Can you guess which one is real? I'm not sure if you remember the counterfeit 5 sol we received in Peru which had an appropriate ending in the hands of a corrupt taxi driver, but this was a bit more frustrating because it was worth about US$17... quite a significant amount on a backpacker's budget. We traced its origins to a McDonalds we had stopped in on the first day, but by the time we realized it, we had no proof. So, until another corrupt taxi driver overcharges us by 50 pesos, JooYeon has devised her own little revenge strategy... whenever we're out and about in the city and she needs to go to the bathroom, she just uses McDonalds without purchasing anything. If she continues to do so once a week for the next ten years, it should actually work out! By the way, the counterfeit one is the top one... the ink is a slight bit wider and the paper itself feels a little different (but man, the likeness is impressive...)
Luckily, we're able to find ways to save other pesos here and there to compensate... for instance, did you ever realize how convenient a jacuzi is for washing clothes? We've also been able to do enough translation jobs to almost break even for our time here in Buenos Aires, so the budget is going well.
Another positive break came tonight when there was a happy ending to the Niagara falls hotel fiasco four months ago. (You can read the story by going to May archives, and then reading the blog, "the Thought that Counts") At that time, I accidentally reserved a hotel room in Canada and they refused to give me a refund, but did allow me to postpone the date. I had just chosen an arbitrary date, knowing full well that Joo and I would be in South America. Since that date is approaching soon, I posted it on craigslist and tonight Sally, a friendly lady from California, purchased it for four of her friends who will be going to Niagara Falls soon.
We really don't go to international food chains often (despite the several mentionings of McDonalds), but we did have to stop in a Starbucks the other day as we hadn't seen one in months and JooYeon was having an intense Frappuccino craving. It must have been one of the first in Argentina, because they couldn't keep up with demand - people were lined up well past the door. It worked great for me because they kept bringing free samples of cakes and gourmet drinks to us in line as we waited. And at least the change they gave me wasn't counterfeit. But even Starbucks can't compare at all to the corner cafe three blocks from our apartment. Despite the crowds of university students flocking the place Joo merely has to nod her head to the owner and he whips her up the usual in no time... a grande cafe con leche with cream on top for $1.15!
What is this next picture? Chapstick taped to a stone table? Much more than that... it's a symbol of true love. Joo knows that I'm rather addicted to using carmex after showers and brushing my teeth, and she also knows that I'm quite prone to losing the little tins, so she cleverly taped the carmex to the bathroom counter. What a wife!
As Joo and I were recently beginning to discuss whether we will stay here in BA for another month or move on in October, I found myself doing some of my typical Daniel Showalter life questioning. I seem to have a real need to justify my travels since they do come at the price of delaying education, a home, a family, a career, retirement funds, etc. And usually this is quite easy to do - seeing new places, new foods, new languages, meeting people, solving daily challenges, controlling emotions, building life experiences - all contribute to keeping me rather productively occupied.
But recently I noticed that something was missing in our three weeks in BA so far... community. Joo and I have had no regular contacts for this time since the boys left and I think it's the longest I've ever gone without a community of some sorts. And regardless of how introverted certain female adults from Ingleside might claim I am, I've found that community does give me a sense of purpose. I think I could be a monk, but I would have to live in a monastic community (and of course I'd need to have secret daily visits with Joo in a nunnery nearby). When I told this to Joo, I was feeling about 95% happy with our time in BA, and she told me she was 100% happy. But after sharing our feelings, she dropped significantly because she perceived me as unhappy, and I went up even higher because I realized how happy she was. Happiness is a strange creature... especially when you base it on someone else's happiness and they base theirs on yours. But I guess this is just one of the fun new lands of exploration we'll encounter on our yearlong honeymoon!