Monday, February 27, 2006

Third time's a charm for Buenos Aires....and me!

Phew - arrive in Buenos Aires for the third - and sadly - last time! Stayed in my fab Hostel Ostinatto again, feel like a regular here! As I was going to make a wee cuppa tea, who do I bump into - no, before you say it, not Alain and Julia! It was Mike and Di, our Kiwi/Aussie friends from Pucon that we bought the tent from before we went on the W nice to have a friendly face...we chatted the night away (now why is that not a surprise!!), and yes, there was some alcohol involved - a little rum and Coke no less - thanks for that, Di!

Feb 28th - my last full day in BA, as my flight is tomorrow, March 1st - muy trieste! Decided this was my day to power shop before I left, so off I went. From Corrientes to Cordoba, Ave de Mayo and back again... I literally walked around Buenos Aires for about 9 hours; and yes, about 2 of those hours was me getting lost but hey, still had a great time! I had a long list of CD's I'd heard and liked over the last 4 months, so I went into this place on Corrientes (where there are about 200 music stores, seriously, next to the 200 book stores! Handy to have them sorted for you like that!). Anyway, I talked to the guy working there, Gustavo, and along with his boss, an older gentleman, I spent over an hour going through my list of 30+ CD's ...They were so nice, they played each one over the store stereo system for me, and together we said "Yah, nay"..."we like, we don't like!" I ended up buying 12 CD's of amazing Latin bands like the Bombastics, Leo de Torres and my fave, Julieta Venegas. Was so delighted with the experience; the whole hour we talked in Spanish; they asked me where I was from, and couldn't believe Scotland...and said my Castellano was very good!! I was on a high! At last - I could string two sentences together (my tenses were all over the place but hey, they understood me!)..

Got back to the ranch, ahem hostel, and Mike, Di and I decided to revisit Porteno, that fab restaurant we had all gone to a week or so ago! We had such a lovely evening..ended with the lady I had been talking to (in the dessert line no less), who was from Santa Cruz, coming over with her husband, and giving me her business card. "If you are ever in Santa Cruz again, please come visit us" they said! See - that is the epitomy of South American culture - these people are so warm, open and friendly, it really is a wonderful thing!!

March 1st. Big check out day! Had to tip-toe around as everyone else in my 8 person dorm was fast asleep! Left the big mochilla and headed over to meet up with my friend Jo again, and her mum, who was visiting from England for a few weeks. We reunited at Cafe Tortoni, one of my fave places in BA...then I had to say my goodbyes and head back to pick up my stuff and get going to the airport. I was flying American Airlines, and unbeknownst to me, American are well-known for overbooking their flights. So - the airline crew asked if i would volunteer to give up my seat and fly out a day later!
Hmmn , having never done this before - I asked what it entailed - well, lets see! A $600 voucher towards my next flight, dinner, breakfast and lunch and my own suite in the Intercontinental Hotel back in BA, and my own private car service to and from the airport! Let me think -will I, wont I...yes, ok then! How good is that! So off I toddled to a night of luxury - a little different than my usual hostel haunts ...but not quite as friendly! There's a lot to be said for cheap and cheerful I tell you!

March 2nd. Called Jo to see if she was around for one last day out! Yah she was, - so I met up with her and her mum, and Amanda,her friend from LA also living in Buenos Aires for now, and we decided to head over to Museo de Belle Artes for some off we went! Great exhibit there..and had a lovely time then had to get back to my swanky hotel to pick up my stuff, to, yes, you guessed it, head to the airport again! !

As I returned to the hotel, there was this faint noise coming from the Plaza de Mayo, a few blocks away. It started getting louder and louder and then this huge demonstration appeared, covering street after street. It was the unemployed of Buenos Aires, asking the government for more benefits and to help with the current unemployment problem. There were hundreds and hundreds of people, a real mix of men, women and children, young, old, tons of student groups too. I asked some of the people in the hotel about why they were marching, and they seemed quite annoyed, saying they just wanted more benefits and didn't actually want to work! Hmmnn.. didnt say anything obviously, but it couldn't be that simple! The demonstration was so loud, tons of beating drums, whistles blowing, trumpets playing, confetti paper thrown everywhere. It felt much more carnival-like than a political demonstration and there certainly didn't seem any tension or threat of violence....I didn't even see any police around....

As I headed off to the airport (in my chauffeur driven car... ahem!) I realised how incredibly lucky I was, in so many ways! To experience South America and all its glorious countries (ok,not all of them but I did manage to visit Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay).....these are memories I'll never forget (thanks to this blog and 3,000 photographs 'cos as you know, my memory is non-existant)! Thanks for reading and get ready..... Phase 2 starts on April 25th when I head off on my next adventures! So stay tuned!!!


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