Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I'm sure that most of you can imagine the squalor that I've been living for the last 10 months, but for those that can't I'll give you a taste. At the moment I am staying in a pretty average hostel. I am in a room that usually has at least one sleeping person in it so the blinds are always drawn. It's cold outside so the windows are always closed. These two facts make it musty and smelly. I have a single saggy bed. It gets made once a week. The sheets always look suscpiciously similar. The hot water often runs out. But at least there is hot water. Breakfast is bread and dulce de leche. If you're lucky and can get up before 10. I think I've had breakfast 3 times.

Funny Ha-Ha

I sent an email tonight to everyone who I have met travelling (obviously only those whose email address I have), ie, a lot of people, just to say "hi" and that my trip (or "adventure" as some like to call them) is coming to an end. Yvonne pointed out what a funny joke I had made, titling the email "The End Is Neigh". Hmmm

Posadas Los Alamos BrochureLots of travellers end their journey with the treat of a stay at a luxury hotel. I had no such plans, but Thursday Jordi and I are off to Calafate, where the famous Moreno Glacier (lots of facts and figures here) ends in spectacular style. We shall be staying in spectacular style, at the four star Posadas Los Alamos. It will be the plushest hotel I have stayed in on this trip. Ok, ever. I am really looking forward to a big, non-saggy bed, with thick light duvet and hot showers at any time of day in the warm on-suit bathroom. So forgive me if you don't hear from me until I'm home on Thursday.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BJ's Cyber Cafe

This story hinges on a common feature of men's toilets that might need an explanation for all those girlies out there. You have urinals right? Troughs and individual urinals. More often than not the individuals are set too close together, at best making it awkward to pee next to somebody, at worse making it practically impossible to fit two bodies around two urinals, this usually occurs in a corner where two urinals will point at one person standing there. What are they expecting? Siamese twins? One urinal to break, leaving the backup? A man with two penises? Anyway...

So after a bit of an internet sesh I needed a wee and made a trip to the toilet. There were two urinals in a corner, as explained above, and a man using one, so I decided to wait. But the man said "pase, pase", I'm not sure how to translate that*, but you get the idea. So I go in and decide, no, really, I cannot fit into that space, even skinny old me, so I tell him I'll wait. He finishes, goes to wash his hands and repeats "pase, pase" so I pase and start the serious business of peeing. He talks to me a bit, I don't really catch what he says, but I figure he's cursing the people who are thinking of the Siamese twins, so I nod and laugh in agreement. The guy comes back to the other urinal and starts unzipping himself. This is when I figure something is up. I was right, there's not enough room, he might as well use my urinal. He's looking over, I swear it. Not really that phased I finish and do my myself up. He goes for my groin. This is when I start saying "no". I wash my hands. He apologises, and explains that he likes to... and here he made a very explicit gesture with his hand and his mouth, now if he'd just said that from the start...

In other news my flight is a week Tuesday. I really don't want to leave Buenos Aires :'( My current fantasy is that I will find a company in the UK who will pay me half what I was getting in London but will let me work from here.

*Update: Jodi says that "pase" translates to "come in", I replied that you wouldn't say that in English, it would sound a bit weird, but then I suppose maybe it sounds weird in Spanish too, and warning bells should have been ringing from the start :)

UPDATE: Fail blog has a fine example of urinal architecture.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Drunk Tom

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new guy in our hostel, it was around midday, I was just having breakfast, he was just having a couple of beers. I didn't think much of it, people do that sort of thing in hostels, though it's a little dangerous in Argentina as you often don't stop drinking until the next day. Later we met and he turned out to be a nice young American thinking about getting a flat in Buenos Aires. That evening I came back to find that he was still drinking, though holding it together quite well, just going a little slow, though later he lost the ability to string a sentence together, and later still made a female friend of mine a little uncomfortable.
The next day I went down for breakfast at about the same time to find the same scene, Tom drank a couple of beers while I was eating my breakfast. This is when I first started to suspect that there might be a problem. Things continued in this vein for a week until one day he came to our room saying that he had to leave as there were no spare beds, I went down to reception as I hadn't booked a bed in advance either. The receptionists gave me a bed on condition that I didn't tell Tom. Apparently Tom was being subtly chucked out of the hostel for breaking some stuff and attempting to punch someone, I'd only ever seen him as a peaceful drunk. After he'd gone I felt a bit guilty that I didn't try to offer him any help. But not that guilty, he returned to the bar one evening and I remembered how awkward things could get.
Skip ahead to yesterday evening, I and four friends were eating at a restaurant a couple of blocks from our hostel when Tom walks in. Slowly. He comes over to our table and attempts a conversation but we couldn't really make out what he wanted to say apart from "should I leave?" and "should I eat here?" We weren't really sure of the answers to these questions. Eventually he sat by himself at another table and the waiter came over to apologise, I told him not to worry, we knew him. During our meal Tom repeatedly tried to engage in conversation, in vein, once apologising, for what we weren't sure. After a while he started to pace a couple of times and the waiter came over and told me that he needed to go to the loo but couldn't make it on his own, the toilets being down a spiral staircase. I got up to help him, but as I got up I could see that I was too late and sat down again. Tom got up leaving his books and jacket and left the restaurant. The waiter wanted us to pay for his bottle of wine. We refused.
This morning I went to find Tom to tell him where his stuff was and offer him help. He didn't take me up on the help, though I'm not sure what I could do. He told me that it's happened a couple of times, he's been half way through a book and lost it. I wondered if he really thought the book had caused him to lose his temper. It took two people to explain to me that he meant he'd lost the book and not lost his temper.
So that's my (attempted) good dead for the day, now where are some kittens I can kill?

In other news Jordi is famous after appearing on TV at a competition to see who can do the most convincing rolly-polly. She appears at 1:25 here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A First Time For Everything

In ColourI've never been too quick in certain situations, so when I noticed Jordi shrinking away from two guys walking towards us I didn't think much of it. I began to think more of it when they started asking for money, but I still attempted the ostrich defence thinking that they were probably just begging and walked between them, Jordi was less sure. When one started to hold her jacket I kind of pulled her on in an attempt to get her to keep walking, I managed a "que pasa?" (as Jordi pointed out recently, my favourite Spanish phrase. Actually my only Spanish phrase) she got out her purse and gave them some notes (about 20 pesos, £3) and they ran off. I wonder what would have become of me if Jordi had taken her bus and not walked me home. I might have lost all the money that would have gone to the tattooist if my skin had healed better and he'd been able to finish my tattoo.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Smooth Operator

There seems to be something about the Argentinean phone system which is conducive to wrong numbers (there is some weirdness with mobile numbers changing depending on where you are in the country and whether you want to call or text, it is a big country, but then the population isn't that high), I've even been told that people keep chatting to wrong numbers on occasion in the hope of securing a date. So I wasn't that surprised to get a text a day or so after getting my own mobile asking after Gaby. What is surprising is that these text messages haven't stopped. (It has occurred to me that this might be one of Jordi's friends, but it seems a little long winded for a practical joke.)



I'm not Gaby, I'm Jamie.


(In English) Stop shouting, Gaby is not here!


Hello Skinny-Girl! How are you? I need a favour...
(Flaco/Flaca is a nickname for a skinny boy/girl)

I am not Skinny-Girl, I am Skinny-Boy.

Sorry, you know what? I would like to communicate with gabriela, you don't know her?

Is she pretty?

You don't know the number? I am a girl? I don't know...





(The term "te quiero" is quite difficult to translate, it kinda means "I love you", but it's quite loose and means different things when you say it to a friend, a family member or a (potential) boyfriend/girlfriend, "Te quiero pero no te amo", "I love you but I don't love you" is famous.)

Thanks, but I am not Gaby


I am Jamie.