We pack up..again. We have become experts at packing. The rain is pouring down today after a crazy thunder storm during the night that left some of our belongings wet thanks to a roof leak, which is a bit weird seeing that we were on the middle floor..(!?)
It’s difficult to move on to the next place with it pouring down like this as we have to walk in open air most of the time. This time we just need to get across the 12 lane road to the subway station on Avenida de Mayo. We wait for the rain to subside and make a run for it – well, not really a run, more of a struggle with the 60+ kg of luggage we have with us.
3,50 Argentinian Pesos gets a ticket to the main bus terminal in Buenos Aires, Retiro Terminal. The area around Retiro, like most areas around any bus terminal in my experience, is very busy and can be a bit dangerous – so always watch your stuff very closely. Our inbred SA instinct of vigilance is very useful here. It is nothing out of the ordinary for a big city.
We buy tickets to the suburb of Del Viso in the north of Buenos Aires on the train line Linea Belgrano Norte for 4 Pesos each for an hour train ride. The train is in fairly alright condition and the short trip goes well.
Ramiro, Azul and their 3 year old son Lorenzo live in a “country-ish” security estate and need help getting their big yard in order. At the moment things are a bit messy with branches, recycling, bricks and general stuff all over the place. They also need help with their permaculture garden and exposing their son to English. We can do all that for the next 2 weeks or so.
Ramiro, 32, collects us at the little train station in a tiny car that has seen better days. He is a friendly, upbeat, musical guy with a genuine interest in meeting and getting to know travellers. His young wife Azul, 26, is a performance artist who often goes on tour along the coast performing plays in the street to the public in the hopes of monetary donations. Good people with good ideas to make their world a little better.
Our bedroom is situated above the kitchen, a little hole in the ceiling at the top end of a spiral ladder. It is surprisingly spacious with wood floors, 2 big windows, a comfy arm chair in one corner and a little single bed underneath a window.
And when I say little I mean a really tiny bed, like 80cm across maybe. I like this room, and it is most definitely the cleanest room in the house. We have slept in some very interesting places so far, this one just as interesting.
We have a view across the front garden that is about to be our baby for the next few weeks. But our very first job is joining Azul in town to help her friend, Ivan, break walls down in an industrial space that will become a circus school. Sophie, a trapeze artist is there to help. This will be a place for the young ones in town to learn to juggle and do acrobatics and trapeze artistry. It keeps them out of trouble and is quite a popular past time in these parts.
It is very liberating to beat a wall down with a hammer. It doesn’t happen very quickly, and it is a task that leaves one very dirty and dusty. Once the wall fell down with a massive crash we were all tired, dirty and happy. Not bad for our first day.
Back at the house Marcella (Azul’s mom) and Diego (her lover of 14 years) were cooking the most amazing vegan pizza. Diego is the only other one that is not vegan, so he is making a chicken over an open fire for the three of us to share.
Now you must be wondering how can there be such a thing as a vegan pizza if you can’t put cheese on it, I mean cheese is the ultimate ingredient in any pizza. I have never had vegan pizza before and this really blew my mind. Vegan cheese is made from crushed almonds and manioc flour. It is made from the manioc root that grows in abundance in South America. Add a fresh tomato sauce, some fresh veggies and this is possibly the best pizza I have ever eaten! The chicken was okay too..
The next week goes by calmly – we water the garden, watch vegetables grow, take the dogs for walks, try to avoid the aggressive stray dogs that mission around the estate (stray dogs are a problem everywhere on this continent), we try to clean the kitchen a bit, sort out branches, sort out plastic bottles, dig a massive bed for some new vegetables, learn to bake bread the vegan way and teach the little one a few English words.
On our second Saturday with Ramiro and his family we venture out of the estate for the first time and visit the barrio of San Isidro. It is a charming old neighbourhood just outside the city centre with a big green plaza park and some strange old English architecture that looks like something out of a Shakespeare play.
Ramiro picks us up after we enjoyed lunch and an excellent ice-cream (this has now become a problem and I think my bum is getting bigger). We head over to the barrio of Martinez, where little Lolo is with Ramiro’s mom, having spent the day with his grandma. We chat with her for a while before heading into the city, to La Boca, where a long-time friend of Azul is having his birthday party. Of course it is an Asado! Yay! We haven’t had meat in almost 2 weeks. Bring on some steak! Another wonderful treat was the joints that were being rolled at this fiesta. I haven’t had weed in over two weeks, thanks Universe!
After an evening of traditional Argentinian treats – some vegan, some not so vegan – enough weed to make me happy and enough meat to make a carnivore happy, the South Africans were out. We literally passed out on the couch from exhaustion while the 3 year old was still running around at 2am. The South Americans usually only eat dinner at midnight, so it’s no wonder we are passed out. We almost missed dessert, but awoke just in time to enjoy Argentinian Chocotorta – a chocolate biscuit, dulce de leite and cream cheese bit of magic. Thank goodness T managed to rescue one little piece for us before heading home to arrive at 4:30am. I might just be too old for this..
In the next few days we continue our work in the garden, pick squashes the size of my face – they’re supposed to only be the size of my fist. It is definitely the love and attention that we have given the garden the past few days. Tomorrow, Thursday, 2 weeks after our arrival, we will leave this family to head back to the city, or the Capital as the locals call it. My first impression of Buenos Aires Central over New Year’s wasn’t great, so I’m very glad we’re going back. There is a lot more I’d like to see.
See you tomorrow BA*