Due to an unplanned pregnancy we recently became grandparents to seven little bundles of joy. Because this event brought the grand total of animals in the house to 10 (and there are only three of us humans, one of whom is a four-month-old baby) we needed to find new homes for the magnificent seven. But how?
Cachorritos en Adopción
Once the puppies were old enough to leave their mum a simple ad and a sign saying Cachorritos en Adopción (puppies for adoption) was the best start. RedMascotera.com is a portal in Argentina for lost and found dogs and cats, and pets looking for new homes. We posted a free ad on the site and were encouraged when, just 20 minutes later, we already had two people interested in the dogs. My favourite puppy
My husband took the car to the local Esso service station with the dogs climbing all over the back seat, so the dog lovers could pick their favourites. My best dog, a fluffy, chunky, black-and-white-and-brown female, went first. The second lady picked her puppy because he was shy and hiding under the seat. The third puppy found a home when the sign in the back window of the car caught the attention of a young girl walking past, who persuaded her mother that they needed a dog.
The fourth puppy to leave was actually the most popular and had been reserved by a lady who loved her curly hair and flame of white fur on her face. Puppy number 5 went the furthest, to a house near San Isidro.
Argentina: Nation of dog lovers?
It pleased me how quickly the dogs were snapped up and how happy the people were with their new puppies. But perhaps it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise – just about everyone likes dogs here in Argentina (cats are not so popular.) The new dog owners thanked us as if we were doing them a huge favor by giving them a puppy – we didn’t let on how relieved we were every time one more dog was rehoused, or that we would probably drive two hours or more to get the dogs to a new home.
Then there was one…
Giving puppies away to people that want them is a genuinely joyful experience. Everyone’s smiling, puppy’s wagging his tail- this is a glowing moment you don’t get very often in the big city. One new owner sent us pictures on Facebook of their new puppy playing with the kids, snoozing in a comfy bed, and posing with his vaccination certificate.
My husband took the sixth puppy to Haedo this afternoon. The lady had already adopted the cutest puppy and decided she had to have another one, so the all-black dog left us. Which leaves one doggy left to be adopted.
So, come on – anyone got space for a friendly, bouncy black and white pup with a good attitude, no particular breed, raised in a bilingual household in west BA?
It’s been a while since the storm in Buenos Aires uprooted our pine tree but we’ve finally had to say goodbye. The giant tree was taken down last week by a team of workers with chainsaws and a head for heights. It had to be done – the tree was leaning dangerously across the garden towards the new construction on the next-door lot. Who knew when a strong wind or some movement within the earth would cause it to fall? Now it’s down we don’t have to worry about the dogs, the car, a lawsuit from the next-door-neighbors… But it was with great sadness that we said goodbye to the pine.
The tree was part of the yard since Mario’s parents first moved here over 40 years ago. And while I’ve only known the tree for a few years, Mario watched it grow from a tiny twig to the stately tower it became.
The pine marked the house. It was decorated with lights at Christmas, and it gave shelter to hundreds of species of insects, birds and animals. Our cat climbed up to the height of two floors when he was still little and hadn’t realised how scary it would be to come down again. The pine was settled, steadfast and solid. Somehow it never seemed to change, not like the other trees and plants that shed leaves and dropped branches and moved in the breeze.
But it moved on. There’s a smell of pine in the air and a gap in the garden. The space seems incomplete. But I’m planning a new vegetable plot and we’re looking forward to spring. Many things change.
I realise I risk the wrath of family and friends in England who have been suffering under cloud and rain for much of the summer but I want to post a few pictures from winter in Argentina. And winter in Buenos Aires means one thing – blue sky. OK, we get rain here too. We also get cloudy days and even a little fog and mist (not much, mind). But for days on end the sky can be clear and blue, which is astounding for a person like me who grew up associating winter with overcast weather.
I love the crisp winter days with an azure sky, the sun low and weak and the light sending silver shadows across the garden. It seems like we have more birds but the truth is we can just see more of them; fat pigeons resting in the fine web of bare grey branches.
And when September and October bring an end to winter, springtime is a blue sky spectacular. Spring brings the bonus of warm air to take the edge off the chill, while the temperatures are not yet hitting the often uncomfortable heights of summer (I’m from England – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to 40° summers). Blue skies are here again, and again…
Today it’s gloomy and wet with a chill in the air but I found these pictures from December. They’re of the small construction site beside our house, where lunch is an important matter during the sweltering days of summer (remember those?)
No builder’s tea and a ham roll for these construction workers. Instead lunch is ribs and cuts of beef barbequed over a portable grill; a workers asado. Meaty, juicy, woody flavours drift across the garden and make me hungry. Workers asados are more common on Fridays but increasingly seemed to be grilled midweek too. These frontline workers can’t construct on an empty stomach.
Here in west Buenos Aires you’re never more than one foot from a dog. But a dog on a leash is a different matter. You’ll maybe see one dog a week being taken for a walk. And not because dog owners want their dogs fat and lazy, but because most people have a yard or a garden and the dogs are outside all day. Nayla, being special and spoiled, is only just getting used to the outdoor life but it’s normal for most canines in the west. Some people who don’t have big gardens will let their dogs out into the park or street for half an hour then call them back. If I see a dog being walked in our neighbourhood it’s probably a proper posh breed or he’s being trained.
Downtown dogs live a different kind of life, being walked on a leash, taken to the park on a leash and spending the rest of their lives inside. It’s hard to have a dog outside all day when most people don’t have more than a balcony for outdoor space.
Some porteños prefer to have their dogs follow them around town, not on a leash but patiently trotting alongside them and waiting outside the store. I saw one dog following his owner carrying the newspaper in his mouth (I’m not sure whether the owner let her dog carry the newspaper because he particularly enjoyed it, or because it was too heavy for her and didn’t match her outfit.) I am in awe of this doggy behaviour and want to show Nayla so she can aspire to newspaper carrying without newspaper chewing.
And when porteños don’t have time to walk their dogs, here come the dog walkers. Most commonly seen in Palermo but walking all over the city and even in some of the more well-off neighbourhoods in the west, these young dog walkers have to be fit in order to handle up to 10 dogs at a time. The Buenos Aires dog walkers also need to act as doggy dieticians, behavioural psychologists and vets and have the patience to deal with angry owners when doggy is delivered back home with a leaf in his blow-dried fur.
I want Nayla to see the dogs being walked so she can aspire to this too. Currently I don’t think she would be accepted by a professional dog walker due to her inability to walk on a leash without licking the pavement, digging for bones and trying to sprint one block to reach a cat.
Carlitos in Castelar became a place of refuge during the power cut with its welcoming lights and tempting, elemental smell of grilled meat, sugar and fries. But Carlitos is a favourite whatever the weather, season or occasion. Simply put – the lomitos and burgers are damn good.
The lomito is a favourite here in Argentina. It’s a burger the Argentine way; a sandwich of thin tenderloin steak – ideal comfort food; the best ones are tender and tasty. The lomito completo at Carlitos arrives in a bread bun the size of the plate oozing with cheese, lettuce, tomato and ham. You choose the extras, if you’ve got the space in your belly – fried egg, avocado, mayonnaise, aubergines (grilled and slightly pickled), Roquefort, pickles, pancetta, onions…. All these option come in hamburger form too, where the lomito meat is substituted for the regular ground meat patty.
Carlitos is more famous for its pancakes but I admit we are too enamoured by the lomitos and the burgers to try them. The menu comes in a bound folder and runs to over 10 pages. If you try to read it all you’ll never order. Best to focus on your favourites.
The wine list is short and good value (there’s a decent Malbec at $45 pesos a bottle but it’s not too exciting). The juices are worth a look – the lemon juice was immediately to my liking because it tasted of tart lemon and not of sugar.
Choose sweet potato chips or regular chips (or fries; whatever), plus salad if you want to feel a little less fatty. We’re not sure we like the way they bring the chips to the table first, before the burgers, which results in us wolfing down a chip appetizer and leaving less room for lomitos. But they will bring everything together if you ask.
Our local is shaped like the prow of a ship; a wedge-shape tapering to a point with one table at the apex (our choice when it’s free) overlooking Santa Rosa avenue and the ever-so-less-tasty MacDonald’s. There are Carlitos branches all over the place downtown and in the west.
Carlitos food is comforting, filling, and tasty, service is efficient and friendly and our local is a romantic place to dine. Well, the romance part may be due to the fact we’re newly married and not to the bustling, busy surroundings…. OK. The stove is not working properly, it’s getting late and it’s a holiday. I suggest a trip to Carlitos for lomitos right now.
Pic courtesy of Nellie Nichols foodie blog
Update written four days after the storm: Still no power. Apart from the light coming from the fires, lit by protestors in the road outside our house.
Easter Sunday at around 9.30pm. A group of people barricades the road using the barriers from the construction site and a bunch of fallen trees at one end and, at the other, a burning pile of trees, branches, wood and tyres. They bang drums, water bottles, pans and buckets, calling for the return of the lights. A police car stops and a couple of officers get out, calmly watching the proceedings.
When nothing seems to be happening, the ringleaders move the protest towards the bridge at the other end of the street. This is more effective as they succeed in blocking the path of cars coming off the freeway and forcing buses to divert around the fire.
This is unheard of in Ituzaingó. These protests are the kind of things we watch on TV, the actions that happen downtown in the capital. The protest is peaceful and unthreatening, although the atmosphere is eerie with the completely darkened streets deserted by cars and the fires burning at either end. We watch proceedings with the dogs, eating our empanadas and enjoying some wine. We wonder whether we should be drinking wine and eating empanadas in these circumstances. Seems kind of strange, but that’s what these past days have been: strange.
Update written two days after the storm in Buenos Aires: Still no power. Turn it on now; we’ve had enough of pretending to live in the 1800s. At first the nights are romantic and cosy with candles and no TV. Then morning comes and the inconvenience is glaringly obvious. How do I work? I take a day’s enforced Easter holiday but then attempt to do something constructive. The first day after the storm the Esso has no power, the second day it has power but no Wi-Fi. Some cafes have Wi-Fi but it’s hit and miss whether it’s working, and when it does it’s slow. And I can’t stay in a cafe for eight hours. Same for the cyber cafes.
We want to keep the fridge things cool but nowhere has any ice. There is a block-long line of cars waiting for gasoline and fights over who was first. Many service stations in the area have no power and can’t open, plus it’s a long weekend and people have been stocking up with gas.
Here we have the perfect storm indeed – strong winds, rain and hail; large amount of damage; four-day holiday; workers on vacation; major delays…. Much of the power infrastructure is now tangled in trees or on top of cars in Ituzaingó and Morón, and in many places it’s like starting from scratch. Some blocks have no running water and no gas, so we are some of the lucky ones.
We wait for power….