Ed, Al, Pat and I took the ferry back from Colonia, Uruguay and once back in Buenos Aires, Ed and I moved to join Al and Pat at Kris and Rodrigo’s apartment, two friends of Kemi’s who very kindly agreed to host us. That night we all went to Bomba de Tiempo which is a drumming performance.
The noise was amazing and we spent the evening there before heading to an after party with more drumming and good music. We were still awake to enjoy the sunrise from the balcony of Kris and Rodrigo’s apartment.
The exact sequence of events is a little blurry by now, a combination of it being a while ago and also, because things were a little blurry at the time. We still had some sightseeing to do and we set to it with a determination that hadn’t been seen since we all completed the Birmingham Half Marathon together…actually still not a great deal of determination. We saw some of the more famous architecture Buenos Aires had to offer, visited La Boca where we witnessed Pat impressing the ladies with his salsa skills, walked along the riverside and visited La Recoleta, a famous cemetery with some huge tombs. Like the sequence of events, it’s a little blurry and I don’t remember names of where we went and what I took photos of, so the captions aren’t the most descriptive I’m afraid.
After a couple more days we decided to get out of Buenos Aires for a day or two. We took a train from the city to a popular destination for Portenos (people from Buenos Aires) called Delta del Tigre. The town of Tigre is on the edge of the delta which is where we spent the night. It wasn’t quite the weekend but we still entertained ourselves and even managed to find a bar where the staff were playing FIFA. After a couple of drinks we joined in. It didn’t take long for a bit of patriotism to emerge with an Argentina v England tournament. Although it was a close affair England emerged on top. Thirty of years of hurt were over and more importantly Maradona was revenged. The following morning we took the public boat and explored part of the delta. There were numerous different stops, many just for individual houses. It was clearly a place for the wealthy Portenos to visit. The day quickly passed and before long we were making our way back into Buenos Aires for Pat’s last couple of days and before Alex and I left Ed for his last few days while we continued travelling.
We returned to the city and Pat had just one more day before he left. This was filled with the last bits of sightseeing but alas, I can’t remember where or what we did and anyway, the photos are with the others from Buenos Aires. The first of the goodbyes arrived as Pat packed up and we all went to see him off in the taxi. It was now when he realised he didn’t actually know which airport he needed to get to. After another ten minutes we waved goodbye wondering if he was going to the right place and whether he would make it in time. Luckily he did, it had been great to see him again after many months without political incorrectness and many less gin and tonics. Al, Ed and I returned to Kemi’s apartment and it wasn’t long before we had our next goodbye. I had spent every day for the last five months with Mr Geater and every day had been a pleasure. I couldn’t have asked for a better travelling buddy and we made many a memory that I can’t wait to reminisce about in the future. Luckily, I wasn’t going solo as I was simply switching Ed for Al, another of my very best friends. The fun continued as Al and I left Ed at Kemi’s and took a night bus to Mendoza.
We arrived into Mendoza early morning after a great night’s sleep on the bus. I actually look forward to night buses now as a chance to get some good rest, save money on accommodation, plus they bring meals to your seat. We were treated to a clear day with lots of sunshine which we took advantage of, walking around the city before visiting a park where we hired bikes. After an afternoon of exercise we treated ourselves to a beer, which quickly became two, three and four. Of course, being in Mendoza it was only right that we sampled some of the local wines so we enjoyed a steak meal with some red wine to go with it. More drinking ensued in the hostel as we mingled with a group of French travellers who were from Paris but didn’t fit the typical image Parisian’s have earned themselves.
The plan had been to visit the wine region the next day however a little too much alcohol had been consumed and after waking up in the afternoon we decided a rest day would be the best option. So a day later than planned we woke earlier, took the bus to Maipu and rented bikes. We were given a map of no less than twelve alcohol related stops. We decided to warm up first with a beer so went to a beer garden where we sat in the sunshine enjoying artisanal cervezas. Of course, one became two which became three before we really dragged ourselves away to sample some wines. We went to a vineyard and sampled three glasses before doing the same at another place just a kilometre down the road. As it was getting later in the afternoon we decided to head back in the direction of the bike hire shop and just have one more ‘pit stop’. Al managed to break one of his brakes which I found hilarious until I broke my chain. We were a bit stuck as we were close to 10 kilometres from the shop and I couldn’t ride my bike at all. Luckily a young, attractive and friendly policewoman arrived whose job was essentially to look after drunken tourists. After spending an hour or so talking with her, another young, attractive policewoman arrived in a truck and they took us back to where we started, to return the bikes. Unfortunately both policewomen rejected my offer of sampling some more wines together in Mendoza. Before taking the bus back, we stopped at one more place where we enjoyed a bottle, then another bottle and one more for good measure. The owners then treated us to a few more glasses as we made friends.
The antics continued as we arrived back at the hostel where we had our final bottle of wine for the evening. Along with the remaining lone French traveller we headed out to enjoy Mendoza. The following morning we had to take a bus at 08:30 to Santiago. I would like to tell you we were very sensible and got an early night, it didn’t quite go like this. Somewhere during the evening I went one direction to practice my Spanish with a local or two and Al went another way to do the same. The night passed very quickly and at 08:15 I suddenly realised the time. I ran down to the street, hailed the first taxi and got back to the hostel. I noticed Al’s rucksack had gone so thought I might catch him at the terminal. After jumping back into the taxi I told the driver I would pay him more if he got me there in time. The foot hit the accelerator and we skidded into the terminal taxi rank at 08:29. I ran into the terminal, asked directions for where my bus was and ran for it. I had made it, just in the nick of time, but now I couldn’t see Al! After a few more minutes standing around a conductor approached me, checked my ticket and said I wasn’t at the right bus. This happened despite him checking my ticket five minutes earlier. I still hadn’t given up hope as buses regularly leave late in South America. I quickly found my actual bus company but alas, the bus had gone and I guessed, Al with it. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do at this point as buying another bus ticket wasn’t an ideal option. I approached the man at the relevant bus company and did my very best impression to look distressed and upset. I was working hard, trying to produce a tear or two, my performance might not have won me an Oscar nomination but it did enough for the man to take pity, take me to another company and put me on the bus for free. It had actually worked, I couldn’t believe it! At this point I still didn’t know where Al was although I was hopeful he had taken our actual bus. As I arrived at the border crossing between Argentina and Chile I saw him through the crowds and there was an emotional embrace before we were ushered in different directions for customs procedures. The actual bus journey was stunning, straight over the Andes. One I would recommend to anybody. Al and I were reunited in the terminal in Santiago and I was pleased to see him in one piece although he was an iPhone down. So, a rescue from the police, a missed bus and a lost iPhone…not bad for our first few days travelling together. Hopefully not a sign of things to come…