At the airport, my backpack had drawn some attention as it has grown a little over the past few weeks. Apparently whilst I was booking a taxi, a number of people were walking past and pointing and laughing... Let's just say that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doesn't take to kindly to hearing this. So if those people happen to read this, consider yourself lucky that he didn't chase after you and sit on you with all 25kg of his backpack! Weary eyed, irritated and embarrassed about the size of my backpack, we arrived at our accommodation (The Rayeula Hostel). The girl had just finished giving us our tour and closed the door to give us some privacy, when Jaclyn's irritability begun to kick in again..
. I was midway through collapsing in a heap on the bed and setting myself up for a good few hours sleep, when Jaclyn said to me mid fall "I can't stay here Tom"... What did she mean she couldn't stay here? Did she realize that I had just breathed a sigh of relief to have seen some sleep in sight? Did she know that I was making myself comfortable at that very moment? How did she think that I would even get off that bed after not having slept for 24hours? Where else were we to find some sleep? But sure enough, being the boss, she won and we set out to find some more accommodation for the nights to come. It was actually lucky she had this missyfit (kind of like a hissyfit, but its brought on by being a princess) as we found the Ostinatto hostel, which had much nicer rooms, more bathrooms (which were also cleaner), more accommodating staff and recommendations for a whole lot of things to do. Unfortunately we still had to spend one night at Rayeula, so we went back and slept for the next 18 hours!
The next morning we moved into our new, much nicer hostel! Feeling a lot better about the world (Buenos Aires in particular) we decided to try our luck on the public bus system and venture out to the cemetery. Initially it was a disaster, as the bus only takes coins and we had notes. Luckily for us two nice Argentinean men exchanged some of their coins for our notes. We later learned that we were very lucky to have had this happen, as there is a real coin shortage in Buenos Aires and they're like gold when you manage to come across them
. I think that having the beautiful, blonde Jaclyn there may have assisted us with the the predicament that we faced, as it has so often helped before! The cemetery was amazing. It seems like an odd choice of words for a cemetery I know... But the tomb stones were all the size of small buildings. Some (generally the ex-presidents) were as high as 2-3 stories tall. It was sad to see that some of them were a little run down, however, I think that's what happens when you stop paying rent :) After a little wander, we managed to navigate our way back to the hostel and then found the best steak in Buenos Aires at El Desnivels restaurant. For a little under $20 I was able to get a fillet of steak with garlic sauce that was cooked to perfection! To make things even better, we signed up for a BBQ at the hostel that night which also included a whole lot of steak, black sausage and chops (It even had some salad and some other boring food for Jaclyn) which were all cooked Argentinean style. This is generally on an open BBQ with a liter of beer ($3.50) in hand and it begun at 10.30pm at night. We were amazed at how late they ate dinner, however, it made sense when we later learned that no one hits the clubs (disco-tech) until 1.30am and the night ALWAYS lasts until 5.30 - 6 O'clock in the morning. So of course, since that night was a Hip-hop night, Blacklyn and B-boy Moore-Z decided it would be disrespectful of us not to have a night out and experience the culture. The club was nothing like what I have seen in Melbourne
! We arrived to see a big crowd of people gathered around in a circle in the middle of the dance floor, a scene which resembled a number of dance movies: You got served and Step Up just to name a couple (please don't ask me how I know that). Initially I was happy to watch the other B-boys and B-girls do their 'thang' and spin around on their backs and heads in the middle, however, before I knew it B-Boy Moore-Z (or should I say Beer-Boy Moore-Z) took over and I found myself in the middle of the circle trying to take it up to the Argentineans. I don't feel I represented Australia too well that night, but I had a lot of fun!
After keeping with tradition and the culture, we arrived home at 5.30am and woke up at 11am that morning. I guess you could say we felt like mierda! I'm sure you can figure out what that Spanish word means! As it was hot (35+) and we weren't to well, we chose to spend the day just exploring the center of town, especially in search of places with air conditioners (a luxury which isn't too common in Buenos Aires).
The next day was spent looking around the potentially dangerous, but beautiful La Bocca and we visited Caminito and the La Bocca Juniors Stadium. La Caminito was a beautiful walk way of multi-coloured houses and buildings. The story told is that they were built out of the left over metal from the ships that the Italian immigrants arrived on when coming from Italy over to Argentina
. They didn't care about the colour of their houses. They were simply happy to have a roof as things were pretty tough for them when they arrived (unlike the riches and the land of hope that were promised to them from back home before they departed). The La Bocca stadium was also an interesting tour. It was unfortunate that we were not able to catch a match whilst we were in BA as you could just feel the sense of pride and passion that the locals had towards their beloved La Bocca Juniors team. Every store was covered in their team colours and the stadium museum was full of memorabilia from the previous wins and successes. We did have one slightly sketchy moment whilst we were trying to catch a bus back home. As we headed down a street to catch a bus, two local men ran up to us and started yelling at us in Spanish. Fortunately, one of them could speak 4 words of English as well. These were... "Don't go down there". So we managed to catch our bus unscathed once again, however, I do wonder what would of happened to us should these guys have not looked out for us. It was just proof that it's just the minority of people out here who are out to harm tourists. It was a real nice feeling to know that the general population was looking out for us!
The next day was Sunday (Market day) and we chose to spend the day wandering the streets of the local market. It was huge! There were plenty of handicrafts and it was nice to have a beer on the sidewalk and take in the hustle and bustle of it all. I was tricked into purchasing a magic kit from one of the stalls, as all of the instructions were written in Spanish. I also feel that the equipment he was using to sell his product may have been a bit better in quality than that which he sold me, as most of it fell apart whilst I was trying to figure it out using Google Translate!
We began our final day in Buenos Aires with a free history walk around the city
. This was organised by the hostel and was well worth it! We were both amazed at the political turmoil that the Argentineans have been faced with over the past 100 years. We also learned a little more about the economic collapse in 2001 and the past two years of inflation (about 30% per year). It's amazing to think that the local people are still able to live under these conditions. That evening we went to La Bomba. This was an amazing live percussion performance that occurs twice a week. With more liters of cheap beer and an electric atmosphere it was the perfect setting in which to shake you booty to authentic Argentinean music!
Overall, other than the heatwave that we were faced with whilst we were here, we found Buenos Aires to be an amazing city. Before arriving we were told that it was the New York of South America and we felt that it lived up to all expectations. It had a real unpolished look about it and that as a city it struggled to reach its potential in terms of it's beauty, however, there was something about the city that just made you fall in love with it! Definitely a place to visit if you get the chance!
We arrived in Buenos Aires at 9am in the morning. Upon exiting the plane Jaclyn started to have hot flushes, and it was with this, coupled with her rapid onset of irritability that I had started to think she may have been suffering from an early onset of menopause. Luckily, we later found out that this was due to the heat (38 degrees) and the lack of sleep that she had had the previous night.