06.04.2006 25 °C
Finally found some time to to update you all on how its going. And boy i have been a long way in the last few weeks. Have travelled all the way from Iguassu Falls down to Ushuaia and am now on the way back up currently residing in El Calafate to see the Moreno Glacier.
So, starting on the Argentinian side of the Iguassu falls that now seems years ago. There are two sides to the falls, the Brazilian and the Argentinian (as you have probably gathered). The Brazilian side gives an overview of them from a bit of a distance while the Argentinian side has walkways throughout the falls. And I can safely say the Argentinian side is a lot more impressive. To actually stand just meters from god knows how many gallons of falling water per second is, how shall i put it... refreshing. It was a good thing is wasnt a cold day, in fact it must have been the hottest day ive experienced so far on the whole tour. And thats saying something. It was a very long day of walking in the sun, but definately worth seeing the might of the falls. When i got back a cold shower was in order, unfortunatley when i looked in the mirror, it wasnt me looking back, it was a cartoon character called Mr Tomato head. Yes, I had well and truely caught the sun that day. And i even had used loads of sun cream but to little effect.
On the way to Buenos Aires, we had a free camp in between the two days driving. When i say free camp, i mean we try to find somewhere with amenities that are actually better than the campsites we stay at. On the 1st days drive, we set of at 6.30am and drove till about 9pm (told you they were lond days), but we were rediculously lucky. We found a school that was for farmers children of ages about 14-17. Its a specially built school for them, as they are basically grown up to work on the farm, so for so many weeks a year (not that many either) this is the only education they get. They were so friendly and offered to let us stay the night in the dorms sharing with the kids. When we drove in they were amazed, we were told they had never met different language speaking people. We all joined in playing music and gave them a game of volleyball, they won. Dammit. But it was such a good night. I expect something i will never experience again.
We arrived in BA on St. Patricks day which happened to be a Friday, so going out just had to be on the cards. Had my first taste of the Argentinian steak, in a nice swanky restaurant. With me not really being the swanky sort of person, i plumped for the simple steak and chips, but boy, it was some steak, the kind that melts in the mouth, just perfect. It was so cheap aswell, it cost less than a tenner for a meaty steak, veg, chips, beers, wine and a coffee. The steak started some sort of disorder in me, i was determined to try something else in all the nice restaurants that we went to in the 5 nights we were in BA. But evertime i tried to order the word steak would just flow out my mouth. I ended up having it 6 nights in row! Brilliant!
BA is a beautiful city, very european and very very clean. We were staying about a ten minute walk from the centre, so there was always something to do. Sleep was a main priority but there just werent enough hours in the day, especially when you dont want to waste the daylight but the city only really comes alive after midnight. My favourite night was our tango night. Everyone from the tour went to show but 6 of us actually went for a lesson and on to a tango club. The lesson was so much fun, they made it look so easy and natural with free flowing movement. While i managed to look like i was just walking around arm in arm with my partner, how on earth did they do it?? Im not sure what my partner was complaining about, i only broke 4 of her toes... shes got 6 left! The next day i thought why not do something really stupid today, so i decided to throw myself out of a plane at 12,000 feet. I loved every second of it, even managing to get in a couple a funky dance moves while free falling.
Having spend 4 days in BA it was time to move on further southwards. Another couple of rediculously long drive days and we were in Peurta Madryn, a Welsh town in the middle of nowhere (nothing around for hundreds of kms). But it is the stopping point to go to the Peninsula Valdes - home to whlaes breeding groung, penguin colonies, elephant seals and sea lions, but more impressively one of only two places in the world where the killers whales attack the seals on the beach. Im not sure what classes as a colony but i saw about 10 penguins, and the guide said it was one of the biggest colonies on the world. I hope they not going extinct!! I did see the sea lions having a fight, there was a lot power there. Unfortunately the bit i had been looking forward to the most never materialised. I didnt see the killer whales. I know it would have been lucky as they dont attack that often, but that would have been spectacular. Ohwell, cant win them all.
The next stop was the end of the world - Ushuaia. Was a pretty small city, but a very pleasant centre to stroll through. There wasnt really a lot to do there except hike the mountains in the background or jump on excursions to the Antartica (which i looked into with Dan and Mario but we missed the season by a day!) So sure enough i did the hiking thing. Im not sure how but Alain, Mark (australians) and myself managed to get lost walking to the Martial glacier in top of the mountain over looking the city. You can see the glacier from all over the city yet somehow we walked straight passed it and ended up torturing ourselves by climbing what must be the worlds steepest ski slope, only to have to climb back down. I say bloody australians, must have been looking at the map upside down. So we had been walking for 2 hours before we even got onto the right path, we were so tired we wimped out and got the chair lift up the 1st half of the mountain. The next day we did the "End of the world" walk in the national park. But it has to be said it not the end of the world and i cant imagine for the like of me why its called that. You get to the "end of the world" and there is sea but there clearly land just a few hundred meters further south from us. So whats that all about?? Still a nice walk though and the hightlight was yet another stupid idea we had the night before - "lets join the antartica club". This involves stripping off completely naked and swimming in the sea for a minute (and i dont mean paddling). I was FREEZING, it wasnt long before my body was telling me to get the hell out. Later we researched the sea temperatures and it turned out to be 7-8 °C. Ouch!
Thats the end of Argentina for now, but we will be crossing backwards and forwards between chile over the next month or so. So keep posted for some more Amazing Argentinian stories.....