Argentina is not bad, and if you got an impression that I dont like it, well its only partially true.
The distances between points of interest are really long, with a whole lot of nothing in the middle.
Its been a few days of driving and we are FINALLY approaching Buenos Aires. The surroundings slowly turn greener, single trees turn into little woods and houses become a standard sight.
Just a few hours outside of Buenos Aires I had a very nostalgic moment as we drove through the farmlands. They resembled the sights just outside my country house in Russia so much that I almost shed a tear remembering my childhood of running around in the fields and forrests.
Okay, reel it back in Ivan, we came here to be entertained and not to listen to your sappy childhood stories.
Back to reality of traveling in Argentina. Scrounging every crevace in our car to find some coins for the tolls, we cursed the banking system and the fickle ATMs.
Drove around some town looking for the next fix…when you find it, remember, take all that you can.
Got to Buenos Aires on Sunday evening, tried to get an AirBnB, but on such a short notice it was a pain. Instead found an amazing hostel, America del Sur, right smack in the center of the city. After being by our lonesome selves, we were happy to find people to hang out with and chat about whatever.
Morning, more like early afternoon, breakfast at a nearby coffee shop. If I look a little wrinkled, its not because we partied a bit last night…no, not at all.
Ordered a double coffee with milk to try shake off the persistent need of finding a place to rest your head somewhere. Its not the Peets express train to full-on jitters, but a nice, mellow car ride to fully functional.
Some food to fuel our exploration of the city. I ordered ravioli with a 4 cheese sauce and even by my standards it was too salty, sad to waste a meal on this. The omelette had a pound of of butter in it so that was nice and very edible.
If you are like us and are fully native level of Spanish by this point, then you will already know that Buenos Aires roughly translates as “Good Air”. People say its because of a constant mild breeze that sweeps through the city, I personally believe its becuase Argentinians think they are better than everyone else and even their flatulence smells of roses.
If you are not convinced by the name, to further prove their superiority, Buenos Aires erected this massive…ugh, whats the word?
“Hyein, can I use this word in the blog?”
Obelisk…that’s it. A giant obelisk in honor of something or other. Whatever the reason I will say that it fits quite well with the grand central avenue.
To get the feel of the city you just need to walk down the Avenue 9 de Julio. By walking along you will be able to see the major architectural and cultural attractions of the city.
If you get tired of the busy life on the main highway, just take any side street and hide in a coffee shop until you are ready to face the real world again.
Isolated from the world by our autonomous transportation we have become strangely uneasy in large crowds. Luckily, the Monday midday foot traffic was manageable and we had a relaxing walk to the majestic Teatre Colon.
This place is absolutely stunning. Originally constructed in the early 1900’s, it was recently fully renovated with state of the art musical instruments and the latest in acoustic designs. The gorgeous facade of the theater was only given a facelift.
The acoustics are considered to be some of the best in the world. Ill believe that statement only if the review was performed by a foreign agency…if you catch my drift.
One of the side streets. The architecture is very nice and even though its from many different periods and styles, it just works well. We are not talking about St. Petersburg here, still the buildings look very well cared for. In this part of town you will be hard pressed to find a dirty or crumbling facade.
Every 15-20 minutes of walking and you hit another park. They can range from a small playground to a large city block sized green space. Maybe its the fresh air…or nice weather, but you dont feel suffocated in this huge city.
Walking around is strenuous exercise for us, so by dinner time we were famished. I had to eat a chicken leg while waiting in the checkout line of the supermarket, just so that I could make it back to the hostel without passing out on the street.
There two types of hostels…social and not social. This one is definitely a social hostal, not party, but after dinner people gather in the common area to share some drinks and shoot the shit. We ran into a two different groups of Korean travelers. First, is two guys, our age, traveling South America and second, a group of six high school boys and two teachers traveling the world for a year.
And before you ask, no we did not kill 5 bottles of wine with high schoolers.
The high schoolers were very interested in looking at our home on wheels, so the next day we all walked to the parking lot and looked at our Hodori. It was a absolute pleasure to show the car to such an audience, they asked a million questions and had a great time.
Their story is also interesting. They are studying in an international school in China. And this school has a program where the students travel the world for a year, accompanied by two teachers. This is the 3rd year of the program and the first with only boys. Since this is basically a long field trip, they have assignments and diary entries that they have to submit daily.
Not much different from us, our blog is our homework. So to show that we are actually traveling and not just stealing photos from the internet, we go out and explore the city.
Today we ventured out to see some tango and pretty houses in La Boca district. Tired from walking too much the day before we decided to hop on a bus, that proved harder than we imagined.
To use the public transit system you need to have a rechargeable card…cool, we are down for that. So we walked around for 15 minutes and asked 10 places if they sell it, finally got one. Only to find out that it sells the cards, but cannot charge any money to it. So another 10 minutes and 5 more places and we were finally good to go.
Took the correct bus but got out a bit too early and ended up walking through a part of Buenos Aires that should definitely be avoided at night.
Finally got to the touristy part of La Boca, took some pictures.
Walked around for 10 minutes and decided that this is too touristy for us. Lets go back to the center.
Now I will introduce a new plot line that we explain some of my comments and general attitude towards Argentina.
If you have been reading this blog chronologically then you will already now that when we shipped the car from Panama to Colombia we shared a container with another couple.
Well we spent almost a week together, getting through the whole Cuban experience together, spent Christmas together in Colombia and generally just bonded.
When we went our separate ways we agreed to meet in Argentina and thought that we made some new friends. On New Years Eve we get an email from them asking for help and they need us to send them $300. They promised to repay us when we meet in Buenos Aires and show us a good time.
We sent a few emails announcing our imminent arrival to Buenos Aires to which we actually got a reply that they are also there. But when we got there the communication line went cold, no amount of emails could get them to answer. We tried email, facebook, skype…nothing. We emailed their friends and relatives on facebook…nothing. We even found their recent picture at a party from just a week before…but no way to contact.
Their names are Fernando Mario Palmieri and Martha Gonzales. After we didnt get any responses, I thoroughly searched their names and found that Fernando has run scams before and under no circumstances should be trusted. Martha…I dont know..his sidekick sidechik? Eitherway..fuck both of you… [sorry grandma].
We are out $300, but more than that it hurts when your trust in people is ruined. And if someone actually needs help, well now they might not get it because of this.
Not knowing what to do, we went to the police and reported them both. That felt nice!
If you are here because you are searching for them then this is all the info we got. Mario Fernando Palmieri, Argentinian passport AAB905834. And Martha Ivette Gonzalez Rubio, Mexican passport number G04952328. They want to sell their Hummer H3 in Argentina, plate number URW 534-C. VIN 5GTDN136168134687.
Do me a favor and check the car for any shady business or better yet dont buy from them!
I hope this info helps people in the future to avoid them and if you need photos of their faces just look here – http://www.nomadicyear.com/2016/01/cuban-experience-crossing-the-darien-gap/
Done. I feel better.
But I write this a few weeks after the actual event and the rest of the day was not that pleasant to us.
We walked around the city trying to clear our mind, but the beautiful city was painted over with hate.
Only when we got back to the hostel and realized that the high schoolers made dinner for all of us we felt warm and welcome again.
Seriously one of the best hostels we stayed in so far. Each day of the week they have some free event in the morning and evening. This day they had a tango lesson.
But we were too busy eating food, drinking and hanging out. Hyein really wanted to go, but we couldnt.
As part of their homework for tonight the high schoolers decided to interview Hyein and me. Everyone asked a question and we tried to answer. Some questions about car, some about the trip or about my choices in education.
It was awesome, as I told story after story, all eyes on me, center of everyones attention, Hyein helping with Korean whenever we had a problem, plus wine and food. I ask you, what could be better?
These kids are getting an opportunity that people only dream of. They travel the world with friends, get to experience so many different languages and cultures before they are completely set in their own ways. This will change them forever and I hope for the better.
But we must go, the road is calling us North. We have been in the city too long and need to move, nomads never stop moving.
Next up, we make all of California jealous with the 3rd largest waterfalls in the world – Iguazu Falls.
Just looked at the map, shit, its 850 miles away….not again.