We've been Tango'd

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jen writes...(we'll be rotating the blog duties, as we wrestle the laptop between us)

We celebrated spending triple our budget by finally managing to eat as the Portenos (people from BA) do, i.e. huge amounts of steak really late at night - great for the digestion!! We reserved ourselves a table por dos at La Cabrera, a gorgeous little corner restaurant, packed out with happy diners. After a couple of chopps in a nearby pub, we sat down to the biggest steaks I'd ever seen, foolishly ignoring the comment on the menu that sharing was probably a good option and going for 1 main meal each, little realizing that on top of the spectacular size of each steak, each main meal came with hundreds of little dishes of dips, veggies and other tasty morsels! Rolling home a couple of hours later, after the best meal ever, we agreed that we'd stick to home-made pasta and sauce for a week or so, so that both our bellies and our budget could recover!

Yesterday (Saturday) was the double-excitement of footie and swanky bus ride, only one of which lived up to our high expectations!!
First, the footie...we were picked up about an hour late (which is apparently usual Argentinean time) by a bus full of foreigners from nearby hostels, and then sat in queues and queues of traffic for another hour to get to the stadium. Our 3 guides heroically herded us through the massive crowds to the right gate, and we all eventually found seats together, which involved lots of sidling along rows of seated spectators, trying not to tumble down the vertigo-inducing stands, with lots of 'Permisso?' which we quickly learned meant please excuse me whilst I climb over your knees! River Plate's stadium is huge with no cover and we were right at the top, in the full force of the wind and rain, so although we were wearing every warm layer we own, we were soon chilled to the bone and had to do lots of jumping up and down, clapping and singing (random words as we couldn't quite catch any of the Argentinean chants except 'Ar-Gent-Ina!' and 'Vamos!) to keep hypothermia at bay. Unfortunately for the atmosphere in our part of the ground, Paraguay soon went 1-0 up and Teves (key Argentinean player) got sent off, but luckily Argentina did eventually score, to make the final score 1-1, although the Paraguayan supporters celebrated as if they had won.

Footie over, we scurried back to the bus, and were quickly back in the hostel, warming our chilled bones until we caught the Royal Suite Max. Unfortunately, you'll be saddened to learn, the leather seats didn't materialize (green velour with plastic bits for our feet), nor did the endless champagne (1 glass!), (as Nige put it, less Royal Suite and more Royal Lounge, a limited term of reference, that only Martin & Rosie will get, but suffice to say it wasn't quite fit for a King!)
However, we were nearly fully lying down - just a slight kink at the knees, and after a bizarre dinner consisting of heaps of mash and a bit of veal schnitzel, we both managed to sleep about 8 hours as our Royal Suite cruised west towards the mountains. We were rudely awakened early by our road-hostess, if that's what the equivalent of an air-hostess is called?, as she obviously wanted to get the breakfast service out of the way, and soon were excited to see the massive white peaks of the Andes come into view, stretched along the horizon. Fabulous sight!

So far we are loving Mendoza and our cosy wee hostel - The city is another world from BA - quiet, sunny, warm, small, with wide tree-lined streets, and the hostel is also another world from Tango Backpackers - quiet, small, friendly, garden, 2 v cute dogs, a comfortable bed and decent kitchen - what more could we ask?
And tomorrow we're off to learn how to speak like a native, so we might finally understand some of what people are saying to us - awesome!  Nige is getting mighty tired of his old favourite "no hablo Espanyol"!

Sorry...Nige has just noticed I missed out a whole evening, so here he is to tell you about it, plus his side of the footie game - apparently you deserve to hear about it from a true football supporter!!...

It wasn't quite like being slapped round the face by the hilarious orange bald fella however we did have an entertaining impromptu live music night at the Tango hostel on Friday night where it seemed audience participation was the go. Middle age though does have its benefits and the teenage contingent in from Uruguay, plus a couple of English girls - in Argentina before starting Uni (actually turns out it's all awfully embarrassing as one's off to Oxford and the other Cambridge..cue razor sharp boat race banter from yours truly) were herded to the front ahead of us - anyhow we enjoyed the "show" from the comfort of our benches with only a few bottles of vino tinto and an Irish/Scottish couple (who had lived in Nelson) for company; who were apparently riveted as I regaled my heroic tales of amateur tree surgery back in Wellington. Seems the next morning Jen pointed out that as a professional tree surgeon back in Scotland Dave was horrified by my DIY methods, apparently he'd interpreted my can-do Kiwi attitude as an unforgivable slur on his career...the people you meet eh?
Anyway due to the state of the kitchen (my standards of cleanliness I readily admit are not the highest, but this kitchen needed to be seen to be believed), we've enjoyed the traditional Argentine dinner of takeaway pizza whilst watching the world cup qualifiers on TV...yes travel surely does broaden the mind with a plethora of new foods and experiences!

Speaking of the World Cup games, the atmosphere at the Argy game was fantastic despite the fact (helpfully for us, as Jen mentioned) they've never got round to putting a roof on the "Estadio River" so none of the noise reverberates around as it would in an English stadium and we all got absolutely soaking. I was so taken with the Paraguay fans though I was forced to support the underdog (actually I'd already got grief off the hostel guide for singing Paraguay songs on the coach) so I couldn't be happier to witness Heinze (who was truly rubbish all 45 mins his coach allowed him to stay on the pitch) put the ball into his own net, not only that he took out the keeper who had to be substituted off. priceless! Things got better when Tevez (who'd been truly brilliant in the 30 mins the ref allowed him to be on the pitch) was sent for an early bath. I was even joining in with the Paraguay celebrations - my Spanish is not great but it sounded to me like "shit ground, no fans; shit ground, no fans!" and the 80,000 or so Argies got gradually more irate until Messi (he might be one for the Palace scouts to look into) rescued them with a run and set up for them to equalize. Great to be there though, just hoping we get tickets so we can compare the atmosphere to Brazil - Colombia when we're in Rio in Nov.
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