What are we doing here in Mosquito Land?

Trip Start Sep 15, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, March 24, 2007

The bus ride to Rosario was the nicest we've had in a long while.  Padded ironing boards fold down from the seat back in front of you to provide a Barcalounger of the highway type travel experience.  We traveled high on the double decker bus, but not nearly as high as the people had to be to make the movie shown to us enroute.  It had to be the result of someone losing a drinking game with Harvey Weinstein.  "Ha! Phil passed out and now he's got to make a movie starring Mr. Bean, Dame Maggie Smith, and Patrick Swayze!" Who knows what audience this thing was aimed at, as it features sweet old Maggie Smith going around people for practically no reason at all, in what otherwise seems to resemble a romantic comedy.  It's called "Keeping Mum", and really, what am I telling you this for, it could be a giant hit in the States for all I know, with everyone talking about Patrick Swayze's big comeback.  Anyway, we should have ignored the film and focused on the wide fields of crops going by outside the windows, because that was all we were going to see of the Argentinian countryside.

The bus sailed into one of this country's gigantic bus stations with multitudes of concrete bus docks outside.  They build their bus stations like we build airports, rambling and full of numbers.  And far from the actual city they serve.  We got frustrated trying to buy bus tickets from a machine that only took certain coins when nobody would give us any change, and decided to walk into town.  Cierra was feeling rotten from the first trip anyway, and didn't want to get on another bus.

It was 4 kilometers into town, but it felt like 20 with our packs on.  Once there, we couldn't believe the prices we were being quoted for rooms, so continued to walk around interrogating hotel clerks for an hour.  The ones who weren't quoting exorbitant prices at us were all full up, so we went back to the cheapest and forked over a wad for a smelly little room in the back with no bath.  The television was from the 50's and the signal seemed to be dialed in from around the same era, but at least the fan worked, and we set it to blowing the odor around. 

Out for a dinnertime walk, we eyed the parrillas but settled for a cafe owned by somebody who really, really likes Green Day.  Cafe Dookie.  Really.  Not sure if they got the translation here.  Cierra ordered a hamberdookie, while I couldn't quite bring myself to say that word, so got a milanesa sandwich instead, essentially a country fried steak inside a hoagie.  My favorite thing about the place? The little store in the corner selling chips and gum, the Do-Kiosk.  Not making this up.  My least favorite thing about the place was him charging us for a drink though we brought our own.  Guess that won't fly here, but we never know the rules in a country until we try to break some. 

Rosario's a river city and we decided to walk towards it and see what we could find.  A beautiful monument to the future, all lit up and looking like a ship sailing from the city, and an angry mob of mosquitoes out for turns out to be it, and we only took a few minutes to stare at the murky water before admitting defeat and scampering to the heladeria for a little ice cream dessert, then bed.

Cookies for breakfast! Mom's not here to stop us, so why not.  In fact, Cierra's mom sent these to us, so she's condoning it.  We crumbled the last of Deann's care package into our mouths and started to pound down the pavement of this fair city to see what we could see.

Not a whole bunch, it turns out, as much of the riverside was fenced off due to huge sections of the concrete river-walk choosing to become part of the river bed.  We paused at this depressing sight for a while, but here, as in every green space in town, the mosquitoes were ous and we had to move along. 

Outside the birthplace of Che Guevara, we only had to pause for a second before a little revelation hit us.  We... don't... care.  Seriously, I barely knew who this guy was a few minutes ago.  Great, that's your childhood home.  Want to go to New Orleans and see mine?
Another long walk to a park where the craft market we came to see was being packed up.  To late.  We walked about looking for lunch, but indecision reigned and each choice was ruled out.  For over an hour we walked up and down the same street before finally settling on a place that provided a perfectly good lunch.  The waiter brought the exact opposite of what we ordered, but due to my misunderstanding of the menu, turned out to be what I wanted anyway. 

We hiked to the History Museum, which turned out to be aptly named.  Weds poked through the seams in the steps, and a note on the door translated roughly as "Don't plan on this place being reopened in your lifetime."

"This place IS history, baby!" I yowled in my best seventies impression.  Cierra jumped up for a piggyback ride down the steps, slapping her encouragement on my rump as we descended.  "Wow, you don't weigh as much as I thought." I grinned, sidestepping a swipe.

"Did you think about that before you said it?"
Smiling mischievously, "Yup.  It was fun." Then I broke down in giggles.

A nearby art museum was open, so we went in for a peek at the paintings, organized by a random number generator.  Something from the 18th century, next to a modern digital photograph.  Noting a detail of a picture, Cierra poked her finger against it, and immediately remonstrated herself.  (No guard was there to do it for her.) Later, she asked me if a painting I was looking at had any texture. 

"I don't know.  Why don't you come over here and run your hand across it?"
Cierra was excited about taking a tango class in Spanish in a few hours, so we strolled in that direction and had a coffee at a nearby cafe.  Invited to stay and watch, I thought instead I would take off and read a bit in the hotel room.

I'd finished my book and had just enough time to get really nervous when Cierra walked in an hour and a half late.  "Sorry, the class ran long and then we went to a place to watch some tango.  Do you want to come and see?"

She'd made friends with a German , here for work and lonely, but by the time we'd made it to the public square full of tangoing couples nearing the midnight hour, Simone had found a local willing to instruct her in the art of tango.  She waved over his shoulder excitedly.  We sat for an hour and watched people of all ages dance tirelessly.  It's a nice tradition, couples dancing, and it's great to be in a country where young people still learn the steps.  The tango is a complex dance, but a great one for jump starting a friendship, because of the communication required between the partners.  Simone and her friend were doing as much talking as dancing out there.  She stopped for a little while and came over to say hi as we were about to leave.  We wished her well, she did the same for us, then we headed for our hotel.  Where we were locked out, and only a lot of yelling and banging on the door brought a sleepy old man to the front.  He gave us a little speech in Spanish, and we'll have to leave it to the ages whether he was explaining his absence or telling us off for waking him.  We smiled and went to bed.

Not wanting to repeat our overlong march on the road to the bus station, we caught a speedy city-bus out there in the morning and got a ticket back to Buenos Aires a day earlier than planned.  Rosario was a bit less charming in person that it had appeared in the guidebook, and anyway, we were impatient to experience Uruguay.
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