I am sure everyone is wondering where my blog has been…and if you haven’t you should be! Ha! Well, truthfully I’ve been avoiding writing anything because I felt like I hadn’t been doing much…which is partly true..but I’ll get into that later. Lets go back to the end of July when I parted ways with Ariana…I can assure you that this post won’t be as funny as my adventures with Ari but I’ll definitely tell you the times when I wish I had the cacklin’ Mexi with me!
So on the last Saturday in July Ariana and I parted in Buenos Aires…she was heading back to Brazil to spend her last few weeks in South America with her (ours now really, I mean Fernie and her fam aren’t only The Puentes families, family anymore) Brazillian family and friends. I was heading to a smaller city 4 hours north of Buenos Aires…Rosario. I want to say that our parting was sad but in all honesty we were both so hungover from the 4 bottles of wine we drank the night before that we hugged, said we loved each other, and parted ways…in that moment it really didn’t feel like we were leaving each other…and trust me when we skyped within 24 hours of parting each other that’s when it really set in…I complained about my pillow at the hostel being a brick and she bragged about eating banana pancakes, laying on the couch in the living room of Fernie’s apartment, and being in weather above 30 degrees. I missed her laugh, and presence, and still do but I am very grateful for the time we spent together and know we’ll always have those stories..and her laugh will never change so that’s a plus.
Arriving in Rosario was a bit of a haze, I had heard great things about the hostel I was staying at and it seemed cool enough but honestly I went to bed shortly after arriving that Saturday night. The next day I set out to see Rosario…it was a Sunday so there were tons of markets along the riverfront walk and I even met some girls with a golden retriever and sat and drank mate with them. Rosario seemed to be my kind of city. Very walkable and easy to get to know, I immediately liked it. Tuesday I was leaving to go to work on a farm in the Entre Rios province of Argentina, it borders Paraguay and Uruguay, on the northeast part of the country. Juan the owner of the hostel I was staying at was awesome and totally welcoming. I really connected with everyone there and only stayed for 3 days…it seemed like a trend. There is Javiera, Juan’s sister who works mornings/days. There is Cameron who is from Oregon and had been living in Rosario for 9 months. There is Barney, one of the night shift guys who is into Celtic music and culture and sometimes he wears a kilt and is in a heavy metal band. Ryan, the New Zealander who met a girl and fell in love on some travels and now lives/works at the hostel. Federico who is also in a band and loves jazz and blues…he plays the best music during his shifts. And then of course Juan, the kinda crazy but very funny owner who invited me very openly into this hostel family. Now you may think think that I learned all of this over a 3 day period but that would be a little incredible…I’m foreshadowing here people…I am still in Rosario at this very moment if that gives you any hint to where this story goes…it doesn’t but let’s keep going. Below is Juan the owner of the hostel. And photos of Rosario.
So I stayed in Rosario and then left to catch a bus to a farm in basically the middle of nowhere. When I told people in Rosario the name of the town they had no idea what I was talking about and Juan told me to give him my fathers email so he could inform him if I was dead and point him in the right direction to where I could be found. I jumped on a bus for another 4 hours east of Rosario. I arrived around 8 pm, which normally I would prefer to not get in when it’s dark but there was only one bus so I took my chances. When I arrived I was meeting an older man named Ivan who owned the farm. No one was there. 10 minutes passed and I started to think of my options…for someone who hasn’t planned ahead so much I was pretty sure I would ask to use a phone and figure out the situation…I did have his cell number which was a plus. Right when I started to actually worry that no one was coming for me a man and younger woman started walking towards me…and it was Ivan and Jimena!!!!
We jumped in Ivan’s car and immediately I found out Jimena spoke Italian…plus for me since I can communicate pretty well in Italian and they started to tell me that Ivan saw Jimena and her boyfriend CoCo in town earlier that day on their bikes and asked if they wanted to come out and stay at La Malfatta. La Malfatta in the name of Ivan’s farm. Jimena and her boyfriend Coco are riding their bikes to Mexico…that was semi understood in the car on the way to the farm but was fully explained when I arrived at the house. Ivan’s house is pretty amazing. High ceilings, huge fireplace, big kitchen, two floors…4 bedrooms…he started building it in 1989…when I told him I was born in 1988 he joked and said he knew I was coming…and that’s why he built it! The first night there I hung out and met everyone…had an asado (BBQ Argentinian style) and went to bed early.
People staying at La Malfatta when I first arrived: Jimena and Coco, they met in Puerto Madryn…Coco had biked all the way from Mexico to raise money and awareness for a NGO he works with in Mexico in an indigenous Mayan community. It took him a year and a half to get to the southern tip of Patagonia…amazing to say the least! He met Jimena while in Argentina and she quit her job as a lawyer to bike back with him….how inspiring and what an adventure! They are both so amazing and I know I will see them again…hopefully in Colombia around May of next year…that’s when they plan to be there. They use Couchsurfing, camp, and find people like Ivan for their accommodation. They sell postcards that are of pictures CoCo has taken along his journey…it’s amazing how much money you can make if you really try and sell some post cards all day…at least that’s what Coco tells me. Next up is James: he is from whales and has been traveling around the world for the last 18 months. He was living in Australia for a large period of this time but traveled to a lot of places and was a plumber for 10 years before he started traveling. He’s only 28 but started plumbing at 16. He always made me laugh when he drank mate because he always called it cabbage. He had been there for around 5 weeks when I arrived. Lastly but not least was Jose: he is from Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina and had been at the farm for around a month when I arrived. Jose has a strong connection with nature. He could calm the craziest horse I had ever seen. He is a very hard worker and you could tell he took lots of pride in his work. Ivan is the owner of La Malfatta and has been having people come and go for the past 5 years. He built the house with the help of others. He has mostly cattle but also clover fields, pigs (chanchas in Spanish), horses, and a cat.
The next morning when I woke up James took me out to see the pigs. One of the moms had just given birth to 10 babes that were now 2 weeks old. It was so cool to see baby pigs and they were the cutest ever! Scared shitless of humans, and they have good reason to be. There wasn’t a ton of instruction on what I was to do while on the farm so I jumped in where I thought I could be most helpful. I replanted lettuce that was planted too close together and mostly worked in the garden. One of my jobs was to excavate a bunch of plants from a bed and plant them in the ground…harder than it sounds…keeping all of the roots in tact when extracting tiny plants is pretty hard. I will attach picture so you can see what I’m talking about.
Unfortunately Jimena and Coco only stayed for 3 days which sucked because I loved them both so much! We laughed a lot and really got along. Coco taught me a word in Spanish to beware of if encountering a Mexican and want him to do something…’ahorita’. If a Mexican tells you this when you are trying to get something done then plan on it never happening! The next weeks were filled with horseback riding, fishing, feeding pigs, killing pigs, deskinning pigs, planting seeds, pulling up roots, shoveling corn into bins, planting citrus trees, de weeding old trees, walking to see otters that inhabit a small pond in the middle of one of the fields (I have no idea how they got there), collecting firewood, making homemade bread and pasta, and hanging out! A week into being at La Malfatta, Dani (a friend of Ivan’s from buenos aires) came to stay. She was awesome and taught me how to dance cuarteto (if you’re lucky I will attach the video of us dancing at the end of this post) and kept me company with talks of her future travels. She has never been outside of Argentina and is planning for a big South America trip starting in December.
So here is where things start to get a little bumpy….one day Ivan brought a dog home. If you know me then you know I love dogs. The dog was still a puppy and definitely an outdoors dog. He had been living at a ladies house and she could no longer take care of him. If Ivan didn’t take him he would be put down. The second day the dog was on the farm I was throwing stale bread into his bowl. He went for one of my hands and couldn’t let go. I was trying to open his mouth with the other hand and he latched onto the other one. Finally his grasp let up and I was able to release my other hand. Only one of the bites was really bad but it was pretty shocking. So that’s where my story takes a turn (insert wishing like hell Ariana was there to laugh about this, because I was doing a lot of crying, and freaking out, and trying to pull it together but really freaking out a little..so the cackle would have been really helpful)…because of this I have been in Rosario for the past 5 weeks getting rabies treatment. There was no certainty that the dog had/has rabies but it was more of a safety precaution. So I now write you this at 3am the night before I get to go in for my last round of shots…all in all it will be 13 shots I’ve received in the last 5 weeks including tetnis, hep B, and the rabies vaccination. More of a pain in the ass than anything but it has let me come to have a real connection with Rosario and the amazing people that live here!
When I arrived back in Rosario after leaving the farm I wasn’t sure what to do. To go to a hospital or wait it out. I hadn’t talked to my parents yet because I didn’t want to worry them but I had spoken with my personal nurse Lynn and her mom had talked to the infectious disease doctor at hospital…I would say I was on top of the situation. My options were to wit it out and see if I got symptoms, or to start treatment. I was in a bit of a pickle because my initial plan was to go to Mendoza and work on a vineyard. But being in a remote area when you possibly have rabies and would need to get to a hospital ASAP is a very bad idea. So when I got back to the hostel and told Juan the deal he immediately said, tomorrow you will go to the doctor and figure it out. At that moment in time I really needed that and am thankful he was there to tell me to just go to the hospital.
Trying to communicate with doctors when you don’t speak the language is hilarious and verrrrry difficult. I remember arriving at the hospital pretty early and waiting with a lot of other people to see the infectious disease doctor. It was about an hour before he showed up and then two hours before I realized I needed to jump up and walk in to talk with him unless I wanted to wait there all day. When I walked in my Spanish was broken and terrible but I had a note explaining everything and he read it over and asked me to sit down. As we sat and talked in the little Spanish I knew people kept walking into the office to ask questions and tell their story in hopes he would pick them next. It was all pretty funny because they would come in and start talking and looking at me and smiling and laughing and thinking I had a clue of what they were saying. The doctor and I would look at each other and laugh. They brought a few people in to help translate although by the end of the appointment there were probably 6 people in the room and nobody really spoke English they just knew certain words. It was comforting that they really wanted me to know what was going on and they were genuinely trying to help. The most amazing part of it all was that it was free! Coming from the US where luckily I have had my parents or been in an institution that provided healthcare I have yet to worry about that yet. If I were somewhere else it would have costed me around $200 a shot and that doesn’t include seeing the doctor. So this is where the 5 week adventure at La Lechuza (the hostel) in Rosario began.
I decided to use my time wisely and enrolled in an intensive Spanish course at ‘Spanish in Rosario’. A school owned by a woman from Southern California and her husband (Stephanie and Claudio). My teachers who are now my best buds were mostly Fede and Romi. I immediately connected with them both and could not be more excited to have them as friends forever! Fede and Romi are both really into photography and the last weeks I’ve spent here have been filled with lots of fun times with them both. The cool thing about Spanish in Rosario is that there are other international students so you end up meeting new people from around the world all the time and Spanish is your best tool to communicate. It’s hard for me, I definitely understand much more than I can speak but I have come miles from where I started and I feel much more confident for the rest of my trip. Fede is coming to the US next summer to take photos of ‘trash people’ of the US. He is really talented and can’t wait to see what he comes up with when he is in the US. The funny thing about Rosario is I knew I made a small connection when I arrived that first time before I went to the farm but now I’ve made lifelong connections. I remember walking along the river when I first arrived and seeing tons of families making asados (BBQ) and wishing I knew someone to be a part of it. 3 weeks later I was down there having an asado with my classmates and teachers and feeling very much a part of a community. I love that I’ve been able to make that happen here and know I can always come back and have these friends. I know this isn’t a terribly long post but I will post more soon as the adventures are continuing! I am heading to Salta tomorrow, in northern Argentina and then I will be crossing the border into Bolivia! Very excited to get back on the road but will miss all the amazing people I have met in Rosario! And when I get home I’m definitely making t-shirts that say ‘I tried rabies in South America’ if anyone wants to preorder theirs 🙂
below are pictures of friends from Rosario! And of course amazing food!!