Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Monday 31st January 2011

Crucially I forgot to pack the lead that allows me to download photos from my Sony camera to a computer. As result, I trawled BAīs immense pedestianised shopping street, Florida, trying out my nascent Spanish, until I managed to buy a USB stick into which I can shove my memory card. As a result, photos are now up, here. In order to make sure I keep all my photos in the event of a mugging/dropping/smashing or forgetting, I'm uploading everything for the moment. Sorry.

130 - posted at 22:43:41
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What San Telmo lacks in pleasantly on-trend eateries and shops, it makes up for in dog shit (and, according to a girl I just spoke to, street based armed robbery of tourists). The narrow pavements are full of steaming piles of lovingly curated turd pyramids, just begging for an unwitting flip-flop sole to crush them and disburse smeary fragments throughout the neighbourhood. But, of course thatīs a little unfair. To date, Iīve neither trodden in poo, nor been mugged - but have been advised by a number of people to avoid certain streets after 10pm (I enjoyed Kateīs description of passing through a neighbouring barrio, La Boca: "we thought we'd ended up in the Wire"). As well as petty thugs, San Telmo is full of narrow streets bursting with ancient and beautiful crumbling blocks cut through with elegant Parisian style avenues, both housing a weird and fascinating variety of shops, restaurants and apartment blocks.

One such block houses the Art Factory hostel, where we currently reside. I haven't stayed in a hostel since interrailing in 1999, and even then I felt a little beyond that kind of thing. I think I stayed in my last dormitory in Kuala Lumpur in 1997. Coming back into the hostel world for the first time in 11ish years was a pretty easy undertaking. There are differences - now everyone sits around tapping away at their laptops (how do they fit them in their rucksacks?) but the place is still generally populated by newly bearded europeans and excitable gap year students (me: "do you know what the worst thing about youth hostels is? The youth" George: "yep, those who havenīt had their spirit broken yet".) But, it's a good place to be, and I enjoy staying here. That said, there was a little dreadlocked white guy, in long shorts, juggling on the roof terrace earlier. Is that such a terrible thing? It has a similar effect on me as does Glastonbury. There a city lawyer can grow a bit of a beard, forget about work and pretend to take an interest in sustainable dry stone-walling. Here it is the same, and that is, from my current perspective (and considering what I am taking a holiday from) a good thing.

129 - posted at 22:20:36
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Sunday 30th January 2011

Everyone loves Palermo. Its quiet cobbled streets, the pavements marked every few yards by large leafy trees that bend over the road (I should know the species, but no), are packed with gently trendy restaurants, bars, shops. When George and I risked dissolving into puddles of salty water as we ventured out into other nearby barrios in the baking heat, it was always a pleasure returning. For me, the art, sanctioned or otherwise, that creeps up the walls of the buildings is a particular attraction. I found a couple of amazing shops with the same kind of feel, being, as they are, exercises in pointless graphic design. I resisted the impulse to buy useless books of pictures and random bric-a-brac at a particularly good one (the unfortunately named "Trippinī") and limited myself to a sketchbook, with a whimsical cartoon monster on the cover.

I wish I could say the George exercised similar retail restraint in Buenos Aires. But I canīt. What should have been a 30 minute walk along the shopping street Santa Fe, turned into a 2 hour expedition, and we bounced in and out of malls and shops. This was supposedly in the name of finding me some flip-flops and a hat, but the number of dresses tried on (not by me) led me to suspect otherwise. However, it was good to have an air-conditioned break every now again again. It really is unbelievably hot.

The trip down Santa Fe was part of a longer walk to BAīs VIP corpse-city, the walled Recoleta Cemetary. Itīs not exactly "labyrinthine" (as the guidebooks would have you believe) but its crammed full of tombs, each one in a different style, all laid along streets and around plazas, and I loved it (although, philistine that I am, the only name I recognised in there was Eva Peronīs).

128 - posted at 14:36:27
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Friday 28th January 2011

The plane was delayed for 4 hours. We sat on it for 16 - 1 of which was spent on the runway at Sao Paulo. Luckily, sleep, "The Other Guys" and "Tamara Drewe" made it more or less bearable. That, and the fact that it was taking me on a 14 week holiday.

As I stepped out of the plane, on the the steps to the runway, I watched the ground advance with excitement. As my foot hit South America for the first time, a bolt of euphoria reverberated through my soul - the beat of the tango, the bloodied legacy of the conquistodors, the freedom of the gauchos, with the warm Patagonian wind on their face - like a space out of time and body, the whole of Argentina, of South America, was there thudding through my veins. No, of course it bloody wasnīt. It just felt like stepping onto hot concerete. But Iīm meant to say somethng like that, arenīt I? On my travels? Itīs just been so long.

Off the hot concrete, a long wait in immigration, ink staining my new passport for the first time. Cash out of the machine, and a pleasant taxi ride to our hotel in Buenos Aires, a nice little boutiquey thingy on Palmero Hollywood, recommended by Matt.

Iīm being rushed out to supper now by George (itīs a couple of days later), but quickly Iīd just like to share with you the obsession sheīs developed over the last 48 hours (sweatily wandering through BAīs sweltering streets) about the beauty of certain Argentinian women. Itīs reached such a level, that I have felt obliged to try and understand what itīs about. So, I have studied their long, olive brown legs, clad only slightly in denin shorts, their tumbling black hair and their plunging necklines, and Iīm at a loss. I canīt see it at all, and shall have to try harder. Right, steak.

127 - posted at 17:09:21
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