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Shopping Time

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

12 December 2005 (Monday) – Cordoba to Buenos Aires, Argentina

As I leave for home from Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of my missions here is to shop shop shop. Coz afterall, I am leaving and I have no idea when I would come back here again. Well, I know… I bitched about having not enough money, but truly, I was ‘saving up’ to spend my money here in Argentina. The things here are comparatively cheap, if you know where to look, and can be rather fashionable. They are not tacky like in Brazil, or expensive like in Venezuela and Chile, or over-ethnic like in Peru and Bolivia. Shopping is truly best done here in Argentina. Travelling Trish turns Trendy Trish? Well.

Nadia informed me that the cheapie clothes stores, inadvertently many are run by Koreans, are found along Calle San Martin. I spent hours along that street, sinking my hands deep into the jungle of clothes and snapping up rather good deals. Very happy. I was, at one point, mistaken for one of the Koreans working at the store, as a lady came to ask me how to use the locker. Sorry, wrong Asian… ask the other one.

In the evening, Nadia and I, together with all my backpack and stuff, took a taxi to pick up her friend Daniel and a Hospitality Club member from Lithuania called Gedas. We went to Parque Sarmiento for some choripan – grilled chorizos (thick sausages) clasped between bread, laced with whatever sauces and veggies you want… wow, truly the BEST choripan I had ever had so far! The view here, especially at night, was rather nice as we could see a bit of the twinkling lights down in the centre. We chatted a bit but could not stay long as I had a bus to catch.

The trio accompanied me to the bus terminal and saw me off. This would truly be my last bus ride and my last time sleeping on a bus (at least for a while before the next trip begins!) as I cruised towards my second home city, the last point of my trip – Buenos Aires. It is time to connect the final dot!

Paseo de las Artes

Sunday, December 11th, 2005

10 December 2005 (Saturday) – Córdoba, Argentina

No Marina when I arrived in Córdoba. I was not surprised. I stuffed my backpack and haversack into a locker and tried to figure out what to do next. Suddenly, I realised I did not have my small camera in my bag. Shit, where did it go? I realised I had lost it!! W-h-a-t t-h-e h-e-y??!!!? Forget about asking HOW, because if I knew how, it would not have been lost. I tried to figure out the chain of events.

I had it with me when I went gallivanting around Mendoza but I did not take it out of my sling bag. In fact, I forgot about it being in my sling bag. My sling bag had no zip and I had left it near my feet on the bus. In the middle of the night, the bag had overturned in my sleep. Groggily, I picked up everything and I even checked with my torch. There appeared nothing left on the ground. But to be honest, at that time, I did not remember about the small camera, so I did not note that it was missing then and did not search specifically for it. Shit, now that it is missing, I think it might have been left on the bus!

I obtained some telephone numbers to call, but I seriously doubted that I would recover it. OK, it is a US$30 camera – without zoom, without anything. I had bought this as a quick-snappy-snap when I was in Manaus, Brazil to replace my stolen digital camera. Frankly, at this point, I was very tired and did not fancy taking any more photos of anything. But gosh, I felt a little pissed with myself for being so careless and for having lost the birthday and barbecue photos of my Viña del Mar family.

Anyway, I checked my email and again, no reply from Marina. OK, let’s forget about her! So strange to invite someone to visit you and then, happily awaits your arrival without giving clear instructions and then, completely forgets about you.

I took some hostels’ brochures from the Tourist Office and called them to ask about prices – about 17-18 pesos but nah, I really don’t fancy the gringo party scene and the tourists’ usual banter. Sure, occasionally I do get along with some tourists rather well, but… I am at the end of my trip now and I am feeling tired, and frankly, I feel rather antisocial towards tourists.

OK, I searched in Hospitality Club and noted that there were about 100 members here in Córdoba. That was quite a lot. Perhaps, I should try and contact some to see if they welcome a surprise guest now. Only when I have exhausted all options with Hospitality Club, would I go to a hostel. Usually, I tried to look for members around my age because I felt I would have more things in common with them to chat about. But this time, I decided to search by the most active members, i.e. the one most likely to welcome an unexpected guest, I figured. Some of them left their numbers and I noted down several of them. The first one I called was Nadia. I quickly explained my situation to her and to my surprise, she said, yes, come over, here’s the address. Wow, what luck!! I thought I had to shamelessly call up a few more to get one success.

When I reached Nadia’s house, her whole family received me with an amazingly warm welcome. I explained the whole story with Marina and really had to apologize for this unexpected arrival but they shushed me up.

I realised I was once again talking normally with them. Great, I can speak and understand Spanish again. When I complained to the Chileans that they speak too fast and unclear, they in turn bitched about the Argentines, insisting the Argentines were even worse. But no no no no no. For me, I understood every, or nearly everything that was said to me.

I spent the afternoon resting and trying to call the bus office of Mendoza and Córdoba about my camera. We were transferred to a huge number of people who kept on transferring us to someone else. Finally, they told us to call back at 10:30pm when the same bus prepares to leave Córdoba for Mendoza. If they found anything, they would have to report it by then.

Alright. Finally, I decided to head to town. It was around 5pm now, and I heard the feria de artesania of Cordoba – called Paseo de las Artes, is really huge and really good. My eyes lit up in delight and anticipation as I headed to town.

I was a little too early, as the stalls were just setting up. I wandered around the city centre a bit and returned by around 8pm. Wow wow wow wow wow!!! Truly, Paseo de las Artes of Cordoba was the BEST handicraft fair I had ever been to in my entire life!!!! There were just tonnes and tonnes of stalls everywhere! It was not the biggest, but it was certainly the most creative one I had ever seen, I think even better than my favourite handicraft fair in Buenos Aires! Wow, I was surprised by many of the hand-made items, wondering what was going through their minds for them to think of creating such amazing things. OK, a few items resulted in queries of ‘what was going through their minds’ in the bad sense. But, most of them… were just lovely, lovely, lovely. My eyes were round and gleaming. My jaws were half-opened. I walked around the fair in a manner to make sure I did not get lost amongst the stalls and yet, would not leave a stall unviewed as well. There were so many items I wanted to buy. All for my apartment, I declared! One tiny problem. I do not have my own apartment! Just a tiny problem…

By the way, no camera was found, they claimed. Blah, as expected, why would they return a camera, even a lousy, snappy-snap camara?