21 febrero 2007

cuando lo cuenta el menos

Not much time to write. Met a Belgian, Dirk, in El Calafate (AR) three days ago. Shipped home various possessions, including a computer. Bought spare tires and tubes. Today we ride late, so as to avoid the winds. We head through the glaciers toward El Chalten (Mt. Fitzroy), and eventually up to Bariloche (probably about three weeks).

Dirk has been riding for a month and a half. Arrived in Buenos Aires, rode south to Ushuaia (with help from a couple truck drivers), and is on his way back north. We continue by way of the Andes (Chile and Argentina). I hope I'm able to keep up with him.

May be out of range for a week or more. First serious cycling in So. America. Wish me luck.

16 febrero 2007

orcas, penguinos, lomos y humanos rabidos; ¿quien sabia?

Without going into too much detail, let me say that Puerto Madryn (AR) is doing everything it can to shake my confidence. I have been here for three days longer than I intended, and yet I have still haven't been able to see the enormous penguin colony just a few hours south of the city (though I did see its smaller offshoot on the Peninsula Valdez). I'm fighting off some kind of cold, and tomorrow morning (if I can end my serial bad luck) I'll be in El Calafate, with an Andean backdrop. A trek's length there, maybe a bit of biking, and then to the lake district is the plan right now.

I spent the past couple days with a British/Canadien/Argentine/Israeli guy (with citizenships and passports for each), and we discussed sci fi, business, language and "birds". He had driven his car down from his own farm in Entre Rios (to the north of Buenos Aires), and so we teamed up with a couple others and toured the peninsula together.

To be honest, I've felt something resembling stir-craziness for the past week or so. I need to get out of these beach towns. Somehow they have had a soporphic effect on my travel inertia. The mountain air is what I need. And then back north by way of Chile.

09 febrero 2007

todavia planificando

I started out biking from St. Teresita, but didn´t make it far before I realized that the autopista (highway) was a bit much for me and my overloaded bici. I stopped in another town further down the coast and caught a bus to Mar del Plata, my first time here.

I think I shall have to shed some weight or reappropriate before I embark again...

In any event, Mar del Plata is no small beach resort town. This is a bona fide city, and beautiful at that. I found a cheap place (happily sans gringos) and spent last night and this morning exchanging ideas about what to see in the south and west of Patagonia. I met an Anthony Kiedis look-alike from Mendoza (as a Chili Peppers retrospective spun on Mtv in the background, appropriately enough), and we discussed Bariloche and las granjas with which I´ve been in contact. He was unsurprisingly a proponent of the one closest to Mendoza, but conceded that it would probably be a big place, and well-populated in March.

Today I need to make some decisions. It´s late enough in the season now that the south will be cold. And yet, it is probably my last time to see the south of Argentina (at least on this trip). In the meatime, today I will hopefully be able to watch my second thunderstorm over the ocean in as many weeks.

Agua, tanto agua, de donde viene?

06 febrero 2007

trabajar es casi tan bueno como hacer fiaca

As of this afternoon, approximately 1pm, I have finished what surely can be deemed a complete chapter of this picaresque adventure. I write this presently from Santa Teresita, a small beach resort town south of Buenos Aires by 4 hours, more or less. Ivan left the Hotel Demper early this morning, destined for another three days in BsAs before his return to Michigan to spend and the family. The Hotel Demper has wonderful ceilings. Reminiscent of Queen Anne´s lace, or more turgid perhaps. When I have a place of my own, I shall have to install similar ones in each room.

We were still splashing in the surf at about 5am, at which time the moon was directly overhead. Having alternated between the ocean, the crowds on the main drag here (Calle 3) and the somewhat lackluster (save for the ceiling) Numero 6 at the Demper, I awoke this morning feeling as though I´d spent weeks in this sandy town. Indeed, Ivan claimed himself capable of cramming 5, maybe 6 months of living into a single day oceanside. I no longer doubt it.

As for my part, where last I left off (Dec. 24, 2006), I spent the following days with the family of my Spanish instructor in La Paz, which was rosy. Due to poor planning on my part, as well as a small banking problem, too short a time did I subsequently have for returning to Buenos Aires (by way of Cocha Bamba, Santa Cruz, Yacuiba, etc.). I arrived nonetheless, on time to find the new apartment, have a beer, and meet Andrea at the airport at 7am, Jan. 31.

Somewhat unfortunately, Dre brought a bona fide Estadounidense headcold with her, accompanied by an upper respiratory infection, thus the first few days in BA were mellow. We explored the parks and markets, sipped coffees and mates, and shared dinners with new friends at the apartment in Constitucion. 10 days in BA, and then a few in Iguazú, which was well worth the 16 hour bus ride. We spent two days in the park, and left the third for Rosario, a pleasant and unfamiliar intermediary before Buenos Aires. Rosario, incidently, is a pretty interesting place, and I would gladly return for a time if the option presented itself. The river is the not the ocean, but sharing a choripan on the crowded beaches of the river in the foreground of the enormous industrial river traffic was impressive.

Happily, Andrea extended her trip by about a week, and we were able to spend a couple days at the beach, in yet another resort town on this same coast. Pinamar is bigger than Santa Teresita, and vastly more advanced in its tourist commerce. Andrea could give better details as to the "Pop-Up" retail on the main drag there. For me it was a bit nightmarishly like Vegas. Bombastic, overwrought.

It surprises me how few people are on the Argentine beaches at night. It concerned me at first that the lack might indicate some kind of danger, or possible illegality, but I´ve since been reassured, and walking in the moonlit surf has since become a favored pasttime. Thanks to a few more weeks in Buenos Aires, I have more or less resumed a nocturnal existence.

The latter couple weeks I have spent mostly in preparation and study. Ivan was living in a houseful of interesting, musical, culinarily-expressive people, and I spent a chunk of time talking politics with an Italian from Genoa, whose offer of house and wine I hope to take up this summer. My Spanish continues to improve, and as of today I no longer have any English-speaking acquaintances. It´s back out into the cold for me.

There are a number of organic farms in and around Patagonia and Mendoza which accept volunteer workers in the months of February and March, the harvest season. I´ve contacted them, and at least three happily invited me to come, so the option is there.

Tomorrow, I begin biking. I did little research before we came to St. Teresita, but am pleased now to note that it is the first in a string of beach communities ending with Mar del Plata a couple hundred kilometers down the coast, maybe less. A perfect opportunity to test out my legs and my gear again.

I shall double my efforts at keeping a better log. I am presently reading Dracula (my only remaining book in English), which is styled as a series of journal entries, and appeals to me as such. We shall see if it takes.