Monday

We're back















Back in Valdivia, Chile. The land of Lobo Marinos and villain birds. We were last here in March, when the weather was much warmer. Now it is winter and the night air keeps our toes numb and noses running.

It isn't freezing though, and during the day it is normal to have a nice outdoor walk with only a couple of jackets.

When we got here there were a million ideas hovering around for the restaurant/bar that had just opened. After spinning our knobs to "realistic" and adjusting our sonar to "tasty", we developed an entirely new menu.

Giant submarine sandwiches!

Though common in the US, they are unheard of here. We had a fresh idea and began to design the sandwiches and promotions.

In Chile, a vegetarian- only eatery won't fly (or dive in this case). So half the menu is veggie and the other half is omnivorous. We got to work right away and the sandwiches are going over really well. Everyone who has eaten there has left with "complements to the chef".

As for promotions, we painted brightly colored subs on large pieces of cardboard and cut them out, with plans to wheat paste them all over the city with the restaurants address.

We are happy to be back in Valdivia, and this time around we are discovering a whole other side to the city.

I'm sure this entry isn't cute enough for all of you so...
One of the owners dogs (the female one). Had four puppies last night.

There, happy.

Thursday

33 Hour Bus Ride


(Happy Jameson waiting for the bus)



A tad traumatizing, but made more enjoyable by the snowy mountain passes with giant monkey puzzle trees. The road between the Chilean and Argentinian boarder was covered with ice. I suppose the government only saves its ice-salt for the stips of curving pavement that if misjudged would send you plummeting down the Andes Mountains. Obviously, from this posting, we survived the journey. So I guess it wasn´t that bad. But now doubt, there is nothing natrual about a 33 hour bus ride.

Tuesday

Departing thoughts on Argentina















Argentina, certainly the most European of South American countries, left us with a sort of relief.

Don't get me wrong we enjoyed our stay in Argentina very much. Especially Buenos Aires, but that city is pretty much another country on its own.

So back to Argentina in general.
It has a similar spirit to a stoner. No real concept of time and really friendly, but laughs at you a lot, doesn't make much sense and eats all your food.
Here are some examples:

In the morning people camp out in line at the bank to be able to withdraw money before the ATMs run out of money. These lines almost certainly wrap around a couple blocks.

Last Monday was a holiday, but no Argentine could tell us why.

While visiting our favorite Buenos Aires pizza joint, San Antonio. We often hoped there will be a futball game on TV, and indeed as always in the stomping-grounds of old men, there was. It was strange though, all that was being shown were videos of the audience. We asked the waiter about it and he informed us that their modest little pizza place didn't have enough money to pay for the cable channel which featured the actual game, but they did get this audience reaction channel. Our friend Tom, who was eating with us, reflected, "it's quite endearingly sad, isn't it?" This is the degree of dedication to futbal in Argentina.

Before we hopped on the bus back to Chile, Jameson needed to mail a package to his family. We went to the Buenos Aires international post which is right across the street from the bus station. People were pouring out the door. We went to take a number from the ticket machine which dispenses the number in which you will be helped. At 10:15AM, fifteen minuets after the post opened we snatched number 270. At that time number 30 was being served. We left with the package, deciding to just send it in Chile.

It seems that urgency is something they only do while driving, and organization only makes it to the bar to watch futball. The flow of the whole country is a river of molasses. It has taught us that our speedy US mentality sometimes needs a drink and a comfy seat.
Sometimes its ok to be late or forget why you went outside in the first place.

Wait...what was I writing about?

Sunday

Déjà Vu

Please reference entry #100, Friday, June 12, 2009. Then apply the "Change of Plans" formula here. Cut. Paste. Change. So originally we were going to stay in Buenos Aires, now we aren't. Cooking jobs were easy to acquire, while all english schools that Laney applied to as a sub wanted an 8 month commitment. So what to do?

Well after a discouraging day of interviews and hunting for Laney work, we came "home" to an email from our old friends Jana and Mathi in Valdivia, Chile. It said they were opening a bar with vegetarian tapas and wanted us to come work for them. We got this email 3 days ago and we leave tomorrow for Chile, on a 31 hour bus ride. Yep THIRTY ONE hours! Atlantic to Pacific. Valdivia is also pretty far south, so winter will indeed be felt.

We will be in Valdivia for 2 months, saving enough money to travel to a warm area during the US's winter when we return. Hey, would you want two winters in a row? No.
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Pictured Above:
A flower bought by Jameson for 3.55 pesos. It was given to Laney on her discouraging day, in hopes of cheering her up.

Monday

Jesus Land

A few days ago we took a long awaited field trip to "tierra santa" or "saint land". We first learned about Tierra Santa from a guide book that only dedicated a few sentences to its wonder, saying "An 18 meter Jesus with 36 mechanical movements rises every hour from Salvation Mountain". That my friends is all it took, we had to go to there.

As you walk towards the entrance the sidewalks are lined with plaster, suspended angels welcoming you with harps and heavenly smiles. We bought our tickets and were magically transported to a miniature recreation of the bible and Jerusalem. After giggling like fools at a naked Eve we entered the first show, an animatronic nativity scene. The voice of spanish God narrated the entire event. Lights and angles twirled across the sky, classical music blasted while mechanical three kings bowed before Jesus with robot Mary and Joseph close by. Then as the symphony staccatoed their last recorded note the music and lights suddenly drop, leaving only baby Jesus illuminated by rays of light bursting from behind his head. Wow, we were off to a great start.

Next we entered the city to find it covered with statue scenes of Jesus's life. While taking pictures Laney noticed something was emerging out of the near by mountain of Calvary. It was Him, the 18 meter, robotic Christ himself. He spun around the mountain facing all the areas of the park. Then he turned his hands and head towards the sky and floated into heaven...Just kidding he descended back into the mountain, but his hands and head did look up to the sky and it was still freakin cool!

After marveling at Jesus's robotic wonder we headed to "Creation". A laser light and animatronic interpretation of Genesis chapter one. The show starts with a burst of green lasers and fog. Then the voice of spanish God speaks and creates the heavens and the earth. The stage lights brighten and reveal a vacant "rain forest" land, complete with water falls. Then spanish God drops some robotic animals in, a lion here, an elephant there, and so on. The animals chill for awhile in their awesome jungle world and then spanish God creates robot Adam and robota Eve. The music builds as the green lasers return and a burst of fog enters Eden. All of spanish God's robot creatures turn towards the source of green laser and the room immediately fills with light and theatrical music.
Even after the show had ended, when the house lights were up and the people were leaving we remained seated, staring ahead with our mouths open.

Before we left we both applied for jobs at the information desk.
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For more pictures of Tierra Santa check our Flickr at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35932421@N05/sets/72157619655817101/

Friday

Living just enough...just enough for the city.













In keeping with tradition we have once again made a change of plans. Originally we were headed to Twelve Tribes a religious community outside of Buenos Aires. But it seems the fair winds of this sweet city have charmed us into its grasps, and like the snake in Jungle Book we are happily swallowed whole.

The dilemma of course is how we maintain our cheap ass mentality in the big city. Solution, get jobs and sleep in a friends living room. That dear friend is Gustavo. An amigo of Laneys during her abroad life in Spain. Gustavo, a native of Argentina, lives in an oddly shaped house well within city limits. To match the houses unusual floor plan Gustavo has decorated the place with painted mannequins, childhood toys and scattered clothes in pizza boxes. To give you a visual take Pee Wee's Play House and combine it with the apartment in Half Baked. Our first morning in the house we were awoken by a dancing, flashing chicken playing a techno version of the official "chicken song". We love it here, to say the least.

Next the job hunt. With laneys superpower of bilingualness she was a potential shoe in for a teaching position, but what would Jameson do? Well a few nights ago, after one of our many "jam sessions" at the house. We were sitting around the kitchen hanging out and Gustavo happened to mention to his friends the mexician food we had made for him that night. His friends tried some of Jamesons homemade tortillas and said, "Hey, we actually need a cook right now at our to go restaurant. You need a job?"

It was that easy, Jameson started the next day and Laney has and interview tomorrow.

Staying here has been amazing, Gustavo and his friends are some of the most genuine people ever!

Take home lesson: It's all about who you know.

Monday

Pop art and antique architecture

Buenos aires has this thriving culture of artists and musicians. You can tell its been this way for decades. Its not like other places that go through cycles of revival and hibernation. Here in the city impressive pop images are painted on the side of stone cut walls and rot iron balconies.

The pollution of simple `one tone´ tags are the minority among the stencles, wheat pastings and muruals. The streets contain the kind of graffiti you actually enjoy looking at. Its a breath of fresh air actually. The problem that ocurrs in most places once street art becomes popular is that any loser can grab a spray paint can and twirl their name. Usually covering someone elses well done wall peice. It seems though that Buenos Aires is consistantly producing more enjoyable muruals.

Antique shops are spilling chaotically from all the hidden corners with chandaliers and phonographs. In in one we found a 1970s fender jazz bass and a gibson SG rotting between embossed velvet chairs and limbless babydolls. Seems like the people here don't know what they've got. The other day we roamed through the San Telmo sunday market. There were musicians everywhere, tango dancers giving demonstrations, vendors selling antique lace, pins and bottles, and one man selling empanadas the size of
my head. The refined 1920s stye of buenos aires is alive and thriving. And at the same time fusion groups play music all over the town. Street preformers stand in the pedestrian walkways every day with their painted bodies and tin cans.

`Fusion´ I think that may be the best word to describe Buenos Aires.


It is like an elegant cartoon.



Thursday

Buenos Aires, which literally means "Good or Fair Winds" is an abbreviation of its former name, "Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa Maria del Buen Ayre". In english "City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Wind". This was luckily shortened to "Fair Winds" or Buenos Aires, which is where we are now, three days into our one week vacation in the city.
We rented an apartment for a week, where we are currently indulging in things we couldn't do at the Hare Krishna community...
Things like eating onions and listening to non-krishna music.

The apartment we rented is beautiful and its great to be able to sleep in and spend the day at our own pace.

Yesterday we went to a farmers market that was located on an abandoned train yard. Greens were growing between the tracks and tomato vines stretched up corpses of box cars. Places like this give me hope for sustainable life combined with city living.
Maybe we will find opportunities to start projects like this when we get home, wherever home may be.

Monday

Michael has arrived!


Right in time for the rain and cold. First thing he did here in argentina was grab a hoe and dig in the garden. Exhausted and jet lagged after eating a plate of polenta and beet leaf fritters, he passed out until night fall. Michael is taking the terrible weather in stride. Its nice to have such a laid back and open hearted friend.