It's been a slice y'all -- stay in touch at www.verateschow.ca!
The time has come... our bags are packed, and in just a few moments we'll be sitting in a taxi heading to EZE for the first leg of our long journey home to Canada.
It's been a slice y'all -- stay in touch at www.verateschow.ca!
Hindsight is of course always 20/20, but now that our adventure in Argentina is drawing to a close, I nevertheless want to share some of the things I wish I had done differently.
The first one's a small one: I wish I'd had a better sense of the weather here, and packed accordingly. For some reason, I assumed that it would be always hot. And it's not! Argentina's got four seasons, and although places like Buenos Aires are fairly moderate (i.e., it doesn't snow in winter!) it can still get pretty chilly in spring and fall, when we were here.
History and Culture
I didn't really have a sense of Argentina's history and culture before we arrived, and I believe that had I taken the time to familiarize myself a little more with this, our transition from North to South America might have been a little smoother, or at least, that we would have had a deeper appreciation for the richness with which we were surrounded for eight months.
Sure, we read some picturebooks together, the boys and I, and I knew about Tango. Heck, I'd even heard of Eva Perron (and not just because of Madonna!) And, having watched (a LONG time ago) Motorcycle Diaries, and read (an even LONGER time ago!) Eva Luna, I was not completely unfamiliar with the South American ethos. We've even taken the time to have coffee with several people in Toronto who were either Argentine, or who had recently lived in the country, just to get some guidance before we embarked on our 8-month journey into the unknown.
So we kind of prepared.
And yet, I had no real sense of Argentina when we arrived.
I did not know, for example, about the Economic Crisis of 2001 and its impacts on Argentines from all social classes, which can still be felt today. I also had not realised how recently there had been a military dictatorship here, and at that as result of the estimated 30 000 "disappeared", the Mothers and Grandmothers still march every Thursday on Plaza de Mayo (we saw them just this past week!) It took me months to figure out Mate culture. And I had little sense of Argentina's physical regions and its fascinating Inca history (which in some ways parallels our Canadian First Nations story in the systemic eradication of origins culture) until we actually traveled to Missiones, Patagonia and Salta/Jujuy.
The next time I go to a place that is so very "different" in terms of socio-economics and politics, I will take better care, too, to research the money situation in advance.
We'd read about the blue rate before coming here, but didn't really "get" it. We also hadn't considered how the country's economic volatility would affect us as long-term foreign visitors. For example, realizing how frugal we'd had to be Sept - Dec, we'd decided to increase our weekly budget from $250 USD week for a family of four to $280 after the new year, thinking this would allow us a little more wiggle room. But, when the 30% inflation and plummeting blue rate were factored in, our USD did little to help us, and we ended up right where we'd started!
Perhaps the most significant factor on this trip was language. Although we did a little bit of prep in the form of a sticker book (and I had a few phrases already from high school, when my mother had forced me to learn some basic Spanish before my band traveled to Spain, Costa Rica and Mexico), our language skills were really rather pathetic, given that we'd be living in this country for nearly a year!
Although Tats was taking a daily Spanish class when she was here, I was pretty much resigned to picking up the bits and pieces I did through immersion, and through the occasional bout of "Cat Spanish". (Though the latter didn't address the Argentine-specific problem!)
Not speaking the language of the people really affects your everyday life: I had no idea what folks were saying to me the vast majority of the time, and everyone from bus drivers to shop owners to people we met on the street must have thought I was pretty stupid!
Not knowing the language also precludes one from having rich, meaningful relationships with "friends" you make abroad. Frequently having to resort to a game of charades to glean understanding or make oneself understood, "deeper" conversation topics seemed like insurmountable hurdles, and with most Argentines, we were restricted to superficial topics. Our only truly "deep" relationship developed with the Marias, and that was primarily because their English was exceptional. In essence, we were restricted to a subculture of ex-pats and English-speaking Portenos, which had its own charm, but which I felt inhibited us from truly experiencing all the greater culture Argentina in general and Buenos Aires in particular had to offer.
The only silver lining here was that I developed an enormous empathy for the many ESL families I work with back home in Ontario -- not only am I now more familiar with what it feels like to be reasonably intelligent but feel totally stupid, I also have a better understanding for why they don't learn English sooner: Life in a new country, with children, is BUSY, and basic survival often usurps language learning, despite a recognition of the latter's importance. Having said that, I also realise how critical it is now to learn the language of the place where you're living, and I will do my best to support the ESL families at my school in getting the language acquisition help they need to improve their situation.
Although I learned a lot as a teacher, I wish I'd been able to communicate more effectively with the locals.
I didn't have a lot of very specific expectations about coming to Argentina. I knew the weather would be warmer than in Canada, and I was looking forward to that. I also knew we'd have grand adventures (which we did), and I had been looking forward to discovering a new part of the world together with my children, and integrating our discoveries into our existing schema of how the world worked, and expanding that schema.
As we look out over the city this final morning here in Buenos Aires, I'm somewhat in awe of the fact that -- despite our lack of preparation in the ways outlined above -- we actually pulled this off. We had help from many people along the way, both emotional as well as financial. But ultimately, we are the ones who did it, this crazy year, and we are forever changed because of it.
SOOOOOOooo not in the mood for packing! We tried, we really did this morning after breakfast with our landlady. But we just couldn't do it!
So, we elected instead to head off to Recoletta to enjoy one final, sunny afternoon at the feria there.
After doing a little touristy shopping and sight-seeing, we met some friends under the big, old tree, and shared an ice cream at Persicco. (The friends played a funny trick on the boys, and gave them a going-away present that consisted of a massive container of Dulce de Leche, which is very popular here, but which Alex and Simon despise! Except... SURPRISE -- it wasn't Dulce de Leche at all, but rather an assortment of candies, which the boys loved quite a bit, hehe!)
As a result of our procrastinations, we came home to this...
The boys went to play in their room for a bit while Tats cooked dinner and I attacked the mess in our room, during which I "lost" my phone multiple times in various piles.
After three hours of packing, I had successfully stuffed more or less everything into our three checked bags and four carry-on items, but not without massive overflow that simply could not come with us.
After the boys had been tucked into bed, the Marias came over one final time -- we shared some tears and some going-away presents, and loaded them up with three garbage bags full of clothes, groceries and the household items that invariably accumulate after a nearly a year of living abroad. (The most significant casualty was a wine red, black label designer jacket, which I dearly love, but which was a huge space hog, and which the Marias immediately loved, too, making our parting of ways -- mine and the jacket's -- considerably more palpable.) They ended up with so much "useful crap" that they had to take a taxi home.
Satisfied with our packing for the night, Tats and I hauled our zippered up suitcases out to the living room, and went to bed.
Usually I share tales of our adventures here that involve the lighter, more humourous or reflective. But as anyone who's traveled extensively knows, it's not all roses and sunshine! In these two blog posts, I'll tell a bit about the underside of travel, and in particular, travel in Argentina...
If you've traveled in South America, you'll know that buses are the way to get where you're going: It's a vast continent, and airfare is not cheap, especially for "extranjeros", or foreigners. A first-class bus ticket, on the other hand, with fully reclining seats, two meals and alcohol service often costs less than $100 USD per person. The catch is that you'll be on the bus for anywhere between 16 and 23 hours, which means that you'll likely be spending at least one night on the bus (hence the fully reclining seats). This is usually okay; but on our way home from Salta, we experienced a hellish night like I've not had in a long time.
You Can't Pick Your Fellow Passengers
The trip started out innocently enough: We climbed aboard our bus, and to our delight found that the third seat in the front row was vacant, leaving us a little extra space up front in case one or both boys wanted to come "visit" (they were in the two seats behind us, beside the stairs to the washroom).
Alas, somewhere around Cordoba, an ENORMOUS fellow boarded the bus, and guess where his seat was? That's right kids, no more "bonus space" for the traveling Canadians up front.
As the corpulent passenger heaved himself mightily into the spacious yet too-small-for-him seat next to us and began listening to music on his phone without headphones, we mourned the loss of our peaceful ride home.
He did turn off the music eventually, and resorted to watching a violent movie on his screen with headphones instead, but the sound was so loud that we could hear the incessant fight scenes loud and clear next door. :(
Dinner on the Road
Our new "room mate" and his noisy media habits marked only the beginning of our troubles, however... After feeding the boys some fruit and other snacks we'd picked up in Salta before boarding, we got them settled into their "beds" for the night, then went to wait for our own dinner, which would be served several hours later.
(I've often commented in this blog about the ridiculously late night dinner habits of the Argentinians; it was now about 7:45 p.m. -- we anticipated being fed at 9:30 pm at the earliest!)
The boys chatted amiably for a while, and then somewhere just before 9 p.m., things quieted down as they started to drift off to sleep...
-- and then AWOKE ABRUPTLY as the bus pulled into a roadside diner and came to a complete stop: All lights were turned on, and after considerable and noisy static, a voice came over the loudspeaker informing everyone that we had arrived for a roadside dinner and that everyone must get off the bus for 40 minutes, as they were going to clean the bus!!!
I'm not sure what's worse: Crappy bus food while kids are sleeping peacefully, or marginally less crappy restaurant food while kids are forced to stay awake well past their bedtime.
In any case, we finally got the ordeal over with (it was sweetened a little for Alex and Simon when the server brought 'round popsicles after the average-at-best chicken), and boarded the bus once again. This time the tuck-in was short but effective; within minutes, both boys were fast asleep (it was now nearly 11 p.m.)
Desperate for Silence
Our own troubles started after we had chatted for a bit, used the by-now-disgusting bus bathroom one last time, and settled into our reclining seats for the night. The massive figure beside us was still consuming crash and fight movies, and snorting a little as he breathed laboriously through his heavy frame. I wish I could say that minor annoyance was the worst of it; I thought it would be, and so I stuffed my earplugs in optimistically, and put my eyepatch on to isolate myself sensor-ably . This was effective enough; I soon fell asleep.
My peaceful slumber did not last long, sadly.
The clock read 1:53 when I was rudely awoken by a LOUD NOISE. I looked around to see what it was, and discovered that our corpulent roommate had fallen asleep, mouth open, TV still on, chair semi-upright, and was snoring loudly.
I was irritated, but not yet at my wits' end: I had at my disposal a phenomenal set of noise-cancelling headphones, which had been purchased for Tats to use while studying or flying commercially (these headphones are so powerful, they drastically reduce the sound of an airplane engine, even when one is sitting right above the wing!), and which she had passed along to me, finding that she did not often use them.
I confidently pulled these out, and placed them over my already-plugged ears, as another layer of silence insurance.
The sawing of the logs could still be heard loud and clear. :(
To make matters worse, the snoring seemed to be getting progressively louder.
Undeterred, I turned on some music. The strains of Mozart's 21 Piano Concerto - First Movement poured promisingly into my ears --
-- AND WERE PUNCTUATED WITH OUR LOUD NEIGHBOUR'S NOISES!!!!
Even my $300-dollar headphones could not save me. I was livid!
By now, Tats was awake, too, and she resignedly reminded me that even clocking the fellow one would only help for a few minutes. I knew she was right; I had had some previous experience with snorers, and the change in position induced by a shove or other movement only lasted a short time before the offender's body would realign itself and begin noisily sawing logs once again.
Angrily, I resigned myself to a sleepless night, and lay mostly awake counting the seemingly endless hours until we arrived in BsAs around 7:00 a.m.
Not all bus travel on this side of the equator is as brutal as this incidence (and some is in fact far worse). We've been pretty lucky, in general. But after 20 mostly sleepless hours, I was ready for a real bed and some serious SILENCE!
...MOUNTAIN! Today, we drove off in pursuit of Purmamarca (the Hill of Seven Colours), in nearby Jujuy.
Once again, we enlisted the services of Sebastian who -- in addition to being an excellent driver and guide -- was also an accomplished geologist, having worked several years for a Canadian geological company in Argentina (sadly, he had not been able to complete his geology degree, since the economic crisis of 2001 had hit right as he was in the middle of his university studies, and he had had to leave school to work and support his family).
Sebastian was a fountain of information, and explained, as he drove us up one side of the mountain range and down the other, how the mountain and the clouds/winds combine to create distinct micro-climates.
Indeed, on one side of the mountain, we drove through lush, green jungle, and on the other side, dry, cactus-dotted desert. The boys were in awe, and asked many questions. Tats was also interested, as the excursion provided some real life fodder for consideration of mountain aviation.
We made a few stops and got out to take photos and marvel at the landscape, before heading on to our first official stop, the thousand-year-old Inca Ruins of Pucara Tilcara.
The site of these ruins make Tilcara Argentina's archaeological capital. The boys enjoy both the restored site of the ancient Inca city, as well as the nearby cactus garden...
After a few hours of wandering the cactus garden and letting their imaginations run wild as they played amid the ruins of Tilcara, the boys were ravenous, as were we, so we stopped for lunch in town.
Several dogs ran to and fro through the restaurant. (Dogs in this part of the country are nearly as common as mate: Our guide had explained to us during yesterday's horse-riding adventures that people love dogs here; almost every house has at least two dogs, some as many as seven!) The boys enjoyed running through a sprinkler someone had set up outside next to the deck.
Then it was back on the road, and on to our final destination, the Hill of Seven Colours.
After wandering around the town for a bit, Tats and I returned to the playground to pick up the boys. We had wanted to snap a shot of the actual hill, but the sun was beginning to set, and was right on the hill and in our camera lens, so that it was a "real life only" memory, rather than a great photo opp.
As we got back in the car, two elderly women walked past us, one pushing a baby stroller, the other hauling a heavy load of firewood; Sebastian noted that many here lived without gas and therefore still cooked over a wood fire. As I watched the women heading towards their homes, the ancient mountains behind them, a new car in the foreground, I reflected on the juxtaposition of old and new here in this place.
What adventures we had today!
Our driver, Sebastian, picked us up promptly at 9 a.m. We had some concerns about the weather (it was pretty much pouring rain in Salta, and we had a full day of horse-back riding and ziplining planned!), but the tour agency through which Tats had arranged the driver assured us that this was uncharacteristic for Salta (it usually rains in summer only, and we were well into fall here), and further, that both the estancia and the river where we were headed had totally different climates, and all should be fine.
And so we set off for the hour-long ride out to Sayta Ranch, where we would first ride off trail for a few hours, and then have lunch (Asado, of course), before heading over to the Juramento river where Salta Rafting runs a course of 4 Ziplines.
If you're looking for a real Gaucho experience, I highly recommend Enrique's horseriding: We were greeted at the Estancia with tea and biscuits, by an Enrique himself, who -- upon hearing that we were Canadians -- inquired as to whether we were separatists! (According to him, the bilingual New Brunswick native who worked for him was, a fact that the young lad vehemently denied.)
The usual doggies were also in attendance.
After enjoying some tea and chatting with other travelers, we were arranged into small groups in preparation for the horses, who had been standing ready for some hours, and were getting restless.
After lunch, we drove through impressive landscapes and down to the Juramento River, to Salta Rafting's headquarters, where we met the owner, and Franz, his German-come-Argentinean right hand. And another dog, of course. These two set us up with our gear, and we set off for the 200 meter trek up the mountain to the first zip line. (Dog accompanied us up the hill, but not on the zip line.)
Gazing down into the canyon, and the by-comparison thread-like line that would allegedly carry my beloved and my two children safely across, I will confess my heart started to skip a few beats, and seemed somehow to have dropped into my stomach. Truth be told, as Tats was pushed off across the canyon, held to the cable by only a mountaineering clip (which I'm sure was very strong, but still), I was SCARED SHITLESS!!!
How was I going to send my two babies across this line, 200 meters above a rushing river and plenty of hard rocks that would surely end their lives instantly if they fell??!!!
Looking at Alex paying attention to the safety lesson and instructions, I could sense that he, too, was more than a little anxious. But the morning's solo horseride and galloping session seemed to have given him a new sense of himself, and he refused to succumb to his fear: Twice I asked him if he wanted to go tandem with one of the guides (I sure did!) He did not. He was ready to fly the hundreds of meters across and above the canyon all by himself.
I gulped, and pasted an encouraging smile on my face, as my mouth grew dry. Then, off they went first Simon, then Alex.
As I watched my brave babies grow from blue-rain jacket-clad children into little specks in the distance, my fears turned to myself.
I was next. And last.
There was no turning back...
"Ich habe Angst", I announced to Franz, who wanted to know if my fear was for my children, or myself. "The latter", I confirmed.
"Well", he replied, "the only cure for that is to just do it".
I had suspected he'd say something like that. So I got clipped on, reviewed the safety instructions with him, and off I sailed, high above the Juramento River.
The boys were waiting for me on the other side, and I think they -- having sense my anxiety earlier -- were about as proud of me as I was of them!
The remaining three zip lines were a blur of continuing to muster up the courage, enjoying the thrill, fighting disbelief that we were actually doing this, and trying to keep our hands loose on the cable and our heads clear of the emergency brake. We also snapped a few photos from the platforms between lines.
And then, suddenly, it was over, and we were back on solid ground, being greeted by Mrs. Salta Rafting and the owner's baby daughter, Emma, who was all smiles.
On the 2-hour drive home, I reflected on the day's adventures. We'd experienced more thrills in one day than some people experience in a lifetime! What had the boys learned from this adventure? What had I learned? And more importantly, how would we carry this new knowledge of ourselves and of the world forward with us?
What's worse than a 19 hour bus ride?
Well, if you've read the title to this blog post, you can probably guess, hehe.
At hour 19.5, we finally pulled into some sort of a parking lot. "Great", I thought, "we're finally here!" And not a moment too soon: It was after 2 p.m.; the boys had been awake since about 6:30 a.m., and all the homework for the day was complete, and everyone's electronics were out of power.
Alas, it appeared we were NOT yet in Salta... no, we had pulled into a road stop restaurant at a town about 175 km outside of Salta for lunch. There were still TWO MORE HOURS to our destination!!!
We took advantage of the half hour break to get out, stretch our legs, and gobble down a little chicken and rice (I had a bean salad). Lunch was free; our Spanish was too poor to figure out if this was part of Balut's bus service, or if they were feeding us due to the 3-hour delay. In any case, we did not complain.
How we got through those final two hours on the bus, I don't know, but somehow we did it, and suddenly, there was Salta!
We checked into our BnB, plugged in our devices to charge, and set off for the archaeological museum to see three perfectly preserved Inca children from the pre-columbian period, who had been found in a volcano nearby.
Balut was our bus company of choice this time; as well as being one of very few bus-lines that offered fully reclining seats to this destination (of incomparable importance, when one is traveling overnight, and well worth the extra 100 pesos or so), Balut also claimed to offer onboard wifi which -- as this blog post was not uploaded until after 10 p.m. on Friday night -- was more of an empty promise than one that came to fruition, unfortunately.
The boys quickly established their little territory in the row behind us, and spent an hour or so with Tats (whom they have not seen in over a month, due to her extended flight training adventures outside of Argentina), working through some bedtime math problems before drifting off to sleep.
Tats and I got caught up over "dinner" (a rubbery soy patty served over instant mashed potatoes, and topped with an even more rubbery piece of melted "cheese"... the strawberry pudding was decent, though, and I had thought to bring some yerbamate and a bombilla, so I brewed us up a little mate in a styrofoam cup), which was mercifully served before 10 p.m.
And then we, too, reclined our big, comfy seats and went to sleep (poor Tats had been traveling since approximately 5:30 p.m. three days ago, having left one town in the US by bus to head to another town and wait in an airport for 12 hours before catching a flight to a third town, where she transferred to another plane which brought her to Buenos Aires, allowing her to quickly unpack and repack for Salta!)
* * *
The early morning chirps of two blond little birds in the seats behind me are my first sign that morning is dawning. The second is a soft, black and white stuffy that comes sailing over the seats and lands squarely on my chest.
I'm awake now, and after chatting briefly with the boys, I sit up in my chair, open the curtains, and peer out the window to see where 11 hours outside of Buenos Aires finds us....
Green stretches out before us: grass, bushes, cacti, trees.... train tracks run along beside the road, and between them and the fairly narrow “main road” the bus is driving on, an even narrower mud path (tire tracks show that it is also used for mopeds and motorcycles, not just for walking). Every now and again, there appears a crossing from the main road, over the tracks, to a modest “home”, surrounded by white plastic chairs, a fire pit of some kind, and the invariable laundry line, dancing with colour from last night's washing.
Eventually we pass a town: There is a cluster of houses, and suddenly, an enormous open space, in the middle, a large playground structure; I infer children are valued here! Dogs trot through the streets of the small town/village, as do a few chickens. A goat grazes on a patch of grass in the yard where he's tied up. The grey donkey standing a few meters along eyes me suspiciously through the bus window.
A faded sign nearby proclaims “Colonia Dora, Terra de la Opportunidad” (Land of Opportunity). I am somewhat skeptical, but the large, colourful “Azugar Latino” (Latin Sugar) nightclub at the edge of town intrigues me. I wonder if it ever gets boring for the locals to dance with the same 50 neighbours every Saturday night?
Others on the bus are stirring now, too, and I'm inspired to muster up the courage for a washroom visit, 12 hours into this 19-hour trip.
Finally, some good news, followed by yet another unpleasant surprise ending... read on, dear reader, to discover why there are no photos with this blog post!!! (Ugh!)
After haggling an arbolito on Florida street up to 10.3 (it helped that we had nearly $2000 USD to exchange), the boys and I headed down to Retiro to buy our bus tickets to Salta, the destination they had chosen for their birthday adventure... And -- YIPPEE -- we found a bus line that sells both first class (i.e. fully reclining seats; very important for a 20-hour bus ride) tickets and allegedly offers free wifi enroute (granted, the lady mimed to me that the Internet was only semi-reliable, depending on where along the route the bus was....)
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let's return to Florida street....
The blue rate has been unbelievably shitty lately (I yearn for the days of 12.2, back in early February...) But we needed to exchange $ to buy those bus tickets, and according to my sources, the rate was "up" to 10.2 today. So off we went, hundred dollar bills safely tucked away in various bags and inner pockets. I decided to try a street crier today, since our usual guy is honest, but does not always give the best rate.
The first guy we stopped told me 10:1. I raised my eyebrows at him, and he then told me 10.2. I suggested 10.3, and he said no way. I started to walk away, and he quickly saw the error of his ways and suggested 10.28. I told him how much money we had on us to exchange, and he agreed that 10.3 sounded fair.
We followed our new friend into some side street office, where we began pulling out our money. The guy behind the counter started counting out stacks of 100 peso bills which he slid under the glass to me, and which I, in turn, slid across the counter for the boys to first count and then check for fakes. (175 bills to individually check in total. No small feat for two 10-year-olds!!!)
After counting the first pile of ten 100-peso bills, Simon whispered to me, "Mommy, this one has 11". I had him count it again, and then I counted it. Yep, 11.
STOP AND THINK: What would YOU do? (C'mon... be honest!!)
I took the bill and slid it back under the glass. The guy behind the counter assumed I wanted to exchange it for another, and wordlessly did so. I shoved the new bill back at him, and explained to him in my broken Spanish that it was too much, he had given me too many bills in this stack. You should have seen the look on his face, and on the face of the street crier (the latter was still hanging around, hoping for a tip)!!! :D
"You are very honest!" he exclaimed, "Thank you!"
I made sure they knew we were Canadian. Then we got back to counting and checking.
All good, with the possible exception of a bill in one of the middle piles. I elected to give that one to our arbolito as a tip, since, after all, he had waited around patiently while we checked every single bill, and truth be told, he had probably not made much from that exchange, since I had driven him to a rate higher than most (he'd had words with the guy behind the counter when we had first come in, and had to argue with him about the rate he'd promised us). Besides, I figured, if it was a fake, then he'd lose at his own game.
We stuffed our 17 thousand pesos and change into various pockets and bags, making sure to lock all zippers and strap the bags on tight. Then we headed back out into the busy street, Mommy holding boys' hands. (It's a lot of money to walk around town with, hehe, and we're starting to look familiar to people.)
Alex noted, "Mommy, when I was young, I never knew stuff like this existed"!
After a quick stop for frozen yogourt and money recounting and organizing in the lockable family washroom at Galleria Pacifico (we took a photo, but...), it was on to Terminal Omnibus Retiro, to see if there was any other bus company than the horribly named Flechabus that might possibly offer "Cama Suite" to Salta. (Sorry, we just could not bring ourselves to ride on something with "flesh" in its name!! And also, the reviews online were crap.)
After passing a company called "Dumb Ass Cat" (I kid you not, I have a photo to prove it, but can't post it on the blog -- more on that later... keep reading, kids), we finally found the recently-rumoured, wifi-offering Balut bus company. Small booth. Micro-company. Good. VERY GOOD: Discount when paying "effectivo" (cash), and yes, (sketchy) wifi, and yes, vegetarian meals, and yes, fully reclining seats, and yes, availability of front row (window) seats there and back! SOLD!
We tucked our four return tickets into our bags, and left the booth with considerably more money left over than I had thought we would. This was a great relief because things have been a might tight around here with the falling blue rate. Good news, kids: Fresh fruit, helados, weekly street tortillas and mate are back on the menu!!!
We had to hustle to get home in time to Skype with Daddy, so we decided to take the more direct Mitre train (2 stops), rather than press onto the overcrowded subway where we'd have to switch trains (approx 11 stops).
Things had been going surprisingly well, so something had to give. And here's where our great day starts to go down the toilet, quite literally...
At the train station, we made a bathroom stop, and as I was leaning over to flush the toilet, my keys and PHONE FELL INTO THE URINE-FILLED TOILET!!!! ARRRGHHHHH!!!
I fished it out of the bowl, quick as I could, and gave it a rinse off at the sink -- no soap in most public washrooms, and risk of getting things wetter, but sorry, I'm not going home with a PEE PHONE!!! And of course no paper towel either, so I rubbed the water-rinsed pee phone and keys "dry" on my jacket and we got on the train.
Stupidly (I read later you're not supposed to do this!) I turned the phone on to see if it was working.
Not so well: Flickering, some parts of screen would not work to touch, calendar shut down... ugh!
I pried open the Otterbox case, and sure enough, more water (pee?! Ugh!) needed to be wiped off the phone. So I wiped it all down and put it in the rice whence it will have to stay until at least Friday night, I am told (I think I have a job interview at 9 a.m. that day... can't check my calendar now!!!) Then I thoroughly washed and disinfected the Otterbox components, which I am cautiously optimistic will soon house my gloriously working iPhone once more.
(I cannot believe I turned it on. And that I didn't remove the case before we got home. Stupid me. Anyway. That's why there are no photos with this post. They are in the rice, along with the phone!)
So those of you following along, please send prayers and/or positive vibes our way, that the rice does its magic and dries out/revives the phone. Otherwise, we are camera-less, map-less, music-less, helpless gringos lost in BsAs. I've already suffered enough with the theft of the laptop and iPad this month, must I lose my only lifeline left???!!! :(
Oh well, at least we got 10.3 and cheap bus tix! Now that's okay! :)