Monday, April 21, 2008


Ooops. I forgot to do a last blog post. Sorry.

We arrived in Vancouver at 1:30 on Wednesday where my Dad and Brothers were happily waiting to pick us up. The plane ride sucked, South American buses are WAY comfier. Luckily we flew Santiago, Chile to Dallas, Texas to Vancouver. One fewer layovers than going down. Plus it was only 18 hours of traveling, not the 23 hours down.

Dad took us out to White Spot right away - Joel and I were both craving a good BC Burger.

Thursday night we came over to Victoria and have been chillin with friends, catching up on all the Victoria chaos of 4 months. Slowly trying to get life figured out... running errands, doing taxes, I'm looking for new glasses (which are soo much cheaper in SA. I wish I had gotten them there).

On Wednesday I'm flying to Castlegar and chillin in the Kootenays for a week. My friend Sam is getting married (WooHoo!) so we're throwing her a stagette in Nelson...which coincidentally is on my birthday. Then my, Val &, Hanna are driving me back to Vic with my Kitty!

Fun times back in Canada.

I'm happy to be back in a world where people know what I say instead of giving me a "whugh?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Joel and I arrived in Mendoza on Wednesday, after a 13 hour night bus ride. I didn´t sleep much since it was semi-cama (semi-bed), still better than a Greyhound bus but no pillows or blankets and my seat didn´t recline too much. (My gosh, I sound like a spoiled brat with these cushy buses of SA). We got in around 9:30, decided to walk to the hostel since it didn´t look tooo far on their map. Started walking, realized the map´s north arrow wasn´t pointing north at all - turned around and started going the right direction. I was pretty grumpy from no sleep and no caffine and ranted along the walk about the not-north-north-arrow. Seriously, if you´re going to put it on a map, make sure it´s pointing the right way. Basic first lesson of cartography. Or just plain common sense. Sheesh. I was also grumpy because we had to pay for an extra night at our hostel in BA. The receptionist claimed we didn´t cancel our reservation once we booked bus tickets, but I clearly remember talking to her about it. I think she just forgot to take us out and made us pay for her mistake. So that really sucked for the budget.

Then we got to our hostel in Mendoza, where Susan and Leana were waiting for us. We went to pay for our hostel, only to find out its 3x the price as quoted in the Lonely Planet guide. This has been a fairly common occurance, and it sucks to be on the recieving end. But the place has a pool so we decided to stay and relax here. The first day we spent sun tanning and lounging in the pool. Joel´s gotten pretty dark, I got burnt (no surprise) but it´s faded to a nice light brown. The next day we did a bike wine tour, since Mendoza is the wine growing area of Argentina. Mmmm, it was sooo much fun. I´ve discovered that I really like Melbec wine, and price really does make a difference! I wish we were allowed more than 2 bottles of wine back to Canada since we´ve found some really nice ones and their sooo cheap. There was also a chocolate factory along the way, mmm, the coffee flavoured one was my favourite.

Susan and Leana left the night of the bike wine tour, so Joel and I were on our own yesterday. Our plan was to lounge by the pool, but we woke up to cloudy cold weather. Then I was hoping it would clear up today, but I woke up to rain. Ugh. This hostel is not worth it´s price if I can´t be in the pool. Oh well.

We leave tomorrow morning to Santiago (7 hour bus ride). I hope crossing the border goes well, since we don´t have enterance stamps into the country. We´re spending one night in Santiago and leave at 9pm Tuesday night. We´ll be in Vancouver around 12:30 on Wednesday. Since we´ve been in SA I´ve thought our flight was on the 14th, but I checked our tickets a couple of days ago to discover we actually leave on the 15th. Good thing I checked!

Joel´s not to stoked on getting home, since the Canucks are out of the playoffs. He´s been following closely down here and it pretty put out that they didn´t make it. I´m stoked that Alex Burrows (my favourite player) scored 12 goals and sooo sad I missed it all. Oh well, next year.

If anyone has been following the news about American Airlines - who we´re flying with - will know they grounded over 1,000 flights last week due to safety concerns. Read BBC´s news report here. Joel´s a nervous flyer (*shhh* don´t tell him I told you) so this just makes it worse. Not going to lie - it freaks me out too. I really hope we´re not stuck any longer in Santago than we´re suppose to be. American Airlines says their flights have returned to normal.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

So long. So short.

Whew. 9 days left. I can´t even believe it´s coming to an end. It feels so short and so long at the same time. Peru and Bolivia feel ages ago, yet these past 3 months sped by faster than any other 3 months of my life. I´ve loved it all. Well, almost all. Can´t say I´m stoked on losing all our pictures. But it just means we have to come back and do it all over!

Buenos Aires has been a completely different experience than any other place. We spent only 3 days in Lima and 2 in Santiago, so we didn´t experience much of the Latin American giant-metropolis life. But it´s a huge part of what makes Latin America, well, Latin America. BA has 13 million people crammed into a city, looking for a prosperous life. A life different from the rural areas. The city throbs contantly with cars, people, music, dogs - it doesn´t really stop. They eat dinner at 11 or 12 pm, start going to clubs at 2am and to bed in the wee hours of the morning. Almost every shop has a siesta around 2-4pm. People drink mate all day, everyday. The city is hot, humid and polluted. There´s no where to escape. Oh, can you tell that I´m not a city person? I´m glad we ended up here because I needed to see it. But there was a reason why cities weren´t on our orginal agenda.

Joel and I have had some good times. We went to the zoo, saw our first Pudú (miniature deer) so that was cool. The zoo was quite depressing though, the cages were soooo tiny and un-natural looking. The only other zoo I remember going to is the one in Calgary and the animals there have huge (comparatively speaking) cages with natual-ish surroundings. There was a polar bear here, his water smelt like chlorine. They also had a grizzly bear- I didn´t know they came so small! No joke, he was the size of a large dog. They also had these Rodents Of Unusual Size which were freely ripping around the zoo. Hanna, they did have Red Panda´s, but we couldn´t spot them.

Today we got our bus tickets to Mendoza for Tuesday where we´re meeting up with Susan and Leana again. Yippie! From the bus station we walked to the Ecological Researve, thinking it should be pretty. It´s 5kms long, stretching along the water. The only cool thing about it was the butterflies and a couple of interesting shrubs. The path was a huge gravel road with no shade, tons of people and the sitting areas were covered with trash. We left the E.R. and walked back to our hostel. It was a looonngg day of walking in humid pollution.

I hope I´m not being too negative. I´m sure there´s great things about this city. I´m just not into shopping (soo much cool stuff to buy, but no money), clubbing, eatting out, or sitting in parks drinking mate. I´d rather be outside exploring a lakeshore or hiking. Or just doing nothing, and not having to listen to traffic and dogs.

Our hostel has been great though. It´s a cute little place full of people doing the same thing as us. The majority of backpackers have been couples, so we all sit around a lot chatting. There´s a couple from Atlanta/California who have travelled through Central America and have inspired me to go to Panama and Costa Rica (not that I needed much convincing). There´s another couple from Isreal (there are TONS of Isrealis in SA) that have been married 10 months and spent all of it travelling so far. Talk about a honeymoon!

Okay, now that I´ve got all that city talk out of my system I have good news. I found a job for this summer, working for a small sustainable urban design consultant firm. By small, I mean it´s basically one woman. I´ll be helping organize a conference on the health of Saanich Inlet, volunteer at the Gaining Grounds Summit , research the importance of urban forests, prepare a funding proposal for a waste-to-resource facility, gather data for state of the environment indicators for the Captial Regional District...and much more. I´m so stoked on this job, it pairs so well with my studies, specifically my Urban Argiculture research (I posted a link in one of my first blog enteries here because it was on Rossario, Argentina). Well, I wasn´t even planning on applying for jobs this summer since I wanted to be in school, but Joel saw it and told me about it. It will be a very different experience from working for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Between the two coop experiences I´ll be prepped for life post graduation and pay back these student loans!

Other good news is that our passports should be ready Monday, hence why we´re leaving BA on Tuesday. The Canadian Consulate figured we´d have them mid next week, so they are early. :)


Monday, March 31, 2008

Buenos Aires

So we are in Buenos Aires. The last few days have been full of getting the forms and filling them out. And taking the subway across the city to the Canadian Embassy. They even opened the embassy on friday for us even though its acctually closed, so we could get our applications submitted on time. Now proving our applications are decent well be alright to get home in a couple weeks. It sucks but we`re over it. Now were just trying to enjoy being in a massive city. It has some really cool buildings and statues. Dog crap all over the sidewalks. At least its not flooded, cuz that makes the crap float. Their are protests going on here because the government has increased taxes on agricultural products by 10%, to encourage the farmers to sell food locally rather than overseas where they can make more money. This is a real problem, because now there are roadblocks and food is not getting through to Buenos Aires. Yesterday we could find absolutely no meat anywhere we looked. This morning there is some chicken, I think the stores might be rationing it. No beef though, and little milk. Milk is rationed. So cooking might get more creative in the next couple weeks. Anyways we are in nice hostel called gardenhouse, in a decent area of town, with cool people around. Joel.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mine and Joel's passports, camera, 8 gigs of memory cards (and photos from the last 2 months), wallet, VISA, bank cards (except one, hurray!), and one of my two tshirts was stolen. Ugh. We were sitting at a restaurant and my purse was beside me and Joel, we ordered drinks and when they arrived I went to grab my purse, only to discover that it was gone.

We've cancelled our VISA, obviously. The meanies who stole it tried to use it, but the purchase was declined. However, I am sure they will enjoy our camera and the photo journey that goes along with it. We reported it to the police right away, have a police report filed and have to get to Buenos Aires to the Canadian Consulate. The first bus from Bariloche (where we are) isn't until Wednesday and the ride is 22 hours. So that's the plan. I'm still hoping that our passports will show up, but it's a small hope.

I really miss my pretty purse from Bolivia. And my shirt. But the camera is the worst part of it.

Sorry, no one's getting any photos. We had big plans for them. So sad.

The situation could be a lot worse, we are safe, and our parents all have access to the account for the one bank card we have left. Hopefully we don't lose it. Joel's in charge of it.

So the internet is closing.. I have to go.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Camping Cuisine!

This is the best meal I have cooked yet, mostly because it´s the first ground beef we´ve had in 2 months. The best part is the whole meal was less than $15 pesos, about $5 Canadian - including the beer. The ground beef was $4.55 pesos, less than $1.50. Why is everything so expensive in Canada?

The ingrediants: Ground beef, carrots, green pepper, onion, garlic and a powdered mushroom sauce. All of the sauces here have MSG, I doubt a day goes by where Joel and I don´t eat any MSG. For about 6 months before leaving Canada we went on a *mostly* MSG free kick so it´s been quite the shock to our system here.

Our campstove set up. It´s amazing what one can cook with only one burner!
In Canada we use campstove white gas... they don´t have that here. The can of Fleming is a paint cleaner here, but it works so we can´t complain too much.

Sautè up the onions and garlic.

Add the ground beef, along with some spices like Merquèn (grown by the Mapuche people in Chile).
Yea! Thumbs up from Joel!

Cooking up the mushroom sauce. It calls for half milk and water, but we use powered milk. Powdered milk seems to be a norm down here. (It isn´t as bad as I thought it would be.j.. We even drink glasses of powered milk with chocolate mix, and use it for cereal in the morning.)

The final product! I forgot to take a picture of boiling the potatos. I added the ground beef and potatos and carrots together, poured mushroom sauce over and sprinkled some parmasean cheese over.

Soooo Yummy!!