Saturday, April 14, 2018

Here's What You'll Find In Cordoba's Botanical Garden

If you want to surround yourself with a variety of diverse plant life, then Cordoba's Botanical Garden (El Jardin Botanico de Cordoba) is the idyllic place. Essentially, it's a conservatory of some of the most beautiful scenery and vegetation.
Of course, I had no idea that this place even existed until a few months ago, but I kept putting it off in light of my trip to Buenos Aires,working on my novels, and a couple of other things life had thrown at me.

In March, Cordoba's Botanical Garden became the perfect venue to celebrate our six-year wedding anniversary. But first, we decided to make a little pit stop at American Chicken, which is a decent clone of KFC.
 
Afterwards, we took a bus to the botanical garden, which was a bit further than we usually traveled in our host city. But would you believe it? Here we were getting ready to have a nice afternoon, and the sky turned gray.
My pissed off face
His "I'm over it" face
Fortunately, it didn't rain!

Now, I've visited the botanical garden in Buenos Aires before, but I wasn't expecting this one to be an exact copy, and it wasn't. So here's what you'll find in Cordoba's Botanical Garden.
Don't get me wrong. The botanical garden in Cordoba was lovely. There were man-made streams full of water lilies and a modest amount of plants you won't see in someone's front yard.
There was also a mini-museum intended for kids, which contained topographical samples of different environments in Argentina, as well as a variety of different flowers, seeds, and of course, fishes!
But for the most part, there was just a bunch of trees. 
The man-made lakes and streams attracted a bunch of mosquitoes and wasps. But those weren't the most annoying things around.
The garden offers photo shoot sessions with professional photographers, and some of the sessions that we stumbled on included photo shoots of babies, as well as shoots of teenage girls for what I'm guessing was their quinceaƱera (Sweet sixteen, but for a 15-year-old). That was probably one of the most annoying thing about the garden. We were trying to walk through the path, but we didn't want to be rude and interrupt someone's photo shoot, so we ended up either waiting for them to move on or we had to ask permission and deal with the photographer and parents' moody face.
Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!

So we didn't find the level of harmony that the botanical garden in B.A. had, but there were plenty of  picture-worthy spots, and a nice twisted path that took us all around the garden.



Money doesn't grow on trees, but apparently, wine bottles do!

Since we had stuffed our faces with fried chicken, we certainly needed to walk off a few calories. Alright, more than a few.
We loved the cacti area! My parents and I moved around a lot when I was a kid, but I remember that there was this huge cactus tree that grew in my backyard. Maybe that's why I find these plants so soothing.
You might spend an hour and a half at most at the garden before heading out like we did! If you have kids, you might stay a bit longer. Oh, and you might want to watch where you step. While we didn't see any stray dogs, we did notice plenty of poop while we walked around. So my advice would be to stay on the path, avoid the grass, and take some nice photos with a group of friends or family members. 
Afterwards, we headed to the nearest Walmart, which was only a couple of blocks away and enjoyed lunch no. 2 at McDonald's.
The Cordoba Botanical Garden is located in  Francisco Yunyent 5491. If you want more information, you can check out their Facebook page by clicking here.

Until next time... 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Here's What You Need To Know About Renting Property In Argentina

If you're moving to Argentina, you're going to need a place to stay. Since some of my blog followers have been asking about the 411 on renting apartments, airbnb, and hostels, I've gathered as much data as I could scrounge up, along with a few sites that might prove useful in your search for temporary lodging. So here's what you need to know about renting property in Argentina.

So the first thing you should know is that on average, renting an apartment or a home has a minimum 2-year contract. You'll also have to meet the minimum earning requirement just like everywhere else. You may be required to have 3 guarantors, which can include people, or even properties that you own that can serve as collateral in case you can't pay your dues.

Now some folks suggest getting a lawyer. You might need one to get through all the legal mumbo jumbo, but in most cases, Argentine lawyers are hacks. You pay them, and they don't call back, or since they know you're a foreigner, they'll try to screw you over with insane, but totally unnecessary fees. So, you're better off going to a certified public accountant who can notarize and legalize all of your paperwork. 

Oh, and did I mention that you also had to fork over a 5% commission to the rental agency? The agency is called an immobiliaria, which basically translates to realtor. If you decide to renew your contract for an additional 2 years, you'll have to pay the 5% commission to the rental agency once again.

The monthly price doesn't include provincial and federal taxes, or building fees, which you'll have to pay. Also, don't count on the property owners to throw in amenities like paying your water or electricity. That's a luxury that is extremely rare in Argentina. You'll also have to pay a fee that'll cover the cost of painting the apartment or home at the time you move out, even if the unit looks flawless. There's no sense in fighting that, so just go with it.

Also, you will likely have to deal with a 12.5% hike up in your monthly rental fee every six months. Yes, they can do  this. It's legal. It's in the contract, which you'll sign. There's no way around this. You just have to  bend over and take it (so to speak).

Keep in mind that in the States, a fridge and a stove are amenities that are given to us when we rent an apartment or home. Don't expect this in Argentina. You'll have to buy your own refrigerator and stove. I know. It's a total hassle.

I have a friend who is considering staying in Cordoba, but they're still on the fence. Since they're not planning on sticking around for more than a month or so, I've recommended that they try looking for an airbnb, which can run them as low as $600 USD a month, but can range in cost as much as $1,000 USD a month.

In Cordoba, there's a site called Casa Tropical, which may provide some temporary rental units, so check them out here.

As far as renting a home or an apartment long term, I suggest you check out the Re/Max website, because as the value of the Argentine peso continues to free fall, the cost of living rises.

I've screencapped some of the costs of apartments and homes that you can rent. So check out the prices and then go to their site, which provides listings for other provinces besides Cordoba, like Buenos Aires.
If you're just looking for a hostel to spend a week or two in, then I recommend going to hostelworld.com. Not only does it list some of the amenities, but it tells you just how clean they are and how much they cost.
I would also like to point out that one of the biggest downsides to renting is getting the landlord to actually get anything fixed. In a lot of cases, your first step would be to contact the realtor, who will contact the landlord to report your complaint (leaky ceiling, broken faucet, mold). Don't expect a quick turnaround from the landlord anytime soon. It can take days, weeks or months, if ever, before anything happens. Don't even bother with threats like, "I'll call a lawyer." As I said, the legal system here is different from the States. Even if you file a lawsuit, and outcome can take years, and by that point, you'll have likely moved on.

There's one last thing. The mold issue. Usually around winter time, the interior of an Argentine home or apartment will start to get really moldy. In the States, we usually see black mold and evacuate because of the serious health hazards this produces. That won't happen here. Again, you can reach out to the landlord and have them clean up the mold, but you may not get a response. So you might as well take care of it on your own.  We've been living in Argentina for nearly six years now, so we've gotten pretty good at dealing with mold in our home. Diluting vinegar with water is one way to get rid of mold from the walls. We've found that this prevents a recurrence of mold spores from growing on our walls and ceilings. Bleach works too, but the mold will likely come back in a month or so. Again, this usually happens during the Argentine winter months, which are June through August.

I hope I covered some of the basics for you. If not, feel free to ask me any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.