Archive | December, 2009

When Couchsurfing does not seem like the best idea in the world

28 Dec

I think I am going to have to find another home! The Dutch guy has gone too far now. I just arrived back at the house after a date to find Ulysses alone here at the house. I had bought a carton of apple juice which I had just opened. I plonked it down on the table and the next thing I heard was “is it okay if I finish off the apple juice, there’s only a little left anyway?” The bastard drank the whole thing. Then he talked a load of shit for about half an hour which I really can’t remember, something about maps. Then he asked me about the date and realised he’d met the girl at the xmas eve and was quite happy to tell me that the girl was not even good-looking and so maybe it was just nice for me to go on a date with anyone. I thought she was one of the better looking girls there. Then he popped into the kitchen and walked out with all the food I’d bought and cooked last night on his plate and started piling it into his face, without even thinking of asking me if it’s okay to finish this one off. All this after just 2 hours sleep and I really think this is going to have to motor me onto another couch. Plus, he left the water pump on and now there is water pouring through the ceiling. Although I think this is more of a structural problem and don’t want to blame him too much for this one!

Post-Christmas Blur in Buenos Aires

27 Dec

So it’s the day after Boxing Day and I’m already starting to fall to pieces. Buenos Aires during Christmas is not a place to get any relaxation. After a month of living the quiet life, getting regular siestas, playing guitar for most of the day, all the food I could possibly eat and going to bed at 2am, which is quite a normal time to go to sleep here, I feel I can’t keep up with the pace.

After a 26 hour bus journey followed by 14 hours of drinking, half an hour’s sleep, more drinking, a few more hour’s sleep, then getting quite drunk yesterday in the daytime only for everyone to decide to go out at 3am (just when I was getting ready to bed) and now after waking up covered in sweat after a few more hours sleep (it’s so hot!) I’m really not sure how much longer I can go on.

Plus, I’m currently sharing a room with some crazy Dutch guy who seems to think that he can really get me to enjoy Dutch techno music by playing it consistently in my earholes, when I’m just trying to have a nice naptime. Being made to listen to music completely involuntarily will only result in offence, why does he not realise this?

Now, I’m just waiting for him to take a shower or something so I can sneak out without him trying to come too!

Las Baludas de Catamarca

16 Dec

Today I’m in Catamarca, a city, with people and everything, walking around, doing stuff, bit of shopping, buying some bananas, that kind of thing. It couldn’t be more different to Fiambala. This week has been my most eventful for a while. On Saturday I agreed to go for a run with some lad who works at one of the bodegas and we ended up running all the way to the thermal baths, about 11km in total. Which normally wouldn’t be too crazy but this was over the desert with 30 degree heat piping down. At one point I thought I saw the thermals and made a sprint for it, flying across the sand and rocks. It was a mirage though, the thermals were still a good couple of kilometres away and this almost finished me off. Eventually we reached a road and then a couple of fellas from Catamarca drove past in some tiny wagon that looked like it had been designed to navigate down potholes. We wasted no time in sticking up our thumbs and jumping in the back.

running to the mountains

There’s seemingly nothing better than ducking under volcano-warmed thermal waters after a long run though and soon i was doing my best Stretch Armstrong impressions as I tried to pull myself out of the pool.

Next day I was pretty crudo but Santi, the guy I went running with the day before, was going off to do some sandboarding with a couple of lasses, also from Catamarca, so I decided to join them. We met at around 9am and went off to the dunes, around 50km away. As soon as the first smallest dune appeared we jumped out to have a bit of a practice. It was a beautiful day, perfect blue sky, sun blazing down and total tranquility on the dunes. We practiced for about half an hour and then went back to the car before heading off to the bigger dunes, or so I thought we were doing. The two girls at this point got quite hungry and then sleepy and then suddenly very weary of the sun. They were done for the day. Me and Santi were quite against this idea, why come all the way here for a little practice on the sand, but anyway, it was their car and their decision ultimately so we headed back. I can’t help but think they were the ones that really lost out though. They came all the way from Catamarca, a four hour drive after waking up at 5am in the morning. Drove for another hour to the dunes and then had to go all the way back. A long way for a couple of slides down about 10 metres of sand.

contemplating the next move

No bother, it was still a good day, just a bit of a pity to not get some proper sandboarding action. That night I went to the thermals again, this time with Audrey, Omar and Sarah, where we had a barbecue and I spent far too long sitting under tiny thermal waterfalls.

Now we’re in Catamarca as we have to pick up Audrey’s mum, arriving for Christmas. Will be back in Fiambala later for my last week or so of work.

Catamarca – the land of dust

8 Dec

Okay, so I think this blog here is well overdue an update. After the rigours of travelling around the south of Argentina it seemed my body was needing to rest. I have since become the king of siestas. Napping in chairs, on benches, lying down, standing up, during conversations, upside down, basically whenever I get the chance. This could also be due to the weather though, it’s been blisteringly hot here around 30-35 degrees most of the time and I’ve been working in a kitchen so probably even hotter there.

My pizza-making skills are coming on good, milanesas sheer perfection and my banter with the locals a little bit confusing but this can only get better. Unfortunately the pasta machine is broken so that skill will have to wait.

Life is good here though and very tranquil. Fiambalá is a village of maybe 5000 people, there are five restaurants, one internet kiosk and not a chance of buying coconut milk. It was worth trying though. Each day consists of waking up, having some porridge, cooking milanesas and pizzas for a few hours, having a nap, being woken up by a small child, being taught how to play guitar by this small child (she has a very specific style of playing), going for a walk with Nani (known by the locals as ‘the dog that follows’), then pottering around for a bit, maybe playing some guitar or something, until some clients arrive at about 9 or 10 to have some dinner (people eat their main meal between 9pm and 1am in Argentina). The majority will have left by 2am at which point I drink all the wine and beer left over in the bottles and that’s normally enough to see me off to pillow paradise and one big nap.

Argentina: North to South, from frostbite to sunburn

1 Dec

I spent far too long in the South of Argentina, especially in Ushuaia, Torres Del Paine and El Chalten. This all meant that instead of a nice leasurely stroll up Ruta 40 and the cordillera I would have to tank it. Over the course of four days I believe I spent around 57 hours in total on buses. Now I’ve arrived in Fiambala where I am resting for a day before starting work in the restaurant tomorrow. The weather has changed inexplicably. From piling layer upon layer on my cold bones I have just come back from a half an hour stroll around town red as a baboon’s butt and covered in sweat. Not that I’m complaining. It just came as a bit of a surprise.