Hello Chile

We said goodbye to Argentina and hello to Chile yesterday. A short 8-hour bus ride (including 2 hours of border officialdom) took us across the Andes and into the Chilean lake district and the small city of Valdivia.

News Flash!!!

‘It’s broken.”

Was what we heard at the doctor’s office in Argentina, and because of that fall, my mother now has a cast that she will probably have to wear for a long time, yet. Or not. According to the doctor that we went to today at a clinic in Valdivia, there might be some way out of that.

After arriving in Valdivia last night, we went to our hostel and checked in. After sleeping in, we woke up and went down for breakfast, where we ate fruit and bread and a little bit of fruit pie. Then, since we didn’t have much money, we decided to go to town to go to an ATM.

When we finally got to the clinic, we had figured out that no ATMs took US cards for some reason, and because we had accidently left father’s passport at the hostel, we weren’t able to go to a real live teller who might be able to give us money. Anyway, at the clinic, there were, surprisingly, a large amount of English speaking workers who helped us get to the right doctor, who told us to come in at 1920 hrs.

At 1920 hrs, we were at the clinic, and the doctor received my mother and finished diagnosing her before releasing here to us again, after extracting an 0800 hrs appt. tomorrow morning. As it turns out, the radius was actually broken in two places, once all the way through, and another time splitting that small section down the middle.

Also, here ulna had a crack in it. They said that, if the gap between the bones at the end of her radius were more than 2 millimeters apart in their CT scan, then they would do surgery and attach all the bones together with a metal plate, and then she won’t even have to have the cast any more. That is why I am hoping the gap is large.

That’s all for now, Folks!

I Always Knew My Mother Was Cracked

Today a doctor discovered that Mom has a crack in her ulna (the bone next to your radius in your lower arm) and that there’s a T-shaped-crack in her radius. The crack in the ulna is not a problem; he said that it’s common for people to break both. Mom’s right radius is in three parts—one on each side of the T.

We learned this after (finally) getting to a clinic.

Once we had breakfast (carbs and cheese), we strolled down the river, through a fresh food market, to the center of town where Mom and I sat in a plaza while Dad and Ethan looked for ATMs that accepted American cards. No such luck, unfortunately, so we headed to the clinic. Along the way, we found a mall. Dad checked out the ATMs (no success) and Mom found the laundry place we were looking for. We also got water and cappuccino cookies. I pointed out the cookies-and-cream Oreos to Dad.

At the clinic, Ethan and I sat and waited while our parents went from one room to the other with different doctors. We finally waited outside the triage room. Outside was a chart, and we decided that Mom was T5. T1 was needing to be “reanimated”, which would be immediate. T2 was an emergency, and the wait is less than fifteen minutes. If your situation was simply urgent, you could wait up to thirty minutes. Next was “minor urgency,” a.k.a. T4, and the maximum wait claimed to be eighty minutes. For not-urgent situations, two hours was the longest you could wait. That was T5. While we waited, I watched the ladies behind the counter watch soap operas on TV while the sounds of fake crying and babies’ crying filled the room.

Mom eventually got her x-rays, which told the story. On the way home, we passed by a restaurant called Guacamole. After chilling in the apartment and returning to the clinic to discuss the x-rays, we ate there.

The invalid may or may not have surgery tomorrow. If she does have the surgery, then she will not have to have a cast, which would be great. On the other hand, there has to be a 2-millimeter gap between the main section of the radius and the part that the tendons aren’t holding in place for her to have a surgery.

Ciao!

Bariloche & Buses

We woke up yesterday tired but ready to go. After mostly packing, we went downstairs to where the breakfast area was set out for the people staying at the Villa Sofia Hotel. After eating scrumptious chocolate bread and other delicious items, we went back upstairs and finished packing.

After stuffing everything in the boot of our tiny, clunky, badly-made, red Fiat Sienna, we took off. We decided to go around until we found a place to park and then buy some chocolate from an ever present chocolate shop. The traffic, as usual, was horrible. There were no stop signs and next to zero places to park. Finally, after going past lots of full parking places, we found one on a side lane several blocks away from where we wanted to be. Oh well.

After getting our chocolate and going back to the car, my father drove my mother and me to the bus station with all of our stuff while my sister and father went out to return the car. Eventually, after an hour of waiting after the scheduled departure time, the bus arrived and we got on. The seats were surprisingly nice, but couldn’t lay back all the way, unlike the other bus that we rode to Bariloche.

We rode and rode until we got to the first border post, where they stamped our passports and had a dog sniff through our luggage, before going through about 10 kilometers of no-man’s-land. While we were driving through no-man’s-land, we noticed how there were 10 foot high walls of gravel, or pumice, we couldn’t tell which. At the end, the put a dog with our luggage and away we went.

That’s all for now, Folks!

American-Sniffing Dogs

We’re now in Chile!

Our Andesmar bus arrived in Valdivia two hours later than planned, so we skipped supper, had a few pieces of Bariloche chocolate, and headed straight to our hostel and bed.

 

Yesterday morning after breakfast we decided to spend our last Argentinean pesos on chocolate (yay!). After that we dropped Mom and Ethan off at the bus station. Dad and I returned the clunky Fiat at a car-wash place. We found a taxi and rode back to the bus station.

We had to wait an hour for our bus to arrive. We were in seats 4, 5, 7, and 8 on the bottom level, which was empty except for us and an older lady who spoke German and Spanish. On the bright side, Afrikaans is close to German, and my dad is pretty good at that language.

After a couple hours, we got to the Argentinean border. We got our passports stamped and our luggage sniffed, and we were through—sort of. There were kilometers of road between the two countries, meaning that I’ve now officially listened to One Direction in no country. We finally got to the other side, where we got our passports stamped and our luggage sniffed. My suitcase was pulled out, but once it became obvious that it was mine, everyone avoided eye contact. Coincidentally, the suitcases of the other three Americans on our bus were also pulled out.

We were eventually told to get back on the bus. We all found a box of carbs on our seat.

Hours later, we finally pulled into Valdivia. Thankfully, there was a Chinese restaurant that exchanged dollars into Chilean pesos. We piled into a taxi and rode off into the night.

Ciao!

Lazy Luna

Luna was, apparently, the third visitor to our cabaña this morning. According to Mary Lou, Paz and Juan came by around seven to say good-bye. (Ethan and I were still asleep at seven, and our parents didn’t notice them.) Fortunately, Mary Lou came by after breakfast to say her own good-byes and give us the email addresses for Paz and Juan. At some point during the conversation, Luna slunk out of our house. Dad thinks she’s pregnant—she really is a skinny kitty except for her belly.

Mary Lou told us that Paz’s family is from Buenos Aires Province, and her dad is a veterinarian. Of course, Mom then had to say how our cousin is in veterinary school and all that. The family had left early to go on a seven-hour hike. We did a shorter hike—it was about 200 meters, actually, to a creek up near a glacier in the mountains surrounding Lago Mascardi. We also saw the Black Glacier, which is really just a glacier covered in a layer of dirt. These were the first glaciers Ethan and I’ve seen that I can remember. Mom went on to tell us a story about blue ice, how when she and Dad were in Alaska, they went on a plane ride around a glacier, took lots of pictures, and then got home and discovered that the blue part doesn’t show up on film.

The road system in that section of Parque Nacional Lago Nahuel Huapi is somewhat confusing: at the end, eight kilometers are both ways. There is also a section at the beginning, about twenty kilometers, which is both ways. After a corner, it’s one way. Starting at four, you could drive back from the glaciers to the park entrance/exit. We left after a meal of sandwiches and salad.

When we drove into town, we found part of a hill on fire. It seems like fire has been an awful lot of places lately: melting down the ends of the bracelets Paz and I made, burning down a club in Brazil and killing 231 people, inviting rebellion in Catching Fire

We’re now comfortably installed in Villa Sofia, eating delicious chocolate ice cream from Rapa Nui.

Ciao!

When in San Carlos de Bariloche…again

We woke up this morning, and when we got out of bed, we inhaled a breakfast of 7 nectarines, toast, and some pastries. After that was finished, we finished up on packing our bags to leave. When my father opened the door to look outside, the gray cat, Luna, jumped on the porch and ran straight inside. She ran around inside before finally settling down on a chair cushion.

When we were just about ready, Mary-Lou came up and told us the sad news that Paz and Juan had come up to say good bye but we were not up yet then, so she got their email addresses for us. We then got in the car and left for Bariloche.

On the way to Bariloche, we decided to go on a long side-trip to a park that had a large lake in it. We paid the entrance fee and then entered. We drove for a long ways before stopping at a viewpoint and chatting with some Americans from North Carolina. Once finished with that, we continued.

At the end of the road, after several view points, we walked up a trail until we came to a stream. From there, we viewed the large mountain that looked like a large matterhorn. It had lots and lots of blue glaciers on its spires and waterfalls were coming down the sides. In the end, we went back down the trail to a restaurant and bought some food before leaving for Bariloche, where we are now eating ice cream.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bow Broadcast

By bow in the title, I mean something like the weapon that Robin Hood used in his escapades where he took from the rich and gave to the poor. Yesterday, Juan and his father, Juan, worked on two bows, finishing one and starting on another. Today, Juan and I worked on the second one, whittling it down and sanding off the rough parts.

In the middle of all of these time using occupations, Eryn and I got invited to dine with the large family of Juan, Juan, Juan’s mother, Juan’s mother-in law, Juan’s mother-in-law’s husband, Juan’s sister, Juan’s brother, and Juan’s brother. If you want to have names entered in there instead of just relations to Juan, father and son, then the list, respectively, would be Juan-Cruz, Juan, Juan’s wife, Mary-Lou, May-Lou’s husband, Paz, Lucas, and José. After watching them all consume a pile of chicken breasts, Eryn and I consumed the delicious freshly made strawberry ice cream.

Once finished with lunch, Juan and I worked some more with the bow and strung it. While Juan worked with some strange contraption, I shot the new bow and it worked well. Once Juan gave up, and while Eryn and Paz swam in the frigid water of the recently-filled pool, Juan and I worked on making arrows. I still haven’t finished mine.

That’s all for now, Folks!

–[untitled post]–

Today was definitely a down day. Mom and Dad only went to take the laundry to the service while I made breakfast and Ethan showered. After that I made more bracelets with Paz while Ethan and Juan Cruz worked on the bow, Luna (the cat) napped, Mom and Dad read, Lucas followed his mother and baby brother Jose around, and Mary Lou made lunch. I was invited to stay for the meal, and Ethan lurked long enough to join in. It was chicken, salad, carrot and corn, and pasta. For dessert we enjoyed homemade raspberry ice cream.

Paz and I went back to making bracelets while the grown-ups talked. After all the adults, Lucas, and Jose went away for the siesta, Ethan and Juan continued working on their bow and Paz and I decided to take a quick dip in the (very cold) pool.

The family eventually left for Lago Puelo. We’ll have supper at Pizza Uno, where three of us ate while Mom was at the clinic.

Ciao!

Bridging the Gap

Today, when we went outside, Juan and his father were working on making a bowstave to make a new bow for Juan. I helped them with it; shaving it with a knife before sanding it down. Sadly, right before they were about to string it to shoot it, my family threatened me into the car and we had to go to the Rio Azul…again.

At the river, we went to a place that had two bridges spanning the water from one side to the other. One of the bridges was a nice new suspension bridge with evenly placed plywood slats, while the other one was more of two cables with small logs spanning the gap in between the two cables, while two tiny cables served as handrails. It was also tilting to almost vertical. Fun, fun, fun.

Sadly, we didn’t go on that one, instead, my father and sister opted to go about an hour’s walk up the river to another bridge. Since they are the ones that have all the say in our family, my mother and I had to trudge dutifully behind. After finding a nice and pretty beach with en-suite grass patch, we entered a debate upon what we should do.

In the end, my sister and father agreed on going to the bridge, coming back to the beach, and then eating the cookies that we had brought. We did that. At the bridge, we looked at it, and it looked like a mix between the two that we saw earlier. It was made out of both plywood and logs and was made out of ½ inch cable. My father, sister, and I went across and took pictures out over the water of the blue Rio Azul before heading back.

That’s all for now, Folks!

ABC: Azul, Beaches, Cookies

We hiked along Rio Azul again, but this time it was official. We walked for about twenty minutes threw on a road through a field of blackberries before hitting the actual trail that went along the river. Lots of people were swimming out from the rocks in the deeper, narrower sections. After about forty more minutes, we got to a nice grassy area with an adjoining beach.

“Let’s go to the bridge, then eat the cookies, then come here,” Dad said.

“No!” I protested. “Let’s go to the bridge, then come here, then eat the cookies.”

It was decided. We walked along the edge of a private campground to a gate, where a group of whitewater rafters entered the river.

“I want to do that!” I exclaimed. Of course, we don’t know what company that was, and searching the Internet seems futile.

Anyway, we continued on to the bridge that was “Maximum 1 Persona”. Ethan went first, followed by me, then Dad. Mom abstained because she was worried she’d lose her balance with one arm in a cast. The bridge had wooden slats as the floor with a couple of inches between each. Once on the other side, we had to wait because apparently we started a trend. After all the people had come over, a couple crossed back, followed by the three of us. We walked back to our cookie beach, but it was taken. Oh, well. We plopped down on a log overlooking the water anyway, munching on cookies and watching Ethan throw rocks.

By the time we got back to the car, it was six. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home for peas, pasta, tomato sauce, and a pair of blue underwear for Ethan. (He had been hoping for hot pink—he only chose any because it was brightly colored.) Juan, Paz, and the rest are all at Paz’s uncle’s house.

Ciao!

New Wardrobe Accessory

Three days ago I added another accessory to my wardrobe for the next six weeks — a cast on my right arm from the palm of my hand to four inches above my elbow. Since I am typing with just my left hand, the summary below gives the highlights.

*Steep, enjoyable hike up part of a mountain in the Andes to a lookout and rest spot

*Impressed by many flowering lupines plus beautiful views of the town of El Bolson, Lago (lake) Puelo, and snow-capped mountain peaks across the valley

*On hike down I slipped on loose gravel and sand. Put my right hand behind me to lessen the impact of the fall, not a good idea!

*I heard and felt a large snap in my right wrist. Then LOTS of pain and funny looking wrist

*45 min hike down to the car and a 60 min drive to no-charge (we found out later) government hospital, most of which was on a bumpy, gravel road

*Two very painful tries by two different nurses to get me hooked up to an IV with some pain medication

*X-rays and diagnosis of a broken and out-of-alignment radius

*No bone doctor on duty that day at government hospital so I was transported via ambulance (with lights flashing) to not-free private clinic to see bone doctor there. (An ambulance was required because of my IV, which I did not want removed at the hospital and then re-inserted at the clinic. Two pokes was enough!!)

*Bone doctor takes 30 minutes to manipulate bone so joint is in alignment again and put on cast while I am under anesthesia

*Start to learn how to survive as a lefty and keep cast dry in upcoming rainy weather

*Make plans to get two more x-rays in two different towns – at one week and two weeks after break to make sure joint is healing properly

Dubai Favorites

Wild Wadi Waterpark—This park has many fun rides, even for a non-daredevil mom like me. A new experience was riding inner tubes on the water slides that propel you uphill between the downhill slides. You do not have to get out of the water and carry your tube up flights of stairs.

Tall buildings with very unique shapes and features–One high-rise apartment building looks like it has been twisted to give a spiral effect and the base of the building rotates once in 24 hours so each apartment has an ocean view for part of a day. Dubai has many “ests” including the tallest occupied building in the world.

Dubai Mall – Wow, what a mall this is! It includes an aquarium with a huge window of a fish tank in the mall, decadent cake and cupcake shops, the largest candy store in the world (about the size of a grocery store in the US,) a Versace Store just for children, and a four-story indoor fountain.

World’s largest dancing fountain—Each afternoon and evening the Dubai Mall presents a water fountain show with Arabic and pop music, colorful lights at the night show, and choreographed sprays of water on a 30-acre manmade lake just outside the mall buildings. We did not get to see the evening performance, but we enjoyed one of the afternoon shows.

Azul y Helado

Today was more of a Down Day than yesterday. We didn’t leave until about three in the afternoon. Before then, I made breakfast and made more bracelets with Paz while Ethan played with Juan Cruz and Lucas. Felipe, Manuel, and their mom left this morning, but there was another little boy today. Inez was also there, and she threw her stuffed animal into a tree. She climbed in to get it down, with Paz and me braiding serenely below. Paz’s dad was trying to learn the name of the animal.

“How do you say… an animal that lives in the ocean and on land?”

I had seen the stuffed seal and offered the name. He shook his head. “No, it goes arr, arr. Arr, arr,” he demonstrated, hands clasped in front of him. “Seal,” I repeated. Ethan grabbed the stuffed animal, which was on the ground, and, pointing to it, announced, “Seal.”

Paz’s dad agreed, and that was solved. Eventually the family had lunch, and Ethan and I went back up to our cabaña. We eventually left, stopping first at the laundry to get our clean clothes and then at Mitski for ice cream. Ethan said that Super Sambayón was really good, with “chocolate and nuts and stuff”, so we ordered it along with Frambuesa a la Crema, Chocolate Mitski, and Banana Split. We drove to Rio Azul and walked a little ways before eating on a bench.

The Sambayón was awful. Ethan was gracious, however, and ate most of it. Banana Split had chunks of chocolate in it, and the banana part was good, too. Frambuesa a la Crema was just typical raspberry ice cream, but the Chocolate Mitski was wonderful. It had chunks of white chocolate and almonds in it—muy delicioso. We walked farther up Rio Azul and down to the rocky shore. As we threw stones and dipped our feet in the river’s chilly waters, we saw first a kayaker and then three rafts brave the (not very impressive) rapids. They got wet, by the way.

Ciao!

Rafting the Rapids

Well, because of my mother’s arm issue, we couldn’t do some things today, but we could do others. We woke up this morning at about 9-10 a.m. and did everything about breakfast that needed to be done. After that, Eryn and I played with the other kids and said goodbye to two of the rowdiest kids; Phillipe and Manuel. After they both had left with their mother in their car, Juan, his father, and his mother went out to get a new bicycle tire for someone’s bike. While they were gone, I observed Eryn and Paz making bracelets.

When Juan and family got back, he and I played some more before my parents decided that it was time to leave. We went out to a local ice cream shop and bought a kilo of ice cream ‘for the road.’ In all actuality, it wasn’t for the road, it was for the time when we got to the Rio Azul.

As we had gone that way before, it seemed that we got to the campground a lot sooner than last time. When we got down to the Rio, we went right on the path and up till there was a bench, where we ate the kilo of ice cream. From there, we walked a ways before sitting on a corner of the river next to some rapids. We waded and waited there, while throwing and skipping stones across the water and under hill and over hill. Eventually, we saw a little red kayak come down the river, and the rider steered her way through the rapids quickly and expertly. On the far bank, she pulled up and got out a camera to take pictures of what was to come.

What was to come was actually three large rubber rafts. They were filled on the sides with 6-12 paddlers each. Each of the three colorful crafts made it through the rapids fine, but the last one; a blue one, made it the best, going right through the middle without hitting either bank, like the other ones had. When it was over, I wanted to raft a river.

That’s all for now, Folks!

My Mother got Plastered

We woke up and went through the motions of getting to go yet again today, but this time we had an actual place in mind as we set out at about 1300 hrs. We rode up the bumpy rode in our screechy-scratch-low-power Fiat for a while, before finally getting to the trailhead. We started walking. At the first stopping point, we chatted with an American couple that had been to Antarctica. They were lucky. If we had gone to Antarctica, we would have gone to every single continent on planet Earth.

Anyway, after that, we continued up the hill. When we reached the carved forest we just went around it and didn’t pay to go through it. At the Refugio, we went inside the small café and ordered pizzas and drinks. After getting our drinks and being told to wait for the pizza, we went back out and admired the view.

After finishing up on the top, we went back down the way that we had come to get back to the car. Eryn, my father, and I were a ways ahead of my mother when suddenly she cried out:

‘HELP, HELP!!!”

Eryn and I, in our complete adrenaline rush, ran back up the mountainside that we had been so tired on coming up. Our mother was on the ground, clutching a wrist that looked to be dislocated. My father got back up, eventually, and he helped her up. We were moving again. We took a while getting back, and finally we did get to the bottom and drove to the hospital.

At the hospital, my mother was taken in with my father and the only communication was by texting. After about an hour of standing around in the waiting room, my father came out and got us into the car and told us the story while we followed the ambulance to a private clinic. At the clinic, the looked at her x-ray and told that she couldn’t have her surgery for a while, so we got her book for her and went outside to eat, since she couldn’t. After dinner, we checked on Mother before Father drove Eryn and I home.

After having dinner with the landlords and their family, Eryn and I went up the hill to meet with my mother and father. My mother’s arm was all incased in plaster and cotton, but other than that, she seemed fairly okay.

The next Day:

Well, my mother is feeling better, which is good. Today we slept in a lot after staying up till past midnight last night, or this morning, whichever way you want it, and then woke up. Too bad. After Eryn and I made breakfast and washed the dishes after it, we went out on a drive.

After completing our drive that included the laundry place, the clinic for x-rays, and the grocery store, we came back home and relaxed some more. Eventually, we decided to go to Lago Puelo, so we set off. On the way we stopped at an ice cream shop to buy a kilo of ice cream to eat later. At the lago, we looked out over the water whenever we didn’t have our heads buried in ice cream.

By total accident, when I was walking, I heard honking, looked, and there were Juan, Paz, Lucus, Phillipe, and more riding in their cars towards the lago. I raced back to tell my folks before changing into a swimsuit and going back. When everyone got settled on the beach, Juan and I took turns pumping up a yellow rubber raft that we wanted to paddle around.

We were so slow at paddling the raft that eventually we just jumped in and pulled it, which worked, but the water was cold. After that, we went back to shore to warm up. I had observed both Paz and Eryn making bracelets that they put on a keychain, but where did they go?

I got my answer today when I saw Lucus, a blond-haired 6-ish year old selling them to other families and people on the beach. We heard that last year, Paz made almost 300 pesos worth selling her bracelets. Finally, Juan’s father changed into his swimsuit and agreed to paddle Juan and I out into Lago Puelo. As he is a much better paddler, we went out far against the current. Eventually, Juan and I jumped into the water and swam to shore from far out while Juan’s father got a luxury three person raft all to himself.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Sales and Sweet Dinosaurs

Because of Mom’s injury, today was sort of a down day. We slept in til ten, which seemed waaay to early, and Ethan and I had to make breakfast. Once that was over, I washed the dishes and we finally headed out.

Our first stop was the laundry place, where Mom and Ethan dropped off a basket of our clothes. Then came the bank, the clinic (for the x-rays), and the grocery store, where we bought breakfast foods and a scarf that is now Mom’s sling. We drove home and stayed there for about two hours as Dad dealt with the insurance company and I did schoolwork and made more bracelets like the ones that Paz, Mary Lou’s granddaughter, makes. We eventually left for Lago Puelo after a slight delay. On the way, we bought ice cream from Saurios Heladeria Artesenal, whose mascot is a swimming purple dinosaur. Dad and I chose the flavors—four in the kilo container. The woman who scooped our ice cream weighed the tub: 1.005 kilos.

The .005 extra is for the tub’s weight. It’s now become standard that they get really close in weight: at Sumo in BA, our ¾ kilo weighed .755 kilos, and in Bariloche, someone’s quarter-kilo tub weighed .250.

We eventually got to the beach of the choppy Lago Puelo, where we devoured the Black Jungle, Boysenberry, Semi-Bitter Chocolate, and Saurios Chocolate. It was delicious. Ethan went for a walk afterwards, and came running back to us: “They’re here!”

They, of course, means Juan, Paz, and co. Ethan changed into his swimsuit so he could go out on the raft with ten-year-old Juan, and I made bracelets with twelve-year-old Paz. Inez, who was with Paz when I first met her, and her family also came. All of Paz’s immediate family—mother, father, and three brothers, Juan, Lucas, and baby Jose—were there. Lucas went around with Paz’s bracelets and sold them for ten pesos apiece. During the time I was there, Paz earned eighty pesos. Ten of those pesos were brought in by a blue bracelet I made.

Ciao!

Lion of the Andes

I slept in (again) and then had my typical breakfast of cereal, egg, banana, and toast. After that we just did schoolwork and deleted pictures and napped until about 1:15, when Dad decided it was time to go on the hike up Cerro Piltriquitron.

It was a long and dusty hike up 350 meters, where we met an older couple from Colorado who had just gone to Antarctica by boat. They said it was beautiful, but the boat ride was very rough. In all the questions they asked about our trip, they never asked the Number One Question: What are you doing for school? They even asked a whopping total of seven questions before it turned into a normal conversation.

“You’re the first Americans we’ve seen in a week,” she said.

“Sorry to spoil the run for you,” my dad replied.

We continued on up, passing the garden of carved trees that we skipped. At the top we admired the view before Mom and Ethan each got Fantas, Dad and I chose water, and I ordered a pizza. Ethan was sent away from our bench, but when I was on my last piece of pizza, Mom and Dad tried to convince me to give Ethan a piece. “I’m not moving from this bench or advertising,” I said, thinking that if he wanted it, he would come get it.

But I had pity on him.

“Okay, who wants a piece of pizza?” I asked loudly. “I do, I do!” Ethan cried. He came and stood in front of me. “I do too,” Dad added.

“Okay, Ethan,” I announced clearly. “Do not touch this piece of pizza that is sitting, unguarded, on my lap. I am now admiring the view.” I turned my face towards the rocks, but apparently he had ignored me so I repeated myself. As I watched his reflection on Mom’s sunglasses, I saw him grab a piece. Once we were done eating, we befriended the bearded yellow cat that hid among the lupine. It was a sweet cat, and I got a picture of it yawning.

“I got a picture of it yawning!” I exclaimed. “It’s almost as good as a lion in Kruger!”

“Lion of the Andes,” Dad said. “That’ll be the title of my post tonight,” I decided.

We started down the hill. Dad, Ethan, and I went on ahead, talking about science subjects. We were starting in on pH levels when we heard a cry: “Help! Help!” We looked back up and saw Mom sitting in the dirt. Ethan and I raced back up the hill.

“I fell, and I think my wrist is broken. It’s swelling fast,” she choked out. Dad helped her up. Some people tried to help us, but they didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Spanish.

The walk down seemed to take a lot less time than it did going up. Mom held her wrist to her chest, and Ethan and I followed a ways behind. “Finally!” Ethan crowed. We were to the parking lot. Mom and Ethan went to the car while Dad and I went to the view. I took out my camera and—it wasn’t there. “Oh, no,” I whispered. Then, louder, “I lost my camera!”

The ride down to the pavement was excruciatingly long. Ethan and Dad tried to keep the mood light (failing for the most part). Finally we got to the pavement. After a wrong turn, we got to the hospital. We shuffled into the waiting room, Ethan and I leaning against a wall, Mom taking a chair, and Dad knocking on the doors and asking, “Ingles?”

Someone came and called them away. Dad kept us up-to-date by texting us on Mom’s phone. She needed a specialist since the ends of the bone, her radius, overlapped, so she was taken in ambulance there (so they wouldn’t have to remove the IV) while the three of us followed in a car. By then, the doctors had given her drugs, so she was fine. Dad, Ethan, and I had pizza and a salad at Pizza Uno before we returned. At that point, Dad found out that she would be out of surgery in 30-40 minutes as it was about to start, so he drove Ethan and me home, where we are now.

Mom and Dad eventually came home around midnight, Mom’s arm encased in plaster, after Ethan and I had spent two hours down with Paz, Juan, and the three little boys.

Ciao!

Roja, Naranja, Amarillo, Verde, y Azul

Those are the Spanish words for red, yellow, green, and blue. The one that was on our maps and minds today was the last one: blue. Well, actually, the main one that we used today was actually Azul, as in blue, and I won’t keep translating it, but remember that Azul=Blue.

Today we woke up and went through the motions of getting ready to go. After lacing up our hiking boots, we went down into town to drop off some laundry. After getting that done, we went up past our driveway again and to the trailhead of the trail to Cerro Mirador, on the top of the hill that we reside on. After walking up the trail to the top with the viewpoint, we took pictures and then moved on.

After going through, town, we went across a small stream and headed up to a viewpoint of the Rio Azul (Blue River).  From there we drove down to the river and I moved heavy rocks while everyone else in my family sat on large rocks and logs. The river was chilly, and while we were there, we watched two horses cross the blue-colored river about 50 meters downstream.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Dulces and Death Marches

We ate a whole kilogram of ice cream today.

The flavors were orange-chocolate, blackberry, and bitter chocolate. Dad and Ethan are about to set in on another half-kilo with raspberry and chocolate with dulce de leche. This was after we got home from a hike up to the top of Cerro Amigos, looking down from several viewpoints, a walk along the Rio Azul, and a trek to and from Cascada Escondida.

Oops… I just had two spoons’ worth of the new ice cream that we got from Los Lupulos, the restaurant where we had pizza and a salad of lettuce, carrot, beets, palm heart, boiled egg, and tomato. My pizza was, of course, drowned in vinegar. Once we were done eating, Mom and Ethan went off to play foosball while Dad and I talked about gravity, photons, and the bending of the universe. Mom returned to the table after another boy came to play foosball.

We walked back to our Fiat and then drove to the Cabañas. Juan, Paz, and the rest have returned from the lake, and the pool is halfway filled.

Ciao!

Waves that Washed over Us

Well, I made a new friend. The only boys that were about my age on this trip before were Goonpat in India on the camel safari and Marcel in Namibia. Now, however, there is another. His name is Juan-Crews but everybody just calls him Juan. This morning I finally met him, and we pretty much played all day. At the beginning, we played soccer with two younger boys and then one, then we played by ourselves for a while.

In the evening, we pumped up a raft before I got spirited away for supper. After that, when I got back, one of the younger boys was paddling the inflatable raft around in the tiny pool, so mostly he was just splashes. Since my family had decided against going to Lago Puelo, so Juan’s nice father decided to take Juan, his wife, his baby, himself, and me along with the giant inflated raft to the Lago.

When we got to the Lago, there were large waves going up and down. We finished inflating the raft and Juan and I pushed off. Because of the current, we went sideways as much as we went out. We paddled for a while before riding back in with the current. After dragging the raft back over the bumpy and annoying rocks, we arrived to where Juan’s parents had staked out their place before going out in the raft again, but this time with Juan’s father. Juan’s father was appointed the oarsman, Juan the captain, and I the first mate, as we paddled out. For fun, Juan and I back flipped off the side of the raft and into the cold water. When we got back to shore, we went for a swim before packing up and heading for home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Waffles!

We finally, finally had waffles for the first time since Chiang Mai, Thailand. Frozen strawberries, chocolate ice cream, and whipped cream adorned mine as we ate above the Mitski chocolate shop in El Bolson. This was after we walked through the craft market and bought bread and pastries at the bakery.

A rectangular pool was put up here at Cerro Amigos, and Ethan played soccer with the owners’ grandkids. Mother also got us to do some schoolwork today, which we’d been avoiding for the past few days.

Dad commented on how odd it is to be in the chocolate capital of the Southern Hemisphere, and here we are, eating Swiss chocolate that we bought in Dubai.

Ciao!

What are the kids doing for school?

That’s the first or second question people ask us when they learn we are travelling throughout the world for 12 months. And some of you asked that question too before we left home. If you want to know more, here are the details:

 

I did not subscribe to or purchase a specific curriculum program for our 7th grader and our 8th grader. Rather I looked at the specific learning outcomes their teachers would cover if they were at their brick and mortar school. Then I found materials that covered the educational outcomes. For all subjects except math, they have the same curriculum, including assignments and tests, even though they are in different grades. As you can see from the lists below, the books come from a variety of sources and most of them, fortunately, are available on kindle or other e-readers.

 

Math Books for Eryn:

Algebra II Essentials for Dummies (kindle)

Algebra II Workbook for Dummies (workbook)

 

Math Books for Ethan:

Algebra I Workbook for Dummies (workbook)

Algebra Practice (workbook)

8th Grade Use It! Don’t Lose It! (workbook)

 

Science Books:

Spectrum Science Grade 7 (workbook)

Spectrum Science Grade 8 (workbook)

Elements and the Periodic Table (workbook)

Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Walker and others

Phineas Gage: Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman

 

Writing Book:

Fearless Writing Essay Guide (middle school level) by Danielle Denega

 

Reading and Religious Books:

Topic

Title

Author

Adventure, survival Lost   in the Barrens Farley Mowatt
Responsibility Red   Kayak Priscilla Cummings
Perseverance Eric   Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold Janet Benge
God’s Leading Finding   Waldo Ken Smith, David Smith
God’s love, survival Child   of the Crossfire Ruth Alycon Fleck
Faith, perseverance Zion   Champion for God Joy Matthews
Perseverance, survival Far   North Will Hobbs
Literature Holes Louis Sachar
Intelligence, Fortitude, Courage Adventurous   Women Eight True Stories Penny Colman

 

Books about Countries or Continents We Visited:

Topic

Title

Author

Australia (optional book) New   Great Australian Flying Doctor Stories Bill Marsh
Namibia Hyena   Nights & Kalahari Days Gus and Margie Miller
Botswana In   the Company of Cheerful Ladies Alexander McCall Smith
Botswana (optional book) 20 Chickens for a Saddle Robyn Scott
South Africa 50   Flippen Brilliant South Africans Alexander Parker
South Africa (optional book) Don’t   Look Behind You Peter Allison
South America The   Case of the Monkeys that Fell From the Trees Susan E. Quinlan
Greece Galen & the Gateway to Medicine Jeanne Bendick
Greece Archimedes & the Door of Science Jeanne Bendick

 

Social Studies Books:

Homework Helpers US History 1492-1865 by Ron Olson (kindle)

Homework Helpers US History 1865-present by Ron Olson (kindle)

 

Social Studies Books – Additional Reading:

Topic

Title

Author

USA Horrible   Histories – The USA Terry Dreary
Colonial Horrible   Histories – Cranky Colonials Elizabeth Levy
Elizabeth I Beware   Princess Elizabeth Carolyn Meyer
Mary Queen of Scots Mary   Bloody Mary Carolyn Meyer
Ben Franklin Ben   Franklin (10 Days) David Colbert
Revolutionary War Funny   But True History – Revolting Revolutionaries Elizabeth Levy
Revolutionary War American   Revolution Bruce Bliven
Revolutionary War Secret   of Sarah Revere Ann Rinaldi
Abigail Adams Abigail   Adams Girl of Colonial Days Jean Brown Wagoner
Late 1700’s – Yellow Fever Fever   1793 Laurie Anderson
Sacajawea Sacajawea Joseph Bruchac
War of 1812 Billy   Green Saves the Day Ben Guyatt
Industrial Revolution1780’s + The   Industrial Revolution: How Science & Technology Changed the World Carla Mooney
Texas Alamo Victor   Lopez at the Alamo James Rice
Davy Crockett Davy   Crockett: Young Rifleman Aileen Parks
Underground Railway The   Freedom Stairs Marilyn Weymouth Sequin
Civil War Shades   of Gray Tim O’Brien
Civil War Hear   the Wind Blow Mary Downing Hahn
Civil War Across   Five Aprils Irene Hunt
Civil War Elijah of Buxton Christopher Curtis
Reconstruction Era The   Coffin Quilt Ann Rinaldi
West Exploration Jason’s   Gold Will Hobbs
Early 1900’s – Ukraine Days   of Terror Barbara Smucker
1900s – Typhoid Deadly   Julie Chibbaro
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore   Roosevelt Up Close Michael L. Cooper
20th Century Horrible   Histories – 20th Century Terry Deary
Women’s Suffrage You   Want Women to Vote Lizzie Stanton? Jean Fritz
WW1 Horrible   Histories – Frightful First World War Terry Deary
WW1 Unraveling   Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During WWI Ann Bausum
Great Depression The   Mighty Miss Malone Christopher Paul Curtis
WW2 Horrible   Histories – Woeful Second World War Terry Deary
WW2 We   Were Heroes: Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, a WWII Soldier Walter Dean Myers
WW2 Pearl Harbor Under   Red-Blood Sun Graham Salisbury
WW2 Rosie   the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front Penny Colman
WW2 Navajo Code Talkers Nathan Aaseng
Holocaust I   Have Lived a Thousand Years Livia Bitton-Jackson
Holocaust Shadow   of His Hand (Daughters of Faith   series) Wendy Lawton
After WW2 The   Circuit Francisco Jimenez
Civil Rights Movement My   Louisiana Sky Kimberly Willis Holt
Civil Rights Movement The   Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 Christopher Curtis
Civil Rights Movement I   Am #4: Martin Luther King Jr. Grace Norwich
Vietnam War All   the Broken Pieces Ann Burg
Vietnam War The   Cracker: Best Dog in Vietnam Cynthia Kadohata
Cold War Smuggler’s   Treasure (The Wall book 3) Robert Elmer
Communist China Red   Scarf Girl Ji-Li Jiang
Communism The   Seventh Escape Jan Doward
Reagan Ronald   Reagan Up Close James B. Sutherland
9/11 Thunderdog Michael Hingson

 

Lakeside Lounging and Lunging

Today we awoke from our night’s rest in Bariloche to the dawn of a new day, a couple of hours after dawn. After getting all cleaned up and somewhat packed, we went out for breakfast. Sadly, though, the breakfast area was all locked up, so we just had some of the meager amounts of food that we had brought from BA.

After checking out of our room, we went out in our bright red Fiat that was clunky and barely went backwards to the meadows and hills and lakes surrounding Bariloche.  After the grocery and chocolate store, our first stop was at a place that had ski lifts to get up to the top. We rode up to the top and looked around before riding the lift back down. After that we drove for a while before stopping at a lakeside. I went down and felt the water before deciding that it was warm enough to swim in.

After changing into my swimsuit, and lunged out into the deeper waters and lunged back out because it was so cold. However, after waiting some time, I went back out to a rock. From there, I went deeper to another rock, and so on and so forth until I was over deep-ish water and I back-flopped in from a large black rock. I stayed swimming around on my back for some time before swimming back out. Then we left and went on a drive to where we are now: El Bolson.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Strays and Stamps

We drove alllllllllllllll the way from Bariloche to El Bolson today. It wasn’t that far, actually, only about 130 kilometers. It took a long time because we had several stops. First, we rode a ski chairlift up Cerro Campanario to the top, where we had a good view of Lago Nahuel Huapi Parque Nacional and San Carlos de Bariloche. Ethan bought some postcards but decided not to buy stamps at the moment because it cost forty pesos (about six dollars) for one postcard stamp. The postcards cost five pesos each.

Ethan and I tried to befriend the small cats. There was one at the bottom of the chairlift and one at the top. There were also lots of stray dogs, but there are those everywhere.

Our next stop was Lago Moreno, where Ethan went swimming and Mom and I went wading. I had meant to jump from rock to rock with my shoes on, but my left foot slipped and I decided to hop back to shore. Ethan got my sandals from the car.

We took the scenic loop, passing (apparently) one of the best hotels in the world. Then we drove to El Bolson. Part of the road was blocked off by police, so we took the straighter shortcut. As we drove through the Andes in our bright red Fiat Siena, we munched on cookies, crackers, and hard candies. We finally got to El Bolson, and after some difficulties managed to find our accommodations. There is an empty pool here and lots of thirsty mosquitoes.

Ciao!

A Bus to Bariloche

Well, for all of you who don’t know, Bariloche is famous for its chocolate. We, after 21 hours of riding a bus, have arrived in just that location. The bus services that we used were the ones by the name of Via Bariloche. They all go to Bariloche and we used one of the ones from Buenos Aires.

The bus that we rode in was a double decker bus that had little screens for each seat. What we should have guessed was that all the videos would be in Spanish. Anyway, we rode on the top of the two levels and we got the 4 seats on the right in the front two rows. The row in the front with Eryn and I had views out of the front too, so you could see where we were going. After eating the dinner that we brought, the ‘flight attendant’ came up and gave us more food. Then we went to bed.

In the morning we woke up and ate the supplied breakfast before reading until we pulled into the station. From there, we rode in a taxi to the main drag to look for the rental car place, but it was invisible to us muggles, I guess. In the end, we just had the driver drive us to our hotel and from there we got out and went down to see the chocolates. The chocolates were good and when we got back, our bright red car was sitting in the car park gleaming and just waiting for someone to drive it.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Sumo, Juice, and Parks

Today we did several things, some of them fun, some of them annoying. All of them, though, were things that took up time while we waited for this day to end and tomorrow to go half-way so that we could hop on to a bus and relax for the 20 hour journey across Argentina to a place called San Carlos de Bariloche. In one of the books that Eryn has re-read several times on this trip ‘360 Degrees Longitude’ the author describes how the streets smell like chocolate and every other shop is a chocolate one.

Today, in preparation for the long bus ride, we went to the Carrefour grocery store to buy some things. But since that wasn’t the first thing that we did, I will try to tell you the story of today from the beginning. We woke up this morning (as usual) and ate breakfast (still the usual) before heading out on a walk to check (again) if Wafles SUR is open. So far so ordinary. After that, things started to differ, though not that much. We went to the plaza of Colonel Dorrego after loitering outside of Habibi for their free wi-fi and for ordering some takeout for tomorrow. At the plaza, we just stood around outside while my father finished up some things before we decided to go to Sumo ice cream shop. When we got there, everything was barred, but the doors were wide open so we waited across the street in the park for the shop to open. Some people went inside, and we took that as a good sign and got ice cream and went home.

After waiting at home several hours, my father, mother, and I went out to the plaza again for orange juice and wi-fi before checking on Wafles SUR, which, as usual, was closed. We then went to the Carrefour Express and bought some water and stuff before returning back home, where we are now. Soon we will go to the Italian restaurant for dinner before turning in for the night.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Chocolate & Chow & Chocolate Chow

We are now in Bariloche!

After a 21-hour bus ride, 1,569 kilometers, and lots of carbs, we made it. We used the Via Bariloche bus service, and the food was, well, awful. Breakfast was toast, bread, two croissants, and a muffin. I only had the croissants and bread, along with a banana we’d brought. For supper, they served pasta, flan, dulce de leche, rice, some type of meat, and cheese. Since we’d had supper already—take-out from Habibi Cocina Arabe that took faaaar to long to get yesterday—we were full. Supper was an Arabic salad, vegetables, falafel, and rice.

As our lunch today, we had chocolate ice cream and truffles. Sounds delicious, right? It was!

We had to walk all the way down the hill again to pizza after seeing that the Afghan-restaurant-that-was-Argentinean-cuisine-not-Afghan was too expensive for our taste. First we stopped by a market, where I bought the hat of my dreams which I will use for skiing at Willamette Pass when we get home.

Speaking of which, it’s open and the slopes are beckoning with seven feet of snow at the top! I wish I could go, but at least I got to ski in Dubai.

Anyway, the pizza was really cheesy, as Argentinean pizza typically is, but the salad and jugo de naranja were good as usual.

Ciao!

Observations, Challenges, and Favorites in South Africa

Observations

Life after Apartheid – Some South Africans are still figuring out how to deal with prejudices and past injustices from Apartheid. We spoke with several white individuals in the central part of the country who told us about areas considered unsafe to visit because “there are so many black people living there.” And others told us about white people losing farms that had been in their families for many generations because the government wanted to give their land to black families to make up for racial inequalities in the past. Both of these perspectives were sad to hear.

 

Pannekoek – This Dutch pancake is very popular throughout South Africa. It is usually about 10 to 12 inches in diameter and much thinner than traditional pancakes in the US. They are often rolled with a sweet or savory filling. One favorite way for South Africans to enjoy their pannekoek is with sugar and cinnamon rolled inside and sometimes topped with a light sugar syrup. We enjoyed eating this traditional food at a Pannekoek Restaurant in Drakensberg. Yes, the majority of items on the menu were pannekoek meals. Jerry was the only one in our family who ordered a savory pannekoek—butternut-filled pancakes with a chili sauce. Yummy! The rest of us got our sugar fix with pannekoeks filled with and smothered with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, bananas, and/or fresh whipped cream.

 

Challenges

Christmas away from home – We had to put most of our family Christmas traditions on hold for a year. But we were able to continue a couple of our holiday traditions, even though we were south of the equator and experiencing summer weather instead of playing in the snow. My sister graciously sent Eryn and Ethan red stockings that were very similar to the ones they have at home and Santa filled the stockings on Christmas Eve with candy, gifts, and goodies. As part of our Christmas dinner, we prepared two of my favorite traditional dishes: pumpkin pie and cranberry jello salad. The pie recipe I used was for fresh pumpkin, since you cannot buy canned pumpkin in Cape Town. So the spice, sugar, and milk ratio was a bit different than my preferred recipe. I used my mom’s cranberry salad recipe and found all the ingredients to make this yummy dish.

 

Car accident on our last day in South Africa – A traffic cop signaled us to enter a busy intersection that was not controlled by traffic signals, or robots as they are called in South Africa. Unfortunately a driver coming from the road to our left did not heed his yield sign. He entered the intersection right in front of us and we could not avoid hitting him. No one was hurt, no air bags deployed and the other driver was polite and reasonable, fortunately. But we still had a lot of paperwork to complete – police report, rental car company reports, credit card company reports, etc. Our rental car company did not seem to care which vehicle caused the accident. They only stressed the importance of filing a police report and completing their paperwork. If the other driver did not file a police report he is considered at fault and then his rental car company has to automatically pay for repairs of both vehicles, regardless of how the accident occurred.

 

Favorites

Kruger National Park – We were able to spend a whole week at Kruger and stayed in five different rest camps, but we only travelled to a fraction of the 7,523 square miles of the park. We saw a wide variety of animals, including three uncommon sightings: wild dogs, two leopards and a cheetah with her five cubs. One unique aspect of our visit was the abundance of wild flowers and not-so-tall green grass. Neither I nor Jerry had visited Kruger before during the spring season.

 

Visit with Dennis and Maritjie – Jerry met Dennis during his student missionary year at Helderberg College in the 1980’s and has kept in touch with him over the years. Dennis, a pastor, and Maritjie, a nurse, live outside the small town of Koster, which was founded by Maritjie’s family several generations ago. We had a good time touring their family’s farm and the surrounding sights. It was good to visit places with people who were familiar with the area and could give us added perspective.

 

Drakensberg Mountains – This forested area reminded us of Oregon, including the cold air, rain and fog. But all the forests in South Africa are planted, rather than naturally occurring. So, the trees are in nice straight rows and all about the same height, which takes a bit away from the out-in-nature feel.

 

Table Mountain – This is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. The view of the mountain from Cape Town with a bit of cloud (tablecloth) over the top never gets old. And when looking out over Cape Town, the ocean, and the surrounding area from the summit on a clear day, you can’t help but feel that it definitely deserves its new title: one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Challenges and Favorites in Namibia

Challenges

Getting enough sleep while in Etosha National Park – The best times to view the animals are at sunrise, sunset, and late in the evening at the lighted waterholes in the rest camps.  So we got up very early and went to bed very late and tried to nap in the afternoon during the heat of the day.

Credit Card Fraud – We learned the hard way not to let our credit cards out of our sight when paying for goods and services. When we were in Swakopmund a store or restaurant employee apparently took a photo of our card before returning it to us and then “new” cards were made so that the offenders could make fraudulent purchases about two weeks after we left Namibia. In the course of one weekend they purchased about $7,000 of stuff at grocery stores, a phone/stereo/music store, and a few other stores. They were busy! By the end of the weekend we realized something strange was happening and called the credit card company to cancel the number, go over the list of fraudulent purchases,  and ask for new cards to be sent to us on another continent.  It was all quite a hassle and we now keep a close eye on our credit cards. If a waiter or waitress cannot bring a credit card machine to our table, Jerry carries the card to where it can be scanned.

Flat tire on bad roads – Many roads in Namibia are unpaved, but most are a smooth enough gravel surface that doesn’t cause tire problems. We did, however, experience a particularly rough road one very hot afternoon and ended up with flat tire. We drove with the spare tire to the next very small town, with consisted of a hotel, restaurant, bakery, small market, and tire store. The tire store employee said that he had been quite busy because of the poor road surface and we ended up buying a new tire because the flat one was not repairable. Fortunately the whole adventure only resulted in a 90 minute delay to our destination.

 

Favorites

Visiting Etosha National Park – We saw many types of antelope, lions, rhinoceros, giraffes, warthogs, jackals, and zebras. The most rare sighting was a leopard just after it had killed a kudu in a small waterhole. We watched the leopard struggle for over an hour to drag its kill to a tree nearby. The next day the kill was in between the trunk branches of the tree and a hyena was munching on it.

Hiking up and running down the sand dunes in Sossusvlei

Celebrating Eryn’s Thirteenth Birthday in Swakopmund – This was our first real city in about three weeks and we were able to find birthday candles, cake, and ice cream for a proper birthday celebration

Touring the Krystal Gallerie in Swakopmund – The mining of platinum, diamonds, and other precious stones is an important part of economy of Namibia. This museum/store contains many beautiful gemstones, including the world’s largest quartz crystal cluster on display.

Sitting at Starbucks

Today we did just what I mentioned in my title; we sat at Starbucks. We woke up this morning and we got out of bed, we took showers and then brushed the hair, on our heads. Wait a minute, that sounds a little bit too rhyming, so I will try it again: This morning we woke up and took showers, after that we had a breakfast of pasta, pizza, and cereal. That may seem completely loaded with carbohydrates, and it probably is, but we didn’t have all of that each, we each only got one of the items on the list that I mentioned.

After breakfast, we lounged around and did schoolwork, mainly math, before heading out to Waffles SUR to get some waffles. As it turned out, Waffles SUR was closed, as it was yesterday, so we just decided to head to Starbucks because we needed some Wi-Fi. At Starbucks, we ordered coffee and some food and checked out the Wi-Fi, which was slow. Finally, after looking around some, my father found a Wi-Fi network that worked whenever you were near a city park. We got that, and then used that for a while before my mother decided to go the local pharmacy before going back to the apartment.

While my mother and sister were off, my father and I used the park Wi-Fi to call one of his colleagues at work to talk. After he finished, we got some freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the local carts and then walked home while drinking it. When we got home, my mother and sister arrived back successful and we all just sat down and did what we thought needed to be done.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Lost by the Door

Today we went a lot of places; the Evita Museum, a small ecological reserve in the middle of town, and to a place to get money. We went first to see if Waffles Sur was open, which it wasn’t, and then we continued to the Independencia Subte (Metro) Station. When we got off at the General San Martin Estacion, we walked across the largest street in the world: the Avenue de Julio. After going up to the regular money transfer place to get a few more pesos, we got back on the Subte and rode until we got to the Italia Estacion before getting off and going into a park.

That park turned out to be the aforementioned small ecological reserve. We went in the closest door to us, and then we found a shady area with a bench and ate some cookies that we had bought at a local supermarket. To our surprise, there were resident cats, and we tried to attract their attention, but they never seemed to see us. After watching the big gray cat jump up on the bench with Eryn and then jump down, she left, and I took over. I simply distracted the cat with a straw wrapper and then caressed it. I don’t think it started purring, but it was happy.

When we got up to leave, we walked and we walked, through all possible paths and all the way around the fence line before we concluded that the entrance where we came in was actually the only one that was not chained and padlocked. After that we went to the Evita Museum before heading back home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Tigre, a day without Tigers

There is a town up in the delta at one end of the Rio de la Plata that is called Tigre. It is a large-ish town with boats and cars. It is a little bit like Venice in the terms with the boats, but it is actually on the mainland and across the river are houses on all of the little tributaries.

We woke up this morning and got out of bed, ate breakfast then went down the road to the subway station. We rode all the way up to the end (Retiro) then got off and walked and walked and walked up to where there were ferry terminals. We got on a ferry and rode out of the port and across the ocean for a three hour tour in a boat called the Minnow. Actually, it wasn’t called the Minnow, but it was not unnamed, and we actually got only a two hour tour, but after riding across part of the giant (250 kilometers across, the largest in the world) river, when we got into the houses on the water, it got kind of repetitive.

When we pulled into Tigre, we went out on a walk to try and find the restaurants that were mentioned on the brochure that my father had got on the boat. We went to one restaurant and ordered salads and drinks, before continuing on to the number 5 bus stop. From there we rode to the end, then walked (unintentionally) in a loop before getting ice cream at McDonalds. Then we walked down to the train station and rode all of the way back to BsAs.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Starbucks and Subte

Wafles Sur wasn’t open today either, so we settled for Starbucks. Ethan selected a grande Café Mocha with an Espresso Brownie, Mom decided on a Chocolate Crème, Dad chose a grande Mocha Frappuccino, and I ordered an alto Mocha Frappuccino with a Cheesecake de Frambuesa. We sat at the only four-chair table not taken in the upstairs half. Ethan and I reviewed our trip so far while Dad worked with the internet on the iPad and Mom sat there. The cheesecake and brownie were rather bland, but we all enjoyed our drinks except Ethan, who would have preferred a cooler drink.

Eventually Mom and I left for the Farmacity and Dad and Ethan went to Plaza Dorrego to find better wi-fi (which is offered by the city of Buenos Aires). After three blocks, we realized that we had forgotten money. So we trudged back. I was rather reluctant—there was a man who looked “mentally unstable” in army fatigues with a gun.

We lived, obviously, and Dad gave us two hundred Argentine pesos while Mom and Ethan watched the tango dancers—the first we’ve seen, actually. Once the dancers stopped, Mom and I went on our way. The walk to the pharmacy took about twenty minutes. We bought shampoo and other things we needed, and I convinced Mom to take the subte home. We were at the Bolivar station on Linea E. Mom bought the two tickets at five pesos (about one dollar) total, and we went down the stairs.

We got off at the second stop, Independencia, and walked to Linea C. The C train (heading to Constitucion, not Retiro) finally came and we went one stop to San Juan. As we walked along Humberto Primo towards our building, Mom said, “I wonder if they’ll be impressed with us going on the subte.”

I don’t think they were.

“Encouraged” is Dad’s word. “Surprised” is Ethan’s.

Ciao!

Pets, Pollo, and Perón

“I could name our cat Harry, or Harriet if it’s a girl,” I said. We were at the Origen Café (again) and I had finished my Pita Pollo. Dad was still eating his chicken, Mom had given up on her Vegetarian Wok, and Ethan had eaten half his Caprese Pizza. Ethan and I were talking about pets.

“What if you’re still not obsessed with them?” he asked, meaning One Direction. Dad looked over at Ethan. “Them? Harry has multiple personalities now? Harry and Shavy?” I groaned. Everyone else laughed, and Mom said, “That’s something you don’t need to put in your post, Eryn.”

“What if I want to?”

“I will!” Ethan announced.

“Harry will be insulted,” I protested.

“It would be great if he was reading our website, but he’s not,” Mom pointed out.

You don’t know that, I thought. “Wouldn’t it be really great if he saw it? He would find out about it because I posted it!” Ethan went on. “Eryn would have to give me all the credit!”

Well, I don’t think Ethan wrote about that, so it’ll be all my fault if Harry sees himself on our website.

We woke up this morning hungry and expectant for waffles but guess what? Wafles Sur was closed! So we’ll try tomorrow… and the next day… and the next. I do hope it opens.

After our great disappointment to our great expectations, we wandered over to the Independencia subte station where we rode to San Martin Plaza. We walked from there up Santa Fe Avenue to Avenida 9 de Julio, which, at twenty lanes, is the widest boulevard in the world. And the Argentineans even drive on the right (and correct) side of the road!

We continued up Santa Fe to Libertad, where we got some more pesos. Pictures and video clips from a train crash were being shown on the TV.

We walked to a subte station, going into two pet stores where I saw a chinchilla dust bath, a Yorkie puppy, and some ferrets. Once we got to the other end of our subte ride, we looked at the cats in the botanical garden before walking on to Museo Evita, which was mostly in Spanish. Despite that, I think we left knowing more about Eva Perón, who died of cancer at thirty-three.

Ciao!

Talk and TV

Line of Duty was the only TV that any of our family was able to watch. Dad and Ethan watched it—with Spanish subtitles—after supper. The internet is down, so you won’t be reading this until at least the fifteenth of January.

Today we woke up about an hour earlier than usual to have breakfast (egg, orange, cereal, toast, milk) before catching the subte from San Juan on Line C to Retiro, also on Line C. We walked for about fifteen minutes from there to where the Sturla ferries leave for Tigre. Dad bought the tickets for the ten o’clock departure and we sat in the chairs and waited until about 9:55, at which point we boarded the boat.

We sat in the back, on benches in the shade, with an English-speaking mother who looked way too old to be wearing short shorts and her daughters, an older Latin American couple, and some others. Right inside the door were the galley and the toilets, and after that were the rows of seats. The female narrator of our tour was defended her status very strongly: “I am not a porteña. That is what people think when I go overseas: they say, ‘Where are you from?’ I say, ‘Argentina.’ They say, ‘Oh, you are an arrogant porteña.’ When I travel in Argentine, people say, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Buenos Aires.’ ‘Oh, you are an arrogant porteña.’ That is not true. I live in Buenos Aires province, not Buenos Aires city.”

We rode through the delta, munching on cookies and declining the offer of coffee. We saw the supermercado boat, and the taxi boats, and the boats with water-skiers behind them. After two hours (more or less), we arrived in Tigre. Ethan really wanted to go canoeing and to the amusement park, but instead we crossed the water and began the search for a restaurant. We finally stopped at Marie Lujan, where Dad ordered a Mediterranean salad, Mom chose a chicken Caesar salad, Ethan chose a Caprese salad, and I asked for a salad with cucumber, tomatoes, and, most importantly, lechuga.

At least I thought lettuce was pretty important. Apparently the cook didn’t, as I originally got a bowl with cucumber and tomato and nothing else in it. Dad originally received a salad with shrimp. Everything was straightened out, though, and I enjoyed my food and the slice of palm heart Dad gave to me. I especially liked the sauce for the bread. Delicioso.

To get home, we rode the tourist bus, two trains, and the subte. For supper we had pasta, fruit, cherry tomatoes, and ice cream (peach, Swiss chocolate, and Sumo chocolate) that Dad and I had gotten from Sumo while Mom and Ethan ogled the giant motorized skateboard.

Delicioso.

Ciao!

The Temple of Tortoni

What it was and what it is, but not quite, is what I stated in my title. It was the Scottish Temple, but now it is called the Café Tortoni. We went there today after a shopping adventure along Florida Street and looking at a courtyard that supposedly housed the escape tunnels for people of importance.

It was inaugurated in 1858, by a French man called Touan. It was named Tortoni after a coffee shop in Paris with the same name. There is a library in the large and comfortable area, along with a place in the back for playing games such as dice and billiards.

We sat in some chairs around a small table and sipped at our juices and milkshakes as we studied the surrounding architecture and wall hangings. There have been a lot of famous folk in the café, including Albert Einstein and Hillary Clinton. All in all, it is a pretty nice place.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Last of the Grocery Store Visits

(Not.)

I’m currently reading a book called Last of the Mohicans. I’ve been reading it since November. Since then, I’ve read about twenty other books. I’m 77% through Last of the Mohicans, though, so I’ll be sure to write when I finish.

Just today I finished books 99 through 101 on my Kindle. The ninety-ninth book I finished on my Kindle was about the Navajo code talkers in WWII. The hundredth book wasn’t really read on my Kindle—I read the paperback version a week ago. The 101st book was called My Louisiana Sky. That was part of my homework, which also included science.

We lounged around in the flat (again!) after visiting the Manzana de las Luces, which was not all it was said to be, the Florida Street market, and Café Tortoni. At Café Tortoni, Mom, Ethan, and Dad ordered juice and I selected a chocolate milk shake. Dad also got a biscuit. Café Tortoni occupies the spot formerly held by the Scottish Temple, or Templo Escocés.

On the way back home, we went shopping for eggs, vegetables, pasta, bread, and orange juice. We go grocery shopping basically every day.

Ciao!

French Fries in Italian Restaurants

We found another ice cream place! It’s called Sumo, and we got a quarter kilogram. Half is raspberry mousse and the other half is a really good chocolate flavor. That was after tasty supper of arroz con pollo, made by the Colombian woman who runs the restaurant next door. Thankfully some English-speaking Colombian tourists translated the verbal menu for us. Mom had thought that the restaurant was Italian because of the red and green decorations.

When we got our food, it was a pile of orange rice in the middle with a dob of ketchup on top and some yellowish brown things surrounding it.

“What’s this?” Ethan asked. “The chicken?” We all stared at him. Dad broke the silence. “Chicken? That’s a French fry.”

Today was a down day, so the only thing we did was go to the market in Plaza Dorrego. We all got fresh-squeezed orange juice, which will help Mom with her cold.

Anyway, I need to go. Everyone is watching old TV shows, like Hee Haw, without me.

Ciao!

Knife News

Today we went to the San Telmo Sunday Market at the Plaza Dorrego. There were a lot of shops, and there will probably be more of that later in this post. So I will not go in to detail right now. The Plaza is just two or three blocks down the street so we easily walked there to see what all of the talk was about.

There were a lot of shops dedicated to art at the beginning, and in between, there were some shops of screws and nails welded together to make little statuettes of rock stars and stuff. Then there was the loads full of antiques that ranged from colored glass bottles to old telephones. Finally, at the far end, were two of my favorite things that we saw there. One of them was a little stand were there were gel bags of gel that when you threw down on a hard surface, looked like they had exploded, but then morphed back into shape. The other shop that was my favorite was the one selling knives. There were old kitchen knives in some of the antique shops, but these ones were hunting knives and such. Several of them had interesting skin for the sheaths, and others were double bladed. Some were displayed stuck in sticks while others just stood alone with horn handles.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Rio de la Plata

The aforementioned river is a very large one. However, there will probably be more of that later towards the end of this post.

Buenos Aires is on the edge of a river. It is as simple as that why we would see a river, but the way that we saw it was different that just hopping on the bus and seeing it from a side window, we walked to the river. Being in the oldest part of town, the expanders expanded on all sides from San Telmo, so the wherever we walked to, it was a ways away.

We chose to go to the Ecological Reserve to view the river. It is a big reserve, but we walked through a lot of plain parks with lots of vendors. When we finally got to the reserve, we started walking through the annoyingly hot sun and down to the river bank. On the river bank, there were lots of people chilling in the shade of the many trees in benches or just on the ground. The view of the river was good, as we were on its bank. There was no end in sight of the Rio de la Plata, and there were freighter ships out in the harbor. After oohing and aahing and taking the necessary pictures of the river, we lounged under a particularly shady tree before heading back home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bon Appetit

Today’s menu several different courses and meals, starting with the breakfast and ending with the supper.

Appetizer of Breakfast

One boiled egg
Half of one orange

Entrée of Breakfast

Cereal

Side of Breakfast

Toast with jam and butter

Appetizer of Lunch

To increase your appetite, the chef has prepared a lovely walk for you from your dining table to the nearest Ecological Reserve. The drinks course is fresh-squeezed orange juice, made right in front of you.

Entrée of Lunch

On your way back to the dining table, you are obliged to stop at the local Dylan ice cream shop, where you may select two of sixty different flavors. A favorite combination is Mousse de Naranja and Mousse de Chocolate.

Side of Lunch

You will need to rehydrate after your 5.6 kilometer walk, so you should be sure to drink plenty of water. Cherry tomatoes are also to be enjoyed.

Appetizer of Supper

This is a meal that needs no introduction.

Entrée of Supper

Pizza is to be served tonight—extra cheesy (not particularly good cheese) with olives, garlic, and tomatoes. The crust is very thick.

Side of Supper

Chocolate biscuits may be enjoyed around the dining table.

We hope you enjoyed your food today.

Ciao!

Don’t cry for us

We are now in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. We traveled last weekend from Cape Town to Dubai. We visited there for a couple of days then flew on to BsAs.

Metro Madness

In most of the large cities that we have been to, there have been metro lines. In Sydney, New Delhi, Bangkok, and more, there were metro systems that could help people get places. One of the surprising facts was that there was no form of train or metro throughout the large metropolis of Cape Town.

Here in the Big Apple, there is a metro system that has five lines, A, B, C, D, H, and P. The one that we are closest to is the San Juan station on the D line. Last night, we went to check it out and to see what was needed. This morning, we got 4 one-way tickets to go anywhere for 10 pesos and headed off for the A line to see and ride the old original wooden train cars. The wooden trains come approximately every 3 trains, the others are the newer metal ones, and those were the ones that we wanted to ride. We eventually got on to a wooden train and sat down on the benches that were on each side of the train, jutting out like ribs. When we got to the end of the line, we just turned around and went back.

On the way back, we were in the front car and got to see out of the front window. The only problem with that was that everybody pushed my father and me out of the way and then kindly blocked the view. When we finally got off, we went up to the street to see the cemetery where Evita Peron is buried and the giant metal flower that is open in the day and closes at sunset for the night. In other news, I got a haircut by my father and I had to say goodbye to a lot of my hair…again.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Sales and Starbucks

 

The crypt next door to Evita's in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is for sale.

The crypt next door to Evita’s in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is for sale.

 

In case you’re interested, there is space available next to the Duartes’ mausoleum, which includes the brother, two of three sisters, mother, and body of former First Lady Eva Peron. I’ve provided contact information above.

Walking between the granite walls reminded me of walking through a street in BsAs—all doors, doors, doors with hardly any windows. Everything comes right up to the sidewalk—no set-back entrances (except for our apartment building).

We got to the Recoleta Cemetery after a joy ride in an old subway car on Linea A, a quick bite of ice cream, a long walk to the Floralis Genérica, some refreshments at Starbucks, and a quick view of the old cloisters. It was my first time as a real customer at Starbucks—and I got a bottle of water. Mom got a sour Raspberry Smoothie, Ethan ordered a Chocolate Crème, and Dad selected a Mocha Frappuccino and a chocolate cookie. When our orders were served, Ethan’s drink tasted coffee-y and Dad’s tasted very sweet and chocolaty. Turns out they had botched the orders, which were written on the side of the cup. So Dad complained and the problem was solved. I liked the Chocolate Crème a lot.

Floralis Genérica is a huge metal flower that opens at eight in the morning and closes at sunset. If strong winds blow, it also closes. The flower stays open on four nights of the year: the nights of May 25, September 21, December 24, and December 31. After we had seen seven cats in the cemetery, we started the long journey home.

There are 40,000 taxis in the city of Buenos Aires. Sadly we didn’t use one to get home: we walked for twenty minutes, got on Line D, switched to Line C, and then walked out from underground and home. Well, Dad and Ethan went home. Mom and I went to the supermercado for milk, bread, and soup ingredients. When we came back I unlocked the door and heard a clanking sound. I thought I’d dropped something. Turns out it was the other pair of keys, which were stuck in the door. Dad and Ethan were nowhere to be found.

We found them. Ethan’s hair is shorter.

Also, before we left this morning I watched the new “Kiss You” music video! (Which is by One Direction, naturally.)

Ciao!

Old Forts, New Tunnels

A long time ago, there was a fort here in Buenos Aires that had four sides and was on the riverfront. Since then, land has been placed all around it and the dirt has swallowed up where once a might river flowed. As more tourists have started coming to Buenos Aires, around 2010, they opened a museum where the lower level of the fort used to be.

Of course, with all of that filling in with dirt, the lower level of the fort is now below ground level, so to get down there, you have to go through an x-ray machine and then down three flights of stairs to arrive at the main floor of the museum. Interestingly, the outside doesn’t look to interesting, there is a steel and glass building that has x-ray machines inside.  How interesting. I liken the feeling of walking down there to walking through a tunnel. However, one of the differences in that is that there is a glass ceiling above you that lets in a lot of light.

In the displays, there are a lot of videos about the governments through the ages. There are several sashes that various presidents wore, and in one interesting panel, there was a knife with a golden handle and a squiggly blade, though sharp. There were several canes as well, and in one there were 2 army helmets. On the opposite wall, there were a several paintings.

One of them stood out because it was very complex; there was a giant woman lying on the ground with a great bloody hole in her side, and held up on her left hand, there is Evita Peron. There is also an island of bread, and in the front, there are three groups in the foreground. Those three groups are from three different time periods. In one there are just swords, in the next there is a sword and a musket, and in the last one there is a machine gun. There were also several more parts that were very confusing, but the main focus was the dead/dying women lying on the ground holding Evita Peron.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Holas & Helado

We returned to Plaza de Mayo today where we walked around Casa Rosada, famous for its pink color and Eva Peron’s balcony speech, and into the Museo del Bicentenario. There we walked from Argentina’s founding to Eva Peron’s death to a bloody headscarf from a Madre of Plaza de Mayo to current Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s election in 2007. On the opposite wall were paintings by various local artists.

Our next stop was the Metropolitan Cathedral. On our way back home, we saw a protest in the street. The street was blocked off by police motorbikes, and policemen in bulletproof vests were standing nearby, ready for action. We’ve seen plenty of policemen and police cars as we live close to a police station. That police station is near the helado shop Dylan, which is where we had our sweets course. I enjoyed a mix of chocolate mousse and banana split ice creams after our several-kilometer walk through the sun, during which Dad and I talked about graffiti and the dripping of the air conditioners on apartments.

Ethan and I had to do schoolwork once we got home. Dad took a nap while Mom did stuff on the computer. Mom and Ethan eventually went to the supermercado for milk, butter, and tomatoes. I chose a place for supper called La Covacha de Chicho on the street fifty feet away called Chacabuco. It was closed. Next we tried El Refuerzo, also on Chacabuco. It was a bar. We were going to try the place right next door to our flat but instead we chose a restaurant between the police station and Dylan. Dad and I had the chicken breast with “dissected” tomatoes (they were actually sundried—it was lost in the translation) and olives, Ethan had marinated chicken cubes with carrots, and Mom had an omelet.

Ciao!

BSAS and Adventures of the Dripping Air Conditioners

BSAS is what the locals around here use in shorthand terms for Buenos Aires, using the first and last letters of each word to form a four-letter acronym that has a repetition to make it sound interesting while not too eye catching. Most cities back in the United States don’t have any shorthand terms for their names, except for maybe Washington, District of Colombia and Los Angeles.

Now that I have fulfilled telling you about part of my title, the first part, I will endeavor to tell you about the second part. I have often mentioned to the rest of my family when we walk around outside that it is raining, but whenever someone looks up, all they can see is blue sky. I write here before you to tell you that there is finally a solution to that poser that I (and the rest of my family) have come up with: Air Conditioners. It is in the heat of the searing summer that we have arrived in Argentina, and most people are inside with their air conditioning on high and just sitting around. As all of those air conditioners drip, whenever you walk under one; drip, drip, drip, it feels like there is rain in the air, though it is stifling hot and the sky is clear.

That’s all for now, Folks!

What Doesn’t Make the Buses Beautiful

I do not want to ride the yellow tourist bus(es) ever again. Ever. I know it’s wonderful to be able to do it here in Argentina—an option most people don’t receive—but it’s not very enjoyable to sit on a sticky seat beneath the blistering sun in the oppressive heat of a summer day in Buenos Aires listening to the unvaried music and a nasal voice bore you with information about where you’re going and what you’re seeing.

There are twenty-six stops on the route. We stepped out at the last stop before the salida, or exit. It was wonderful to finally get rid of the spongy black headphones and feel the zephyr toy with our hair as we walked down the avenue to the same place where we got money yesterday. Mom, Ethan, and I sat in the same chairs as Dad got the pesos we needed. That was followed by a visit to the Libertad Café where I selected a scrumptious salad while the other three shared a Napolitana Pizza.

Our stroll to the omnibus station was 1.6 kilometers. Once there Dad got our tickets for our future ride to Bariloche, Argentina, and then we piled into a taxi for the drive home, which was four kilometers. Our sweets course for lunch was taken at Dylan, an ice cream shop with a whopping sixty flavors. I had chocolate and frambuesa, but my favorite part was when “What Makes You Beautiful” (by One Direction, of course!) played.

Ciao!

Death Marching in the City

We woke up late this morning so we didn’t get out of the flat until after 9:30, which didn’t go over particularly well. We walked to Plaza de Mayo, up to the Obelisk, and to the intersection of Santa Fe and Libertad streets. We got some cash there and then walked back through Plaza Libertad. Dad walked around the outside looking for chips for the phones while Mom, Ethan, and I walked diagonally through the middle.

We walked back home the way we came, passing Teatro Colón, Casa Rosada, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. We also stopped at Stop 0 on the tourist bus route to get more information. After more walking, we got home around three in the afternoon. We walked at least eight kilometers today—no small feat for someone wearing Toms.

Ethan and I did schoolwork (science, US history, and math) until supper, which consisted of ravioli and squash. I started reading See You at Harry’s, which, sadly, is not about Harry Styles.

“We’re going on a walk,” Ethan announced just as it started raining. We walked down to a bakery where we bought a Brownie Coronada, or crowned brownie. It was delicious.

Ciao!

Bus Business

Today we went out and about in Buenos Aires. What we wanted to do at the beginning of the day was go to the closest information center and buy bus tickets for the yellow ‘Hop-on, Hop-off’ buses. We went out and saw the famed Plaza de Mayo before hurriedly continuing on to do what we had to do. But when we got to where the map said the information center was, lo and behold, the information center was closed. Luckily, however, they had left a sign in the window saying where the new one was and how to get there.

We left the second station to go get some cash that we had wired to ourselves. We found the place eventually, and after getting our money, we went to the store and bought a drink. When we finished drinking that, we looked at the obelisk that we had passed on the way to the money place, before finding the start of the yellow bus route. We saw the very long line and but that spot to memory before finding that they street that was under construction that housed the closed information center was actually the street that we wanted to go back up on. With that worthwhile piece of information, we started up the street to go back home.

That’s all for now, Folks!

When in Buenos Aires

For those of you who don’t know, Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina, a large country in South America. We arrived here last night after a really long day after flying west from Dubai for at least 14 hours straight. When we got through all of the paperwork at the airport, we got a taxi and drove to the apartment where we are now.

After we woke up this morning, we got up and went out walking to try and find a place to eat breakfast. We sadly weren’t able to do that because we got some pastries and then went back home with a few other groceries that we had gotten. Luckily, at home, we put together some of our new groceries to form a breakfast that was good. After that, we worked on things that we should do in BA before going out for dinner. After a nice dinner, we went on a walk, before getting back to the apartment and getting ready for bed.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bright ‘n’ Early in BA

I got to sleep in this morning! It’s also nice to have a room of my own. Before you judge me, remember that I haven’t had a room to myself in about forty days. It’s also a nice room because the sheets are pink and the curtain has butterflies on it. All three bedrooms are upstairs and so are the two bathrooms. Ethan has a small bed with brown, red, and blue sheets, and Mom and Dad have an en-suite bathroom. There’s a bathroom between Ethan’s room and the little utility area, which is behind a locked door on a balcony beside my room. Only Ethan has a balcony in his bedroom.

Downstairs is the living area complete with a kitchen, balcony, half-bath, TV, dining area, couch, washing machine, and Argentina and Buenos Aires guidebooks. We are in the San Telmo neighborhood of BA. La Boca, Barracas, Constitucion, Monserrat, and Puerto Madero are its neighbors.

After we were finally done waking up and having breakfast and all that good stuff, it was about 1 pm. Dad worked on the getting working phones, Mom napped, Ethan read, and I added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided away. Dad finally got the phones working (a huge relief), and Sergio, the man who watches the apartment and lives in Number 13 (we’re in Number 2), fixed the hot water heater.

We walked down to Peru Street to the Origen Café for supper. We all had sandwiches and water. It was surprisingly easy to read the menu even if it was in Spanish. Words like “pan” and “ensalada” and “agua” are pretty easy to figure out.

Once supper was over, we walked down to Balcarce Street past Plaza Dorrego and back up to our flat. It’s good to be eating Tim-Tams from South Africa in the capital of Argentina.

Ciao!

Hi from Dubai

We have been in Dubai only three days, but we have done a lot in the little time that we have had. On the first day, we went skiing in the mall, on the second day, we went to Wild Wadi, and today we went somewhere else. That may sound vague, but if you read what follows, it might not sound so vague.

Today we went to the only open mosque in Dubai. The open means open to the public, and there are about 2000 other mosques in Dubai, but this one was the only open one. At the mosque, we learned about what Muslims believe. When we finished with that, we took a taxi to the Dubai Mall, one of the largest ones in the world. There, we took a snack of cupcakes, and then we went outside to the dancing fountain, which can shoot water 50 stories up into the air. From there, we looked up at the tallest building in the world and took photos, before heading back to the Hilton.

That’s all for now, Folks!

(Almost) Done in Dubai

The United Arab Emirates like to be the “-est.” That means that they like to have the biggest, tallest, bestest stuff on Earth. They have one of the largest malls, Dubai Mall. Emirates (the airlines) have the largest order, 90, for Airbus A380s. They have the tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the largest dancing fountain, and the only seven-star hotel, and also the fourth-tallest hotel, on the planet (that would be the Burj al Arab).

Before that, though, we went to the Jumeirah Mosque. Our tour guide had moved to UAE with her Muslim husband from England. She became a Muslim and now makes jokes to the tourists. When she was demonstrating how close they stand when they pray, she talked about how men and women don’t mix.

“How hard would it be to focus with two strange men rubbing against you on either side?” she asked. “Unless, of course, it was George Clooney.”

We rode in a taxi to the Dubai Mall. It was our first non-Pakistani driver: he was from Afghanistan. The general opinion of our former taxi drivers seems to be that Dubai is a place to make a living but it’s not home.

Our time in Dubai ends tomorrow when we embark on a 30-hour plane ride to Argentina. The general air of Dubaians is “It’s good here if you’re rich. It’s a fun place to be and it’s great but it’s very artificial.”

Ciao!

Wild Wadi Ways

I only went to six of the eleven attractions at Wild Wadi Waterpark, but I had fun nonetheless. My first ride was Burj Surj, which I did with Ethan. It was no lines, no waiting, which was pretty awesome as it was already 11:00, one hour after opening time.

In Burj Surj, we got flushed down to “toilets” in a round inner tube with a plastic bottom that hit the first bump hard. Then we decided to go on Tantrum Alley, where we only had to wait about five minutes. Tantrum Alley was by far the better water slide with three different tornadoes, where you go up and down the rounded walls, getting splashed and soaked on the way. Next we went hunting for Mom. We finally found her getting on White Water Wadi, and we called her name, but she didn’t hear us. So Ethan went knee-boarding on the Wipeout Flowrider while I went looking for the exit of White Water Wadi. It was actually the entrance, but I didn’t have to figure that out—I eventually found the other 75% of my family.

Ethan and I then took Mom on Tantrum Alley, convincing her by saying things like, “Yeah, this is the better one. This is a good one for you. Burj Surj is bad. No, this just has the tornadoes, not the toilet bowls.” I thought she was going to cry by the look on her face as we flew down the slide, but she didn’t. I hadn’t noticed it before, but the first drop leads to a tornado. I knew that, but I didn’t realize there was a two-foot high wall. I didn’t realize it was that short.

After Tantrum Alley, we went back up to Burj Surj, then I went twice on White Water Wadi. We found Ethan again at the Riptide Flowrider, which is where you get lessons. When he was done, Mom, Ethan, and I went on the Flood River Flyer, which ends up in the same places as White Water Wadi. Our meal there of pizza, ice cream, and hot chocolate was good. Ethan went on the super-fast Jumeirah Sceirah. I declined the invitation.

We then re-rode several rides, floated on the Lazy River, swam in Breaker’s Bay, and finally piled into a taxi to go back to the Hilton. After freshening up, we went across the street to a Lebanese restaurant for a light supper.

Ciao!

Sceirah Scariness

Today we went to Wild Wadi Water Park next to the Burj Al Arab Hotel. The Burj Al Arab is the hotel that I mentioned in yesterday’s post about being the one and only 6 Star hotel in the world. It is shaped like a boat and it is on its own island. There is a helipad up on the top floor that you can use to get to it with an extra charge. Wild Wadi is right next to it, but on the mainland. There are 7 real slide-like things along with two rivers that go round and round, a waterfall, a water playground, and  wave pool.

The slide that I am probably going to focus on the most is the Jumeirah Sceirah, a speed slide. First, the rider climbs up and up and up on a winding wooden staircase. When the rider gets through the queue, they get locked in a glass or perplex chamber with water running down their back. Then they cross their arms across their chests and cross their legs, before a feminine voice says, ‘Three, two, one.’ Then there is a pneumatic hiss and the floor beneath the feet of the rider vanishes, leaving them going down, down, down. It levels out, but that is only a calm between storms. After that, there is another downhill, but this one not as steep, before leveling out into a trough of water to slow the rider down enough for them to get out. I did that, and it was cool, though kind of freaky.

There were also some rides that were interesting; you get a bogey-board like board and jump down a wide trough where there are jets of water coming out at regular intervals that jet you back up towards the starting point. If you are good at it, you can stay on for the whole timed 90 seconds by going back and forth and avoiding the end, where there is a strong current and you get flushed out. One guy was doing it and did it wrong and lost his pants.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Skiing, Skidding, and (Not Enough) Sleeping

Yesterday we started off our day hoping to go up Table Mountain after two days of it being closed. Lots of other people had the same idea, apparently, as by the time we got there at 9 a.m. (one hour or so after opening time) police were directing traffic and the line of cars stretched from the lower station to Kloof Nek Road. We gave up and drove up towards Lion’s Head to the Visitors’ Centre, where we turned around and headed back down to Kloof Nek. We waited for the traffic officer, Munde, to give us a sign to go forward, which he eventually did. We went and were going to do a sort-of-U-turn when BANG!!!

Out of nowhere comes a man named John and his little blue car. One of his tires burst in the collision. Our bumper was damaged, making our scratch from a shopping cart disappear. We were so close to not having to pay any extra on the Hertz car (we didn’t get insurance). Five hours.

Later at the airport, Dad took care of the Hertz business while Mom, Ethan, and I lounged inside the terminal. Eventually we checked in (no visa problems here!), went through security, ate salads at Mugg & Bean, browsed the books at Exclusive Books, and finally boarded our flight to Johannesburg. It was relatively uneventful. We landed on the Oliver R. Tambo International Airport tarmac at approximately 8:30 p.m. In the line for Immigration we eavesdropped on the British and Australian people’s conversation before officially leaving South Africa for the second time this trip.

Our flight to Dubai was about eight hours long. I watched four episodes of Modern Family and part of Brave. Sleep, staring out the window at the sand, lights, and sunrise, and eating are included in those eight hours as well. Oh, and I also watched a 45-minute One Direction video!

We got through the Dubai airport with now real issues except lack of sleep. All of us piled in a taxi and we rode for about twenty minutes before arriving at our Hilton. There we waited for two hours before both of our rooms were ready. After showers we met in the lobby and caught a bus to the Mall of the Emirates. We had a quick supper of sandwich-like things at a restaurant before Ethan and I hit the slopes at Ski Dubai. My only complaint is that I didn’t get gloves and my fingers are still swollen. I think it’s silly that they called any of the runs a black, claiming that they have the only indoor black run in the world. There’s a sign saying “Experts Only.”

Well, then.

I guess that proves it.

I’m an expert.

Ciao!

Skiing in the Desert

Out in the middle of the desert, several countries huddle together to form a peninsula out to the sea, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia are some of them. One of the countries is the United Arab Emirates, and in that country, there is a large city called Dubai, which we are in now. Dubai hosts the world’s tallest building, and a lot of smaller ones, too. There is a beach and a marina and several malls. We are staying in the Hilton on the beach. The largest mall in the world is here in Dubai, too, it is called the Dubai Mall.

Last evening, we got into our plane after solving the rental car crisis that broke out because we crashed the car in the last 5 hours. We had planned to go up Table Mountain that day, but there were too many people so we turned around and went back home. At a corner, we went at the same time that someone else went another direction and collided. That was annoying. After playing putt-putt, we left and headed to the airport. From there we flew to Johannesburg and from there to Dubai on a long overnight flight where I got little sleep.

Today, after watching the sunrise from the plane window, we disembarked from the plane and went through all the necessary paperwork and such before heading to our hotel. The hotel had messed up our reservations so we had to wait an hour to get into our rooms. After a shower and a change of clothes, we went to the Mall of the Emirates, where there is the largest indoor ski resort on the planet. Eryn and I skied a lot. There were two ways of getting up the slope; one was going on a standard lift, and the other was hanging on to a metal bar connected to a moving cable and riding up-hill by being dragged. The slopes themselves were cool, at the top there was some easy stuff, and then there was a fork in the road with a café in the middle. If you went left, facing down, you would go down a blue square, or moderate difficulty, run before arriving at the bottom of the lift. At some point of time in that, you could cut off and go on the half-pipe. If you had gone right at the fork, you would go down fairly steep stuff before it leveled out and arrived back at the bottom. It was really fun. I did all that I told you, but the one thing that I didn’t do was go on a trick course because I prefer downhill skiing, not flying skiing.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Traffic Jams

Today my father was reading about things to do in Dubai, and one of the things on the list was the following:

Traffic Jams: One of the few free things to do in Dubai

Today, we had our own encounter with a traffic jam when we were trying to get up Signal Hill. There was a car parked in the middle of the road and all the people behind were stuck. The people behind couldn’t move, and blocked a bus from completing a turn, so that stopped both lanes…all because of one car. When we finally got on to the top and parked, we stared down at Cape Town and the ocean for a while, seeing several helicopters with buckets hanging down, clueing us in to the fact that there was a fire down on the ocean side of Lions Head. On the drive down from the hill, we passed near to where the fire was and saw that it was raging through a large garden of trees. I think it may be put out now, but I am not sure.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Cape Chaos

Today was our last full day in Cape Town. Tomorrow we fly to Johannesburg at five o’clock, continuing on to Dubai. We spent it lounging around, enjoying our warm showers, this morning and then revisiting the Company’s Garden, Signal Hill, and Gelato Mania, which was closed. The line up to Signal Hill was long and painful.

“Why are we doing this?” I griped. “For one last look,” Dad replied. “You’ll never forget this,” Mom added.

We walked around the top of the hill one last time and then drove down. This was after our visit to the Company’s Garden, where Ethan fed lots of pigeons. We then tried Gelato Mania before heading home for supper, where Mom fed us sweet-and-sour rice and vegetables with oranges. We then stood out on the Promenade and watched our last Cape Town sunset.

Now we have to fully pack.

Ugh.

Ciao!

Happy New Year!

Our time in South Africa is drawing to a close. Tomorrow we head to Dubai for a week or so whilst on our way to Argentina. We have been six months in countries that drive on the left-hand side of the road, but will be amongst right-siders for the rest of our trip. methinks.

At this point in our travels, we have traversed about 82 degrees of latitude (from 47 degrees north to 35 degrees south), and 223 degrees of longitude (123 degrees west to 14 degrees east), many of those degrees twice as we’ve flown to a fro. Not around the world yet, but making good progress.