A quaint town. Pretty small with the requisite large plaza that you find all over Argentina. We waited there for four hours until the comvi (a large minivan type car) departed for the Esteros. The most amazing thing about the town were the gauchos. There are real gauchos here. One was so bow-legged that I have no idea how he managed to walk around. Gauchos are Argentine cowboys who tend to work on ranches riding horses and herding cows. They wear baggy pants with cowboy boots, giant leather belts with even bigger metal buckles, baggy white shirts and sometimes small black scarves around their necks. They also wear a flat wide-brimmed hat that they don’t seem to take off for any reason. The gaucho in the comvi with us wore his hat the whole time. They are very hard to understand and tend to have incredibly impressive large, white teeth. One of the first things I noticed in Mercedes was the change in the accent. The people there speak more like Mexicans. The music also has a strong mexican sound; we heard both regetton (sp?) and mariachi like music from almost every kiosk (small snack and candy stand) and cd seller. Since we weren’t there for very long there isn’t much else that I have to say about it. It was very pleasant though and relaxing.
Archive for December, 2006
We headed out in the evening from Buenos Aires on our first overnight trip with a company called flechabus. They had a nice flat screen and techno pumping from the office where we bought the tickets leading us to believe that they may be pretty good. Not too long after the bus had departed we pulled over to the side of the road (half way through the crappy movie we were watching by the way, which is annoying when it’s some of the only entertainment for the night) because the electrical system was malfunctioning. Ahead of us on the side of the road was another bus from the same company that had a broken alternator. The guys on the bus were very nice though and 2-3 hours later we were switched to a new bus and on the road yet again. Most of this didn’t matter to us anyways because all it meant was that we would arrive at a more reasonable hour in Mercedes our destination en route to the Esteros del Iberá. (Corrientes province, North of B.A.)
I woke up the first morning of our trip excited to relish my first maté in Argentina when I found out that my parents are bad Argentines and don’t keep a working maté at the apt. I quickly improvised maté by using a largish coffee mug which I wouldn’t recommend however, because you then have to eyeball the right amount of yerba and will invariably get it wrong (like I think I did). [For those of you who are new to maté: It is a tea-like drink typical in Argentina and some of the surrounding countries. You first fill a receptacle, often a hollow dried gourd with yerba, the dried ground leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. Then you place a bombilla, a metal straw with a tea strainer at one end, in the yerba and heat up some water, without boiling it. The water is poured into the yerba until it reaches the top of the receptacle and each person drinks the water until it is done and passes it back to the water pourer who passes it on to the next person. It can be served with water alone, suagr and water, or milk and sugar – usually for children.] I have since remedied the situation by purchasing a maté, yerba, and a bombilla in order to disfrutar (enjoy) maté throughout the trip.
So a couple rants and raves and a couple extras about the city:
The salads are awesome. Cheap (5-7 US), filling, and include all sorts of items – carrots, green beans, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, potato, beets, olives and so much more. They’re great!
Ice cream also pretty good, although the prices are comparable to those in the states. Which considering prices for other foods makes it quite expensive here. However, porteños (as argentines from buenos aires are called) take their ice cream very seriously. There are at least 1-2 ice cream parlors per block in the less residential areas.
A new non-smoking law was just passes in B.A. (In October of this year). It’s great! No one smokes in restaurants any more and even in bars. You can allow indoor smoking only if the establishment is large enoughwhich most places aren’t. Supposedly people are pretty pissed about it and businesses have taken a 30% loss in business since the start of the law. People claim that it won’t last long, but so far it seems to be doing well.
The day before we took off on our trip up North we decided to indulge in a little R&R by getting massages. We found a lovely place that charged for both of us to have 45 minute massages less than the taxi ride into the city from the international ariport (EZE – which was about 27$ US).
ATMs run out of money!!! Not to mention that because of this issue they never let you take out very much in the first place. We had to search at at least 4 different banks one day in order to get some cash. It was so annoying. On top of it, people are always in long lines at banks which fortunately we have not had to deal with yet.
Locutorios – the places wher eon can make long distance calls and use the internet- SUCK! We’ve gone to 5-6 in the city and all of them have problems. Either gmail doesn’t work or only works sometimes (you log out and then try to log back in and it has a page error). They crash a lot, and the connetions in general are just slow. When your computer crashes the guy just comes over and resets it as if that alone will solve the problem. At least the one in our hotel right now is really nice.
A funny thing about B.A. and Argentina in general is that they name streets, towns, cities, plazas, for special dates so that a lot of the names one ends up using can get to be quite long such something at the corner of two of these kinds of streets (e.g. 10 de Octubre and 4 de Mayo) it can get to be quite a mouthful. And half the time no one even know what the date is commemorating. Although in B.A. I think most of them are fairly well known – but where we are now I don’t think that’s the case.
And for thos of you who mightbe interested in coming to Argentina someday, we found two wonderful places a Jazz bar (incidentally one of the best local jazz clubs in the city right near my parents apt.) and a fully veggie restaurant. The Jazz club was impressive. Argentina isn’t known for it’s jazz but this place had a great local band playing. The club is called Thelonius and the band appropriately played a couple of the monks songs. We had a fun time and the place was packed. They looked like they had some good drinks too, but we’d forgotten to bring enough money so we had to settle for quilmes. The restaurant was named Krishna and it had a distinct Indian vibe although there were all sorts of random religious relics strewn about the place. It was quite small and half of the seating was tiny wooden benches which not too surprisingly were not the most comfortable, but all in all it was wholesome and veggie and fun to see the hippy-types of the city. The city in general seems to be on a bit of health kick with yoga, pilates, reiki massage (energy transfer stuff) and fruit jiuce places everywhere. Hopefully it’ll stick.
Ok, enough for now since I’m hogging one of the only two computers at the hotel.