Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feliz Navidad from Buenos Aires

After a couple of meandering days through the sweltering heat of Cordoba, I left Yuval to meet with Roisin in Buenos Aires for the holidays. He and I planned to reconverge in the New Year, and I planned to push back my flights home (original return date: January 6th) so we could travel all the way down to the end of Patagonia together. After spending more time in Bolivia than I had expected I felt as though I would be cheating myself out of the Argentine experience if I left when planned. Especially since I've been dreaming of Argentina since high school...

I arrived in Buenos Aires on a bright, sunny morning. The city was a huge urban rainforest, tropical and slow moving with a cacophony of traffic sounds and music, like the screeching parrots of the amazon. My ten days in Buenos Aires were dominated by the heat, eating and drinking wine with friends and dancing until the sun rose.
The hostel I was at was cozy and clean, and I immediately felt at home - so much so that I frequently forgot my sandals in the common room and left dishes in my dorm.

Roisin and I treated ourselves to a tango show and sat enthralled for hours watching the incredible dexterity of the dancers' feet. One of my favorite things about Buenos Aires was the tango dancers that put on shows in the middle of the main pedestrian streets. It gave cruising the trendy stores a nice Argentine flare.

Christmas was somewhat surreal. Without my family, it didnt feel much like the holidays. Plus, there was no hint of snow... unless you count the gringos on cocaine binges. Roisin and I, and her friend from back home in Ireland, Clair, joined the hostel for a huge asado (barbecue) on Christmas Eve. Argentine Christmas traditions consist of eating a lot of meat, drinking a lot of wine, setting off firecrackers until it sounds like the city is under seige, and partying until dawn. I heard from someone at the hostel that some people even go to midnight mass completely drunk. To make it feel more like Christmas, us girls exchanged small gifts on Christmas Day and watched cheesy holiday movies.

Traveling with a group of girls was a definite change of pace from traveling with Yuval. We spent much of our days poking in and out of the shops, visiting the many markets, and going to museums - including the very enjoyable Evita museum. We gathered a few more girls as we spent more time at our hostel, including two girls from Alberta; one that I knew from Calgary and the other from Edmonton - technically the enemy, but we let that slide.

I happily adjusted to Argentine time: eating at 10:30 or later and going out after 2:00, which quickly resulted in not waking before noon most days. I was in great company - I met many other travelers who were great and funny and interesting. The Edmontonian girl made me laugh until I cried with her stories of misadventures in Ecuador - the sort of stories that are only funny after the actual experience. However, I quickly tired of the club, bar and party scene. Literally and figuratively. I found myself wishing for quiet nights with Yuval, slowly savoring a bottle of wine and a nice dinner.

New Years Eve was my last night in Buenos Aires, and the girls were psyched for a grand party. To start off the night, we had a picnic of pizza, empanadas, wine and champagne. We laughed and talked for hours over our little picnic, eventually tearing ourselves away to visit the first bar of the night. The hostel bar was packed with gringos and everyone was dancing and waiting in the epically long line for drinks. The buses to shuttle us to the next bar showed up at 1:30 and we all piled on, heading for what was supposed to be the party at a giant, out of the way nightclub called Pacha. We danced until the sky was pink with the first day of 2010. We emerged bleary eyed and exhausted, but pleased with a new years well spent. The club was right beside the ocean, and the wind was whipping the waves into pink, white crested frosting.

Meanwhile, Yuval had been in Mendoza being disappointed by the quality of the wines on the bodega tours. He then went on to Santiago, Chile and bought a tent, and went on a trek to test out his new toy. For New Years he was at a giant, mad party at the beach town of Valparaiso. I left Buenos Aires on New Years day to meet him Santiago.

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