Tuesday, 11 October 2011

South America: Argentina and Chile.

I'm taking four months out to travel around South America. This, honestly, is purely for story researching purposes...

I won't go on about it, I promise. Having read some vomit inducing blogs about spiritual journeys whinging about how hard travelling is and transversely some amazingly articulate and fascinating travel blogs ( you know who you are...) I've decided I can compete with neither. So I've simply broken the first month away into a series of concise statistics as follows.

  • Countries travelled through: 2. Argentina and Chile.

  • Baby-sized Argentinian steaks eaten: 11

  • Hours spent on buses: 64

  • Hours spent asleep on buses: 10

  • Books read: 5

  • Spanish speaking fails: Countless. Actually, I quite enjoy muddling through - it speeds up learning. However, one waitress in San Telmo, Buenos Aires seemed to relish asking questions we didn't stand a chance of grasping, then bringing a variety of unasked for extras we were sure we'd never consented to. On one occasion "Dos cafe con leches, por favor..." yeilded three croissants, one orange juice, one milky coffee, one espresso, a cheese and tomato sandwich and what can only be described as a smirk from our waitress.  

  • Churches / cathedrals / graveyards visited: 7. Anyone else inherit this tic from childhood family holidays? From being dragged around places of foreign ceremony and death as a child now I can't stop myself. The favourite so far? Cementeria Recoleta in Buenos Aires. Visitors wander between the mighty tombs for hours looking for Evita's grave which turns out to be as underwhelming as the wooden chalice chosen by Indiana  in Raiders of the Lost Arc. The cemetry is an incredible place, arranged in rows and blocks much like the city it is set in. Each sarcophagos has windows through which you can peep morbidly at the coffins stacked and draped with lace cloths inside. Cats stroll disarmingly between these blocks, rubbing up against the enormous weeping angels, horses, ships and urns.

  • Narrowly avoided volcano eruptions: 1. passing over the Andes on the Argentina-Chile border the eruption from the Caulle geofield is still smoking. Whole towns including Bariloche, Valdivia and Puerto Montt are caked in thick ash from the eruption in June. In some places entire forests are submerged in the stuff. The dust sticks in your throat and resettles just minutes after being wiped from surfaces.  My first reaction was sympathy for the areas affected. Although no one died in the eruption, it caused massive disruption. Then a Chilean friend pointed out that the ash will make the ground incredibly fertile in a few years time. So actually, good stuff.

  • Stories written: None. There is too much to see and experience. I'm struggling to focus on any one close idea. But I'm sucking it all up. Hopefully there will be lots that will prove fertile when the dust settles.