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.