Friday, March 26, 2004

I woke up around 10 after our night out to 45 different clubs and packed up my things so I could head south towards Mar del Plata. By the time I packed, showered, and did a little internet it was around 1. I said goodbye to Barbi and headed for the bus station. It took awhile to get there but I made it, bought a ticket and I was on my way.

I made it to Mar del Plata around 7:30. It was not a very action filled evening as I was feeling horrible when I got there. I ended up getting a hotel just across from the bus station. I decided that maybe I needed a decent meal to make me feel better. My previous week in BA had been spent doing...shall we say, a lot more drinking than eating. I decided my body was probably just revolting. I had a headache that wouldn't quit and I was extremely nauseous, as I had been feeling since over a week before that. I walked around the area a little, both to check it out and also to find a decent place to eat. It seemed that the couple blocks from where I was staying was a pretty major road with many shops and restaurants. I sat down for a meal at an all u can eat because it looked like it had a decent variety. I have been extremely unimpressed with the food here in Argentina so far...not really because of the flavor, but more because of the lack of choices. Every other restaurant here is an italian place. I've never seen so much pizza and pasta. Other than that you have sandwich places...which only serve rubbery milanesa (breaded beef) sandwiches or you have parillas...which are really pretty good but often don't fit into the traveller's budget.

Anyway, I decided on a buffet place but the food wasn't so great...and probably actually made me feel worse in the end. It was still relatively early though so I thought I would head back to the hotel and lay down for awhile. On the way back I stopped in another hotel that looked a bit nicer and found out it was also cheaper...I decided I would change places in the morning.

Back in my room I just sort of layed there like a zombie, watching TV and trying to shake off my nausea...no good though. I ended up staying in that night...I just couldn't make it out and knew I would be miserable. I didn't feel much like being around people anyway. Atleast there was cable TV in my room so it kept me entertained until I feel asleep, which was pretty early.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Got up and got my things together to head for the other hotel. The joke was on me though b/c when I got there they told me there was no vacancy. I walked around to a few places and ended up at this place that was 5 pesos more expensive than where I was originally. It was a lot nicer though so I didn't mind too much. The good thing was that I had gotten up pretty early so I was able to take full advantage of the day. I was feeling better and it was a beautiful day.

I went down by the beach area...it's actually a pretty nice view. One thing I found strange...they have all these small "cabana" type things out on the beach. Literally hundreds and hundreds of these 6ft. By 6ft. "tents" clogging up all the beach space. It looked ridiculous if you ask me. Maybe the kind of thing you'd see at a country club or something...for people who want to be at the beach, but don't really want to. They avoid the sun (okay, too much sun is definitely a bad thing), the water, AND the sand. You might as well stay home. You sort of have to see them but there really are WAY too many and they distract from the beauty of the beach...and I was here in the offseason. It must be horrendous when it's packed here because they take up almost all the sand space.

I walked along the coast for a couple hours, just meandering along slowly. I stopped a couple times but I was really just people watching for most of the time. I saw some young kids on skateboards and watched them jumping these stairs for awhile...it was cool. Most of you don't know this, but for 3 years just before high school, I was a skater. I did almost NOTHING else in my free time. We even built two different half-pipes in my friends' backyards, which, now that I think about it, was a pretty amazing feat considering none of us was older than 12. Anyway, I still like watching the skaters from time to time...takes me back.

Around 6 I finally headed back to my room for a little nap and I watched a movie. I really like that all the hotels in Argentina have cable...it really helps pass the downtime when you're by yourself.

Later on I went out to this area called Alem, that Anthony suggested for a lot of good bars. I got there around 12:30, which is still a little early around here, but it was starting to pick up. I walked around and found a club I wanted to go into, but since it was early, I decided to hit a nearby bar first and maybe meet some people to recruit for the club. I ended up in this pretty cool bar, which I actually only went into because they were playing this song that I like. Anyway, I ended up meeting these great local girls. They knew all these people in the bar, which ended up getting completely packed later. I've noticed that the bars here get WAY more packed than those in Brazil. They let them get to the level where you can barely walk here...not that it never happens in SP, but it just seemed like it was such a common occurence. Anyway, the good thing was that we had seats at the bar since we were there just before the crowd arrived. The even better thing was that since those girls knew everyone, I drank for free the whole night! I ended up staying there until about 4:30 when the girls finally took off. I decided to go by the club anyway to check it out. It turned out there were still a good amount of people there and they were still playinig some great music. I got a beer and sized up the place...and just when I finally hit the dance floor, it turned out to be the last song. Dang it! I stayed for another beer and talked to some girls I had met and then headed home around 6.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Woke up at 3 the next day...not in the greatest shape. When beer is flowing freely, you never really realize how much you're drinking. Plus, it probably wasn't the smartest thing going out like that on the heels of feeling as sick as I did. I did absolutely nothing the entire day...I couldn't even eat.

Finally around 10, I left the room to get some food, but I went right back. I didn't really have a next destination in mind but I knew I would leave the next day. I looked at my maps and Lonely Planet and decided to go to this place called Necochea to do some biking on the trails in a park there. With that decided, I ended up going to bed pretty early.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I was up pretty early because I was needed to go to the bus station to check on times to Necochea. I checked out of the hotel and got on a bus at 11.

Three hours later I was there. At the bus station I got a map and found out how to take a bus into town. The section on this town in the lonely planet is about 2 paragraphs long...but I was able to get an idea of the main beach area. Travelling here in Argentina has been considerably different than Brazil. There seems to be MUCH less infrastructure for the budget traveler. None of the small towns seem to have hostels and you don't see many other backpackers outside of the main destinations. Tourists who come to Argentina only generally hit a few destinations...Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Bariloche, and Patagonia. That's about it. All of these places are quite expensive to travel in and cater much more to the upper class tourists rather than to backpackers. Outside of these areas, it seems to me that backpackers are few and far between and as my experience in getting to Estero de Ibera illustrates, it is tough to even get from one place to another. I think the interior of Argentina is not built well for tourism, but I would be willing to bet that traveling in the interior of Brazil wouldn't be much different. But the coast of Brazil is different, and although it isn't exactly set up to bring in many tourists, there are still many there, both Brazilian and otherwise so it is easier to find your way.

Anyway, when I got into the centro it seemed like a damn ghost town. Not a soul on the streets and just about everything closed. Many of the smaller towns in Argentina have a "siesta" (like in Spain) where things are closed for few hours in the afternoon. I walked around for about 45 minutes, just trying to find a hotel that was even open. The summer season ended a month ago in Argentina, and this small town only thrives on summer business, so many things aren't open now. I finally found a place and checked in, but I was the only person there. The woman who owned the place was rather nice and we talked for a little while.

After a short nap, I went out to find a place where I could rent a bike the next day. The whole point of coming to Necochea was to go biking in a park they have near here. I found a place where I could rent a bike for 20 pesos for the entire day...not bad. I also was lucky enough to find a place to drop my laundry off.

After that, I walked around the town a little, but there was absolutely nothing happening. Of course, it was a Monday so I wasn't expecting much...it seems to be the most chill day in Latin America. I ended up spending several hours at the internet place and then went to bed rather early.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Got up around 9 and went to the shop to rent a bike. It wasn't the best bike in the world but it would certainly do. I biked around the streets of town a little to do some exploring and to warm up. It was good. I wouldn't say I've been doing much exercise in the past year so it felt great to be out there.

Eventually I headed over to the national park and hit the trails. They were pretty cool, but not quite as fun or technical as those in Memorial Park in H-town. Still I had a good time weaving among the trees and hitting some of the hills. Over about an hour and a half I covered most of the trails in the main area of the park...when I came across a dirt path that led away from the entrance. I decided to follow it and then I was on another trail and I was getting a little afraid of not being able to find my way back. The trail opened up onto a rocky road so I just kept going...I had gone quite a way and was thinking of turning back and then the road opened up onto the shore and it was an absolutely beautiful scene. I had gotten several kilometers out of town so it was a pretty deserted beach. The road followed the coast for miles and miles and there was absolutely nothing out there. The road was up on a hill about 100 meters from the water, forming a small bluff and making for a spectacular view. I started biking down the road, out towards nothing...and I just kept going and going and going. I couldn't even see Necochea in the distance anymore. A couple cars did pass me while I was riding but aside from that I did really see anything. It was so beautiful and peaceful out there, but I sort I wished I would have had someone to share it with.

I mentioned in another journal that I was dating this girl back in SP the last couple months I was there and I have been missing her quite a bit. I think about her a lot, but this day seemed to be a particularly lonely one since I was in such an amazing place. Still though, it was a GREAT bike ride and I was glad I had found the path. The only downside of biking so FAR out of town is that I had to bike all the way back...and I had not realized that the wind was at my back for the ride out. It took well over an hour to get back and I was exhausted...and not to mention a little "saddle sore".

I had lunch at a restaurant but it was absolutely terrible...once again, I have been extremely unimpressed with most of my meals here in Arg.

I went back to the hotel for a shower and ended up catching Seinfeld! Always a plus. Afterwards I walked around town some...it was still absolutely dead. I was hoping at the very least to meet another person traveling through, but I seemed to be the lone gringo in the whole city.

I walked out on the beach for awhile and sat and watched some kids playing. I was feeling a bit philosophical and just thinking back on my childhood and passing the days "playing". It's interesting how small your world is when you are under 10 years old. You could probably take those kids and put them on any beach in Argentina, the USA, Brazil, or anywhere in the world for that matter, and it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to them. They would still be playing just the same. But you could never do that same thing with an adult. It's sort of like as you grow up, the world gets bigger and smaller at the same time. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I sure am happy to be out here "playing" in different places.

Later on, I ended up having a pretty cheap dinner and watching the end of soccer game. I walked around a bit more, but I have to admit, I was pretty damn bored. Some days are just like that I guess, but I was really missing my friends back in SP. There have been very few times in this past year where I've actually been bored, so when it happened to me yesterday I was having a tough time with it. Leaving SP was a difficult decision for me, but I know it was the right one. Some days, I question it...wondering if I'm doing the right thing. But, I had days like that just before leaving Houston also...thinking, "I must be crazy to be doing this." I just know it's the right thing...no matter how hard some days get, I'm going to keep on going.

Listened to music, worked on journals and went to bed late

AC

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