Jun 15 2009

The Devil’s Throat

Bodhi

In front of the craziest part of Iguazu Falls in Argentina

In front of the craziest part of Iguazu Falls in Argentina

That’s right, the Devil’s Throat is in Argentina.  Didn’t you know?  Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat in Spanish) is the craziest part of Iguazu Falls, and we saw it today.  Oh My God!  It lived up to its writeup in the Lonely Planet book where it said that it makes grown men jump and shout and giggle with glee.  That’s exactly what I was doing today.

After walking across 1 km of catwalks built over the basalt-base river sections, you get to this special platform area right next to the thundering falls.  Periodically, the spray from the water smashing into the river below floats up and showers you as if it were raining.  Geologically, the falls are a result of a basalt plain either being lifted up or the lower one being lowered, I can’t remember.  Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil all share part of the area.  I daresay that Argentina got the better end of this deal.  Apparently, Paraguay built a giant hydroelectric dam and ruined a section of falls comparable to this, but I’m sure they had a good reason for it, right?

We arrived in the city of Puerto Iguazu mid-day after a 17 hr bus ride (there are even longer ones down here) from Buenos Aires.  The “seat” reclines quite a lot and feels much more like an airplane than a bus.  They even have meal service.  Hell, we got free whiskey, wine, and champagne!  Though we didn’t know it was whiskey - the service dude’s Argentine pronunciation was so strong he “swallowed” the “s” entirely, and what came out sounded a lot more like “Wiki” than whiskey.  Being a tech dude, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the hell this guy was asking me about a wiki at 8 pm on a bus in Buenos Aires.  Finally he brought me one to show me what he was talking about, and I immediately knew and simultaenously agreed that I did indeed want one.  Down here, every meal or outing is an adventure.  We spent 20 minutes ordering pizza the other day…

It’s cold and rainy right now, our first rain we’ve seen since being down here.  It’s actually warmer overall because we’re much further north than we were in Buenos Aires.  We’re actually further north than the famous city of Florianopoulis in Brazil.

Tomorrow night, after a long day of hiking and exploring the Iguazu Falls park again, we will leave on a ridiculously long bus ride of 36 hrs to the city of Mendoza in Argentina.  This is the center of the country’s wine industry, and needless to say Monica is very excited about the wine tasting we’ll be doing there :)  But damn, 36 hrs on a bus?  Good thing I bought a book of famous short stories in Spanish and English to work on my spanish.


Jun 12 2009

Remembering the week

Monica

The busy city of Buenos Aires leaves little time to just relax.  We´ve been at play, in school and on the go all day every day and therefore haven´t had much time for reflection…or sleep. This post will simply bullet point some of the highlights of the week in order to share now and so that I can journal later…probably on one of our many bus rides next week.

We have explored so many of the barriors in B.A: The city center, San Telmo (where we live), La Boca, Palermo, and Recoleta.  The city center is home to the political history of B.A., Recoleta for it´s cemetery and high end living and design, Palermo for the parks, shopping, restaurants and bars, San Telmo for music and tango and La Boca for color and futbol. Each of the above are great for people watching and taking pictures which we have done plenty of, as well as some beautiful architecture and scenery.  Navigating the city has been easy as we have tested all modes of transportation successfully (mostly) including the bus, the subway, biking, lots of walking and the occasional taxi. This weekend we´ll hop a boat to Uruguay for a little weekend trip.

We have sipped cafe con leches in historical cafes and dined in famous Argentine steak houses. NOTE: Bodhi ate two bites of my steak at La Cabrera!!! I know…it´s crazy. It was the first time I have ever seen him eat meat (see pic…I could not resist).  B.A. has a heavy cafe culture and we have fully embraced that by having a sit down cafe near every day.  If you visit B.A., be sure to see the Cafe Tortoni which is the oldest cafe in B.A.  It´s very romantic.

We´ve had food from the street, the nicest restaurants in town, the home of new friends, and even from our funky little kitchen in our hostel (yes I cooked one night). The supermarket experience was hilarious! You try finding peanut butter in this city!!

Tonight we will Tango, a must do in B.A., and then we will enjoy a dinner and the night life with some of our new friends.

Tomorrow we shop!! I´m sure there will be a Beyond the Shoestring post after tomorrow.

I wish I had more time to write but this will have to do for now…

Bodhi eats meat...just one bite though. A must in Argentina.

Bodhi eats meat...just one bite though. A must in Argentina.


Jun 11 2009

Transportation in Buenos Aires

Bodhi

Subways (and especially buses) are packed here, no matter the time of day

Subways (and especially buses) are packed here, no matter the time of day

We´ve taken about every form of transportation you can imagine here in Buenos Aires (though not boat..yet). Subways and particularly buses are completely packed. So much so that we´ve seen 100 ft lines of people waiting to get on a bus, and the people in the back have to wait for several buses to eventually get on. In the subway (subte), people press in fiercely near the doors before they close to fit a couple more bodies in the car. The above picture was taken at about 4 pm, not even rush hour yet, and it was jammed. It´s such a contrast to LA, where trains are fairly empty most of the time.

Here, you can routinely see buses roll by at 7 or 8 pm, full to the brim, on almost any street whether a major avenue or tiny calle. This is partly because the culture here is such that people don’t go to dinner until 9 or 10 pm. Dinner is not the most major meal as it is in America. Rather, lunch is the most important. Restaurants don’t even open until 8 pm! Buses are very efficient, coming every 20 mins or so in most places, even more frequently in some. The driver barely stops at the stops, with people hopping off the bus as it’s still moving. Maybe this is how they stay on schedule. In fact, come to think of it, there aren’t bus schedules, just maps. That’s how efficient and frequent they are. I guess the city would get sued into oblivion if LA buses were to operate like that and someone were to get hurt.

Tomorrow is the last day of Spanish school, and I hope I’ve given myself enough tools and basics to continue to develop my skills during the remainder of the trip (viaje). The school we picked - Academia Buenos Aires - is really quite awesome. I highly recommend it if you are in the area or are thinking of somewhere far away to go travel and learn Spanish in an urban setting. They have a sister school in Uruguay also.


Jun 11 2009

Asado - Porteño style

Monica

June 10th
Tonight was a special night as we were invited into the home of Fredrico y Maria…part owners of the Spanish school. They hosted roughly 20 people for asado (Argentine BBQ) in their spectacular home. Dinner starts late here at 9:30 so food and drinks are still being consumed at 11:30 and midnight. We shared the table with students of ages from all across the world and talked about travel, accents, politics, food and life.

Perfect.

An international dinner in a beautiful home

An international dinner in a beautiful home


Jun 10 2009

Getting some photos up

Bodhi

Monica shooting in el Biologica Reserva next to Puerto Madera

Monica shooting in el Biologica Reserva next to Puerto Madera

Next to the mouth of the Rio de la Plata in the Biologica Reserva

Next to the mouth of the Rio de la Plata in the Biologica Reserva

We stopped in at a cafe for 2 glasses of wine for 15 pesos (about 4 bucks!)

We stopped in at a cafe for 2 glasses of wine for 15 pesos (about 4 bucks!)

We went here 2 nights in a row and Gustado was very friendly. Big cheese plate for 37 pesos (about 10 bucks!)

We went here 2 nights in a row and Gustado was very friendly. Big cheese plate for 37 pesos (about 10 bucks!)

I thought I´d make sure to just get a couple of photos up to share.  Spanish school is really chugging along, but I´m sad I only have two more days.  I feel I could really get this down with a couple more weeks.  I´ll just have to “apply myself” and make it happen on my own, and with the great practice I should be able to get with it all around me.

Last Saturday, June 6, we rented bikes from La Bicycleta Naranja (note the color of the bike in the photo) and gave ourselves a tour of some of the areas.  The Biological Reserve was very nice, with locals out exercising, walking, even taking lots of pictures themselves.  We bumped into a local group of birdwatchers who were very friendly and enjoyed practicing their English.  We like birdwatchers, as Jon can attest :)

We stopped in for happy hour and had some malbec (of course) that was good and cheap (barato) at a random cafe.  Turns out we pass this place every day now to come to school - El Territorio.

The last picture is us at Bar Federal, a really cool and bustling cafe we really like.  We liked it so much we came back 2 nights in a row, and the server Gustado was very friendly and helpful.  We had the cheese plate for dinner on Saturday, and a couple of the giant (wine bottle sized) beers they have here.  Not terribly good beer, but whatever.


Jun 9 2009

Escuela de espanol (o castellano)

Bodhi

After our first day of Spanish School (June 8)

After our first day of Spanish School (June 8)

Estudiamos castellano a la escuela Academia Buenos Aires.  I´ll be posting more and more in spanish here I suppose :)  It´s been quite difficult to find the time to write a little here, but that´s because we´re doing lots of other things!

We´ve gotten the hang of Buenos Aires (BA) transport.  So far, we´ve done bicycle (of course!), taxi, bus, train (subway), and walking.  I always get a thrill out of all the logistics of getting around.  BA is a large city, and is quite dense in the areas we´ve been.  It´s like LA but with smaller streets, and more people actually in the street.  There are plenty of stray dogs and broken sidewalks, but the people are rather well dressed generally.  Certainly better than me in my traveler´s attire!  I commented to Monica that I have seen nary a Silver Lake hipster yet ;)

The focus since yesterday has certainly been school, and for me this is a highlight, a “theme”, of my journey - to focus on learning spanish, or as much as I can.  I´ll be thinking of other themes also.   I´m writing this from the computers at our school after class has let out for the day (we do 4 hrs a day on weekdays).  And now it´s time to move on for the afternoon.  We´re only on day 5!!

More pictures (we´ve taken many) will be posted somehow soon, probably on a picasaweb site which we´ll link to or somehow include here.  ¡Hasta luego!


Jun 9 2009

¡Bienvenidos Amigos!

Bodhi

Bienvenidos amigos! We have created this site to share our adventures in South America with you. The backstory to how we got here is rather simple. We were ready for new experiences - a new city, new jobs, and exposure to other cultures. We uprooted our lives from Los Angeles, put all our wordly possessions in a storage unit in San Francisco, threw on a backpack, and flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. These are our stories from a two three month journey around the continent.

Feel free to leave us comments and come back often :)

Chau!
Bodhi and Monica


Jun 7 2009

Photo after renting bicycles and riding around BA

Bodhi

After an afternoon of bicycling around, we caught the setting sun in the Plaza

After an afternoon of bicycling around, we caught the setting sun in the Plaza


Jun 6 2009

Hello world!

Bodhi

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!