Seit Anfang Juni ist Norbert nun zurück in Berlin. Diesmal hat’s geklappt. Mit Aerolineas von Córdoba nach Buenos Aires, dort nochmal einen PCR gemacht, eine Nacht im Hotel, dann mit KLM über Amsterdam nach Berlin. Ohne jegliche Schwierigkeiten.
Naja, so ganz “Alleine” sind wir ja dann doch nicht.
Nach der vorgeschriebenen Quarantäne, ist es dann endlich an der Zeit, dass sich Norbert und Liam wirklich kennenlernen – nicht nur über Videotelefonate.
Dann ist erstmal eine Woche Spreewaldurlaub angesagt.
Und wie sieht es in Córdoba aus?
Hier ist tatsächlich der Winter ausgebrochen. Nach 14 Jahren (!!!) hat es hier zum erstenmal geschneit – und dann gleich richtig. Die Kinder in der Nachbarschaft konnte man schon vor Sonnenaufgang hören. “Nix wie raus und Schneemann bauen!”
Mit meinem Heißwasser-Wärme-Dreckmach-Maschinchen erwärme ich mir die Abende. Beim Aufstehen ist es dann aber trotzdem recht frostig.
Ganz so schlimm wie es erscheint ist es aber nicht. Tagsüber scheint meistens die Sonne. Und bald soll die Kältewelle wohl vorbei sein – bis zur nächsten 🙂 .
Für Anfang Mai hatte Norbert einen Flug zurück nach Berlin gebucht – von Cordoba mit 7 Sunden Umsteigezeit in Buenos Aires, dann über Santiago de Chile und Madrid nach Berlin. UFF! Insgesamt 42 Stunden.
Vorher nochmal einen letzten (und den ersten) Falafel in Carlos Paz essen:
Ein letztes gemeinsames Frühstück in der Sonne …
…. nochmal mit dem Hund zum Rio gehen.
Und natürlich ein zünftiges Abschieds-Asado mit allem, was dazugehört:
Schon zwei Tage vor Abflug hatte Norbert früh morgens einen Termin für einen PCR-Test, weil das Resultat schon mal 24 Stunden auf sich warten lassen kann. Naja, noch am selben Tag hatte Norbert das (Negativ-)Resultat per E-Mail auf seinem Handy. 🙂
Am nächsten Morgen bringe ich Norbert ein letztes Mal sein Frühstück ans Bett.
Am darauf folgenden Tag holt Ana, die hier im Ort einen Taxi-Service betreibt, Norbert pünktlich um halb sieben ab, um ihn zum Flughafen zu fahren. Ist ca. 1 Stunde Fahrtzeit. Abflugzeit sollte 11:55 sein.
Naja, was soll ich sagen? Etwa um diese Zeit stand Norbert hier wieder vor dem Tor. Die arme Ana musste die ganze Strecke nochmal fahren, um ihn wieder abzuholen. Im war der Abflug verweigert worden, weil er nicht nach Chile hätte einreisen können. Das Argument, dass er ja nicht “einreisen” sondern dort nur “umsteigen” wollte, ließen sie am Flughafen nicht gelten.
JAAAAA, jetzt habe ich ihn erstmal zurück. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Ich freue mich natürlich, aber ich weiß auch, dass Liam auf ihn wartet.
Neuer Versuch Anfang Juni, mit KLM von Buenos Aires über Amsterdam nach Berlin. Diesmal haben wir vor dem Buchen die Fluggesellschaft und die niederländische Botschaft kontaktiert. Beide haben uns (schriftlich!!!) versichert, dass für deutsche Staatsbürger ein Transit in Amsterdam kein Problem ist – negativen PCR vorausgesetzt.
Bei einem Spaziergang Ende März meinte unser Strubbel sich ein wildes Wettrennen mit seinen Freunden Lucho und Rüpelchen liefern zu müssen. Dabei hat er sich an einer abstehenden Schraube an einem Zaunpfahl seine gesamte linke Seite aufgeschlitzt. Nach dem Unfall verfrachteten wir ihn mit Hilfe von Nachbarn ins Auto und fuhren ihn zum Tierarzt.
Mittlerweile geht es ihm wieder super. Naja, die Narbe wird wohl bleiben.
Mitte Februar muss Norbert schon wieder los – diesmal alleine und über 800 km nach Buenos Aires. Sein Reisepass war im Januar abgelaufen. Seit November hatten wir uns um einen Termin im deutschen Konsulat von Córdoba bemüht. Wir wurden an die Botschaft in Buenos Aires verwiesen, weil in Córdoba vor der Sommerpause keine Termine mehr verfügbar seien. Von der Botschaft bekam Norbert einen Termin für Mitte März (!!!) zugewiesen. Zum Glück hatte eine Freundin, die mittlerweile nicht mehr in Argentinien ist, einen früheren Termin und konnte den an Norbert abtreten.
In Buenos Aires angekommen, wird Norbert bei Isabel und Daniel mit einem leckeren Asado empfangen.
Natürlich besuchte er auch Pau, Leandro und Irupé.
Nachdem Norbert beim Konsulat alles erledigt hatte, machte er sich wieder auf die Heimreise, wieder mit einem Stop an dem Campingplatz am Paraná. Hier noch ein paar Schnappschüsse:
Ach ja: Der neue Reisepass wird dann in 6-8 Wochen im Konsulat von Córdoba abholbereit sein. Warten wir mal ab!
Zu Norbert’s Geburtstag sind wir ja normalerweise seit Jahren nicht zuhause. Da ja in diesem Jahr wohl Síquiman unser Zuhause ist, beschließen wir ein paar Tage wegzufahren. Wir entscheiden uns für die “Reserva Natural Tres Piletas del Rio Quilpo”. Da waren wir vor ein paar Jahren schon mal und es hatte uns gefallen.
Naja, das mit den angesagten 2 Stunden ist von Herrn Google wieder sehr optimistisch kalkuliert, der ja die Straßenverhältnisse hier nicht zu kennen scheint. Alleine für die letzten 15 km von San Marcos Sierras haben wir fast eine Stunde gebraucht.
Auf dem Weg haben wir aber erstmal in San Marcos eine Pause eingelegt. Der Ort hat ca. 3000 Einwohner und den Ruf einer “Hippie-Kommune”. Tatsächlich hat sich San Marcos in den letzten Jahrzehnten zu einer Art “Aussteigerzentrum” für (oft) gut situierte Städter aus Buenos Aires, Santa Fe und Rosario entwickelt. Hier gibt es mittlerweile jede Menge Leute, die selbst hergestellten Käse, Marmeladen, Sirups und Honig anbieten. Im Stadtzentrum um den Plaza “Cacique Tulián” findet man einen Haufen Bioläden, Läden mit Kunsthandwerk, indischen Klamotten und Räucherstäbchen und natürlich Kneipen und Cafes. Der Tourismus boomt selbst in diesen Zeiten.
Leider hat Norbert dieses Jahr ausgerechnet am Wochenende Geburtstag. Und der “Geheimtipp” von der “Reserva Natural” scheint sich in den letzten Jahren gut rumgesprochen zu haben. Der Platz, und natürlich auch die schönsten Plätze am Wasser, waren brechend voll. Viele waren selbst aus Buenos Aires angereist! Wir haben trotzdem einen guten Stellplatz gefunden.
Der nächste Tag (Sonntag) war für Viele, außer den Tagesgästen, Abreisetag. Wir konnten dann unser Auto an einen schöneren, schattigeren Platz, direkt unter ein paar Bäume stellen. Bei den Bäumen handelte es sich um eine Gruppe von “Mistol”-Bäumen (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziziphus_mistol). Das ist ein einheimischer Baum mit ziemlich harten, aber süßen Beeren, aus denen hier unter anderem Sirup und Marmeladen hergestellt werden. Die Früchte waren gerade reif und die ganze Nacht hagelte es Beeren auf unser Autodach – klick-klack-klick-klack-klick-klack. 🙁 Das Hauptproblem waren aber die Moskitos. Da wir für die 2 Nächte nicht das Dachzelt mitgenommen hatten, sondern es uns auf einer Matratze im Auto bequem machen wollten, hatten wir keinerlei Insektenschutz. Obwohl wir uns eingesprüht hatten und versuchten, uns (bei hochsommerlichen Temperaturen) komplett unter das Deckbett zu verkriechen, war die Nacht einfach entsetzlich. Unser Ventilator wäre die Lösung gewesen – aber Norbert meinte, den hätten wir vergessen einzupacken.
Mitte Januar entschlossen wir uns, wieder mal einen kleinen Ausflug zu machen. Diesmal sollte es direkt zu den “Puente Golgantes” gehen. Das letzte Mal hatten wir uns auf dem Weg dahin ja gründlich verirrt.
Die letzten 10 km auf der Straße nach Copina, nach dem Verlassen der Ruta 14, waren einfach entsetzlich, so dass wir Angst um unser Auto hatten. So beschlossen wir, nur bis zu der ersten der Brücken zu fahren und dann zurück zur Ruta.
Von da aus fuhren wir “Über die Berge” (Traslasierras) .
In San Sebastian, einem Ortsteil von Mina Clavero, fanden wir direkt am Rio de los Sauces einen netten Campingplatz.
Endlich mal wieder richtig Camping mit Eierfrühstück!
Nach dem Frühstück fuhren wir noch weiter nach Süden zum Stausee. Wir überlegten, noch eine weitere Nacht zu campen und schauten uns noch zwei weitere Campingplätze an.
Der erste Campingplatz, “El Descanso”, liegt einige Kilometer abseits der Straße und ist ziemlich schwierig zu erreichen. Sieht auch gar nicht aus wie ein Campingplatz, sondern wie ein Bauernhof mit 2 Klohäuschen mitten auf einer Wiese auf der sich eine große Schar Hühner mit Küken tummelt. Leider habe ich kein Bild 🙁 . Sehr sympathischer Platz, aber wir wollten uns doch noch den Platz direkt am Stausee anschauen.
Furchtbarer Platz! Riesengroß und völlig vermüllt. Der Wasserstand im Stausee ist zur Zeit sehr niedrig und ein Zugang zum Wasser wäre nur durch einen breiten Schilfgürtel möglich.
Da das Wetter zunehmend schlechter wurde und für den nächsten Tag sogar Regen angesagt war, beschlossen lieber wir nach Hause zu unseren Tierchen zu fahren.
Das neue Jahr haben wir sehr ruhig begonnen – nur wir Beide, zu Hause mit Hund und Katz und den Hühnern. Für 2021 haben wir uns nichts Konkretes vorgenommen – wäre ja auch schwierig in diesen Zeiten, aber wir haben natürlich Wünsche. Wir möchten gerne mal wieder ein bisschen reisen … am liebsten nach Berlin – endlich Liam kennenlernen, Familie und Freunde treffen, und vielleicht auch wieder mal arbeiten gehen! Und vor allem wünschen wir uns und allen anderen viel Gesundheit. Bis dahin werden wir wohl hier den Sommer genießen und ein paar Ausflüge in die nähere Umgebung machen.
Das Bild vom Feuerwerk in Carlos Paz habe ich aus der Zeitung. Hier in Síquiman wurde zum Glück nur sehr wenig geböllert. Lucho, den wir über die Feiertage hüten, hat trotzdem vor Angst gezittert. Später ist er aber dann doch ruhig eingeschlafen.
Wie und wo Maunzi die Silvesternacht verbracht hat wissen wir nicht. Aber nachmittags hatte er zur Siesta schonmal das Nest im Hühnerstall probegelegen.
Da Lucho sich seit einiger Zeit mit den meisten anderen Hunden nicht mehr verträgt, bzw. auch kleinere oder hilflose Hunde (zum Beispiel den uralten und fast blinden Tino von Mauri’s Eltern) ohne Vorwarnung beißt, darf er nur noch mit Leine und Maulkorb raus. Damit er ein bisschen Bewegung hat (und wir natürlich auch !!!) gehen wir täglich mit ihm zum Rio. Lucho liebt das Wasser und springt sofort begeistert für eine Schwimmrunde hinein, leider auch das nur mit Maulkorb und Leine.
Auf dem Weg treffen wir dann natürlich noch auf viele andere Hunde. Einer dieser scheint noch einer von Lucho’s Freunden aus besseren und freieren Zeiten, d.h. ohne Maulkorb, zu sein. Er ist ein bisschen kleiner als Lucho, von der Farbe her ähnlich und hat noch wuscheligeres Fell. Er ist total freundlich und folgt uns fast jeden Tag zum Rio und zurück. Nach Aussagen von Nachbarn lebt er wohl schon seit mindestens 3 Jahren hier im Viertel auf der Straße. Seine “Heimat” scheint eine Straßenkreuzung entfernt von unserem Haus zu sein. Dort werden er und zwei kleinere Hunde – Typ Cocker Spaniel – von einem Hundefreund gelegentlich mit Futter versorgt.
Hier noch ein Bild von Norbert mit den beiden Freunden
Nachdem Lucho’s Frauchen ihn Anfang Januar wieder abgeholt hatte, beschlossen wir, den täglichen Spaziergang zum Rio alleine zu machen. Naja, Bewegung tut ja gut. Lucho’s strubbeliger Freund begleitet uns weiterhin. Nach dem Spaziergang kommt er dann noch auf ein Leckerlie mit zu uns nach Hause.
“Strubbel”, so nennen wir ihn, scheint es bei uns zu gefallen. Irgendwann blieb er nach seinem Leckerlie einfach noch länger da. Im Gegensatz zu Lucho, der sofort auf Maunzi losging, verträgt er sich einigermaßen mit dem Kater. Die Beiden sind zwar nicht wirklich Freunde, aber sie halten einfach Distanz und respektieren sich.
Manchmal bleibt er ein paar Stunden, manchmal auch über Nacht. Meistens ist er aber in der Nachbarschaft unterwegs. Abends wartet er auf seinen Spaziergang mit uns und freut sich riesig darauf mit uns zum Rio zu gehen. Wenn wir dann zurück sind, kommt er auch mal ‘ne Weile mit uns rein. Dann schaut er mir beim Kochen zu oder ruht sich auf Norbert’s Knie aus.
Zuerst einmal möchte ich um Entschuldigung bitten, dass es so lange keine Aktualisierung gab. Ich glaube, dieses unerwartet lange “Exil” schlägt uns doch langsam auf’s Gemüt. Und der Tod von Fritz, schlechte Nachrichten aus Europa und den USA, steigende Fallzahlen hier … das Alles macht es nicht einfacher. 🙁 Aber nun geht es trotzdem weiter.
Seit dem 17. Oktober saß Cenicienta im Nest und brütete super zuverlässig. Schon 2 Tage vor dem erwarteten Schlupf hörten wir ein Piepsen im Nest. Nachdem Norbert ein Foto gemacht hatte, schlossen wir den Nestraum wieder um Cenicienta in Ruhe zu lassen. Eine Stunde später schauten wir nochmal nach und fanden zu unserem Erschrecken das Küken hilflos piepsend allein in einer Ecke des Nests, während Cenicienta weiter auf den restlichen Eiern saß. Wir nahmen den armen Kerl mit ins Haus und legten ihn unter die Wärmelampe in Mauri’s Brutkasten. Am nächsten Morgen lebte er zwar noch und sah auch ein bisschen besser aus, aber konnte immer noch nicht selbst stehen. Wir gaben ihm den Namen “Piep-Piep”. Wir legten ihn wieder ins Nest unter Cenicienta’s Federn, was sie auch problemlos akzeptierte. Leider fanden wir ihn trotzdem 2 Tage später tot im Nest.
Die erfolgreich geschlüpften 3 Küken – ein weißes und zwei dunkelgraue – wachsen und gedeihen prächtig. Bei dem Weißen zeigten sich schon nach ein paar Tagen die ersten Flügelfederchen und ich ging von einer kleinen Henne aus. Wir gaben ihr den Namen “Blancanieve” (Schneewittchen). Die beiden Dunklen nennen wir “Pünktchen” und “Anton”, weil das Dunklere der Beiden einen ganz deutlichen weißen Fleck auf dem Kopf hat.
Es war bald klar, dass die Beiden Dunklen schwarz-weiß gestreift (“gesperbert”), wie ihre Mama, werden würden.
Alle “Experten”, die ich in diversen Foren befragt hatte, haben mir versichert, dass die Beiden mit Sicherheit kleine Hähne seien, da eine “gesperberte” Mutter das “Sperber”Gen nur an ihre Söhne weitergeben würde. Oh je! Wir hatten ja so gehofft, dass wenigstens das Dunklere eine Henne ist.
Mittlerweile ist leider auch ganz klar, dass “Blancanieve” ein “Yeti”, also ein kleines Hähnchen ist. Also haben wir wohl 3 Hähne. Da wir nur einen behalten können, müssen wir versuchen, für die anderen beiden eine Bleibe zu finden – und hoffentlich nicht in einem Kochtopf. Aber das hat noch einige Wochen Zeit und bis dahin genießen wir die Dreierbande.
Fritz war Anfang Januar mit Norbert auf der Grande Amburgo in Montevideo angekommen. In seinem roten VW-Bus fuhr er von dort aus bis nach Feuerland und durch den Süden von Chile. Auf dem Rückweg nach Norden machte er Ende Februar bei uns Station.
Zusammen mit weiteren Freunden von der Grande Amburgo verbrachten wir zwei sehr schöne gemeinsame Wochen in unserem Haus.
Von uns aus machte er sich auf den Weg durch Paraguay nach Peru. Kurz bevor er nach Ecuador weiterfahren konnte wurden die Grenzen geschlossen. Ende März bis Anfang September verbrachte er in einem Hotel im Norden Perus. Mehrmals pro Woche haben wir in dieser Zeit miteinander telefoniert.
Für Mitte September konnte er eine Rückverschiffung seines Autos von Lima nach Deutschland organisieren und wenige Tage danach selbst nach Hause fliegen. Am Tag vor dem Abflug hatten wir noch einmal Kontakt, danach blieben alle Nachrichten unbeantwortet.
Anfang Oktober erfuhr Norbert dann von Fritz Frau, dass er sich vermutlich schon in Lima mit Covid infiziert hatte und kurz nach seiner Rückkehr nach Deutschland mit schweren Komplikationen ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert wurde.
Nach mehreren Wochen im künstlichen Koma starb er am 22. Oktober.
Fritz! Wir vermissen Dich und denken sehr oft an Dich.
Ab jetzt werde ich monatlich, immer rechtzeitig zum Ersten jeden Monats, berichten, was wir so machen und wie es uns geht.
Der Carport soll erhöht und verlängert werden, damit wir unseren Caddy mit Dachzelt reinfahren können. Dafür leisten Norbert und Javi wirklich Schwerstarbeit. Die alten Stützen und Balken sind zum Teil an den Enden völlig verrottet, aber ansonsten noch brauchbar und vor allem aus sehr gutem, harten Holz (Quebracho). Also haben die beiden sich überlegt, wie sie am besten die Stützen verlängern, bzw. erhöhen. Und es funktioniert!!!
Wir hatten schon eine ganze Weile die Absicht Cerberos “Harem” zu vergrößern. Ich hatte in verschiedenen Tierhandlungen, in Whatsapp-Gruppen und bei Bekannten nachgefragt. Aber ich hätte höchstens Küken oder ganz junge Hennen bekommen können. Ich wollte aber ganz bewusst “erwachsene” Hennen. Ich hatte ja bei Mauri mitbekommen, wie schwierig es war, seinem “alten” Pärchen seine beiden halbwüchsigen Junghennen “schmackhaft” zu machen. (Mittlerweile klappt es aber gut). Letze Woche sahen Javi und Norbert zufällig, dass ein Veterinär im Nachbarort Legehennen verkauft. Norbert und ich fuhren am nächsten Tag hin, leider hatte er nur noch Küken da. Er zeigte uns aber Bilder von einem weißen, einem grauen und einem schwarzen Huhn. Er sagte, dass er sie noch vor dem Wochenende besorgen könnte. Am Samstag schickte er uns dann eine Nachricht, dass wir uns die Hennen am Vormittag abholen könnten. Leider waren wir anderweitig unterwegs. Wir (und die Hennen) mussten daher leider bis Montag warten.
Eigentlich wollten wir ja auf alle Fälle eine weiße Henne und noch eine Dunkle dazu. Die Weiße war aber leider ein Hahn. Also nahmen wir die beiden dunklen Hennen mit – eine Graue und eine Schwarze. Wir schoben sie am Abend dann in den Stall.
Am nächsten Morgen konnten wir unsere beiden neuen Mitbewohnerinnen dann erstmals richtig bewundern. Beide Mädels sind wunderschön. Die Schwarze macht einen sehr ruhigen, zutraulichen, entspannten, “bodenständigen” Eindruck, ist ziemlich groß und kräftig und hat im Hals- und Brustbereich goldschillernde Federn (was auf dem Bild leider nicht zur Geltung kommt). Wir nennen sie “Goldmarie”. Die graue Henne ist eher “elegant” und zurückhaltend, ganz schlank, zierlich und scheu und hat Federn an den Beinen. Wir geben ihr den Namen “Aschenputtel”.
Schon am Morgen, als sie erstmals gemeinsam in den Garten gingen, wurde klar, dass Goldmarie die neue “Nummer Eins” in der Hennengruppe sein würde. Gacky war entsprechend erbost. Seit zwei Tagen protestiert sie unentwegt lauthals. So laut und anhaltend, dass Norbert schon meint, dass das eine Zumutung für die Nachbarn wäre. Geholfen hat es ihr aber nichts.
Immerhin konnte Goldmarie unserer Gacky ihre Rolle als Lieblingshenne von Cerbero nicht abspenstisch machen. Unser kleiner Hühnerstaat mag jetzt eine neue Königin haben. Aber der Prinzgemahl bleibt seiner alten Liebe treu!
Dieser (mittlerweile) sehr zutrauliche Kater ist vor ein paar Tagen bei uns aufgetaucht. Bevor wir ihn gesehen hatten, haben wir ihn gehört: “MIAU, MIAU, MIAU …”. Deshalb haben wir ihm den Namen “Maunzi” gegeben.
Am Anfang war er sehr scheu und nahm bei jeder schnellen Bewegung Reißaus. Aber sein Hunger (er sieht wirklich sehr mager aus) war dann doch stärker – auch wenn es nur ein bisschen Trockenfutter für Hunde und ein paar Knochen von unserem Abendessen waren.
Deshalb habe ich am nächsten Tag erstmal richtiges Katzenfutter gekauft.
Und so ein Kätzchen braucht natürlich auch was zum Spielen. An dem am Strauch aufgehängten Osterei hatte er leider überhaupt kein Interesse.
Also musste auch eine kleine Spielzeugmaus her. Naja, auch die interessiert ihn nicht wirklich.
Trotzdem scheint er sich mittlerweile bei uns so wohl zu fühlen, dass er auch meinen Stuhl in Anspruch nimmt.
Und der Sessel eignet sich dann auch als Nachtquartier.
Wirklich! Zur Zeit passiert hier wirklich wenig. Wir kümmern uns um Haus und Hof und die Hühner. Ein “Highlight” der Woche war unser Ausflug nach Carlos Paz.
Für einen Arzttermin konnten wir am Montag mal wieder nach Carlos Paz fahren. Das Wetter war ganz okay, halbwegs sonnig und um die 18°C. Wenigstens mal wieder eine Gelegenheit für ein Frühstück im Freien.
Zweites “Highlight” war unser Grillnachmittag mit Javi und Mauri … und den gefiederten MitbewohnerInnen.
Am 12. Mai hatte Lisa 2 Päckchen an uns abgeschickt. Der Inhalt war unspektakulär: Kuchengabeln und Latte Macchiatolöffel aus unserer Wohnung, neue Dichtungen für unseren Bialetti-Kaffeebereiter, Norbert’s Lieblings-Nussknacker, ein Paar Flipflops für mich und Jersey-Spannbettlaken – und natürlich Lakritzbonbons für mich und Nippon-Reiswaffeln für Norbert. Zwei Wochen später bekamen wir eine Benachrichtigung, dass das erste Päckchen angekommen sei und wir es beim Zoll in Córdoba abholen könnten. (Das zweite Päckchen lies übrigens 2 Monate auf sich warten.) Alternativ zur persönlichen Abholung wurde auf der Website der Post angeboten, eine schriftlich Erkärung zum Inhalt abzugeben, die Zollgebühren online zu bezahlen und dann würde einem das Paket nach Hause zugestellt. Hahahahaha….. das Ganze funktioniert aber nur mit DNI, der nationalen Ausweisnummer, die wir natürlich nicht haben. In den letzten Monaten war Norbert mehrmals in Córdoba, aber die Zollstelle der Post war immer wegen “Quarantäne” geschlossen. Einen Tag vor Ablauf der Lagerfrist des ersten Päckchens fuhren wir wieder nach Córdoba, fest entschlossen bei der Post “ein Fass aufzumachen”, falls sie uns die Pakete nicht aushändigen. ERFOLGLOS!!! Von der Post wurden wir zur Zollbehörde geschickt. Von dort wurden wir wieder zurück zur Post geschickt. Die Pakete bekamen wir aber nicht ausgehändigt. Ein netter junger Mann vom Kundenservice gab uns den Tipp, es doch nochmal online mit der DNI eines Freundes zu versuchen.
Javi “lieh” uns seine DNI und bezahlte die Gebühren von 190 Pesos pro Päckchen (weniger als 2 Euro) mit seiner Kreditkarte. JUHUUU! Gestern (Donnerstag) kam das erste Päckchen an.
Es war wirklich ein Gefühl wie Weihnachten, als wir das Päckchen geöffnet haben. DANKE LISA!
Jetzt warten wir nur noch auf das zweite Päckchen.
Wir hatten uns auf einen wunderschönen, sonnigen Sonntag gefreut. Laut Wettervorhersage waren Temperaturen über 20°C und strahlend blauer Himmel angesagt. Nach dem Aufstehen sah es auch genauso aus. Gegen 11 Uhr, ich stand gerade in der Küche und schaute aus dem Fenster, sah ich auf einmal, wie sich der Himmel von Norden her zuzog. Die Sonne warf noch immer ihr Licht in den Garten, aber ganz seltsam dunkel und tieforange – wie bei einem Sonnenuntergang. GESPENSTISCH. Es hat eine ganze Weile gedauert, bis uns bewusst wurde, dass es sich nicht um Wolken, sondern um Rauch handelte.
Seit Wochen kämpft die Feuerwehr (vorwiegend Freiwillige), unterstützt von Löschflugzeugen und Hubschraubern, gegen heftige Brände im Wald- und Weideland ca. 100 km nördlich von hier. Steigende Temperaturen und starker Wind erschweren die Arbeiten. Am Sonntag haben dann Sturmböen bis Windstärke 9 viele Brände außer Kontrolle geraten lassen und der Rauch wurde in südlicher Richtung getrieben. Dazu kamen mehrere neue Brandherde auch viel näher bei uns im Süden. In einigen Fällen gibt es Hinweise auf Brandstiftung.
In der Nacht zum Mittwoch hat es dann endlich geregnet! Am Morgen wurde gemeldet, dass einige Brandherde gelöscht wurden. Auch die Brände um den Pan de Azucar und in Casa Bamba sind mittlerweile unter Kontrolle. Aber wie schlimm das jetzt alles aussieht!!!!
Wir haben ja sonst nichts zu tun, also werkeln wir weiter am und im Haus rum.
Am Ende der Einfahrt soll noch ein zweites Tor angebracht werden. Das soll natürlich die Hühner davon abhalten, meinen Gemüsegarten zu beschlagnahmen, aber wird auch zusätzlichen Schutz vor unerwünschten Besuchern bieten.
Nachdem die beiden Schlafzimmer jetzt eine wahre “Schönheitskur” erfahren haben, wollte Norbert auch die alte Elektrik erneuern. Wie er nur auf so eine Idee kam??? Sonst träumt er eigentlich nur immer mal von der Arbeit. Das erzählt er mir dann morgens. Hahaha.
Nach den beiden Zimmern hat Javi auch das Bad gemalert. Jetzt ist die Küche dran.
Das Tor ist nun auch fertig gestrichen und kann installiert werden.
Und was mache ich? Naja, meine handwerklichen Projekte sind ein bisschen kleiner.
Für die Nacht zum Donnerstag war eine Polarfront vorhergesagt mit Nachtfrost bis minus 7°C.
Was ein Glück! Die Temperatur ging in der Nacht bis auf 10°C unter Null. Das hätten meine armen Pflänzchen nicht überlebt.
Mauri, dessen Grundstück noch ein bisschen tiefer liegt und nach allen Seiten offen ist hatte nicht soviel Glück. Obwohl er sie abgedeckt hatte, haben viele seiner Pflanzen die Nacht nicht überlebt. 🙁
Ab nächster Woche soll es aber endlich auch nachts nicht mehr so kalt werden.
… in dieser Woche. Naja, wir führen halt ein ruhiges Rentnerleben 🙂 Immerhin machen die Arbeiten im und am Haus Fortschritte. Die Fliesenarbeiten in den beiden Schlafzimmern sind fertig. Endlich ist dieser fürchterliche Laminatboden raus! Jetzt sind die Malerarbeiten dran. Das erste Zimmer ist schon fertig. Das hässliche Gelb ist einem warmen Beigeton gewichen.
Jetzt ist das andere Zimmer dran.
Norbert ist auch fleißig. Er hat damit begonnen, sich einen Arbeitstisch zu schweißen.
Die schönste Nachricht der Woche war aber, dass Lucho uns wieder besuchen darf. Er hatte wochenlang “Hausarrest”, weil er zusammen mit einem anderen großen Hund einen kleinen Nachbarschaftshund gejagt und gebissen hat. Von seinem Hof aus kann man direkt auf unser Grundstück gucken und er kann uns natürlich hören. Gabi (sein Besitzerin) hat uns gesagt, dass er laufend gejammert hat, wenn er uns im Hof gehört hat. Jetzt lässt sie ihn mit Maulkorb raus und er kann sich wieder bei Norbert seine Streicheleinheiten und bei mir seine Leckerlies abholen.
Nachdem wir den Hühnerstall ein bisschen erweitert und aufgehübscht hatten, dachten wir es wäre Zeit unseren Mädels auch einen Kavalier zu gönnen. Den suchten wir uns am Dienstag bei Adriana und Jorge, bzw. seinem Vater aus. Wir hatten die Wahl zwischen einem kleinen, zierlichen Braunen und einem ein bisschen größeren Weißen. Wir nahmen den Kleinen. Jorge sagte uns, dass sie ihn “El Pinino” (“den Kleinen”) nennen.
Unsere beiden Hühner hatten eine entsetzliche Angst, als wir ihn am Abend (noch in der Transportkiste) in den Hof brachten. Er schrie natürlich entsetzlich, weil er aus der Kiste wollte. Die Mädels ergriffen die Flucht. Er war erst ruhig, als wir die Kiste mit schwarzer Plane abgedeckt hatten.
… aber es ist das erste Bild, das ich gemacht hatte, nachdem wir ihn in der Dunkelheit, mitsamt seiner Transportkiste in den Stall “geschmuggelt” hatten. Die Mädels waren zu der Zeit schon in ihrer Schlafkammer.
Nach einer halben Stunde scheint er dann aber mutig geworden zu sein und hat sich auf die Stange vor der “Schlafkabine” der Mädels gesetzt. Hahaha – sitzt jetzt da wie Zerberus 🙂 und die beiden Mädels müssen am Morgen an ihm vorbei. Jetzt hat er einen neuen Namen: “Pinino Cerbero”.
Am Morgen ließen wir sie dann, ganz mutig, alle zusammen frei.
Gacky, die kleine Braune, freundete sich sofort mit dem neuen Mitbewohner an. Die Zuneigung beruhte offensichtlich auf Gegenseitigkeit. Sie flirteten den ganzen Tag.
Sie kuschelte mit ihm in ihrer Lieblingshöhle unter dem Gebüsch.
Pick-Pick musste leider außen vor bleiben. 🙁
Unser neuer Kavalier zeigte sich Gacky von seiner schönsten Seite.
Unser gesamter Stadtteil ist in heller Aufregung. Vor 2 Wochen hatte eine Familie aus unserer Straße mit ihrem Kind zusammen die Großeltern in einem Seniorenheim ca. 50 km entfernt besucht. Ein paar Tage später wurde bei der Großmutter der Coronavirus festgestellt. Die gesamte Familie wurde dann am letzten Donnerstag auf den Coronavirus getestet. Obwohl die Ergebnisse noch ausstanden, ließen die Eltern das Kind weiterhin mit den anderen Kindern der Nachbarschaft spielen. Im Nachhinein stieß das hier bei den Nachbarn natürlich auf völliges Unverständnis und es gab in den diversen WhatsApp-Gruppen zum Teil recht böse Kommentare. Am Montag dann stand fest, dass auch der Junge und sein Vater Covid-19 positiv waren. Die Familie der Kinder mit denen er gespielt hatte begab sich daraufhin sofort freiwillig in häusliche Quarantäne und schloss ihren Laden (der kleine Nachbarschaftsladen von Sofía) und alle ließen sich testen. Wir selbst waren am Sonntag noch in ihrem Laden gewesen, hatten auch recht engen Kontakt mit ihrem Sohn. Sein Kaninchen hatte vor ein paar Wochen Nachwuchs und er brachte uns begeistert eines der Babys damit wir es auf den Arm nehmen konnten. Seit heute wissen wir zum Glück, dass die Tests bei Sofías Familie negativ waren. Also erstmal ENTWARNUNG.
Also können wir ja morgen schonmal feiern. Morgen, am 1. August, ist “PACHAMAMA-Tag”. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachamama) An diesem Tag wird “Mutter Erde” geehrt und gewürdigt. Besonders in den ländlichen Regionen der Anden wird dieser Tag mit festlichen Ritualen begangen. Dazu gehört auch der alte Guaraní-Brauch (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guaran%C3%AD_(Volk)) am 1. August “ruda macho y caña” zu trinken. Dazu werden Zweige der “Ruda” (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rauten) in Zuckerrohrschnaps eingelegt. Von diesem Schnaps soll man dann am Morgen des 1. Augusts, auf nüchternen Magen, mindestens 3 Schlucke, besser aber 5 oder 7 (aber immer ungerade Zahlen) trinken. Das hilft dann garantiert die Gespenster des Winters zu vertreiben, Erkältungen vorzubeugen und alle anderen Krankheiten fern zu halten – mit Sicherheit auch COVID-19. 🙂
Ich glaube in dieser Woche hat der Frühling begonnen. Gestern habe ich zum ersten Mal wieder Ameisen auf unserer Terrasse gesehen und am Nachmittag hat ein Taubenpärchen auf dem Baum vor unserem Küchenfenster mächtig geturtelt.
Am Wochenende konnten wir auch zum ersten mal wieder duschen, ohne die Gastherme anzuwerfen. Das Wasser unseres Solartankes war wunderbar warm!
Die Regenablaufrinne ist fast fertig (bis auf einige Details) und der Beton konnte in den letzten Tagen bei Temperaturen von 25°C gut aushärten. Norbert wollte nun unbedingt probieren, ob die Höhe der Einfahrt nicht doch für unser Auto (mit Zelt) reicht.
Uns war ja schon im Vorhinein klar gewesen, dass es mit den zusätzlichen 10 cm der neuen Betonschicht knapp werden würde. Aber: Probieren geht über Studieren.
Aber egal aus welcher Perspektive, es reicht einfach nicht! Es fehlen ca. 10 bis 15 cm.
Tja, neues Projekt! Und das nahm Norbert gleich am nächsten Tag in Angriff.
Leider hat sich der Frühling nach seinem kurzen Wochendbesuch vorerst wieder verabschiedet. Ich habe mich trotzdem entschlossen, unseren Gemüsegarten in Angriff zu nehmen. Vor dem Haus habe ich am Zaun Radieschen ausgesät und am Zaun zum Nachbarn meine Kräuter gepflanzt.
Unsere Auffahrt ist nun fertiggestellt, aber Javi darf noch immer nicht auf seiner anderen Baustelle (das Haus seines Onkels nebenan) weiterarbeiten. Wir haben uns deshalb überlegt, dass das eine gute Gelegenheit sei, ein paar Fliesenarbeiten in unserer Küche und den Schlafzimmern in Angriff zu nehmen. Anfang der Woche fuhren wir auf Javi’s Empfehlung zu einem Fliesen- und Sanitärladen in der Nähe (http://mororevestimientos.com). So eine unglaubliche Auswahl an Fliesen habe ich noch nie gesehen! Und hier, in der Provinz, hätten wir so einen Laden zuletzt erwartet. Wir suchten uns schöne braunmelierte Fliesen aus. Am Freitag holten Norbert und Javi die ganzen Sachen ab. 700 kg!!!
Montag fing Javi dann an, das alte Laminat und die Fußleisten herauszureißen. Oh mein Gott! Was sich darunter im Laufe der Jahr für ein unglaublicher Dreck angesammelt hatte.
Das milde Wetter gab auch Norbert Gelegenheit, an der Regenablaufrinne zu arbeiten.
Am 1. Juli sollte eine neue Phase der “Cuarentena” anfangen, mit einigen Lockerungen. Javi machte sich auf den Weg zur Gemeindeverwaltung und versuchte eine zuständige Person zu finden, um eine Erlaubnis zur Fortsetzung der Arbeiten an unserer Auffahrt zu erwirken – erfolgreich.
¡¡¡JUHUUU!!! – Es darf weitergehen.
Es war ein ziemlicher Aufwand für Javi, aber es hat sich letztendlich gelohnt. Allerdings wurde die Erlaubnis daran gebunden, dass wir einen für uns ausgestellten Busgeldbescheid umgehend bezahlen. Wegen “Verstoßes gegen die Quarantäneauflagen” sollten wir AR$ 5200 Strafe zahlen. Javi hatte noch versucht mit den Leuten zu streiten, um den “Preis” runterzuhandeln. Aber erfolglos. Ihm wurde gesagt, dass wir uns mit diesem Busgeldbescheid glücklich schätzen dürften, er hätte auch viel höher ausfallen können. Uns war nun wirklich nicht nach Streiten zumute. Wir wollten einfach unsere Auffahrt fertig haben, um das Tor wieder vernünftig schließen und das Auto wieder in unserem eigenen Hof parken zu können. Am nächsten Tag fuhren Javi und Norbert aufs Amt. Norbert bezahlte AR$ 5390 (es waren noch einige Verwaltungsgebühren dazugekommen) und Javi durfte wieder anfangen zu arbeiten. Bei dem Umrechnungskurs, den wir zur Zeit bekommen, sind 5390 Pesos nicht wirklich viel Geld (weniger als 50 €) und fließen in die Gesamtkosten für die Auffahrt ein. Aber die meisten Leute hier würde eine solche Geldstrafe sehr empfindlich treffen!
Drei Tage lang hat Javi, zum Teil bis spät abends, gearbeitet.
So einen Gitterrost zur Abdeckung kann man natürlich fertig kaufen, aber Norbert und Mauri haben sich vorgenommen, das Gitter selbst zu schweißen. Ich bin gespannt!
Bei den derzeitigen Temperaturen (nachts Frostgrade und tagsüber ca. 10°C) werden wir sowieso noch mindestens eine Woche warten müssen um die Auffahrt zu befahren.
Wir wohnen in “Villa Parque Síquiman” (http://www.parquesiquiman.gob.ar/index.aspx). Der Ort besteht aus mehreren Vierteln (hier “Barrios” genannt), die recht verstreut sind. Unser Häuschen ist im “Barrio Las Mojarras”.
Der nächst größere Ort mit etwa 70 000 Einwohnern ist “Villa Carlos Paz”, ca. 10 km entfernt. Bis zur Hauptstadt Córdoba sind es 50 km.
Unser Viertel liegt auf einem Hügel. Egal ob von der Landstraße (RN 38) oder der Badestelle am Arroyo Las Mojarras: Nach Hause geht es immer steil bergauf. An der RN 38 gibt es einige kleinere Lebensmittelgeschäfte, Fleischer und ein paar Läden, in denen man Tierfutter, Reinigungsmittel, Handwerkerbedarf, Baumaterial und Werkzeuge kaufen kann.
Das Grundstück gegenüber, auf der anderen Straßenseite, mit den beiden Häusern gehört Mario und seiner Familie. Sie wohnen eigentlich nur im Sommer hier – und zwar in dem rechten, etwas zurückgesetzten Haus. Das linke zweistöckige wird als Ferienhaus vermietet. Im letzten Sommer war es auch sehr gut belegt.
Von uns aus gesehen gegenüber rechts davon wohnen Lucia und ihr Mann Julio. Lucia liebt ihren Garten und pflegt ihn liebevoll. Leider kommt das auf den Bildern (die ich ja jetzt, im Winter, gemacht habe) gar nicht zur Geltung. Sie hat einen großen Kakteengarten, alle möglichen Obstbäume und ihre Veranda ist wunderschön mit Wein umwachsen. Für das Frühjahr hat sie mir Ableger ihrer Himbeerhecke versprochen. Julio ist Hobby-Bierbrauer. Bislang haben wir nur sein Himbeerbier probiert, und das hat super geschmeckt.
Im Haus neben uns (in Richtung Fluss) wohnt Mauri. Er ist derjenige, der mir meinen Hühnerstall gebaut hat. Und ich glaube, ich habe ihn angesteckt. 🙂
Mittlerweile hat er nämlich auch Hühner, genau genommen eine Henne und einen stolzen Hahn …
… jetzt hat er sich aber erstmal noch zwei Hennen zugelegt, die aber selbst noch fast Kücken sind.
In einem späteren Beitrag werde ich mehr über ihn und uns und unsere Hühner schreiben.
From next week on I will start writing the contributions in German. This has several reasons:
The “Google-translations” from German to English often seem to be better than vise versa.
the majority of our followers are German speaking.
… and for me, as a native German speaker, it is no problem to write the text in German.
Last Sunday was the beginning of winter here – and beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. We never thought we would still be here at this time. We had expected to be back in Berlin since early April, finally getting to know Liam, Norbert’s first grandson, born New Years day. We had expected to be back at work for the next half a year and we had hoped to enjoy a wonderful summer with friends and family in Germany. Instead we are stuck here in a little settlement in the Sierras of Córdoba.
BUT IT’S NOT ALL THAT BAD.
But during the days the weather is mostly pleasant. Over here it hardly ever rains during the winter and there is a lot of sunshine during the day. And even now daytime temperatures may reach up to 20°C or even more.
EARLY IN THE MORNING, the chickens wake us up, demanding that we open their fence, so that they can enjoy their freedom. Usually I listen to their complaints for a while, but get out of bed about half an hour later.
BREAKFAST: I prepare our “Bialetti”-Espressomaker (the one we used for camping) and put it on our little gas cooker. It takes quite a while for the coffee to get ready. Meanwhile I go downstairs into the garden, feed the chickens and open their fence, so that they can run free in the garden. By the time I finish my morning bathroom routine, the coffee is ready as well. Now Norbert also is awake and I serve him his coffee and usually a “medialuna” (or even some plum cake with whipped cream) to his bed. He then enjoys breakfast and reading his newspapers. Sometimes (especially on Mondays) he also watches his “Tatort”, a German criminal series, aired in Germany every Sunday at 8:15 pm. Internet reception simply is a lot better here in the morning!!!
I prefer the fresh air and the morning sun and have my coffee on our little front porch.
Two or three times a week we then go SHOPPING. First we drive to the guy who sells drinking water. He and his wife operate a tiny water purification plant in an annex of their house. The water is good and to refill one of our 10 l containers we only pay 35 pesos (about 0.50 €). In the grocery stores 6 l cost 100 pesos and the water comes in a plastic throw-away container. Next stop is the minimercado called “SuperSiqui”. It is the best sorted grocery store in the area. Still it is very small and only 5 or 6 people are allowed to enter at a time. If we get there early, like before 10 am, there are only few people in line outside. But one time we got there around mid day and I waited more than an hour before I could go in to do my shopping!
When we get back, I prepare something for LUNCH. Many times just yesterday’s leftovers, or simply a salad.
Then I look after the chickens, give them a treat for mid day snack and clean their hut.
After that: SIESTA
In the AFTERNOON we always find something to do in or around the house.
Late afternoon we (well, more so Norbert) enjoy CAKE ‘N COFFEE in the dining area of our veranda. By that time, even if it may be cool and windy outside, often we can do so in plain sunshine.
At about 5:30 pm the chickens get their dinner and I close their fence. Less than an hour later they disappear into their hut. Short after sunset (now about 7 pm) I go downstairs and close the hatch to the henhouse. Good night, girls! SWEET DREAMS!
For DINNER I always try to “really” cook something. Well, we have enough time!!! One day (I think it was a Sunday) I even cooked red cabbage (I had bought half a head of fresh cabbage in the vegetable store), with mash potatoes and roast beef (Rinderbraten). Hahaha, first time in my life.
We don’t have television and internet is too slow, especially in the evening, to stream movies. It usually works, though, to listen to the “Tagesschau” (German TV evening news), even if the pictures are not being transmitted. IN THE EVENINGS Norbert sometimes also watches Argentine soap operas, here called “tele novelas”. Those also can usually be watched without too many interuptions. I’m occupying myself with this blog or just do some surfing, as far as the connection allows.
When we are tired, WE GO TO BED. Our bedroom is wonderfully fresh and airy – the cool air comes through all the cracks around and under and above the windows and doors. But this really suits us. At least in Berlin we are acustomed to sleeping on our balcony all year round. It’s a similar feeling now over here. Luckily we brought our thick quilt from Berlin.
One morning I got up with terrible pain in my left leg. Okay, “Hexenschuss” (sciatica), I thought. A hot water bottle and some good painkiller should help. It didn’t help! After 3 sleepless nights I decided to once again try the Argentine health system. Upon recommendation of a friend, I went to the “Sanatorio San Patricio”, a polyclinic in Carlos Paz, about 10 km from our house. Without appointment I could see a general practicionar within half an hour.
She examined me, perscribed some quite heavy pain medication. ¡This one did help! She sent me for an x-ray (done immediately on the spot) and recommended to make another appointment with a specialist. That appointment I got for next morning (which was a Saturday!). The doctor (specialist of orthopedics and traumatology) thoroughly examinded me and judged by the x-rays that I also should go for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging. For this I would have to go to Córdoba, about 50 km away. I contacted a diagnostic institute recommended by the polyclinic (www.institutoulton.com.ar) Monday morning (via WhatsApp) – and got an appointment for the next day.
Tuesday then, we went to Cordoba. We had to pass through 3 police controls. No problem. We only had to show them the WhatsApp from the “Instituto Oulton” and could drive on.
I arrived in the institute in time. Within half an hour I was called for the Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Everything went very smooth and very professional. I was provided a link to download the results (images) after 48 hrs. ¡PERFECT!
Of course we also used the time in the City to enjoy the unusual freedom. 🙂 While I was inside the institute, Norbert enjoyed an outdoor coffee in the sunshine, and afterwards we did some shopping. Many stores were open, restaurants and street cafés unfortunately not yet.
By the way, the results could alreadyy be downloaded the next day!
Just like last year, when I had been to the “Sanitorio Francés” in the City of Córdoba, I have no complaints whatsoever about the medical attention I received: Prompt and friendly, competent and professional and – very important: effective. Admittedly, the fact, that I got medical attention without having to wait, was (in part at least) due to the Corona-crises and the ongoing restrictions. That I pay privately and in cash probably also made it easier. The health system here may have its shortcomings, but it definitely is not all that bad as some people think. As far as I am concerned: both thumbs up!
Everytime it was getting more difficult for Norbert to drive the car up to the street on the old driveway. What had once been a concrete driveway, was in crumbles by now. Especially after it had been raining, we were afraid to get stuck with the car.
End of February we had already talked to Javier, a guy who was working on constructing the neighbouring building. He agreed to renew the driveway and gave us a cost estimate. We agreed. The material was ordered and delivered. The work should begin in the last week of March.
They delivered a huge bundle of wire mesh and iron rods, which we stored in our back yard, a ton of cement and one mountain each of sand and gravel in front of the fence. THE DOG LOVED IT.
The quarantine put a tremendeous delay to this project. The middle of May, the work could finally begin.
For the chickens these construction works turned out to be a disaster. Lively and curious as they are, the first day the gate was open for the construction work, they just went off to explore the neighbourhood. We caught them on the other side of the street. We then put a barrier of some mesh material between driveway and garden. It worked okay for the first day.
The next morning we had strong wind, which tore off one side and apparently lifted the mesh material enough for the chickens to get through – and off they went! I caught them on the neighbouring property. We ended up locking them into their corral. Compared to the place they came from, their accommodation with us is pure luxury.
BUT THEY HATED IT! They screamed for hours as if someone were abusing them. Our neighbour (two houses down the road) thought they were screaming like this because of some snake or raptor.
The wind had eased the next day. I strengthened the attachment of the net and weighed it down with an old wooden board and stones. I let them free again – and they were super, super happy.
Javier, the guy who is renewing our driveway, lives with his family in another town about 20 km away. Since Wednesday he had an official permission to come to Síquiman to work. He decided to stay with a neighbouring friend for the entire weekend, so he would finish the work on our driveway by Monday.
Saturday afternoon, however, two women from the community administration (public order office) ordered an immediate stop to the work. They argued, that Javier’s permission was only valid for new constructions and not for what they called modernisation. On top of that, they said, that the community administration only allowed local construction workers and that Javier’s permission (as he is not a resident of Síquiman), was not valid here. The discussion went on for an hour – without success. They even called the police. They argued on basis of some “PROTOCOLO DE HABILITACIÓN DE OBRAS PRIVADAS”, some bureaucratic monster which, to us, doesn’t make any sense.
Monday morning we went to the community administration to ask for permission to finish the work. The people there were friendly, but could not make a decision. They printed the letter we wrote and the pictures we took of the driveway. They said, that an official decision would be made within a week. Well, we’ll see.
Two weeks have passed, since we had been to the administration. Nothing has happened. We have not received a letter nor an email nor a phone call. Javier’s attempts to contact someone at the community office were fruitless. Monday we will go there again in person.
For pastime we ordered ourselves some “toys” from Mercado Libre: an electric welding device for Norbert, a little sewing machine for me. We had no specific projects in mind, but thought that those devices could be useful. In the past, I had sewn a few pieces of clothes for the kids and for myself. But that was a long time ago. Norbert had watched a few colleagues welding, but never learned how to do it himself.
Norbert’s first welding project: putting feet under some metal frame that we found in the garden. We thought of using it to elevate the chicken stable.
Next: Making a dung fork for me to dig my compost
Of course I had to try it right away!
My projects were a lot smaller:
Next I needed a meat tenderizer for my “Milanesa”. Norbert took a piece of firewood and worked it with a saw and grinder.
“Milanesa” is something like a breaded German “Schnitzel” but made with beef (also sometimes with chicken meat). It is usually served with two fried eggs on top. Norbert really likes it.
This is one of my favorits of “MAFALDA”, incredibly more than half a century old – and still very much up-to-date!
I think, to live in this country, you have to be somewhat relaxed, flexible and willing to improvise, especially if one is used to West European standards. Things just work a lot different over here – and sometimes they don’t work at all – and sometimes things work when you least expect it. So we don’t make concrete plans on what we will cook, but go to the store, see what they have and decide then on what we will have for dinner. If something breaks in the house, we do not run to the next hardware store expecting to get the spare part or a replacement – we probably would only get disappointed. Instead, we first try to improvise – and look for a lasting solution later.
OF HOME MADE YOGHURT, TSATSIKI AND CHEESE CAKE Of course, if one lives in another country, one can’t expect to find all the favorite products on the supermarket shelves. What we really miss the most, though, is “Quark” (a kind of low-fat cream cheese), to bake German Cheesecake and the Turkish 10% natural yoghurt to make Tsatsiki. (Greek style creamy yoghurt with shredded cucumber and a lot of garlic). Good thing, I brought my electric yoghurt machine. In Berlin I have not used it often, because you can find natural yoghurt in every store. Making yoghurt is very easy: You just mix half a cup of natural yoghurt from the store with a liter of warm milk and keep it warm for about 8-10 hours, either in a thermos bottle or with the help of a yoghurt machine. SUPER! Hahaha, the big problem here (but in many other countries, like the United States, as well!) is to find natural yoghurt. 🙁 On the supermarket shelves one can find all kind of flavors, but rarely “yogur natural”. When I was so lucky to find natural yoghurt in our local minimercado, it turned out to be sweetened.
Oh My God!!! And the list of ingredients was frightening.
I decided to give it a chance, anyway. And … what shall I say? IT WORKED. I put the yoghurt (which was quite liquid) in a very fine strainer, which came with my yoghurt machine. (It also works with a fine cotton cloth or cotton diaper). I put it in the fridge over night. Next morning I had more than a pound of wonderfully firm yoghurt, almost the consistency of “Quark”. I filled some of it into a jar and put it in the fridge for the next time. Of course the yoghurt that resulted was still somewhat sweet. And because it looked so much like “Quark” I used it to make the filling for cheesecake, just as if it really were “Quark”. And … IT WORKED.
Next round, I used the yoghurt I had set aside in the fridge for another liter home-made yoghurt. I used this yoghurt to make our beloved Tsatsiki. And IT WORKED and it was DELICIOUS!
THIS ONE DIDN’T WORK
Another favorite of ours is “Griesbrei” (sweet semolina cooked with milk). I have not seen semolina anywhere around here. So we tried to replace it with polenta. WHAT A DISASTER! While it was still warm, Norbert ate a portion. He even said it tasted okay (with cinnamon and sugar). After the stuff got cold, it was hard like a rock. I sliced it and let it dry in the oven. Then I’ve cut it in little cubes and put it into the sun to let it completely dry.
Those wonderful chickens give usually give us 5 or 6 eggs per week. We keep them for Sunday breakfast. And we simply love them just soft-boiled and enjoy each and every one of them. But to really enjoy a soft-boiled egg, one needs an egg cup. We did not see anything alike around here. We found one in “Mercado Libre”. But it was ridiculously expensive, plus we would have to pay for shipping. We thought of constructing something similar to it with some of Norbert’s electrical wires.
It is May now, which is the equivalent of November in the northern hemisphere. The climate is mild here and we still have some quite warm and sunny days with temperatures of about 20°C. After so many weeks of ongoing quarantine we felt that we needed to go camping once again before winter sets in. Norbert suggested that for the first night we go to the “Valley of the Barking Dogs”, a small, little known and remote natural resort in the heart of Argentina. I had no objections.
SO HERE WE GO
The following day we spent on the “Hill of the Hungry Hens”, equally small and remote.
After a couple of days we moved on to “Stormy Hights”. It’s a very nice place, a bit windy, but sunny and with good food.
¡¡¡OF COURSE I’M ONLY JOKING!!! Amidst the quarantine, the traffic police (“Policía Caminera”) would not even allow us to leave the town limits with our car. BUT CAMPING WE REALLY DID. In our back yard.
After the first beautiful sunny day, with predicted clear skies for the night as well, we knew it would get cold out there in the tent. But we didn’t expect THIS:
The day greeted us with a bright blue sky again. Norbert used the sun to gather some warmth for the coming night.
And the chickens really are hungry all the time. And they are intelligent and know exactly where I keep their food. A little cardboard-barrier like this one turns out to be a joke for Pick-Pick.
Despite the strong winds, Norbert can enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.
A couple of times the temperature, when we got up about 8:30, was down to 11°C INSIDE (about 52 °F). We knew it was time to think about buying a heater. So far the only way to heat the house a little is with the fire place. This is nice and also somewhat romantic, but we get to enjoy the effect only when we’re sitting pretty close to it. It definitely does not heat the room. And of course it cannot heat the entire house.
Good thing that Norbert has an account with “Mercado Libre”, which is a South American online platform, similar to “Amazon”. Under normal circumstances we would have driven to the next hardware store (“Baumarkt”) and looked for a heater. But these days of quarantine are anything else but “normal”. We ended up ordering a portable HEATER FOR BOTTLED GAS. They said it would heat an area of up to 40 m². The type gas bottle it needs (10 kg) is the same which we use for cooking and for the water heater. The heater arrived within a couple of days. But, of course, it came without the gas bottle (here called “garraffa”)
Everyone here uses this type of gas bottles, for cooking, baking, heating. Electricity is comparatively expensive, the system is weak and quite unreliable. Especially during the summer months power outages are very common. 10 kg gas, on the other hand, only cost about 350 pesos (less than € 5) and, for us, last more than a month (cooking and occasional water heating if there is not enough sunshine for our solar tank). One can buy gas bottles of this type on nearly every street corner. Every little hardware store, most of the grocery stores and even many some small “kioskos” sell bottled gas.
So we first went to the store where we usually buy the bottled gas for the house. The guy told us, that he can only sell in exchange of an empty “garraffa”. We explained our situation, he called his supplier and we were told that “maybe” with next week’s delivery we could count on a “garraffa” – at a price of 4500 pesos, EMPTY! ¡¡¡ABSOLUTELY EXAGGERATED!!! We declined. He suggested we try it about a block down the road with a gas supply company. They were closed. We tried the gas station. They also wanted an empty bottle (here called “envase”). We tried with about half a dozen other places – without success. We next checked with “Mercado Libre”. Yes, they sell empty bottles for under 4000 pesos, but at the time of quarantine they do not ship them. The guy, where we usually buy our drinking water (and who also sells bottled gas) promised to ask his supplier for an empty bottle which he would let us have for probably 3800 pesos. He said, he would give us a call.
¡¡¡WOW!!! WHAT AN ODYSSEE FOR AN EMPTY GAS BOTTLE!
Next day we saw a small truck full of garraffas stopped in front of a little store, obviously delivering. Norbert suggested I ask the driver if he would sell one. ¡¡¡BINGO!!! We paid 3100 pesos for a FILLED garraffa.
Now, in the morning, within little time the temperature in our kitchen raises from the nightly cold to a COMFORTABLE WARMTH.
Knowing that we would have to spend more time here in “aislamiento social” than expected, – I suggested we get ourselves some chickens. – Norbert did not mind. – A neighbour built a little chicken house. – Norbert constructed a corral. – Some other neighbours had a couple of hens for us. – Now we can happily enjoy our daily breakfast eggs laid by happy chickens.
IT WAS NOT QUITE THAT EASY
Yes, Mauri, our next door neighbour, has built the henhouse. Norbert and he brought it into our backyard.
We found a nice place right underneath our kitchen window.
Next day we went to get the chickens.
We decided to keep them inside the henhouse for the first day, so that they would get used to it.
Next day we opened the hatch, so that they could explore our garden.
And they sure did! But our garden did not seem to be enough. First thing Gacky (the brown one) did, was to find a gap in the fence to the neighbouring garden. Luckily that house is still under construction and it was easy to enter the property to chase our chicken back. We closed the hole and checked the fence all around to make sure there wasn’t another one for them to escape through.
The real problem began in the afternoon. All day they had been back and forth to the henhouse to pick some of the food there or to take a drink. Now they seemed to be totally confused and lost. Pick-Pick was hiding under the bushes but moved on in a confused way when we got close. The other one was just nervously running around in circles saying “gack-gack-gack”. They had previously been part of a large flock with a rooster. Maybe they were waiting for “orders” on what to do and where to go. We felt totally helpless. We never had chicken before and really did not know what to do. Leaving them outside for the night was no option either. There are opossums and foxes in the area for which our two girls would have been a tasty midnight snack. Well, together Norbert and I were finally able to circle in on Pick-Pick and chase her back into the house. Gacky tried to hide herself in a little storage space next to our veranda. Norbert could grab her there and also safely put her back into the house. ¡¡¡UFF!!!
Next day we let them run free again. Getting them into their house in the evening was no problem at all. I had found out during the day that they really love tomatoes. About 6 o’clock in the evening I went into the garden with a handful of diced tomatoes. I called them. “Putt-Putt-Putt”! And with the help of those bright red treats (they seem to love red snacks and even go for the red nail polish on my toes) I “tricked” them into their house. ¡¡¡EASY!!!
Day number three Another beautiful sunny day. The chickens enjoyed the garden. Late afternoon I went down with my tomatoe dices to get them into their hut. They let me lead them towards their home, but not closer than about one meter! After about an hour I gave up. Seemed the same situation like on the first day. They just did not want to go to their coop. We then made the big mistake trying to chase them back into their hut like we had done the first night. What a nightmare! I do not remember how we got Pick-Pick home – but we did somehow. Gacky got so scared that she flew into the bamboo hedge that seperates us from a neighbouring property – and there also is barbed wire in the middle of this hedge! It was pitch dark by now. With flashlight, gloves, a big towel and a garden scissor we went to the other side of the fence to get her out of there. In panick she struggled herself back to our side of the fence and hid herself in some bushes. We tried to catch her there with the help of a big bed sheet. She escaped and tried to hide herself in the gap between our staircase and the back of the henhouse. It is kind of hard to describe this and of course we did not take pictures. The henhouse is triangular and open at the bottom. So Norbert had the idea to just tilt the whole thing and to push the girl in. I was soooo scared! I was afraid the other one would escape or get hurt. BUT: It worked!!!
TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE
I felt close to a heart attack. Never again! I had a sleepless night trying to think of a solution.
First thing next morning we went to get some chicken wire and Norbert constructed a corral. It is about 1.8 m high but I was so afraid the chicken would jump over it, that I covered part of it with an old bedsheet – and I had another sleepless night. So we bought the blue and white mesh that can be seen in the picture and covered the entire area.
Now I felt the chickens were safe and finally I could get a good night’s rest.
By the time I am writing this, the chickens have been living with us for 2 weeks.
Finally we have become friends!
Every other day they give us an egg. The eggs are a lot smaller that what you get in the grocery store – but they are DELICIOUS. We reward them with their favorites: diced apples and tomatoes. During the day they can run free and pick their own food anywhere in the garden. By about 5:30 in the afternoon they voluntarily return to their corral, they get a last treat (“Betthupferl”) and I close the fence. About half an hour later they disappear into their henhouse and I can close the hatch. They wake us up at 8 o’clock every morning demanding that we open hatch and fence so they can enjoy their freedom.
Easter weekend they announced that the mandatory quarantine will go on another 2 weeks (minimum!). That means, we will continue to spend most of our time at home. That also means, that most of what I will post will focus on what is going on in and around our house. So I thought it would be a good idea to give you guys a tour of the house.
This is a rough drawing of the house. The measurements are not exact, I only estimated. Just so you have an idea of the layout.
Let’s start with the guest room: It’s facing east and very light. Obviously we do not use it, but I hope our guests have enjoyed the morning sunshine in their room.
The second bedroom is what I call the “junk room” (“Rumpelkammer”). It’s facing the garden. There is a huge tree in front of the window and sunshine hardly enters the room. It is definitely the coolest room in the house. It also is the only air conditioned room, which may be very useful during the summer months. Fritz (Norbert’s friend from the “Grande Amburgo”), while he stayed with us, enjoyed the cool ambience. Besides a bed, there’s the wardrobe in the room with the few clothes we brought. We’re also using the room now to store all the boxes that we needed while travelling. Well, there will be no more travelling for quite some time. We now call it “Rumpelkammer”, because we also use it to store things that we don’t use, but do not yet want to throw away.
Kitchen/Living: This is definitely the central room of the house, probably a bit bigger than it appears on the drawing (or the two bedrooms in reality are smaller). The main entrance takes you directly into the living/dining area. There is the fire place, which we really love at this time of the year. There is a big dining table and a wonderful rustic cupboard. The kitchen itself is very basic. There is a sink, a fridge and a washing machine. For cooking we have a one-flame gas burner and a tiny toaster oven (“Backöfchen”).
Through the Kitchen/Living you get to what we call our “veranda”. Originally it was only a covered terrasse, the walls were added later. We love this room, with its many windows all around and direct access to the garden. The part facing East we have made our bedroom.
The part facing West we use as a kind of dining room. We put our camping table and the folding chairs there. So we can have our afternoon coffee in the sunshine.
Good thing is that the weather here right now is somewhat like one would expect it in European spring. I colored some boiled eggs for breakfast with curcuma, red beets and some food coloring I found in one of the stores.
Norbert collected some moss and constructed a wonderful Easter Nest.
For Sunday breakfast I baked an “Osternest”- raisin bread and decorated the table with what we had. Well, Easter at home is different. But this one still was very nice! We hope, you all enjoyed your Easter as well.
The “aislamiento social preventivo y obligatorio”, which has been going on since the 20th of March was extended at least until after Easter, means that you cannot meet with friends. When I talk to the neighbour we do this across the fence or gate, trying to keep the recommended distance of 1.5 m. When we go grocery shopping Norbert stays in the car and I enter the line in front of the little supermarket (called “minimercado”) here, putting on my facial mask. The wearing of a protection is not yet officially mandatory, but many stores require it before you can enter.
So we mostly stay at home, keeping busy around the house and garden. The house is built out of bricks, but not insulated. It’s beginning to get quite chilly here in the evenings now. Winter is on its way. The leaves are falling and temperatures at night have dropped down to 6°C. Luckily we have a fire place. Firewood is pretty cheap around here, and the good thing is, you can also use the embers to grill the chicken.
For nearly everyone on Earth, the virus has changed life tremendously, for some more, for some less. But hardly anyone will get by unaffected, aside perhaps from some indigenous folks or others who, for what ever reason, live self-sustained and isolated from the rest of the world. WE love to connect with other people, make friends, love to travel, get to know other cultures and ways of life and write about our experiences.
We are stuck in Villa Parque Síquiman, a small community about 50 km west of Córdoba. Since about 3 weeks the entire country is under mandatory quarantine – and there is no end in sight. Next weekend is Easter, holidays which we wanted to celebrate with friends and family in Berlin – and finally get to know Liam, Norbert’s first grandson, born New Year’s Day, while grandpa was still on the ship to Argentina. Our flights got canceled, the borders are closed.
¿¿¿WHAT CAN WE DO???
We evaluated our options. The German government had arranged for flights to take citizens back to Germany. All those flights leave from Buenos Aires – about 800 km from here. Public transportation is practically non-existent at the moment. Taking our own car is no option, either. Aside from the strict road controls because of the quarantine: Where would we leave the Caddy, once in Buenos Aires??? The car’s permission in this country is tied to Norbert’s tourist visa. The car needs to be out of the country also, if Norbert leaves. Normal option would have been to drive the car to Uruguay, where it legally can be stored up to 12 months. But the borders are closed! To make this short:
WE DECIDED TO STAY…
…until they reopen the borders and we can “normally” return to Berlin.
From now on the purpose of this blog will be to inform family and friends (and of course all others who are interested) as to how we are coping with and adapting to the current situation.
Since last week there is a mandatory quarantine for everyone in the country. They call it “Aislamiento Social Preventivo y Obligatorio”. You are only allowed to leave the house to go to work if you have a job in one of the few fields, that still are allowed to function: food production and supply, health, police, fire department … All others can only leave the house for medical reasons or to go grocery shopping (in the store next to your house, recommendation: once a week). Only farmacies, grocery stores and a few small hardware stores remain open, everything else is closed. Police is controlling any access in and out of villages and towns. Violators will be fined or even detained.
I am writing this in late March. We are back in the house since about a month now. Since last week we also have internet!
Things have changed a lot in the past 4 weeks. CORONA has changed a lot of things in the past 4 weeks.
WE WERE SO LUCKY to get back in time. The day after we got back, a German friend, who had travelled on the “Grande Amburgo” with Norbert, came to visit us. With his cute red VW-Bus (more than 30 years old!) he had meanwhile been all the way to Ushuaia and Fireland, through the southern part of Chile and to Mendoza. He had a lot to talk about and a lot of interesting pictures of his journey to show.
Norbert and Fritz also put in great effort and cut a couple of big branches off the tree in the backyard. It was hard work for them, but I had a great time watching them, too!
The following weekend (Carnival/Mardi Gras) friends from Santa Fe joined us. I think Ana, Santi and Tomi really enjoyed our little creek.
The following weekend more of Norbert’s friends from the “Grande Amburgo” came to stay with us. Joy and Karim travel in their huge “Steyr”, an old Swiss military vehicle turned into a mobile home. They, also, had been to Patagonia and Chile.
Norbert and I really enjoyed the “full house” and the common breakfasts in the morning. I am pretty sure, our guests as well.
This all was, before we had internet installed in the house. To get signal to make phone calls we had to walk about 100 meters uphill, for 4G about 200m. Next place with WiFi is the filling station “Axion”, about 3 km down the road. So, after breakfast, we usually got in the car and went to Axion. They have a nice cafeteria, good café con leche and medialunas. Get into the car??? Which car? Fritz’s red VW is a two-seater with only a bed in the back, the Steyr is too big and it really is a hassle getting her back on the road from the parking. So, we all jumped into our two-seater-caddy. Two on the seats in front, three on an improvised bench in the back.
Of course we had another big barbeque the following weekend. In the next bigger town, Villa Carlos Paz, Norbert and Fritz had met a German speaking Argentine woman, Amina. Her husband, Armin, also grew up in a German speaking family. Very nice and interesting people. Of course they were invited, too.
A great surprise the next Monday morning was a white pick-up truck stopping in front of our gate. At first glance I did not recognize the people. It were Ana’s parents from Santa Fe, who had been for a weekend in Carlos Paz, and decided to drop by to say hello, before getting on the way back home. How wonderful to see them! Too bad, we did not take a selfie! In 2 weeks we would pass by their house on our way to Buenos Aires. We agreed to celebrate that with a big barbeque in their beautiful home.
Well, this all happened, before the Corona crises really got worse.
Last social activity so far, was a visit to the house of our friend Angeles in Cabalango. Her family has a nice little weekend house there, with an exellent barbeque pit and a great pool with spectacular view of the mountains.
Google said, we were only about two and a half hours from home. We had left our “cabaña” early and the weather had cleared up. Good chance to take a little detour and pass by the “Pan de Azucar”, a tourist attraction with a chair lift up the mountain, about 15 km from the house. WHAT A BAD DECISION! The last 20 or 30 km before the “Pan de Azucar” turned out to be a plain desaster. It is probably a lot of fun to take this stretch with a 4×4 or an off-road motorbike, but with our normal car hardly manageable: a narrow, winding dirt road, sandy, full of potholes, steep and with very tight curves.
Thanks to Norbert’s driving skills we got there safely after about 2 or 3 hours. Admittedly, the road led through a very nice, green mountain range, but I was so stressed, that I did not take any pictures.
Norbert took a ride up the “Sugar Hill”, I did not dare to. I had a nice walk around the base station instead, took some pictures and picked a few herbs for our tea.
… was Villa de Maria del Rio Seco. The camp ground indicated on the maps turned out to be just a picnic area a bit outside of town, with no infrastructure whatsoever, no bathrooms, no shower, not even running water.
We were lucky to find accommodation in a very nice “cabaña”. Exceptionally clean and well equipped, with air conditioning an cable TV. We could park the car right outside the door and so connect our little fridge to the electricity.
Next stop: “Costa Tacuara Camping” on the banks of Rio Dulce.
Half the camp ground was under water, but we found a safe and dry place to put up the tent.
After the last fishermen had gone, we were once again the only campers – apart from a few dogs and billions of mosquitoes and ants.
Next morning we noticed that an armada of ants had invaded our car. We found them in every crack. It took Norbert several days using a vacuum cleaner and some poison to get rid of at least majority of them.
The weather forecast promised cloudy skys but no rain for the next couple of days. We trusted the weatherman and asked the guy at the reception desk if we could open the tent on the parking ground to let it dry overnight. Luckily, he did not have any objections. The weatherman kept his promise until the next evening, enough time for the tent to dry and for us to enjoy the warm outdoor pool (35°C). In the afternoon we tried the hot thermal baths (indoor) and a massage.
We stayed 2 days. The room was nice and clean, breakfast (for Argentine standards) very good.
I could well imagine coming back here for a few more relaxing days.
We drove to Salta through the pouring rain. We stayed in Carla’s beautiful house, just like last year. We were hoping for the rain to stop, so that we could open the tent to dry. But it took until next day for the sun to really shine.
We then went north to spend a night near “El Cadillal”, a reservoir near San Miguel de Tucuman. The map indicated about 5 camp grounds around the lake. NOT ONE OF THEM WAS OPEN! All the camp sites were closed, because due to the ongoing rain the ground was so soaked, that camping was impossible. We took a room in one of the many recreation areas, operated by the “Union of Custodial Employees”.
Despite the lousy weather we drove up to the lake. The mountains were shrouded in clouds. As was to be expected, the chairlift did not operate. We took a couple of pictures and a short video of the overflow. Next morning we left early to head for the city of Salta.
We read in the paper next morning, that in the evening they had opened the valves of the dam in an effort to release pressure. Well, one spectacular event we missed. But here’s a link:
Next we headed for San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca. We had spent a couple of nights there last year and found the town center very nice and the people extremely friendly. Meanwhile it kept drizzling continuously. Our maps showed a public camp ground a few kilometers outside of town, apparently on a peninsula in the river El Tala.
By the time we got there, getting lost a few times in the terrible streets (damaged or absent pavement, potholes and ditches all over), it was late afternoon. By then the ongoing rain had caused the little river to turn into a stream of considerable size and it was impossible to set over to the camp ground.
Next chance: “Camping El Portezuelo” on the other side of town.
Again we struggeled through the streets of Catamarca. When we got there, the guys who managed the camp ground were just about to leave. We were the only guests. We were told that the site had been abandoned for several years and that the new owners had just begun to fix it up again. Because of the constantly rising waters in all the creeks and rivers of the area only the upper part of the camp ground was accessible. We found a nice place with solid ground on top of a small hill next to the bathroom building.
GOOD CHOICE! Shortly after we had set up the tent, it began to rain really heavy. We went to bed and tried to sleep. All night it continued raining cats and dogs. In the morning we found about 100 liters of water (or more) collected in a ditch that had formed on our roof. The weight had caused our ladder to sink about 10 cm into the ground. Not to imagine what would have happend if the ground had been less firm!
From Cortaderas we went towards the camp ground of Andolucas. Since several days the weather forecast had predicted heavy rainfalls, but so far we only saw the dark clouds above the mountains or the horizon and it stayed dry.
On the way we stopped in “Copacabana” (just for the name of it), a very small roadside settlement. We had a coffee, a little snack and a nice chat in a small cafe/hostel next to the road. Everything looked colorful and inviting and was very clean. Surely recommendable!
The camp site of Andolucas was a recommendation of friends. Indeed it was very nice, amidst of a lot of cool, clean water. Bathrooms and showers were clean and there were enough of them. There were picnick tables and barbeque pits (as usually), some of them with a roof.
To access the camp ground, however, Norbert had to cross the little river 2 times!!! Okay, it was not very deep and the ground well prepared with concrete, but still I was so scared, that I closed my eyes and forgot to take pictures.
In the evening it started to rain. It kept raining all through the night, not much but constantly. We had our breakfast on one of the covered picknick tables and then had to close the tent wet. We were lucky that the water in the little river had not yet risen so much and we could get back on the road without problems.
After taking a few more pictures at the peak of the pass we decided to head back down. A couple of hundred meters before again reaching the Argentine border control (we could already see the buildings) we spotted a sign: Termas “Las Grutas” 200 m. It was early afternoon and we thought we have the time to explore what this was about. After driving about half a kilometer into the nowhere, we actually saw a tiny building with a tin roof. Inside there were two small benches and a hole in the ground filled with water. It was dark and everything looked abandoned and not very trustworthy.
I took a walk around the building trying to find the origin of the hot waters. It was easy, you could hear and see the water bubbling all around. I stuck my feet in one of the creeks and found the surfacing water real hot.
Of course we had to once again pass the border control to re-enter Argentina. But what a disaster! Short before us a large group of bikers from Chile had arrived and a huge line had formed outside the immigration office. After a while we noticed that the line was not moving. We found out that there was a power outage and the guy at the only counter was sitting there in front of his black screen waiting for the electricity to come back on. Next problem was a guy who could only present a broken ID card! After about 2 hours it was about our turn. Just then arrived a guy whose wife was on cruches. Of course, they had priority. Well, exactly THREE YEARS FROM NOW we will jump all the lines in this country.
For a moment we considered to continue our way through Chile. But knowing their strict border control in respect to fruits and vegetables (and our whole refrigerator was full of them!) we discarded that idea. By the time we got our “re-entry-stamps” in our passports it was late afternoon and too late to travel far. So we spent another night in that oversized hotel along the road.
Next stop was Tinogasta. Looking for a camp ground, we came across the “Complejo Termal La Aguadita” (at about 1400 m). In internet and in a camping guide which I have downloaded it said “camping possible upon request”. This “complejo” turned out to be a well equipped and well frequented recreation area about 10 km outside of town. It had a good size pool in front and a play ground, sufficent and clean showers and bathroom facilities, a restaurant and about a dozen barbeque pits with picknic benches and individual water faucets and sinks. But: It was NOT a camp ground. We could have parked the Caddy and put up the tent where ever we liked for about 400 pesos, but we could not find a really suitable place. Either it was not level, too loud (next to contruction site or playground) or smelly (garbage or sewage). In the back, with nice view towards the mountains, there were 4 spacious cabañas. We rented one of them for 1000 pesos/night (less than USD 15). It was very basic but clean. Fresh sheets and towels were provided and it had a nice, well functioning bathroom and space to park the Caddy right in front.
At the side of the “complejo” we found the real “termas”: 3 basins, each one lower than the previous one. The top one was continuously being filled with tepid water (about 30°C) from a creek coming down from the mountain, the water then overflowed into the next lower pool and in the end back into the creek. Early next morning Norbert enjoyed a dive into this really fresh water.
We stayed 2 nights and then decided to drive up to the “Paso de San Francisco”. Google said, it was only about a 2,5 hour drive away.
The road from Tinogasta (RN 60) leads through Fiambalá. It is a small town known for its thermal baths (which we did not visit) and some more or less preserved adobe buildings in its surroundings. We stopped at a few of the ruins to take some pictures.
The pass “San Francisco” is the highest international border crossing in South America: 4725 m. Because of this altitud we did not dare to drive up in one stretch. We thought it would be better to spend a night somewhere at about 2500 m altitud for acclimatization. The first place, however, we found was a hotel called “Complejo Turistico Cortaderas” at 3300 m. There was no opportunity to camp nowhere around. So we took the chance and booked a room in the hotel. We were somewhat sceptical. Last year we had gone from Salta (1100 m) to Humahuaca (3100 m) in one day and had a very difficult time the first night breathing. Surprisingly this time we did not have major problems.
The room was nice, clean and very big and the price of 3000 pesos (about € 36) acceptable. Presumably because of the constant strong wind and the fine sand, all the windows and doors (except the main entrance) were taped shut. First thing we did was remove the tape and open the window wide, which resulted in a shovel full of sand on the floor next to the bed. But better sand than a taped window! In the evening we took a walk around the building and I collected a handful of wild herbs for our tea.
Next morning we headed for the border. Wonderful drive, excellent street, beautiful sites, good weather, bright sunshine, but of course cool. Plenty opportunity for great pictures.
To our surprise the Argentine border control was about 25 km before the actual pass (the Chilean control 100 Km after the pass!). The paperwork to get through the control, including the car, was a matter of 10 minutes.
Another half hour and another 725 m higher, we could finally take our selfie in front of the historic border landmark.
A couple of days after Pau, Lean and Iru had left we loaded the Caddy and headed North. First stop was a camp site next to the “Embalse de Olta”. The place was full of people who spent the wonderful hot and sunny Saturday with friends and family, enjoying barbeque and the cool and clean water. We were the only ones who stayed for the night. The people in charge of the camp ground were real nice and uncomplicated. But aside from a small selection of beverages and crackers which they sold in their little “kiosko”, there were no services what so ever. The toilets were so terrible, that I decided not to use them. Showers or even a wash basin and faucet with running water did not exist. So I had to resort to “Plan B”: I hung up our checkered “Pferdedecke” (“horse blanket”) and put our portable toilet bucket with a composable plastic bag and cat litter behind it. The afternoon sun heated my shower water in a black water bag to nearly 45°C within a few hours. Again the blanket protected my privacy.
It was Monday and we were one of only 3 or 4 campers on the ground. However, right next to the entrance we noticed a huge stage and enough chairs stacked up to seat more than a hundred people. The owner confirmed that on weekends they have some sort of “dinner shows” with barbeque and live music. So if you look for a quiet place, you should not come here on weekends.
We decided to make the veranda our bedroom. This part of the house was originally just a covered terrace. The walls were added later. Now it is a wonderful airy space, with windows all around.
This leaves the other two bedrooms for guests. :=) Well, at least one of them. The other one we use to store all the thing we don’t need when we’re not travelling.
Friends from Buenos Aires announced that they would want to visit us for a few days. GREAT!!! So we moved the queensize bed back into the guest room and decided to order a bed, somewhat bigger, especially made for our veranda, according to the measurements we gave them. Within one week it was made and delivered,
Next day our friends arrived. We had a real good time. Talking, playing with their little girl, enjoying barbeque and music.
Else than that, we just enjoyed the house and the garden. The past three years nobody really lived in the house. Appears that it had only been used for some weekend parties and barbeques. The garden, which under the original owners was “a dream of colors and flowers” (according to the judgment of the next door neighbor) was now totally overgrown with weeds. Many of the shrubs and bushes and some of the trees were dead. With the help of a neighbor and his son we got rid of some junk in the back yard, trimmed the hedges and cut the grass.
Norbert finally arrived in Montevideo January 2 and at least HIS roof tent adventure began. Getting the car on solid ground and from there through customs and immigrations was no problem.
First stop was a camp site about an hour drive eastwards of Montevideo. It also is kind of a “baby sitting” place for mobile homes and cars if their owners need to leave them for some time. https://www.uy-storage.com/ Norbert and some of the other guys who came on the ship, used the facilities to prepare their vehicles for the further travels.
After 6 weeks on “Grimaldi-Diet” (lots of excellent pizza and pasta and wine, but no sweets and no desserts) it was time to make up.
Next stop was a nice camp ground on the Rio Uruguay, near the Argentine border.
Next day: First Argentine breakfast.
Next stop was a camp ground near Rosario/Santa Fe.
As quiet and romantic as it looks, a heavy storm in the middle of the night forced Norbert to pack the tent (wet as it was) and spend the rest of the night inside the car.
Last stretch to Cordoba: Another 500 km.
The following three weeks we enjoyed our new “second home”, improved it a bit and prepared for future travels.
Although we will be travelling most of the time, we do not feel like born nomads. We (or maybe mainly “I”?) need some sort of solid base camp to come home to whenever we need a pause. Yes, we have a number of friends in various parts of the country, where we always feel welcome. But of course, a place of your own is still different.
While Norbert is still on the way to Montevideo, I rented a room in “Villa Parque Síquiman”, about a block away from the house. With the help of the guy from the real estate office, I am trying to get all the preliminaries done, so that we can hopefully close the deal at the notary’s office soon.
Meanwhile I am relaxing at the pool, take long walks, enjoy the weather and the beautiful nature around here.
Probably because this is their last harbour in Brasil, they were picked up by the local police in the morning and given an unvoluntary city tour.
They were taken to the cental police station, they had their fingerprints taken, their passports checked and were then taken back to the ship. None of the passengers really understood the sense of all this.
The entertainment of the afternoon was a nosy dolphin family, playing around the ship.
In the evening they left Paranaguá headed for Zarate, where they are expected to arrive 3 days later.
Those poor guys on the “Grande Amburgo” spent Christmas anchoring about 70 kilometers offshore of Paranaguá. No internet, of course. But at least, from what I heard, they enjoyed a super-delicious Christmas lunch and dinner.
And they also had a Christmas tree!
Else than that, I guess they spent another 2 days giving their feet fresh, salty air and sunshine.
The daily life on board seems to be marked by doing nothing – interrupted only by breakfast, lunch and dinner…
… or every few days, when the ship enters another harbour. Then, for a few hours there is internet, we can talk on the phone and Norbert can send some pictures.
Here are some of those he sent from RIO DE JANEIRO
After leaving Rio they headed for SANTOS, South America’s largest harbour. After anchoring nealy 2 days offshore they entered the harbour after nightfall. Next day, Norbert would have loved to visit the “Museum of Pele”, which was in walking distance of the pier. Unfortunately it was Monday and the museum was closed. So just a couple of pictures of loading/unloading and the harbour skyline.
Reaching Vitória two days later, the “Grande Amburgo” once again spent one night outside the actual harbour, before they could enter. But they had Internet and Norbert sent me this picture of a wonderful Brazilian sunset.
Next morning they continued into the actual harbour. Norbert enthusiastically told me about this early morning sightseeing tour.
Here are some of the pictures he sent:
In the evening, after nightfall, they left the harbour taking course at Rio de Janeiro
After 4 or 5 days of crossing the ocean I finally got a call from Norbert. They were anchoring, or rather drifting, about 40-50 km off the Brazilian coast waiting for the okay to enter the harbour.
Every time they drifted too far off coast, the engines were started (which I could follow on “marinetraffic.com“), to get closer to the harbour again. THEN they usually had signal, at least enough to make a call, until the captain had the engines turned off and they drifted once again out of internet coverage.
This sort of funny “off and on” communication lasted a couple of days before the “Grande Amburgo” finally set sails for Vitoria – again with delay.
Projected arrival in Montevideo now is the 2nd of January.
Three of the passengers, who had been travelling without cars, had decided to leave the ship in Suape and catch a flight, trying to make it home to Germany before Christmas.
…. and I am beginning to feel very lonely. I have been fighting the boredom by going downtown shopping (more like window shopping) and searching the internet and some neighbourhood real estate offices for possible properties in the area. I must have contacted dozens of offices, only very few of them even bothered to answer. I looked at a few houses, but either they were in bad conditon, too expensive, in a bad neighbourhood or …, or …, or … Saturday one of the real estate guys sent me a message suggesting we meet Sunday morning and he would show me a few houses. Fine! I couldn’t think of anything better to do anyhow. So, Dimas and his companion picked me up at the bus terminal of Carlos Paz (about 30 minutes by car from Córdoba). The two guys not only showed me various properties, but also gave me an extensive tour around the San Roque Lake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Roque_Lake and its many tourist attractions. We stopped at the Plaza Federal, supposed to be the geographical center of Argentina and had lunch in a Parrilla (grill restaurant) with traditional life music and excellent steak. https://es-la.facebook.com/parrilahornohistorico/ We really had a great time.
But, ¡my goodness! The houses they showed me! There was something wrong with each and every one of them. One had a bathroom only on the upper floor, reachable only through a winding stair case that made you dizzy by just looking at it. The next one definitely needed a new kitchen, another one a new roof.
Until we stopped by this little jewel, that you can see above. Admittedly, somewhat in the middle of nowhere, the next bus stop and a small store about a 20 minute walk downhill, the next restaurant about half an hour. But with enough space for our Caddy, very quiet, with a wonderful garden and ready for us to move in tomorrow. I am afraid, I fell in love.
We looked at two more houses afterwards, which was a pure waste of time.
For three days the “Grande Amburgo” layed anchored off Dakar harbour, before they could then finally dock on to unload/load their cars and containers. ANOTHER 3 DAYS OF DELAY!!! Meanwhile the expected arrival at Montevideo is Christmas Day! The great thing was, that in Dakar they (Norbert and his companion passengers) could buy some internet data package, so at least we could talk and exchange some pictures. Well, the fun lasted about an hour before the data package was exhausted.
Very spontaneously I bought myself a bike. I was walking back to Angeles’ home from the city. At 35°C and with a heavy bag full of goodies I had bought, walking uphill, I passed a little bike shop. The owner, Walter, very nice and communicative, had a couple of used bikes at reasonable prices. One of them, a blue city bike (no gearshift) in seemingly good condition caught my attention. But I could not make up my mind yet. I sat down for a beer in the next pub to think about it. By the time I called Walter to let him know that I would take the bike, he had closed his shop for siesta. A bit after 16:00 then, I was proud owner of this beautiful vehicle.
Next day I took it for a first ride – downtown to “Mercado Norte” – to get some things I needed to make my “famous” potatoe salad, that Angeles had asked me to prepare for a big barbecue the coming weekend in their house in Cabalango. The bike worked fine. Okay, downtown from “Alta Cordoba” is mainly downhill. The seat proved kind of worn and uncomfortable, though. On the way there, close to the market, I passed by a rather big bike shop. I asked for the price of a comfortable seat (Ar$ 350 = € 5,00) – and they would install it on the spot. I ended up having them “pimp” my bike not only with the seat, but also put on a new stand, new pedals and a speedometer. Great thing, too, that I could leave my bike there, not having to worry about a safe place, while I was strolling about the market and its surroundings.
After the “Grande Amburgo” left Le Havre, there was no internet connection for two days. Only when they passed the Canary Islands, did they have signal again for an hour or so. Of course we used this for a long exchange, well knowing that next possibility to talk might be (if we are lucky) when they hit land in Dakar in two or three days.
It is my impression, that Norbert really enjoys this adventureous journey. For one thing, they seem to have an excellent Italian cook, who is preparing 4 or 5 course meals twice a day (for lunch and dinner!), occasionally accompanied by a good bottle of wine …
… and in addition, the further South they are heading, the better the weather!
Two days after I arrived here, I booked my first Airbnb- “Experience”: A guided walk through 5 of the city center’s churches. The guide, Sofie, was very nice and knowledgeable. She answered all my questions. I learned a lot about the impact of the chuch on the city’s development and the importance of religion today, especially in the field of education, but also in the daily life of the people today.
Upon recommendation of Sophie, I had lunch in the 7th-floor restaurant of the “Colegio de Escribanos”. The food was good, the view is nice – or not so nice – depending which direction you choose.
A few days later I went with Angeles and her mother to Cabalango, about an hour drive from the city, where the family owns a little house. Cabalango is a nice and very quiet little settlement in the Sierras, at an altitude of about 900 m. Fresh air, great view. There are a handful of “Kioskos” and little restaurants and a bakery. Of course there is a police station and a health center for medical attention. Most of the people here are only coming for the weekends or vacation.
The “Grande Amburgo” was to stop in Le Havre only for a few hours to load and unload. Soon after they started, however, there were some problems with one of the cranes and they had to interrupt the work. They tried to fix it, but without success. After it got dark, they decided to try again next day.
After the crane problem was fixed, they still could not leave. A weather warning for the Biskay Bay kept them in the harbour for yet another day.
Here some night time harbour impressions, that Norbert sent:
When they finally left for Dakar, they had another two days delay.
I had booked my flight with Jetsmart (www.jetsmart.com), one of the budget airlines leaving from “El Palomar” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Palomar_Airport) a small airport practically in the middle of the city (although geografically outside the city limits). My friends kind of frowned, these airlines do not have a good reputation.
However, I was impressed. Jetsmart advertises with the slogan: “You only pay for what you use”. I had paid € 30 for a seat and one small piece of luggage (they say “bolsa de mano”, which literally means “hand bag”). Well, I had two: a “hand bag” with my cloths and my quite heavy backpack with my tablet, cell phones, camera, power pack and all the various chargers and adapters and so on, plus my cosmetic bag. After my experience with Norwegian, I went straight up to the check-in counter, presented my luggage. The woman looked at it, and then decided that the two pieces were small enough each to go through as one. WOW. Lucky me! The seats were simple, grey leatherette covered, no head cushion or neck support and they did not recline. But they had normal width with normal, short distance leg space. For Ar$ 700 (about € 11), to be paid in cash on board, I could have had an extra spacious first row or emergency exit seat. There is no kind of entertainment or gimmicks like USB chargers. Beverages and snacks are being offered, but need to be paid for (cash only, Ar$ or US$). I found the prices more than reasonable: coffee and soft drinks less than € 2, hot water for mate or tea € 1,20, a large beer € 2,80. The plane was clean, left and arrived punctually, the staff was friendly. What else do you need for a 1 hour 20 minute flight?
Angeles picked me up at the bus stop. In the evening her mom and aunt also came to say hello. We enjoyed a nice chat and a couple of beers together. I felt very welcome.
The whole airport, like last year, still resembles one huge construction site. I had hoped, that at least the outside terrace of the cafeteria was finished by now. But NO. So I had to go to the small food court on the upper level to take the usual Quilmes-Welcome-Selfie.
The line at the passport control had been terribly long and had moved slowly. So by the time I got to the bus stop it was past 10 o’clock. Together with a number of other passengers I waited more than half an hour for a bus to come. It turned out to be one of the “slow” busses, that stop at every lantern and the driver advised us that it would take about 2,5 hours to get downtown. Nevertheless, I got on. At about half the distance (at the Liniers train station) I got off, remembering that somewhere around here a direct and fast bus was leaving for my destination. While trying to find the respectiv bus stop, I passed by some guys in front of a “Remis”-station (sort of a private taxi service). I asked for the price to take me to our friends house. It was very acceptable, and I decided that after the long flight, I deserved a comfortable ride. For not even Ar$ 400 (€ 6) he took me to the door steps.
This year I am not staying with Pau and Leandro. They had moved to another part of Vicente Lopez and now need the second bedroom for their sweet little daughter Irupé, who just turned one year a couple of month ago. But, of course, I went to visit them next day, to say hello and see how big the little cutie has become since I last saw her.
Instead I stay with Isabel and Daniel, who had visited us in Berlin a year ago. They live in Belgrano, but in walking distance to the place where Pau and Leandro had lived before. Their house is quite big and since all of their kids have moved out, they use the space for public monthly concerts and performances.
This weekend they had two women story tellers and a band from Brasil. EXCELLENT. The house filled quickly with neighbours and friends, must have been about 50 or more! http://www.facebook.com/CasaAbiertaCC
I only stayed 3 days Buenos Aires and then moved on to Córdoba.
About the same time I left London for Buenos Aires, Norbert got notice, that the Grande Amburgo was expected in Hamburg next day. More than one week later than originally scheduled! He spent the night in a hotel near the harbour. Next day the cars were loaded aboard. The passengers were assigned their cabins. Everything went smooth, ready to leave the harbour in the afternoon.
For whatever reason, however, (only God, the harbour administration and the ship’s master may know) the departure was postponed at least another day. Well, this gave the passengers (7 in total) the opportunity for a harbour tour next morning and a last “Fischbrötchen” at the fish market.
Late next morning (Buenos Aires time), I was just having breakfast in our usual café in Vicente Lopez, I received the following WhatsApp:
I had a very relaxing flight back to London. The plane was half empty, so I had an entire row of three seats to myself.
I landed in Heathrow after night fall.
I had reserved an Airbnb about halfway between Heathrow and Gatwick. (My flight to Buenos Aires would leave from Gatwick). VERY, VERY NICE!!! Sophie and her husband Carl were very accommodating and helpful with everything. They have 4 cats and several chicken. All the animals were rescued from certain death or suffering. The cats are all very old, each of them suffering some sort of health issue. The oldest one is the Persian “grandpa” with 19 years of age.
Her chickens were rescued from the frying pan, when after 1 1/2 years in a laying battery it was decided that their productivity was then insufficient. In Sophie’s garden they can enjoy another one or two years of their lives, contributing in exchange to a delicious beakfast with eggs from really happy chicken.
I spent the next two days just relaxing and preparing myself for the 14 hour flight to Buenos Aires.
Due to jet lag I woke up early enough to enjoy the early morning view out of my window.
I almost forgot one of the best things in Sophie’s house: The gorgeous bathtub! The night before I left I thoroughly enjoyed my probably last bath for the next half year.
When I took a walk through the small town, I was surprised by the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies presented in the (mainly Indian) shops.
And if it were not for the cold and windy weather, I could have imagined myself in Buenos Aires, considering the palm trees in front of some of the houses.
My plane with Norwegian left about 21:30. Sophie had ordered an Uber to take me to the tram station. From there I went with tram and train directly to Gatwick. Check-in went smooth and fast. Only, I had nearly double the weight (my board trolley and my little backpack) so I had to pay to check in my trolley. Tough luck, I should have checked this before.
I took on board a portion of couscous, some cheese snack and 2 bottles of water bought after security. Definitely enough for the 14 hour flight. Their Boing 787 (Norwegian calls it “Dreamliner”) is a very modern plane. You place orders directly through the touch screen in front of you. The best thing, however: They provide free internet access during the flight. Not fast enough to really do any surfing, but enough to surprise Norbert with a late night Whatsapp. I even succeeded sending a couple of pictures.
We landed punctually in Ezeiza at 8 in the morning
My favorite aunt had asked me for a “resume” of my travels to China and Taiwan. There is no way, however, to summarize the many different impressions and experiences of those 10 days.
Nevertheless, here comes a short list of the things (some of them, admittedly, very trivial), that caught my attention.
About (Mainland China) I cannot say much, other than:
everyone I met was very, very friendly
outside the airport I did not meet anyone who spoke a word of English
access to internet is very restricted (but that surely is no secret)
In Taiwan (Republic of China) I noticed that
even in the most crowded places the people remained friendly, polite and appeared relaxed. Never have I heard any loud verbal exchange or witnessed any agression.
although many streets, especially the side streets, look very bad, with pot holes, damaged pavement and missing pedestrian sidewalks, I have not seen trash anywhere: no paper, no plastic bottles, no beer cans, not even cigarette butts.
Public transportation, at least in the cities and along the West coast (I am referring here to trains and metro) is effective, fast, punctual, comfortable, very clean and comparably cheap. The HSR (High Speed Rail) coveres the 400km from Koishung (in the South) to Taipei in less than 2 hours. I paid about € 40. I could have had this for a fraction of the price taking the slower, local commuter trains. About the East coast, which much less densely populated, I cannot say anything. Neither about busses. Within the cities I only took the metro (underground). The only bus I boarded was the “Kenting Express Shuttle” from Koishung to the vacation resort Kenting (about and hour and a half), the bus was relatively old, but clean and comfortable.
it seems that food plays an important role in daily and family life. I have seen people eat at any time of the day and considerable quantities. Still, I have seen hardly any overweight people.
very, very few women wear nail polish. I have seen maybe two or three of them – and not one with artifical finger nails. The same goes for facial piercings. I have not seen a single one. Tattoos, at least among younger males, seem to be as popular as in Europe or the US.
aside from parks, there is very little public green or street trees in the cities. Instead, you see lots of potted plants in front of almost every store.
in none of the parks, public places, train or metro stations have I seen a single pigeon. Only one time have I seen a couple of birds resembling pigeons in some tourist café picking crumbs.
in the cities I have seen very few dogs, and definitely no stray dogs. This may be different in the country side.
there is a 7-eleven store on almost every street corner and sometimes another one in between. In most of them you can sit down to eat whatever you have bought there. Hot water, for example for instant soups, is always provided. Many of them even have a restroom. And the coffee they offer is just as good and costs a third of that at Starbucks. They usually also have an ATM which accepts foreign credit cards.
Sunday seems to be THE day to leave the house to go shopping, to enjoy parks and nature, to go sightseeing and to do all the things that tourists also like to do. So unless you REALLY, REALLY like incredible crowds and endless seeming lines, I recommend to leave all those nice touristy places to the 23 million Taiwanese that day, enjoy the Sunday with a good book in some quiet place – and get ready to continue exploring the country Monday morning.
Every time I told people that on my way back to Europe I will spend one night in Beijing, they laughed and said: “Oh, do you know that this also is a famous song?” So here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwL3l6rcUJ0
I left the house early. Carry walked with me to the train station and we had breakfast on the way. When I arrived at the airport, it had begun to rain. When I landed in Beijing the sky was clear, the sun was just about to set.
I had booked a hotel very near the airport for € 27. With the help of the English speaking lady at the airport’s tourist information, I arranged for the hotel’s airport shuttle.
The hotel was indeed near the airport, as the pictures show. But this airport is very wide spread and scattered. It took nearly half an hour by car to get to the hotel.
The hotel has a really impressive entrance hall with very heavy solid, carved wood interior. Next to the reception desk is a Koi-pond and in the lobby I saw two (presumably) buddhist altars or shrines. In front of each there was a considerable amount of money piled up. I would have loved to ask a hundred questions, but the receptionist did not speak any English and above that she was just occupied with her cell phone and appeared totally uninterested in any conversation .
My 6th floor room was spacious, clean and window could be opened wide. The heavy wooden furniture was chipped, the ornimental wall paper coming off, the heavy carpet faded … Obviously, this hotel had seen much, much better days. Perhaps a very prestigous place in the past, it now finds itself located between runway, highway and taxi parking lot. Just below my window were some kind of barracks with the taxi dispatcher’s office facing the hotel side. Taking a walk later in the evening, I discovered in the back of it a little store (very, very little, about living room size) where I obtained a couple of cold beers for the night and some instant noodle soup for dinner. The old woman who ran the store was very amused about me wearing flip flops. We had a good laugh, not knowing each others’ language, but well understanding what we were talking about. (Well, I did not anticipate temperatures of 6°C below zero and my “real” shoes were in my checked baggage)
Next morning I took an early walk about the neighborhood, which consisted of the taxi parking lot, the barracks which in its rear also housed some sort of diner or canteen (probably mainly used by the taxi drivers at break) and a walkway along the street leading to the terminal.
Here some pictures:
About noon I took the shuttle back to the airport.
For my last 2 nights before returning to Europe, I decided to contact a family through couchsurfing. Luckily they could accommodate me for the 2 days requested.
What can I say? It was just another wonderful couchsurfing experience which resulted in making new friends! Carry, her husband, her son (15) and her daughter (13) picked me up at the train station. We first went to her parent’s house, where her brother with family also lives. I had the privilege to enjoy a traditional Taiwanese family dinner with them. 谢谢 THANK YOU VERY MUCH! It was a pleasure to talk to the kids, who are both (like the entire family!) very open minded, eager to learn English and find out about other cultures. I did not take any pictures, and if I had, I probably would not publish them here, because I’d consider them to be too private.
Next day, Sunday, I planned to visit 3 sites, all accessible with the same Metro line (subway): 1. Valley of hot sulfur springs 2. Fisherman’s Wharf 3. Take a bus to some nearby mountain resort
I got up early and before 8 o’clock I was at the metro station. By the time I got to Hotspring Valley (9 o’clock) the public access places were already terribly crowded. I took a walk to the “pond” where the hot water was surfacing. Of course one could not access the water itself, it was steaming hot and the sulfur smell was strong. There were several private Spas around which offered to bathe in the health promising hot sulfur water. Considering the outside temperatures which now, a bit past 10 o’clock seemed to be approaching 30°C, I did not feel the need for a hot sulfur bath.
Next I took the metro to the final stop (Tamsui) and walked towards the harbor. It was now a bit before noon. The main street was already quite crowded, but at the harbour promenade there were not too many people and the merchants were just about to set up their sales stands. I took a boat (took about 15 minutes) to the end of the wharf. Nice boat ride! As was to be expected, the wharf was full of souvenier shops and restaurants. I found a nice little café, called “Café Owl” at the end of the pier. The owner explained, that the owl is considered the protector of the Taiwanese indigenous cultures. He was real nice and even though he spoke English, he let me pracice my Chinese by placing my order in Mandarin.
Here some more pictures of Tamsui and the “Fisherman’s Wharf”
When I got back (nearly 14:00), the harbour promenade had filled with seemingly millions of people. My way back to the Metro Station I cannot call “walking”, it was merely showeling against the stream through the crowds – and every incoming Metro brought more of them.
I got off the metro a couple of stations later, where there were supposed to be busses leaving for some mountain resort. The nice young lady at the tourist info informed me, that at 15:15 the bus number “S 15” was leaving for the mountains. Knowing that the ride would be close to one hour, I specifically asked her, if there could be any problems getting back in the evening. She seemed to consider this a somewhat silly question and shook her head. I put myself in line with the other people waiting, not anticipating that all of us would be squeezed into a tiny bus. Now I know, that the “S” stands for “small” or “xiao” (小) which means the same. For two hours I had to stand up in this bus, winding up the serpentine road, stuck in traffic with thousands of cars heading the same way, blocked by silly parked vehicles on the side of the road. By the time we got up there it was nearly dark. I took a couple of fotos and went to the bus stop to go back to town,
That is where the real nightmare began. All the thousands of people, who had made it up here by public transportation (or walking) had the same idea. I have never in my life (and probably never will) seen such lines waiting at a bus stop. After about an hour and a half I finally got on a bus, sitting directly underneath the air conditioning. But I am not complaining, at least I had a seat. The way down took as long as the way up, because all the people who went up with their cars where now on their way down, which resulted in a huge traffic jam. By about 21:00 I had finally made it to Banqiao Station, to be greeted by a brightly illuminated and overly crowded Christmas market.
What a relaxing evening then in Carry’s house! Just planting my butt on their sofa, seeing the kids prepare for the coming school day, answering some questions about their English home work … … to then prepare my own stuff for leaving this beautiful island.
After so much city, I felt, I needed a place to relax. So I went all the way south to Kenting.
Before I took the express bus there, I met with the mother of one of the girls (Chih-Ling), who stay in my apartment in Berlin right now. We had met before in Berlin and get along real nice. We had a very tasty lunch in Koahsiung and spent a couple of relaxing hours chatting about this and that.
The first night in Kenting (I arrived in the dark), I spent in the cheap ($ 20) hotel next to the bus station, which I had booked in advance. It was clean, the room spacious, the bed comfortable and the real big window opened to let the refreshing mountain breeze in. Still, just like in Tainan: Everything, starting in the lobby, was messy and full of private “junk”. The whole place was run down and there was mildew and traces of humidity all over the bathroom (although, I must say, it did not smell mouldy!). I shut the bathroom door and opened the window wide. The cool air that entered the room was divine. For the first time since my arrival in Taiwan, I can say I slept REALLY, REALLY good.
Nevertheless, I afforded myself a $ 50 luxury hotel for the other two nights. I took a 4th floor room in one of the many small hotels (luckily, as busy as this resort probably is in the summer time, there are no “hotel towers”) first row to the beach. “Sea view”, of course, with balcony. A DREAM!
The next two days I spent exploring the area around (I took a tour) and the main street (walking). The street that leads through the town parellel to the beach converts itself at night fall (which here is about 6 pm) into a huge, mile long night market.
Here some more pictures of the abundance of fruits, vegetables and fresh pressed juices, found on local markets:
And here some pictures of the beautiful nature and landscape:
After two days I took a train to Tainan. The hotel I had booked was supposed to be within walking distance from the train station. The way was quite adventurous. Tainan turned out to be so much different from what I had seen in Taipei. The streets were incredibly crowded – people, cars, bicycles and thousands of motorbikes or scooters. Most of them seemed to be parked on the walkway, so that there was no way to get through with my suitcase. I simply had to move down to the street and drag my trolley amidst parked cars and the traffic. Didn’t seem to bother anyone. My “hotel” was terrible. Located on the 6th floor above a “regular” hotel I found myself in front of something like a reception desk with a noodle-eating guy, who appeared to be the owner. Everything was totally run down and full of junk, the guy seemed to be a real messy. Dirty towles and linen were piled up on the floor. The guy was real nice and spoke a bit of English. I had specifically asked for a room with a window – and that’s what I got. To the end of an endless seeming hallway he led me to the room. Well, it was clean, the bed was big and seemed comfortable, sheets and towles were fresh. The air condition worked. The large window was facing south, overlooking the city. But, the furniture looked a hundred years old, discoloured and chipped, the tiles in the bathroom were cracked, the wall paper in the room coming off the wall, the water heater for the bathroom was on the wall right next to the bed. But the worst thing was, that the window could not be opened, not even cracked. And I definitely want fresh air in the night. I left my luggage and decided to take a walk. I sat down at one of the many street kitchens and had me a bowl of soup and a beer. Right next to it I saw a little “normal” looking hotel. The receptionist did not speak any English but was real nice and let me look at a room on the second floor: super-king size bed, window that could be opened all the way, clean bathroom with large shower stall – PERFECT – for just about 10 bucks more than that creepy place. I went to pick up my luggage, paid the guy for the first night and enjoyed two days in a very nice and airy room.
Next morning I got up real early and took a walk to the “Tainan Park” just a couple of blocks from the hotel. Nice park, very well used by the local people to meet for common breakfast in the picknick areas or just for doing early morning yoga (or whatever) exercises, alone or in groups, some with instructor and some without.
The evening I spent in one of the street “cafés”, enjoying a very good (and cheap!) meal, watching the busy evening activities in the street in front.
Next day I went for one of the historic sites of Tainan: the residues of an old fort (Fort Provintia) built by the Dutch in the 17th century. It was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 19th ccntury and is now known as “Chihkan Tower”. That day a great number of local tourists and several groups of high school students with their teachers were visiting the site. Seems that this is an important monument in respect to Taiwanese history.
While I am enjoying the Far East sunshine and warmth, poor Norbert is stuck with preparing the Caddy (and the apartment!) all by himself.
I know it is a lot of work and at times I have kind of a bad conscience about leaving him all alone with that. But then again, I think I might be more of a disturbance, especially when it comes to apartment.
The departure of the Grande Amburgo was postponed again for another week. It was supposed to leave then on Thursday, Nov. 21. Norbert accordingly booked a hotel in Hamburg for the last night. On Wednesday they announced that the departure would not be until Friday. Luckily the hotel could be rebooked.
Car liability insurance for Argentina and most surrounding countries is arranged and paid for (Roby Speiser, Buenos Aires). http://www.speiserseguros.com.ar Norbert installed a GPS tracking system in the car www.mytkstar.net and a surveillance camera in the house. The health assurance is taken care off…
I landed in Taoyuan (that is where the airport is located) about 6 pm, it was already dark. I bought myself an “Easycard” (valid on a large number of public transportation means all over Taiwan) charged with 200 TWD. I took the train 2 stops (25 TWD = less than 1 USD) and walked to my hotel, directed by google maps. The shortest way was through a shopping center called “Gloria Outlets”. I have NEVER seen a mall that big! It seems like an entire city spread out over several square miles (I might be exaggerating, though). There are hundreds of name brand stores, long lines forming in font of several of them. Visiting shopping malls appears to be a favorite family weekend leisure. (The place turned out to be even more crowded next day, which was a Sunday). I stopped at a 7-Eleven and did not believe my eyes: They actually served Weizenbeer from the tap! Of course I needed to test it. It passed.
Next day I took the HSR (High Speed Railway) to Taipei. 20 minutes, 160 TWD. The train station in Taipei is underground and huge. It took me about 15 minutes to find my way out into the fresh air. I was hoping to find some place to sit down and enjoy a morning coffee. But I found only high office buildings, streets, cars …. very few people rushing – it was Sunday, so I guess – to the next shopping center. No store, no café. Seems like all the life here takes place underground or at least indoors. I decided to take the MRT (metro) to the Chiang Kai-shek memorial. IMPRESSIVE!
After crossing the Himalaya, late afternoon I arrived in Chengdu, Peoples Republic of China. I had booked a hotel (booking.com) near the airport, but did not know how to get there.
I approached the lady at the airport’s information counter. She called the hotel and less than 15 minutes later a polite young man picked me up. It took about 15 minutes to get to the hotel by car, through some absolutely chaotic traffic during East Asian big city rush hour (youtube is probably full of such documentation). I really admire the driver!
It turned out to be some real backstreet, backyard hotel with no facilities what so ever. No one spoke a word of English. But the staff was extra nice and had a good translation program (youdao) and we communicated quite well. The room, with private bathroom, was nice and clean. I paid the equivalent of US$ 15 (cash, in local currency only) including the airport transfer!!!
By the time I got there it was pitch dark. The street lighting was scarce. Nevertheless, I decided to take a little walk through the neighborhood in the intent to grab a bite to eat. I found myself amidst a (presumably) working class quarter, in the middle of local reality. Tiny shops of all sorts (hairdresser, tailor, grocery shops, street kitchens …) all along the street. But I could not believe my eyes, when I took off to one of the side streets. I found a lively market with stands of veggies, fruits, clothes, household items, fish, meat and anything else you can think of. Even that late in the evening (by then 8 pm) it was very frequented, though badly illuminated. I decided to take a closer look in the morning.
I was hungry and thirsty, so I sat down in one of the street kitchens. Ordering the beer was quite easy. I managed that in Chinese, the woman understood and delivered. Getting something to eat proved to be a lot more complicated.
The woman handed me a laminated one-page “menu” covered closely with Chinese characters. Luckily the prices showed in “normal” arabic numbers (at least I assumed, that this is what the numbers at the end of each row of characters meant). Fine, I could identify the character for “soups”, they had quite a number of them. So I told the lady in my very best Chinese, that I wanted some soup with only vegetables, no meat. She seemed to understand and nodded. But then she handed me a piece of paper and a pen and insisted I put my order down in written form. I first thought this was a joke (or just malicious???). I desperately tried to make her understand that I cannot write Chinese but she remained firm: No writing, no food. So among all the soups listed, I picked the one with the least characters, it was one with 3. The first was very easy, it was that for the number three, the second one I had no idea of and it looked quite complicated and the third one meant “soup”. I felt like a total idiot trying to copy those characters on the piece of paper. But in the end I was rewarded with my soup. It was served in a big bowl with a scoop, I was given a small bowl and some chopsticks. With the sticks I “fished” out the solid parts and drank the rest. YES, in China they don’t eat soup, they drink it. It was DELICIOUS.
I spent the first night of my vacation in a wonderful Airbnb about halfway between Heathrow Airport and London. Conveniently I could take a direct bus from the airport to the Worcester Park. It was supposed to be about one hour, due to traffic it ended up to be one and a half.
It was dark, cold, windy and drizzling when I arrived there about 6 pm. It took me about 15 min. to walk to my accommodation. I dropped my luggage and walked off again to grab a bite to eat and for a beer.
Just about a block away I found a little tavern called “Northern End”. It was warm and dry there, they had beer and delicious “cheesy garlic bread”. What else would I need?
Next morning I got up early – bright sunshine! No cloud in sight. Time to explore this little town. Here a few pictures I took in this lovely, lively area:
In the afternoon I took a walk to the park – the “Nonsuch Park” (British humor???). Here are some pictures:
About 6 pm I went towards the station for my bus back to Heathrow to catch my flight to China.
Yesterday was my last day at work. Thanks to all my wonderful colleagues! I hope to see all of you again next April.
In 4 days (Wednesday) I will take British Airways and leave Germany via Gatwick. Norbert, according to the latest schedule update, will not arrive in Montevideo until the week before Christmas. So, why do I leave so much earlier?
Here is the explanation: Originally Norbert (and the Caddy) were booked on the “Grande America”, scheduled to leave Hamburg first days of November, estimated arrival early December.
I, at that time, thought it would be a good idea to use Norbert’s ocean travelling time (after all, at least 4 weeks) for a visit to China and Taiwan, leaving from and returning to London-Gatwick. Seemed perfect, then, that I could book a direct flight to Buenos Aires from Gatwick for the unbeatable price of € 245, arrival in Bs.As, Novemer 22.
Well, on 10 March 2019, the “Grande America” caught fire while traveling the Atlantic Ocean between France and Spain on its route from Hamburg (Germany) to Casablanca (Morocco), and sank 15,000 feet into the Bay of Biscay on 12 March. Luckily, the 27 people on board were rescued after they had abandoned the ship and boarded a lifeboat on 11 March.
Subsequently Norbert (plus Caddy) was rebooked onto the “Grande Nigeria”, scheduled to leave Hamburg the second week of November.
Since the end of June, however, the “Grande Nigeria” remains detained in the harbor of Dakar for alleged drug trafficing.
Now it’s supposed to be the “Grande Amburgo”, ETS Nov. 18, 2019.
“LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU WHILE YOU’RE BUSY MAKING OTHER PLANS”
Mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks and other blood hungry insects are not only a nuisance, but also can transmit serious deseases, especially in (sub)tropical regions. So, how do we protect ourselves?
According to latest consumer tests (e.g. Stiftung Warentest) the most effective repellents contain either “Icaridine” (also known as “Picaridine” or “Saltidine”) or “DEET” (developed for the U.S. Army in 1946). Both substances proved to be an effective deterrence for blood sucking insects. The higher the concentration, the longer the protection – up to 8 hrs. “Natural” repellents (like PMD or Citronella based) did not seem to be effective.
Best is to combine this “chemical” with “mechanical” protection. Wearing light colored, tightly woven, though light weight (cotton, linen) long sleeve shirts and pants and using mosquito nets at night helps a lot.
In very high risk areas (e.g. Amazonas) it might be useful to impregnate clothes and/or mosquito nets with “Permethrine” (www.nobite.com).
My favorite repellent is “Ballistol Stichfrei”. It contains 20% Icaridine in an oily, well smelling (my opinion) base. Norbert prefers the non-oily spray stuff, like “Autan” or “Off”.
A couple of years ago, in the South of Argentina, we met a German couple, traveling through South America in their van with German licence plates. Curious, as we are, we wanted to know how they got there.
The women told us, that they had shipped their mobile home through “Seabridge”.
We also ended up booking the passage with Seabridge.
Mid November (2019) Norbert will accompany our Caddy with roof tent on the “Grande Amburgo” to Montevideo.
4 weeks without Wifi and without wife! Haha. I will take the short way from London to Buenos Aires with Norwegian Airlines.
For shipping, the tent will have to be put inside the car. Considering the measurements of the tent and the space available inside the car, we knew, it would be very, very tight. At first trial, the tent could only be put in somewhat diagonally, which would have left less space for the boxes.
So Norbert removed the more than 2 cm thick wooden floor board and the carpet underneath. He replaced it with thin cork padding and a high quality board of less than 1 cm. The barely 2 cm difference did the trick! Now the tent fits inside upright for transportation.
Our Caddy does not have air conditioning and I could not convince Norbert to install one.
But at least we have a wonderful and well functioning refrigerator. Well, not like the one at home, more like a cooler box. But it is a compressor fridge which can be operated through the car’s 12V connection (while driving), our solar panel (while parking on a sunny camp ground) or a batterie (cloudy/rainy days and at night). In reality we mostly run it on the batterie, which we recharge with the solar panel or 12V while driving.
This batterie is really good. It can be charged with 12V, solar panel or in a “normal” 230V outlet. (Of course batteries like these are available for stateside voltage as well). The great thing is that we can connect about anything to it. It has several USB outlets and regular household 230V outlets (max 300W). We can even operate our smoothie maker on tour.
We also have another much smaller batterie, with much less capacity but also much less weight. We keep it next to our mattress at night. It stores enough power to charge all our equipment (cell phones, tablets ..) during the night, has a built in lamp and also can be charged through 12V, solar panel or 230V, whenever available.
The campsite was a huge meadow adjacent to a huge lake which the Dutch call “Zuidlaardermeer”. We left Berlin about 1 pm, driving for hours through pouring rain. We arrived about 8 pm. It was pitch dark. As this was not a regular campground there was not light, other than that provided by other campers. Luckily, it had at least stopped raining. We were the last ones to enter the campground that night. We were advised by the yellow vested guide to follow him slowly, if any possible not to stop the car, because otherwise we might get stuck in the mud. He found us a halfway solid looking patch on the grass. It was cold, wet, windy, dark and muddy. As far as footwear was concerned the only alternatives seemed to go barefoot, in flipflops or wear rubber boots. Norbert decided on his boots. I don’t have rubber boots, so I stuck to my flipflops. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, we decided to set up the tent completely, including the awning. We had some problems with the tent having slid somewhat out of the track of the baseplate. No idea how it happened, but we had a hard time (four hands working, flashlight in mouth) to get it back in. After about an hour the whole assembly was successfully set up. Going through all the trouble – after driving for so many hours – setting up the annex as well, turned out to have been a very good decision. Later that night it began to rain. And it continued raining cats and dogs throughout the morning. We enoyed breakfast in our waterproof kitchen/living room.
Arrival in the dark
Getting ready to set up the tent
Problem solved. Next morning.
There we are!
“Dixieland” For our non-German followers: In Germany those portable toilets are called “Dixiklos”
Inside our “livingroom”. On other areas of the campsite it was much worse!
I’m afraid Norbert got used to me being the first one up and serving him steaming coffee while he is still cuddling up under the warm blankets.
Despite the lousy weather, we had a great time there. A total of about 700 “roof tent nomads” had made it to the camp. We met a lot of interesting people, saw (and discussed) a number of innovative roof tent constructions and left the camp on Sunday with great ideas for the upcoming summer. We had a common barbeque on Friday. Saturday some of the “nomads” had prepared meals for the rest of us, like chili con carne, beef stew, Käsefondue (some sort of Swiss cheese dip) and others. DELICIOUS. The costs were € 8 per person and the proceeds went to local charities. GREAT IDEA.
Luckily, we also had some sunny hours. Not many, but at the right time. On Friday afternoon we took our bikes to explore the nearest village “Zuidlaaren”. Very nice little town. It started raining again and we fled to the nearest pub. Very nice. We had a little snack while waiting for the rain to stop. Saturday late afternoon it appeared as if the sun were apologizing for having been absent so long. It was a wonderful evening! Just take a look at the pictures:
Some pictures of our “refuge” from the rain in Lodewijk’s very cosy pub in Zuidlaaren:
Sunday morning quite a few of the vehicles needed to be dragged out of the mud with the help of this competent driver with his nice green tractor.
We and “Early Birds”???? Definitely not voluntarily!!!
But in (sub)tropical summer, once in a while, we may want to leave our campsite at sunrise (or even earlier), to hit the road before it gets too hot (the Caddy does not have A/C).
As of now, folding the tent, putting on the transportation cover, strapping it down and getting ready to move takes AT LEAST half an hour – and it’s a lot of work. No way to do that before our first coffee and before sunrise!!!
SOLUTION? Pack the tent in the evening and spend the last night inside the Caddy. We worked hard to reduce our “Chaos in Boxes” and get the interior organized.
We were invited to a birthday party of friends about 600 km south of Berlin. Great opportunity to see if we can manage our new mobile home.
Well, we did, as can be seen in the pictures. But just to remove the protection cover, to unstrap the whole thing and to finally open it took about 30 minutes. Looks a lot smoother and faster on the promotion videos!!!
The second day we added the annex. This took another half hour.
I hope practice makes perfect – and faster.
We also noticed that we need to become much more organized. The space we have in the car is very limited. Every thing needs to have its special place. I think this is one of the greatest challenges for two chaotic people like us.
We decided to keep all our stuff in stackable “Euroboxen” which can be strapped down while on road.