Thursday, October 30, 2008

Well Overdue, an asado and the super classico

So maybe my last post didn't rattle me to get up and post more like I had hoped. Maybe I need to set up a gmail alert to make sure I make posts on a regular basis. Regardless, in the recent past we had an asado on the patio at my place here and I went to the 'super classico'- a heated rivalry between Buenos Aires 2 most famous teams, River Plate and the Boca Jrs.

Boca Jrs is famous for its small, crazy stadium (the bombanero) and having many v. famous argentine soccer players play for its club including Diego Maradonna, whose widely considered the best player of all time. I know in the US most people say Pele was better, but going on that would be like asking someone from Kazakhstan who the best hockey player of all time is (Nik Antropov obv). In reality the main reason why people from the US say Pele is because of his exposure playing in the US but i digress.

Anyways, getting tickets in the first place was a long ordeal based on the stories heard about counterfeits. Luckily I was able to secure a set of 9 tickets via a friend of my ex spanish tutor. We took cabs to the game and the first thing i noticed was that sports stadiums outside of the US aren't "open seating". You either sit in the "home team" section or the "away". This causes a lot more rivarly and hatred between fans. In fact, it seemed like a significant portion of fans from both teams went half to watch the game and half to look at the other fans and scream insults. My personal favorite insult was "suck my d***, you f***** bolivian!" - just because well i'd never insult someone and end it with "you (insert country)", and argentines are notorious of blaming their problems on people from other s. american countries.

To deal with potential riots, the "visitors" section is walled off by having empty sections next to them, and all 3 of those sections (the visitor and neighboring ones) surrounded by metal fences with barbed wire on the top. If that was not enough, a fireman stood on post above/behind the visitors section (to take care of roudy fans or deal with fires started in their section i'm not sure) and riot police guard the inbetween sections. And finally as a procedure at the end, the visitors section leaves the stadium 45 minutes before the home fans do, to prevent any scuffles outside.

There were a lot of fireworks during the game, and people were extremely lively. It was a good game, although the next night i was able to see an champions league game and the level of play was certainly a notch or 2 below. Also, unfortuantely river's team this year is pretty poor so the importance of the game was negated a bit. Anyways, it was a blast and pictures will be up shortly.

A few days after the game we hosted an asado on our deck. It got me back into cooking a bit which was great, and argentina is known for its great meats/ proveletas- so the ingredients for a great day were there. The sun was shining and a mistake that leon and i made in getting milanese steaks (ie thinly sliced) forced us to make skewers which as you'll see in the photos ended up turning out quite alright. It was just a great day to hang out, talk, enjoy the sun and be happy to be in Buenos Aires. We'll def be doing another one in the coming weeks, but i think we'll plan the next one to be in closer to the day our maid comes.

This coming Saturday im going on a trip to see Torres Del Paine and El Calafate. El Calafate is at the site of the Moreno glacier, which is massive and constantly calving. Supposedly the sounds of ice falling off into the ice is just incredible. They have boat trips out to see the glacier, and I can't tell you how excited I am to seeing/ walking on it. After this, Noah and I will be heading to Chile to a trekking park and to see the Torres Del Paine. These mountains are quite famous (and I'll have plently of pictures to share), and are stunning to look at. I love trekking and hope to make it a main part of my further travels, so I'm looking forward to getting out on the right foot (for lack of a better cliche)

anyways, I'll get around to putting pictures up soon. Hope all is well,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ugh I can do better

So i haven't done a very good job with this blog. I haven't been updating it frequently and I haven't been showcasing my amazing writing abilities... okay more then former then the latter but still a problem.

I'm finding a few things. 1st I need to write blog posts about things as soon as they happen as waiting causes a lack of enthusiasm (in this case i think perspective is a bad thing, as i can always give my perspective whether it be a week or a year later) and i want this blog to be full of my raw emotions/reactions to my trip.

2nd. I need to rework some of my trip. I'm rescheduling my flights almost totally from this point on, heading to Japan, then China then SE Asia or India (not sure yet) followed by Australia and New Zealand and then to Europe. I'll update that more once I figure this out myself (biggest Q right now SE Asia or India)

This gives me a few benefits. Given my current commitment to Japan for new years, this makes my trip a bit more 'efficient' and opens the door to seeing Sue (!) in Seoul around Christmas time, which would be great. And 2nd this forces me to travel alone, which I have grown to really like- and need to fully enjoy the places I travel to. and 3rd/Lastly - this lets me reschedule my flights a bit in the sense that I want to visit less places and spend more time there.

I feel like right now i'm in a cusp zone where if i stay somewhere for less then a week i should hostel it up and if i was there for a bit longer (ie 6 weeks+) I should rent an apartment. So I'm thinking I should also improve on coming up with focused goals/ activities to do in different countries. For instance

In Japan- learn to play go (maybe find a school/ tutor - of course i'd try and pick some up in the next month or so), or... learn how to play starcraft 2 like a champ (kidding)

China- Relearn/ get a coach for table tennis. I was pretty good in high school, so it'd be cool to try and get back into it again after so long.

SE Asia- hmmm learn how to cook thai food? Muay Thai (if i just choose to stay in thailand?)

India- uhhh, uhhhhhhhh play cricket? (suggestions needed)

Australia- surf or become the next mick dundee

New Zealand- the great walks of new zealand (obviously)

So in the near future I'm going to plan out 1) My flights and 2) My patagonia trip. I'll def keep updates on those (I hope) and then my next priority is learn some basic Japanese.

I've decided to curtail my spanish lessons/ learning to instead get some basic Japanese down- for this trip it seems to be wiser to learn some key phrases of a bunch of languages then to focus hard on spanish when I may never go to another spanish speaking country on this trip

its 3:30 am now, so thats all for now- but i hope all is well etc


Sunday, October 19, 2008


okay so im in my new place now and unfortunately i fell behind in talking about my trip which hopefully i wont do again. but i'll break this into 3 short posts about 3 different parts of the trip


I arrived on mendoza via an overnight bus from buenos aires. First, i guess i should talk about the buses here. they aren't your typical greyhound. for about 220 pesos (70 usd) you can get a 12 hr bus ride that is, for all intents and purposes, 1st class. seats are wide enough to fit someone significantly wider then me. plush leather, recline all the way, and a place to raise your feet and lie down completely flat. it was great, and i'll def. take advantage of them in the future.

i arrived in mendoza and spent the first day walking around the city and doing a wine tour. i met a girl from la and a bunch of irish who were pretty cool. the main highlight was a winery called cecchin that exports almost exclusively to the us because they are completely organic and do not use sulphur dioxide (which virtually all wineries do but cause an allergic reaction for some *cough* kristin *cough)

when i got back from the wine tour i ran into a swiss couple. we ended up sharing dinner together (and 3 bottles of wine), talking about what we had in common (the guy had studied english in toronto at yonge and college) and a bunch of other things ranging from how different argentines live to the us election and the way argentines negotiate.

the next day we took it easy and enjoined the extremely large and relaxing park in mendoza. the pace of life in mendoza is even slower then that of buenos aires, and i took full advantage of it to sit in cafes, the plazas and large parks and just enjoy the surroundings. it was on this day that the swiss couple and i also arranged for a trek in the andes. that in itself was a bit of a debacle because all the tours in mendoza are conveniently arranged by one company and outfitted by another. this works great for argentines when you dont get what you expect as both will blame the other as being at fault and you wont get what you want.

case in point: on the wine tour on day 1, they told us at the hostel before we were picked up that we could drink as much as we want. but as soon as we go on the tour, the wineries said no they cannot promise that and instead we would get 1/2 an inch of wine. fwiw i didnt mind this as much as the irish that were also on the trip, but it was a bit annoying

another example would be the trek. at first we kept saying we dont want to go on a 12 hr bus ride to take photos we want to go for a walk around- thinking something similar to what we could do in the alps, a nice 2 hr walk, then lunch in the sun then a 2 hr walk back. at first they said oh this does not exist until we were talking with one tourist agent and a man joined in and said 'oh no problem yes we can do that, yes no problem (to everything we said we wanted)'. that should've been the first warning sign. the next day (day 3) we are picked up and taken to a place a good hour drive from where we wanted. the trek was about half as long as we wanted as well but nothing could be done (from our point of view) as the people who ran the operation kept saying they were not told of this agreement that was made.

i feel bad ranting about this, as it was a great walk/time that i (and the swiss couple) had on day 3 walking around but figured i'd want to remember this episode of how argentines do business / how annoying beauracracy can be...

anyways, day 3 was a trek for the first half of the day, we had a good time. walking around the city of mendoza i also noticed how friendly people were. constantly when i'd pull out my map just to double check my location people would approach me to give help/ advice etc constantly. at the check out line in a grocery store people would stop to try and talk to me etc.

day 4 was my last day in mendoza and i went to maipu, rented a bike and visited wineries. this is a bit of a common thing to do for tourists in mendoza, and i had a good time- although my bike had horrendous brakes- i went relatively slowly from vineyard to vineyard, visiting 3 in total. I also met up with 2 canadian women and went with them for a little bit. this was good cause they knew a lot about wines.

that night i took a bus from mendoza to cordoba and the next morning met up with Evan and Thuy (two friends from BsAs). I'll make that my next post and dont' have photos up- but they will be here soon.