Friday, 28 July 2017

Is that a farm-I-see?

Talluah has spent the last seven days bed ridden with the influenza and has required different levels of pain medication.  We’ve been trying to find equivalents to cold and flu medicine that we use in Australia.  One thing that I learnt is that you need a prescription to buy anything with codeine in it.  Over the counter medicine can be bought by the box lot and at times you can just buy one blister pack.

In fact it’s surprising what things can be bought by the unit.  Chorri pan is a staple bread here that comes in a long roll and is broken into manageable sizes.  It sells for around ARS$28 per kilo so you can buy as little or as much as you want.  We needed a few cable ties to refasten the basket on the bike.  We only needed three and the bloke at the hardware store said it wasn’t a problem.  The packet was already open and he just pulled out three cable ties.  Batteries come in packs and also in stripes with perforated division so you can buy as many or as little you want.  Vegetable shops are usually happy to halve pumpkins for you.

Perhaps the most interesting purchase is the life essential that is given the worst job in the world – toilet paper.  You can buy toilet paper in bulk packs or, if you choose, for whatever reason, just one little individual roll.  I’m not sure at what point in your life you think that you only need to buy one roll at a time.  Somewhere out there, there must be highly efficient, well scheduled people who know exactly when, where and how much paper they need.

Friday, 21 July 2017

A cold went hunting.

Depp’s cold has done what most colds do in a family and has migrated to another host.  Talluah has fallen victim to high temperatures and lethargy, but unlike Depp, I can’t carry her around BsAs.  We tried an overdose of orange juice from one of the mobile juice vendors.  The owner of this cart is either on the run from an angry wife or the tax man.  Either way, he wouldn’t let me take the photograph with him anywhere near the device, even when I said I just wanted a shot of his hands in action.

Our hostel is on Florida in the centre of town.  Florida is only for pedestrians and at night time is well lit with a mixture of money changers, people heading home from work, street vendors, shops and places to eat.  The deal with the hostel is that children younger than 5 are free if they share a bed with someone.  Our four bedroom dorm has four single beds.  On Wednesday night, Depp was snoring so heavily that Talluah and I decided to share a bed and let him sleep without having to share.  This meant that Talluah and I had to synchronise when we rolled over, faced east or west, scratched our nose or flinched as we fell asleep.  In the morning, Talluah was feeling the effects of the flu so Thursday night I shared with Depp.  Truce asked why we were putting the biggest person with the smallest.  I explained that my parental training meant I knew how to sleep on a postage stamp if there was a child in the bed.  By morning I was curled up like a cat using my allocated 10% of the bed with Depp snoring peacefully with his 90%.

The hostel is a few hundred metres from the Subte station B line, which leads directly to the Museum of Natural Science about five kilometres away.  The kids and I left Talluah to rest while we rode the subway to look at dinosaur bones, minerals, mounted animals, shells and other natural wonders.  While on the train, we were entertained by an keyboard player with an amp and numerous people selling pens, lollies and even prayers.  The building itself is quiet grand and the girls thought it could easily be a secret entrance for the Ministry of Magic.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Happy Constitution Day

We didn't give Montevideo a chance to show us its charm.  We unknowingly arrived during the public holiday for Constitution Day, so 90% of the city was closed leaving only a few convenience stores and Mercado del Puerto open.  The mercado is an old train station that now houses numerous parrilla restaurants and a few touristy shops.

Yesterday morning started slowly.  We didn't leave our groovy house, which we later found out is owned by a Uruguayan film director and writer with a few credits to his name, until around lunch time.  Depp was completely wiped out after lunch at Mercado del Puerto so we headed back to the house for him to have a sleep.  By late afternoon, the glow of the fire voted against us  exploring the city any further.  Perhaps another time when the sun is a little stronger and we're here when things are open.

The ferry crossing back to BsAs was a bit rougher this time.   There are several crossings each day and the morning and evening ones are in the larger boats and the middle of the day isn't as busy so they use smaller boats.  We aren't sea faring folk and we were all glad to be off the boat.  After a quick bus trip from La Boca we booked into Hostel Florida Suites with our four bed dorm.  Who is going to top and tail I hear you ask?  Wait and see.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A boat, a bus and then another bus.

We awoke in our warm private room in dodgy Hostel Tango and went to the lobby to have the included breakfast.  The receptionist had moved his ashtray and cigarettes to the outdoor space, so that was a slight improvement.  If we had the time we could have carbon dated the bread to see when it was made and I would have liked to met the yak that provided our milk for breakfast.  I'm assuming it was yak's milk because it certainly didn't taste like normal milk.

The ferry terminal was only two kilometres away so we braved the 3 degree winds and opted for the Harper walking bus.  This allowed us to stop at a panaderia and pick up a dozen facturas to complete our breakfast.

The trip to Montevideo can be done by a direct ferry run in around about two hours but this is more than double the price of doing the ferry/bus combination which takes around four hours.  We went with the cheaper method.  The smooth highway passed wind farms, sections of eucalyptus trees, which are a weed here, and even a jail.  It must have been wash day as there were sheets hanging out all of the windows (not the knotted variety).  We arrived in Montevideo around sunset at our AirBnB accomodation where our host had already lit the fire for us in his tiny but super cool loft house and found out that tomorrow is a public holiday but there will still be plenty of places to explore.  


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Back to Buenos Aires

It's hard to imagine but three months have already passed since we were last in Buenos Aires (Bs.As).  It's time for us to cross the border and have our tourist visa renewed for another three months.  Yesterday, the first day of the holidays, Depp woke up saying he didn't feel too great.  He spent all afternoon in bed with a temperature.  We had paid for transport to Bs.As, ferry tickets, accommodation and we have to leave the country this week for our tourist visas so we crossed our fingers and toes that he would be well this morning - he wasn't.  He's picked up a bit of a flu.  

Usually we rely on taxis or walk when we're in Bs.As but this time we are being a bit more adventurous using the Subte, or underground.  You buy a SUBE card at the station for ARS$25 and put on what ever credit you require (SUBE cards work for the buses too).  Each trip costs ARS$7.50, around about 60 Australian cents.  The beauty of this system is that you only need one card for a family or group.  You just swipe the card for each person passing through.  This was the first time the kids had ridden on a subway. 

Once we surfaced again and tried to mentally pivot a map on the side of a bus stop, we walked to our hostel with Depp being carried.  This is one of those avant garde hostels that doesn't have a sign out the front.  Upon entering we decided it was so the police can't find the place as easily.  We were a little bit disappointed in the lobby   Seeing reception staff smoking in the lobby is a tad off-putting and the couches would be more comfortable if they had cushions and were repaired with something other that packaging tape.  The reviews on and tripadvisor seem to be polar opposites.  However, the room is heated, the staff have been friendly and it is only for one night.  The room even has furniture.  I'm just not sure how you put anything in the cupboard though.  

Friday, 14 July 2017

20 weeks feels like 20 weeks

While Argentina has longer summer holidays than Australia, they only have one, two week break in the middle of the year.  Added to this is that Depp's age go to school from 8 - 3 and Truce and Indy go from 8 - 4.  The kids have just finished a twenty week semester and they are exhausted.  The children had a picnic to help celebrate the last day before the holidays.

Depp has recently started playing hockey after school on Mondays and Fridays.  Depp has a slight phobia about trying new things, which sounds absurd when you realise that he loves doing his first year of schooling in a foreign country in Castellano.  At the start of the year he flat out refused to try hockey and then one day something changed and now he's got this killer look in his eye and sticks to the ball no matter what.

Hockey is very popular in 9 de Julio and hopefully he'll be able to continue learning it when we return to Australia. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

The day after the 9th of July.

 WhatsApp is the main form of communication here.  People on motorbikes send voice messages, old ladies in the supermarket text at the speed of light, our water man sends us a message every Sunday night and the kids in high school place it at greater importance than the respiratory system.  We knew Depp had to take some item of clothing to school today but didn’t know what.  A quick plea for clarification on WhatsApp resulted in pictures of neck kerchiefs, like the gauchos used to wear.  The easiest way to describe a gaucho is like a cowboy but I think they are held in higher regard with a slightly mystical ability above the average cowboy.

All the children here have a great reservoir of traditional costumes for just such an occasion.  We however do not.  We rummaged through the tea towels until we found something that was suitable.  Depp was quite pleased with his gaucho pañuelo.  The kinders performed traditional dances, talked about independence and showed some of the traditional toys that children used to play with.  This was also a chance to see some of the things that Depp has been learning.  He’s now an expert on giraffes in both English and Spanish.

FYI Depp's giraffe is the only visible drawing

Truce had her English Open Class today and her class has been learning about volcanoes.  The children gave a very scientific explanation of how volcanoes are formed, the different types of volcanoes and used some bicarb and coke a cola to create some mini eruptions in the classroom.  Unfortunately I was teaching over in the high school during Truce’s open class but Talluah was well enough thanks to a lift into school so she could watch the performance.

Happy Birthday Colleen.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

A wet weekend with some weaving.

Today marks Independence Day for Argentina.  In 1816 Argentina became independent from Spain.  This town was named after the 9th of July and the world’s widest avenue can be found in Buenos Aires, also named 9 de Julio.  We do not know if there were any celebrations on at the town square but considering that it rained most of the weekend we opted for French toast, cubby house building and general lounging about.

As a household we have spent close to two months taking turns with fevers, coughs and flus.  Truce had a soccer goal land on her and several of her classmates’ neck and shoulders.  She has complained, very silently, of having a headache since that day.  These are the cultural differences we notice, where everything is padded and bolted down in Australia, things like goals are held in place with a few spare tyres in Argentina.  We used a few yoga techniques with a sheet wrapped around Truce's waist, I held her inverted for a minute.  She's not as short as she used to be and I'm not as strong as I used to be - perhaps it was only 45 seconds.

Talluah has unfortunately developed a nasty case of tonsillitis and we had to break out some of the medicine that we brought over with us.  We know that most medicines we need are readily available but Talluah has had issues with her tonsils in the past and a quick look in the mirror is easier than finding a handy doctor, explaining medical history to be prescribed something that we already have.  Our medical kit looks a little like we swapped bags with an apothecary at the airport.

Talluah has continued to teach herself new weaving skills with her loom and her latest masterpiece is a wallet.  Next week we are off to Uruguay and I have a feeling that she’s hoping to find some new textures to weave with.