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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Everybody's Looking For Something

I had a dream last night:

I was travelling, and I met this really lovely girl who I really really liked, she happened to look a lot like Victoria, sparkly eyes and all. Unfortunately she was leaving, but I realised that I had a ticket for exactly same date and time, so I was hoping that we would be able to stay together. Then I was waiting at the train station, with 15 minutes to go, and I realised that I hadn't got my bag with me, and that I hadn't even packed it. The train arrived and I explained to the driver that I had to get my bag and she said that it was ok, they could wait for me. So I started back to the hostel where I was staying but I couldn't quite remember where it was, or even go in the right direction, I think I had to crawl for some reason. And by the time I got back and packed it was far too late, and I had to take a bus, knowing that I would never see the girl again.

I think that it's one of the most obvious dreams that I've ever had in my life. The night before I dreamed that my youngest brother, Josh, was stealing this huge ship-like metal contraption from our mum's garden.

So yeah, Victoria and I are parting company, slowly and painfully but surely. Kai of course has been a bastion of support, coming out with little gems, such as "ah well...", "plenty more fish in the sea" and "I have a wart!"

In other news, through the power of the internet, I am now listening to the song that I had in my head this morning when I woke up this morning - Automatic Stop by The Strokes, yay! :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Odds And Ends

Four posts in two days, it must be bad.

My "illness" continues, psychologically I feel better, but I awoke at 8 again and couldn't get back to sleep, and my right hand has had cramp all day. Does that mean I've had a heart attack? Or is that the left side? What does the right side mean? I just read in my book, Veronika Decides To Die, that "a lack of serotonin impairs one's capacity to concentrate at work, to sleep, to eat, and to enjoy life's pleasures." No mention of cramp in right hand though. Maybe I have caught some of the radiation from that Russian spy.

Usually when I go to another country I am struck by how little I think of the local music, but Argentine pop, and the rock especially is pretty good, I even sent Maddy a CD thinking she might like it, she hasn't got back to me on that one though :) Although some of the pop artists are difficult to tell apart, or maybe there is just one incredibly popular guy. It's possible. Talking of music, it's the one thing that I really miss, I'd just love to be able to hear Some Things Come From Nothing by Super Furry Animals or What Would The Comunity Think by Catpower.

I saw another T-shirt today, it was actually really good, but I can't fricking remember what it said, anyone know hypnosis?

OMG, in this internet cafe you cannot browse webpages with "pink" in the url!

I have another film to recommend: Pieces of April. A good film staring Katie Holmes, whatever next?

####### Americans

It took a while to stop refering to people from the USA as Americans, because obviously, everyone here is American. I just made eye contact with two American women...

"Doo yoou speak ENglish?"
"Yes" (Do you?)
"Do you know how to call the United States?"
"Have you tried dialling 001?" (You see the USA had to be 001 so that y'all could remember, y'see?)

Actually I feel a little guilty, I just overheard them, they've had some sort of problem here, and of course, no one speaks ENglish.

BTW, the reason for the hashes are that this ####### internet cafe has some sort of clever sensoring software, although strangely, in some wierd concession to sussex it doesn't sensor "sex", but you can't visit any website with "####" in the url.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back In BA

Iguazu (ARG)So I went to Brazil. I saw a waterfall (Iguazu, on the Brazil/Argentine border). The Brazilian side was actually a little disappointing, although it has the more impressive view*, I realised that the really fun part about the Argentinean side was all the walking though the jungle and seeing all the wildlife (ok, birds, butterflies, lizards and a caiman).

Punk ToucanI also went to a bird park that I had been recommended in Brazil. I quickly remembered how little I like seeing large birds in small cages, and even less paying to keep them there. But will I ever get the chance to stroke a friendly toucan again?

So I'm back in Buenos Aires, and I've been feeling really strange, I can't quite put my finger on it. At first I thought it was the 18 hr bus ride which I found too cold to sleep, but I woke up this morning at 8 and couldn't get back to sleep, which is unheard of for me. I am actually wondering if I am a bit ill, other symptoms include taking on lots of fluids and lose of appetite. Maybe I'm in love :) no, it's just a funny phase I'm going through, or maybe it's delayed altitude sickness from Purmamarca and the salt flats.

* Actually I just realised that Argentina has the most impressive view, right over the biggest part of the waterfall, but I arrived there as the park was closing and was hurried along, I'd been spending too long photographing butterflies :)

Loose Ends

As the English wear T-shirts with Japanese slogans slapped across the chest, Argentines (mainly women) wear T-shirts with English slogans slapped across the chest. They are so often almost cleaver and funny, and I feel so close to getting the joke that I end up feeling stupid for not getting it. It makes me wonder what Oriental jokes we're all walking around with blazoned on our chests. Here are some choice cuts:

I play the game
Do me a pass

First of all I should explain that Spanish has one word for both "make" and "do", so the pun on "making a pass" might work, if it was in Spanish. I suppose that "the game" is ambiguous in English, but I doubt that was part of their plan.


This one, I think I get the gist, but I'm not entirely sure how I'd "translate" it, maybe just "Drink everyone dry"? It sounds like you should have some pun on drink driving in there too.

Touch me
I'm cold

Of course, this one does make perfect sense, but not on a T-shirt. I think maybe "cold" was supposed to be "cool", but that's not as good as "hot", or even "a celebrity", or even "a celebrity (get me out of here!)"


I have no idea about this one, it's a bit late for Freddy Mercury love.

This post was written on a French keyboard, which was f'ing difficult.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

All Apologies

Warm Bread, Cold BeerI feel like I owe Resistencia an apology, last night I had one of the best meals I've had in Argentina, and that's saying something. They served warm bread and creamed roquefort (remember to pronounce the 'e':) before the meal! And then this morning I had the best facturas, and the pizza I had for lunch was pretty good too. It was all too much, I had to create my first wikitravel entry!

Hold UpOne thing I didn't mention though is that the people in Resistencia speak like machine gun fire, I couldn't catch a word. This morning I walked backwards and forwards about 6 times before I realised that some people were directing me to the taxi stand and some people were telling me that I had to move a couple of meters up the road to catch the bus. When the bus arrived the driver said that we would have to walk, but again I didn't quite understand, I assumed that it meant that we would have to change buses at some point. So after some time the bus stops and everybody gets out. We were at a motorway junction. No traffic was moving. People were sitting in the road. With banners. It was like some sort of check point. I passed a film crew. They wanted to interview me. In Spanish. I relented. Being a bit nervous in front of the camera and with the local machine gun lingo my Spanish comprehension was even worse than usual, as was my speaking. I said that it was strange, that it was interesting, that Argentinean roads were good, that the roads were worse in India, that it would never be tolerated in Britain, where there are cameras everywhere, and the police would The Bridgeturn up in double quick time. I hope they don't use it. And I walked on, assuming there would be another bus just beyond the toll booths waiting to take us the rest of the way. There wasn't, just a long stretch of road and a bridge in the far distance. There were taxis but I figured that walking would be an adventure. It was, but damn I need a shoulder massage. This was my walk. I've also put some pins in my map, zoom right in.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Have you ever got to a city and thought "why the fuck am I here?" Of course you have, and that's the way I feel about Resistencia. There are no hostels here! The "Hotelito" that is mentioned in the lonely planet (not just my 7 year old South American one, but the newest Argentinean one too) is no more! Then when I finally found a hotel I was prepared to pay for the taxi driver wanted double what he'd originally said because we'd driven around so much. I couldn't be bothered to argue too hard, so that's half my day's budget gone already! (including the hotel) I need to get out of here! :)

Actually I know why I'm here, to see if I can book a tour of the marshland to the south east, Esteros del Iberá. I hear there's some wildlife there or something. Actually I just saw a nice picture of the sun going down over a crocodile's back and I thought "I want to take a picture like that!"

If you're interested, and I know you are! I have put up some more pictures from the salt flats here.

A View From A BusMy god they show some bad movies on the buses over here, last night it was The Terminal and then The Defender, in which the only actor I knew was Jerry Springer playing the President of the United States! And he was by far the best actor in the film! However I can recommend Final Cut which is probably the only film in which I like Jude Law, and even better, he gets killed! By Ray Winston! I'm disappointed I haven't seen any Jean-Claude Van Damme yet.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Salt In The City

Trad.While in Cafayate we attended a kind of school fete, on Tradition Day, to honor the birthday of gaucho, poet, journalist and freedom fighter Jose Hernandez. Being Argentina of course, it didn't start till 9, and was still going strong with the children dancing traditional dances and wearing traditional costume when we left at 12:30. Jujuy seemed to have delayed the celebrations for my arrival.

Al PucaraI am now in Tilcara, apparently the tourist capital of the north, no idea why, it just seems that there are more tourists than inhabitants, and not just backpackers, but Argentineans and bus loads of old (North) Americans too. It does have a hilltop ruins, Al Pucara, although they've been reconstructed, so they're not really ruins, though maybe that's why they're ruined, no, it's actually quite nice.

Tilcara and the surrounding villages are at 3000-4000m, and you can really tell, a walk up a small incline has you out of breath, and I tried running today, it was actually painful.

High JumpWe went up over 4000m to get to the salt planes today (Saline Grande), I wasn't sure whether to do it or not, it seemed a little expensive (20 pesos, woo, £3.45!) and I want to go to the Chilean/Bolivian planes anyway, which at a four day excursion must be a whole lot more impressive (I've seen pictures, it is). Anyway, I am really glad I did it, it was an incredible thing to see. I didn't have any sunglasses or suncream which was a mistake, luckily I don't think I've burned too badly and I borrowed the driver's sunglasses. I was expecting the photos to be disappointing but they actually came out quite well, they all look like something out of a music video, probably U2 :) I took so many that I think I'll upload them to my own webpage.

Admiring the Seven ColoursWe went to the salt planes from Purmamarca, whose claim to fame is the 7 coloured hills, although apparently there are 16 coloured hills a bit further north. Anyway, the 7 are impressive enough, no photoshopping needed here, just a polariser.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cafayate - Cachi

The Long, Winding, Dusty RoadSo I chickened out. I could have tried to get directly to Cachi from Cafayate, but there's a 50km stretch which I would have had to hitch or get a taxi, and the bus timings would have meant it would have taken me at least two days, so I took the easy route, back through Salta.

While I was in Salta the first time, I actually tried to hire a car with a couple of people to do a similar route. I don't have my driving licence with me for some stupid reason, I mean, what does it matter if it gets lost or stolen? Anyway, to my surprise, the guy in the hire place said I could take a car, without my licence, and the police would be ok and everything so long as I had my licence number. So I emailed Mum for my real licence number, despite our doubts that they would be able to tell, and went back to the hire place. There was a different guy there, who curtly told us that there were no cars available. So we went to another place where we were told in no uncertain terms that I would need my licence. However, he advised us that the best thing we could do would be to report my licence as lost or stolen to the police, and that way he could pretend that he'd seen it and let us have a car.

I think that Cafayate might have been my favourite place so far. I'm not sure why, maybe it just reminded me of Steyning :) It was small and quiet, great walks and fantastic weather.

The Disappointing OneThe fantastic walk was along a river to a waterfall. We knew that we were walking to a waterfall but of course not how big it was or what it looked like. After the allotted hour's walk the sides of the hills either side of us got more and more like cliffs until we eventually came across a small waterfall and could go no further. We sat, bitterly disappointed. Then this guy just walked straight past us along some invisible path, so we continued, all be it a little slower, and the waterfalls kept getting more and more impressive, and I really enjoyed the rock climbing we had to do at the end.

DSC_9263Cachi is also nice, and a lot smaller. The cemetery is recommended for its views, but for me it was the cemetery itself that was amazing, it's the sort of place that I've only ever seen on TV.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No Time This Time

My New Spikey FriendA friend just mailed me to say he'd be leaving Buenos Aires on the 5th Dec and ask if I'd be back by then. I was planning to be, but before going back to BsAs I also want to spend a few more days around Salta, here in Cafayate and then Cachi and maybe San Antonio and Jujuy, and I wanted to stop off in Corrientes and the country side to the south before reaching Iguazu and then visit Kai in Brazil and then go back down to Buenos Aires. Looks like something will have to give. Maybe I'll visit Kai another time.

At The ParrillaBefore leaving Salta I had the biggest steak known to mankind. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't finish it. It wasn't just big though, it was bloody good too.

Another thing I saw in Salta before I left was a kind of gay pride march. I say "a kind of" because it seemed a bit more like introducing the general populace to the concept. Which was helped by the attendance of two scantily clad well endowed women at the front of the float. I assume they were women, although they were followed by a group of transvestites, and you can never tell :)

Something I experienced before leaving Salta was sunburn through a cloudy sky, kind of like the worst of both worlds, but then I've been told that I mustn't complain about the weather, which is scorchingly hot today.

I received some pictures of me abseiling a little while ago, they are the last three here.

My wounds from football have just about cleared up, although I still have thorns in my hand from where I slipped on to a cactus.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Together, Alone

I just managed to change my flight, to 23rd Feb, I'll get an address for Christmas presents soon. I find talking on bad quality phone lines one of the most stressful things, I have no idea why, by the sound of it the Indian guy on the other end felt the same way, and he has to do it for about 12 hours a day. At least he doesn't have a load of Israelis sitting next to him shouting and smoking. When will Salta catch up with Cordoba, Mendoza and BsAs and ban smoking? God I'm starting to sound like Kai :)

GeorgeI spent the last two days walking up hills with some people from the hostel. The first hill was a pretty tame affair, and a little bleak looking. We walked up and got the cable car down, how's that for martyrdom? Checking The ViewWe were rewarded at the top by a surprisingly nice water feature. Then yesterday we walked up a significantly more substantial hill with better views, which never look quite as spectacular on a computer screen. Can't imagine why.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

You're So Vein

Nuns Shop For PartyLast night I watched a guy walk past my hostel holding a small mirror out in front of him so that he could see over his shoulder while walking down the road. It really doesn't seem *that* bad here. A few prostitutes hang out about a block up the same road, I wondered what they were running from when a giant police bus turned up.

I have created a map of my travels here so that you can always see exactly where I am, you might catch me if I'm outside (Clare)! :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The other day I asked for tea with milk and was given a cup of hot creamy milk and a tea bag. Surely my Spanish can't be that bad?!

My body is a-mass of mosquito bites. I squeeze the ones on my face thinking they're spots and map out the constellations of the northern hemisphere on my body.

Actually my Spanish can't be that bad, I was half way through a sentence this morning when I decided it might be too complex, but carried on regardless and was understood, I think. But it is up and down still, and it really depends on who I'm talking to. I had real trouble understanding Victoria's three female friends, and they had real trouble understanding me, but when two of their male friends arrived we were chatting away like nobody's business. One of Victoria's female friends actually seemed a bit offended, I guess it was just some natural male simpatico, or maybe we were just communicating in grunts.

Fuck it's hot.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

After leaving BsAs we spent two weeks in hostels featured in the Lonely Planet, speaking English. Now that Kai has left and Victoria has arrived I've gone from speaking virtually no Spanish to speaking no English, in fact I think I've spoken more Spanish in the last two days than I have in the last two weeks.

SeriousThis was compounded by Victoria taking me to meet some old friends of hers and their families, where the subject of the Falklands (or "las Islas Malvinas (Arg)" as they appear on every Argentine map) came up. The father of one of the families is a veteran and his daughter works in the veteran's association and his son has the islands tattooed on his arm in the Argentine colours. They couldn't believe how little the English know on the subject. I had to explain that it really wasn't that important to us, we've done far worse things. The lonely planet actually says that the war, or rather Argentina's losing of the war, played a major part in the down-fall of the military dictatorship, although the families we were with disagreed.

I really think that all the Mail readers in hysteria over girls binge drinking in the UK should come to visit Cordoba. Here the girls buy three litre plastic top hats called baldes, into which bar staff seem to just pour whatever is in front of them, starting with beer, through vodka, cider, melon spirit and God knows what else, finished up with granadin. All this costs about £5, including a £1 deposit on the hat. I saw various variations, one including a whole bottle of Champaign and another with 4 cans of the Argentine equivalent of Red Bull, Speed.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thanks For All The Fish

Motorcycle ConfiscationKai joked the other day that it is compulsory for Argentinean motorcyclists to wear helmets - either on their arm or on the top of their head. Yesterday I passed some police stopping motorcyclists not wearing helmets and putting their bikes on the back of a big truck.

AfterWe played football a couple of days ago. An Argentinean ask me if I wanted to play, and as ever I replied "por que no?" But I thought we were just going for A Kick-About In The Park, I didn't realise they were hiring a dirt pitch and were going to be totally serious about it. I think the good English guy on our side was more than a little disappointed in us, he was quite good, but two of the Argentines were ridiculously good.

Kai and Johanna Say GoodbyeSo Kai and I have finally parted company, he's gone off to Salta, accompanied by our new friend Johanna, and I am staying in Cordoba for a while where Victoria will be meeting me tomorrow. Then...? I don't know, I think I might go north to Salta, east to Iguazu and then come back south to Buenos Aires. Kai - you missed the most amazing chorizo last night!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lies and Damn Lies

Last night someone told us that the ratio of men to women in Cordoba is 9:1, which would explain some things, but he spoilt it by then saying that the ratio in Argentina as a whole is 7:1, which I just cannot believe. I have no idea where I could look this up.


The video of Kai playing Superman is finally up. Check it out, and make sure you have sound so that you can hear Kai screaming like a little girl :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Call The Cops

There's some confusion as to what the age of consent is in Argentina. A friend's ex, who's Argentinean, and so should know, told him that it's 21, while wikipedia says it's 13 and the BBC says it's 15. My friend´s ex is under 21, so maybe she was just trying to make it more exciting :)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fick Political Correctness

A Hot Argentinean GirlI was going to mention this in my last post, but for fear of offending friends with Chilean girlfriends, their girlfriends, my girlfriend and feminist mothers everywhere I my changed my mind. But as I've heard so many people, including girls, say it, I will too: Argentinean girls are H.O.T. Chilean girls are N.O.T. It's nice to be back.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

Damajuana HostelWe're now in Santiago, Chile, and our third hostel. I think we're beginning to realise how lucky we were with our first hostel, mainly because of how many South Americans there were staying there, and how few English speakers there were. Actually this one's quite good, nice and relaxed.

We nearly got run over again. We're so used to one way roads by now that we forgot to look both ways and nearly got hit by a taxi which didn't even slow down.

Impressions of Chile/Santiago are so far limited to comparisons with Argentina/Buenos Aires: cleaner streets, no dog shit, dirtier air, more expensive, no independent ice cream shops, just walls/nestle. Really, the pollution is amazing, the postcards of Santiago with the Andes in the background must have been photoshopped, I swear.

Kai's put up about a million photos of our eXtreme sports day. I like the one on the left, which I took :) However the promised film might take a while longer as IBM are going to take longer than first thought on Kai's machine.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Road Manners

Well I nearly got run over last night. Twice. First I forgot that drivers like to conserve the planet here by using their lights as little as possible, while at the same time forgetting that pedestrians have no right of way, then Kai and I helped a guy jump start his car, in reverse, down hill, in the middle of a one way road and through a junction with on coming cars streaming round us.

Not Some Bizarre Sex ActWe were also persuaded last night to skip the geek BBQ today and instead go trekking, canopying and rappelling, which translates as trecking, abseiling and death sliding. The death sliding was the highlight, although we were a little narked when they took us round the three small ones and then told us that to do the two cool long ones across the river would be an extra 20 pasos. But it was worth it, there's an excellent video of Kai and I crossing together, Kai as superman, but Kai's machine is in for repair, which is making uploading anything much more difficult.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


So, we've finally done a little traveling, coming across the country to Mendoza, which is to the far west, next to Chile. I was pretty sad to leave our hostel, we'd met and made such a nice group of friends. Our final Spanish class was pretty emotional too. Actually I think that was our penultimate class, but we sang Shakira in our final class too. Shakira being Kai's choice after complaining about our teacher's choice of music.

Mendoza is a nice place. Like Worthing, Woodingdean and Sydney. Lots of bungalows (since the earthquake in 1861), wide quiet tree lined streets and a Linux conference. The Lonely Planet describes it thus: "Mendoza would be hell without the trees." I guess they mean during the summer, right now it's a really pleasant temperature. Not really sure what we're doing next, Kai was planning to go to Cordoba and then north and get to Sao Paulo in two weeks for a job, but I mentioned going over to Chile and he seems pretty interested in doing that.

A little while ago Mum said that maybe I need to "relax into my Spanish" at the time I kind of dismissed it, but it is a lot easier for me to speak when I'm relaxed. I just meant to ask someone if they wanted to use this computer, but by accident told them that I wanted to use it. It also depends a lot on who you are talking to, yesterday a couple of people told me that I spoke well and then a few minutes later someone told me that they couldn't understand a word I was saying. But then when I switched to English he still couldn't undecided me.

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's Gettin' Hot In Herre

Buena VistaWhen I arrived in Argentina the first thing Kai and I did was to visit Tigre. It's a nice picturesque town to the north of BsAs, but when we were there it was fricking cold. Victoria and I went back last weekend and found that in the hot weather it had become more like a pleasant beach resort with families sitting drinking mate in the sun. The one downer was the buena vista spoiled by a great big McDonald's stuck in the middle. I tried to explain the concept of planning permission to Victoria, but (I think) she said that if you own the land you can do what you like with it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

When In Argentina...

Well it's been a pretty bizarre weekend. Victoria and I spent Friday night in a transitory hotel, where you can hire rooms by the hour. Our room had a jacuzzi, a mirror above the bed, a plastic covered mattresses, duel showers, porn on TV and a kind of cabinet with doors on both sides set into the door, which allows the maid to leave drinks without having to open the door. It wasn't nearly as seedy as I had imagined. Apparently these hotels are extremely common in South America because so many young people live with their conservative parents who are in denial about them having sex, the girls here were quite surprised to hear that we don't have them in the UK.

Then Saturday night was museum night, when the museums of Buenos Aires open for the evening and there's a big party at the central museum. Going round museums at 1am didn't prove to be very exciting.

Our fellow classmates are, as I type, at the observer number 1 sporting thing to do before you die - watching River Plate vs Boca. We turned on the TV to watch it and wondered why we were seeing so much of the crowd. It turns out it's a pay to view match and if you don't pay you just get to see the crowd and hear the commentary. Guess we should keep an eye out for Toby and Rich.

Monday, October 02, 2006

This Is South America, You Can Smoke Wherever You Like

Kai Hates SmokersThere are quite a lot of no smoking signs around Buenos Aires, no one seems to take much notice of them though. Then on Saturday night, in our local, the girls we were with were told that they couldn't smoke after midnight, which seemed a bit bizarre, but it turned out that from 1st Octobre smoking is banned in places with under 100m2 floor space.

In other news Kai is ill. It's the only conclusion I can come to. He enjoyed spinach, and he admitted it. We went to a Geek Meet, some linux guys Kai met last week, and he dragged me along this time, I was expecting to leave early but it turned out to be pretty cool, really nice people and a nice mix of speaking English and Spanish, and they took us to their favourite pizza place afterwards.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You Are Here

Puente De La MujerThis is our hostel on google maps, the area doesn't look nearly so dreary in real life, and this is Puente De La Mujer (Woman's Bridge) at Puerto Madero which I took some photos of a couple of days ago. Apparently Puerto Madero is where all the tourists go, God knows why, it's like the Docklands in London and even has its own Canary Wharf.

I should have said in my last post that our breakfast consists of two medialuna (half moon) facturas and a beverage. The medialunes are like small dense croissants glazed in sugar and got a bit boring after the first day. Kai defends them by saying they're not boring, sometimes they're stale, sometimes they're fresh. He's right, sometimes they're very dense and sometimes they're quite light. Anyway, it was a bit of a shock to the system this morning to be presented with toast and jam!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Food Glorious Food

Jamie enjoying the steakUp until last night I had been a bit disappointed with the steak, it's not bad, it's just not been as good as everyone made out. There was one exception which was the Sandwich De Lomo Completo, or Lometo. It is the most incredible thing, a slice of tender beef, cheese, ham, lettuce and tomato inside a piece of French bread, I really can't tell you how good it tastes! And then last night we had the most fabulous steak in pepper sauce.

Kai's been obsessed with being able to cut the steak with the back of his knife. Last night I went one better and cut my steak with my fork :)

Now I'm hungry, and it's only 4:20. Everything happens so late here, the restaurants don't get busy until 10, and trying to get everyone together and out the door is what Kai and Spencer might describe as a nightmare or hell on earth. Victoria took my watch away on Friday night and wouldn't give it back to me until Sunday night. I can hear Jo's mum saying something about letting women walk all over me :) (Probably while telling me what I should be doing.)

FacturasThey love their sweet pastries (facturas) and tarts here, they look wonderful, and sometimes taste quite good too :)

Ah, I See

"...the thing you eat your cereal out of is spelt bowl, the thing in your blog is the tube your food comes through, bowel, if you reread your blog substituting bowel for bowl its really funny."
Well Ha Fucking Ha :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Letter From Home

"Is this a kind of enema, mensioned in your last blog, it sounds rather painful, and not particularly tasty."
Well now you mention it, it's not particularly tasty, but it's that sort of thing that tastes like it will do you good, or at least might make you feel good.

The weather wasn't so good on Friday and Saturday, it rained Friday night, and when it rains here it really rains, we had horizontal lightning and everything.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

¡Happy Spring!

Mate DrinkersThursday was the first day of spring, which is celebrated here with flowers and a day off school, which is traditionally used for picnicking and drinking mate. Mate is kind of difficult to describe, it's kind of like a green tea, but with quite specific drinking equipment. You fill up a bowel with leaves and a bit of sugar and then pour in some hot water and drink the water through a straw with a filter on the bottom. You keep replenishing the bowel with water and pass it around amongst your friends. We did this in a park around Palermo, very close to the airport.

Friday night we went to another dance class, I think this one was the milonga, as opposed to the tango we did before, again, much fun was had, and I'm sure there are some photos somewhere.

I think my Spanish is getting worse. I swear I will do more work this weekend.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Small World

Last night I met a Norwegian at a party who lived in Hurstpierpoint when he was about 11.

I also completely lost any ability which I might have had for Spanish. I am hoping that with a little rest and relaxation it may return. Perhaps a bit of work too.

One thing I meant to mention about the milonga and Mexican parties was how grand the places were. The Mexican party was held in the central Buenos Aires post office, marble everywhere, and the milonga in a similarly grand bar/restaurant. Which is all well and good, but the acoustics are terrible!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chicos Behaving Badly

It may not surprise anyone to hear that Kai has been pissing me off. Outside of class it's fine, but I just cannot stand the way he behaves in class. And he's getting worse by the day. He takes every opportunity to ask how to say words such as "rob" and phrases that might help him while he's being robbed or after he's been robbed. He really pissed off our (female) teacher today by saying that the most important thing about a secretary was the way she looks. He doesn't even acknowledge that anyone besides me is getting pissed off, and talking to him seems to make him worse. Anyway, like I said, outside of class it's ok, or at least I can avoid him :)

Well that's what I wrote yesterday, but I am feeling muh better today, I think I actually anoyed him today :) with my story about Sra Peacock and Srta Cayote finding an ostrich egg. Anyway, one of the reasons that I am feeling so good is that yesterday two people separately complimented me on my Spanish. It wasn't quite that impressive, they were actually comparing me to two days ago. I think I have Victoria to thank for this for pretending not to speak any English. She let her guard down last night though and she definately understands and speaks more than she lets on :)

We had a fun weekend, I was pretty lazy and Kai made it all the way to another country. Friday we pretended to be Mexican, which consisted of shouting "vive" and drinking Corona. Saturday we went to a milonga, which is both a dance and the place which you dance, to watch the girlfriend of the head of our Spanish school dance who is also the person who taught us. See videos somewhere below.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bad Dream

I've been having some really bad dreams lately. Last night I dreamt that I had killed two of my mum's best friends (Sarah and Celia if you're wondering) and I was off to jail. The strangest thing was that I was not in the least concerned that they were dead, I was just dreading the next however many years in prison. It was one of those dreams that you wake up from incredibly glad that it was just a dream.

Toby immediately decided that I was anxious about Spanish. It may have something to do with Spanish, but more the exercise that I did last night. I was describing Edward Scissorhands, and all the different tenses of "to die" and "to kill" had me all confused.

¡¡¡Happy Birthday Maddy!!!

Buenos Noches

VictoriaFor one of our earlier Spanish exercises I had described myself as "solo y desesperado", I bottled it at the last minute and didn't read out the last part in class. This escaped my mind as Victoria read through my previous work. Nevermind, it got me a laugh :) I can't tell you how difficult it is to flirt with someone when you have to spend 95% of your time looking up words in a dictionary :)

We managed to smuggle some wine in tonight, cunningly hidden in Kai's rucksack. We shall wait to see if it's still in our room after the cleaners have been round :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Morning After

Well we were allowed back into the hostel, despite Kai doing an inverse Jesus - drinking the wine as if it were water. I can highly recommend Lopez 2004. And to think, barely four weeks ago I didn't even think I liked red wine :)

Plaza De MayoSaturday I stayed in and pretended to do my Spanish work on the roof while Ricardo, Kai and his "friend" Rachel (is it spelt differently when it's pronounced Rakel?) went round Boca. Sunday, Kai and I walked to Plaza De Mayo.

The Jazz musician we saw was Hill Greene. Though I thought that was the guy that Eminem sang about humping a dead moose.

I felt much better about Spanish today, though that might have been because Kai and our fellow classmate, Toby, were having a bad day. Kai is ill, of course, and hadn't done much of his homework (though that hasn't stopped him nagging me) and I think Toby had a bit of a serious weekend :)