More Spanish, MABLA and Tigre

So yesterday I actually did something a little more interesting than just resting.

Firstly I went to the police station to report the theft of my camera. This took about an hour. After that I grabbed some lunch before my Spanish lesson in the early afternoon I made some more progress and was able to figure out the menu of the Chinese restaurant I went to in the evening. I have also learnt some Spanish chat up lines including the classic Do you come here often? Which is ¿Venís siempre acá? en Español. I haven’t (yet :p) asked my teacher whether it’s also a double endentre in Spanish or whether that is only in English.

Anyhow in the afternoon after my Spanish lesson I headed to Palmero, one of the districts I had previously missed here in Buenos Aires. In palmero I went an saw a museum of modern art called MALBA which was a modern art museum that was free to students! Anyhow they had an interesting exhibit by Félix González-Torres. This was an interactive exhibit and I got to pick up various bits and pieces including free sweets from around the gallery. It was quite interesting actually. They also had some other galleries which were also worth seeing. One of the most interesting pictures was one of the centre of BA in the 1930’s it looked gorgeous, and is definitely somewhere I’d have liked to live at that time.

After that I headed back to my accommodation. On the train I was accosted by the usual people trying to beg or sell crap that I don’t want. It is incredibly irritating and I just ignore them as I learnt last year in south-east Asia. The Buenos Aires citizens aren’t as cold-hearted as me though; maybe there is no money from the government for these people, which given Argentina is the 31st (23rd by PPP) richest country in the world there really should be. I suppose there are lots of people digging through rubbish in the streets which I didn’t see in south-east Asia so there is clearly a very serious poverty issue here. There is also a lot of guilt about the problem. Begging isn’t just confined to the streets and public transport here. It is also even happens in coffee shops.

Then this morning I got up fairly early and headed to the Tigre delta outside BA as my Spanish lesson isn’t until 6pm. I went on the train which wasn’t particularly crowded and was also only a little more expensive than a Subte ride which in itself is very cheap (US$0.30). Once I got to the delta I booked myself on a boat tour of the delta and then went off to have some lunch. For lunch I had some Milanese which is beef in breadcrumbs and is a speciality of the region which was nice. I also had some (freshly squeezed – and therefore expensive at US$2.60) orange juice for my fruit portion of the day. It’s actually hard to eat enough fruit here as most of the stuff in the supermarkets seems to have lots of blemishes. So much so that you aren’t sure if its fit to eat or maybe that’s just Tesco brainwashing me.

Then i wet on the boat tour. The boat tour itself was only OK, there was no commentrary (even in Spanish) and it was pretty expensive at US$10 for a 2 hour trip. I did finally get to see some people who looked like they had money on the boat; given the poverty in the centre it was kind of uncomfortable, though certainly to an extent I was looking at a mirror back of myself. The trip itself did seem to be an expensive camera photoshoot of the delta and posed people on the boat so I guess I missed out on the full experience as I didn’t have a camera.

Then I headed back to Buenos Aires for my Spanish lesson. The journey wasn’t entirely uneventful. I had to jump the barrier at the train station as it wouldn’t accept my ticket and I had to block the door of the Subte train as I was too far back to get off (the stop for Milhouse is one after the busiest station on the Subte system) before I had my Spanish lesson at the hostel. After that I headed back to my accommodation on the edge of the city and I had dinner at the local Italian (which was very nice) before going to bed after a long day.

Camera pinched

Well, something else had to go missing. This time my camera. Oh well at least I have my photos on Flickr.

I’m getting the police report for the insurance tomorrow.

With some good news at least I’m finally feeling better.

Sickness and Spanish

So I didn’t go to my Spanish lesson on Thursday after all. On Wednesday after realizing I’d only been taking half the dose for my antibiotics I took the proper dose for the first time (I’d been taking 1 pill not 2 every 8 hours). Unfortunately then things took a turn for the worse and after I couldn’t finish my dinner I was sick so I took a Benedryl and woke up feeling fine. However that was not to last by the afternoon I was itching all over and I realized I had a rash. So I rushed to hospital in a taxi where I was prescribed my own benedryl (anti-histemene) and steroids. Then fortunately within an hour or so I was feeling fine so I thought no more of it. I was more concerned with not drinking at the bar at the hostel that night (which was worryingly hard; like asking the first girl I cared about out but I pulled through ok)

Then the next day after a good sleep I was still ok and went shopping, then to the Indian embassy to pick up my visa and finally to see Tropical Thunder which is a film best described as fun. Though in true hollywood style it had holes the size of oceans in the plot for one by making the geographical error that Myanmar is next to Laos. Thailand of course fails to exist in between. Fortunately also the film was subtitled so I could understand most of it. However after getting back to the hostel and grabbing dinner on the way I came down with another rash.

This lead to another hospital trip and being given fluids and as it didn’t clear up as quickly a stay overnight. Then this morning I went to find some quieter accommodation in the suburbs for tonight so I’ve done that and after an afternoon rest I am now feeling better so hopefully I can get some supper and will be feeling cured tomorrow.

Hopefully also I’ll be able to continue my Spanish lessons on Monday for the rest of the week.

Back in BA

After the bus ride which arrived on time I got back to Buenos Aires. I didn’t get up to much but I did see Plaza del Congresso and an expensive but good Tango show in the evening. Some of their moves were amazing so it was worth seeing. I have some cool photos which I’ll add to Flickr at some point; basically the next time the Internet holds enough fun to spend an hour waiting for the upload to Flickr to finish uploading on the ultra fast connections they have here. Maybe I need to pretend I’m staying at the Hilton to borrow their connection or something…

Then this morning I fruitlessly searched the city for some Spanish lessons. My search didn’t go particularly well but I went back to the hostel and had lessons there; I wasn’t expecting them to be taken particularly seriously but they were actually pretty good and I’m having more for the rest of the week.

Tomorrow before my Spanish lesson at 3.30pm I have my homework to do and some shopping for a new jumper as I shrunk my wool one in the wash.

Jungle and El Soberbio

The short version is that the Jungle wasn’t very good and it probably made me sick and then El Soberbio was full of kind helpful people who helped me get better. If you really want to know more gory details you’ll have to wait as I need a refund for the advance payment for the trip out that they insisted on (I should note that in general the Argentinians are honest and don’t pull tricks like this, of course I still shouldn’t have agreed to it.).

On the way I did go on a boat trip to Saltos del Monica a set of waterfalls in the middle of the river Uruguay which was amazing and we got really up close and personal to the waterfall. I also got some really cool sunset pictures as it was just getting dark when the boat got back to shore. Some even came out well without the sunset mode being on on the camera.

Then I got the bus back to Buenos Aires with Via Bariloche again (arranged by my hotel) and that included a free transfer to the bus terminal at San Vincente so I’m not complaining. On the bus we saw a crappy Disney movie and then an endearing and sometimes irritating French film.

One thing I did learn from the French film was that words that refer to life’s pleasures such as sex and alcohol are generally the same in every language! Modern words such as computer and air conditioning are the same but that’s not the same thing.

After dinner we saw another Hollywood film called “Licence to Wed” which was a cold dark thriller (OK it was a romantic comedy). It starred Robin Williams and was set in Chicago and was pretty funny and enjoyable.

Then this morning I got back to Buenos Aires on time, which was a surprise but I have several things to do today.

The Iguazu Falls

So I caught the bus with Via Bariloche to Puerto Iguazu which was about £30. The bus was very comfortable; much more so than buses in England. After dinner they played a Disney movie called Game Plan about American football (and ballet) which was quite bad but still fairly entertaining; it contained the worlds most mature eight year old it was worse than Gossip Girl’s 17 year olds who act like 21 year olds in maturity. It also contained the worlds most predictable love plot (it hasn’t actually happened yet as I’m writing this but it’s sure to — in the end they went on a date.).

We arrived in Puerto Iguazu at 1.30 pm which was 2 hours late so I didn’t have much time at the waterfall yesterday. I went up to see the Gran Diablo falls at the top of the Iguazu system. You had to go on a walkway a long way (1100m) to get to the waterfall. First you were tempted by a haze of spray from above the trees and then once you did you got the most amazing view of a waterfall that I’ve ever seen. You can’t even see the bottom due to the spray and there is a permanent almost circular rainbow in the spray. After spending 15 minutes at the waterfall and taking lots of photos (sometimes a bunch of spray came up from the waterfall so I carefully protected my camera from that.)

After that I then got a boat back downriver to the centre of the complex. This went on quiet waterways and let you see birds flying overhead as we went which was a relaxing end to the day.

After that I went back to my room and cooked myself some dinner as I have a stove there. I had bought food in the supermarket to do so, it was great fun afterwards washing the stuff up with a cloth and cold water. I also didn’t get food poisoning as of 8am as I write this. Then after dinner I watched some TV, they had some American TV with subtitles in Spanish so I could actually understand it!

Then this morning I got up really early at 6.30am so that I’d have lots of time at the waterfall. I left just 7am and had to run to get the bus as I was given the wrong time, I had to do this past the bus station attendent with a whisle yeah when running for a bus I’m really not going the bus way and it’s totally safe anyway (they’ve literally done this when the bus station is empty.). After I got on the bus after passing through immigration I was told where to get off for the waterfall which was very kind of them (unlike the attendents the bus drivers are all really nice). By 8am I was at the park in Brazil. Unfortunately even though I am here really early unlike the Argentinian park the damn place didn’t open until 9am! The other problem with Puerto Iguazu itself is that they don’t have any obvious foreign exchanges fortunately it wasn’t a big issue though I had to get some Brazilian currency from an ATM making my bank very rich; guys I hope you’re happy, you’re the only ones who are with the cash issues here.

After that I went and had a look at the paroramas of the waterfall from the Brazillian side of the falls and they were absolutely awesome. Even though I’d seen the Gran Diablo the day before they were still incredible. There were several viewpoints and by quick-marching off the bus I managed to have several of them to myself. There were a few other people around though so I got some shots of me in front of the waterfall (which my friend Jamie will love :p). As usual you will need to have a Flickr account and be on my Flickr friends list to see those pictures though my others will be generally viewable.

From there we got a bus to the border and then a taxi to the falls on the Argentinian side with some other English people for $7.50 each which for a 50 minute ride wasn’t bad at all.

Then after I got back to the Argentinian side I had lunch and drowned a wasp which got in my drink (they were everywhere). I then went on the upper trail which was only OK though the view at the end was really good.

After that I headed down the lower trail to get up close and personal with the waterfalls which was also well worth seeing there was a lot of climbing to keep me fit too. I also went on a boat ride into the heart of 2 waterfalls which was fun but very wet! Pictures will come from back in Buenos Aires.

PS I hope everyone back in the UK (and elsewhere) has had a good summer so far, let me know in the comments what you’ve been up to.

PPS there’ll be no more posts until I’m back in Buenos Aires as i’m heading into the jungle and there is no internet there.

I’ve lost my phone

Today I lost my UK mobile phone so you won’t be able to contact me on it. O2 are letting me keep my number (which is nice of them) so I’ll be able to call you when I return to the UK next March.

Buenos Aires

After arriving in Buenos Aires on Saturday I headed down on the subte to Plaza de Mayo where I had a bit of a wander the trains are still in their original 1913 form and were surprisngly quiet and comfortable though they didn’t even have automatic doors (and the stations even have wifi!) Unfortunately it seems they are going to be replaced soon but for now they are fun.

The other thing to note is the language unlike most of the world everyone here assumes you speak Spanish so for products of the English education system it makes life more challenging to say the least. Maybe I should get some lessons.

The city centre at least seems to be very European and is very beautiful; though there is a fair bit of graffiti around. There is also a lot of litter around it’s not exactly a clean city by any means. It also seems to be a pretty safe city at least in the centre. The only issue with safety is the driving, especially by taxi drivers. If your taxi driver isn’t clearing the junction when the lights change from red to red Amber he isn’t getting you to your destination quickly enough!

On Saturday evening I had a very delicious steak for only £5 at a steakhouse it was the best steak I’ve ever eaten and was delicious!

Then on Sunday afternoon after staying out very late on Saturday (Argentina’s clubs barely open by 1am!) I headed down to San Teno and the Feria de San Telmo which is an antiques Market that takes place every Sunday. After that I headed to the national history museum which wasn’t that great to be honest and took about 5 minutes to have a good look around.

This morning I had some chores to do including getting cash out. You are limited to withdrawing £100 here (even the Sheraton where I went as I was desperate, had this limit and many machines are further limited to £50) which even given it is cheap here it is annoyingly low as you pay by cash for everything. This is something I’ve never experienced before, even in Vietnam.

This afternoon I headed to buy my bus ticket to Puerto Iguazu and then went to the recoleta cementry where Evita is buried and it was very moving.

Argentina and Flying

Due to the fact that I’m flying in and out of BA (Buenos Aires) I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there. I also have a visa to apply for here which may restrict my movement a bit. Anyway this is also the first city I’m going to where I don’t know anyone and the first time I’ve been to South America.

I have until Monday evening in BA when I head up to Puerto Iguazu one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world (it’s beautiful enough that Ellanor Roosevelt said “poor Niagra” when she saw it) and then into the jungle away from civilization for a few days.

Now although American doesn’t know how to fly a plane on time they do know how to (not) fill one. I’ve had two seats to myself for the whole flight which has been great and I’ve slept fairly well. Due to my direction of travel going anticlockwise around the world when I get to a new country I generally just “stay up late” so this means the next time I’m going to need to sleep on a flight is on my flight to Singapore from India at Chinese New Year.

Even before landing I can see that Argentina looks very barren and that a lot of farmers are burning their land.

The trip in from the airport was interesting the buildigs seemed very European and there was a lot of cross between rich and poor. On the bus I think I got a return by accident and then got the subte to the hostel which was very busy but otherwise fine.

Anyway I’m now off to get some lunch and have a wander around.