World Trip, Part 13 - Argentina

Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
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Trip End May 02, 2009


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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, February 22, 2009

Well, it was a quick visit to Salto, and after probably the best night's sleep ever (thank you hot springs!), I boarded the border-crossing bus, went over the hydro-electric dam, and made it to my next destination.

Welcome to Argentina!

The Place:

Honestly, I had no real plans after Uruguay. I had such an awesome time in Buenos Aires seven years ago, I didn't really want to go back there and overlap those great memories. Besides, in Uruguay, I heard mixed reports about Buenos Aires. I met lots of people who didn't like it at all. It seems things may have changed. So, then, from the border town of Concordia, I decided to take a long, long bus ride to Rosario.

Rosario is fantastic. It sits on one of the two rivers that flows to the delta which bridges Argentina and Uruguay. On on side of the river is the fantastic modern city, and on the other is a nature reserve with a phenomenal beach. In my three days there, I toured the city, including the excellent Monumento de la Bandera and Che's birthplace, and had more nites like in Perth. The people in Rosario sure like to have a good time. On the Saturday, I took the boat launch from the downtown across the river to this seemingly adult-only beach for the day to gawk at all the beautiful bodies....oh, I mean "swim". I had a great time in Rosario, and again felt like I had to pry myself from this place, but not a single person I met there liked the city, citing how corrupt they thought the place and the government were. Sad, indeed. Goes to prove that visiting a place and actually living there can be two different things.

Next, and another long bus ride later, I found myself in the historic university town of Cordoba. Great city, great architecture, great people, great food. Wow! The reputation of this city is accurate. The city was a swarm of activity as university session was just starting back up after their summer vacation. I toured the city by myself, but met two fantastic Israeli travelers. It is hard to find others with such a warped and sarcastic sense of humor....especially from Israel. I don't think I laughed as much or as hard as I did in those two days in Cordoba.

Well, it was decision time again with my remaining time in SA, so I decided to go north. It was another long, long bus ride to Tucuman, where I arrived late at nite. Tucuman has a reputation as being simply stunning at nite, and with bags in hand I went and toured the city at night to see all the buildings aglow. Awesome! The next day, I toured the city by day, including sneaking into the Legislature, and visiting the former sugar cane plantation and the old proprietor's house - something more likely to be found in the Caribbean (sugar cane in Argentina? Who knew!?).

As with Cordoba, II could have stayed longer in Tucuman and surrounding area, but, silly me, I did not check distances in Argentina online (insert a Homer Simpson "Doh" here and there). And, of course, you ask Argentineans how long a bus ride is and they tell you it's three hours, when it's really like nine! So time was running out.

My next stop was Salta. No, not Salto, but Salta. I had been overhearing people speak of this place and how awesome it is, so there I was, and it is definitely one of Argentina's best spots. I needed a proper place to rest for a bit, and Salta was it. I spent my four days there touring the fantastic old city, taking the cable car up to the top of the mountain, relaxing by the pool, partying like a rockstar, and meeting some great people.

The Food:

From big, round fresh doughnuts stuffed with dulce de leche (um, yum!), to egg salad sandwiches combined with tomato slices and chunks of chicken on crustless white bread, to milanesas (a sandwich with thin meat, egg, ham and fixings), to great meat of any kind, it was pretty delicious.

Argentina also has Frenet - a little like nasty Jagermeister, the official drink of Argentina that will knock you under the table - mixed with Coke, and some of world's worst beer - Quilmes.

The People:

Argentineans are conservative in nature, but nice. Not overwhelmingly friendly, but still friendly.

Going from Uruguay to Argentina was a little like trading in my super-sized Big Mac meal for a children's Happy Meal. I had to downsize, and I am not sure I quite got used to it. Argentineans are a funny bunch, and difficult to analyze.

Argentineans do have a snobbish reputation - something you do see in a lot of indivduals - and these people should work hard to rid themselves of this reputation. I found Argentians to be very flakey, non committal and unorganized as well, often leading to impatience and frustration, even tho they often times did try to be helpful. Furthermore, I found that Argentineans often treat foreigners (with money) better than their fellow Argentineans - something I don't particularly like.

The only horrible Argentineans are those that put your backs in the baggage area of the buses. These nervy, impolite individuals demand a tip for lifting your bag four feet and throwing it into the hold. If you don't give them a token something, they actually scream after you and insult you in front of god and country. Yes, I got screamed at until I learned that tipping was not only customary, but expected.
 
I am giving two turd awards this time: First one goes to Julio, from Jujuy, and the second to Andres, who is from BA, but actually lives in Dallas. I am making the big "L" (for "Loser") sign on my forehead for you two!

All that said, I met some awesome foreigners and backpackers in Argentina, which helped properly balance out my people experience there.

Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Argentineans:

* Same advice as to the Taiwanese: Smile more, and stare less (I know I am gorgeous, but...)
* I did get tired off all your police checkpoints and police stops. What are you....a police state?
* And, what's with the police arriving in vans at bar closing time, clearing out the bars, and escorting you off the streets?
* Recommended course for Argentineans: Democracy 101.
* Sorry, Texas beef is still better!
* More people here at the front of the line when the "pretty people" gene was being handed out.
* You have the same ATM machine problems as Uruguay! Gimme my money!

Photos: On blog.

Next Stop: Reportedly the best and cheapest in South America. We shall see. (Oops, I am already gone!)
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