Tag Archives: Argentina

Argentina and Uruguay to host 2030 World Cup?

9 Oct

Very exciting news that Argentina and Uruguay have put forward tentative plans to host the 2030 World Cup. Their main hope with the bid is that the organisers won’t be able to resist the temptation of hosting the tournament on its centennial year at the place where it all began. That final of that first ever tournament in 1930 was contested between Uruguay and Argentina at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. There is no way Uruguay could hold a World Cup these days so it makes perfect sense to propose a joint bid with Argentina, whose Estadio Monumental (home of River Plate), Estadio Gigante (home of Rosario Central), Estadio Ciudad de la Plata, the potentially refurbished La Bombonera (the chocolate box, Boca Juniors home) and at least five other stadiums, off the top of my head, with a capacity of over 40,000, would instantly be ready for hosting a tournament.

After announcing the bid on 30th May Argentina and Uruguay have received the unanimous backing of their fellow CONMEBOL nations and then submitted the bid formally to FIFA when Sepp Blatter visited Colombia in September. He was presented with the bid document as well as a shirt made up from the two nations’ national team shirts with the phrase ‘history unites – sport too’ included in the presentation box. This is what it looked like:

The only problem I could see the bid as ever having trouble would be if the Brazil Would Cup in 2014 proved to be an absolute failure, souring the idea of having another World Cup in South America for some time. It is also in Argentina and Uruguay’s favour that the rule of one tournament in Europe followed by one worldwide will work in their favour. It looks likely that either England or Russia will host the 2018 World Cup. Following that, Australia, Japan and Qatar are all in the running for 2022 (with the amount of money that Qatar are pouring into the game it’s very easy to see them getting that one) which will be followed by another European tournament. Personally, I think that could be a nailed on Spain/Portugal World Cup 2026, though obviously there are a few politics in the way of that one.

It would be great for the Centenario to host another World Cup Final, especially since the Uruguayans are still talking about their Semi-Final appearance in South Africa; it would definitely bring a lot of joy to the nation.

Sounds and Colours – a magazine about South American music and culture

24 Jul

Sounds and Colours, as mentioned in a previous post, is a website I have been working on for the last couple of months. It seems like now is the time to get the word out on this thing! The site features interviews, mixtapes, news and reviews of all aspects of South American music and culture. At the moment the focus is Brazil, with a strong bias towards everything musical. In August we will be looking at Argentina.

The basic idea is to create a site about South America in a way that’s not been done for. The majority of sites that are about South American music in particular tend to categorise it as ‘world music’ or ‘latin american music’. These tags are just too broad to ever really embrace all the amazing styles of music from this region. The same also applies to culture with Brazil largely described as ‘carnival’ country, Argentina as the home of ‘tango’ and Peru as the place to visit ‘macchu picchu.’ There is just so much more going on and we are hoping to get the word out as much as possible! Keep on eye on this blog as well obviously as the Sounds and Colours site for the latest on this new project.

Sounds and Colours

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.

Chalk this one up (Couchsurfing gone wrong)

16 Nov

Well I guess it was bound to happen sometime. I fell out with a couchsurfer. In fact, he kicked me out! A little bit drastic if you ask me but he was a military man, a man of discipline, and he wasn’t taking no prisoners.

I think he had it in for me from the start, asking me if I knew what happened in 1982 and how he’d worked for the Navy at that time, and how since then he’s had something of a special relationship with the English. I don’t know if that’s ever the way you should start the conversation. He kept referring to me as just a kid and how it’s crazy that kids can just go on holiday for a year willy-nilly, without ever really asking me if I was just on vacations or how old I am or anything, so I wasn’t too surprised when he asked me to leave.

I had decided to climb to the top of the nearby glacier. A 5km walk to the top of the hill followed by a 1000km vertical ascent. In my canvas shoes with holes in the soles it wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made, especially since it had been snowing for the past 12 days. About halfway up I realised I had a plastic bag in my backpack and so could stop at least one of my feet from freezing to death, the other unfortunately was going to have to suffer. I didn’t make it to the top, probably about 100m off. The snow was getting too deep and I was started to slip more than ever so decided to call it quits before the summit. Nice walk though.

As soon as I stepped off the snow and onto land a Frenchman drove past and offered me a lift, straight to the door of my couchsurfer. Luis was sleeping so I quickly popped upstairs, grabbed my laptop and headed out again. I wanted to try and make a couple of phone calls to England before night-time across the atlantic seeped in a little too much. As it was, all the cafes in town have useless WiFi that I couldn’t use so spent around an hour or so jumping from one to another before I finally found a connection in a pub on the main road. It was too late to make any calls now but I had quite a lot of work. After a couple of hours of work, with a hamburger break in the middle I headed back to the house. It must have been about 1am before I got back to see Luis sitting in his armchair through the window. He wasn’t happy. He told me to go to sleep and we would discuss it in the morning. In the morning he woke me up by saying “can you please pack your bags and I will take you into the town center?” And that was it. If you ask me he should have just gone to bed instead of waiting up and getting angry, but hey I think maybe he wanted to make a point of something.

It has been a lot harder to find couchsurfers in Patagonia, and this has meant me asking some people I wouldn’t normally, Luis being one of them. I guess it’s just not possible to get on with everyone!

Another sleepless night (getting used to the siesta)

13 Nov

Whoever decided that 10.30pm was a good time to eat dinner? Going to sleep afterwards is like sleeping with half a lamb inside you, which it invariably is. By the time the meat sweats die down it’s already 2pm, which is probably why they have to have a siesta. Too much post-watershed gluttony leading to heightened restlessness between the sheets, meaning the odd eye willing itself to shut around lunchtime the next day is always going to be a possibility. They certainly can’t use the excuse of having a siesta because it’s too hot, because here in Patagonia if anything the afternoon is the coldest time. This is normally when 10 minutes of rain will be followed by 10 minutes of snow, then 10 minutes of sun before the clouds come across and all the different weather types decide ‘hey, we can’t compete with the wind, so let’s just give up!’

The days of sitting in front of Neighbours at 5.35pm with my jacket potato and beans seems a mile away. Even preparing dinner at 7.30 gets the odd furtive glance and question of whether I’m making a snack or actually making dinner. They don’t seem to realise that I need to eat before I go out. I can’t do the fancy Argentinean method of going out for one beer (maybe two if I’m feeling out of sorts) then be back at home for 10.30 to eat my supper. If I’m going to drink it needs to be 4 or 5 at a bare minimum, and I need something in my stomach beforehand to stop myself from going a bit gah-gah and upsetting all the local ladies.

For now, I’m piloting a new scheme, called bag of crisps, at 7pm each day, kind of a reminder of what used to be lunchtime but now is a laughable halfway-home between ‘hours before i last ate’ and ‘hours before I eat again’. Oh, and maybe a peppermint tea before bedtime, gotta be sensible when everything else is so fucking ridiculous!

Well thanks, but I'm okay actually (the joys of hitch-hiking)

10 Nov

There is a worrying trend emerging in Argentina.

After sticking my thumb in the air for about 5 seconds in Comodoro Rivadavia I had managed to catch a lift, and it was going exactly where I wanted, to Caleta Olivia. About 45 minutes followed in which the driver, an unbelievably camp man who seemed to get excited about every single word that left his mouth, asked me question after question of such ridiculousness that I didn’t realise I was being questioned. “Are there many fires in California?” was perhaps my favourite. For a few minutes I thought he was telling me they have a lot of fires in California, but no, he was asking me! I nodded, I guess so, not something I really know too much about. In between those questions lay a gluttony of enquiries about girlfriends, family and living arrangements. Eventually it was revealed that he had left home at 18 after he told his family he was gay, mainly just to avoid the aggravation.

It was at this point that he told me I was beautiful and had a great face. I thanked him and started talking about sea lions. He doesn’t care about sea lions, he wanted to invite me to his house. It was a bit out of the way so I declined. Silence prospered for a short while until he said: ‘This is Caleta’. At which point I asked him to stop the car and I got out. He invited me again and told me that if I had no luck hitching I could always give him a call. I told him I would bear that in mind.

But the worrying thing about all of this is that now, with the gay hairdresser and the portero in Buenos Aires, it does seem like I am getting far better offers from the men in Argentina rather than the women. In fact, I am beginning to believe the women find me repugnant. It could be because of the beard, but as the weather keeps getting colder and colder the more south I go I am cherishing it more and more. It’s one of my few defences against the whipping gales that keep pounding me wherever I go.