Oct 042013
 

We arrived in Buenos Aires after 20 hours on the bus, and immediately went to find the couchsurfers that we were staying with. Buenos Aires has a real European vibe. It really felt like we were in the middle of a major city in central Europe.

View from the apartment we stayed in

View from the apartment we stayed in

The people do not look like South-Americans. There were no small indigenous ladies with hats, that we had seen in all the other countries on the continent. People are tall, pale and some even blonde.
Fortunately, Buenos Aires also has a fairly well-functioning metro system like most major European cities, so within an hour we had located the apartment of our new Argentinian friends.
Mauro and Guillermo turned out to be super-nice guys. I had scarcely put my backpack down before I found myself sitting on their couch with an xbox-remote in hand. I played as "Brann" against Argentina in a footballgame. Brann lost something like 10-0, so it was a fairly realistic game.
We also had the honor of hitting the guinea pig Osmey, that should be our roomey the next week. Every day got Osmey allowed to run loose around the front porch eating various plants. Mauro told us Osmey had managed to eat a giant hashplant they had on the porch. After that he was really great appetite(so that one gets the hash) and puked in a whole apple. An apple that weighed almost as much as the guinea pig!
The next week we were awakened every morning when Osmey decided to scream.

In the evening we went to a local Parilla. A Parilla is a special restaurant serving meat directly from the grill. It's every vegetarian's nightmare. We ordered a feast for 4 which included large quantities of meat from all parts of the cow, and some from the pig too.

Stig,Torunn og Mauro

Stig,Torunn og Mauro


The meal began with a giant serving dish full of guts. It's really a pretty sly strategy to fill up customers with intestines so that they eat less meat, which is much more expensive. I tasted cow intestines for the first time. They were at least crispy, but not particularly tasty, and you can not avoid thinking about what has gone through them. The kidneys and liver were also just OK, but we tried not to eat too much to keep a little space for when the meat came. Some assorted sausages arrived together with the meat, even a blood sausage. I thought it best to just eat the sausages without looking inside them, but when I was halfway through a blood sausage, I could not help myself. It turned out that the big tasteless pieces I thought were coagulated blood was actually fat lumps.
Argeninske super nasty fat sausages

Argeninske super nasty fat sausages

At this point I lost my appetite a little, and gave up on the blood sausage. The meat platter was filled with enough meat to feed a small city in Africa, but we were not very hungry after the intestines and fat. It was not exactly a fillet steak. We never really found out what a fillet steak is called in Argentina.

Although the meat was chewy it went down fine, slowly but surely.
In Argentina they eat dinner very late, rarely before 10 P.M. Since we had not eaten anything other than biscuits since we arrived to Buenos Aires we managed to get the boys to go out with us at nine o'clock in the evening, at which time the restaurant was more or less empty. Many evenings we did not have dinner until 12 AM. It feels a little weird to eat a big greasy meal an hour before jumping into bed.
The first day when we were going out to explore the big city it only took one hour before some jerk on the metro stole our camera. It was a bad start to the day.
This was the first time anybody had stolen anything from me, and it destroyed 2 two whole days. Usually in big cities I always keep a hand on all the pockets, and I am constantly cynical to everybody who comes near me. But during this trip on the metro I forgot to pay attention for only 10 minutes, maybe because we had an interesting conversation just then. This little oversight to be cynical was enough for some asshole to put his hand in my pocket and steal our brand new camera. We were not very upset about losing the camera, but the images that were on the memory card were irreplaceable. We lost all the pictures from the world's largest dam in Paraguay, and from the world's most beautiful waterfall; Iguazu in Argentina and Brazil. The 2 most important places in South America, Macchu Picchu and Iguazu Falls, and we
I Buenos Aires docks

I Buenos Aires docks

have almost no photos from some of the places .... it's amazing sour. It is extremely annoying to know that some idiot in Buenos Aires may have sold our camera for 30$ when we would be willing to pay 5 times as much to get our pictures back.

There was no sightseeing for us that day, we just drowned our sorrows in Argentinian wine and beer. The next day went mostly by finding a police station and trying to get a police certificate for the insurance, a procedure that we are getting pretty fed up with as it is the third country in South America where someone steals from us.
We had been rather unfortunate that last week .... and when stuff like that happens you really feel like taking the first flight home to Norway. The insurance company hates us anyway, since this is the fourth insurance claim in less than 5 months. Only 4 days earlier we had another claim to cover the costs of Torunn's fishbone in the throat.

The following day we went to try paintball with Mauro and Guillermo and a bunch of their friends. I had been looking forward to trying paintball, but after half an hour I wanted to leave and never touch a paintball gun again.
The place was quite amateurish, and lacked the most basic safety procedures. We got a little face mask, but no helmet. This led to, of course, that I managed to get shot 4 times

Stig by parlamentsbygg

Stig by parlamentsbygg

i Knollen. The last time some idiot managed to shoot me in the forehead from 2 meter distance. It was really painful and I started spinning. It's really not fun anymore when you are bleeding from a large bump on your head. Stupid game....

The rest of our time in Buenos Aires, we used to try

Argentinian grill

Argentinian grill

To find the tourist thing. It is a very nice city, but also very complex. It resembles very much Budapest or Prague, very similar architecture. It's probably because Buenos Aires was built by immigrants from Europe.
We went to the district of La Boca where there are many old houses in every possible color. It was a real tourist trap, but still a pretty interesting place. We ate another large meat meal in a "Parilla", and were served something that I can only describe as the nastiest sausage in the world. It was almost completely without any meat, you had to really dig deep into the sausage to find meat. The sausage consisted almost entirely of a white, soft, homogeneous fat lump.
Tango !

Tango !


It was a pretty miserable Parilla, where they actually managed to take "cover charge" to be allowed to eat there, although we sat on plastic chairs in a dark backyard.
After that experience we lightened the mood a little by sharing a giant beer at one of the tourist restaurants that had a continuous Tango-show. Thankfully we got to see a tango show before leaving BA!
Many of the places that had tango shows charged more than 1000 kroner for a ticket, While we only needed to pay 25 kroner for a beer to share.
After 5 nights with Mauro and Guillermo it was time to say goodbye and move on to Uruguay. Uruguay is quite close to Buenos Aires, only 1,5 hours by boat across the river.

 Posted by at 9:42 in the morning
Aug 292013
 

 

The next day was a very long day. We were stuck on different buses for 13 hours before we finally arrived in Salta in Argentina.
The first few days there we had a special arrangement; we couchsurfed at a hostel!

Hostel in Salta

Hostel in Salta


The lady who owned the hostel used couchsurfing as a way to promote the newly built hostel. We were staying there for free one night and had to pay the other nights. When we got there we found out that it was the same for all the guests. We liked the hostel so much that we ended up staying for 3 days. The hostel was like a large ranch in the middle of the countryside. There was a main building with a swimmingpool and a half circle of cabins where we slept. Loki is a hostel chain that is found throughout South America. We had never stayed there before because it is a so-called "party hostel" which is aimed at teenagers who want to get drunk and have sex in dorms and such. The hostel in Salta was fortunately not like this.
The guys gathered around a bonfire

The guys gathered around a bonfire

There was a very social atmosphere with people much like ourselves; who enjoyed having a few glasses of vino and talk about current topics around a cozy campfire.

There was a group of teenagers there though, but they were just comical (and slightly annoying). There was a Canadian couple and a deranged Northern Irishman who were travelling together. When we ate breakfast at 11 they were already completely wasted. They had gotten up at 6 in the morning and started right on the booze, and judging on the Irishman also various central stimulants. We would sunbathe all day by the pool while the 3 of them would stumble around doing funny, and stupid things. The owner of the hostel stopped serving them, and denied them a taxi to town, which turned a tad dramatic. None of them were able to formulate a sentence or stand upright without falling over, but they still wanted to go to town. Youngsters nowadays!
Stig and Torunn on horseback

Stig and Torunn on horseback


We went on a horseback-ride on the Argentine plains on one of the days. It was one of the best days we've had in South America. The trip was very different from what we had done 2 days earlier. For one thing, the guide was actually a grown man, and he instructed us in horse riding. Of all the times we had hired horses with guide earlier, nobody had told us anything about horse riding. It turned out that you actually have to jump in time with the horse when trotting, which proved to be much more tiring than to just sit there and do nothing. We did do some gallopping where he instructed us in breathing techniques and focusing vision. First, they served us a wonderful local wine.
The Argentine steak

The Argentine steak


The horse riding was fun, but the best thing about the trip was really when we got back to the ranch for lunch. There have always been 2 reasons for me to want to go to Argentina; wine and steak, and here we got both in huge amounts!
Each time the glass was almost empty one of the workers came running to re-fill it. Lunch was really one of the best we have had served on the trip; lots of local vegetables and chilis, PERFECTLY barbecued filet steak straight off the grill - as much as we managed to shove in. It was really decadent perfection. When
we came back to the hostel we were both quite tipsy, at 4pm.

At the hostel, me and Torunn joined the pub-quiz. As usual we did well on the topic of biology and actors, while we lost a lot of points on the subject of sports and Argentinian politics.

Stig and Pedro working

Stig and Pedro working


After 3 days we went to Salta city to stay in the centre with Pedro. I first met Pedro 5,5 years earlier when he was the first couchsurfer that I hosted in Budapest.
Since I last saw him, he had managed to complete his legal studies, got himself a nice house in the nicest neighbourhood in Salta, and is co-owner of a tourist farm that organizes horse rides, and all at the age of 27 years - not bad!
Salta is a nice little town, with a quiet plaza and several pedestrian and shopping streets. Hot Dogs are extremely popular, they call them 'super-panchos». One evening when we wandered around the main street we saw a crowd of around 100 people who were
Torunn and cactus

Torunn and cactus

gathered around a window. When we got closer we saw that they actually stood and watched a football game on some TVs inside a store. The TV was behind a lattice window. Argentinians really LOVE football, and apparently have no TV in their homes.

We took the cable car to the top of a mountain and discovered that Salta is not as small as we thought. There is 1,5 million people, 3 times larger than the largest city in Norway, so we ought to have realized that there had to be some houses there.
We walked back down the mountain on a footpath. It was a nice trail and nice scenery, but it was a little disturbing that there were figures of the crucified Jesus every 100 meters .
Church in the middle of nowhere

Church in the middle of nowhere


Argentina is possibly the least religious country in South America; 80% of the population are registered catholics, but only 20% are active.
It is still like all the other countries in South America with Jesus and the Virgin Mary and saints everywhere.
Pedro took us to his farm one morning. It was us and his grandmother and a co-owner. Grandma (Abuela) was a sweet 90 year-old woman who chattered away in Spanish all day, while we tried as best we could to understand a fraction of what she said. In real Argentina-style we were served a big juicy steak and wine as we arrived at the farm. It was pretty far out into the desert, which had a unique charm in itself. We spent the day going zig-zag between giant cacti and corn plants. We got the chance to help with the farm-work when Pedro and his friends needed help to lift the wheelbarrow.
After Salta we moved on with a 22 hour bus to Encarnacion in Paraguay where we were to stay with our next couchsurfing host Cesar and his mother.

 Posted by at 12:58 pm