, but not any cool ones really. I´m kind of afraid to take pictures. I feel like I will get trampled if I try to stop anywhere. The only time it is safe to walk slowly or look around is at night when there are no people on the sidewalks threatening to shove you out into oncoming traffic.
So no good pictures. But we finally made some friends. Fortunately they didn´t speak a lick of english, so by the end of the night we were speaking spanish fairly well. And this week in packed with language exchange dates with people we have contacted through CouchSurfing. A really great website. We have completed the first step of paper work in order to buy a car. The police finally came to our house this morning and signed the paper we needed to prove we live here. The next step is to find the AFIP office in our barrio and get some more paperwork. They we can buy the car we want. And then get the hell out of here. I´m going to hug the first tree I see.

Stay posted for the link to my zoo animal pictures. They´re really not that exciting.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Still Walking

Shaun and I have been spending our days walking around the city. Every day we pick a new destination, but we rarely make it there. Mostly because the streets are so narrow and if you don´t just put your head down and walk fast, people pretty much trample you over. I kind of feel like we are playing frogger on high speed, so both of us get overwhelmed pretty fast. It is also difficult to comminicate with eachother on our walks since we are moving so fast and walking single file with the dogs, so there isn´t even time to look at anything and definitely not any time to stop on the sidewalk to take pictures. By the time we get back to the house, we don´t want to do anything else and are kind of pissed off at eachother since our communication on our walk was shit.
But I think we are starting to get it figured out. Everything here runs about 3 hours later than things in the States. Shops open later, the streets are very busy earlier in the day and slow down a lot a little bit later when everything closes mid day. The shops then stay open later, people go out later, and the bars don´t get busy until about 3. So we have learned to stay up late, take the dogs for a walk around midnight, then sleep in late. We let the dogs out for just a minute when we get up around 10 or 11, then wait until about 2 to go for a long walk all around town. It seems to be working out alot better.
We have started the process of buying a car... a little bit. There are so many steps to take, and with no phone books or directories, it is difficult to find the places we need. Also, the cell phone we have at our apartment doesn´t work, so we have to walk down the block to make any calls. We have found a couple cars that are within our budget, a smallish van, similar to a volkswagen, and some that are similar to land cruisers. The first step is to find the police station for our barrio, neighborhood, and ask them for a certificado de domicilio. We fill out the paper and return it to them. They then come to our house to make sure we live there, sign the paper and give it back to us. They come to your house within 24-48 hours, so after we fill out the paper work, this could take up to 3 days. From there, we need to take that paper work to the AFIP office. Neither one of us is sure what that is. Or where to find it... From there, they process our paper and assign us a CDI, kind of a temporary social security number to prove we live here. According to everything we have read and heard, government offices here don´t really give a shit, so getting that number could take a long time. Or it could not. Who knows. I think once we find their office, we can go there daily and harrass them until we get what we want. And then... After all that, we can buy a car. Fun stuff.
Meanwhile, I have finally contacted some people through Couch Surfing, and found someone to help us speak Spanish better. Also, a group that meets weekly at a bar to speak foreign languages. Whew. Finally there is hope for us.

I think Shaun and I both agree, there are some cool things in the city (that we haven´t found yet) and it is very easy to get whatever you want, and fast, but we are ready to get out of here. Send us to the country where we have to make a living for ourselves instead of buy it the next block over. That´s just fine with us.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 5 In Buenos Aires

Now the intrepid travelers and accompanying dogs find themselves in a dirty city bustling, bustling, bustling with life and excitement. Stray dogs roam the streets with dropplets of milk dripping from their freshly puppy-licked teets and collared cats mew down from overlooking balconies. Traffic doesn´t stop for anything, so say a quick prayer and look both ways before crossing any street even though they all run one direction or the other.
Every day interactions are exhausting and minute talking to a shop keeper is like sitting in school for 8 hours and feeling like you learned nothing the entire day.
There is a bakery one block from our apartment that bakes fresh bread every morning. We have been there twice now for the same loaf and both of us will swear on the Bread Bible that it is the best bread in the world. Not to mention the sweet pastries that are displayed in mountains in the windows. And the empanadas in the dirty little fly covered shop next door to us... WOW! Que Delicioso!
Every food we could want is within a block or two of our apartment and wine, laundry, computer, gas station... you name it. A couple days ago we bought steaks at the little shop on our block and the meat man pretty much carved it off the cow for us. Just down the road, a man caught the wheel of his cart on one of the cobble stones and three wooden crates of oranges spilled out down the sidewalk and down the street.
Meanwhile, a guy was rushing by on a bicycle equiped with a basket large enough to hold Harvey and Suka together filled with something like newspapers.
Our apartment is very nice and a wonderful little sanctuary from the busy, clostrophobic, noisy streets. The couple who own our apartment live below us and they are so nice. They teach tango and expressionist, creative movement dance classes in the studio directly beneath us. Last night we spoke to them and found a car to buy and someone to teach us spanish more thoroughly. Que suerte!

We are having alot of fun and haven´t tired of eachother yet. This city definitely runs at our pace. Shops don´t open until 10ish and every afternoon they all close down for siesta time. They open a couple hours later and stay open late. In the evenings, the traffic slows down and the streets fill with a different energy. The air is less busy and more lively as people finish their days with dining and drinking at the bars.
Everyone here seems so nice and has a good sense of humor about our lack of communication except for the occasional old hag who bitches at us for having our dogs blocking her way on the scarily narrow sidewalks. My response is always -what do you want, lady! I dont´know what you are saying!- They growl and keep on.

I can´t believe we are actually here and living in this place. It is very interesting and new. And, contrary to popular belief, you don´t really notice that the toilet flushes the other way.