Monday, 6 June 2011

Mendibuses and Satalan

Nine days on the continent down, and only twenty-seven of those hours spent in coaches - not backpacking badly by any means. We´ve made it through Argentina's capital, its second city and apparently its second second city and currently sitting in San Ignacio, home of Jesuit ruins and not much else, hence I´m sitting here with Pete wondering how to pass the next blog-posting session. Have been meaning to get down to this for a while, especially considering quite how lacking in lustre and polish the last post was. Am still not quite sure whether posting every now and then from hostels' computers will lead to better posts than dashed-off-but-at-least-bedroom-written, but I suppose we'll all get to find out. 

I did while away an hour or three on the rather lengthy and luxurious coche cama coach journey looking back over all we have accomplished, and have come to the conclusion that there´s just no point attempting to whack off a travelogue here and there; else you get semi-rants like below which highlight a few travelling details and architectural marvels, but are low on anecdotes and odd occasions. From the post below on Jerusalem, you'd never know how exquisite it is, after a month in Blightly, to drink cheap Arabic coffee on a damp sofa watching a man beat a dog chained to a post. Or quite how exciting it is to make it through Israeli border control and into Palestinian territory, stroll down a grafittied wall of such terrible stark just-there-ness and then get stoned by little kids who you won't give any money. 

But this is a new Page (har har) in the travel diary, and though I don´t quite miss Israel, there's a lot to be said for comic encounters with American monks (¨You're British? You do look like Prince William¨ Does that make me Kate?) and breakfasting while people walk the path of Jesus past you, bearing wooden crosses. Or even riots happening outside the church you´re in and ubiquitous 'Gun 'n' Moses' tees. But enough of that little patch of fervent land. We´ve got 1000s of km to cover out here, and we've barely scratched the surface. Not scratching much actually, especially not mosquito bites - wouldn't want to get into bad habits. No malaria as yet, but I was struck down by a bad bout of food poisoning that laid me up good and proper for twenty-four hours or so. And in Buenos Aires' premier party hostel too, meaning that when the music from the club next door stopped at seven in the morning, you'd then have half an hour to fall asleep before your roommates got back from their respective-but-not-quite-respectful nights out.

Everyone did keep telling us about the city's party scene. Suffice to say that the only time we'd have the dorm to ourselves was when we were going to bed; the other folk (two law school grads and a nurse) slept in and stayed out far later than we ever managed. My stomach didn't help matters, but we did go out on the town porteño-style for one truly remarkable evening. At least we've done it and all that. After a steak, red wine and a few beers, perhaps we weren't probably energised, but that didn't stop my making a fool of myself in the now nototious 'Two Cups, One Girl' diplomatic incident. Though we'll leave the gory details until after this blog's watershed (very late indeed), I can tell you it's never a good idea to attempt to talk to a young lady on a loud crowded dancefloor while you´re holding two full plastic cups of beer for no good reason.

It was a minor relief to escape the yah atmosphere of B.A. Most everyone in our hostel was young, English-speaking, and after a rollicking time. Not that we're not part of that, but do forgive us for visiting the sights ever now then. I am sorry I don´t have the mental and spiritual strength to fly for thirteen hours to the capital city of Argentina and then only see it in the dark, out the window of a cab going from a club, through bleary eyes clogged with secondhand smoke and beer goggles. I do think that would have made things easier for everyone. As it is, we bussed out to Rosario for a few days of calmer wandering, and to enjoy our first brush with Chinese cuisine on the continent. Also shared a dorm with an Italianate transvestite who left at four in the morning. At least we've done it and all that.

Carrying two guidebooks with us. One is 'mine' and one is 'Pete's'. Mine is the Footprint Handbook, which is predictably quite ecologically-minded and vaguely comprehensive. Pete's is Ladly Planet, which recommends places built for things other than sleep. In fairness, each covers the other's faults quite nicely. Just realised that this does all give us the look of party-haters who crave only culture and a few Zs each night. This is only partly true. We just don't want to be like the American who set an alarm at half seven and slept through it for ten minutes until a Frenchman swung (like Tarzan, honest) out of his bunk to then carefully place the offending phone next to the sleeping Yank's head. That I could handle. Him then packing away while delivering a spectacular monologue on the best manner in which to treat local women - choice phrase, ¨Get them all pregnant. Then if they say, 'But stop, I'm too pregnant!', just ask yourself ¨What is too pregnant?'¨ - was a touch too surreal to be taken seriously on a Saturday morning pre-croissant.

But a Chinese buffet and a sixteen-hour coach journey later, we've made it to San Ignacio. We've even attempted to get into an invitation-only club along the way. And watched a water feature dance to the tune of 'We Are The Champions'. And of course, that's what makes travelling interesting, not the landmarks and the statues. Córdoba's Plaza de España? Grey and fading. Getting interviewed by Argentinian television on the contemporary art installation there? Interesante. Decided that when you send a postcard home, there are two things to make a fuss over. The first is the picture of where you've been on the front, and the second is the story of what happened on the back. No matter how many words that pretty postcard snap is supposed to be worth, give me the story everytime. As long as it's not just another yah nightclub in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. 

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