A Travellerspoint blog

September 2012

day 16


We arrived in Chile around 6am yesterday morning. The bus ride was great - lots of leg room, food and drinks, well heated (we were bundled up in preparation for passing through the snow capped Andes). We've been taking red eye buses to not waste a day/avoid paying for a night at a hostel but this would have been a cool one to do during the day so we could have really seen the mountains. They looked crazy in the dark. The stars were so pretty too, only time I've ever seen, a better night sky was in Namibia literally in the middle of nowhere.

It was a relatively short bus ride.... left at 11 got there at 6, and that included like an hour stop at the border which was pretty smooth. It was freezinggg when we got off the bus. We grabbed a taxi and took it to stars friend Joel's house. We passed out in the living room, but switched to Joel's bed when he left for work a few hours later, it fit the four of us perfectly.

Got up around noon then went with joels roomies pau and mauricio to get groceries from this open market vendor place similar to our farmer markets (but apparently they have farmers markets twice a week also). Wish I had brought my camera (not that would be able to post the pics anyways). Maddy was stoked to finally be around some vegetables, I spent most of the time trying to make sense of the exchange rate.

Came back to Joel's to chill and make some food. It was a pretty lazy day but it was nice to relax and be with locals again, Joel and his roomies aare all really nice. We didn't get everything we needed from the market so we needed to make a mission to the supermarket. There were only two bikes so maddy and I ended up going. Confidence levels of success were not high.... especially considering I could barely get on my bike because it was too tall. We were literally given two directions, and we couldn't find the first street so we started asking people within five minutes. Progress was sketchy as the directions we were given appeared to be the exact oppsite of those we were originally given, but after maddy gave me a tutorial on how to ride a bike that was too big for you, and we found the bike path.things were looking up. We finally got there, grabbed what we needed and headed back. The whole thing took us a while but we made it back successfully to a nearly ready dinner. We chowed down on some salad and pasta with a delicious sauce made by mauricio. There were 9 or 10 of us surrounding this little table, it was a good meal. Stomach full, heart happy.

Hung out for a while longer then made our way to this club to meet jona and javis friend Leo and his girlfriend Chelsea. We didn't stay for too long, it was pretty small and dark and we weren't really feeling it.

Trying to figure out a plan now... gonna check out a craft market and museum today, do something scenic tomorrow, maybe do the canjon del maipu or save it for friday. We're thinking about heading south and also towards the coast to.get to the beaches. Other than that its all up in the air, still debating whether we are goingbto make it to Bolivia, if we do it will be about 2 weeks in each country, if not it will be about 3 in each.

Chile is really pretty, seems similar to California geographically... cities beaches mountains. Santiago is a really nice city, lots of open community space, beautiful weather.

Posted by alexascamp 08:32 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

day 8 - 14?

Iguazu to Rosario to Mendoza

Its been a while....

20 minutes after we got to iguazu there was a huge thunderstorm... we had to get money to pay for the hostel and were hungry for food so we put on our jackets and headed out into the rain. Storm didn't last long but it took out the power all over town. Luckily the atms worked but our choices of where to eat were limited, but we ended up with a pretty delicious dinner of chicken and potatoes for relatively cheap. We planned out the following day and went to bed early. Got up around 730, downed the free breakfast of a croissant and roll then hit the road. We stopped at the grocery store to get sandwich materials then took a 20 min bus ride to the park. We spent the day checking out all the viewpoints, they were all amazing ill post pictures later. It was like Victoria falls on steroids.... waterfalls for daysss. We finished around 2 then headed out to this 'hidden waterfall ' that isn't really advertised/most people don't go to (probably because its a 45 minute walk and 90% of the people at the park were over 70 or under 12). Definitely was a highlight of the day, but at first it didn't seem like it as the waterfall was only like 2 feet wide, which was pretty unimpressive after seeing the actual falls. But then we looked down and saw that it created a pool we could swim in. The weather is super tropical so the air was thick and sticky... swimming was all we wanted. The walk through the jungle was really peaceful, we saw an iguana a monkey and some huge ants raping each other.

I want to write so much more but I'm doing this on my phone and its taking a while so I'm just gonna do bullet points...

Chilled at the hostel for another night then walked to the tres fronteras in the morning, which is where the borders of Argentina Paraguay and Brazil coincide.

Had to wait five plus hours for the next bus to Rosario so star got a spontaneous tattoo.... its really cool but I'm gonna make you wait for a picture.

Bus ride to rosario was pretty uneventful besides the attendent who told Mich to put her shoes on because they smelled.

So nice to be back at maxis with him and his family... had these delicious meat spinach enchilada things for dinner. Maddy poured us wine and got a couple drops on the table cloth so we gave her some shit for it, two seconds later I tried adding some of this fizzy water they like to add to their wine, I pouredit at the wrong angle and wine literally sprayed all over the table. Great way to pay back the family that has been housing and feeding me....

Went out to tthe local bar media Luna for beer and pool with maxi and his friends it was a lot of fun hanging out with them, all were so nice. After we left around four we went to this doughnut shop that was randomly open... yum.

We left the next day loaded with snacks and our favorite - burgers with ham. Definitely sad to say goodbye to the family but hopefully ill be able to see them again when I'm back in Argentina with lauren and louie.

Really shitty bus ride, left at 4pm, two shitty movies, no food or snacks, and a crying baby. We got to Mendoza at 630am and went to a couple different hostels til we found one that had room for us. Passed out for a few hours then got up to do a biking wine tasting tour.

Got a late start and ended up taking a taxi to save time... bit of course he didn't know where he wad going. He had to stop to ask for directions twice. Finally made it to the bike rental place and were on our way. Went to three different wineries and a beer garden where we met 4 American dudes. We met up with them later for dinner at this really good Mexican restaurant. Chilled at their hostel which was across the street from ours then went out around 230 or 3 to meet some people we met earlier.

It was a fun night but sooo random, for some reason the bars /clubs weren't working out so we went to one of the locals tattoo parlor and hung out there. We left to get beer from the gas station but the lady wouldnt let us leave without finishing the beer so we spent some time there drinking. Not sure when we left, but Mich and I didn't get to sleep til like 8am because we kicked it at our hostel with a couple of others and played fooseball.

Got up at 1030 for 11am check out and so we could go to these hot springs. We were too late to get tickets so we just went back to the hostel and hing out bybthe pool, it wad a really nice day. We went searching for a place to eat and settled on one that we thought looked for sure decent. It wasn't....

We picked up our bags and headed to jona and javis apartment a few blocks away. We met them the day before and they offered us a free place to stay and its been great. We put our stuff down then headed to a bar where CJ Ramone was playing. We got in halfway through the show for cheaper, it was really fun. Show ended around midnight and went to their friends house to hang out and dance. Everyone we have met is so nice and welcoming and helpful.

Went to the springs today... total let down. It was more like a public pool for families, but it was pretty cool that we were in the middle of the mountains. We did a quick walk around then asked for our money back. We had an hour to kill before the next bus so we got lunch which wad realllly good. We got back a couple hours ago and are just hanging out. We are leaving tonight for santiago Chile at 1045. Kinda looking forward to just passing out. Star has aa friend we can stay with and jona put us in contact with his friend who invited us to stay with him. Should be fun!!

Posted by alexascamp 14:32 Archived in Argentina Comments (3)

day 7

rosario to puerto iguazu

not sure where i left off, but i´m here now at iguazu hostel, tomorrow we are going to go see the falls. the bus ride here from rosario was 19 hours, we left last night at 10pm and got there today around 5pm.

these past 36 hours have been a whirlwind considering how relaxing the preceding few days were at maxi´s. i think i mentioned the party we were going to go to last night. it was in rosario and we left to take the 30 minute taxi there at 3am. we had only munched on some empanadas around 6 when we woke up, so i was pretty hungry by the time we had dinner at 11 -- pizza. they ordered three, a cheese, a tomato and cheese, and a ham egg olive cheese pizza. i tried the last one first but the tomato and cheese looked too delicious to pass up on, so i didn´t. two bites away from finishing star informs me that we´re going to have chicken sandwiches and that they were about to come any second (tonight was take out night). sure enough, a second late, the door rings and the chicken sandwiches had come. and they were sooo good. they were little toasties with melted cheese, ham, chicken, and ketchupy sauce. really good. and fries. alright i should stop im making myself hungry.

finished dinner around midnight then hung around til 230 when we started getting ready. everyone took a cat nap but i couldn´t fall asleep so i just watched tv while the, lily played bejeweled on the computer (her favorite pasttime). the party was crazy, there werent 5000 people there, but there were at least five dinner areas that had bars, dancefloors, discolights, it was a big thing. the drink to get there was called a champange shower, for 100 pesos they gave you a bucket to pour a bottle of champagne and a bottle of speed (redbull) into and then are given cups to pour it into. it was pretty good. also, towards the end of the night there were platters of little pastries served at the bar... yummm

the party wasnt over until 9am, we took a taxi back and stopped at the grocery store to finally get ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies for the family. we made the cookies right when we got home, the brown sugar is different here so they turned out a little different but still delicioussss. came out of the oven just in time for breakfast at 10am. i would give my right arm for one now.

anyways, we passed out for a few hours, got up for some leftover grilled chicken sandwiches, then took our time to pack up and clean up cande´s room. we left around 4 or 5 with maxi cande and their parents. we stopped at this huge park next to a pretty impressive monument that i dont remember the name of. a bunch of craft stands were set up along the sidewalk that opened up to a huge park right on the river. we checked out the stalls, walked along the river and across the street at the monument, took a bunch of pictures then got back in the car to head to the bus terminal. we were 8 people squeezed into a five person car, cande sat in the front with her mom and there were five of us in the back, but it wasn´t too uncomfortable. as we were driving we were listening to the game of the local soccer team, the whole family was so into it (apparently they would have been there if it wasn´t for us.... ooops), when they scored they went crazy, the dad was honking the horn with excitement for at least a minute.

we got to the terminal maybe an hour early, and they waited with us the whole time (even through star and maddys bickerment about how rude it was star was eating all of maddys food), literally until we drove away. the mom was even crying :( gotta go, people want the computer. should go to bed anyway we have a longgggg day of iguazu tomorrow.

Posted by alexascamp 19:03 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

day 5

wow. we woke up 2 hours ago. its 7pm......

we didn´t go out til like 230 or 3 last night but it didn´t feel like it at all, the whole family was still up hanging out. we went out with maxi, cande and some of her friends who were all so nice. we went to a bar about a ten minute walk away to get ´to go beers´. literally they poured the beer in a cup and we left and drank them on the curb down the street. i guess that everyone in town knows there are 4 american girls here, maxi looks like quite the pimp. one girl asked michelle to help her with her english homework. some guy said something to me in spanish and when i told him i didnt understand and walked away he said ´fuck you! fuck you!´but im pretty sure he was joking and that wasjust the only english thing he knew how to say, at least thats what cande said.

after we finished our drinks we made our way to another bar called queens which was across the park and diagonal to maxi´s house. it had a main room with a bar that attached to another room with a bar. through that room you could go outside, it was just a concrete square area but it was perfect for a break from the inside rooms which were crazy packed and really hot. the bar wasn´t nice by american standards but i really liked it. super local.

the sky was turning light by the time we got to maxi´s and i learned today that it was 7am when we got home. i walked back with flavio and we were waiting for the rest of the group when all of a sudden maddy comes rolling up on weso (her pool partner from the previous night)´s motorbike with the biggest smile on her face. classic. clearly the ride of a lifetime and she did not want it to end.

michelle and i both got up around 11 to go to the bathroom. we passed back out until maxi opened the door and asked if we were ever going to get up because it was 530. maddy mich and i literally all jumped out of bed because we couldn´t believe it, i thought he was joking. but nope. so much for our plans to play soccer and make cookies today. maddy said she had been awake for a while which i think marks a first.

we had some tea, cookies, and burgers (soooooo good, love the ham on the hamburger) and now we are just chilling. family is always popping in here, maxis other grandma stopped by earlier (who star was introduced to as maxi´s girlfriend and mich as the sister in law haha) and now his cousin and her son gaston are here. star tried putting a hairwrap in gastons hair last night but didn´t get far before we had dinner. he passed out after eating so she never finished and his hair is so short it fell out, so star is finishing it now and going to glue it onto his head haha

i still can´t get over how late we got up. and tonight is apparently going to be even more of a party - supposedly a 5000 people party. its one of maxis friends birthdays so we are going to go to dinner at 1030. i think cande said the party doesn´t start til 4am and who knows when it ends so its a good thing we got some sleep.

not much else to say... but i promise i will get pictures up soon, for those of you who have been reading im impressed because i realize its a whole lotta writing, sorryyyyy

Posted by alexascamp 15:03 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

day 4

when in rome....

we are still at maxi´s, we were planning on leaving tonight for iguazu falls (20 hour bus ride from here) and try and make it to chile by the 17th or 18th to make it in time for the end of their independence day festivities but maxi and his family invited us to stay so we figured we should take them up and not rush things. words can´t describe how awesome this experience with maxi and his family has been. there is no way more authentic to discover a culture than to really be immersed in it... today and yesterday we´ve really just been experiencing the local life and it has been a great time. im glad we decided not to rush things - instead of leaving tonight we are going to leave sunday evening, so we basically get to stay here twice as long which just goes to show how incredibly nice and hospitable this family has been. they are beyond awesome.

last night we took a walk with maxi and his sister caande around town. it´s a pretty simple town, the streets are gridlike, there are few big parks. it´s a relatively short town too, the tallest building is i think 8 stories and it´s the only one that height. the streets are pretty deserted, i haven´t seen one cop and i feel like everyone that passes by maxi knows. anyways, got back to their house probably around 10pm? i was feeling a little hungry and was more than happy when i found out that dinner had yet to be served. we had dinner at 11pm - cheeseburgers! it´s funny, bacon cheeseburgers are popular in america but here they literally put a slice of ham on their burgers, it was realllly good, much better burger experience than at the restaurant the other day.

we all finished our burgers, more than satisfied, and within five minutes we were served another round. maxi´s dad told us ´don´t be shy´ so... needless to say we all had another. the meal did not end there, caande and mich went after dinner to get ice cream and terimisu cake. maxi´s dad poured jameson on his ice cream, quickly offering us the same. we had already finished our ice cream but he gave us a liquor which star poured into shots and topped on with baileys. the meal lasted for about an hour and a half, afterwhich we just hung out at the table. as it got a little later maddy and i headed to our bags to get into more comfy clothes. right after we changed michelle walks in and asks if we´re ready to go out..... after changing again we headed out to a local bar, it was probably close to 2. it wasnt too big.. there was a huge poker game going on, like at least ten people playing, a pool table, and then the bar. we ordered a couple beers for the group (probably size equivalent to 40s, maybe 32 oz bottles) and settled into a casual night at the bar. played pool (or at least tried to in my case, maddy proved to be a pro and was on the table for basically the whole night), drank beer, and tried to communicate with the locals til about 330. it was mostly guys, there was this one woman who was clearly stoked we were at the bar because it meant she could shout out all the english phrases she knew, which was a limited number. her vocab was limited, she would shout out ´random things like ´game over´, or (i didn´t hear her say this, but i wish i did) ´HOT DOG!´

we left with maxi and a couple of his homies but didn´t make it far beyond the bar. about a 30 second walk to the left and we were at a pretty big intersection that had a statue. apparently they just put in traffic lights there which required them to change a lot of one way direction streets to the other direction, which, as one would guess, would create a lot of confusion and eventually result in an accident. well the accident happened 2 days after changing the rules and we could still see the glass from the crash i nthe middle of the intersection. anyways, as i said the streets are pretty deserted, so deserted that it was perfectly normal for maxis friend driving by to stop and park basically in the middle of an intersection. so we hung out there for a little while then made our way back to maxi´s and passed out.

we got up around noon today and pretty soon after made our way to maxi´s grandmas house for lunch. she made us a delicious pasta dish - she literally made the pasta herself, it was sooo good. similar story to last night, downed two servings of the main dish, maxi went to get lemon pie cake (literally the same as the terimisu but lemon flavored), ate a slice of that, then sat there in disbelief of how much we had eaten. i kind of expected the lunch to be a big deal but it was super casual, maxi´s little cousin turned his video games onto this huge projector and we watched him play grand theft auto and fifa. he was definitely into it but i was surprised at how quickly his video game sesh was.... only like 15 minutes of each game, never seen some one with such selfcontrol regarding video games....

maddy and star went into a food coma and passed so i went over some spanish words with mich then we got into a game of spanish categories. after a few rounds we decided to wake the girls up and head back to maxis. maddy and i got to ride with maxi in this huge truck he drives for work (oil transporting i think, his whole family is a part of it). got back to his place, star and maddy left again with maxi to go to the bus terminal to figure out our bus to iguazu. michelle and i stayed behind and hung out with cande who made us a cold mate. everyone drinks mate here, so often too. usually its hot but cande told us that another version is having it with cold juice (apparently more standard in paraguay). it was soooo good. i wish i could describe it, kind of like the best lemonade in the world. and i dont even really like lemonade. we sat outside sipping and talking for a while, came back inside and before too long star maddy and maxi were back as well.

we walked around the corner to a meat shop to get dinner (craziest meat shop ive been too, even more so than mzolis -- there were brains, intestines, kidneys, livers, parts of an animal i didn´t know existed... maddy was in shock), dropped the goods off at home then went to another store to get veggies that looked straight out of the garden. unlike any grocery store in the us, so local and so authentic. anyways, came back home and started preparing for dinner. maxi light up the grill and we chilled as the veggies (peppers with eggs and cheese and zuchinnis with cheese) and meat cooked. some of maxi´s family had come for dinner and maddy and star started giving the two younger ones hairwraps, but were cut short for dinner which was served around 11pm. another delicious meal, pork ribs, salad, french fries, stuffed veggies, bread, beer. what more could you ask for? meals here are so different than at home. it´s such a family event but its also so casual. the tv is usually on, people are on their phones, but it doesn´t matter because it is such a long activity. it´s 1 now, we finished eating probably 45 minutes or an hour ago but we´re all still together.... maddy just finished her hairwrap, maxi and gaston are passed out on bean bags in front of the tv, and the adults are still sitting around the table. i love it. im so happy to have another night of this. they are all so nice. and being around them is just really enjoyable because its so real. i can´t understand them half the time but its cool to just listen and try to understand, i definitely feel myself getting a better grip on spanish which im stoked about.

trying to think of what other details to add.... some random things about argentina: at the hostel and most places the sewage system can´t handle toilet paper so you have to throw it away instead of flushing it down. everyone smokes cigarettes, anywhere and everywhere. they are smoking at the table now. its natural for parents and kids to smoke together (not the real young ones but maxi). hmmmm tryna think of other things but im drawing a blank. ive been on here forever, i get so carried away and these are all just the thoughts and things that come to mind first. oh! maxi´s family has the cutest little, luna, shes 8 years old but looks like she could still be a pup. she has a bad back leg so her front legs lead and her rear kind of hops/slides around after. too cute.

just took a break for some of maxi´s dad infamous ice cream with whiskey. he called me over to ask if i wanted ice cream, i obviously said yes, then he offered the whiskey and i couldn´t say no, until he kept pouring it on literally until i said no. strong but yummy. this family is too awesome i am going to be really sad to leave even though i have a hard time communicating with all of them. never met a family more kind and hospitable. truly great people.

Posted by alexascamp 21:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (4)

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