Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa is coming and so is everyone else......

Yesterday was our first really warm day since we arrived in Bariloche, so we joined all the locals at the shore of the lake. Families sat on the beach with their thermos of mate (a local tea loaded with tradition and ritual), and children waded and tossed little rocks into the waves.
The kids immediately went wading
Naomi just wanted to swim, but the lake is way too cold!
Phoebe in her favorite pose for the camera.... We must have 15 pictures of her posing like this.
Here's Chloe after her freezing cold dip in the lake!
Here I am getting yet another sunburn... I have since bought a hat.
The beach was beautiful when we left at dusk.
This is downtown Bariloche, as you can see a storm is brewing...
This picture was near the beach looking uptown.
This is looking out the window of our condo. Mike took it on a fairly gloomy day.
School has ended here in South America and it seems everyone in this country (and many, many others) head to Patagonia. Traffic has increased A LOT and we're starting to hear more people speaking english on the streets, as well as portuguese, german, french and more. On the plus side we are signing the lease on our new apartment this week, and thanks to the 20 hours of spanish class the girls took this week we're finally ready for Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The kitty litter crisis and more...

Today we resolved many little and big problems. First we finally found more kitty litter. On Friday the cleaning lady (yes,this place has a maid....it's awesome!), cleaned out the cat box and put in the small remaining amount of litter we had in the bag. On Friday we started combing the supermarkets looking for cat litter with no luck. By Saturday it was incredibly urgent.... By Sunday we added newspaper (much to my cat's dismay)... And then today we gave up on the little markets and found a pet store with bags and bags of cat litter... I've never been so happy to see the stuff!
I've also found enough candles for the last two nights of Hanukkah. I think they're really Christmas candles and I had to hand carve each one to fit in the menorah, but they'll do.
Last but certainly not least we may have found an apartment. It has three bedrooms and an amazing view of the lake. It's next to the city center and on the seventh floor. I hope we get it, we're really excited. My two youngest thought it was great, but Chloe was bothered by the unusual smells you notice when looking at city apartments. Oh well not everyone can be happy....

Friday, December 7, 2007

getting used to it all....

Well, it's been over a week now since we've arrived and we're slowly adjusting to our new environment. Yesterday we went on a tour to a little town nestled in the Andes. It was great to get out of the city and even more amazing to return "home" to the condo. It made us realize we want to stay in this city and try to find something permanent here.

While we waited for the bus to pick us up Mike took this picture of the condo we're staying in for the month. It's the little wood building in the center.

This is a nice house nestled in the Andes. The bus ride to El Bolson was a beautiful one, but sitting in the back of the swerving shaking bus was pretty nauseating. Poor Phoebe lost her breakfast.

One of the many beautiful scenes outside the bus window on our ride.

Here's the girls on the bridge at a trout farm outside of El Bolson. They're over the pond with the adult fish, 6 to 8 months old. The kids loved this place.

Some of the juvenile trout at the farm. They are 2-4months old. They let us feed the adult trout. It was amazing how these huge fish would frenzy and jump out of the water to get the food.

There were so many dogs and cats at the farm and Naomi loved them all. This saint bernard puppy tried to follow the girls around.

 Phoebe at the trout farm.

This is a tree sculpture near the amazing artisan's market in El Bolson. The market was dusty, but not too crowded with good (and safe) food and a great collection of incredibly cheap crafts. El Bolson is at an elevation of 4000 ft whereas Bariloche is 7000ft so even though it's farther south, it's soo-o much hotter!

This is Rio Azul outside of El Bolson. To get to this vista the tour bus drove up a dusty dirt road quite a distance, through a "barrio" of the town with homes that were missing doors and windows. The tour guide joked that "all these people have such nasty homes with cars that are nicer than mine!"
This is really a beautiful part of the world. I just signed the children up for a week of Spanish immersion. The 20 hours of childcare will be useful while we try and find an apartment. ....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cerro Otto and Bariloche

Our first few days in Bariloche have been quite something. We've been learning about the city. Sorting out the food(the supermarket's very interesting), and doing some sight seeing. We also managed to pick up our cat, Pushy, at the airport yesterday. She traveled separately and wound up being boarded in Buenos Aires over the weekend. She came off the plane with her traveling companions of about 100 chickens and a lot of luggage (yes-she kept company with chickens in the cargo area!). She's a lot skinnier but adjusting well.


While walking through the artisan's market place in Bariloche's city center we found a little troll that looks just like "Dobby".

While we waited for the bus in the city the kids climbed a tree.

We took a cable car to the top of Cerro Otto (one of the nearby mountain peaks).

Here are the kids waiting for the cable car to launch.

In the building at the top was a gallery dedicated to Michelangelo. This is a 3/4 replica of the David.

The girls looking out from the top. Searching for the lake monster!

The view from the top. Below is the lake.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

We're Here!

¡Hola! We made it! We arrived here at the condo in Patagonia, late last night. The kids were soooo excited that they stayed up past 1am (past 11pm New York time).

Our first challenge came with the rental car from Greenville to the airport. The only available car from ANY rental place in the Albany area was a sedan. So for the first time in almost four years we had to cram our family of 5 into a sedan with 10 pieces of luggage and 6 carry-on bags. So two hours after Animals Away came to pick up Pushy (our cat), off we drove with our knees to our chins to JFK International Airport in NYC, Wednesday afternoon. We did surprisingly well and arrived with plenty of time. By the time we boarded our flight at 10:10pm we were pretty wiped but glad to be really on our way.

The flight itself, other than being incredibly uncomfortable was fairly uneventful. The kids slept, though Chloe and I woke up at 3am (NY time) over the rain forest. The plane was shaking badly and I could see lightning flashing out the window past Phoebe's head. I hate flying through lightening storms. Whoever told me international flights were more comfortable and nice than domestic ones was obviously lying to make me feel better.

Traveling in Argentina with the girls is like having a VIP pass. Everyone here loves children. They cut us through the line at customs in Beunos Aires, and didn't open or inspect a single bag. Even though we managed to get through 27 lessons of Pimsleur's Spanish before we left, I seem to just say "Si" and "Gracias" all the time with a big grin on my face. All those phrases I know escape me at the worst moments.

Our first impression of Beunos Aires is HOT. It's summer here and there are palm trees so that means sub tropical. It reminded me of being in Manhatten in the summer, something I tried to avoid when I lived there. We stayed in a hotel on Avenea Florida (a pedestrian only street in the city center).

Immediately on arriving in our hotel room Naomi went into the bathroom and came out 45 seconds later drenched from head to toe. " Mommy there's a fountain!". I went into the bathroom to see she turned on the bidet and everything was soaked . All the toilet paper, and tissues, the floor, the walls.

Thursday evening we walked the kids to a beautiful park across the street. The kids played on the playground for two hours and I was so proud of Chloe, she made a friend right away. She took the little girl's address right there in the park and said she'd write. They teach english in the schools here and the girl was 12 years old and VERY interested in Chloe.

Friday morning we checked out of the hotel and went off to the airport, beginning our third day of travel. We arrived at the airport early for our flight to Bariloche. Unfortunately here in Argentina that doesn't mean we sat casually at our gate waiting for our flight. Domestic flights are often delayed (which it was) and they don't know which gate until boarding. This meant some false starts running from one gate to another. When we finally boarded we looked out the window to the where the tunnel ended and just didn't see a plane there. People were showing their boarding passes and just disappearing down the tunnel. After some jokes about taking Wonder Woman's invisible plane we realized we had to go downstairs and get on a bus. Which brought us to a new location to board. The kids really liked going up the steps into the back door of the plane.

Two and a half hours later we arrived in Bariloche and needed jackets again. We met Zach the owner of the condo we're staying in. He's a nice and helpful guy from San Francisco. The condo fee includes a phone with free service to the US so I think I'll be making some calls..... Ciao!
"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut

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