Wednesday, February 28, 2007

¡Un Beso!

Everyone, yes absolutely everyone here in Argentina greets each other with un beso o un besito, such a lovely custom, but not one we westerners are always all that comfortable with. Today I went to the dentist with a serious crown problem and the first thing the dentist does is darme un beso, a kiss on the cheek. Now my dentist in Oz and I are on cheek kissing terms, but we have known each other for years, but here in Argentina, perfect strangers, on introduction exchange , besos, right cheek to right cheek. And then again on every meeting and departure. And that includes guy to guy. I have seen a few western guys a little spooked by that one! It's lovely, it means you get to actually have contact with other people on a very regular basis, so different to our "no touch society", that is getting worse not better.
And if you are not in actual physical contact other forms of contact also include un beso: via the telephone, email or mail. ¡Just delightful!

Un beso Barb

Thursday, February 22, 2007

¿A New Business?

Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
I have decided I am not going to earn a fortune, or even pay my way with English Conversation classes, there seems to be a slight problem with commitment, and I am not surprised with the hours everyone works. But that's ok I can live with that. So have started a new business - las bufandas or scarves. They only take me about an hour or so and don't need needles - just my hands - very easy, and all the great yarns are coming into the shops now and even better, are cheap- so work has commenced. Don't expect to make my fortune at this either, but it will keep me out of trouble.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Estoy en el Cielo (in heaven)

Finally it's all in place and not only can I buy take away vegetarian delights, but also Tofu to cook at home. I am in heaven. The vegetarian food is wonderful, but I don't have a microwave and it doesn't reheat well. so now I have the best of both worlds. Who would have thought it in Ushuaia? Gracias a dios. Again I am Blessed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Las Mujeres de Las Fotos

Isla Chiloé
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
Just loved these two. We first made acquaintance while waiting in the Travel Agent. Both were beautifully, if not a little oddly, dressed. That is compared to we in jeans and t-shirts, and were excitedly planning and booking their trips. Sure enough the next day we stopped outside their hotel and onto the bus they came, and off we all went to Isla Chiloé. They were from very north of Chile in the desert regions and were so excited with the tree, flowers and greenery, but what entertained me most were the "photo opportunities" The cameras or the video were certainly kept busy. I think before the bus even moved off at least a dozen photos were taken. Each posed in front of every possible item of interest - on the bus, on the ferry, in front of houses, churches, shops, trees, flowers, and they weren't just casual shots, they were all carefully posed, with the hair and make up just right. I had to wonder just how much they actually saw, as most time was spent photographing or assessing the photos just taken. And when they weren't photographing, one was on her mobile telling all her friends where they were or they were sleeping.
Loved 'em!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tren del Sur

Puerto Montt Chile 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
If you are ever travelling through Puerto Montt Chile, this is a great place to stay. A Boutique Hostal, beautifully constructed and containing many of the old materials from the railway and station. Being a lover of wood, it was great to see it so extensively used throughout. El dueno, Mario, is delightful and welcomes all his guest with a great deal of enthusiasm. Not too large, it offers a range of accommodations, with breakfast and many other services, including WIFI for we computer tragics. Give it a go.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Blessings of an Arco Iris

Summer Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
To see a rainbow, you first have to have rain, and that we have had plenty of. Then momentarily, comes the sun and a glorious arco iris, and those we have had lots of lately also. But the blessing of the rainbow is that when the rain comes down, los perros remain under cover, and the silence is as golden as the rainbow is brilliant.

I love rainbows.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

¡Posibilidad de Perrocide! ¡Muy Pronto!

Los Perros Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
There is really only one draw back to living in mi departamento. I can live with the hole in the bathroom roof, covered for now with cardboard, as my neighbour is on holidays, so no drips or cold air. I can live within the small space and with the multitude of power lines and ugly backyards spoiling magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, but I am having trouble living with this lot. And right on cue, they have started yet again. Not only are there these 3, but in the last week at least 5 cachorros have emerged to join the group. So far they have not learnt to bark, just whimper all night, but I am sure it won't take long.
Now if you look through the pictures, you will see what an attractive backyard it is,- not! And I can just imagine just how full of nasties it is - thank goodness it never gets that hot here. I imagine the smell could be horrendous.
Then there are the photos of the front of the house - where the small children play and the family entertains in view of all in the street. Last weekend, el dueno of the property was watching los niños playing out in the street, after having let one of the dogs out to join him. Naturally enough, the two remaining maniacs were going absolutely crazy, as they all do when there are family in the front of the house. So as I walked past I asked el dueno if there was any possibility of keeping them quiet. He seemed to think that was a totally unreasonable question, and told that they didn't bark at night, so what was my problem? other than the fact that one can't think, concentrate, hear any talking or my music - I really couldn't answer that one. Didn't matter what I said - in my best polite Spanish, he just shrugged his shoulders and said he wasn't going to fight about it or even discuss it.
So where do I go from here? Not all that sure on that one but I will certainly be weighing the options, especially if los cachorros join in the cacophony. Perrocide or suicide? Maybe I will just have to search for another place to live. Any suggestions???????

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Politics del fin del mundo

Had a laugh this morning reading the reports on the Nordkapp, the cruise ship that ran aground or hit an iceberg, not quite sure which yet, that have been in the local papers. Firstly, the Sydney Morning Herald seemed to be the first to have the story, all the local papers quoted the story yesterday. Now it seems that El comandante del Área Naval Austral, called a press conference to tell all that everything was in hand, but that was only after he read all about it in the local Diario. Apparently the Norwegians had not notified the local boys or asked for help, and as Argentina claims the Antarctic Peninsula as part of their territory, I think there are a few noses out of joint. And probably just to make matters worse he has had to notify the Chilean navy as they have a boat in the area in the event that the boat needs help getting back to Ushuaia. ¡The Argentinians and Chileans don't exactly get on! The passengers have all been offloaded onto a sister ship, which must be horrendously crowded and are heading back here. I wish them luck as it is absolutely blowing a gale today, and by the reports they will be fare and square in the middle of the Drake. I can't imagine anything worse! There will be some stories to come out of this one.

¿Verdaderamente Pobre? A City of Contrasts

Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
Situated in one of 35 barrios, or suburbs, this is just one example of the squatter housing that exists in the city. This is situated quite centrally and like all the other barrios of illegal housing, is supplied with power, water and gas by the local authorities!
I visited one of the squatter barrios just before new year with a Dutch photographer doing an article on migration from the very bottom of the Americas to the very top in Alaska. He believed that Barrio Escondido was populated by mainly Bolivians and Peruvians and wanted to find out just what brought them to Ushuaia.
It turned out to be a very interesting visit, but we met no Bolivians or Peruvians. The barrio was mainly populated by Argentines and the housing ranged from shacks constructed of anything salvageable, most of which is packing materials supplied by the big companies, to beautifully constructed homes. There were no roads or services, particularly sanitary services, but there was power, gas and some water supplied by the authorities.
The only problem with this scenario is that the majority of the people squatting there, and you have to remember that to do this they were cutting down native trees on the outskirts of the National Park and just setting up, were fully employed, and, ironically many in the local government. The homes contained televisions, computers and most of the mod cons. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me that day, so missed photos.
As you might imagine these barrios create some very interesting discussions! With those who work, pay taxes and save to buy a house and land a little miffed by the squatters. The squatters argue that the tourist trade has pushed up the rental costs and that they can't possibly pay the prices, but if I can find an apartment and pay local prices I am sure they can. Though I agree that apartments are few and far between it certainly seems easy enough to just go out chop down a few trees and start building.