20 July 2014


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09 July 2014

Getting Hurt | South America 2013

29 December 2013

There were two things that each had irrevocable impacts on our trip. Obviously, losing my debit card was one. The other happened right after we saw our first site.

We left the port and decided to walk on the street side (instead of the water-side) toward the Pink House. Once we got to the street, we had two options. There were wide, developed sidewalks that passed in front of shops and eateries. There were also narrow, less developed sidewalks that took pedestrians along train tracks.

We chose the train tracks.

Those narrow sidewalks featured overflowing garbage cans and city workers emptying them. They featured other people sharing the limited space. They also featured trees, and therefore shade. It wasn't much shade - the temperature might have been 93 instead of 99 - but it was something and we appreciated it.

When we're in tourism mode, I walk ahead. Ang needs extra seconds to look for shots and take pictures. I am free to meander and take mental notes. I was probably contemplating how long we could be out before we got sunstroke when I heard a thud. I looked back and Ang was making that face. The this-hurts-so-bad-but-I-know-it's-going-to-hurt-SO-much-more face.

I'll type: "She stubbed her toe."
You'll think: "Ouch. Too bad."

It was so much more than that. First of all, Ang travels the world in flip flops. This is a thing she does and will probably always do. This is not something I support or recommend. But it is a fact. If her toes won't get caught in snow, she'll wear flip flops. Traipsing the streets of Buenos Aires is no exception.

Ang walked into the corner of a concrete border around one of the precious trees on our narrow street. If you're ever walked into anything full force, you know it hurts. However, instead of a knee or a shin, Ang nailed just one baby toe. Her face was contorted in pain and in incredulity - mostly pain. There was nothing I could do. We kept walking and I could hear her little walk-limp-shuffle behind me. We were not going to get very far, but we had to cross the tracks. It was a proper crosswalk, but there was no shade. And I had somehow convinced myself that I was going to melt to death. I turned to my oldest friend and I said something like:
"Ang we can take a break. But I just need to get to that shade so I can function." 
Not my finest, friendliest moment, but I thought my body was going to leak flames instead of just sweat. I remember thinking "that's not rational, but sort that out in the shade."

We stopped. We looked at the toe. We didn't have any ice or toe splints or crutches with us. We were around the corner from the Pink House and blocks from the nearest train station. Also, we were determined to see at least one more site. We decided we had no choice other than to keep going. So we went.

I approached the Pink House as I would have approached the White House. For the record, I don't recommend that, because it left me underwhelmed. I expected snipers and guards and gates and the things that connote security for heads of state. I don't know if everyone was out for the day - it was Sunday, after all - or if the president was hiding from the country's economic woes. Either way, it was just kind of there. Pretty, pink and political.

The Pink House is located at the edge of a park. We saw trees and grass and made a break for shade... only to find soaking wet / muddy grass. My sneakers got a little dirty. My poor, flip-flopped friend had a different experience. We made our way to a dry and shady area and decided to call it a day. We had seen two sites and incurred one injury. We still had more than 14 days of travel ahead of us. Honestly, the idea of panicking did cross my mind. Fortunately, I was too hot to think about it for long.

As we made our way to the nearest train station, we passed other structures that seemed historical or otherwise important. But neither of us had the energy to take the extra steps to figure out what they were.

08 July 2014

Getting Somewhere | South America 2013

29 December 2013 

Let's keep some perspective here. Yes, I was sans cash (or sin dinero for the locals), but I was still spending a summer afternoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I had a lot for which to be thankful, and we had already wasted a good amount of time. So Ang and I left the blessed, credit card accepting, air conditioned food court to see some sites.

First stop: Buqebus. 

Buqebus is a place where people book boat trips from Argentina to Uruguay - and I imagine to other places as well. It's huge and (from where we stood) looked like a well oiled transportation terminal. There were confusing lines and employees who weren't too friendly. There was even a (closed) money exchange area. It all seemed very big city and normal. After finally getting in the right line, we waited.

The goal was (of course) to book a trip to Uruguay before we left Argentina. It seemed like the equivalent of going to Canada from the United States, and therefore too simple to skip. The line moved slowly, and there was only so much people watching that could be done. The wait gave me time to take out my Kindle. It gave Ang time to really think about our options.

It turns out Buqebus is not the only ticket giving game in town. There was another agency that - despite booking space on the same boats - was at least half as expensive. It seemed like it might be too good to be true - the same boats leaving at the same times taking the same trips at half the cost. But Ang's had the research that said otherwise and honestly we were ready to actually start our trip. At that particular point we had been in South America for more than 24 hours. And though we had eaten (thrice), seen an old friend and made a new one, we hadn't done much else. So we welcomed the option that got us to stop queuing and start seeing.

Puerto Madero
The Buqebus terminal is near Puerto Madero, which was on the list of places to see and made a really good place to get our tourism show on the road.

There really isn't that much to say about this moment of our trip. We were finally relaxing into being on holiday. We were in Argentina and at that moment I was grateful for all the decisions in my life that had brought me to that point, or port. 

I imagined there were cool, refreshed people watching
from the windows and laughing at us.
I can say it was extremely hot. So. Hot. I think it hit 99 degrees every single day of our trip. So get used to seeing a lot of my miserable face in these photos. I do not do well in the heat. I live in San Francisco. I dread the 15 or so days a year that we get actual hot weather. I just don't see the appeal of being hotter on the outside than I am on the inside. South America in December is not my happy place. But I am nothing if not a trooper.
Trying to look comfortable.

The Visitors' Center.
(They told us the only open Western Union
was in a Wal Mart in some other city. We tried.)

Metal bar sitting in the sun all day? Let's lean on it for pictures!
Puente de la Mujer

These kids were living the dream.
We walked down the port until just beyond Puente de la mujer. I was pretty sure I was following in the hallowed footsteps of contestants from The Amazing Race. I swore up and down that there had been a challenge involving Puerto Madero and the visitors' center / construction crane. But I never found proof. I can't say I've looked too too too hard. But I did look. And I've since looked again only to yield the same results. Oh well. It was a special place and I felt special being there. I say that's enough.