April 11, 2006
Andrea Visit Day 3
Today was a day better spent doing pretty much anything but what ended up doing, which was not much of anything. We got up early with plans to got to Tigre, a smaller town 40 minutes, by train, north of Buenos Aires. The hostel guy made Tigre should really great, so we decided to stay there for a night. (Dan Says: In fact several people have told me to go there, and the hostel guy said it was definitely worth staying the night.) We packed our day packs, stored the rest of our stuff, had a quick breakfast, and headed out.
Our first task was to find a computer to update the blog. Well finding a computer was not a problem, but finding one that worked was a different story. The first one worked for updating the blog, but not for sending e-mail. The second place was so slow, five minutes had passed and Yahoo home page still hadn't loaded. Three's a charm, because the third place worked fine. (Dan Says: Internet cafes are everywhere, but finding computers made in the 21st century is difficult to say the least.)
Next we went to the subway to catch a ride to the train station. The underground hallway was lined with shops, which I didn't expect. I never got the experience of actually riding the subway, because the line to the train station had broken down. We decided to walk, because it wasn't too far. On the way we ran into the biggest traffic jam I've ever seen. It was almost impossible to get across the street as vehicles were paying no attention to traffic lights or lanes of traffic. I was pretty sure I might die when I had to walk between two buses with about a foot of space between the back of one and the front of the other. (Dan Says: In fact, at one point, I started to walk in front of a bus because it had a red light, but it went right through it.) It was not fun, but we made it to the train station in one piece. The train to Tigre was 63 cents round trip, which is dirt cheap. The train ride was nice to see some different parts of the city. When we arrived in Tigre everything seemed great. It was quiet and pretty. We were very excited to get out of the city. (Dan Says: I even thought "too bad we couldn't stay there two nights.) This whole area is made up of a river delta, so there is a series of islands connected by a series of rivers.
Our first task was to find a place to stay. We stopped and got a brochure from someone recommending the Hostel Delta. Dan made the call and the cost seemed reasonable. We had to take a boat to get to the hostel. At first this seemed great. (Dan Says: Andrea was jumping for joy at the thought of staying on an island.) The beginning of the ride was quite nice. But soon all you saw along the river was old rusted out ships tied to shore. The guy taking us to the hostel said they couldn't be used on the ocean anymore so they dragged them into the Delta, sold the parts, and left the rest sit. It looked like a junkyard. When we got to our 'island' it still seemed like it would be okay. However, when I saw our room, I had second thoughts. It was gross. I'm pretty sure when I go to bed tonight I may get carried away by bed bugs. (Dan Says: I was off because the hostel owner tried raising the price he gave me on the phone once we got there.) Anyway it didn't look good. We went to the restaurant to get some lunch and found out that we got totally ripped off on the boat ride here. It was the only way to get here, and it cost $10 for a ten minute boat ride in piece of crap boat. To add insult to injury, we found out that that boat was the only way to get off this hellhole. (Dan Says: I've been driven to hostels many times, and I've never had to pay, so I didn't even think to ask if the boat was going to cost anything. The ten-minute ride was as expensive as our room for the night!). So we figured we'd order a beer along with our food to improve our outlook on the situation. (Dan Says: You forgot to mention that we found a kitten that we wanted to take home, but we couldn't because it had the plague.) While eating lunch two Kiwis (New Zealanders) walked in. Dan talked to them quite a bit about their respective travels, and he passed on much good advice about where to go and what to do in Bolivia. I laughed when the Kiwis realized that they could buy dynamite and blow stuff up in Potosi. This immediately made me think of Reid and his tendency toward pyromania. The Kiwis were quite funny and interesting to talk to.
After lunch we took a walk around the island. We visited the gorgeous "sandy beach," but we decided to scratch swimming off the agenda, even though we didn't have our swimming suits with us. Walking around the island consisted of 100 yards. We then realized that we were stranded on Giligan's Island with nothing to do. We decided that despite the cost, we would take a boat to get the heck out of here.
We got dropped off in Tigre and wandered around an artisan's market with many places that looked like Pottery Barn.
Next we went to a casino where the average age of the clientèle was 95. Dan and I both enjoyed the clean and pleasant atmosphere of the bathrooms. We were so bored I hit the slots for about five minutes. Dan was going to play craps but it was too rich for his blood, so we decided to mosey on out of there.
Next on the agenda was licuados, which are basically blended milk and fruit. I didn't like my first one two days ago, but I was willing to give it a whirl. I actually understood the lady when she asked if I wanted frutilla con leche. I said "si, gracias." I still didn't like the licuado because it was like drinking melted ice cream, although I enjoyed the fresh berries. Dan thinks I'm nuts because he loves banana licuados.
After the licuado experiment, we saw an old gutted out mansion. It looked like a haunted house, beautiful at one time, but neglected over the years. I'm very curious to know the story about this house. (Dan Says: I think it was used on the set of the Scooby Doo cartoon series at one point.) We walked around a very nice residential neighborhood with palm trees and fountains in the middle of the road. We then decided to work our way back and stopped at a bar. We had an Iguana cerveza. Then I decided to get McDonald's because I wanted some food I could count on enjoying. (Dan Says: Typical American.) The kid working there freaked out when I gave him a 100 peso bill, which is another different thing about this culture. When I change money, all I get are 100 peso bills, but no one will take them. I don't understand why. The McDonald's food was good. It tasted as good as, if not better than, in the States. We bought some wine and continued to head to our pickup point. We had to call the hostel to pick us up on their boat, which is just ridiculous. Luckily, we found our way back, although we weren't quite sure where we were, and the boat guy actually took us back to our hostel. On the ride back, I was lucky not to die of asphyxiation from the boat's exhaust. But on the bright side, Dan showed me the Southern Cross, which cannot be seen in the northern hemisphere, and other fun facts about stars. (Dan Says: I almost bored her to sleep, although it might have just been the fumes.)
Once we got back, I worked on the blog and Dan feel asleep. After I finally got caught up on the blog we went to see what the Kiwis were doing. The were listening to music, enjoying some wine, and playing cards. We joined them and agreed to play President. I found it interesting that they were familiar with the game, in fact, I believe they were the ones to suggest it. We quickly realized however, that we had far more rules for the game than they did. (Dan Says: All of which involved drinking insane amounts of alcohol.) Even though the day was a bust as far as doing anything exciting, I had a blast tonight. Not only was the card game fun, but the Kiwis were a good time. It reminded me so much of hanging out with all of my friends from back home. We used to and still do stuff like that all the time. I'm glad I got to know a few people from somewhere else that I could actually communicate with. I was having so much fun, I didn't go to bed until 2am. (Dan Says: Wow, you managed to stay up late enough to see the Argentine nightlife get started.)
So the day ended on a good note.