Trip Start Nov 17, 2006
Trip End May 2007

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Well, last time I updated this I was in the freezing cold temperatures at the end of the world. Now i´m writing to you from Bonito in Brazil, pretty much smack bang on the Tropic of Capricorn, where the temperature today is 44 degrees C...

We left Ushuaia and headed north through the Tierra Del Fuego, crossing back into Chile, and then again back into Argentina the same day. I now have 4 pages of my passport dedicated to Argentina and Chile! It was a long and hard day and it was freezing, and the truck broke down about 4 times in the middle of absolutely nowhere because of dirty fuel. And the starter engine packed up which meant having to push start an 18 tonne truck up a hill! We were meant to bush camp that evening, but ended up at a cheap campsite as a ´´special treat´´ as it had been such a long day! The next day was another day of driving to a bush camp. We had to cover about 1600kms between Ushuaia and our next destination, Puerto Madryn. That evening we camped littterally on the side of the road, by the entrance to a ranch. The scenery had changed that day from the rugged Patagoniain bushlands to much flatter, greener, and grassier fields, so free camping was very easy... We had a huge meal, and it was a great night for stars as we were very far from anything. We looked up to the sky after dinner and thought we could see a plane in the distance with incredibly strong headlights. 20 minutes later, it had only moved slightly, and we figured out it was actally a comet. A huge one, with a tail that was incredibly bright. We later discovered it was the brightest comet for 100 years, and is only visible from the southern hemisphere.

Anyway, the next day, we finally arrived in the Puerto Madryn, a little seaside town right on the Valdez Peninsula. It is about half way up to Buenos Aires. The best bit was catching the second half of the Arsenal vs. United game in a random bar! The beach was decent, but the town seemed to Argentina what Blackpool is to England... The campsite was probably the worst I´ve been to, with flies and mosquitoes encircling you in the bathroom/toilet, nasty showers, and thousands of people. It felt more like a refugee camp than a campsite! There was an awesome storm that evening,  and we all flooded into the truck, the only dry place, for dinner! The thunder and lightning was the most extreme i´ve ever seen, and a bolt of lightning struck a metal pole only about 10 m away from us, that scared the absolute c**p out of us all...! The next day we went into the national park, which is another UNESCO world heritage site. It is a fantastic place, really beautiful beaches with colonies of penguins and sea lions. We were unlucky not to see any killer whales...

After another day of driving, and another bush camp, we finally arrived in Buenos Aires. It is an incredible, electric city, without a doubt my favourite city of the trip so far. It is full of life and culture and is incredibly unwesternised. The only reminder of home is the occasional McDonalds! We stayed on Avenida de Mayo, one of the main streets, and just off Avenida 9 de Julio (9th of July) which, at 20 lanes wide, is the widest street on the planet. You need about 15 minutes and three cycles of the traffic lights to be able to cross it. We wasted no time to check out nightlife. The nightclubs don´t open their doors until about 2am, but they are absolutely amazing! Such a great time, and completely unpretentious compared to those in Europe. The first night we had what i honestly think is one of the top 5 meals of my life... An all you can eat buffet in Puerto Madeira. They have different areas  of the restaurant for meat, fish, sushi, salads, starters, pastas, pizzas, and desserts.  Instead of leaving the food out, you go up to either of the counters and order what you want. They cook it in front of you and serve it as it would be served in a top restaurant. Everything was the best quality. The meat was the best i´ve had in Argentina, therefore the best i´ve had in the world. After what I think was 6 courses (it all turned into a bit of a haze at the end), it was time for desserts! It cost 7 pounds each.

Then we went clubbing until 6 in the morning, passed out in bed, up again at 1030, and then off to Avenida de Florida for shopping. It is a huge, pedestrian shopping street with everything imaginable, for very cheap. In department stores, designer polo necks or T-shirts (Pierre Cardin, Quicksilve, Billabong) cost about 5 pound each. Also came accross a protest against the Finnish embassy as Finland wants to build a factory on the river that B.A. sits on that would polute it. There were aboout 100 riot police bearing shields protecting the embassy. Then it was steak for dinner, surprisingly enough, and out in the evening to Cafe Tortini, a local Tango show. Í´ve never been into watching dancing, or theatre, or plays or anything like that, but i could have stayed there watching the tango for hours and hours and been quite happy. It was absolutely brilliant. Not only the dancing, but percussion and music that was mindblowing! Never seen anything like it!

After that we headed out to Palermo, the bar and club area of B.A. After several bars, we got to Club 69, supposedly the place to be on Thursday nights. Which it most definately was! Absolutely incredible! About  thousand people I reckon, in a huge club, playing great music. A stage in the middle where there is a mix of female strippers, half naked gay men, and hugely hench transexuals dancing for everyone. It was a fetish theme and they were all clutching whips and batons! The atmosphere was absolutely electric, everybody having a crazy time, and very cheap alcohol! Then the middle of the dancefloor cleared and the breakdancers took over for about an hour. Dídn´t get out of there until about 8 oclock, when the city waking up for the next day...

The following day was a sightseeing day. I went to La Boca to see the infamous El Caminito, supposedly where Tango dancing was born. There were street dancers, multi-coloured shacks and houses. Also where the Boca Juniors football team are from...Then went to San Telmo which is famous for its cafes and antiques shops. Had a semi quiet night, and a break from nightclubs. We were in bed by 3 oclock.  The next day the heat and lack of sleep caught up with me. We went to Ricoletta in the morning to see the cemetry, where all the famous Argentinians were buried. Also saw Eva Peron´s (Evita´s) grave. It not like any cemetry you´ve seen at home. They are more like tombs. Stone houses above ground, with the coffins inside. Evita´s grave though is actually 9m underground for security... So after that i went back to the hotel and slept for about 6 hours before going out again to meet the new passengers who are joining for the remainder of the trip up to Rio...

The next day, we caught the ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. Finally, a new country! The town is also a UNESCO world heritage site, because of how it has been preserved since colonial times. Had a chivito for lunch, the very healthy Uruguayan national food of steak with two eggs, fried onions, ham and chease stacked on top of it, with chips. Perfect food in the the 38 degree heat. Then we drove that afternoon to Montevideo, the capital city. Definately the most relaxed capital i´ve been to. No evidence of any crime. Very nice place. Great hostel with rooftop hammocks and bar. The next day we spent on the beach outside Montevideo, which was very nice, but nothing compared to those we will be going to in Brazil.

Then it was up north and west towards Salto. This town is famous for its thermal springs. We stayed at a campsite right next to a waterpark. It is a big waterpark, like those you see in Europe sometimes. Except, all the water comes straight from the Earth, and is pumped into the pools, and water slides. Great fun! The lifeguard at the top was refilling his water bottle straight from the slide water! The water is warm or hot, like taking a bath. It was a great, great way to end a day in the truck! After that it was back into Argentina, and towards San Ignacio, just a stop off on the way to Brazil. The campsite was right on the side of a lake... Absolutely beautiful lake! We all went swimming to cool off, and had a barbecue for dinner. Was a great campsite, except the temperatures were up to about 40 degrees now, and the mosquitoes relentless. Never had so many bites on my feet. One of the places you really don´t want bites.

The next day we finally made it to Iguassu falls. We were camping, but it was a great campsite. It had a big pool, a great poolside bar. For the first time in a while, i actually felt like i was on holiday! There were loads of trucks there, as we are all on our way to the carnavale now,  so lots of people around... Spent hours swimming, drinking mango juice, and playing football on a perfectly maintained grass pitch, and eating! Iguassu is right on the border with three countries. In the picture below, i was standing in Argentina. The land on the left is Paraguay, and on the right is Brazil. The next day we started off with a helicopter flight over the falls, which was great fun, and amazing views, but nothing quite prepares you for when you see them up close. We did the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the falls. On the Argentinian side, we took a speed boat ride over the basin, probably the most exciting boat trip i have and will ever do! Went right up to and into the mist of some of the smaller falls, and you cannot imagine the power of them unless you see it for yourselves. We got drenched, had 8 foot waves breaking inside of the boat while travelling at 40 miles an hour towards a waterfall! Then up to the top of the falls, we went to the ´Devil´s Throat´, where 30 rivers converge into a single waterfall, and it has to be seen to be  believed. Absolutely hypnotic, and one of the most beautiful natural things i´ve ever seen. Then a storm broke and we all got soaked, again.

From there we travelled northwest again, and we arrived in Bonito yesterday. We were meant to bush camp but the weather was bad so we pushed on driving, arriving in at 11pm, after 16 hours on the truck with 23 of us now onboard! But now we have 4 days at a nice hostel with a bed and... wait for it....    AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!    and we had a barbecue ready for us when we arrived, so no-one is complaining!

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