79. Bored, lonely, but finally some hope (Bariloche, Argentina)
The downtown apartment in the Bariloche Center we were in was only a temporary arrangement, until December. Although the Bariloche Center is by far the biggest eyesore in town, if you're living in it you don't have to look at it, rather you're looking out from it. How about this shot - go the moon! Notice it giving the lake a milky colour, but only in the distance. Closer to the camera the lake is black.
Come December and until March most furnished apartments here in Bariloche get rented out to the summer tourist market on a per-night basis. So we needed to find ourselves a furnished apartment with a permanent lease so they wouldn't jack up the rent on us come the summer season. Talk about a mission impossible, especially since we don't have a garante (guarantor). After two weeks of looking we finally found a place but compared to the last place we were in it's pretty crap. Now we're out of the centre, so no more nice view overlooking the lake and plaza. We don't have to listen to the schoolkids on tour chanting and blowing whistles constantly either. It is furnished, but it doesn't have a TV - we'd both gotten used to the luxury of cable TV the last couple of months. So with no view and no TV there's not much to look at except the 70s tiles on the wall in the kitchen, accompanied by the constant rattle and buzz of the 60s fridge. The apartment is spacious enough though, so we've finally unpacked all the boxes of crap we bought with us from BA.
Since it has been 10 months since I started setting up my business, and I have yet to do a single trip, I'm now broke (and in credit card debt). We've long been spending as little money as possible - in the two and a half months here we haven't eaten at a single restaurant (or bought a single meal), it's been home cooking every day. Our one excursion was last month's low season ski trip which ended in disaster, hospital bills, and locksmith bills.
So much for enjoying Bariloche.
My girlfriend has hated it here from the beginning, and unfortunately that hasn't changed. With our 70s drab apartment she's gotten worse, so we talked about her going back to BA until the summer season here starts. If she had a job to keep her occupied she'd be OK. So last weekend she went back to BA, where she tells me she's found a few hours work and she's in high spirits and catching up with her friends.
She of course made a big sacrifice to come down to Bariloche with me. I've sacrificed even more to be here with her - 10 months of paperwork, stress, and not to mention my life savings in buying the van and paying my living expenses while the paperwork got done. My original plan was to be in Ushuaia, but after that was ruled out due to the regulations I settled on Bariloche, because I liked it and also because it's a decent-sized city and she's a city girl, so I hoped she'd adapt. Not so.
Now that she's gone I've been really bored. No internet at home either (we've never had the net, all these blogs have been done from internet cafes). But finally, some hope. First, on Monday, my driver's licence came in the mail. That means I can now do some transfers and excursions (those that leave the province), so I first calculated the prices I would charge and then delivered my list of tariffs to tourism agencies around town.
And then today the local habilitacion on the van came through, so now I can offer the local excursions as well. That means I'm in business!
Now I just have to set a price for the local excursions, deliver my new list of tariffs to the agencies, and wait for my phone to start ringing. It could take a while, as right now we're in the "mud season". Everyone tells me the hardest part is done. Come December I will be fine, as I'm told that all through the summer season there's a shortage of vans. The trick will be surviving until then. If the van breaks down in the meantime I'm screwed.
Update: Lord, why do you hate me? I swear, I had just typed that last sentence and then as I went to go to an internet café to post this entry, what do I see under the van? An ominous green puddle from a surprise new water leak. Sure enough, my radiator's now empty. Just what I need. I just can't get a break! That is so indicitave of my time here in Argentina - just when things are looking like working out along comes yet another setback.
Update: Thankfully, only a cracked pipe, not expensive to repair, but it could have been worse.