Thursday 25 October 2007

El Ultimo Transmisión

......the return was easy, a short flight from Bariloche back to the vast blanket of light that is Buenos Aires. A city with an infectious spirit and charm all of its own. I landed with some nervousness knowing my iminent return to Dublin obscured my thinking. For four days I absorbed memories of the city, the Porteno lifestyle and juicy steaks. My mind twanged with insecurities and yearning and then the time came after an emotional farewell to board my flight back home, sitting among the French for 12 hours on the long way home. i'm back now and what better way to end this journey with some choice highlights from my trip, and an emotional farewell........
The Keitho's
best city ; Buenos Aires, amazing place with great people.
Thing of Beauty ; Semuc Champey, natural limestone bridge with two rivers running on top of each other. A little Eden.
Awestruck moment ; Tikal, jungle waking up, temples appearing and disappearing in the morning mist.
Best Steak ; Viejo Jacks, most of a cow on a plate, the best thing about Salta
Most fucked up thing ; Salar de Uyuni, landscape of the bizarre and surreal kind. Moonscape, marsscape, Dali scape.
Embarassing moment ; Of many, getting myself locked in a toilet in Huaraz, Peru. Not strange but I was in my boxers and the woman of the house had to break me out and then for the next hour explain what I did. Without letting me put my clothes on.
Sad time ; Poverty, everywhere. From the heat of Nicaragua to the plains of Argentina. Some bad vibes here. It wears you out and depresses you.
Gimp of the Trip ; American who asked if I understood satire and irony. An American? I ask you.
Drink ; Downing snake wine in Vilcabamba in great company. Drunk from the legs up anyone?
Big irritation ; Insect bites, from weeping sores to the traditional mozzy bite. I occasionally resembled a ebola victim.
Worst country ; Costa Mucha, gorgeous place but damned expensive.
People moment ; Being helped by a Costa Rican family to get to Monteverde. They offered me their floor to sleep on.
High point ; Everything was excellent. I don't want a repeat of the national debate when I returned from Oz and Asia and a certain national DJ said I hated it all. Spanner.
Low point; Getting onto that plane. But even that was mixed with excitement about going back to the flats and seeing the people I love.
Worst blog; This one.
Its been an emotional journey for me. From the great city of Mexico travelling south through Latin America seeing an unbelievable range of things, experiences I will never replicate. Along the way meeting amazing people who kept me company and travelled chicken buses, boats, rafts, planes, trains and mules. I will remember you all. And keep in contact with you. I'll need some cheap holidays. So this is farewell.
Goodbye to machistos, almuerzos and good steak. To strange club habits of the Americas, to raggaton and remakes of bad 80's music. To gauchos, muchachos and proud mis direction. To meeting people from all over the world. To seeing gratuitous nudity everywhere while women walk by breast feeding babies. to rabid dogs and fat cats and crazy financial schemes that ruin countries. A quirk, a nod to constant political upheaval. To no personal space on any bus and getting my face smacked by a portly womans sweating belly. goodbye, ciao, slan and after. I am at home now but will return.
But I must remember things now I am home. To look right and not left when crossing the road. To put the toilet paper in the bowl and not in a bin beside me. Not to gawk at women as if they are meat, (ah Latinos) to go to the bar and not wait for service, to say thank you and not gracias, to be cold and not hot.
So this is the final incoherant blog. It's been emotional.
I will be in HOGANS on Friday night. Come along and have a drink. It will be great to see you all. Heres my mobile number, 085 1490772, it is the same as before I went away.
For all that I met, you are welcome to come to Dublin and I'll show you my city.

Thursday 18 October 2007

Birds in Bariloche are STOOPID

....a lot can happen in 17 hours, a damn lot. I could fly back to Ireland, have a really long sleep and get up eat breakfast and lunch, do 5 marathons or get a semi cama bus from Mendoza to Bariloche and in the process change season from Spring to a cold winter. The latter is what I chose to do with the promise of a few days rest at Jani´s sisters place. In a Golf and Country club. 30 km from the nearest town. On the shore of the alpine Lago Guttierrez. This is how the other half live. No more guarding my belongings madly in a hostel, no more wearing flip flops to the shower, because you can´t be sure enough if the cleaner got rid of all the sexual fluid from the night before. It was worth the journey to see the view, this place is a winter wonderland .............
......birds and animals in general I have always found to be a notch below us in the intellectual scheme of things. Take for instance the birds around Bariloche. Beautiful though they are they are not too clever. A complete flock managed to crash into the large window that overlooked the violent lake, stunning five of our feathered friends in the process so they just lay lopsided on the ground. Now compare this to me, while trying to scare a couple of dogs away from the jacuzzi (yeah you know it) I cracked my finger off a counter. I suspect its broke and bears a stupid person bruise on it. The dogs didn`t budge......
.....4 days of staring out at the lake, flanked on either side by steep mountains covered in snow, watching rabbits bounce ably away from pedigree dogs on holiday from the city. A certain calmness grows inside you. One which provides complete relaxation and an isolation which is beautiful and primitive. Rain and snow fell for two days solid and the land and lake took on a different complexion, one still of serenity and having the same calming effect. I did not want to be anywhere else........
when will I stop?

Thursday 11 October 2007


......God damn little thieving gypsy. And I was so close to returning home without losing nothing but my dignity on a few beaches in central America. But no, it had to happen. My bag was stolen, and so close to home. Nothing valuable was taken, of monetary value anyway. My Moleskine journal was nicked with all my musings and thoughts while travelling. And as some of you know, I like to write and loosing this was a bit of a blow. It´s not as bad as losing a passport or your camara but it sucked. There was only ne thing to do after that............
.......Some things in life don´t go together. Chalk and cheese, Pineapple on pizza, oil and water. I would of thought that Bikes and Wine didn´t either especially when you add a road full of workers digging holes. Yet surprisingly it does. I got on my metal horse accompanied by Ruth and headed off to the first winery. A guide with seductively broken English bored us until she served us two tasters. Mediocre. Up on the bikes again joined by more backpackers on wheels, dodging angry, psychotic dogs we headed to a Chocolate factory. Willy wasn´t home but the nice man served us up alcoholic liquers and chocolate. I believe it was nice, it left a goo in my throat. We waved goodbye to the man and headed for lunch. It was in a drug barons compound and served by a guy with a limp. All to suave background music. The bike brought us to another one, two maybe three wineries. And still I was not drunk. It was impossible, any alcohol that went in was sweated out by cycling. All in all a bit frustrating. Until I got back to the hostal, and drank beer. That worked...........
........snow. I saw it back up in the Andes beside a big mountain called Aconatagua or something. Apparently its the tallest in the Western hemisphere. I suppose it depends on where you are looking from. Being low season for skiing, there was no piste action. But there were ski lifts. Charging 20 pesos to go up just to walk back down. Thats 5yoyos. A bit steep(get it). It was eerie being in a ski resort in low season, all creaking signs and lonely staff. A bit like Shining in reverse.........
.....a natural bridge straddled the river. A stong orange hue dripped over its icy edge forming into stalactites(mites) as the river ran yellow. Minerals swallowed the rivers drinking potential and provide a cure for ailments of the skin. Hot springs gouged a hole through the earth which the Incans held sacred. The British turned it into a hot sring bath for the rich, erecting a 5 star hotel with a private chapel and underground tunnel to the baths. But Pachamama took her revenge, sending a landslide down one of her mountains, avoiding the church and destroying the hotel. It was never rebuilt.........

Monday 8 October 2007

Leaving BsAs To Get Wet was a quiet morning in Buenos Aires. I had drank too much red wine the night before and my stomach was doing mini flips. It was time to leave, to begin travelling again. Afterall it is the reason I came away in the first place. But this city, it´s under my skin nagging at me to return soon. To its cafes and bars and relaxed culture. And I will for one last weekend before I leave, to eat dinner at midnight and head to a bar to drink and dance till the next morning. BsAs is in my heart........
........Puerto Iguazu´s dusty skin welcomed me. The town sleepy in appearance and at low season completely empty and devoid of people. To say it lacks soul is to overestimate its attraction. But you don´t come here for the town. You come here for the most amazing waterfall(s). Iguazu Falls stream down over cliffs in white hair crashing at the bottom spraying vapour high into the sky. It has at least 30 waterfalls and a tacky little train that brings you to different interesting spots. But its hard being somewhere this beautiful because of people. They push and barge to get the best photos squeeze and complain about all the people. But this is what you get at a stunning natural occurance. People want to see and touch as much as possible. Its in our nature to push to what we want. I just wish we wouldn´t complain about it.........

...."hey man you like Argentinian girls?"
"I guess so."
....."with their fine bodies and oh yeah pushed up breasts, it makes me horny just thinking about them"
...."you take drugs and get with one of those women man and they are yours,....all night"
And it went on like this. Booze, women, drugs. This was my first conversation with Percy a Peruvian guide.

......woohoo on a boat, going into the falls. This is bleedin rapid. Get in there you mad bastard. Right in under the waterfall. Nice spray this, not too wet. AHHHH holy crap. Get me out I´m swallowing water. I know what goes into this water in some countries. Crap, rubbish, dead bodies. Ok out of it now. Calm, relax, tranquilo. Here we go again into the, Devils Throat. Good God its huge, my boxers are wet. Just spray, more spray, not so bad, Ahh, I´ve just had 5 buckets of water thrown at me. Get me out.........
My minds thought while getting drenched in Iguazu Falls.

...I went to Brazil my 11th country. I was there for 3 hours. I don´t know what its like but I have the stamp. Enough said.........

As I sit in this internet cafe I have realised my bag is missing. This means either of two things.
I left it in the hostel or it has been stolen. The latter will piss me off the most, as it had all of my musings and notes in it. This will relly piss me off, as I have nothing except those words I have wrote down to remind me of my travels, I have no camera. I would rather they stole my wallet. But this is all speculation at the moment. I sit uncomfortably waiting to find out. This will change my view of Mendoza. This is were I am now. Tomorrow I cycle and drink wine. It might be an angry drunk if my journal is gone or a relieved drunk because I left it in the hostel. Now I am angry.

Friday 28 September 2007

Cats, Dogs and the Dead

......walking around Recoleta and Palermo is a relaxing thing. Beautiful people line the streets adorned with the most cutting edge hairstyles and ridiculously expensive clothes. But what is very apparent in these neighbourhood is how much they love dogs. Many camp dog walkers straddle the streets with up to 20 dogs each, being led in ridiculous directions. But there is something sinister about these animals. They have lost all prime instinct. None of them bark, there is not one nose stuck up an arse, there are no attempts at copulation. Instead these dogs obey without doubt, attired in their soft wollen jackets and designer leashes. Poor inbred purebreds........and compare them to cats here. People as far as I can tell hate cats. On an amble through the Botanical Gardens, the Zoo or the famed Recoleta Cemetary there are thousands of them, abandoned by their owners. The cats are large and well feed by somebody, or something and are a major problem. And they look evil, staring out at you with vacant eyes full of mischief. Little b$%"·&"ds.........
.......Recoleta Cemetary is a morbid place to spend an afternoon bathed in sunshine. But it is also a testament to the stupidity of the rich. Full of unnecessary foibles. Families paid a princely sum to entere their bodies here and wanted people to know. Temples were built as monuments and the bodies are places with coffins on full show through elaborate stain glass windows and cross cut holes. All under the watchful gaze of fat cats. Now what do they feed on again? What people needed these temples for is a mystery. But then again so is religion to me. Intersstingly enough two graves which are most prominent are for Guillermo Browne and Father Fahy the Confessor. You can´t bring the Irish anywhere without them dying..........
He sat across from our table in Desnivel a brilliant steak house. His eyes glazed with wine and boisterous talk. He stood awkwardly and came toward our table and grabbed a packet of cigarettes and threw them at the waiter. The cigarettes where retrieved and placed in the centre of the table. On returning the jerk picked the packet again and threw them straight at my nose scraping it in the process. The guy was a jerk.

Friday 21 September 2007

This Accents Got Me Licked

.....I stared blankly at the girl behind the counter.Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she delicately asked, Como? I, in turn scrunched up my eyebrows, muttered something along the lines of ´de nada´ and ´gracias´and left the shop slightly humiliated. I was hungover after a quiet night out with Ciaran and Vicki which involved staring at teenagers perfecting their hairstyles so they would look their best on the dancefloor. Quiet here is returning home at 6am. And my body is constantly reminding me of the fast approach of my 30th birthday by walloping me with burning indigestion and severe hangovers. I slept early that night. It was all I could do......
.....going to a literary debate in Buenos Aires was maybe not the smartest thing to do with my level of Spanish. I gave it a go none the less and left more confused than when I went in. The stage was set with 3 stereotypical professor types, complete with intellectual beards and twead suit jackets. I leaned forward as the discussion began, concentrating on their voices. I picked out words and logically added what I thought would go with them. But the talk got rampant and slurred through high brow jokes and huffing of words. Added to this was the constant noise of someone behind me involved in a text message marathon.It was here I admitted defeat which was also when Jani did. We left and later........................I found myself in.................Buenos Aires equivolent The Big Tree. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. were I hooked up with the mosquito bitten Ciaran and Vicki. The place teemed with students from the Argentine country. I´m sure most of the girls were waiting on the ravages of puberty to provide some curves as the manicured faces of the boys figured out how to savage their young skin. Smoke mushroomed from tables, an 18th birthday party swung into overload next to us. We whimpered and left the kids to themselves. We need to find an older crowd soon. I´m getting embarassed and slightly intimidated by the kids..........
........I once again found myself staring blankly at a Porteño. She had asked me a question. I could not decipher her rapid speech and replied with the trusted, ´no se´which translated means I don´t know. But her voice went into over-ride and I could feel peoples eyes turn towards me on the cramped Subway train. I had to bite the bullet. Her accent had overwhelmed me. I sighed, ´no hablo español, lo siento.`But damn I do understand it, just not in this town..........
Time to watch another glorious defeat by a hyped up Irish team. Ciao.

Friday 14 September 2007

The Finer Details Of Buenos Aires Life

.......Time is irrelevant in this town. A mobile phone is a definite necessity if you are to have a fully functioning social life. The reasons for this are simple. People here never are where they are supposed to be at a given time. I have been left standing at street corners for over an hour, waiting. People notice you and feel a sense of pity for you. ´Ahh look at the gringo, either lost or stood up.´ But the strange thing is, I{ve not had to meet many Argentines on the streets. Most have been lacsidasical backpáckers who have been infused with the culture here so much they have begun to take on its traits. And I like it. If I were to stay longer a mobile phone would be necessary.......
.......we go from hot to hot and wet to mild and muggy to cold to cold and wet to humid....its been a weird two weeks weather wise. And the heavy rains came when Ciaran and Vicki arrived from home bringing the Irish Summer disease with them. Or it is still winter here......................
......Plaza de Mayo is a great expanse in the Microcentre in Buenos Aires. Great ornate buildings are mixed up with run down edifices and waste ground surrounding a giant statue in the centre with compulsory horses. But this square houses something more. Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. Mothers of the Plaza who back in the 70{s came out in protest against the military Junta goverment at the disappearance of their sons and daughters. Being mothers they have massive input into society here and were allowed there protests. They continue today, to get information about their stolen generation. Also in this plaza lie the homeless. A strong reminder that although BsAs is a cultured seemingly affluent place poverty is everywhere. Over 50% of people live below the poverty line here. On the plaza they sleep on giant bags of rubbish scavenged from the streets. This is done everywhere, I know, but the organisation I{ve seen here overwhelmed me. As I walked down Defensa in the San Telmo barrio hundreds scavenged through the plastic bags. Nothing going to waste. Its not the worst I{ve seen, but it provides a stark contrast to the barrio my apartment is in, full of the middle classes and dog walkers......POVERTY IS EVERYWHERE, CAPITALISM DOES NOT WORK.
and so ends my rant