Sunday, December 31, 2006

How To Enjoy Beer

  • For starters you should let your body get used to a surplus of alcohol in the previous week or so
  • Now starve your body of alcohol on the day in question
  • You should be in a really hot, busy city, such as Santiago
  • You want to travel from this hot, busy city to a really popular destination, say Valparaiso, on one of the busiest days of the year, say for example December 30th
  • Don't buy a bus ticket in advance
  • Get off the metro too early and walk, with all your stuff, through the thronging crowds for at least five blocks
  • Queue with everyone else, while wondering what the sign about your destination means
  • The sign means there are no tickets
  • Queue anyway
  • Ask for a ticket
  • Ask when the next available ticket is
  • Start panicking, you don't want to wait till tomorrow at 3pm
  • Go to the only other bus operator
  • Queue in the even longer queues while wondering how this company will have tickets if the other had none
  • Get a ticket!
  • Leave your friend with all your luggage while you go off to buy the beer
  • Take an extraordinary long time
  • In fact, leave it to the very last second
  • Enjoy the look of panic on your friend's face when you return
  • Get onto the bus
  • Surreptitiously open the beer
  • Drink
  • Watch the sunset

Monday, December 25, 2006

Just Another Day In Paradise

Christmas BreakfastHow did I celebrate Christmas? The German way, on Christmas Eve, surrounded by Germans. Then a Christmas breakfast of pancakes with fruit salad and cream and chocolate sauce. I really missed the Brighton Crew in the morning, everyone had gone to bed by about 7, but I fancied a walk. Valparaiso is very hilly and a short way up from our Christmas Lunchhostel was a lovely view of the port, the sea covered with a morning mist. We then ate McDonald's (I know some might find that incredibly sad, but it was fun, and a first for my friend Johanna) on the beach for lunch and had a quiche for dinner. I was able to show some Colombians courgette for the first time in their lives.

HomeSo no, it wasn't just like any other day, some of the shops were closed and there were less buses to the beach. And home did sound nice, especially this year, there were so many family members around, but to be honest, being here isn't exactly conducive to depression :)

Kai wrote a nice "final" travel email. (Skip to paragraph five if you want the novelty of hearing him being positive.) Hopefully we can meet up again in California.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Deja Vu All Over Again

I'm back in Chile again, vibrant Valparaiso this time. Thinking how nice Chilean women look. Meeting with Johanna again. I'm waiting for a lift to the beach to watch the sunset over the sea, Argentina doesn't have a west coast. Wasting time on the internet again. Argentina doesn't have electric kettles either, another advantage Chile has.

Need PractiseI have managed to discover the most painful part of the body to get sunburnt, I managed to burn the backs of my knees yesterday. It is really really uncomfortable. The top of the foot is also pretty nasty while removing socks.

Like the Queen I have recorded a Christmas message for you all to gather around your computers at 3:00pm on Christmas day and watch with rapt attention. Unlike the Queen I have recorded an adult version and a universal version. The adult version contains mild nudity and moderate swearing, the universal version just contains the nudity. Remember, the important thing is that I find it funny. But at least it's shorter than the Queen's.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Deja Vu All Over Again

I'm back in Chile again. Thinking how nice Argentinean women look again. Kai's abandoned me again. I'm waiting for a bus again. Wasting time on the internet again.

ZeroBariloche was nice, very like I imagine Switzerland, it's even the chocolate capital of Argentina. It was just a pity that I didn't have any clothes or shoes for walking and had my first piece of bad luck with the weather, though like I said, the cold, wind and rain made a nice change.

I had a slightly odd request to use one of my pictures on a sight apparently dedicated to images of bridges.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thanks Mum!/Blinded By Faith

The Master At WorkI know I have a lot to thank my mother for, but sometimes it really hits home. Last night Kai was demanding dinner, so I chose something quick and easy: quiche. (Which reminds me: George Bush is in a restaurant and when the waitress arrives he asks her for a quickie. The waitress slaps him and storms off. Donald Rumsfeld leans over and says "Erm, it's pronounced quiche, sir.") Everyone one was mightily impressed (with my cooking rather than my jokes), several people asked if I was a chief, and a couple of people asked how to make it. When I started with flour their eyes opened in amasement "What, you made the pastry too?!"

We used to get these stupid questionnaires at Uni, one of the questions was always "What's your biggest turn off?" I always had difficulty imagining what could really put me off someone. Imagine, you've met this really nice person, really good looking, fit, funny, sensitive, intelligent, talented, you share interests. Then after spending a nice day together she/he...

Tells you "I don't believe in evolution."

I guess I have both my parents to thank for that one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


A Hostel With A ViewI guess it's not exactly shocking that I should be meeting people that I've already met, but sometimes it's still surprising. I've met a few people at bus stations, a guy in a CD shop in BsAs, a guy walking down the street in Cordoba, but this morning was strangest of all. I woke up and noticed a girl in the bunk across from me. I got up, had a shower and went back to the room. The girl got up. I knew her. She had been working in a hostel I was at in Mendoza two months ago. Her mum lives here in Baraloche.

Talking of bunks, I recently discovered choosing a top bunk can be a real advantage. I awoke at 3am to find somebody standing by my bunk murmuring. I assumed that he was speaking Spanish to the girl in the bunk bellow me, but as I came to, I realised that the noise I was hearing wasn't the drain pipe that ran through the room, but the sound of someone peeing very close to me indeed.

BTW, if you're looking for something amusing check out my brother Rod's blog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cray Zee

So it's 11:40pm on a Sunday, and getting into the Argentinean swing of things I have just finished dinner and fancy an ice cream. So I ask the people at the hostel reception if they think that the ice cream shop will be open (have I mentioned how good the ice cream is here? Mascarpone like raspberry ripple, and coffee with real coffee beans, anyway...) and they say yeah sure. So I get down there at midnight expecting to find one bored attendant waiting to serve me, but no, of course not, this is Argentina, there are 5 year old kids playing in the play ground and a crowd of people all clamoring for ice creams. Kids! You should have been in bed! Like five hours ago!

It's easy to forget the incredible distances involved in moving from place to place in Argentina, even our first journey - 18 hours from Buenos Aires to Mendoza - seemed natural, the great buses help. Yesterday I went from the intense heat and sun and infinite flat scrub land of Puerto Madryn to the cold (thank God! It finally feels like Christmas) and beautiful mountainous lake district of Baraloche.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Whale Weigh

Safe!I may have been born under a water sign, but I am definitely not a sea person. To go out whale watching I got dressed up in all the gear, warm clothes, yellow tarpaulin and life jacket (which I swear would just hinder your breathing if anything did happen). Then on to the boat. Now I like the idea in theory,Oblig. III but when you're racing through the waves, salt water in your eyes, wind chapping at your lips, clinging on for dear life, numbing fingers becoming weaker and weaker, I find that some of the romance is gone. But anyway, it was very sweet - a mother Right Whale with a calf always close by.

After the whales we carried on our tour of the peninsular. The most overwhelming thing being the hares. Sorry did I say "overwhelming"? Our guide was obsessed with them, I tried to explain that we have hares in England too, but he explained to me "No, they're not rabbits!" Of course.

Oblig. VISorry, really I had (and am having) a wonderful time. The sea here is really beautiful, Trekchanging colour from light green in the shallows to deep blue at the horizon, and we saw a lot of animals and birds on our tour: Elephant Seals, Penguins and even families of Reas (Emu/Ostrich type things).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Paranoid And Sunburnt (Ur-a-gay)

Sun HaloI finally went to Colonia, Uruguay, yesterday. Which was nice. When I got up in Buenos Aires it was raining. I took Kai's umbrella and my jacket but left my factor 40 suncream behind. I have been more sunburnt in my life. Once. The first day that I was in Australia and had six blisters on one lip. But yesterday I managed to burn the back of my hand. Who else has managed to burn their hand?! I blame the sun halo (pictured). Colonia is lovely, I highly recommend it. To get there you have to cross what must be one of the widest "rivers" in the world, which is really really brown, Buenos Airesit ruined lots of the pictures, I suppose it's pollution. Sonja, my Colonia companion, said that her travel book says that if you fall into the water around BA you should see a doctor, so we went for a swim, and the water didn't taste salty, so I guess it really is a river.

I have some plans. I am going south tomorrow, for two weeks, hopefully going right down to see the glacier, then hopefully meet Kai for a few days in Baraloche (the lake district). Kai is here now, but he's going up to Iguazu in the interim. After that I am meeting my "old" friend Johanna, who I spent time with in Cordoba and Salta, for Christmas and New Year in Valparaiso, Chile. I then want to travel north, visiting Bolivia and Peru, and then up to see friends in Venezuela and Mexico. I was hoping I might be able to just catch the second leg of my flight straight from the US, but apparently that's not possible :(

I think I can feel the beginnings of three blisters on my lips.