A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos Aires


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I don´t have much to say about Buenos Aires. Seems like a fun place to live but definitely a handful for just a few days to visit. We spent a lot of time in cafes but few taking photos. Here´s some random ones.

Why is she so sad? Reminds me of the girls that had to dance with me during my tango class.

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The Boca neighbourhood is colourful but only around the disappointing tourist section. This suburb is actually a pretty rough area where you are more likely to see poverty than coloured houses.

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They play soccer everywhere.

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Pete was smitten with this chick playing a metal drum instrument on the street. Her voice was really captivating.

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I think this is some important museum or church. We didn´t actually go in.

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The widest street in the world, about 8 lanes going each way. Pete and I stupidly tried to jaywalk across it once.

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Reminiscent of the famous Montreal convenience store.

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Posted by bchu 14:19 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Feliz Navidad


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¨We have won it. Things are better now. You can sort of tell these things.¨

Just wanted to shout out a Merry Christmas and preemptive Happy New Year to everyone, wherever you are, whatever you´re doing. It was a wild Xmas Eve here in Argentina...didn´t make it home tilll 8am...story and photos coming shortly. Still, if there was ever a day or two I wish I was home, now would be it. I´d trade the sun and glamour of Buenos Aires for the snow and shenanigans of Toronto in a flash.

Thanks also to anyone who´s sent me an email over the past 7 weeks... and many apologies for not writing back. I´ll work on that in ´07.

Nos vemos.

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Addendum (Dec. 29): I tried writing about Xmas Eve/Xmas but realized I couldn´t really capture or describe the events. In very brief, we incredulously ran into guys we met in El Bolson 2 weeks ago and followed them around the ghetto of Buenos Aires and eventually to a rock/ska party. They live in the area but appear homeless. They specialize in street art, street fighting, street dealing, and eating trash off the street. They found a half full beer bottle, wasn´t sure if it was beer or piss...one of them took a swig and then smashed the bottle on the ground...we´re guessing it was the latter. They were handing out tango cds as Xmas gifts...where they got these cds, who the hell knows. They temporarily lost their vial of coke but one guy had just dropped it on his nuts. They jumped up and down in celebration like little school girls when they found it. We walked 30 blocks through some rough neighbourhoods but had to cab the final 4 because they were too scared to walk across. THEY were too scared...wow. The party (held in a converted circus shed) had a live band, served only beer and only in 1 litre cups, showed hentai on a projector, and was absolutely electric. While people inside did whatever it was they were doing, old women and men danced outside and children lit off firecrackers till dawn. And then the long haired bearded scrawny hippie at the door refused to let people leave at 8am...he tried so hard to get everyone to go back inside and keep partying. The cab Andrew and I took home didn´t stop at red lights or intersections because of all the loonies and roughians parading the surrounding streets. I think I saw fires amongst the crowds too.

It may not sound that bad but it was much sketchier in person and yet so unbelievably genuine. You travel to have messed up experiences and this was one of my most memorable Xmas´s ever...for all the right reasons. I just wish I could properly explain it.

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Damien (2nd last photo, far right) took all the above pictures for us (along with a hundred other really weird ones). I don´t think we´d still have our camera if we tried taking them ourselves. FYI, for those in the know, Damien is like the Colonel to the next level. So thanks dude. For some strange reason, I got a feeling I haven´t seen the last of you, your bro (3rd last photo w/ glasses), or the Doctor (1st photo) just yet.

Posted by bchu 01:00 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Sweet Mendoza

sunny 33 °C
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The bus speeds down the highway leaving the dirt roads, rain, and chill of Ruta 40 and Patagonia behind. The driver is running behind schedule as he is slowed down by cyclists in the midst of a long distance road race. Growing increasingly frustrated, he continuously swerves around them by the slightest of margins so he can still yell obscenities at the riders. Alternatively, he might take control of the opposing lane, daring oncoming traffic not to take cover on the gravel shoulder. They flash him the bird in digust. He cares not. He´s on a 19hr mission to Mendoza and we´re just along for the ride.

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Whether it be from back home, other travellers, or South Americans, more than a few people have commented what a great city Mendoza is. After 4 days here, it´s hard to argue. This place will cure any funk you might be in.

It didn´t start out so great however. Inexplicably, we followed some old kook to his house which was miles away from the city centre. That was the least of our problems though. This guy, whom we dubbed Old Man River, wouldn´t leave us alone. For what seemed like an eternity, he explained every little detail about the place including the ever difficult...how to turn on the gas stove and how to lock the door...I shit you not. Speaking of shit, he also taught me the secrets to cleaning up dog shit. We made an extra effort to spend that whole day out, return late at night, and leave before he woke up the next morning. Andrew made an early run for it...but was caught...only escaping by making an excuse he was in a rush to go to the beach (note: there is no beach within 10 hours of Mendoza). Pete and I weren´t so lucky. I could try to describe it in words but I think a picture would more accurately describe the moment. I´ll never hear an accordion again without shivering.

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But ever since we hightailed it out of there, everything´s been pretty sweet. The food, namely the asado (bbq) is wild. This is an all you can eat buffet, rocking out at midnight on a Wednesday night. No really, the place was more alive than a lot of clubs and pubs back home.

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And the Mendozan women...simply, wow. I have never seen seen so many gorgeous girls or taken so many cold showers in a single day than I have here. Out of this world. Here´s a sampling of our dates the other night.

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We also decided to attend a tango class/social club, held in the basement of a bank/medical clinic. I think I am the first person to ever attempt the tango wearing hiking boots. The teacher and poor girls I danced with were really sweet but I think they were relieved to know I was leaving town before the next class.

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Here´s my barber. Among the topics of discussion (with his wife by his side) were...the number of Canadian tourist paragliders that have died in Mendoza (2), his rastafarian son who is a rafting guide and throws wild jacuzzi parties (sadly, he is currently out of town), and his apologies for running out of dope so he couldn´t give me any. Four canadian dollars well spent.

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Also rented bikes one day and rode around the massive park at the edge of town. I´ve always wondered how many kids you can fit onto a slide. Apparently a lot.

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Later on my tire got a flat and I needed a new tube. After asking a around, I was led to the garage of a house where a 9 year old fixed my bike like a professional. Then he gave me his business card/calendar as a souvenir.

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It´s a good thing my bike was working again because we stumbled upon a dirt bike course. It wasn´t even technically open but the guys running it let us ride around for free for a couple of hours. Andrew stacked it once and we both realized quickly why most bikers don´t wear flipflops.

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Mendoza´s probably the first place in South America where I think I could actually live. The people are ridiculously chill and friendly for a city its size. The highest peak in South America (Acongagua) is only a couple hours away. Chile is also next door. Snowboarding is huge in the winters. If I actually appeciated wine, this is the mecca. And did I mention how stunning the girls are here? I am so sold.

Couple other random photos from the last week and a bit. Kayaking down the river and drinking maté (a strong Argentinian tea) in the park with Pedro, a local kid who likes to throw rocks at cars.

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Posted by bchu 04:31 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

Soccer Madness


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The Argentinian soccer league finals were on yesterday between world famous Boca Juniors (Maradona´s old team) and Estudiantes (who haven´t won in 10 years). Although I´m just in El Bolson, a small hippie town with more ice cream shops than restaurants... and where people drink alcohol that is reminiscent to fuel from broken plastic bottles...the game was still a pretty big deal here. I can only imagine what Buenos Aires was like.

For some reason, the main bar was closed so the venue of choice to watch the game was the petrol station. No joke. I thought this immediately added an extra element of ambiance. The gas attendants even hooked people up with beer mugs and salted nuts.

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Boca took the early lead to the cheers of 2/3 the station. The kid in the middle was extremely pumped...this picture is right before he stood up on the table and tore his shirt off.

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But the Estudiantes came back to win 2-1. These are some hardcore fans celebrating on the street. The guy near the middle holding the puppy...yea, when they scored, he would repeatedly toss the dog a couple metres in the air and catch it. Pretty hilarious.

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Unfortunately, the league is on break now for the summer so I won´t be able to catch a live game in Argentina. I guess I will have to settle for the next best thing... the Bolivian super league! Quality.

Posted by bchu 06:16 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Ruta 40


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The last little while has been pretty low-key with mostly ¨you had to be there¨ moments that are difficult for poor writers like me to describe.

Crossed into Argentina about a week and a half ago and hit up a couple small tourist towns - El Calafate and El Chalten. Calafate is famous for its proximity to the Perito Moreno glacier but we skipped that in order to do some actual ice climbing on some other glacier in Chalten. You can only spend so much money to see so many friggin blocks of ice. Unfortunately, we chose the wrong one. The trip was cancelled shortly after we reached the glacier because the winds were too severe. At one point the wind kicked up all these small rocks off the ground and pelted us in the ass and neck with them. That stung almost as much as the disappointment of not getting to hang off ice sheets with pickaxes.

One more quick note about the wind. It´s wicked, it´s wild, it´s Patagonia defined. Chalten was ridiculously as such. At night, the howl completely penetrates the walls, keeping you awake and mystified. I´m not sure if that´s why so many roofs around here are shaped like the ones below. It takes a while but after you embrace the wind, you feel more calm than unnerved by it. Zen-like I tell you.

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Been taking the long scenic road up Ruta 40. The landscape for the most part was flat and desolate, occasionally giving way to a low backdrop mountain or blur of light shining off the water.

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And sometimes the bus driver would abruptly stop the vehicle to chase after armadillos.

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The most recent stop was Perito Moreno, population of 1700. The bus that goes through here only does so every other day. And it only stops because it gets in late at night and the driver has to rest. The attraction is a nearby cave with paintings of hands. Not exactly a must-do on most people´s agendas. Therefore everyone left with the bus the next morning. For whatever reason, we decided to stay for 2 days...and we didn´t even bother seeing the stupid hands. So what goes on in a wannabe tourist town with no tourists? More than you think (or less depending on how easily amused you are).

There was a disco that was closed on Saturday night. Apparently Saturday is not a convenient night to go out around here.

Sunday was pumping though with the local rodeo. Sketchy guys in funny hats getting booted off horses while everyone else drinks beer with wind blowing dirt into your face.

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At night there was a town party, complete with live music and fireworks that were being set off by 5 year olds, I kid you not. And I don´t know the reason for it but I´d like to think it was to celebrate our arrival.

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The only thing larger than the men in Perito Moreno are the women. Sorry no pictures, just trust me on this and use your imagination. The tourist ¨lady¨ had a beard. The construction ¨girls¨ were heftier than the machines. And the internet ¨woman¨ who hated Andrew with a passion could not fit through the door.

But if you´re anyone in this town, you´ll have a beat-up vehicle and do laps on the main street at night, circling past the same 8 blocks on first gear for hours on end. Apparently the crappier and more broken down the car (or dump truck), the greater the street cred. This is officially where automobiles come to die.

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At first we were confused by this local pasttime. Then amused. Then intrigued. Strangely, by the end of the two days I found myself aimlessly walking laps of the main street, much like the cars themselves. No purpose, no destination. Peaceful as the Patagonian wind. Like I said, you had to be there.

Posted by bchu 18:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

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