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Off to Brazil

Monday, June 13th, 2005

12 June 2005 (Sunday) – Buenos Aires, Argentina to Porto Alegre, Brazil

I just had about 4 hours of sleep before I got up at 8am to start shoving the last things into my backpack for my departure. Although my bus is leaving at 1pm, I was heading over to Pablo’s apartment first and we had arranged to meet at 9am.

Despite being very tired as well, Claudia extracted herself from the bed to bid her farewells. Oh, always hard to say goodbye. But, provided I make it back to Buenos Aires alive, it is actually hasta luego (see you later) and not goodbye.

I buzzed the intercom at Pablo’s apartment at around 9:05am. I had feared he would not hear the beep as he had also gone out last night and might have overslept. Hey, the poor dear had returned home at 5+am last night but still remembered to set the alarm clock for 9am. Oh, how touching.

It must be quite a sight as both of us sat there for breakfast, yawning and yawning away, while we made intelligible chit-chats. He asked if I wanted orange juice. “I am going to Brazil”, I replied. 30 l-o-n-g seconds passed by before a simmering Pablo managed a comeback remark, “Well, their bifes are not nice… and they do not have TANGO!” Hahaha… Sunday morning, after only a 4-hour sleep, I admit it is a good comeback.

Sharing a very sleepy breakfast with Pablo before I leave for Brazil

Wow, today is a beautiful beautiful day, truly cloudless and blue!!! It looks like a summer day again! Oh, as we made our way to Retiro, I felt a sense of sadness… Do I really want to leave this city?? Certainly not on this beautiful day! And certainly not with all the wonderful friendships everyone had shown me! But, oh well, I have to move on. I have to go. There is a whole wide horizon ahead of me.

Again, Pablo and I bid each other farewell at Retiro, not knowing whether we would see each other again. I had no idea when I would return and he would start working soon as a travel guide, so he might not be in Buenos Aires when I return. Well, ¡ojala!

Bye-bye to Pablo!

This particular bus sending me to Brazil is superb… There are just 3 huge seats to a row, I practically melted into the luxuriously cushioned seat. They reclined nearly to the end and were super comfortable. It was heaven-on-wheels… The journey to the border of Argentina and Brazil lasted 8 hours of non-stop travelling on extremely straight and excellent road. I slept like a baby the entire ride. When we finally stopped, I thought we had stopped for a smoke-break and simply followed people down for a leg-stretch. Only when I saw queues forming in a small office, did I then realise this was the border and we were at the customs.

Usually for border crossing, the bus companies organised us such that we would be queuing by our seat numbers. That would make it easier for the customs officer to ensure everyone was accounted for. They called out our names to form the queue. Whenever there was pause as the person struggled with something beginning with ‘w’ or ‘s’, I would just voluntarily step forward and end their misery by saying “Yo” (me). And such was the case as well today.

Buenos Aires by Night

Monday, June 13th, 2005

11 June 2005 (Saturday) – Buenos Aires, Argentina

My lunch appointment today was with Carla and her Chinese teacher and friends from her Chinese class. I met up with them at Riobamba 600+ before heading off to a Chinese restaurant off Av. Cordoba. But alas, they are just studying the language and have not reached the level of being able to understand or speak.

Maria, their Chinese teacher, ordered a lot of food. I mean, a lot of food. The rest of them just wanted to try all sorts of Chinese food and left the decision to her. I sat, bemused, as she rattled off all sort of food from the menu to try. When the food arrived, I have to admit, they are indeed very, very good Chinese food, not the best in the world, but very good. Again, I had underestimated the stomach capabilities of the Argentines. Whatever food placed before them, they could just gobble them up effortlessly, given time and a lot of jokes and chit-chats.

Here I am, finally packing for my onward journey to Brazil

I wanted to invite Claudia, Claudio and Leo to dinner today. But poor Leo was not feeling well, so it was just Claudia and Claudio. I checked my remaining pesos. Darn. It is my last night here in Argentina, and with my share of the huge lunch today, I was left with 49 pesos. I hope it is enough for the dinner tonight. Gulp.

We left the apartment at around 10:30pm in Claudio’s taxi. He is a taxi driver, so it is great we had a car for transportation tonight. Claudio drove us to a traditional parrillada place in Puerto Madero, near the Buenos Aires Casino. Only when I got off the taxi did I realise I forgot my camera!! Argh!!!!!! Buenos Aires looks great at night, and I had forgotten my camera! Soy turista y soy estúpida! (Unfortunately, this rhymes too!)

Claudio gamely and smilingly suggested that we drive home to pick it up. Oh my goodness!!!!!! I was really really touched. I am such an idiot, I know. And again, we did another tour of Buenos Aires by night by a different route. Both of them were rather excited in showing me the places. They kept calling my name and telling me what this building is, look at that huge flag of Argentina, isn’t it lovely?, etc… It was great to hear their delight and excitement, as they showed that they have so much pride for the city that they live in.

We finally returned to the parrillada and ordered parrilla for 3 persons. I was the only one who looked shocked at the portion when it arrived. But Claudio and Claudia just calmly and automatically began the food intake, silently passing over the asado, morchilla, etc… and expertly sawing them apart. I had 1 tira de asado and half a chorizo. Yet, somehow, over the next 2 hours, the rest of the massive food disappeared between them two. Wow, we never see wasted food here in Argentina. The bill came up to 46 pesos, which I just had enough but Claudia, my ever sweet and generous host, decided to put in a 10 peso portion so that I did not end up with only 3 pesos to my name… just in case I need anything for emergency tomorrow. Oh, how great of her!!!

Claudio took us to a traditional 'parrillada' for some meat

Parrillada - lots and lots of meat and unrecognisable parts of cows

Then, we truly started our tour of Buenos Aires as Claudio went down this avenue and that, stopping his car for me to snap some scenic pictures of the lovely city, like the Buenos Aires Casino, the Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge) along Puerto Madero and the Obelisco by night. The Hilton Hotel looks fantastic as well. I think I am staying there when I return, heh heh. Even Claudia had been surprised by the changes in the city as there are many places she has not been to in a long time. Claudio even spun by Barrio Parque, where the richest of the filthiest rich people live in luxurious houses and ostentatious mansions. The apartments in that area are also horrendously expensive. Oh, one is for sale: call 4801 7900.

Puente de la Mujer, the interesting bridge along Puerto Madero

Buenos Aires by night

I had a wonderful wonderful wonderful time tonight. I was really touched by the effort they had put in to make my stay here comfortable and problem-free, and they had helped me with downloading of music and my photos, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and tonight had been amazing!!! And yet, late at night, Claudia even THANKED me for coming! Can you beat that?? She thanked me for opening up her eyes to the outside world that she had not gotten the chance to see. Wow, she is just wonderful.

Claudia, my very kind host for the past 2 weeks

The Chinese Syndrome

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

10 June 2005 (Friday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina

I woke up this morning and knew it was time to move on. I would leave tomorrow to Porto Alegre, Brazil. Heh, I think.

But first, I had to try and find free accommodation ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Masses Strike Back

Friday, June 10th, 2005
9 June 2005 (Thursday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina I had gone to Casa de la Provincia de Corrientes (Corrientes House) to ask for information about Corrientes State which, for a brief moment, I was considering of going. In Buenos Aires, each ... [Continue reading this entry]

Kicking and Screaming

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

8 June 2005 (Wednesday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina

I have already figured out a way to predict the unpredictable weather of Buenos Aires. Since it was really hot yesterday, it meant today would be really cold and I was right. I ... [Continue reading this entry]

La Plata

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

7 June 2005 (Tuesday) - La Plata, Argentina

OK. Today, the weather is hot! The weather in Buenos Aires has been mad mad mad. 1 week before I arrived, the temperature dropped to 1ºC. Today, I would learn later, it reached ... [Continue reading this entry]

All About Food

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005
6 June 2005 (Monday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina I woke up to an extremely foggy Buenos Aires. The fog hung so low that buildings taller than 10 storeys were already enshrouded in the clouds. Incredible. How low the fog hangs today![Continue reading this entry]

Way of the Gauchos

Monday, June 6th, 2005
5 June 2005 (Sunday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina At the outskirts of the District Federal, there is a feria (fair) with a gaucho (Argentine cow-boys) theme - the Feria de Mataderos. I thought it would be interesting to see ... [Continue reading this entry]


Monday, June 6th, 2005
4 June 2005 (Saturday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina I have an idea to look out for necklaces, earrings and rings here in South America to, hopefully, sell them back in my country. But they must be something special, not like all ... [Continue reading this entry]

Web of Connection

Saturday, June 4th, 2005
3 June 2005 (Friday) - Buenos Aires, Argentina I learnt that yesterday, it was 27ºC. That is like the temperature in Singapore but gosh, here in Buenos Aires... in winter?? It is mad! In fact, it was the highest winter temperature ... [Continue reading this entry]