Monday, May 21, 2007

An Interesting Statistic.

For the first time in the history of humanity, at some time in the next 10 years, there will be more people over 65 than children younger than 5.............and while in undeveloped countries between now and 2030, the population over 65 will increase by 50%, it is expected that in developed countries the increase will be by 140%

La Nacion. Argentina 20/05/07

Lots of Baby Boomers out there.

Speaking of Cars.......

Ushuaia Autumn 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
......and road rules. I sometimes wonder if there are any/many. If you want to stop, it seems you just put on your hazard lights and stop. It could be double parked, on the corner like this delivery truck, or even in the middle of the road as taxis frequently do to pick up or drop off passengers. The hazard lights seem to be the trick. Occasionally there is a frantic blowing of horns, especially in peak hour, but most of the time everyone just drives around.

Even more fascinating, for me, is that after putting on the hazard lights and stopping, many drivers then get out and do what they need to do, leaving the car running, often with children in the car.... use an ATM, pay a bill, buy cigarettes, whatever. I often pass cars early in the day, left running outside houses, presumably to warm up, but with absloutely no-one in sight. Interesting.

I have yet to see an automatic car here, in fact in all my travels in South America I don't think I have seen one. They are apparently very expensive to buy and so the local industry produces only manual cars. On some of the hills in this town an automatic would certainly be of assistance, but they are all pretty good at handbrake starts - you would have to be! I also look at parking on the hills and hope they have good handbrakes.

Ushuaia Autumn/Winter Inevitability

Ushuaia Autumn 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
All the cars now look like this. One drive after my neighbour cleaned his car, not just the top half as usual, but the whole car, it took on the local appearance once again.
Now the streets are either covered in mud or covered in dust. On the dry days the mud dries to dust and the dust is everywhere. I couldn't believe that for a few days I had hayfever, but there was so much dust in the air I was sneezing. After the rain we have the mud, and that also is everywhere.
Standing too close to a corner is a clean clothes hazard, as the puddles are deceptively deep, and the drivers good at cutting corners. Even walking is a clean clothes hazard as the mud seems to migrate upwards, particurlarly up the back of the jeans.
Coming from what used to be a fanatically clean car country, now they can't afford to be, it's been a bit of a culture shock to see cars totally covered in mud. By the time I get back to OZ I will be prepared for the sight of dirty cars.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Flying High

Ushuaia Autumn 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
Today I went flying and it was just magic.

The last few days have been very mild and so still, that it seemed like a good idea at the time, and so I went. There is an Aero Club here and they take flights over the city and the mountains.The decision was galvanised this morning when I saw the smoke from all the Asados( bar-b-ques) over the city, and more importantly from the downstairs neighbour, where los perros live. That signalled that the family would be sitting in the drive for most of the pm. enjoying a "peaceful" asado, with 2 1/2 dogs going ballistic a full 3 feet away. The 3rd dog is still pretty sick, so I don't think he can bark at the moment. So, decided that I had to go for my walk, so why not walk to the Aero Club and ask?

What a great decision! Decided to hang the expense and go for an hour. The day was just perfect, no wind, lots of sunshine and blue skies with just a few clouds. The flight took us up past Mt Olivia along the valley of Route 3 past Cero Castor - the ski fields and over the mountains to Lago Fagnano, the large inland lake. Inland is a lot more snow covered, with many of the rivers frozen already. With the mild weather a lot of the snow around the city has disappeared. It was very beautiful, and there are lots of high close to the summits. We flew back over the mountains, and along the coast to Harberton Estacion, where I went by road a few weeks ago, and the back up the Beagle Channel past Puerto Williams, which is the southernmost "town" - the Argentinians argue that it's not a city and therefore they still claim the southernmost city for Ushuaia - just more of the not so friendly rivalry that exists between Argentina and Chile.

As we came back up the centre of the Beagle the pilot asked if I wanted to fly the plane- ¡ What a question,! did I ever! So I flew the little plane back up the middle of the Beagle Channel. What a BUZZ!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Patient Posting

Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
I have become an expert in posting parcels from all over the world. That's because someone keeps adding rocks to my suitcase and I have to send them on to Oz, as on every weigh in my luggage is heavier, no matter how much I get rid of or post back.
Anyway, here in Ushuaia, it is a whole new experience. I would prefer to buy my box first, bring it home and pack it and then post it. Logical I would have thought, but here no, it's a little more complicated, as every parcel sent has to be inspected by the Aduana - Customs. So everyone arrives at the Correo with all their goodies to post, buys their box, or with their own in hand and waits for the lovely man to come and inspect. He flips through everything, books, the DVDs, inside shoes, clothing, etc whatever is being sent. It's a pretty cursory inspection and I'm not quite sure what he is looking for, but it's the same for everyone for parcels big and small. Then he leaves you to wrap, and for me supplies the papers to fill in to send OS. Those sending presents come armed with gift wrap, ribbon etc, and everyone has the obligatory brown paper, unless you buy a box, and the sticky tape. The post office resounds to the sound of tape being torn off the roll and stuck to boxes. At this stage it would be possible to include anything in the parcel as it's not checked again.
Then it's into the line to post your parcel, and this takes a while. There is only one man on the desk and he sort of fuddles around a lot of the time. Every parcel is weighed and measured, not exactly measured as he only has a small ruler, which he sort of quickly moves from place to place, except of course for mine, they are calculated to the last centimeter. I can't quite understand this bit because I buy my boxes from him, and I would have thought they were a standard size, but who am I to question?
I have actually managed to convince them to sell me boxes in advance in the promise that I will return in a day or two to post them. I bought two the other day, then walked over to the packing tables and, much to the horror of all, disassembled them. They are much easier to carry home flat. "Tourists" do strange things! But I know better than some of the locals who arrive with their boxes wrapped, sealed and ready to go and then have to pull them all apart for the inspection. Even had to lend my scissors to a guy today to get through the tape on his box.
But, in favour of the Argentinian Correo, two boxes I posted recently arrived on the doorstep in Oz almost before they left here. They only took a week, and that was with Anzac Day holiday, and the day lost travelling West. So there you go, the trip to Oz is almost quicker than my trip to the Post Office.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

El Almacen: Tienda Generales Ushuaia

The Grocer Shop: brings back great memories for me, my dad was a grocer and had a little shop containing lots of the same things. It's now a café, but when the new owners opened the door they found all the stock still in place. There are lots of things you may recognise, I certainly do: the advertisements, the biscuit tins which used to contain loose biscuits you bought by the pound, the scales, the old cash register, the ladder that narrows at the top. Lots of wonderful nostalgia and also includes also a collection of old musical instruments, a gramophone, children's toys, tools, sewing machines, kerosene heaters and flat irons. It even includes the family photos that were left behind. Just wonderful.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Oh For a Humble Plastic Aussie Veggie Peeler!

Just finished preparing my warming, nourishing soup as it tries very hard to snow out there, and once again wishing I had remembered to pack a packet of veggie peelers. You know the ones? usually come in packets of 3, with brightly coloured handles so you can find them in the crowded cutlery drawer, found in supermarkets and are very cheap.
Every time I am travelling I remember my promise to myself on the last trip to pack some, but then you just forget all about it until it comes to veggie peeling time. I have tried all sorts of peelers in lots of countries, including the fancy, expensive types in Australia, but have never found one to match them.
The Argentinian one I have now only works when you peel away from yourself and only peels small bits at a time so usually I end up with tiny pieces of peel all over the kitchen. The Aussie ones work well both way, and I like to peel towards myself. Using an Aussie plastic peeler, if you are very talented you can peel a whole potato or an apple in one long strip. Absolutely no chance with this peeler. Sometimes I resort to a knife, but they are pretty hopeless also, and half the potato or carrot ends up in the rubbish, or with I end up with serrated fingers where I miss.
I always pack the coffee plunger, just can't find good coffee here to put in it. Believe it all not, ALL the ground coffee has added sugar. I bought some back from Ecuador but am rationing that.
I will have to put a couple of packets of peelers in my case, you just never know when you will need a good peeler