Saturday, 31 March 2007

A Perfect BA day

Today we've had the classic BA day that was enjoyable rather than dealing with bureaucracy. :-)
In the morning we checked out hip historic suburb Palermo and looked a the shops and I got a great pair of handmade leather boots.
Then we went caught up with our friend Pio who we met with our delayed flight on LADE and went to a football match. We were right in the thick of it when Boca Juniors scored 3 homeground goals against Nueva Chicago. The atmosphere was fantastic with singing and banging drums etc.
Finally we all had a huge Parrilla dinner to round out the classic BA day.
Thanks to Pio for setting us up with so much fun.
Also kudos to Sudoesteada a SE Asian resturant in Palermo where we had our first Laksa for 3 months for lunch. (not so typical argentine but very good!)

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Brazil 2 Australia 0

After two visits to the Brazilian embassy we are unable to visit Brazil over Easter as planned:-

Round One: in spite of what I'd been told when I called, they wouldn't accept our application yesterday, as they only talk to foreigners until 1pm. As we'd spent the morning out at the airport extracting our laptop from Customs (similar to pulling teeth), we didn't get to the embassy until the afternoon.

Round Two: Sorry, but Monday, Thursday and Friday are all public holidays next week. As our definition of the 'three business days' to process you application actually means four business days, we won't be able to give you a visa until Easter Monday, well after you're supposed to fly out. And no, there's no way to speed that up, even with extra fees. Ah modernisation!!!

Well, I guess this is just a unfortunate taste of living here. Not wanting the Argentines to miss out, yesterday we got to enjoy their bureaucracy too. We say thanks to all 16 people who handled the half a tree worth of papers required to retrieve our laptop from customs. To paint a picture of the morning: after shuttling between 3 offices for an hour and a half we finally were told we can pick up our box. However we couldn't get it from the guy we'd just been checking it with and who actually had it, but instead we had to give a form to the guy in the blue shirt who will scan the barcode, and then get a separate guy to bring it over on a forklift! Now that made me laugh. However we can't really complain, we've couriered a whole load of gear over and all of it has arrived in one piece.

Today I found out that the bureaucracy gets so bad here that a whole industry has actually grown up around it - you can actually pay someone to do the queuing for you, until the final moment where you step in to sign and walk away with the goods.

For all of you that have made it this far through the grumble sorry. Otherwise BA is beautiful in it's old french architecture way and we even have our own apartment. Luxury! :-)

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Around the Heilo Sur

The last few weeks we've been trekking at the edges of the southern ice field, the world's largest icecap outside of the poles. The landscapes are very beautiful and amazing with tall rocky spires and glaciers rising out of the plains. These areas, basically the Torres del Paine (Chile) and Los Glaciares (Argentina) National Parks, are probably what you think of as Patagonia: rugged mountains glaciers and spires of granite. It was all very amazing and beautiful. Can you imagine coming over a pass to see glaciers and snow covered mountains as far as the eye can see? I think with any luck the photos when we get them up will give a better impression than I can.

In between have been 5 hour bus trips through what Patagonia is really like: sheep country. The windswept post glacial undulating plains that cover most of the region have that 'big sky, nothing over 1 metre tall' beauty of the interior of Australia. The estancias (farms) are huge here as they can only raise 1 sheep per 4 hectares. I don't know what the statistic is in Oz but apparently for comparison up in the lush northern pampas of Argentina they have 20 animals per hectare which sounds like a big difference!

And did you know not all countries cut off the tails of their sheep? This is a bit random but they don't cut them off here, and the tails on sheep are actually surprisingly long! I guess there isn't much else to think about at 1 hour border crossings...

Anyway, after such a long silence this may be a random post sorry. We are both well and about to embark on a trek to the end of the continent on the Magellan strait - you can read more about it here, in the 'Cabo Froward' article. When we get back I will torture you all with our impressions of all three treks!