febrero 29, 2004

The Big City, Finally

hola, todos --
we have gone from one of the most remote locations in the western hemisphere (aguas calientes, pop. 4, nearest paved road 100 km) to one of the biggest cities (gran buenos aires, pop. 12 million). there{s a lot to see here.
So far, we{ve moved into a semi-furnished apartment: I think this is a cultural definition, because the owner seems to think that no sofa, a broken water heater and zero towels constitues furnishings. Also, three pots, one of which has a hole in the bottom. Since we got here we{ve been spending the majority of our time scouting out home furnishings. Without Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond, its a lot more fun and challenging! We have a grocery store, flower and newspaper vendors, a store that sells wine and leather jackets, fruit markets, a laundromat, a vet, clothing stores, an all-night pizza place and two nurseries in a block and a half radius. So far, we love the big city life, though we still look upwards all the time like tourists. And walking. You know, on the map, nothing really looks *that* far away, but the other side of town is an all day trip. I dont understand how all these women wear cute high-heeled sandals all the time!
we managed to arrive in the city during the annual week-long tango festival. last night we went to a free concert in the park and there are free classes all day, every day. man, you should see us sometime!!! we be dancin fools.
we live in kind of the hip part of town where all the trendy bars and restaurants are, and the botanical garden is only a few blocks away (and full of thousands of inexplicably well groomed, well fed cats, several hundred of which spend the night by the fence trying to get petted). we are five blocks from the subway (which is more than it seems, 10 blocks every day), but were also on a few major bus routes. Well, we think theyre major, but there are no drawn maps of bus routes. Like everything in Bs As, finding the right bus is mas o menos.
Another thing that we have yet to get used to are the lines. there is a lot of waiting involved in this country. for instance, we live half a block from a supermarket, but we can{t run down to get something because the lines can be 45 minutes or an hour long. people here tell us that they go grocery shopping once a month to avoid the headache.
Nevertheless, we will survive. For now we{re still in our touristy phase, having not settled into a neighborhood range, or any kind of routine.
Thus far we{ve visited La Boca, the brightly painted working class neighborhood thats the mythical home of the tango. Possibly any tango fans out there have heard the song Caminito, which is also a pedestrian way in La Boca. Also, its home to the Boca Juniors futbol team. Diego Maradona (I, Anna, had to learn who that is...) used to play for them and they{re eight million times more popular than the TN Vols could ever dream of being. Fanatic does not even broach the adoration here.
We spent yesterday in Recoleta, a very ritzy part of town where Evita is entombed. She{s in the fancy cemetery where all the ex-presidents (except, interestingly enough, Juan Peron) and authors and war heroes are buried. Some of the masoleums aren{t tended by any family members anymore and look more like broom closets than crypts. A couple of bodies are even showing...little creepy. By, the way, for any family members out there, Randy and I both want to be cremated.
Every weekend in Recoleta there{s a HUGE artisan fair that{s actually much cheaper and interesting than any store anywhere in the city. We bought two beautiful lamps (another non-furnished item) yesterday for $55 pesos, about $17US. Speaking of which, we are on our way to spend more of our fortune on hand-made goods. We still love all you craft center kids!

our address is:

Soler 4488 3 B
C.P. 1425 Bs.As.

chau (also, apparently, spelled ciao in some other place in the world, but who cares about them anyway?),

anna and randy

febrero 26, 2004

The One with the Address

dear face,

our feet and bellies hurt, so this is gonna be short. we´re beginning to get settled in a little bit, insomuch as we have an address.

Soler 4488 3º B
C.P. 1425 Bs.As.

write us! we haven´t gotten any mail yet.

randy & anna

p.s. happy birthday again
we´ll write more later

febrero 24, 2004

More e-mail to Cara (edited)

Dear Cara,
So, I´m sitting next to Randy in a two foot square box with a really slow
internet connection. Doesn´t really matter who you address things to, but you
know how sore he gets about everyone´s phone saying `Anna.` Frustratingly, the ranna and andy thing even carries over into Spanish. Oh, the injustices I´ve tried to flee!!! Btw, rana means frog.
randy says hi from the other corner of the box. he still hasn´t bought you
the promised christmas gift. shhh...he says. Hey, I tried to email Ben and it sent the message back. Can you punch him or something? Anyway, we have to do other stuff online since it´s been rare lately, then go eat a goat.

anna and randy
randy and anna

febrero 14, 2004

Hi from Junin

hi everyone,
we're back in Junin de los Andes with anna's family today, having finished with our solo trip. we're going to be here until monday morning, when we leave with susan, andres, jimena, and andres' parents to go see many of the provincial parks and backcountry where they do their biology work. it should be a fairly interesting week or week and a half.
The latter part of the trip through chile went remarkably well. after leaving mendoza we went to aconcagua park, hiked up to about 14,500 feet and stayed there for two nights at the base camp for people climbing to the summit. There's not a lot of oxygen there and it's very dusty b/c there's no vegetation and the wind blows at a sustained 60mph or so. It also drops below freezing at night (and us fools in our shorts and t-shirts--other people there had goggles and walking sticks to combat the wind, not to mention jackets and mules.) we've been having trouble eating while camping too because peanut butter is unheard of in this part of the world, so we have to come up with other creative food items to take with us. everyone here eats meat but that doesn't keep so well and is sometimes kind of weird and interesting to begin with. Anyway, there were stunningly beautiful vistas and near the base camp the mountain looks just like mordor in the lord of the rings movie but with ice instead of fire. Like i said--breathtakingly beautiful. We spent the next night at Puente del Inca just outside the park. there is a defunct hotel there with thermal baths that has been consumed by the mineral waters and looks like a cave with lots of formations where you can bathe after dark under the stars and moon, surrounded by bright orange and red steaming rocks. I strongly reccomend going there someday.
After that was the short and frighteningly swift white-knuckled descent into santiago and valparaiso, where we spent a relaxing three days, checked out the pablo neruda museum, rode the elevators to the hilltops, and spent way too much money eating out.
We spent the next 12 or so hours on a really uncomfortable overnight bus to pucon, chile, in the lake district in the south. This was the really fun part of the trip, because here we got to climb an active volcano near the border. climbing was not so much the fun part, and involved many hours of clawing our way up a wall of ice and rock using iceaxes. it was pretty, sure, but kind of exhauting and scary at times. then we spent an hour at the edge of the crater asphixitating ourselves in the toxic, smelly gasses being belched out by the volcano. but the fun part--the really fun part--was getting back down. All you have to do is put on a very padded snowsuit, sit on your butt, push off and slide--screaming and laughing--a full vertical kilomenter to the bottom of the mountain's snow cap. THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST FUN EITHER OF US HAS EVER HAD!!!! people have worn grooves, sometimes fairly deep, with their backsides, so it's kind of like bobsledding and you can use your iceaxe as a brake to slow yourself down. three cheers for countries with little to no safety consciousness! we love south america!

bye for now,

randy and anna

febrero 13, 2004

Molten Glass (e-mail to Cara)

yo, close to birthday girl -
Yesterday randy & I had the most fun ever, ever, ever in our lives. We
were staying in an uber-touristy town in Chile, which is the "adventure
capital" of the country. So we climbed a permanently ice-capped, active volcano!
I couldn't actually see the lava, but I looked into the crater (nearly
asphixiated) and I could *hear* all that molten glass bubbling. The last eruption was in 1984, before that 1971, so it's pretty active. On the way up, we had snow boots and ice axes and the whole deal, but the way down is waaaaay more lax. They just lead you to a point on the hill and say, okay - get on your butt and slide down!!! A full vertical kilometer of sliding.
anyway, we're surviving. got our camera stolen by some asshole in a hostel (he picked the lock on our private room). nevertheless, everthing is good and monday we're going traveling with my aunt, et al, including Andres' parents. Then to the big city, then to the beach.
So, that's about all the news I have, except that I went to Pablo Neruda's house in Valparaiso, which is the coolest house ever! I imagine he was a lot like Steven McBride.

Hope you're all crafty and communing w/ the winter weather!


febrero 03, 2004

Boring News from Argentina

hey, everyone.

we{re in mendoza, in the central part of argentina where all the wine comes from...you know...free bodega tours, wine tastings, kinda drunk all the time. today we had our first real asado (cook-out, argentine-style). they{re the most typical argentine get-together, all about lots of meat. pictures of us eating intestines and kidneys to follow! it{s a very strange sensation to have another animal{s intestines floating around in your own. VERY strange, especially for a former vegetarian! actually, most of the meat is excellent. we had enormous steaks last night for about $4US. The food here in general is exceptionally cheap--maybe a quarter the price that it is in the US--and comes complete with the obligatory stomach...issues.
Sooo...the lightning version of the trip so far--
Panama: hot, beautiful, cheap, they use US dollars but call them Balboas. went to Miraflores locks in the canal, hiked in rainforest, swam on roof of our hotel, ate excellent seafood and paid huge airport tax for privilege of leaving country.
Buenos Aires: spent one day there so far. Our apartment is farther from the 5th avenue-ish part of town than we hoped, but it has a beautiful balcony overlooking a tree-lined street and it{s very close to my university. more excellent cheap food. it{s an enormous city - definitely seems bigger than NY!
Bus Ride To The South: the busses here are very lush, and only three seats wide. the seats recline all the way into beds and they give you free wine and whiskey before bed. they show movies too. All of this makes the twenty hours in one seat seem like nothing.
Junin de los Andes: This is the "booming metropolis" of 10,000 where my (anna) aunt, uncle and cousin live. they{re building a house, so staying there was also like camping, but the design is marvelous and their lot backs up to a river of melted snowcaps. The whole area is stunning. Before going camping in a national park around a huge volcano, we managed to see a rodeo and pet llamas. We spent a couple weeks there, including four days "trekking" through the park. the park is full of glacial lakes and huge peaks. we got dropped off way in the outback, stayed at thermal baths (ooohh...) and hiked into a small residential area within the park with bus service. it{s astounding to actually go to a country where you can feasibly get *anywhere* without a car.
Now we{re in Mendoza and in a couple of days we leave for mount Aconcagua, which is the highest peak in the Americas. Needless to say, we will not be summitting (or sending email). Then we{re going to Valparaiso, Chile. This will be Anna{s first time seeing the Pacific! By the way, for about a week, every step we took was farther south than Randy had ever been.

if you look at adam{s web site pretty soon there should be a couple of pictures of us in the andes. his web site is (warning--dont copy the following--read it and enter it as it should be. these damn keyboards are confusing. but i can type `ñ and ¡) www.lakesite.net/(squiggly thing)acofer.

hope all are well,
anna and randy

Anna Posted by Hello

Randy in the Andes

Randy Posted by Hello