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pinatapalace
19 July 2008 @ 06:32 pm
So freaking sweet to be back. Except for the fact that my favourite hostel in the entire world was apparently booked out solid up until the end of August ie until AFTER I'd flown home. I found out later - when I went to go visit them and collect the stuff that I had left there 6 months ago - that they were RENOVATING the dorms and thus no room available....so sad. But it was really nice when the lovely Ceci opened the door and was all exclaims and hugs and kisses and wanting to show me her new baby (she was preggers when I left to gallavant around South America).

I then decided to stay at Palermo House with a friend that I met in Cordoba, the wonderful Emily from Canadia. Palermo House was a party hostel, not as bad as crazy Milhouse, but still, up there with the party hostel clan. The owner and the staff always went out with us, cracking onto anyone who was blonde with a fevor that smelled slightly of desperate desperation. There were some great pals to be made, special mention to Andy from Perth who cooked the best curries in a hostel in Buenos Aires ever and let me eat them too. Very special.

The days in Buenos Aires involved sleeping in, having coffee and reading at the bookstore-cum-cafe next door, buying clothes/shoes/anything and trying to get someone to go to the Jesus Themepark with me (never happened, plus, the once time where it looked like it would actually happen, I was sleeping and determined not to get up at the ungodly hour of 11.30am. AM). The nights involved steak, red wine, Fernet y Coke, Algerian food, music, wandering around town and doing the Pogo. It was the best. The very best.

I met up with my lovely friend Ximena who I met in Mexico and went to see the flamingoes with (perhaps you remember?) and she took me and the American boys to a university party which was awesome. We danced like crazy people, like actual crazy people, and I even ran into a random French dude I had met in Arequipa, Peru. What ARE the chances?

Photo montage...

A rad bar near our hostel
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....and a hundred meters from The Finish.....Collapse )

 
 
Current Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
05 July 2008 @ 06:08 pm
And then from the snowy fields of Las Leñas back to Mendoza I went. For, what is it now?, the THIRD time. Boy, I must love that place. Luckily for me, English Boy Glenn was also there, indulging in a 3 dollar bottle of gin with me for mostly, Old Times' Sake. Mendoza didn't/couldn't fascinate for long, due to me having worn it out a long time ago. Bearing a very fond farewell to the town that I knew thrice, I headed to Cordoba, the University City.

A lovely little hostel, many a day trip, miles of meanderings throughout the city and a multitude of late-night/early morning visits to the local nightlife made for a very good time indeed.
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....so close....to...the...end...Collapse )
 
 
Current Location: Cordoba, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
24 June 2008 @ 10:46 pm
For no other reason than that I had a lot of spare time on my hands, and clearly, money was burning a hole in my pocket, and Ollie kept planting the seeds of snow-love in my brain and all of a sudden, I was off to the snow. And now just any snow, Las Leñas snow. Las Leñas is like the little international ski resort of the South Americas. Everything is stupidly expensive, all the socially elite flock here to swish down the slopes in designer Versace and the night-life is all full of Paris-Hilton-wannabes. Why? WHY? I really can't tell you why, except that I went and I even left early.

I decided that I wanted to learn how to ski. It was a ridiculous decision. I arranged ski hire and snow gear hire. The shop that I went to very seriously wanted to hire me out a fantastic looking bright yellow onesie, circa The 80's. They just could not fathom why I was insisting on separate pants and a jacket in the more demure shades of gray, blue and black. I was clearly just not fashionable enough for Las Leñas. I lined up some lessons, I fell on stupid "chair lifts" that consisted of some kind of device you wedge between your groin and I watched little 5-yr-old kids whizz past me on the slopes. It was very humiliating. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it would've been totally different if I had strapped on a snowboard because, clearly, I'm pretty much an expert at that. No, not at all. But I'm sure that I'm at least a little bit more comfortable on that kind of snow-device. Better one than four things to impale yourself with.

The scenery was dramatic, the days warm and sunny and the drinking at night, very agreeable. But I sucked at skiing and the boys were all off doing the double black million diamond snowboarding runs and having a great time because they weren't confined to the bunny slopes and banned from the weird playground-equipment-looking things that were masquerading as chair lifts.

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Snowmen, snowshoes, snowballs, snowsleds, snowmachines, snowgoingsCollapse )
 
 
Current Location: Las Leñas, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
14 June 2008 @ 10:11 pm
There was a town near Mendoza called Uspallata. Apparently where most of Seven Years in Tibet was filmed. Very surprisingly, not in Tibet, as one would have assumed.

Due to me being lazy and buses that wouldn't let me on, I arrived in the town at nighttime, and didn't get off the right bus stop to get to my hostel. Luckily, the HOTEL where the bus dropped me off at, gave me a lift to the HOSTEL which happened to be 10km out of town. I walked in all starving and delirious and met this bunch of mendocinos hanging out in the kitchen, talking about music, cooking meet and drinking red wine. For a change.

They very kindly included me, gave me unlimited glasses of wine and fed me delicious steak.
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Two days in TibetCollapse )
 
 
Current Location: Uspallata, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
12 June 2008 @ 06:46 pm
Mendoza. World class wineries everywhere. I'm pretty sure they were that delicious. Got a posse, caught a bus, and off we were to the one of the greatest wine-making regions of the world! Trumpets please.

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We met this crazy guy, who got on the bus a few stops before the one where all the tourists get off. His name was Hugo, he was offering bikes for rent and he rocked. We ended up haggling him out of five bikes, full day hire for a grand total of FIFTEEN PESOS per bike for the whole day. Otherwise known as five dollars. It was sweet. We got a map, we got some recommendations, and off we went.
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bikes and wines...Collapse )
 
 
Current Location: Mendoza, Argentina
 
 
 
pinatapalace
06 June 2008 @ 11:31 am
Nightmares on buses. Who would've thought? In Argentina, where they are luxurious, they feed you and bathe you, this journey was a nightmare. There was a dilemma. Bus from Cafayate to Tucuman, took seven hours and left at 6am. But, bus backtracking from Cafayate to Salta and THEN bus from Salta to Tucuman, left slightly later and took maybe eight hours. I clearly didn't calculate the time the bus would remain stationary due to the farmers' protests that had been going on for a while now. I'm a sucker for NOT getting up at 5am and so did the Cafayate --> Salta --> Tucuman route. The Salta to Tucuman journey, normally about five hours, took nine. Hurrah. Keeping in mind I was still mildly suffering from Bolivian-related illness, it was huge fun. Huge fun.

I then got into Tucuman at 10pm, had to battle with the sourest reception girl at the hostel who I wanted to punch in the face and then spent the night not trying to converse with a drunk Argentinean guy who couldn't speak English and was convinced that I was fluent enough in Spanish to have a detailed discussion about his university course which I think was engineering or maths or something. Added to this was the receptionist, constantly flouncing past, trying to flirt with Argentinean guy and then lasering me with The Evil Eye for some reason that I couldn't fathom and I was pretty sick of Tucuman. So, I was pretty ready to hightail it to Mendoza the very next day.

The next morning was much more enjoyable, having met a super awesome Israeli guy and his two French friends at breakfast, walking around town and having some really good conversations. Anyways, it was not meant to be as that night we were all going to be on buses going to very different corners of Argentina. At least I got one photo of Tucuman in that time...
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Current Location: Mendoza, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
04 June 2008 @ 07:46 pm
Onwards ho! To Northern Argentina. First stop, Salta. After an extraordinarily long night bus from the Bolivian-Argentinean border. And yes. I was still sick. Which meant we didn't really do much/did nothing at all. The hostel was a bit of a dead-end, no cool people hanging about, and the town was a bit of nothing-special too. It may have been awesome, but that slipped by me and my sickness pretty quietly. One thing that I did do here was to climb up a bazillion stairs to the lookout point. And then come down on the chair lift, which, incidentally, was only of the only pictures I took. Which isn't even true, because I didn't even take the pictures.

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Yup, it's a pretty big, polluted city.

 
 
Current Location: Cafayate, Argentina
 
 
pinatapalace
31 May 2008 @ 11:41 pm
Surprisingly* I was still sick. It may have been because I didn't see a doctor for my illness and it may have been because the antibiotic for my illness negated the drinking of alcohol for the duration of its course. No one knows, really.

*not a surprise at all

So I wanted to get to someplace/anyplace warmer and that, unfortunately, meant bypassing a good portion of Bolivia so that I could head into the much more temperate and altitude-friendly region that they call Northern Argentina. On the way there I wanted to make a brief stopover at a little Bolivian town called Tupiza. Much closer to sea-level (although, don't get too excited, not quite there yet), the days were sunny and warm-ish, and the nights were less inviting to frostbite. Also, the area around here is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed after they robbed a nearby bank. For more information, you should see the movie.

Horseriding was the business here and yee-ha! I said. I sure did.
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Current Location: Tupiza, Bolivia
 
 
pinatapalace
So I randomly found some pictures from things I did in La Paz. Very randomly because they were neither in my flickr account OR my photo CDs and ONLY on my old camera memory card. Weird.

The good news is that we went to a lovely little music museum. Which was fun because we got to play on random instruments made of bottles and bang on drums to our hearts' content! And also, there were strange-instrument-like objects displayed, such as like,
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...meant to be played like so...
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Current Location: La Paz, Bolivia
 
 
pinatapalace
26 May 2008 @ 01:20 pm
Bearing a heartfelt goodbye to Isla del Sol, we headed to the highest capital in the world - La Paz (at 3600m or so). I spent quite a few days here, mostly because of the sickness that had crawled itself into my gut. That made me unable to eat and bed bound for a couple of days. It wasn't all bad though. I lost a whopping 5kgs or so, actually, it was probably more, and adopted the really hot "anorexic chic look". It was hot. I love skeletal.

Entonces, I didn't really have much ability to take photos. La Paz was high. Really sunny in the day and really cold at night. There was a weird French guy at the hostel that claimed he was "from the world" and told an Israeli guy at the hostel (whom I met later on in my travels, and relayed this story to me) that one day, he was going to go to Israel and kill all the Jews. Huh. And then, at some point, he pulled a machete on a Japanese guy staying at the hostel too (also relayed to me by Israeli guy). That guy was definitely creep central. One day we tried to find the black market to buy some cool stuff and we couldn't find it. Yup. Great story.

And so, when French guy had sufficiently creeped me out to the extent that I left La Paz, whilst still majorly sick with gastro, plugged up with a lot more anti-diarrhoeal tablets than was safe, to spend five hours on a bus and then a further seven hours on a train, to get to Uyuni, the town from whence I would adventure off to see the amazing Salar de Uyuni or the Uyuni Salt Flats. Phew. Yeah. That guy was really that creepy.

Uyuni is the town where good weather comes to die. The train arrived at the town at 3am. We only had to walk 300m to our hostel, during which time my feet had completely frozen over and I really and truly could not feel them at all whatsoever. THREE HUNDRED METRES. That's all it took. It was FREEZING. Below zero type of freezing.

We managed to wrangle the regular four-day-three-night tour of the salt flats and got chucked in a old, rustbucket of a four-wheel-drive with two Texans, a Japanese guy living in the States and two Belgians.

First stop: The Train Graveyard
Stacks of fun because we could climb all over rusting, craggy bits of metal to our hearts' content! You just CAN'T do that shit in Australia...
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Current Location: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia