I think that eight days is too long to go without a post, as I've gotten a number of "are you alive?" emails. I am indeed. As proof, I've posted some more pictures, which can be found here. I can't get the embedded link function to work, so you might have to copy/paste. Sorry.
Most are from Buenos Aires, but there are some from San Antonio de Areco as well. Areco is a little town in the pampas (Argentine grasslands) that is a two hour bus ride out of town. The reason I chose to depart for South America when I did was so I would be able to catch the country's biggest gaucho festival, which takes place every year in Areco on November 10th. Or rather, that's the date that all my guidebooks and internet resources told me that it took place.
The bus had lots of Americans and other tourists excited to see the gauchos, but was only half full, which I found slightly suspicious for the biggest gaucho festival in the country. As we rolled into town the place looked dead, and the tourist office I saw was closed up. Also suspicious. Everyone from the bus kind of sauntered through town as a group, slowly making our way to the festival grounds. Asking around, it turned out that the festival was over. It had taken place over the weekend. The tourist offices had festival schedules posted outside that detailed events for the 10th. One girl from California had looked at this online when she convinced her entire family to make the trip and visit her in Argentina. (She seemed especially irritated.) Again asking around town, with a lot of "gaucho? gaucho?" we discovered that these events, although scheduled and given a definite start time, were meant only for the townspeople to hang around and eat with their "paisanos" (countrymen), and meant nothing for tourists. Our little group of disbelievers got smaller and smaller as people came to accept that they missed it and then slowly drifted off to do their own thing.
I found a restaurant on a plaza and had the best steak I've ever eaten. I got a big bottle of beer, a delicious steak, french fries, bread, a generous tip, and a lovely place to sit, read, and write on the street on the edge of the plaza, all for US$13. I felt very Hemingway-esque, which was pretty sweet, and felt like I should order a liqueur or something to complete the illusion, but decided that it was one in the afternoon and anything in a shot glass would have made me feel like a drunk.
In general I've been keeping very busy. I've seen the symphony, the park, art parks, art museums, experimental music performances, theater, drank delicious coffee, figured out the bus system.
Either today tomorrow or Saturday is my last day in Buenos Aires. I need to check. From here I'm headed south, but I need to find a travel agent somewhere here to investigate prices. I'm also wondering if I'm going to need to buy more warm clothes for Patagonia, but I shall see.
Three guys showed up in the hostel dorm yesterday speaking an especially strange language. They threw down their backpacks, opened three redbulls and a fifth of vodka and started drinking. There are vodka bottles strewn about the floor. They were also really noisy last night, not caring if anyone was sleeping, and now one of them is walking around at 9 in the morning with his shirt off drinking from a half empty fifth of tequila. Makes me feel pretty darn good about my own drinking habits. Maybe I should have gotten that liqueur.
The mosquitoes here are vicious. One left a huge bump on my arm that got bigger and bigger and started to look like an egg. It didn't itch. There are warning signs for dengue fever all over the city, and I spent a little nervous time on WebMD looking at symptoms before the bump finally disappeared. The mosquitoes themselves are big, and if you swat one you can't just brush it off your hand like I'm used to. It's more wet, and you have to use a tissue or something; it's vile. In the countryside I must have killed 20 on my calves. After a while I started leaving their soggy little bodies on my legs as warnings for their paisanos, but it was no use.
In a tale of midly amusing things that can befall travelers, my friend here was supposed to fly out last night, on 11/11. When she picked up her luggage from the hostel they told her that her mom had called the embassy and the embassy was looking for her. Strange, we thought. As she was getting in the taxi to the airport she checked her ticket and saw that the flight was on 11/10. I looked at my watch for the date. 11/11. That couldn't be right. Looked back at the ticket: 11/10. That couldn't be right. But it was. Her flight was the night before, and she'd missed it. She bought a single cigarette and called her mother.
The radio just played one of my favorite Roxy Music songs, which has a great video, worth watching if you like the 80s.
Today I need to: investigate the prices of bus or plane tickets for the next leg of my journey, get a new band for my watch, find a pharmacy and hope my wisdom teeth aren't infected again, and buy some more bottled water.
All for now.