Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bem-Vindo Brasil

Or something like that, I simply cannot get my tiny mind (or over exercised tounge) around this change of language to Brasillian Portugese. It´s quite a mind bender cause some words are similar to espanol while others certainly ain´t. Have been in a quandry about how to speak to these people, ie: do I attempt some Spanish? More chance of being understood but potentially insulting to these proud portugese speakers. Do I speak english? Also potentially insulting as I may be taken as some kind of imperialistic western tourist who wants the world to speak their language. Pehaps I should shut my trap and just mime? Always humilitating for me and potentially embarassing for the party it is directed to. So my solution is to simply get up and leave the country for good. In two days it will be goodbye Brasil and hello Morocco.

It wasn´t an auspicious start, Eduardo and I caught the bus over here from Argentina to be greeted by torrents of rain. I of course came beautifully prepared for this by having no raincoat and a bad attitude which wasn´t helped when I slipped over on the wet pavement (in my Brazillian made Havianna flip flops I might add) and banged my toes on the concrete which resulted in an undignified limp for the rest of the day. To add to this when we tried to speak to people they either just shook their heads at us, asked if we spoke French or simply tried to avoid us altogether. Hello Beautiful Brazil!

But I whinge too much, we are sitting in the amusingly named town of Foz (just makes me think of the muppet show) and we have had the pleasure of visiting the Iguazu falls on both the Argentinian and Brazillian sides where vast torrents of water crash down making for quite a picturesque scene, or a cheesy scene similar to artwork often sported by Chinese restaurants, depending on how you want to look at it.

The major highlight of yesterday apart from a stupendously crazy boat ride that took us right underneath the waterfalls and laughing at what Brazillian tourists like to wear when they are holidaying (the tighter and whiter the better, irrespective of body shape, age or sex) was watching Ed get mugged by a gang of Coatis who wanted his chips. We became aquainted with the not so nice animal that is the Coati at our animal park in Bolivia where even the most do gooder volunteers were always keen to chuck a rock or two in their direction. These critters for some bizarre reason are actually featured as a cute n cuddly cartoon logo of the Iguazu falls national park. In reality they are agressive, greedy and equipped with a fearsomely large set of jaws. A small group of them chased my poor darling along a jungle path and appeared to be ready to wrap their jaws around his bare legs when Ed chose to sacrifice his chips in order to save his limbs. Coatis - 1 Eduardo - 0. I assisted my beloved during this drama by laughing loudly and trying to take photos - I truly am a model girlfriend.

I really think this sign could be a little more helpful......logic would suggest that presenting a hamburger with the lot to a rabid coati is going to get you into trouble but nothing was mentioned about the traumas that could be yours when subtly scoffing a handful of chips at the hands of these little beasts.

Just add water....there is a lot of it. With rainbows and birds circling ahead I felt like I had been dropped into a Hallmark greeting card, or a christian tv commercial.

Doing my best impersonation of the Japanese tourists I saw that day.

Friday, November 25, 2005


It was a hot and sultry Buenos Aires evening as I sat back in my comfy armchair in the blissful cool of airconditioning to watch a new release video. Shortly after the movie I had dinner, a three course affair consisting of cold starter of potato salad and cheeses, a steak (which I gave to Eduardo), potatoes in red wine gravy, creme caramel and a glass of Argentinian red. After dinner I had a coffee and a chocolate coated shortbread and then settled back to watch another film. Sometime around 10.30 I was offered a glass of champagne as a nightcap before snuggling down into my bed, covered by a soft fluffy blanket I snooze through the night.

I wake feeling refreshed and breakfast on fresh croissants and hot coffee before opening the curtains to check out the view.....Buenos Aires had become the far north jungle town of Puerto Iguazu. Yep, just another night doing it tough on the fabulous buses of Argentina.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't cry for me....

Last day in Buenos Aires today. For the last 14 days we have been living the porteno life, crazy, sleepless, frenetic, glamorous, gregaious and caffeine fuelled. As much as I love this city I think if I lived here it would kill me. After 3 nights of insomnia I had to succumb to a sleeping tablet and knock myself out last night, I then slept for 11 hours. The whole place is so ovestimulating, I often felt like a little kid so overecited by their own birthday party that tears inevitably follow and ruin it all...... the locals have a word for this city induced angst and hissy fits, they call it "bronca" an Italian /Spanish word. Apparently you can have "bronca" or more dramatically, you can be filled with "bronca". I reckon that the streets are full of it, no wonder half the city are off seing their psychoanalysts as I type this.

But don't get me wrong, this is one wonderous and marvellous city. Probably one of the best I have visited in my life. From dancing empandadas, to a city park full of friendly cats, weird religious theme parks, Evitas famous pink balcony, guys walking 19 happy dogs at one time, Maradonna as god in the magazine racks, huge buildings, clever and funny political graffiti everywhere and some good friends to help us to devour the best the city has to offer is a heady combination.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Got bitten by a wasp in the park the other day - it was interesting in a kind of painful way. Turns out I am allergic to them, my foot swelled up to the size of a balloon and I got all itchy. Oddly I think the wasp sting has also given me some kind of personality change, ever since the sting I have been prone to little outbursts, temper tantrums and hissy fits. Is this what they mean when they say someone has a waspish personality?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sleepless in Buenos Aires

In Buenos Aires noone seems to sleep, ever. The stylish portenos of this elegant but frenetic city like to shop all day and night in shops that are lit up and open for business from 9 in the morning to 9 at night, they like to drink coffee in cafes all night and day, walk their dogs at midnight, stroll with their beloved in a park at 10pm, they eat lavish lunches in beautiful cafes and restaurants that go for hours and then after drinking yet more coffee and eating some ice cream or pastries they then head out at around 10.30 at night for another lavish meal in a groovy restaurant (there are millions of them) finishing dessert at around midnight. Then it's off to a bar for a few hours (if it's a quiet night) or if they are feeling up for it head to a club to dance until 6 or 7 am. And this just ain't the young groovers of the city. I have seen tiny little old ladies in full make up and heels walking their dogs down tree lined boulevards at 11 at night, whole families including the kids sitting down to dinner at 11.30pm on a monday night. In our hostel if I wake at 3am I can smell the cigarette smoke and hear the loud chat of people down at the reception area.

At first I thought there must be a siesta lurking amongst this frantic activity but no, it seems that BA is a global city and the people that work in business here can't be offline for most of the afternoon. Most regular office folk work 9 - 6 with an hour for lunch. When we ask locals how they keep up these kind of hours they just look and say well we just don't sleep as much. Another guy who stayed with a porteno lawyer friend said they would go out until 4am then his friend would nap til 7am before going to work all day, then would squeeze in a couple of hours in the late afternoon before heading out to do it all again.

This far from statisfactory arrangement may explain the presence of a cafe on nearly every street corner in this city. Thanks to italian immigration the coffee is strong, rich and packs a wallop. Every cafe seems to be full of people day to night 7 days a week fuelling up in order fight off sleep deprivation. Oh and the coffee is so delightful, being such stylemeisters here even when you order a simple white coffee it will arrive accompanied by a tiny glass of mineral water and a dainty sweet biscuit or chocolate often wrapped in cellophane and tied up with a bow. Downing a couple of these every few hours seems to be the answer to surviving this sleepless life.

This life has infected me and Ed too. On our first few nights we were struggling to stay awake til 8pm to be able to go and eat something but now our body clocks are on porteno time and we are heading out at 10 for dinner and in true argentinian fashion I have become an insomniac, sleeping for only a few hours before waking, sitting up reading and then trying to ressurect myself everymorning on little sleep. But unlike back at home when I can't sleep and at 3am I feel like the only person in world, here at 3am I know half the city is up with me.

Grand buildings, wide boulevards - Paris? London? It's hard to tell we are still in SA at times

One thing all portenos agree on is their love for perros (doggies). These pampered indulged creatures live in apartments so their owners pay for guys like this to walk them each day. Sometimes up to 30 dogs get walked at a time - a very sweet sight as this great ball of fur and wagging tails trots past panting loudly but you have to watch your step on the pavement after they have passed by, it can get messy.

Carving a huge scar through the elegant streets of BA is Aveneida 9 de Julio, with 16 lanes of traffic it is the worlds widest street.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Aussie Aussie Aussie

It was with much trepidation that I stepped tentatively into the world of the Aussie sports fantatic. Here they all are wearing their yellow t-shirts and going beserk in a crowd of about 60 thousand fervent Uruguayans. As you can see from the picture I couldn't quite bear to wear the t-shirt that the Australian Embassy kindly gave us but tried to make some effort by draping it ever so stylishly over my shoulder. The locals also kindly provided us with some security in the form of several hundred police decked out in all black, with helmets, riot shields, guns and big sticks. Nice gesture but not that reassuring when we arrived - what exactly were they expecting? However we needn't have worried - the Urgies (as I like to call them) couldn't have been nicer. Some of them even applauded us when we finally left the stadium with our police escort and I have to say they feel so passionate about their futbol I will probably feel bad if we beat them.

Even though I find futbol a little dull at times it was a pretty interesting people watching experience - I particularly liked our own little Aussie cheer squad made up of me and Ed, Dan the pom, Chantal the American and Ezekiel the Argentinian. I think these three were more patriotic than me - oops.
Apart from the footy Montevideo was an interesting little city, very picturesque, sleepy, laid back - quite the anithesis to the frenetic, neurotic, stylish, sleepless BA just accross the river. The best thing about the place? the garbage in Monte is collected by horse and cart - and quite often these horses wear hats.....go figure.

Ed looks like he's spotted a horse wearing a hat on the streets of Monte.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Yo soy de Canada

or maybe I can be from New Zealand but either way for the next five days I ain't owning up to the fact I'm an Aussie. We are here in Montevideo - Uruguay for the Australia V Uruguay match to qualify one of these fair nations for the World Cup. Apparently the Aus Govt have issued a travel warning as it might get hairy for us Aussies here as these folk take their soccer mighty seriously. For those of you that know me it is true that I couldn't give a bugger about futbol really but Eddy is pretty keen on it and I couldn't resist visiting a city that has a name like a tragic 80's pop band.

On the bright side the chirpy Uruguayan lady at customs this morning called me "joven" which quite literally translates as "young", bless her. She also picked Ed as a foreigner but seemed to think I was a local so maybe I will be able to fly under the radar at the game afterall. Viva la Uruguay.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Easter Island, Isla de Pascua, Rapa Nui whatever you want to call it is a dreamlike surreal place like no other. It's a place where the people look Polynesian, wear flowers in their hair and listen to Ukelale music on the radio but they also act spanish saying things like "hola amigo", taking long lunches and siestas and being crazy about football.

It's a place where all the shops close for lunch, afternoon naps, Saturday afternoons, all day Sunday and just about every other day and no one is bothered cause there's nothing worth buying anyway.
It's a place where gangs of wild red horses roam about the town, literally stopping traffic when they choose to stop in the middle of the road to chat or gallop through the edges of town knocking over fences to get into the lushest gardens to nibble the grass.

It's an island of funny looking dogs with big ears - the gene pool seems quite limited.

It's a place of tropical flowers and bare green hills devoid of trees where often the only shade is provided by one of the Moai. Ahh yes the Moai....over 800 stone giants who are dotted all over this tiny isolated island. Some have toppled over and lie face down on the ground looking like they have fainted from fright - quite possible seeing that they have stared down tsunamis and clan warfare. Others have been put back up and keep their beady eyes on the land and the local town. Then at the Quarry, called the Nursery by the locals you can see where the Moai were born. Some are still lying down half carved in their stone beds abandoned before being finished while others are marooned in a sea of green grass looking like they were buried by suprise on their way down the hill. Local legends say that the Moai simply got up and walked to their various platforms all over the island - these ones at the quarry certainly look like they are headed somewhere.....