Before I left for my trip to Chile and Argentina I was joking with an Arup colleague that I wouldn’t be doing any real backpacking, that I would just chill out by a pool drinking cocktails.
This joke slowly started turning into reality when, half an hour before leaving for the airport, I decided to take a suitcase instead of my backpack. A decision I haven’t regretted for a moment. After all, both Chile and Argentina have paved roads.
Then, once I was in Chile, I got invited to stay with a Chilean family, in their holiday house in the moutains. I think the pictures say it all. A huge wooden house, all the water directly from the river and no electricity until after sunset, when the generator was switched on. A five star back-to-nature experience. But the highlight of this adventure was the 9 year-old Benjamin, who very patiently kept teaching me new words in Spanish.
But even though I was surrounded by the most beautiful scenery and welcoming people, my mind wouldn´t stop thinking lots of ¨if only´s¨. If only I were here with my own family/friends, if only I spoke better Spanish, if only I could go back to Sydney soon, if only this were my house. If only, and it would all be perfect. Does this mean I am spoiled? Well, obviously I am, but I don´t think that was the reason. I think it was just the thought of being dependent on these people, not being able to leave if I wanted to, to do my own thing. Maybe my year in Sydney has made me a bit too independent. After a severe test of my patience with Latin timing (with everything happening a day later then planned!) we finally got back to Santiago/Valparaíso on Monday night. The next morning I made a dash for Mendoza (Argentina), just over the Andes. And it´s amazing how much better I feel! Mentally I mean, because my body is actually quite sore from horseback riding.
Briefly skipping back to Santiago de Chile again: I thought it was a pleasant city, and Sara (see previous post) showed me some neighbourhoods that I am quite sad not to have been able to explore further. Maybe on the way back. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my favourite tree, the jacaranda. Too bad its blooming season was near the end.
Mendoza is great as well. It´s very, very green and very calm without being sleepy or boring. It actually feels a bit like a Spanish town. (Hmm, how strange….doh)
Some of you might be pleased to hear that I haven´t been able to maintain my vegetarianism. In Chile I did fairly well. Because they eat everything with avocado I would just ask for no meat-extra avocado. But here in Argentina the avocado has disappeared from the menu. Instead, it´s meat, meat and meat. Today I had about 6 pieces of the most delicious (and deliciously bbq-ed) meat ever. I comfort myself with the idea that out here the cows lead happy pampa-lives, far away from over-crowded cages and hormone injections. Yay.
From Mendoza I am going to Buenos Aires (on Saturday), where Madeleine will join me on 28 November. Together we will explore BA a bit more, (hopefuly) go to a Boca Juniors soccer game, and then travel around other parts of Argentina until Christmas. After Madeleine leaves on 26 December, I hope to stay in Buenos Aires to learn more Spanish (with that peculiar Argentinean accent) and maybe find a job of some sort. I am actually going to look at an apartment in BA this Monday!
Over the past week I had about a million ideas of what to write about, but in reality typing a blog on a hostel computer is not ideal. There´s wi-fi in most places, so I can use my own laptop too, but the handy, tiny thing is so tiny that I will develop RSI in every part of my body if I use it for too long. So you see, lots of excuses!
I guess the main point I want to get across is that I am happy to be here.