My swelling has gone down. Rejoice!

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Once again I gorged on all the breakfast choices at Estoril. Whenever I think of the taste of fresh orange juice, I dually think of Estoril. A testament to how good the product was!

Before meeting up with Patrick and Lee, I removed the strapping to apply a cream. It was evident how much the strapping was helping me. When unsupported the pain was very bad.

Pat was still concerned about my well being. I had to reassure him that I could walk. Again I was thankful for another person's actions. I wondered where had these people been in my life? In addition to present company, Heidi, Henna, Harry, Mike, Martin, Tano, Ben and others had 'gone the extra mile’ for me. It was so amazing and yet so unusual. Being from England, I have a few friends who would do these things naturally. Here, strangers acted so impulse and it felt natural. Even work colleagues, college and university friends did not act like this. I questioned why the inhabitants of the British Isles were so unresponsive?

Together with Freddrick, Lee and Pat, we headed out onto Nueve de Julio and went west. Arriving to the Nueve de Julio Metro station to take a Subte ‘Linea D’ (Line D), train to Palermo, my thoughts went to safeguard my belongings. This was due to the bad stories I had heard generally. The ride was fine with the odd ‘salesman’ showcasing his merchandise of socks, lighters and various other things. I made sure not to accept any of the goods as I did not need them and of course, I could not speak if needed to. Another reason was making sure I was not labelled as a ‘gringo’, (foreigner) easily. Prices increase significantly on most occasions and are called the ‘gringo tax’. Whilst my friends could be spotted a ‘mile off’, I was still thought of as a Brazilian. To say I was happy with that is an understatement.

Once in Palermo, we snapped pictures at the beautiful Carlos Pellegrini monument and made our way to the La Recoleta Cemetery. I found myself in am embarrassing situation. A mere three weeks back I had visited the cemetery but now, I was clueless of where Evita Peron rested. My only contribution was that I knew it was left from the entrance and that advertisement billboards overlooked it from afar. At the entrance, the same lady (selling maps), that I spoke to on the previous occasion was there. She did not recognise me as she tried to sell a map to us.  The moral learnt? If you ‘play hard’, expect memory difficulties in daily activities.

La Recoleta Cemetery is 14 acres and contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, with a wide variety of architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic. Most materials were imported from Paris and Milan inbetween 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums.

Most of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained but others have fallen into disrepair. Several can be found with broken glass and littered with rubbish. Among many memorials are works by notable Argentine sculptors, Lola Mora and Luis Perlotti. The tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, due to its unusual design, attracts special interest.

In a contrast to the previous trip, the day’s sky was overcast and very dull. While this made an interesting but creepy viewing in looking at graves and tombs. Additionally, the quietness and lack of tourists made the impression bolder.

After a few hours had passed we left the cemetery and headed to an ice cream shop opposite. It was the same venue from last time but unfortunately no one wanted ice cream. In two minds, I decided not to as well and rued it later on. I bought a drink instead and it was refreshing in the hot temperatures.

Walking through the neighbourhood of Palermo, we decided on lunch. We searched for a while but headed to a fashionable restaurant. Maybe, an overstatement as the majority of restaurants looked very impressive. I had gathered it would be pricier than Siga la Vaca but was shocked to see more than double the price on small amounts of food. Still famished, still tired, it was here we were to dine.

The service, the decor and food can not be faulted. Chicken with vegetables in an apple sauce with raisins was divine. After its completion, I half joked I was not full. Remembering the previous night Pat and Lee laughed at my appetite. Finishing a bottle of wine between us, we made a move back home.

Back on the metro at Plaza Italia, we stood near the exit on the train. During the times on the metro, I felt curious eyes on us. Were those eyes thinking in awe or were they xenophobic? Somewhat cultural differences play a part but I could not answer that question.

Although my ankle had improved a lot, the discomfort returned from lunchtime. I attribute this to being on the move so much. Still I had things to do before I could call it a day and rest.

The nearest station to Estoril was Congresso. When we got out of the station, I noticed a bicycle shop opposite and decided to look for padlocks. (I was in need of a few padlocks. These were for my luggage, bag and hostel lockers. After buying the holdall bag yesterday, my thoughts turned to the said items. It was so much in my mind as the notion was evident in my sleep. A note to self: do not delay actions; aim to clear them as soon as possible).

The owner and his wife (I presume), were startled at our presence. It was only Pat and Lee with me at this time. Freddrick had left after lunch to explore Palermo more. The wife stared as I looked for padlocks. After being unable to locate them, Pat asked the owner for them. They were situated behind the counter, he replied. As he was working on a bicycle wheel, he never looked up once in his reply. (A lesson: never endure this behaviour especially in regards to business. Granted he had work to do but it was very rude. Unfortunately due to time constraints and pain, I had to accept it).

Struggling to stand, I lent my weight on a sturdy bicycle while raising my heel backwards. Seeing my ‘r shaped’ posture and discomfort, Pat made another great gesture. He asked which versions I needed and he would get them for me, as I needed to rest. Desperately in need to be still, I took him up on his offer. The large and two medium sized padlocks were selected as I handed him thirty Pesos.

With Lee, I made the short walk home. Given that barely one hundred meters were covered, I was in so much pain, I struggled. Also, unfortunately in my mind was Lee’s reluctance to answer any questions properly and provide help if needed. From the cemetery onwards he would answer questions in frustration, with the common phrase of "I don’t know." I wondered what had gotten into him? Could it be my extravagant stamina in dining yesterday, my slightly slower walking pace or something else?

A perfect contrast was in front of me: an American and a Canadian, both differing in friendliness. After being in both the company of each country, I can point out that Canadian’s take longer to ‘warm up’ and get to know. Of course they are exceptions to the observation and some of my close friends are proof of that. It is strange as both countries are so near geographically but so far apart in some personality traits. Do not get me wrong, as I do not say this with malaise but just as an observation.

Time is definitely a factor in getting to know someone but I do feel most Americans are more welcoming from the beginning. All in all, I enjoy both countries, both nationalities and both Michael J.Fox and Tom Cruise. (If any Canadian reading this is still besmirched, my favour wrestler is Bret Hart).

When the padlocks were presented by Pat, I was extremely grateful. A Swedish traveller put my problems into perspective. His father was not very well and he needed to return home as soon as he could. (It may have been a heart problem but out of respect, I did not ask more). 

He was a nice guy and was waiting in Buenos Aires for a book. It was something to do with an Iphone and possibly how ‘apps’ are written. As we had similar Sony phones, he lent me his charger as mine had been stolen. I had offered to buy it a few days ago but after accepting, he had to decline my offer. This was due to the need of keeping his phone fully charged as he needed to call home often. I respected his wishes, whilst hoping the best for his father.

Rested up sufficiently, I packed my holdall for the forthcoming trip to Uruguay. Here, I packed a selection of clothers for a week. My main bag was again deposited in the luggage room at Estoril. Another kind gesture I was thankful for.

For the remainder of the evening I went back to the rooftop and chatted to Pat and the others. It was a pleasure to have met him. Although I had not spent that much time with Dean, Kevin and Tom; they were also good people to be with. As it was relatively late and I had an early start the next morning, I bid farewell to all.
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