Monday, October 29, 2007

Still here...Brazil is addictive!

Well, we're still here in Barra Lagoa.....still in the Backpackers hostel. It's a deadly place, I have to say! Obviously everything is pricier here in Brazil, but we've cooked for ourselves a good bit, which is taking the sting out of the tail. The hostel's great fun, and we've met some really nice people. This American guy, Glenn, is our main man here in the hostel. He's 34, and a huge Red Sox fan, so we've been watching the World Series with him and Christopher, a fellow Yank who works at the hostel. It's funny, because Glenn is very 'dude' himself, in that he's a big surfer and bit of a beach bum (he's been living footloose and fancy free for many years now, and is currently a resident of Costa Rica), but Christopher and him are polar opposites - Christopher is like the ultimate California guy, and Glenn is probably one generation away from the toughest guys in Boston - which is saying a lot! They're probably come from fairly different social spheres, and you can kinda see it in their mannerisms! I like to think of it in terms of Glenn being me, and Christopher being a southside girl - with the inherent class issues that brings. But, basically, Christopher is harmless, and he's been really good to us - taken us out hiking across the hills over to another beach, Mole, with some vicious waves. So it's between him and Glenn, really - I like them both a lot, so I'll keep out of it!!

Actually, some Ozzie guys came that day to Mole too, along with me, Mac, Bones and Al, and so it was a 'dude' fest, but the beach was great fun. The waves were actually a bit too big - as I discovered when I hit the sea for some about getting caught in the washing machine! It was fairly rough!! But great fun, all the same! Christopher also took us across loads of rocks yesterday, and we found a beautiful little cove with big rocks all around, so the water was pretty deep directly below you. Chrisphopher and Welly jumped off a big rock into the water, and I climbed up, because I've always wanted to do that - and a cliff dive is one thing I'd really love too! But it looked so high when I got up there!! Alan got up too, and he jumped off, feet first, but I really wanted to try diving, so I plucked up some courage (knees shaking!), and dove off. Not the most graceful thing ever! Smacked into the water!! But I did it, and that's the main thing! We hiked across more rocks, and got some great views across the water to the other side of the island. Great day!

Me and Alan got up before brekkie yesterday and went boogie boarding together - very romantic - then after brekkie, we all went for a swim. It was a great day! Then we headed for pizza with two sound Dutch blokes, and a strange Swiss girl. Nice. We watched the world series last night after our day out in the sunshine, and there was a massive lightening storm, with really heaving rain. Very dramatic! The Red Sox won the series, so Glenn and Christopher were well chuffed! It didn't finish until 2.30 in the morning, though, so I'm wrecked today!!

We went out a couple of nights ago to a club, which was good fun, but very pricey. They give you a card on the way in, so you don't pay for drinks while in the club, they mark your card, and you pay your amount on the way out. This is quite dangerous because you end up drinking more than you can afford, if you're not careful! Luckily, there was a cheesy 80's rock band playing, so I was too busy dancing to drink too much!!

The hostel has an honesty system, whereby no money exchanges hands until you leave. There's a big blackboard in the common room, with everyone's name and room number on it, and if you take a beer from the fridge, or a soft drink or water, or packets of Doritos, or homemade brownies and choco sambos, then you just mark the code next to your name, and it's all totted up at the end of the night, and added onto your daily bill. Very nice atmosphere here, indeed!!

Anyway, that's all the news for now! We're basically just chilling out here fairly aggressively! I'd like to leave soonish, though - I loved Argentina, and I also loved how little money I spent there, so I'm itching to get back there, and also get down into Patagonia and do some actual hiking! Don't want to vegetate too long....

Also, the big news is that our friend EJ, who's spending a year in Canada, is coming down to meet us for three weeks for Christmas! What a nice pressie, eh?!?!

I'm missing home a lot - but I guess that's normal! Gonna miss being there with all the kids for Halloween - I haven't missed a trick-or-treat with them in years. I'm informed that some of the costumes on show range from Spiderman (Ben), to ghostly spirit (Cambo), to dalmation (Rose, of course)!! Can't wait to see the photos.......!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Brazilia Brillia (best I could do!)

Well, we got to Brazil. Eventually.

Basically, woke up the morning we were due to leave Iguazu with a slight twinge in my belly. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe something to worry about? Not yet....

Had to pack up all our stuff, and say goodbye to a lovely German/Italian bloke called Dario, whom we had dinner with the night before and shared our cultures, and suchlike. Got all our gear, and had a bit of sit down. My stomach gave another little shout at me. I tried to ignore it. Big mistake. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was the first to succumb to 'travellers tum'!! We had eaten a salad at the restaurant the night before. It was a nice looking place, and I decided to ignore one of my strict travel rules (I had made a few before leaving, in order to be on the safe side - for example, no eating fruit or veg raw unless I washed and prepared it fresh myself; no drinking the water ANYWHERE; no petting dogs or monkeys; no eating from street vendors; etc., etc., you get the picture). Anyway, I broke the rule, and payed for it dearly. Our taxi was due to arrive at 3.30 to take us over the border - we had worked this out with a scamming bitch (sorry to use that word, but she was one!!) at the tourist office in the Puerto Iguazu bus station, as we had to buy our ticket to Florinopolis from this side of the border. She had given us a receipt as to how much the taxi would cost. By the time the taxi arrived, I had finally said goodbye to the hostel toilet (only so that I could seek another one!), and was doubled over with cramps and pain. The two taxis arrived and started telling us that the cost was 100 pesos instead of 80, as the scamming bitch had told us. They refused to take us for less, but finally agreed to 90. I was nearly crying with pain at this stage, and all I wanted to do was get on something settled - like a bus - and lie down. The car was air conditioned, which helped, but we had to get through the Brazilian immigration, which was not. I had to stand in queue for ages in the blistering sunshine, before finally getting the passport stamped with my 90-day pass, and moving into Brazil. I could barely whisper 'Obrigado' to the official before climbing back into the car and leaning over with my head between my legs.

At the bus station in Foz Iguazu, we had another hour and a half to wait for the bus. If you are of a sickly dispositon, then skip this next bit, because it gets kinda gross! For my Mam's sake (she likes to know when I'm sick!), and for the accuracy of a travel diary, I'll include this next bit.... Sitting doubled over leaning on my bag, with sweat pouring off me - not altogether due to the roasting hot day - I suddenly had the urge to look for a loo. As I walked off, I started to feel that all was not right with my stomach. The usual cramps were there, but my throat seemed to be constricting also! I spotted the sign for the toilets - I could feel the spasms in my stomach getting worse...I could......just......make it.....I ran up to the entrance. It was a bloody pay toilet, and I had no Real yet, just my useless Argentinian cash. Oh God! I ran from the toilets towards the open door, as I got halfway there, I began to retch. My instinctive politeness over-rode my physical situation, and I managed to hold it in until I literally got through the door - and right into the taxi rank. Sorry guys! I got sick once there, then stumbled across the parking lot to a grassy area, fell on my hands and knees, and continued to puke for at least five more minutes in the sunshine. And yes, for those who doubted it, I can confirm that it was indeed the salad that had made me ill! I sat out there for a while, in the sunshine, feeling a good deal better. Some people came up to see was I OK, which was very nice of them, I have to say!

Got back inside, able to talk at least! Got onto our bus ready to settle into a 17-hour bus journey to the coast. The bus set off. We'd got cheapish seats, so it wasn't massively comfy, but it was OK. My stomach was still in spasms, but things got immeasurabely worse when the air conditioning broke on the bus, and he drove on, while we gasped for air inside. Eventually he realised that we couldn't continue like that (inhumane, I tell you!!), so he pulled over, and we sat in the 40-degree heat and waited an hour and a half for it to be fixed. So, we continued on our way. Overenthused, perhaps, by the fixing of the air conditioning, he left it on full blast all night, so sleep was nigh-on impossible, what with the constant stomach issues, and the freezing cold air!!

Arrived safe and sound in Florinopolis, though, and made our way out to Barra Lagoa on the Atlantic side of Isla de Santa Catarina, just off the coast of Florinopolis. Our hostel is pretty cool. Right on the beach, and with free boogie boards and surf boards, it's full to the brim with Aussie DDDUUUUDDDDEEESSS and totally BODACIOUS Americans. A bit too rich-kid-surfer-dude-frat-boy for my liking, but they're harmless enough, and good craic!

We got straight in for a swim in the surprisingly cool water, which was pretty refreshing! Had dinner out, then went to our rooms. Alan and I plumbed for a double room this time, leaving the other lads in the dorm. I'm enjoying this little break from the boys club - but I'll be happy to get back to them again also!! Little feckers!!

That night, there was a huge lightening storm over the ocean, and it pounded rain. Pretty spectacular! The next day was bright and sunny, though, so we grabbed surf boards - or, in my case, a boogie board - and hit the beach. We stayed there all day surfing and swimming, then went back to the hostel where they were cooking dinner for everyone - delicious traditional cooking, with plenty of kidney beans and fish (Mam'll be glad to know!). That night, we realised that I had gotten a bit burnt, but that Alan had got COMPLETELY burned!! He was in so much pain! Luckily, I had brought both Aloe Vera gel, and Aloe Vera cream. We stayed out of the sun today - though I did sneak out for a swim during the day! The water was much warmer, and so refreshing!

Heading back now for a poker tournament in the hostel. We're gonna go hunting an apartment tomorrow, because we want to stay on this island for another couple of weeks, and can't afford to stay in a hostel all that time.

Small problems to have, though! Brazil is much more expensive, so we have to try keep within budget. Doing OK so far, but have to keep cooking our own food to keep on top of things. That's fine, though! The sun is shining, the waves are big, the water is warm, and the sand is white. What more could I ask for from life right now?

I'd like to say something in Porteguese, but I've no idea of anything in this language. It's like a mix between German, Japanese, and Spanish! Not gonna try learn it - we'll be back in Spanish-speaking country soon enough!!

Until next time........

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Iguazu Falls - the edge of the earth! Best day so far!!

Well, the second night´s mattress on the floor situation was like a five star hotel after sleeping on that uncomfortable roof! We shared our hallway with a French girl, who told us that some French guys were supposed to sleep on that mattress. We begged to differ! If we had have arrived back another half hour later, though, it would have been gone!! And it was past midnight when we got in! Anyway, next morning we went to the supermarket and got brekkie and stuff to make lunch with, coz our bus wasn´t until 7.30pm. Relaxed with Vicktor in the hostel all day, watching movies and eating, then made sambos for the bus journey and went to the station. The bus was good fun. Sleeper service meant the seats reclined all the way back. Except mine, which was broken, and meant that every hour I would wake up with the seat having returned to it´s fully upright position! But I got some sleep, and that´s all that matters......!

Arrived in Puerto Iguazu at about 4.30 the next day. Good weather, so we were chuffed! Malarial area, so the pills are on board and the deet is out! Our hostel, El Guembe, is bloody beautiful - though frankly, after the night on the roof, a bed is an improvement! But it´s lovely, and the staff are great. Clean, airy, and wonderfully cool - and it has a ping-pong table (it´s becoming a requirement for our trip!). We took it easy, as we were all pretty wrecked after the long journey - just a few cerveza´s (beer) and some ping-pong bed before 1. We got up at 8.00 the next morning and went to the bus station to begin our day in Iguazu National Park. The bus is four pesos each way - just less than a euro - and it takes twenty minutes to get up to the park entrance. There, you see a list of special pricing. Locals are free, as are children under 12, elderly and disabled people. Then there´s a special low price for people from Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Next on the ladder are foreigners - we pay 40 pesos! Less than a tenner! This gets you into the WHOLE park - all the waterfalls, free train to take you all over the place, and free boat service to the island caught between the two sections of falls. Unbelievable! And your second day is half price with your ticket! Great!

So, we talked with a wonderfully instructive park guide, who also gave us a voucher for a restaurant - more on that later! - and he advised us that the main baby, Gargantua de Diablo (the Devil´s Throat), is best viewed after 4pm, as the sun is behind you then. So, we took his advice, and strolled down the Lower areas. First up, the Upper Trail, which takes you across about ten waterfalls - some mere feet wide, and some the width of a bus, and all of them uniformly amazing and powerful and awe-inspiring! Check my photos on Bebo for a good view of what we saw first! And these weren´t even the most powerful and biggest part of the trek!! Anyway, from the upper platforms you were above the falls, with water rushing underneath you and huge drops beneath down to the pounded rocks below. Spray billowed in your face at every turn, reminding you that this water was rushing past you at breakneck speed. I´m a fan of waterfalls anyway, but this would have made the most hardened trekker pause for breath!

On the lower trek you go low enough to look upwards at the falls above you, and then take cliff-steps down to the river below, where a free boat takes you to Isla San Martin - an island nestled between the Falls on one side, and the Gargantua de Diablo on the other side. The boat drops you to the sandy beach, and the ever-present roaring of the waterfalls on either side is the only thing that reminds you NOT to take a swim in the blistering sunshine!! Climb more steps to the top of Isla San Martin, and climb across the top to the other side, and you are treated to a sideways view of the biggest of the ´small´falls - here you are REALLY sprayed with vapour as the water rushes by you! Gazing down into the torrents below, it was hard to keep the smile from your face!

After a trip to an all-you-can-eat buffet down at the restaurant recommended by our happy guide (where we made absolute pigs of ourselves - they had a salad counter, a pasta and veg and spuds counter, a veggie counter, a barbeque area (parillo), and a huge dessert counter, with slices of fresh pineapple, melon, papaya, banana, apple, etc. plus cakes and puddings, and EVERYTHING!........and all for 30 pesos (about 8euro)) Wow!

So, happy out, we decided to take the train up the mountain to the Gargantua! After a long ride, squished in with some chubby Americans, we got to the platforms. You have to walk across a series of platforms across the rivers which make up the waterfalls - it was so wide it looked like a huge lake! Bit unnerving looking down and seeing nothing but water below you. Especially when you saw some sunken platforms destroyed by floods in previous times! Eek! And then you got closer, and the water became faster below you! You were sometimes engulfed in the odd foliage break - where islands of forest stood - and were constantly reminded of how wild things were by the signs for snakes, etc. Then you heard it.....a distant roar. At first, it sounds like the other falls, but soon it becomes louder, and you start to get a little nervous. Then you look up ahead, and it was if a hole has opened up in the ´lake´of water around you. If I had to describe it as anything, I would say that it looked like the edge of the earth! The platforms allowed you to look directly down into the abtly named ´Devils Throat´, at the churning waters, the mist, the pounding rapids. My God! What a sight! It was terrifying, mesmerising, and utterly beautiful! My legs were shaking - it was like looking into the abyss! We stayed there for a while, gazing into the falls - feeling happy and excited!

Today, we headed back up again (after buying our tickets for Florinopolis for tomorrow), and paid our half-price in. This time, we headed straight for the boat centre, as we were taking a speed boat into the waterfalls mist. It wasn´t as warm today - but I got burnt yesterday (sorry Mam!), so I was kinda glad of a break from the sun! I wore my bikini under my skirt and top, and wore my crocs, as we thought we might get a bit wet on the boat ride. The lads all wore board-shorts (quick drying swimming shorts), so we felt prepared! Got down there, paid our 50 pesos (about 11 euro), and they gave us each a waterproof bag for our gear. I took off my top, and sat in my bikini top and denim skirt - my crocs are waterproof anyway. The lads all got out of their t-shirts, and put their shoes in the waterproof bag. We set off on the speedboat. First, they asked us who wanted the DVD of the trip - we said yes, so the guy took some shots of us all. Then, the boat went off to the left of Isla San Martin. Cool, we thought. We knew that the boats didn´t got into the Gargantua de Diablo, of course, but we thought we´d get a pretty good view of it! As we rounded the island, the waters became choppy, and there were pretty big heaves in the water - very exciting. We noticed lots of lovely waterfalls along the side of the island as well. And we appeared to be getting closer to one of the bigger looking ones. Then the boat when in practically underneath it!! Water PUMMELLED us!!! Couldn´t get a breath, there was so much water pumping on top of us! Then the boat came out the other side. We were all laughing hysterically!! It sped around the island, and brought us up to the biggest of the other falls. Again, we looked at the pounding water, and mist spraying everywhere, and the boat suddenly plunged into what looked like a washing machine, there was so much turmoil!! Unbelievable! We were just screaming in excitment, and we couldn´t stop laughing. Then he pulled out again, and sped back under the water a second time! We were just pounded with water!! We couldn´t stop laughing, and we were all completely dripping wet! But happy!!

We headed up to the all-you-can-eat again, and sat in wet clothes for a while! There´s a different part of the trail, which goes into the jungle, and it´s a bit dodgy, because of pumas and cougars around there, but it ends in a waterfall that you can swim in the bottom of, so we decided to hike it. It took about an hour of trekking to get there, but it was exciting! Didn´t see a big cat, but saw plenty of tapirs and possums and all sorts - and even some monkeys!!! Brilliant!

Got to the end of it, and trekked down through the trees to the bottom of a 70 foot waterfall. The pool wasn´t great looking, and the day was colder, so the lads decided that they didn´t really want to swim. But I wasn´t letting the opportunity pass me by! I got into my bikini (left my crocs on - could be rocks), and tested the water depth with a stick, then jumped in. Pretty cold! Then I climbed up the rocks under the waterfalls, and stood under it. Like being pelted with stones! But in a good way......!! Most refreshing thing I´ve ever done! Then the lads decided that, actually, they WOULD rather like it! So we swam, miles from anyone, with no disturbance from people - except for a few other hikers, who laughed at as, but didn´t get in. Brilliant! Then we hiked back and returned to the hostel!

The DVD is being dropped in soon, so I´m gonna head back to collect that, and we can watch it on Welly´s laptop! I´d say we all look pretty ´uncool´in it - screaming and laughing as we probably were!! But it´ll be brilliant to see it!

Heading over to Foz Iguazu tomorrow, on the Brazilian side, and do our immigration stuff, then getting the 18 hour bus to Florinopolis overnight, then getting out of the city to Isla de Santa Catarina on the coast, where we´ve a hostel booked for the first three nights, after which we´re finding a hut on the beach to spend a few weeks soaking up the sun.

Bring on Brazil!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Arrive en Cordoba!!

Well, here we are in Cordoba. Nice.

Arrived last night after a 6 hour bus journey - not as comfortable as the other ones - to our hostel in a dark and dodgy part of town. To be told that, unfortunately, due to a Women´s Convention being held in the town, it being the Argentine bank holiday (Columbus Day), and Oktoberfest happening in the vicinity, not only was there no room in THIS hostel, but no room in CORDOBA!! Talk about feeling Mary and Joseph´s pain........(is that blasphemous??)

So, we felt slightly panicked at the thought of either a night on the streets (which, in this part of town, looked none too appealing), or heading back to the bus station to wait it out till morning and try change our tickets to Iguazu for Sunday rather than Monday. But, luckily, the hippie spirit lives on in Argentina more than anywhere else in the world! Viktor, our wonderful hostel owner, told us we could sleep on the roof! Yes, the roof.

So, we dragged ourselves inside with backpacks on backs, then proceeded to follow him up a very rickity step-ladder (let me remind you that my bag is very bloody heavy!!) onto the flat room four floors up. There, we discovered some French fellow travellers who had also found no room at the preverbial inn. We stood around for a while, wondering how much colder the night would get and if it would rain, when Viktor arrived back up to the roof with a tent! Albeit a small, old and fairly un-waterproof tent - but a tent nonetheless! So, we ´pitched´it - as close as you could get to ´pitching´on a flat concrete roof! It was a three man tent, but they must have been midgets who designed it....

Next thing, Viktor arrives back up with a load of sleeping bags - but we said we already had some, so it was cool. Then Viktor and the Frenchies set up a barbeque on corner of the roof - basically a pile of coals with an old bed-springs thingy over it. Some wine and beer was brought up, and for 15 pesos we were given all the cherizo we could eat, with bread and salads galore, and all the wine we could drink (which, in Bones and McMunn´s case, turned out to be a lot!). We met some great lads from France, a few Cordobians, and even some Canadians - what a party! Great fun. Then came the sleeping....myself and Alan hit the sack (roof?) at about 1, but Bones and McMunn tripped the light fandango at some Cordobian nightclubs with the Frenchies. We were comfortably enough ensconsed - apart from the cold, stoney, uneven ground beneath us - when McMunn returned, full of vino, and talking Spanish to us.....wooo. McMunn decided to sleep outside with his sleeping bag wrapped around his head. Nice. Bones arrived back a couple of hours later, and squashed himself in beside us, draping his hands ever so gently around Alan. And so we slept, cozy as......well....COZY! This morning, Viktor woke us with news of tea, coffee and bread downstairs for us!! What a gent!!

When we got down, the heaters were on, cozy little set up, and we chatted over breakfast, learning even more ´everyday´Spanish for our troubles! Then Viktor showed us a matress and bed in the utility room, where myself and Alan will spend tonight, so the two lads will be more comfortable in the tent......McMunn might even sleep INSIDE tonight!! And still he won´t take a penny from us for the sleeping arrangements......!

Nothing but respect and admiration for the people of Argentina! We´ve met with nothing but hospitality and friendship in this country.....and even had the adventure of sleeping on a roof for the night.

We´re calling it ´urban camping´. We think it´ll catch on........

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Still in Rosario...

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men, eh?! We're still in Rosario, in this shitty hostel. Yeah, it's good fun, and it's all very relaxed, blah blah blah, but that still doesn't remove the fact that I have to walk down stairs, through the main hallway, through a sitting room that - no matter what time of night or day - is full of drinking/whatever people, through the kitchen, and into a room with no locks on ANY doors (even the ENTRANCE door) to use the toilet. Also, the showers are in there, with a little plastic sheet all that's saving you from the outside world. Nope, not my cuppa! So, as a result of this situation, I have only had one shower - yesterday - and will wait until tomorrow, when we get to a hopefully better hostel in Cordoba, before I have another one!!

We were meant to leave for Cordoba today, but procrastination meant that all the hostels were booked up, so we had to haul ass to the bus station today and exhange our tickets for tomorrow, then come back and convince Baldy (the guy who runs this place) to let us stay another night. Thankfully, he has been won over by our Irish charm and ability to drink, so he's happy to do it. Of course, I include myself in that little ditty, but I'm a bit of a get-to-be-early girl, so I have actually only spent one night in their company. Most of them are alright....he seems to have all his friends here EVERY night...but there's a couple of lads that give me the willies. But, I don't like heading back to the room alone, because it's ages away from everywhere else in the hostel (it's the only upstairs room), and the door has no locks. The room can be accessed from two roof terraces - one of which can be accessed from the back garden. So, basically, the lack of security and locks on doors is what's making me crazy here. I can live with the fleas in the bed, and the unclean sheets, and even the lack of showering (who knew I could cope with such deprivation?), but feeling like I can't go to sleep alone in the room is a definite shaker!!

Anyway, Oktoberfest - the big beer festival in Germany - has it's twin in a town just below Cordoba, so we'll have some fun there before heading out to Iguazu on Monday. We met an Irish couple - Rob and Fiona - here the last few nights, and they went to Cordoba today, so we'll see them there tomorrow night for a few bevvies. Also, an Aussie guy travelling alone has tagged along with them, and has made himself our 'brother', so we're meeting him too. He's a cool guy - Chris (we call him Chris Meth), but a little bit hyper-hippie. Good laugh, though!

McMunn and Bones are really flying the flag downstairs! The lads love them - McMunn thinks he's fluent in Spanish when he gets drunk, so they think he's a legend! Him and Bones are exchanging words with them, and learning all the 'street' lingo en espanol! Also, McMunn swapped a tshirt....all in the name of international relations!!

Cordoba next. Glad to leave Cool Raul hostel in Rosario - hope the next place has locks on the door (we can dream, eh?!?).....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Apologies from Sud de la MONDE

Just noticed how bad my spelling is in the previous post!

Looks like my ´superfast´typing is working against me in a hostel that has keys that stick and weird vartiations on my at-home keys! Sorry about that!

The hostel we´re in now, Cool Raul, is alright. The lads are staying on for another couple of nights to sample a local nightclub - six floors, 4000 people. Me and Alan are being the sedate middle-aged couple, and heading out to Iguazu, where we´ll meet them. Do some hiking around the national park, lie by the pool at the hostel, and generally wait for the boys to join us. Might even go look at the waterfall (we hear there´s one close by)

The six bed situation is getting SLIGHTLY monotonous, too, so it might be quite nice to get dressed ABOVE the covers in the morning for a couple of days!!

P.S. Apologies for the bad spelling in this one too....I swear, I´m not losing grasp of my skills!!

P.P.S. Safe travels to Orlagh, who´s off on a dream holiday with her hubby to tour New England in the fall (while I sit in the summer on the other side of the same continent). Hope you have a great time, Orlagh!! A well deserved break.........Hope Helen doesn´t get too lonely in the now empty office (sob sob - bet my chair looks bleak these days!!)

Until next time, Adios amigos! (i amigas)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hola Chicas - Rosario Boya!

Well, I´ve landed safely in the beautiful (actually don´t know if it´s beautiful yet...) town of Rosario. We had a bit of a rush to get the bus this morning in Buenos Aires. Saw the dodgy part of Buenos Aires down by the bus station (just chatting to some Irish people here in the hostel in Rosario, and they got robbed there before they left, so we had a lucky get-outta-there methinks). But the bus journey - despite the bus being an hour late - was surprisingly luxurious, and they even gave us a little packed lunch. Boya, indeed!

After the four-hour journey, we´re settled here in our stinky little hostel, with no locks on the doors, but everyone is really ´relaxed´, so apparatly this is supposed to be OK (I´ll be the judge of that, eh?)

Finding it hard to adjust to the VERY relaxed and easy-going (read ´slow-paced) pace of life in South America. Sometimes I´d give anything for a bit of get-out-of-my-way attitude. But I´m sure I´ll stop caring so much about time fairly soon - what with the concept of ´time´being fairly arbitray over here!

Anyway, we´re all together in another six-bed dorm, but this one is WAY more squashed, and I can feel the mossies descending already. So things could get sticky later......

Signing off, South America style - hasta luego, chicas!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hola from Buenos Aires

Well, here I am in Buenos Aires. It's a gorgeous city, and the most European city we'll come across apparantly. We're heading out to Rosario next week, where Che Guevara was born. I guess things'll get a little more South American and less European the further we get from big cities. Which is a good thing - we didn't come here to be like home!

Our flight over was interesting...from Frankfurt myself and Alan were stuck in two seats with a baby either side of us. Fortunately, for the 12 hour journey, they were very good. Unfortunately, because they stuck little cot things onto the wall, we couldn't get out of our seats. So I went 10 hours without a wee! Not pleasant....

The other two low points were that the movie was 'Evan Almighty', which was almighty crap!! And also, there was an unscheduled stop at Sao Paulo airport on the way! Eeek! The shortest runway in the world, in what was the biggest plane any of us have ever been in! But it went Ok, and during the 1-hour stop over we moved up to business class and played around in their multi-functional chairs - experimenting with the lying down experience! Unfortunately, the flight was full, so we got kicked out when the rest of the passengers arrived!

The immigration procedure consisted of some guy commenting that I looked better now than in my passport photo, and he then stamped my passport for a 90 day stay. Happy days!! We found the bus service into town pretty easily, so it was good enough. The hostel is a fun place, and it's run by people who arrived here on in July on holidays, and the man who runs it asked them to stay on and run it for him. It's all very informal! We headed out to a famous cemetary this morning, where Eva Peron is buried, which was amazing looking. Huge streets of mausoleums (is that how you spell it?), with the most amazing statues and decorations. If you looked in the window of the 'houses', you could see coffins stacked one on top of the other, or else down in 'cellars', reached by winding stairs. Very weird! Yet strangely respectful....

Anyway, this is the trip so far. We're heading out to the country shortly to make our way up to Iguazu falls, and then back down the coast to Tierra del Fuego, so that should be exciting. I'm depressed by the level of my Spanish (bad), but I'm gonna work hard. My aim is to have excellent Spanish by the end of this eight months!

It's a goal! You've got to have a goal in life....