We have just finished our second week of 2014. It’s pretty damn hot and humid but I suppose that is the way it goes here in January and February. I have been here for three and a half months now. There are a few things that I have noticed that are a little bit different to Australia, where I had been living for the five years previous to arriving here, and New Zealand, where I was born.
Once again these are not complaints, just observations. The Argentinean government are known for throwing out figures that aren’t really that close to the truth. They stated that inflation was at 10.9% for 2013. Analysts say it was 28%. Some would say that is quite a lot! Consistently over the last month or so there has been power and water cuts throughout the city! Sometimes lasting up to two days. Employment for young adults is extremely hard to get and if you are lucky enough to have work you definitely won’t be paid that well!
Last month, subway (not the sandwich joint!) ticket prices were increased by 40%. This month, bus ticket prices were increased by 66%. On the bus route to the slum where we work there is a patch of road that doesn’t seem to have been repaired for a good few years. There is one particular hole that I would say is reminiscent of the Bermuda triangle, boats and planes could go missing in this hole, and I dare say there is probably a few missing persons down there too!
I am beginning to get an insiders view to this city. There are some pretty big cracks starting to appear! I am living on the Australian dollar which is strong compared to the peso so I am able to absorb a few price increases, and I would say I am quite a tolerant person so a few days without power and a couple of holes in the road don’t really phase me too much. The problems with this city don’t affect me too badly but they definitely affect those who live here and those who earn and live on the peso. Can you imagine if you travelled by bus every day and your travel bill increased by 66%? I truly feel for the people who are struggling to make ends meet and then are smacked with ridiculous price hikes!
One positive, the government made an agreement with supermarkets to shield poor families from one of the worlds highest inflation rates by agreeing to a year-long price fix on 200 basic food products. But Valeria tells me that some supermarkets are only doing this on certain days for an hour. Apparently on those days you can see massive queues of people wanting to buy these basic foods.
When the big crisis hit in 2002, inflation was at 41% and many of the middle class were dragged into poverty. This country isn’t quite there so the alarm bells are not ringing just yet! Even the slum that I work in isn’t the worst slum in the world. The houses have roofs, they have running water and electricity (Sometimes), most of the people have access to food. It just seems impossible for anybody to try and get themselves to the next step on the ladder! To transition from lower to middle class or middle to upper class. This could also be the folly of so many people like me, thinking we know the answer to this question. Do people want to improve their situation? Maybe they are happy where they are and maybe they don’t want to move to the next step on the ladder! I suppose the more time I spend here, the closer I will get to answering this question.
SOG news. We are averaging around a dozen or so kids per day at the moment. This suits me perfectly because it gives us a chance to get into the flow of things. I am working a lot on behaviour management strategies at the moment so it makes it easier with smaller groups. My Spanish teacher is helping me a lot with particular language for this behaviour management, because this is where I have found my Spanish is letting me down. I know all of the strategies in English but that is no help for me here! It is proving to be a real challenge but one that I am enjoying!
We had some visitors this week at the venue. My friend Emma from Australia and two Colombian friends Daniel and Miguel. It was so good having them help out, it is always good to have a few more hands on deck! It is great for them to have some fun with the kids and also for the kids to see some new faces. Anybody is welcome to come visit!
Ellie has been absolutely incredible in the kitchen since the beginning, but her time here is nearing an end. We are currently working on some systems for when she leaves. She leaves early February and she will be greatly missed, but the show must go on!
I have really enjoyed the start of our “making new stuff out of old stuff” unit. This week we made stuff out of news paper. Wednesday we made 5 different types of paper hats and today we made paper poppers (they make a bang).
I will post a few more photos on Facebook. Till next time. Hasta pronto.