Argentina

Buenos Aires | Safely Arrived | May 27, 2004
Well, it’s finally here!! Kevin and I met up in Dallas and had a three hour layover which was great – we had a million things -to talk about! And a few hours later, we are finally here in Buenos Aires (Argentina Capital). We are having the greatest time. The culture is great here. It is like nothing I have ever seen. If I had to describe it in a sentance, I would say that it is a bunch of white people who look like they should be speaking English but don’t speak a word, thrown in a big city with “Asian” rules and Europian architecture. We are loving it here cause there is psycho driving, street food, and lots of potential for adventure. The only downside is that things are kind of expensive so we may end up camping a lot. The weather is not too bad. It gets down to about 5 degrees at night but it will only get warmer from here on as we head north. Today we explored the city for 14 hours straight, applied for Brazil visas (major hastling), and spent way too much on all this great food we had to try. We are going to head out for a camping / hiking trip somewhere for the weekend while we get our visa’s processed for Brazil. That’s about it all! Oh, I also had a huge rush tonight and razored all the hair above my neck.

-steve

argentina1.jpg

argentina2.jpg

argentina3.jpg

argentina4.jpg

Mar De Plata | Fish Dinner & Hangin’ with Jorge | May 29, 2004
Kevin and I are still having the best time ever. We are in a city south of Buenos Aires on the atlantic coast called Mar del Plata. Yesterday we sauntered into the pescadoria (fish store) and bought a sizable fish. The store owners gave us the craziest looks cause they had never seen any backpackers walk in and get a fish before – especially without wanting it cut up or gutted (I nievely thought I could cook it somewhere cause we wanted to camp that night).

After three hours of walking out of the city, taking random busses, and turning down expensive camping facilities, we found a place to put up our tent. A sign outside the fence we jumped over said something along the lines of “private property, no camping, fires prohibited”. Unfortunately it had to do cause we were tired. We set the tent up under a canopy of trees and then went to make a fire somewhere else (really scared of being caught). We had to because we payed almost two dollars for the dumb fish. Without walking too far we found a hole in the ground with a grill beside it! How good is that?! So one of us grilled while the other was on the lookout just in case we needed to bolt and hide. We squeezed a couple lemons over the fish (best meal yet!!).

Today Kevin and I taunted sea lions we found on the beach most of the morning. Then we tossed the disc around and explored the city. The rest of the day we sat and ate cause the food is unique, inexpensive, and amazing. We are learning more spanish everyday and making a lot of local friends. This one guy, Jorje, fed us for three meals cause we kept coming back and he wouldn’t stop telling us about these chicas that he wanted to hook us up with.

Tonight we are off to some mountains on an over-night bus. They are about 8 hours west!

-steve

argentina5.jpg

argentina6.jpg

Buenos Aires – 2nd time | “Dabum” | May 31, 2004
Kevin nd I just finished our little trip into Argentina to wait for our Brazil visas to be processed. It was a little tense cause the whole time we were unsure whether or not we would be accepted for Brazil visas. They wanted extensive information and documentation which we weren’t prepared for. Anyway, we had a good couple of days waiting. We just took a train ride back from a small town called Sierra de la Ventanna. We did a little bit of hiking and took an overnight bus to get there and an overnight train ride to get back to Buenos Aires. The train ride was especially interesting. Of course we opted for the cheapest tickets ever which meant 12 hours of sit up bench seats. Fortunately we used our charm to befriend the ticket guy at the train station. He was a coin collector without Canadian coins. Instant friendship. As we got on the train he worked it so that we could sit up front in first class, so instead of getting the hard seats we paid for, we just took those.Everything was going great. We got to sleep and it was the most comfortable and needed rest yet. 3 or 4 hours into our sleep everything changed. People filled the train and someone happened to have tickets for our seat. So we were kicked out and were left with no seat at all. The train was packed – there were people sleeping everywhere – under seats, on the floor, in the bathroom, on the sinks, etc… Thus started the greatest 6 hours of our lives playing a game we now refer to as “dabum”. Basically it involves adapting to any dirty environment to try to get some sleep. We would sleep anywhere until we got kicked out. We finally found a train car with the lights burnt out. While people were sleeping we crawled up into the luggage compartments in the roof and slept intertwined around baggage. It was awesome! We were the happiest, dirtiest street bums ever! Completely filthy but well rested. So we got back to Buneos Aires completely tired this morning.

Luckily for our sanity, everything went awesome today. We got our Brazil visas! We found out we dont need a visa for Uruguay! We found a step down converter and battery charger after I blew up mine by sticking it into the wall. We just indulged in a meal fit for kings and we decided to get a bed tonight rather than camping in some restricted area. But, tommorow it’s back to cheapest ever travelling.

-steve

argentina7.jpg

argentina8.jpg

Tancacha | A Time to Rest | July 11, 2004
We had the greatest day today. Kev and I finally hooked up with a friend, Mariana in Cordoba province. We are getting our culture, language, and everything lesson constantly. We are staying with her family and she is the most hospitable ever. Staying with a local family is quite the eye opener. Yep, things are a little different here! Tonight is going to be the first shower and bed in 5 days. We are having the biggest barbeque party too. We went all over town today tasting different foods and asking a millions about everything. We are getting treated pretty well so we might just stay put for a few days. Those Andes mountains are beckoning though.. we’ll see what happens.

-steve

argentina9.jpg

argentina10.jpg

Tancacha | Hangin’ out with the locals | June 14, 2004
I mentioned before that we were staying here in Tancacha with a local family. What an adventure that has turned out to be. We ended up meeting most of the town these last couple days. Everyone wants to have us over for supper and/or put us up for the night. So we keep doing just that. Tonight we got into a little trouble. We double booked ourselves for supper. We had supper at the place of some people we met at a church today then the other family called us just when we were finishing and were super mad that we forgot about them. We played dumb and pretended we didn’t eat. So we went back to the other family’s place and pretended to be super hungry when we were stuffed already. I still have no idea how Kevin and I downed two more platefulls of food (wait, now I’m feeling it). A couple guys drove us away from the city this morning and we went on a great hike and then went to the meat shop and got some stuff for a barbeque (pretty routine around here). I must have mentioned before that South America is filled with far too many stray dogs. It was funny – when everyone but Kevin was filled with meat, I got this picture of Kevin eating at a picnic table surrounded by hungry dogs.

Lets see, what else, oh I got into an intense game of scrabble with a 9 year old yesterday and he beat me pretty bad. Granted, everything was in Spanish but it still hurts you know. I mentioned that we met some people at church. Turns out that the family we stayed with goes to a Spanish church. It was really fun and really interesting to see the culture. There was one thing that was kind of unusual. A couple guys in the church found it very comfortable to stand 1 inch away from my face and talk to me. I could feel every word and if I stepped back, they just smiled and stepped right towards me again.

-steve

argentina11.jpg

argentina12.jpg

Salta | Street Foods Galore | June 28, 2004
We took the endless bus ride through the Andes again back to Argentina. It took 12 hours for a distance of 350km as the crow flies. It is good to be back in Argentina cause it is much cheaper. Today we were overwhelmed by the amount of street food in this city, Salta. Most of the day was spent walking around eating. We scored the greatest hostel this time. It has an internet cafe in it and a kitchen. The first thing I notice when I looked in the kitchen was the old blender – of course my first thought was fruit shakes! So for a couple hours tonight, Kevin and I ran all over the place looking for the best ingredients. Aside from the load of fruit, I think the winner was the bags of cheap yogurt. We wipped up a whole load of fruit shake and started to serve it randomly to the people in the internet cafe. They had no idea what was going on and tried to refuse. After a little persuasion we had the whole place holding a glass though. After that, it was back to street food. They had these candy apple things for 8 cents and big plate of fries and toppings for 30 cents… wow.

-steve

argentina13.jpg

argentina14.jpg

Salta | Horse Trek | June 29, 2004
Tonight we decided to remedy the aparent weight loss we have been observing in eachother. So for supper we went to the cheap street food. So far tonight Kevin and I have each had 2 fruit shakes, 2 cups of fries, 3 ice cream cones, and some pastries – but the night is young.

Earlier in the day we made the like the gauchos (Northwest Argentinian cowboys). We got a guy to take us to his ranch and spent the day riding through the hills on horseback. We got an extensive history and cultural lesson. Of course we had the biggest steaks for lunch that you have ever seen (common here in Beef country). If the gauchos aren’t eating beef, they are drinking wine and sucking on coca leaves. I still don’t totally understand the later but diving into that area of the culture hasn’t had hazardous effects on my health as of yet. Supposedly coca leaves and tea and whatever else you do with them has nothing to do with drugs. However, you can’t bring them across borders for some reason, and everyone discreetly carries these little bags of the leaves around. The quest for answers continues.

In other news, we just signed up for the freakiest thing I could imagine doing tommorow. I think I swore I would never do it again… so we’ll see if tommorow pans out like I think it might. As long as I sleep tonight I guess I’ll get over it. to be continued…

-steve

argentina15.jpg

argentina16.jpg

Salta | Bungy Jump | July 1, 2004
So the day is finally over – but it was well worth it even though I said I would never do it again. But the price was so good ($10 CAD!!!) – so there I found my self looking down over the bridge with the bungy cord attached to my legs. I could hear Kevin counting down from 5 and it was time to fly. The instructor guy had just told me if I jumped head first in a flying motion it would hurt less and I wouldn’t hit the water so hard. I don’t remember a whole lot after that but it was quite the rush and I recommend it to everyone.

-steve

argentina17.jpg

argentina18.jpg