We will be spending time at a Volunteering Project in Chile: 'Save The Wild Chinchillas' - Habitat Re-establishment

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Eco-Park My Arse!

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Ok so already we hit a bump in the road and in our first week too! Booooo. When people say 'Your plans will always change once you get out there!' They're telling no lies. 

We hated being in Buenos Aires (reasons why stated in previous post) and desperately wanted to find some peace, so we headed to the 'Eco-Park' a day or so early, thinking we'd stay there for up to two weeks, allowing us to spend little money and relax. 

SOOOOOOO not the case! 

On their website (which by the way I went over with a fine tooth comb in the months leading up to our departure) they state they are a 'Retreat' and the photos looked so great on their shite, sorry I mean site. Take this description for example...

"Organic vegetarian/veg restaurant (excellent food),Breakfast included (see full board option),Common room,Internet access free of charge in the common room,Library (english and spanish),Cinema with big screen, digital sound,DVD’s,Daily Hatha Yoga and Meditation class taught in the ¨Truli¨ dome, an impressive architectural design and acoustics,Vegetarian cooking workshop,Lectures and art room with wood stove,Parking,Wheelchair Accessible ,24 Hour Reception ,Currency Exchange,Towels,Laundry,Airport Transfer,Bus stop transfer,Luggage"

The entrance....if only we knew what lay ahead!
The REALITY of the situation was NOT an 'Eco-Park' but a small community of Hare Krishnas living in what Jack and I could only describe as squalid conditions :s

Now on the website it says nothing (unless I missed it) about it being in any way religious, I thought it was going to be more about detoxing and relaxing, learning about growing your own food and living in an environmentally friendly manner. I honestly thought it was the kind of place people would go for a genuinely Eco but truly desirable retreat. Cleanliness and relaxation being of the upmost importance when you conjure the word 'retreat'.

Now, we were aware that yes there may be some kind of religious under-tone, but that we would just choose to remain distanced from it and just enjoy the parks 'relaxing' facilities and dig up a few vegetables, perhaps even learn to cook a few new 'organic' dishes. Which if we'd stayed longer than one night may have been the case. BUT it was pretty unbearable, and it wasn't even bloody Eco!

The education centre, the only OK building that didn't smell!
We had little problem with the Hare Krishna side of things, each to their own of course! They didn't push anything on us or assume we were into it, so that's the only credit that can be given. It was the rancid conditions that were the problem and the fact that the website is one big lie!

The only thing 'Eco' about the place was that they grew their own vegetables and fruit. But did they have composting toilets? Nope! Did they use candle light or use wind turbines? Nope! Did they live in a rubbish free, 'at one with the earth manner'? Nope!

The only good thing about this place: The Vegetable Patches
The 'restaurant' was just a kitchen, which from a glance didn't even seem very clean! There were always flies everywhere! The common room was a shack and I didn't see any computer there for communal use, only the on-site people who seemed to live there sat around on chairs with their own mini-laptops. The Library was literally a shelf! I didn't even SEE this 'Cinema with Big-Screen' that they talk of, though I did hear a TV somewhere behind one of the cabins, not that anyone bothered to show us it however. Hot showers were none existent and buzzing with flies and the smell was enough to make you ill on the spot.

Jack and I were so grossed out we refused to wash with anything but babywipes. The toilets were normal flushing toilets, BUT you couldn't put anything down them so next to the loo sat a plastic basket full of dirty arse-wipe toilet paper. Jacks first visit to the toilet greeted him with a giant turd that had sat there for god knows how long unflushed. Now how's about that for a photo! (If only we'd thought to take pics of all this stuff, but it really doesn't occur at the time to photograph the awful stuff).

They mention they have towels!? What a joke! Laundry?! Well if they had a washing machine then that sure ain't Eco! 

Certain areas of the 'park' really stank of sewage, so we rekon their bad toilet system, which again I must note was NOT 'Eco', mustn't have been taking the waste very far away at all. There was also a cluster of trees in the middle of the 'park' which seemed to hide an array of junk and rubbish.

We made our excuses as to why we had to leave so suddenly, and the guy seemed a bit peeved as we'd said we'd volunteer for the week, however the place was a complete joke so we didn't give two hoots!

Problem was that it had been a long holiday weekend and apparently in Argentina the banks can literally run out of money! We arrived on a Sunday and there was no way we would be able to get hold of any money until noon on the Monday! Literally TRAPPED! Arrrgggghhhhh!! We had tried to get money before we arrived there but even in Buenos Aires the cash machines were empty :(

We had no choice but to stay the night, which then meant we'd have to pay for it, so we couldn't even make a quick exit first thing in the morning. We had to trek into the local town walking 1km down a dirt track and then taking the most local of local buses into a hot, humid, busy, scummy town. We had to que for an HOUR in the street with the locals to finally get some cash.

Jack named the whole experience the 'Escape from Eco-Traz'

We spent our time at the 'Eco-Park-My-Arse' hiding away from people, complaining, skipping any social aspect such as dinner and sneaking out of the premises for cigarettes! Yes that right, this first week has been so stressful we've both taken up smoking! To top it off we talked with a girl from Australia called Emily who told us lots of people were leaving due to bed-bugs! That suddenly explained why we'd seen people pouring boiling water all over their backpacks and belongings.

That was the cherry on the cake!

She assured us that the cabin we were staying in was the same one she was in too and that it didn't have bed-bugs, she said that's why we were moved, as initially we were in a prison cell of a room which also had water pouring in from the ceiling whenever someone turned the tap on.

Jack hiding from the tons of Mosquitos and possibly even Bed-Bugs!
The main owner of the place had clearly taken a disliking to us when we said we had to leave and didn't inform us of the bedbugs or offer for us to move rooms. Thankfully another guy who tended to look after us moved us regardless.

Now, I WISH I'd taken photos of all this stuff, but at the time I just tried to focus on the positive aspects, such as the vegetable patch! So my photos don't illustrate the true horror of the place!!

If ever any reader of this blog was considering going there, I strongly suggest you DON'T! Unless you like poo stenched, bed-bug ridden and ultimately BORING surroundings!!

The state of us (well, me) after being too afraid to wash there!
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