Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not in my plans

Wow, its been a little while, I've got much to tell you all.

To make a very long story short I met a random American dude in Canoa, Ecuador (a tiny little surf town on the Ecuadorean coast) who has a cousin who owns an estancia (cattle ranch) down in Argentina. After my adventure with Hugo and Co to the Amazon I met up with Charles (the random American) and headed south, passing through Ecuador, Peru (with a short visit to La Casa de Pocha for a reunion with my good friends there in Carhuaz), and Chile until arriving eight days later in Buenos Aires. Long distance bussing is not as cool as it should be. The last leg of the adventure took us fifty hours, non-stop from tiny Tacna, Peru to the gran ciudad de Buenos Aires. We endured a four hour border crossing into Chile and a nightime crossing through a chilly Portillo, Chile (hehe, chilly Chile) into the vast vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina. We got three meals in fifty hours and no access to the five or so cans of tuna fish locked up beneath the bus. The bus driver hated me, as at every stop (all five or so of them) I would beg him to open the luggage compartment so I could get my frisbee and atun (tuna). We were not big fans of eachother to say the least, as he consistently rejected my pleas in broken pissed off spanish, though I'm pretty sure he understood all the bad words I used in English...oops!

So eight days from Ecuador to Argentina, not too shabby, I thought. I had projected a weeklong trip, but after getting practically robbed at the Ecuadorean-Peruvian border three times in one night (lessons learned: know exchange rates before you go, don't cross borders at night :) I was simply glad to be in one piece with what little cash I had on hand. Charles (from Cambridge, MA) and I hung out for six hours or so in Buenos Aires while we waited for our bus to the tiny town of La Paz, Entre Ríos, Argentina (not Bolivia!!) Buenos Aires for just six hours is a terrible tease. The city is massive and action packed. The women are gorgeous and their porteño accents, super sexy. Makes me want to live there, haha! Anywho, we are planning a return trip in a couple of weeks to really have a good night on the town...

We almost missed our bus to La Paz. It left a half an hour late from a puerta that wasn't listed on the screens that flashed departure times. It was incorrectly listed on our ticket to make things even more South American- I mean confusing...We go into sleepy La Paz at sunrise and were glad to be somewhere. After the ranch manager, Nico, picked us up at the station we headed to the Rio Paraná to drop some workers off to repair a fence before making the thirty minute ride to el campo, the ranch. It's winter here, by the way, kinda forgot about that when I showed up in sandals...hehe. Despite this winter thing I've gone swimming/bathing in the river once (voluntarily) while Charlie chose to take an involuntary dip, falling spectacularly out of a pretty unstable canoe, fully clothed, into the water about an hours boat ride away from any dry clothes. Luckily there was soap, haha!!

This place I'm at, Estancia San Silvestre, is amazing. Charlie's cousin isn't here yet bvut he will be arriving on the first of August. Until then we have been the responsibility of Nico, who to be honest, isn't the most thrilled to be babysitting two gringitos, and it shows. He's abandoned us numerous times in La Paz, leaving us to walk nearly three hours back to the ranch, or just not showing up when he's told us he'd be somewhere. All that being said, he's super busy, managing all the workers and taking care of all the problems thrown at him. There are a ton.

Food on the ranch consists of beef breakfasts, beef for lunch, followed by epic dinners of beef with steak on the side and beef for vegetables. Highlights have been asados (slow cooked beef over embers), beef cooked in beef fat in a pan over open fire, and beef with rice (hallelujah!!) Needless to say beef is damn good (no complaints there) and plentiful...though oddly enough I've never found cauliflower so appealing.

As for work, cause that what we came to do, its been quite limited. We helped declog a river the other day after some of the hardest rain I've even experienced, dug ditches around trees with hoes (leaving my hands raw with blisters, ya!), and rode horses (yeehaw). Charles bought some rope so we've passed countless hours wrangling the various animals that roam around, including but not limited to turkey, chickens, sheep, dogs, more sheep, humans, and yet more sheep. We're getting pretty good with the lasso, but are still put to shame by our fellow ranch hands who dominate in nearly every aspect of life on the campo- except drinking and making fires which Charles and I, respectively, can hold our own at.

For now we are living the life. We sleep (in beds that we made) next to the chicken coop and are woken up every morning by the roosters. If we're lucky its only in the mornings, usually a few crows in the middle of the night give me a chance to feel just how cold it is in our one room casa, fluff my pillow (my red fleece), and roll over, damning those f***ing chickens to you know whrere. If we're really lucky the sheep barge into the room (as the door doesn't really close, per se) and destroy everything, shit all over our stuff, and then freak out at the sight of a human being residing inside of the room, freezing in mid-shit only to be chased out of the room by a crazed Charlie yipping and wildly flailing his lasso in (always) vain attempts to wrangle them. Comdey is not short on the ranch and we have made great friends with the overly nice workers who, for the most part, are our age and just as crazy as we.

I've been journaling everyday and am tempted to just copy my entries into the blog but for times sake this summary will have to do for today as I am without my journal which is back on the ranch, three hours walk away from here. If Nico actualñly shows up to pick us up today at 3:30 it will be but thirty minutes to the nearlly full moleskin, my nalgene, and almost certainly a siesta. Next time I make it to this internet cafe I promise to give you all another entry, though pictures (as much as I would LOVE to share them with you) are unlikely due to the slow connection here in this town of thirty thousand and the crappy capabilities blogger has with uploads. Lo siento amigos!

My plans for the future (which almost gaurnteed to change, haha) are to head to Chile for some snow (hehehe, I can't pass up some snow when I'm this close ;) and to meetup with some UBC amigos who are there now. I'll probably chill in Chile for a couple of weeks before heading home. I miss my friends, have sorted out what I want to do with my life (for now...I think...) and am ready to get to work...plus its hard to pass up the end of the summer in the Northwest, as nice as it is here down south...

Hasta pronto,


ps- happy belated birthday to Quinndoooooo!! Miss ya mucho!! hope you had a good one without me :)))