Suitcase on wheels     stuck in the snow   sniffer dog

Monday, January 10, 2005

1. Arrived in Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday. My flight wasn't too notable, apart from I nearly missed it. I got a ride from Mount Maunganui to Auckland (2.5 hours) with my sister's boyfriend Mark, but his car broke down an hour into the journey. So Dad had to come pick me up from the side of the road. I was the very last passenger to check in.
I had trouble sleeping on the plane so I snuck in to business class once it was dark for 3 hours, I slept for one hour until the hostess woke me up and kicked me back down to economy class. The flight was 12 hours.

The edge of the Pampas
Once I arrived I caught a bus to the city centre. The bus ride in was a bit of an eye-opener, past all the barrios (slums) and ugly old apartment buildings, which looked like giant dominos standing on their ends. From there I caught a minibus to my booked hostel and got settled in. I'd booked a private room rather than a dorm as I thought I'd be needing a lot of sleep a lot being jet-lagged, but I felt OK. I quickly met a bunch of guys who were organising an asado (BBQ) that night, so I chipped in my ten pesos (NZ$5) and went shopping with them. 10kg of meat and a shopping cart full of beers later and we were sorted. I'm still adjusting to the prices here, everything seems mega-cheap as usual, especially all the vice goods - cigarettes - 3 pesos a pack (NZ$1.50), and beer and wine - 6 pesos for a reasonable bottle. Less vice-tax here than in Western countries.
I'm staying in the San Telmo district which was having it's weekly Sunday market that day. Lots of people and tourists wandering the streets checking out the buskers, antique sellers, ice-cream carts, tango dancers, etc.
We wandered around for a couple of hours and once back at the hostel I grabbed a quick siesta - 2 hours - before helping with the fire.
The BBQ turned out great, the meat was amazing, my steak was about 2 inches thick and still tender on the inside. Once the beer and wine started flowing so did the Spanish language. It's funny, when we went shopping it was the usual backpacker melting pot - Norwegian, German, Greek, Israeli, Argentine and me the Kiwi. I was the only one for whom English was my first language, yet everyone was speaking that. We all know a little Spanish, some more than others, yet everyone was more comfortable speaking their strongest common language - English. It makes sense but I thought it was strange anyway. We're in South America so let's speak Spanish...
At the BBQ I sat next to a local couple who spoke no English, yet I managed to speak to them for half an hour. We enjoyed it but it was hard work for both sides with my poor Spanish.
I finally got to bed at 2am which is early in this country. Everyone was amazed I was still going - I worked out that in the last 60 hours I had had only 3 hours sleep. That's thanks to the party pills in NZ. For those that aren't in NZ or don't know what I'm talking about, you can buy these "party pills" legally over the counter at most liquor stores - 10 pills for $40. They contain a variety of herbal ingredients - guarana, white pepper, ginseng, etc, and because they don't contain any illegal substances they are legal - for now. I'd tried 3 of the ESP pills on New Year's Eve (hey, they're legal) and had an enjoyable night. Because they're legal lots of different companies make them, with different ingredients and different effects.
Anyway, I popped two of a different brand (name:"The Good Stuff") at 5pm on my final night in NZ, and spent the next few hours bouncing off the walls. Went to bed at 1am that night and spent the entire night staring at the ceiling. My brother was the same. That day I caught my flight, managed only one hour sleep on the plane, crossed the international date line and went back in time 16 hours, had my 2 hour siesta and finally got some sleep at 2am that night. So I think that's 60 hours with only 3 hours sleep.


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