Week 29 - Buenos Aires to Patagonia

Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
Trip End Dec 19, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feb 15th - Buenos Aires

This morning I made an executive decision (yet again). As I have been wearing the same clothes for the last 7 months (and no I didn't upgrade my wardrobe after being mistaken for a Colombian crack head on New Year's Eve) it was high time to upgrade. The clothes are cheap and good quality here so what better place to do it. Also, something not mentioned previously, my beloved MP3 player that has saved my sanity many times during long bus trips went AWOL during the flight from Salvador to Rio. Although the pack was all locked up when I checked it in some sneaky bastard squeezed their hands in and pulled it out (generously leaving the headphones). So a double mission today.

After a whole day shopping (no mean feat for me) the fruit of my labour was a new and fairly cheap MP3 player but no clothes unfortunately.

Tonight was Ben's last night in town so a good send off was in order. A big group of us went for a Japanese/ Argentinean fusion meal and drinks (again I was on the Capriciosca's). This was followed by a club.

The club started off very random and weird playing 80's tunes like Wham, Rolling Stones and MC Hammer in succession (weird) but it was all good fun. Then it went a bit housey, then hip hoppy (Ben showed us his break-dance moves..kind of as bad as mine so I let him carry on). Then as predicted we went into Reggaeton mode and all the classics were played. A group of Colombians with us were strutting their stuff (I was on form and remembering my dance training in Colombia so had a few compliments from them).

A valiant effort was made by everyone to draw groups of dancing girls into our midst but sadly they were blind to our collective dance moves (crazy girls must have been on crack).

Feb 16th - Buenos Aires

Crawling back at 6am this morning it was late wake up day today. Nursing a sore head (and a slightly runny nose for some strange reason) I headed to trendy area of open markets and cafe's called Palermo with the girls.

We sat down at an outside cafe for an hour only to be told there's no hot food any more for the day. So off we went in disgust and dying of hunger at 3pm to another place. This time it took 30 minutes just to get a menu and another 30 mins to get the drinks. The two girls got their food first and by the time they'd finished it I got mine (which was the wrong food). So they took it back and in the meantime a walkout rebellion was formed by someone who´s name I cannot mention for legal reasons but it begins with S and ends in urekha, so we all just walked off without paying. Finally found a good and quick food place and my belly was filled.

On the way back to the hostel we came across a mini carnival going on in our street. It looked like different dance schools were competing (with judges) with crazy and cool dances and booming drums and beats (I totally loved it). The dance was a kind of samba but when the big beat crashed in they would all jump in the air and do a big kick with the beat (so cool and hypnotising to watch).

Tonight was a lazy night in with a few bevies and my book. Also got in a chat with Alex and Daniel (the two American stoners) and had a little toke or two.

Tomorrow...is....foootballlllllllll! Boca Jnrs. vs. Argentinas (nice).

Feb 17th - Buenos Aires

Went for a bit of a tourist thing today and had a good look around the centro area (too many late nights and late mornings to be a tourist lately because life in this wonderful city really does beat to a different drum of time. Dinner at midnight is kind of a norm and trying to go to a club before midnight you'd be laughed at).

Had a look at the Plaza De Mayo (with the famous pink presidential building where Evita and many others made their speeches), loads of churches and beautiful buildings.

By 3pm it was time to head back as I had a date with a famous football stadium called the Bombonera. Met up with Daniel, Alex, Krina and Surekha and we all headed off to the home ground of Boca Juniors (Maradonna's main club and where Riquelme currently plays). Got there at 4.30 and managed to get 3 tickets at $20 each (thanks to Alex's Spanish skills).

Problem is unlike Brazil stadiums there was no alcohol in the grounds so we all headed for some power drinking. Found a rough looking bar and got quite a few litre bottles of beer between us and drank like there was no tomorrow.

Got into the stadium with 10 minutes to spare and settled down for the game. The atmosphere was pretty intimidating at first but after learning a few of the terrace tunes I got into the swing of it (well...not the words anyway. I just mumbled in tune. The old chestnut and all round classic of a tune with the following lyrics was constantly sung 'Your mother is a whore and stabbed you repeatedly'). The noise was deafening and the fencing around us didn't help with the feeling of being caged in animals. The crowd was well up for it though and jumping around.

The game finished at 4-0 to the Boca's and near the end a stream of Boca youths climbed onto the fence and taunted the opposition fans (who were handily on the terrace directly above ours....Sweet Jesus). All kinds of small and liquid missiles were tossed down at the Boca fans.

Compared to the Botafogo game in Rio I preferred the skills and overall game of the Boca's. The atmosphere at the Botafogo game was much more fun and interactive but the atmosphere of Boca's was more exciting and electric. All in all they were both the best games of football I'd ever seen live (bar the England vs. Argentina game at the Korea/ Japan World Cup. Exhausted, drunk and stoned we all headed back to the hostel and continued getting exhausted, drunk and stoned back at the hostel.

Feb 18th - Buenos Aires

Bit of a chill out today and also time to make plans to leave this beautiful (with a capital Beau) city. Went to the main bus terminal and me and the girls bought our tickets south to Rio Gallegos for tomorrow night (Holy Shit...it's a 36 hour bus journey). After this trip we sadly split as a group as the girls head further south and I head north after seeing the glaciers.

We grabbed an Argentinean style hot dog (nice German sausage style meat) and luckily chanced upon a Man U vs. Arsenal game being shown.

Back at the hostel and while the girls were shopping I just lounged around. Tonight was time to visit the well known Tango Cathedral (or so we thought). At 10pm we all jumped into a cab and went to the given address only to find it was finished (little did we realise it was still going on somewhere else...doh!).

Everyone was starved so we all went to a nice and cosy restaurant where I had a well delicious steak and we all had a chat about stuff and things and the usual drunken bits and bobs.

Drinking continued and we were joined by Daniel and Alex and his never ending magic bag of never shrinking gear (I think he stole it from Gandalf to be fair).

Feb 19th - Buenos Aires

My last chance to get some new clothes today so with a mammoth effort of recovery and stamina I climbed out of bed and headed for the shops to do a Power Shop. Returning triumphant with exactly what I needed this success was all too much for me so I had a siesta.

Tonight's bus leaves at 8.30pm so the rest of the day and evening was spent packing, siesta'ing and watching footie on TV. Surekha, scared beyond belief at the prospect of a 36 hour bus ride decided to jump ship and fly instead. So the lovely Flora at the hostel reception managed to get a flight booked but then it all got too complicated and the plan was ditched for the bus instead.

Again, pretty sad to leave a place and BA really is a great city of night life, history and class (really loved it). So at 8.26pm I settled into the not-so-luxurious bus seat and pondered my time in BA with a smile on my face. Then I remembered how long this journey was and the smile turned into a grimace for the next few hours. I soon settled and armed with my new MP3 player, a bottle of water, some crackers and 2 packs of fags I started to roll with it.

Feb 20th - Bus, Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos

Bus, bus and more bus. On and off all you can do is chat, sleep, eat, and read (a brand new experience for me..I usually go into a cold travel sickness sweat if I read on a bus) and listen to tunes (currently really enjoying Afroman's 'When I get High', B52's Roam (good travel tune) and JT's What goes Around).

Only two events to report on this long bus trip: Surekha and Krina snoring in some kind of harmony to the tune of Afroman's When I get High, and three new bus passengers joining this mammoth journey (not normally worth mentioning but they were quite an odd bunch: one had only 1 arm, one had only 1 eye and the youngest looked like he should be strumming a banjo in Alabama. I'll call them Bill, Bob and Billy-Bob.

During the pretty non-existent stops I'd be out of my seat and out the door like a shot to get a smoke in and stretch the legs and back. During these stops me and Surekha would have a puff or two just to alleviate the boredom of the journey.

Feb 21st - El Calefate

Didn't sleep much last night but at least the girls did (snoring away). I'll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep when I get to El Calafate.

At 9am the bus chugged into the Rio Gallegos terminal to the relief of everyone who'd lost all feeling in their legs, back, necks (well, everywhere really) on board.

This was me and the girls' last bit of travel together after 20 days of good fun. Funny, after just 20 days of travelling together and seeing each other pretty much 24 hours a day you really do make friends quickly (bit like a power bond). It feels like I've known those two scallywaggettes for way longer than the 20 days.

Feeling a bit down after farewell hugs I settled down for a 4 hour wait for my bus. I then got chatting to Bill, Bob and Billy-Bob and was immediately brought into the group and straight away the 'Mate' was brewed up and passed around. Food, fags, biscuits were handed out all round and the talk went from football to Colombian vs. Argentine girls (tough call...Argentinean girls are super fit) to the economy. They're a good bunch of fellas (field workers at a local farm) and really helped me pass the 4 hours of waiting. I'm still not sure why they were waiting outside the bus terminal because after asking when they start work they all replied Sunday (3 days away). I did try and get a snap of my Mate buds but they were extremely camera shy (hmm).

Eventually caught my bus at 1.30pm and after sleeping for the whole 4 hour ride woke up in the small town of El Calefate. After a brief walk around I struck gold in a small hotel (hostels were full according to the tourist office) with hot water and a room at $20 a night (ok..it's not cheap but I need sleep).

The plan for this next week is to spend a day or two admiring the huge moving glacier that's on the Lake Argentino. Then head somewhere deeper into Patagonia for a few days. Back to BA (love it too much) for a day or two then Mendoza for a day. Then I leave Argentina and head across the border into deepest, darkest Bolivia.
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