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March 2001

Adjusting to our New Life!

Saturday Mar 3rd - Our first week in Cabo came ever so quickly to an end.  Previously, every year we went to Cabo we always said, "One week is never enough!” so last year we bought another one week time share at a different resort.  However, the new timeshare is only a one bedroom room, not like the two separate units we have the first week at the Plaza Las Glorias. So we say "Adios!" to my mom and Aunt Cindy as they return home and Ron and I have another glorious week at the Westin Regina resort.

Thursday Mar 8th  - We enjoyed the week at the Westin on the Sea of Cortez and boy is it fantastic! The hotel has a huge, panoramic view of the ocean and we could see whales swim by the hotel as we were sipping margaritas by the pool.  You could see about 30 a day going by, exhaling spray into the air and sometimes the calves would jump out of the water and breach!  Just incredible!  One day this calf and it's 2 parents (I'm guessing) were playing right off the beach of the hotel and this calf kept jumping totally out of the water for about 45 minutes about 50 feet off the shore in front of the hotel.  We thought he/she was auditioning for a Sea World executive who might be staying there!  Watching those beautiful animals and looking at the huge expanse of water in front of you can't help but be impressed by its beauty and awed by it's splendor.  We are such fortunate people to be able to enjoy all of this.

Friday Mar 9th - Our last night before returning to California, then onto our home in Bs.As.  They have an expensive restaurant at the hotel that we saved eating there for the last night to splurge on.  It’s on a bluff overlooking the hotel and the beach.  A full moon was coming up and you could not believe how fantastic it looked shining off the water, WOW!  Great way to top off our trip.

Saturday Mar 10th - Arrived back in California and this time we stayed with my sister Cindy and her boyfriend Viktor.  We walked to a local restaurant, “Joes”, for dinner. I love being able to walk instead of getting in a car.  I'm really becoming spoiled living in Bs.As.

Monday Mar 12th - We ran some errands with my mom in the south bay, I still have a PO box down where we used to live and I asked my mom if she could occasionally pick up the accumulated mail.  I showed her how to turn the combination lock on the little PO Box and then slammed it shut.  My mom says, "Why didn't you take the mail out?"  I told her that I wanted her to open the combination on the box so she should get the practice.  She spins the knob the wrong way and I say, "No mom, first twice around clockwise, then back counter clockwise past the number then stop on the number the 2nd time around, then clockwise to the 3rd number."  She struggled with getting the revolutions correct but finally gets it open.  I immediately slam it shut again, "HEY!!” she squawks, "I just got it open!!"  "I know", I told her, "I just want you to get the rhythm correct before you forget it!"  She tried a few more times and finally gets it open again, a big sigh of relief as she does it.  I immediately slam it shut again, "HEY!! You do that one more time and I'm gonna kill you!" This last time she opens it the first try!  I think she finally got the hang of it.  We took her to a favorite breakfast place, “Dinah’s Shack”, to grab a bite and although the breakfast is as good as ever, our old town just doesn’t seem right, it seems so foreign now, doesn’t feel like we belong there anymore.

Our cab picked us up at 2:30 pm to take us to the airport.  He's very friendly and started asking us where we're going and we tell him about returning to our new home in Bs.As.  He said something about "He thought HE led an adventurous life."  I wasn't sure what he meant by that but we continued talking.  He dropped us off at the curb and since we now had the extra luggage that was now filled with stuff from storage, we had a sky cab help us with our bags to the check in desk, something Ron usually never does because he doesn’t want to tip anyone!  We're getting out our plane tickets when we turn and notice the cab driver standing behind us, he said that he was a Buddhist and wanted to give us a pamphlet book.  I thought it was weird that he followed us into the terminal but now that comment about leading an adventurous life made sense.  He explained he found Buddhism very enlightening and wanted us to have the book.  I'm actually very interested in different religions and really wanted to read the book but wasn't sure if he was going to ask us for any money for the book.  Before I could ask, he turned and left us, going back to his car parked at the curb.  These days you can't leave your car for 2 seconds by the curb of an airport, so I was wondering what made him go to all the trouble to come in and give it to us. Another mystery!

Tuesday Mar 13th - We arrived back in Bs.As. with a nice sense of returning home.  This is the first time we've flown Aerolineas Argentina but discover that going through customs is a breeze compared to going through American Airlines or United's customs.  We have a ton of luggage and we wonder if they'll want to search it, however, we put it through an X-Ray machine and buzz right through.  What a relief.  We didn't have anything that they would have charged us a tariff on, it would have just been a pain to open everything up so they can look through it.  We went out to the taxicab stand and requested a taxi with a big trunk because of all the luggage.  The guy looked at it and says, "You'll be fine".  A small Renault pulls up and of course somehow the driver got it all stuffed in, we're off for home.  The air was still pretty hot and muggy; we'd hoped it would have cooled down a little by now.

We got home and the cats seemed happy to see us, as usual, they seemed happy, healthy and as fat as ever.  Not stressed out or annoyed that we left them for over 3 weeks. We've been leaving them to go on vacations since they were little kittens, so they've grown up with knowing that we may leave, but we'll be back!

It may sound like I'm a total nerd, but I fired up the computer to check my email, first time in over 3 weeks!

Wednesday Mar 14th - Our first full day home, at 3 pm, which is our usual gym time, I looked at Ron and said, "Want to go to the gym?"  Thank god he said let's put it off one more day till we're fully recuperated!  I couldn't have agreed with him more!

Thursday Mar 15th - We went to the gym for the first time in over 3 weeks.  Like most visits to the gym, you dread going but once you're actually doing the exercise it felt good and you're glad you did it AFTER it’s all over with!

Friday Mar 16th - I told Ron to call Berlitz and schedule our classes to start again next Monday.  He said that since we didn't study Spanish for ONE SECOND while we were on vacation that he wants to take another week off school so that we can study and get caught up before going back.  Otherwise we'll be wasting our time and money until we get back into the swing of things.  I don't like this idea but agree to postpone school to get caught up, sounds good in theory!

I told Ron I wanted to go to a restaurant for dinner and so at 9 pm we went to a favorite Parrilla place by the Recoleta cemetery.  There are many places that have outside seating and we sat outside and ordered bife de chorizo. Again, I looked around and just enjoyed the evening, feeling like we're on vacation in some wonderful Latin country, then I realize that we are on vacation in some wonderful Latin country! Sometimes I'm overwhelmed that we're actually HERE!  All those years of dreaming about it and now we're actually doing it.  Sometimes I just can't believe it!  Dinner was great but the bife de chorizo was not as good as I remembered!  Damn! I want to find the perfect restaurant to take people for steak when they come to visit.  I guess we'll just to do some more market analysis!

We walked home, enjoying the night, people bustling about like it's rush hour and it's 11:30 pm at night.  An hour after we got home we have another fantastic electric storm and we sat out on our balcony to enjoy it

Saturday Mar 17th - We had plans to go out to dinner with our friend Pierre.  It was still very hot so I put some wine glasses into the freezer to get chilled so we could have some cold wine before going out for dinner.  I also brought the fan from the bedroom out into the living room so we could have a little breeze.  Pierre arrived around 9:20 pm and we sat to enjoy some cold wine and chat a little before dinner.  We told him how my aunt Cindy taught us bridge in Mexico and we talked about playing with Ignacio once he returns from Chicago in May.  We also talked about some of the rules and it appears there are some differences in how Pierre plays Bridge from how we learned. Should be fun once we finally get together to play. 

We recommended a local neighborhood restaurant for dinner and Pierre said that he had never eaten there.  We had a wonderful lunch there one day and wanted to return to try it for dinner.  At the restaurant I saw that they had Parrilla "mollejas", which are grilled sweet breads done on the parrilla grill, and I ordered those. Pierre said that he has never tried them and orders bife de chorizo along with Ron.  When dinner arrived my mollejas were the best I’ve ever eaten, I was in heaven.  I offered a bite to Pierre, which he tried, but said that he liked the meat better!

Pierre gave us his opinion on the new economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, who had just recently been appointed the 4th Economy Minister in 3 years.  Argentina is in a 2 year recession and currently there is no end in site. Cavallo was part of the previous Menem administration and is generally liked by most people I've talked to, he was also in office when the peso was pegged to the US dollar giving their economy some much needed stability.  It was very interesting to hear Pierre's views on the current economic situation and the prospects for resolution.  We haven’t been doing well with staying up to date with current affairs since everything is in Spanish.  We have GOT to start reading the local papers!

Sunday Mar 18th - The weather finally started cooling off, what a great reprieve from the heat!  We sat outside to play cards (big surprise) and we had some creamed herring and crackers as a snack.  We finished off the herring and there was some of the cream left on the plate so I put it down for our cat Loretta to lick up.  Loretta seemed to LOVE it when all of a sudden he starts gagging.  I’m not sure if there was something in it that he might be allergic to, but he was wheezing, coughing and gagging.  I told Ron to run and get some wet food for him to get the taste out his mouth while I held him OUTSIDE so he wouldn’t throw up in the house.  Ron gave him some wet food, which Loretta munched down in nothing flat.  We then watched him for a while and he seemed fine, we’ll never do THAT again!

Monday Mar 19th - We talked with Nick at Crown Relocations about finally shipping our things from the USA to Bs.As.  He gave us a new quote on shipping things and even though we took almost 1/2 of it away, the price to ship things didn't drop that much.  We told him to proceed with the shipment.  We figured we boxed up that stuff because we thought we wanted it, so SHIP IT! Telling him this gave me a weird feeling though, up to now we really didn’t have many things here and it seemed like we could pick up and leave anytime we wanted to.  Now it seems more permanent, more encumbered with our “stuff” being sent here.  Still, I REALLY want my Patsy Cline music CDs.  Nothing like cleaning the house while listening to Patsy Cline!  Hearing the words of her songs, about her hard life, being dumped and cheated on, is the perfect accompaniment for when you have a vacuum in your hand cleaning the house!

Wednesday Mar 21st - It poured rain all night long, it was great to wake up in the middle of the night and listen to the rain.  It also continued raining all day long, it was very cool and dreary so we took umbrellas with us when we went to the gym. Coming back from the gym, feeling good from exercising, all freshly showered and smelling of soap, walking in the rain, I was feeling great, what a great feeling to walk in the rain!  <Sing the next part with your best Gene Kelly impersonation>  “I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeeeeeeeling, I'm......”. KERPLUSH!!  A car had come very close to the curb and sent a tidal wave over me, A TSUNAMI!, completely missing Ron, it could have not been more precisely choreographed by the best Hollywood stunt driver.  Ron mentioned something about that wall of water coming very close to us when he turned and saw me completely drenched holding my umbrella in my hand.  My mood was too good to begin with and even being drenched didn't dampen it, it dampened everything else, just not my good spirit!  When we got to our apartment our portero saw that I had an umbrella but couldn't understand why I looked like I just got out of a swimming pool.  I said, "Don't even ask!"

Friday Mar 23rd – Well, a week has gone by and we haven't studied any Spanish the entire week, not one phrase, not one word, not one conjugation, not for one SECOND!  I order Ron to call Berlitz and start up classes for Monday before I forget EVERYTHING we’ve learned!  I had grand delusions that we would spend 2 hours every day studying and getting caught up, HAH!

You would think without having a REAL job we would have plenty of time to get things done, BUT NOOOOOO! 

We walk to the gym and it is definitely getting cooler.  There is a laundry that we pass every day on the way to the gym and they have these 2 large air conditioner units that blow hot air exhaust directly into the street.  A month ago when it was hot I dreaded walking by it because the outside temperature was so hot, to have more hot air blown on you, if only as you walked by the store for two seconds, was horrible.  Now the hot exhaust feels good as I walk by!

Monday - Mar 26th - Beautiful day walking to class, felt good to finally get back into our Spanish classes.  There was a huge line of people in front of the church that we pass on our way to class, I assumed for some kind of soup kitchen lunch, maybe it’s because Easter is coming up?  Around the Christmas holidays there were lines there every day. 

As we entered Berlitz, there is a huge poster with a woman who looks just like a good friend of mine from California, and every time I walk by it, I say "Hola Barb!”  I'm sure my instructors think I'm crazy.  When we started the class I told the profesora I forgot everything and she'll have to start over from the beginning.  She thought I was kidding till she started the lesson!  Hah!

Tuesday Mar 27th - As we exercise at the gym, I usually think of what we're going to have for dinner that night and come up with a menu. Ron always thinks whatever I come up with is great and always agrees to whatever I've dreamed up, we think WAY too much alike.  Somehow Salmon Wellington popped into my head, wrapped in Ron's home made pastry, yummmmmmmm!  When we got home from the gym I sent Ron off to buy the ingredients and told him the kind of salmon to buy.  He returns but we got our signals totally crossed on the salmon and Ron bought the kind of filets that you grill on the BBQ with the bone still in it.  I get a little bent out of shape and start barking at Ron, "Haven't you ever had Salmon Wellington??  You know what it looks like!  I need square filets 1 1/2 inches thick so it cooks evenly in the pastry!  And a bone??  How do you eat fish in pastry that has a big ole bone in it and fish scales??!?!"  Ron makes me a gin and Toro to quiet me down and says that he will bone and scale the fish, another disaster averted by Ron's calm demeanor!

Ron makes the pastry using the Vegalina which our friend Colleen mentioned is a close substitute for Crisco.  We had bought the Vegalina before I went to Michigan in January and returned with the Crisco so Ron wanted to try it out and see how it would be.  He made the crust and then I put pâté, Dijon mustard and pâté Brie cheese on top of the salmon filet and then we wrapped it with Ron's pastry, folded it up in a nice little package, brushed beaten egg all over it and placed it in a baking dish.  We popped it in the oven for 1/2 hour and then sat down to our feast.  With fresh steamed asparagus and a nice glass of white wine, it was a feast fit for kings.  The crust was fantastic and the salmon was flavorful enough to stand up to the pâté, Brie and mustard.  What a fantastic dinner!  We will definitely make that again.

Wednesday Mar 21stRon and I use an exercise machine called a "Cross Trainer" that is kind of like a stair master, but also like a ski machine where there are poles that you move with your arms and your legs go in a circular skiing motion, so there is no pressure on your knees.  The machines are next to each other and Ron was complaining that we aren't spending enough time studying Spanish and he feels we're wasting our money because we can't keep up with the instructor.  "OK!” I said, "Let's do conjugation drilling!" "Give me all the conjugations for HABLAR in the present, past and future tense!"  Then I ask him for an IR verb and an ER verb word, then I start mixing it up going from past to present to future to IR to AR to ER! After about 10 minutes Ron starts laughing hysterically and almost falls off the machine.  "NO MORE, I CAN'T TAKE IT!” he said.  So much for conjugation drills!

Friday Mar 30th - At our Spanish class our profesora, Lucila, is teaching us about words located in the bathroom.  She asks if we have a maid to do our cleaning and I say, "No, Ronald es muy barato!"  Barato is Spanish for cheap!  Lucila laughs said that she doesn't have a maid either and that, "Ronald no es barato, Ronald es muy económico!"  I also tried to explain to her about the phrase "elbow grease" and she said the saying in Spanish is "walking on your elbows" because you have to get down on your hands and knees if you want the floor really clean.  At least that's what I THINK she was saying!

After class we went to this store we like to buy candles from, the candles here are so cheap I can't believe it.  You can get a box of 16 votive candles for $1 and long table candles are 8 for $1.  I really want to buy some red wine glasses but we can't find them anywhere I've looked. Another cultural dilemma, they don't use large glasses for red wine.  They will pour the mineral water in the largest glass, but pour the red wine in a small glass, go figure.

On the way to the gym Ron wanted to stop by the post office to buy some stamps.  It's a beautiful afternoon so I told him I’d wait outside.  I’m admiring Vicente Lopez park with it’s beautiful mature trees. A woman pulls up in a car and parks in front of the post office while a young girl gets out and goes inside the post office while the woman waits in the car.  Just then, an armor car pulls up and starts honking at her to move, most people pay their bills at the post office and I guess it was time for the armor car to collect the cash.  They keep honking at the woman but she only pulls up a few inches, not wanting to go very far while her daughter was in the post office.  I start feeling like the guys in the armor car were watching me because I'm in running clothes and I have a black bag in my hands.  Of course it's my gym clothes in the bag, but who knows what they think?  They may think it was holding an automatic machine gun.  They keep honking at her, looking at me, then looking at her, then looking back at me, and I feel like I’m in a Brian DePalma film.  Not a good feeling!  I'm wondering if they think she's a diversion so I can attack the armored car.  I look into the post office to see what's taking Ron so long and I start worrying if I'm looking suspicious by looking all around me, and that I'm going to get shot by some jumpy armored car guard.  Honestly, you would think I was smoking pot I was getting so paranoid!  I try and look off in the distance and act nonchalant, hoping Ron would hurry the hell up!  The lady finally moved up far enough for the armor truck to park and two guys with rifles and bullet proof vests get out.  I'm still trying to look harmless and hope I make it out of this alive. Ron finally came out of the post office, whistling and smiling like a Cheshire cat, and I asked him what took so long.  I guess post offices are the same the world over, they always take a long time to do ANYTHING!

We go to the Recoleta Cemetary area for dinner again and feel like we're on vacation once again!  Sorry if this sounds so repetitive, but it is mighty fun to do! I see blood sausage on the menu along with veal intestines for an appetizer.  I LOVE this kind of stuff!  In Michigan we would get blood sausage called "Kieska" in Polish town and I just love the stuff.  I wasn't able to find it anywhere in California.  I order the sausage and the veal intestines and they are FANTASTIC!  The intestines are grilled on the parrilla and are just great.  Ron asks what the intestines are stuffed with, but I didn't want to know, I was enjoying them too much to think about that! 

Saturday Mar 31st - I had a craving for fresh pasta for dinner from the noodle shop that's near our house.  Their pasta is so good and cheap, I don't know how the guy stays in business but I hope he never leaves!  The other day I had a craving for pasta but his store was closed so Ron had bought some packaged fresh pasta from the supermarket and it was terrible, guess I am getting too spoiled by his fresh pasta for anything that isn't made that day!