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My Journey Round The World » 2010 » January

My Journey Round The World

279 days on the road…

Córdoba РArgentina Identity

C√≥rdoba is the Capital of FernetDaddy you won’t believe that! – for being the city of the world that most drinks it! This particular drink is more than an alcoholic drink made of herbs. It is ” THE DRINK” – el trago – combined with cola, a symbol of friends gathering, it is the myth here. I had a chance to taste it during the Festival in Cosqu√≠n, sharing this pretty bitter drink – even with coke! – with Eze, Flor and the others.

C√≥rdoba with its is 1 200 000 people is the second city of Argentina but even with that it doesn’t avoid big technical problem! When I was there they cut electricity in different part of the city, including shops, twice a day – at Eze’s place from 2 to 5pm and then from 8 to 10pm? – to try to fix it! – Tanguy, what do you think about that! :) – Better to plan to go out or come back to your flat when you leave at the 11th floor as Eze! But I think the worst was being without air-conditioning under more than 30 degrees… It seems that generators companies run out of products after more than 2 weeks of this issue!


ZAMBA PARA OLVIDAR

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Ezequiel is not only a great host, making you feel at home, giving you advices – even shopping advice! ;) – but he is also an artist during his spare time: playing guitar and singing! Luckily for them they had another couch surfer planned for the weekend as I could have stay there for ages! :)

He sang me this song after a long chat we had about life experiences…

“Zamba para Olvidar”¬† – Samba to forget – see the Spanish side for Spanish original version

I don’t know why you came back,
If I was starting to forget.
I don’t know if you know by now,
I cried when you left.
I don’t know why you came back,
Remembering is for me so bad.

The afternoon has become sad,
And I rather be silent.
Why should we talk
Of things which are no longer?
I don’t know why you came back,
Do you see now that it is better not to talk?

It makes me sad to know that in the end,
Of that love nothing is left.
Only a poor song,
Is turning around my guitar.
And it has for a while now missed you,
My “Zamba para Olvidar” (Samba to forget)

My zamba lived with me,
As part of my solitude.
I don’t know if you know by now…
My life left with you.
Remembering is for me so bad.

My hands are already dust,
From squeezing the pain so hard.
And now that the sun is missing,
I don’t know what you came here to find.
Crying my love crying,
Forget me yourself.

It makes me sad to know that in the end,
Of that love nothing is left.
Only a poor song,
Is turning around my guitar.
And it has for a while now missed you,
My “Zamba para Olvidar” (Samba to forget)


Córdoba РFestival de Cosquín

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When arriving at 6am in C√≥rdoba, I could see people already in tee-shirt…¬† People said to me that heat is more bearable than in Buenos Aires as its more dry. Well…¬† I don’t find it more comfortable! It was so hot and I was pretty tired after 10 hours bus ride, that I spent nearly all day at my coach surfing place Ezequiel, chatting and resting before going for a nice city tour when his girlfriend Florencia came back from work and the sun was down. We then enjoyed a really nice diner at La nieta ‘e la Pancha.

On the next evening, they brought me to Cosqu√≠n at the Festival Nacional del Folklore. What a great time! We met 3 others friends - 2 french :) – and spent the all night there, hanging around the streets watching folk dances. So amazing to see people from the public joining the dancers after they achieve their¬† performance and dancing all together! We ended up in Los Copla pe√Īa to listen to several folk groups and watching people dancing all night! I finally found the Latin spirit party I so much heard of in Europe! Having fun, enjoying time and music all night… We made our way back to Cordoba at 5am and went to bed after a media luna – small croissant – breakfast around 7am! What a great night! Seeing people smiling and enjoying themselves in such a nice atmosphere! I loved it! Thanks a lot Eze and Flor for this!

festival 1

festival 2

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Mar del Plata

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Mar del Plata… Le Touquet power 100! Mardelas it’s commonly known here - founded in 1874 is a enormous Le Touquet or La Grande Motte resort in France, filled with skyscrapers built in the middle of pretty houses! This is the most popular of Argentine beach destinations, 400 km south of Buenos Aires. On summer – which is now! – the beach gets really, comically crowded such as people standing shoulder to shoulder! When visiting the casino I felt back in Las Vegas! So huge and crowded! Nightlife is incredible – but it seems to be the case in all Argentina! - even at 1am you can hardly walk on the pavement as it’s full of people¬†shopping or going for a drink, diner¬†or parties!¬†The port offers viewing of nice boats and sea lion colony and when I was there it was the Fiesta Nacional de los Pescados :) I was really upset to be alone as I couldn’t taste¬†all the¬†things… :(

I stayed in a nice hostel with really friendly¬†staff¬† always willing to help¬†- found thanks to Pablo help’s! - 6 blocks from the beach and the city centre: Hostel Namaste: www.hostelnamaste.com.ar and 7 blocks from Alejandra home. I would never go¬†to Mar del Plata¬†if I didn’t had a contact there… But it was worth meeting Alejandra and her sons :) -¬†thank you Sabine! ;)I enjoyed a lot meeting¬†and chatting with her! She¬†drives me around her city, showing me the place of interest, the really nice and cheap Mercado de Artesanias, tasting the traditional Argentine biscuit¬†AlfajorThank you so much Alejandra! I really had great time, knowing that I don’t really like the beach in summer – yes, yes… Plus here the temperature was more bearable! - and I now understand even better why people living close to the sea cannot live without the sea… :)


Buenos Aires suburb: Boulogne-sur-Mer

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Well, I already knew I didn’t want to live in Paris suburb and now I definitely know that I absolutely don’t want to live in a suburb at all! You always need to plan your journey, wait for train, metro or bus, most of the time be stuck – and here with the heat it’s even more unpleasant! – between people, encounter bus driver that always want to be faster than necessary, it even seems that people have the same unhappy face everywhere in the world!… This is also¬†maybe because I’m used to live in a smaller city where I can take my car whenever I need it! Anyway, I’ll rather pay more than leaving in a suburb… Ok, I better start earning money then, I’m not really on the right way here… :)

Pablo show me around the best area – yes indeed some are really nice such as Belgrano, close to Palermo :) ¬†Tigre, along the Rio where you can have a boat trip or even a swim! And where people are usually coming for the weekend. But a bit more out of Buenos Aires & expensive! – trying to convince me that suburb life is good…¬†Maybe yes, when you’re used to it… But I think not for me… Anyway we had great time enjoying hamburger (!) and one of the best ice cream :)

On our way back – by car… – to his place we pass… Boulogne-sur-Mer!!! Boulogne-sur-Mer, not really the best suburb and without the sea but¬†in January and with 30 degree… :)

Now direction Mar del Plata – seems to be the local Le Touquet… Hope to have a bit¬†more air from the sea!


Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires is one of my favorite city in South America – ok, maybe after Cusco :) – I know that such comparison shouldn’t be made - but this might help you to get a small idea in complement of the pictures – as I already said, it remind me of Paris as well as a bit of Berlin while visiting Palermo barrio… All this with the Latin atmosphere and the heat!!!

At the hostel I came across Nicholas – whom I met in La Paz about a month ago – who kindly show me around the city, which he already new, before leaving for Australia. It was great to have a private guide, no many Spanish speaking but we had lot of fun! :)

Saturday we entered Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace with the famous balcony where Evita use to appear in the 1940s. During the guided visit - all in Spanish! – we met Joan another Australian with whom we tried my second parrilla. Thursday I went back to Plaza de Mayo to try to see the weekly walk of the mothers and grandmothers to claim news of their children and small children missing during the dictatorship but I didn’t see them.¬† On Sunday we stayed in San Telmolovely area to stay, close to the main city center – and visited Plaza Dorrego and the surrounding cobbled streets with its famous antiques fair. We even spot two paseoperros - dog-walker, Catherine you would have love it! – while having a nice lunch :) Palermo neighborhood was my favorite! Maybe because it’s full of green parks… – we couldn’t visit because of a storm few days ago… :( Palermo Viejo, divided in Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are home to trendiest boutiques and restaurants. No wonder why many expats have planted roots here! The colorful Caminito in La Boca area reminded me of the crowded Montmartre – made for tourist! - with as well as the painters, tango shows all around the place… Still it was lovely to see those colorful buildings! On the same day – a bit cooler! – we went to the Cementerio de la Recoleta. Fascinating to explore this extensive minicity with big statues, detailed marble facades as well as seeing the coffin, not buried into the¬† grave but just put down inside those little monuments! We followed the crowds and found Evita’s grave. After such a visit we had a nice rest laying on the grass in front of the Iglesia de Nuestra Se√Īora de Pilar watching people and the sparrows before going back to our trendy hostel America del Sur – www-americahostel.com.ar – in San Telmo. I wanted to do a bike tour around certain area but because of the heat, I soon gave up! After Nicholas left, I went around the main city center walking on Florida Street – one of the main shopping street – having a rest at San Martin Plaza where you can see people taking the sun – as it’s so warm – before meeting Pablo from Coachsurfing and heading to BA suburb. Buenos Aires is a city where I could live… However, the heat is simply keeling me – I’m a bit afraid of Australia now… - so I guess I need to find another place! :)


Travel Puerto Iguaz√ļ – Buenos Aires

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Waouuu, so great this nearly 20 hours bus trip!!! Even if it was on a boring flat asphalted road, where I could see all along cows and horses… The only thing missing was the shower! ;) After this really hot day in Parque Nacional Iguaz√ļ in Argentina, I took a night bus to Buenos Aires and what a bus!- Ariane and Gregoire, if you remenber our trip from Arequipa to Puno, this was the same kind of bus! :)Diner served – ok at 1am, time to pick up all the passengers, but still served :) - long night sleep with pillow and blanket nearly like in your bed, breakfast - Carmen, I do remember you told me about this luxury ;)and arrival to BA around 1pm where I took a really friendly taxi, showing me around the main buildings we were passing through to go to the Ostinatto hostel - http://www.ostinatto.com/index.html – in the trendy San Telmo barrio, for once I did book – even if it’s nearly like in your bed, it was the third nights bus in 4 nights… :)

So I did book the hotel but it didn’t work! And when I arrived, dreaming of a good shower, they were no electricity and no water… :( Fine! I went for a short walk around and lunch in a parrilla

Actually, at a first glimpse, Buenos Aires remind me a lot of Paris… Paris on a hot summer day in January¬† – Yes Mathilde, still in short sleeve shirt… Sorry! :) With it’s large avenues, trees, plazas, cosmopolitan atmosphere… Clean streets compare to what I’m use to since a while now… Yes a capital… First thing I also notice were French or even Italian cars such as Peugeot, Renaud and Fiat which I don’t remember seeing on this side of the world before… There are even small Carrefour shops! Back to the civilisation I know… :) Nevertheless, quite puzzling after Bolivia experience!


Parque Nacional Iguaz√ļ

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A total of 275 individual falls occupy an area more than 3km wide and 80m high, which makes them wider than Victoria, higher than Niagara and really impressive to see as to hear! :) ¬† It‚Äôs impossible to say which side of the border is the more rewarding: the Parque Nacional do Igua√ßu in Brazil offers a more panoramic view of the totality of the 275 falls, while the Parque Nacional Iguaz√ļ in Argentina provides an up-close and personal experience – as Lonely Planet say :) For me, both are worth it.

The Brazilian visit is quicker – around 2 hours – really well organised with people informing you in 4 languagues – I could speak a bit of German :) - on how it is working and you’re more wet :) I think it’s also the only side where you can get a helicopter ride and it also does not feel as crowded as the other side!!!

On the Argentinean sidemore expensive! And more than 3 times the price of what locals pay for foreigners! – you can spend the day walking around the different paths, taking the small train, exploring the San Martin Island – when opened! - or as in Brasil, going on a boad¬†trip close to the falls on both side. I actually saw more animals than in Brazil,¬†except for the beautiful and¬†friendly butterfly landing on you on both side :) I’ve seen monkeys – loving to pose for pictures :)hummingbird – Seb you would have been happy! – spiders and some other bird, I’m sure Catherine will tell me the name of:)

On the Argentinean side I bump into¬†Holly, one of the Australian girl with whom we did the Inka trail! And on my way back to Puerto Iguaz√ļ, I met Adam – with whom we did the Christmasshare event in Sucre – I knew¬†he was not far away as we catch up with him on Facebook the day before – yes indeed! – Funny how travelers world¬†can be so small… :)

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Crossing Paraguay

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Paraguay… I finally only cross it and stopped at Ciudad Del Este to visit the Parque Nacional Iguaz√ļ - first on the Brasilian side and the next day on the Argentinian one – after reading on the Lonely Planet guide book: “Paraguay is a country of fascinating contrasts. It‚Äôs rustic and sophisticated. It‚Äôs extremely poor and obscenely wealthy.” I just didn’t want to experience the same shock as the one I had in Bolivia – even if now I was aware of it…

After more than 20 hours drive on a flat land without asphalt road with a short break in Asunci√≥n, I had enough of bus ride – even if we had an unexpected breakfast and lunch! – Plus I urgently needed to do a full washing… So I arrived at 5am at the bus station and after saying goodbye to Danny – a Peruvian working in Brasil on the road for 4 days to reach Brasil! – I¬† immediatly look for the closest hotel I could find – of course the one I had in mind was fully booked… - I found another one and after a short nap I brought my clothes to the laundery before heading to Iguaz√ļ Cataratas in Brasil – crossing the border without any checking! (bus driver told me it wasn’t necessary) I had enough check on the road accross Paraguay! Crasy to be stopped so often for nothing…

When coming back to pick up my laundry, I had a nice chat with the lady Bethina, really friendly women! It was a nice feeling to wave goodbye to her when I saw her in the morning while going to pick up the bus for Argentina. Ciudad Del Este is at the 3 borders between Brasil, Paraguay and Argentinaa bit like Aachen betwenn Belgium, Holland and Germany :) I already know the feeling… :) – But here you’re suppose to make your passport stamp before you cross – actually for a day in Brasil to Iguaz√ļ, this is fine – however I skipped the exit stamp of Paraguay when leaving that morning… – I didn’t understand where you have to do it! – Luckily I didn’t had any problem while entering Argentina… So far!


Bolivia: mixed feeling…

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I spent more than one month in Bolivia and it still hard to decide if I like it or not. I really have mixed feeling…

On one hand: the huge gap between extremely poor and wealthy people, which¬†brought me down when I finally realised it - nearly 2 weeks after I arrived! I also have to say that generally, I¬†didn’t find people really friendly… and actually I’m glad I found some travelers with the same opinion. Even sometimes really unpleasantespecially when buying a bus ticket!

On the other hand: landscapes are absolutely stunning!!! -¬†and I’m not saying that only for the Uyuni Salar! Ok, I didn’t visit the all country, and especialy avoid the¬†tropical region – too hot for me! - stuck mostly on the Altiplanoas it said to be most travelers do - but it was worth it! I’ve enjoy every moment of the travel… Paradoxically, I met really lovely local¬†people:

  • Cochabamba – all the people from Bueno Samaritano
  • Victor Hugosi, si! – my bus neighbor from Cochabamba to Sucre
  • Adrian – the one from Sucre to Potos√≠
  • Really friendly staff¬†hostal in: Sucre (Hostelling International Sucre), Potos√≠, Uyuni (Hotel Avenida)
  • Tarija – Luis and his friends – with whom I learned the local habit to¬†look at someone in the eyes, drink a gulp and pass on your drink to him or her ; it’s really rude to refuse! Yes I did it, even with alcohol! :)as well as 1 brother and 1 sister in the hotel where¬†I found out that the 2 daughters of the lady -¬†leaving in Cochabamba – were dancing in the Revolution show I’ve seen! :)
  • Villa Montes – the lady at the bus terminal, Gariel and his brother at the post office as well as Eduardo, my first Paraguayencounter ;)

What I’ll regret the most is to have missed the Isla del Sol…¬†Another good reason – first one is Uyuni Salar in case you forgot! ;)to come¬†back… :) ¬†