Helpin’ Friends and Makin’ Holes

Chasing down documents for Brazilians, finding a magic coffee bar in a perfect location, and fighting with cheap components when fixing houses… all part of just one more day in Buenos Aires…

The sofitel hotel bar

Helping Friends

Just as I was leaving, a friend of mine from Puerto Madryn handed me her documents and asked if I could “validate” them so that she could continue the process of residency. Apparently she had been asked to do this very thing when first appearing at the Migrations office in Puerto Madryn.

The first stop, as she was Brazilian, was to see the Brazilian Consulate and find out if they could help me. When I arrive they tell me that there is nothing that they can nor should do as the documents are fully legalised and perfectly able to be used here in Argentina. So just to be sure I head over to the Migrations Office once again and stand in line for the Information Desk. This time there is only about 30 people in front of me.

At the Information Desk the man I speak with tells me that these documents are fine and can be used just as they are, as they already have all of the legal stamps and verifications that are required by Migrations. So several hours later I return with the documents untouched, but certain that they are ready to be used without changes in the Migrations Office in Puerto Madryn.

Cafe Arroyo from outside
Cafe Arroyo (Mountain Steam Coffee)

Cafe Arroyo at the Sofitel

On the way between the Brazilian Embassy and the Migrations Office I passed a lovely looking coffee shop and made a mental note that I must return this way and stop in for a coffee. I did. It turned out to be part of the Sofitel Hotel, a luxury hotel chain around the world with amazing antique furniture and the typical hushed atmosphere of money. My coffee cost $12 pesos and returned two lovely Sofitel pens (which I asked for), half an hour of peace and airconditioned quiet in a super-soft and comfortable ancient armchair, and a couple of chats with old friends through a free internet connection.

It was luxury. Sheer luxury.

Enjoying the Sofitel Coffee Bar

Enjoying a coffee at the Sofitel

Making Holes

In the afternoon, after the siesta, Danny and I started the process of hanging new curtains around the rooms of the YWAM base. They were given as a gift by a local lady and we wanted to get them hung as soon as possible as she was coming over later. So after unpacking my tools from the suitcase we pushed the stacked chairs up near the wall and used them as our ladder to reach the wall and start drilling holes.

Upon the first hole it was obvious that the wall was made of plaster, so we raced down to the local hardware shop and bought some plastic mounting points made specifically for plaster. Getting back into the work, the first thing that we discover is that the plastic is very soft and they do not go through the plaster very easily. The first curtain rod is not too difficult to mount as there is a lot of wood behind it and we do not need the plaster mounts. The curtains are all jumbled up however and so we leave hanging them until the girls can sort them out, moving on to the next room.

The next room is Danny’s room and we begin the process of mounting the curtain rod in the same way as we did in the first room. When done, we mount the curtains only to find that they are a lot longer than the height that we had given them. Not to be concerned, we simply measured up one of the lengths of the curtain and remounted the rod at this height. Since we could not reach that high with the stacked chairs, we grabbed a wooden pulpit and used that to stand upon so we could reach high enough.

This time the plaster mounts refused to work, either spinning while trying to screw into them or breaking the hole open and making it useless as I tried to gently screw it into the plaster. After making three big holes in the wall our bracket was still not very solidly mounted. We decided to use it like that anyway, and feed the curtain onto the rod and rose it up to the brackets. To our surprise and horror the curtains were now almost 10 centimetres off the floor. Something had gone quite wrong.

The curtain rod in its final position

The curtain rod in its final position, surrounded by a bunch of holes.

To be sure that we would get it right this time, we used the hung curtains as our guide and marked the wall according to how the curtains were hanging on the rod while we held it. “This time it will be perfect,” I assured Danny as I drilled yet another hole into the plaster. The same thing happened again, and again, and again, with these nasty plaster mounts that we had purchased. Disgusted, I was almost out of suggestions when Danny suggested I use the ones in my tray.

Unbeknownst to me I had brought a dozen plaster mounts with me of a more solid variety. Pulling one of these out and using the battery drill to self-drill and mount it, the plaster mount entered the plaster without any complaint at all and locked in firmly. Screwing the bracket into it produced the strongest mount that we had managed throughout our prospecting time across the plasterboard. The same occurred again with the next bracket. The difference in quality was astounding, and the mess that we had just made (height adjustments excluded) could have been avoided had we started using them in the beginning.

Needless to say that while we were in the middle of drilling for oil the lady who had donated the curtains came through to look at the place… and arrived just in time to see every single hole that I had managed to perforate through the plaster. If there was a time when I should have felt embarrassed about my work… that was it.

Oh, and the end of the story? Well, hanging the curtains at the height that we had marked out resulted in the rod being tilted quite severely to one side… and the curtains were still uneven with the curtain on the high side much lower than the curtain on the low side. So in the end we straightened out the curtain rod (yes, that was one more hole) and left the curtain dragging on the floor with the premise that it is easier to fix the curtains than to try and hang them while they are mismatching lengths.


Looking upward at the array of holes in the plasterboard. Oops.

Overall the new curtains look great though, and I am sure that once they have been tucked in and taken up and whatever else that needs to be done to them, they will look even better.

For now we have two curtain rods and their respective curtains mounted. That was practice for the next three that also need to be mounted tomorrow.