Tag Archives: Travel

How to keep the journey alive

25 May

There’s a problem when any journey ends. Namely ‘when does the next one begin?’ It seems that generally it doesn’t. Reality has to be faced after any long journey. After all, maybe they’re only ‘gap year’s’ or ‘once in a lifetime’ experience anyway. Shiny shoes need to be applied to feet, as does a shiny new hairless face as the gripping urge to quell debts or just to get back to a ‘normal’ existence becomes too much to bear.

The urge has yet to reach my door. The idea of being able to maintain the travelling lifestyle seems to much of an option. But what is this travelling lifestyle? I think all I really mean is to be able to lead a life that is not stuck in any one place. This means working via the laptop (meaning not-being restricted to any one location) while also pursuing opportunities that involve the possibility of working abroad.

This is why I currently find myself in Barcelona. The first 7-8 weeks since I returned have been a mixture of catching up with friends and of working out new possibilities. Any idea of being able to make money from writing means that you need to be an expert in an area. Seeing as I completely fell in love with Brazilian music this seems to be the way I’m heading – maybe I should mention more how that is unfolding in another post.

My trip to Barcelona is happening because PopMatters have asked me to write about the Primavera Sound festival (I say asked when perhaps relented to my constant badgering would be a better way of putting it!) This means writing for a well-read music magazine as well as the opportunity to make contacts, enjoy Barca, and above all else, take a dip in the ocean.

In news of writing going online I did just notice that A Different League have put up my article on the World Cup in 1930. It can be found here:
World Cup Retrospect – Uruguay 30 (A Different League)

Quick update on UruguayNow

15 Apr

I thought I would do a little bit of an update on UruguayNow. This is a travel guide for Uruguay which I designed the website as well as wrote a few of the articles.

It seems as if its getting to the point of being successful. The main man has been working tirelessly on promoting this thing and a few fruits have begun to blossom. Uruguay’s Ministry of Tourism have welcomed the site – see article here – following an official launch in Montevideo this week. It even made the Channel 5 news!

One of the main selling points of the site has been the Restaurant Reviews, which included an award for Best Restaurant in Uruguay. This seems to be something that people have really picked on. Apparently anyone can make up an award. Maybe I will give myself an award for Best Blog Post of the Week, see how it works out. But anyway, it’s interesting to see how this project has been building steam. Currently, we have one sponsor, hopefully there are many more on the horizon!

Go to uruguaynow.com

Some Writing News

5 Feb

Some of my writing has been featured on the Museyon website. A piece called In a Nutshell: Candombe. I just read it again now it’s online and can’t believe how many mistakes I made. On top of that, a few more have crept in since it’s been published. Damn! Well, hopefully it won’t be my last piece for them, the plan is to write a few more in a similar vein.

Writing for money, a new concept

4 Sep

So it seems I’ve made some kind of breakthrough. A website decided to publish something that I wrote and pay me for it. The article can be seen here:


It should be noted though that they have edited the original to smithereens. All the bits that I though were quite amusing have been taken out, leaving the whole thing seeming a bit insipid. But worse of all, for some reason they have decided to plaster a gargantuan image of some sort of beef and bacon sandwich at the top. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual food mentioned, plus it makes an article which is supposed to be about various Brazilian delights seem, well, disgusting actually. At least I’m getting financial recompense.

I was going to write some more here but I believe the person before me must have tried to make a jam sandwich out of this keyboard because this sentence alone has taken at least five minutes to write!

How come I've reached this fork in the road and yet it cuts like a knife?

21 Aug

Okay, maybe the heading is a bit too dramatic, but I really feel like I have to make a big decision shortly.

I’ve been working at Casa Carioka in Copacabana for 4 weeks now, using spare time to try and get a web design complete. In theory, this design is my meal ticket. An opportunity to not have to think about money for a good few months. However, at the start of this week I got asked to do another job, which took a day to complete (these are the kind of jobs I like) and have spent the rest of the week surfing and writing. During this time I have been sent three e-mails by my main client, asking for some progress updates. They are all still sitting in my inbox awaiting a reply.

My previous drive to earn money so that I would not have to worry about money later in the journey has vanished. A realisation perhaps that designing big websites, full of ridiculous coding is a theft of the imagination. I have no natural aptitude for it, so learning and effecting at the same time can be a hard task, one that makes me wish I could buy wind-screen wipers for my eyes, and maybe one of those buttons so I could give them a spray of water every now and again. Give them a good wash.

If anyone reading this has a disposition for designing secure websites in Joomla, as well as shopping baskets and MySQL databases with one-to-many relationships, please get in touch because the one problem I face with all of this is if this is the direction my thoughts continue to head at some point there will be the disappointment of my client unless I find an adequate solution. I would say I could potentially sully my name, but I think this implies having some sort of good reputation in the first place.

It should also be noted that my resistance to do further work on this project has been catalysed by the return of hypersensitive head, a condition that had been laying dormant since my last trip to Rio. For more information on hypersensitive head listen to this:

Velez are Campeones

6 Jul

I’ve gotta say, I’ve never been to a footy game quite like that one. From the moment I arrived, 1 hour before kick-off to when I left, about an hour after the match ended, the Velez fans never stopped. They never stopped singing, jumping, waving, throwing rolls of tape, setting off fireworks and smoke bombs. They never stopped when their team missed a penalty, when there was only 10 minutes left and they looked no closer to getting the goal the needed and they didn’t stop during the hailstorm that punctuated the first half. It was a long game too, 2 hours and 40 minutes from first to last whistle. It’s fair to say there was a few incidents.


The first half was most notable for the rainstorm that coincided with the first few kicks of the game, before suddenly turning into some of the most severe hail I have ever witnessed. These were blocks of ice hurling from the sky. Little children and women were in tears! Most people ran for cover, including all the players, who legged it off the pitch!

Huracan also had a goal disallowed in the first half, which was quite clearly onside. This is one of the first injustices in this game. The first half had been quite nervy, so nervy Velez had missed a penalty, and also not helped by the hailstorm, but it really picked up in the second half, as Velez started to play some better football, although all the best chances kept falling to Huracán, including another disallowed goal. This one was a bit closer to call, but still looked onside to me. Velez also later had their share of injustice as a Huracán defender scythed down one of the Velez strikers in the box, only for the ref to do absolutely nothing about it. It was 10 minutes before the end of the game when things finally exploded into life. The ball was played into the Huracán keeper, the Velez striker stretched in to get the ball, missed it, knocked out the keeper, and Morales, the nippy Velez frontman stormed in to stroke the ball into the net, with the keeper still in daydreams lying on the floor. The place exploded! Morales managed to get himself sent off for celebrating too hard and the Huracán players argued for what seemed like forever.

The game was stopped again 5 minutes later, when Huracán started to complain about the Velez subs and staff coming to close too the pitch (they were basically standing on it!) which added another 10 minutes onto the game. But it was to be of no use to Huracán as their only chance was saved and Velez were eventually crowned champions. I feel a bit sorry for Huracán for this one as they seemed to get the worse of the luck, but their coach did later say that they had been extremely lucky some times this year so there was always going to be one day it didn’t go quite so well, and Velez had played pretty well too over the campaign, so I didn’t feel bad for too long. I was just glad to be with the winning fans!


And for one final note, one of the Velez players got completely wasted later and got hit by a car while out celebrating. The car drove off, leaving him on the road, where he remained for 2 and a half hours before someone found him and called an ambulance. I hope he’s alright.

The last day of football approaches

4 Jul

Tomorrow is the last day of the league season in Argentina, and it’s ending with a bang. It’s Velez v Huracán. Not only are they local rivals, they’re also first and second in the league (Huracán top with 38 points, Velez just behind on 37). Hence, Huracán just need a point to seal the title, whereas Velez will be hoping home advantage can cheer them along to the win.

There’s so many other factors that make this such a crunch game though, not all of them nice mind you. First of all, Huracán are known as the Arsenal of Argentina, they have a tradition, ever since Cesar Luis Menotti (later to couch Argentina to World Cup glory) arrived as boss in the seventies, of playing beautiful passing football, yet they have only ever won one league title, making them the neutral’s favourite to win this one.

However, it’s not all sunshine at Huracán. During their last game (which they won 3-0, taking them to the top of the league), there was a gunfight between their own supporters (a dispute over which section of the fans are the strongest) which left two of them dead and another four in hospital. See http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/144/south-america/2009/06/22/1340800/two-dead-as-huracan-barrabravas-clash.

Plus, I’m a little unsure how many people will actually be at the game. Swine flu is taking over Buenos Aires at the moment. Most public buildings (including universities and colleges) are closed for July, there are people walking around with visors everywhere, swathes of folks in green overalls looking very serious about things, barren buses and a general panic attack whenever someone coughes. So it will be interesting to see if it does get a full house. I would imagine so, but the media is very earnest that people should not go to crowded places at the moment, so I really wouldn’t like to hazard a guess.

Only thing for sure is I have my ticket. In the Velez end. I wanted a Huracán ticket, but after all that gunfighting in the last game I thought this might be the safer option. I really can’t wait!

Don Eloy

3 Jul

This is Don Eloy. He knows how to turn pigs into Salami, Chorizo, Bondiola and a little something he calls Head Cheese, which sounds just about like the worst type of cheese imaginable. This is Don Eloy:


When I grow up, I want to be him.

The Little Balconies

2 Jul

I’m back in Buenos Aires, and as is the custom, I have headed over to Nacho’s for my usual spot on the terrace. The last time I visited Nacho he had made a special dinner of boiled cow’s stomach (mondongo). This time he had gone for something a little different. There was some polenta in the fridge he had cooked 4 days ago, decided it was too salty, added loads of water to it, and then left. It had a strange consistency. He fried it in a pan until the bottom was black, then served it up. It was better than the mondongo. The next day he apologised. I can’t complain though, apart from his culinary skills the guy’s an absolute legend, who has always been more than happy for me to come and use his house as his own whenever in town.

Yesterday we tried to make dulce de leche. It didn’t work out quite right, ended up more like caramel, hence the naming as caramelo de leche. But it’s got a label, made by Los Balconcitos (the little balconies), it’s both worthless and priceless, and is 100% energy. Not bad! Here’s the end product:


That guy really can’t help but close his eyes when the camera flashes.

La Pulperia / Gauchito Gil

28 Jun

I was lucky enough while at the farm to take a trip to Mercedes, which ended up being one of my best nights there. We had been out drinking with Romina and Daniel the night before, and they had invited us to go out with them the next night too. We got the bus to Mercedes, and they were at the station waiting for us. First off, they took us to the park, then to the Motocross circuit (kind of interesting so far), then next we went to the shrine of Gauchito Gil.

Gauchito Gil is a legend in Argentina. He’s a bit of a Robin Hood figure. He was a gaucho who had been called into duty for the Argentinean army, and thought in a number of wars for them with a number of neighbouring countries. After these ended, he was called into duty again, but this time it was a civil war. He refused to fight against his own people and retired to the countryside. From here, he would steal cows from the rich farmers and give them to the poor people. Eventually, the police caught up with him and he was sentenced to be hung. They decided to walk him from Giles to Mercedes before hanging him. This way everyone could see what a villain he was on his last walk. However, on the way to Mercedes, Gil told the police chief that his daughter was really sick and would die if they killed him. The chief wouldn’t have any of it, and decided to kill him right there. They hung him on the side of the road. When the chief got home his daughter was in the corner of the room, shaking. He immediately ran back to the hanging pillar and tried to revive Gil but he was dead. His daughter later died. From this point on, Gil was regarded as a legend. If you ever see red scarfs hanging up on the roadside they are most likely for Gil.

Shrine for Gauchito Gil

Shrine for Gauchito Gil

Better things were to come though. Behind the shrine was a bar, La Pulperia. It was packed inside. On the far side was 3 men. One was singing, the other 2 were playing guitars. We ordered some drinks and sat down. After each song, the line-up would change, someone different would start singing, an extra guitarist would join, a drummer every now again would accompany. They seemed to be playing a mixture of sambas, tangos, merengues, all kinds of different traditional Argentinean music. These guys were really good though, far better than the average busker, and you could see the amount of emotion they were putting into each song, and how much everyone in the bar appreciated it.

Later we found out that La Pulperia is an Argentinean tradition. This particular one is the only one in the province of Buenos Aires, but there are a few others dotted around the country. La Pulpería translates as the grocery. It’s a place where people would go to buy their grocery’s as well as trade corn and cereals. It became a meeting place for the community, and as people would often go their and wait for deliveries and the such like, they would bring a guitar or a drum along and would sing a song while they waited. When the deliveries came in the drivers would join in. They would trade songs. This way songs would travel all around the country, from pulpería to pulpería as everyone learnt each other’s songs. It’s good that people are keeping this tradition alive, and with such gusto too!

La Pulpería, Mercedes

La Pulpería, Mercedes

After that, we went for a picada. A platter of dried meats and cheese for all to enjoy. The jamon crudo is pretty damn special! It wrapped up a pretty good day, a real lesson in traditional Argentina.