Holiday time

Trip Start Mar 07, 2009
Trip End Apr 08, 2010

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Flag of Argentina  , Central Argentina,
Saturday, August 29, 2009

16th - 19th August 2009:

Booked ahead our accommodation for the first time on this trip, largely because it was a bank holiday weekend and the place was packed out, and I remember why now as the place was a bit of a hole. Lonely Planet has a lot to answer for. We did me an American professional Ultimate Fighter though which was cool, Dustin was his name, not a household name though. Moved out the next day to the Hosteling International (HI) place around the corner which was much better.
Spent just a couple of days here as it was really quiet, owing to the fact we were there Sunday & Monday, and there wasn`t much to do except eat and drink. That said we had some nice set meals, managed to watch Arsenal beat Celtic, Practically get a subscription at the ice cream parlor, and play stray dog hurdling along most of the roads. Took a day trip to a place called Alta Gracia which was very picturesque, about 1hr away from Cordoba and location of the Che Guevara museum at his former residence, boring!
Decided to make a move to a place called Villa Carlos Paz about 1.5hrs Westish of Cordoba, described by the book as Argentina's answer to Las Vegas!
Las Vegas it was not. There were no pyramids, roller coasters or any of the other stuff the book described, except a giant cuckoo clock. We went there purely because there was supposed to be a HI hostel that did good priced hiking trips in the surrounding hills. To our dismay the place was not there, closed down for years probably. Just as we were about to head to a grotty motel we noticed a cabana or chalet holiday park. It was clearly out of our price range but thought what the hell. The bloke showed us one of the Chalets and quoted us $50. Ang explained (in Spanish as he spoke not a word of English) that we could only pay $20 so it was too much and he said "$20 it is then, no-one else is staying here!", right result. This place was amazing, by far the best place we have stayed in, a self contained chalet with double bedroom, nice bathroom, kitchen, dining room, cable TV etc and even a swimming pool, all to ourselves. The views were brilliant and the weather was hot so great place to just chill, more or less a holiday from traveling if that makes any sense, probably not :)
The place had a dog as well that had just had a puppy which was another nice touch. We were only gonna stay a couple of days but we stayed a week because we just didnīt want to leave, just kept stocking up on food and wine at the supermarket and cooked up a storm every night, in fact we made 4 roast dinners out of the 7 nights!
Did go out a bit that week:
Day 1 went down to the lake, really pretty location. Sat down and saw this black Labrador puppy break free from its owners and come over for a little while then we realized they didn`t own it after all and just left. This put us in a bit of a pickle because we didn`t want to leave it in the park as it was only a few months old so we had to formulate a plan. I notice 2 young girls had sat down so we started to walk home and took a detour past them knowing they would get all gooey eyed at the sight of the little fella, like we did! As soon as he ran to them we stepped up the pace and didn`t look back, hopefully they would have taken it in.
Day 2 we went on a chairlift up to a adventure park, it was lame, had a gay train and archery course about 5m long.
Day 3 took a hike up a hill to get some amazing views
Day 4 back down to the lake to observe some kite & windsurfing going on, and saw an owl bizarrely, thought they were nocturnal
Days 5-7 Chilling hard in the garden and watching loads of football on the satellite TV, even 3 O clock kick offs in the premiership
We had to stay an extra day because the buses were on strike but when we did it was a real wrench to leave. Got on a ridiculously crammed bus to La Cumbre, about 1.5hrs away. The driver would not let us put our stuff in the hold so we were both sat with our backpacks and small bags in our laps the whole time, I was right at the back! Ang crushed some hunchback woman's hands with her pack trying to let someone else past then tried to give her someone else's jumper and wallet she thought she had left, I could hear the shouting from the back of the bus it was very funny. We were not very popular that day.

26th August:

Got to La Cumbre and met up with this Scottish Teacher called Duncan and after lunch found ourselves some digs for the night. We let Duncan have the only private room as the lady said we`d probably have the dorm to ourselves, something we would live to regret. Decided to go and hire mountain bikes for the afternoon but the shop was shut when we arrived then this geezer turned up (Fecha) and asked if we fancied going paragliding, and I did so off we went. We had come here specifically for me to do that at some stage so it was not a completely spur of the moment decision. Ang & Duncan were not interested but were allowed to come and watch. We had to wait an hour and a half, apparently for the winds to drop but they seemed the same to me, I suspect they were waiting for numbers. There were a few people going up and I was the first to get kitted up and he explained that I had to bend forwards and run like hell when he said. I asked about landing which was more my concern and he said "don`t worry about that I`ll tell you when we`re up there", nice one! Actually I then began to worry about take off because it was by no means flat and if I tripped I would be dragged across the mountain on my face, not a good start to my maiden voyage!
The mountain, or hill was about 1000m above sea level and when we took off I was all over the place. I thought we would simply run forwards but we were left, right, backwards, forwards but we got off the ground and up we went. It was great, one of the best things I have ever done. I got about 50 minutes in the air, more than all the others and the views were outstanding, though I did feel a bit sick after the acrobatics, I didn`t ask him to do it a third time. The landing was a bit hairy, we had 2 aborted attempts including one involving us sliding along the floor for about 5m, luckily I was in a padded seat! When we did come down it was in the same spot we took off, the parachutes were kept at the same altitude by thermals in the air! I took loads of pictures and tried to get the perfect silhouette against the setting sun to no avail but fortunately Ang got a beaut picture as I was landing.
Went out for nice Indian food that night with Duncan & American fella Tom, the food was amazing, actually as good as anything I ate in India. Got a bit lost on the way there mind, but Ang came to the rescue again, I was still tired from all the flying! Got back to the dorm to find some girl kipping hard to our annoyance, meant we had to creep around without light, and then to top it off she snored and talked in her sleep all night, so slept poorly. Couldīt even understand what she was saying and laugh about it because she was Austrian, a professional equestrian no less, here to play polo.
After all that we decided to get going the next morning. We came here for the paragliding and did it so didn`t fancy hanging around in a dorm bed with snore face just for the sake of it. After breakfast headed to bus station and got a bus back to Cordoba (2.5hrs) with the intention of going to San Luis, about 6hrs South in Central Argentina. We missed the first bus by minutes because of the delay caused by the bus running over a dog and the next one got us there late so we decided, given the lonely planets inaccuracies and the fact we were going there just for 1 national park on a guided trip, that instead we would haul ass on another epic bus journey to Puerto Madryn in northern Patagonia, Eastern Argentina. We had to wait 9 hrs for the bus in what is now blistering heat spring time and the bus arrived late at 10pm. We paid a bit more for the posh seats downstairs though the bus was less comfortable than the one a couple of weeks back and we were in the 2 seats at the front which had a great view of the telly but there were no curtains between the our area and the toilet which was to become less pleasant as the journey wore on. We were also unfortunate enough to have another puking kid on board and as were were at the foot of the stairs we got a first hand view. We saw the chunder before the boy and it was pure liquid so it splashed against the stairs leaving Ang with some serious barf spatter on her trousers due to the lack of curtains. The clean up operation was less slick than before as the kids dad was made to clean it up himself which basically meant him throwing down some water and brushing downstairs and out the door, further contaminating our area. They didn`t even bother cleaning the walls, I suspect to throw off the drug sniffing police dog that came on about an hour later. I was hoping someone would get busted just for the comedy value, the kids parents preferably.
Other than that the journey was fairly smooth, good food, comfortable, and no Steven Seagal movies thank god!
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