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Buenos Aires – A Whirlwind tour (part 1)

Posted by on July 17, 2010

We arrived in Jorge Newberry Airport after a reasonably good flight, and were mildly alarmed to notice all the Dengue fever warning signs, although amused at their attempt-to-be-polite pictures representing the various symptoms. Our bags collected, we headed for the coffee shop where I’d found an unsecured open wifi link the other day, and quickly booked Hostel Sol in the San Telmo district, which sounded amazing for all of 6 Euros a night, including breakfast. For some reason upon asking for the bill at the coffee shop, Amal received a few strange looks and some laughter. Unsure if he was saying it incorrectly at this stage. We also confiirmed, thankfully, that Iguazu Falls are near Puerto Igauzu.

A taxi ride later we were downtown in, well, an area which felt a bit rough, but being night and in a strange neighbourhood didn’t help. The hostel door with faded paint had two big locked gates, and no sign of a way to get in. Fortunately a guy from a shop next door came out and from his various muttering it seems it happens reasonably often, but he reached in through the gates to a well hidden doorbell, and hit it several times in succession.

One of the online reviews of the hostel was “guy who runs it was stoned the whole time”. I can’t be sure but a man who certainly matched that apparent description opened and unlocked it and showed us up. In theory it’s a well set-up hostel, with a number of rooms, a big open area, common lounge, cheap drinks and a kitchen with all the accessories. However, one power point per dorm room these days is just not enough, the toilets/showers which were outside and in another section meant walking through the freezing air each time, and most of the kitchen was… never mind, we’ll just say it has character. However he turned out to be rather helpful at giving us directions and all sorts of ideas.

Since Blair hadn’t been here yet, we headed to Plaza de Mayo first as it’s great at night, and got some food – naturally some more steak. This place had some unusual service – the waitress arrived, blathered her greeting out in Spanish, we explained in broken Spanish that we only speak a bit, at which she threw the menus on the table and walked off.

By now we were wondering if our dictionaries were actually playing a joke, because by the time we got through ordering and asking for the bill – four simple words if you remove the noise – again the request was met with confusion and strange looks. We then found a place doing churro con choclate – sugared dessert sticks that you dip in hot chocolate, which was pretty fantastic. At this point we were starting to get a complex about asking, and while she didn’t question, she repeated la cuenta while grinning, and walked off to get it. Strange.

Some more walking around and then we returned to the hostel for some much needed sleep. However this was when we discovered the other poor review of the hostel was accurate – there was loud music and a sort of party atmosphere in the common room. This is fine and not exactly uncommon, but our room opened into the middle of the common room and didn’t really have solid doors as such. This too was ok in a way though, as a friendly American TEFL teacher from Pensylvania sharing our room had started up his own solo performance, snoring as though his life depended on it. I’ve decided on another arbitrary goal of finding an American and Canadian from every state on my travels. I suspect the hardest may be Nunavut and either North Dakota or Alabama (for different reasons).

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One Response to Buenos Aires – A Whirlwind tour (part 1)

  1. Lizmo

    “La cuenta” is fine according to those I know who speak good Mexican-spanish, but what are you leading into it with?

    A search reckons:
    “Another, word you learned in spanish 101 is the verb coger which means to take, to grab, or to catch. Everywhere else in the spanish speaking world you use it to say you want to catch a taxi or to take a bus.
    Not here. In Buenos Aires, coger (pronounced co-hare) means you want to have sexual relations with the object of the sentence you use it with. You really can’t say, “¡Nececito coger un Taxi!” without being hauled off to jail. ”

    Although I’m guessing you already know about that one, otherwise you’d be getting even weirder looks when trying to grab transport.

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