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.