Buenos Aires; I’d really like to watch Evita now

We’re currently in Buenos Aires, sweating. It seems there is a December heat wave, days are anything from 35 to 42 degrees Celsius. We spent Christmas time, 5 nights, without an air conditioned room to sleep in. A sad ceiling fan, that was never turned off, spun hot air around our dorm room to no avail. The only upside; the stench of cigarettes from the courtyard had no chance to stagnate.

Then the power went out in Milhouse Hipo Hostel and the hot air hung for hours. The room started to stink, it got dark and we had to leave in search of light and air conditioning. We found a place just down the street and booked for 2 nights into another humid, heavy, hot aired room. Air conditioning not available. Ugh. Disgusting. We were showering after sleeping, eating, walking and then before bed too. We’d seen nothing of BA except Hipolito, the street we stayed on, and Defensa, the street we ate on. We’d also seen the back of many taxis (air conditioned) and the inside of many Ugi’s (not air conditioned).

Now we’re safe in an air conditioned room. We’re paying £8.50 a night for the privilege, up from £5.50 a night, but at one point I would have handed over my passport in exchange for some breathable air. Actually, I could have just handed over my passport and moved to somewhere cooler. I had no idea BA would be this hot and so we were supposed to be here for Christmas and New Year and into most of January. Now we’re here just till January 2nd and then onwards to elsewhere in Argentina before arriving in Mendoza on 7th for a little hotel treat from my Mum and Dad.

So far BA is the biggest surprise. I expected to fall hard straight away for this huge city. It’s referred to as ‘European’ and ‘Parisian’ and it certainly looks that way, more than Rio or São Paulo. But there are instances of petty crime all over the place, targeted especially at tourists, that we didn’t encounter in Brazil or Uruguay. Along with the heat, that made for a less enjoyable visit.

The hostel made less effort for Christmas than for a regular day’s business; couple of Christmas songs over dinner but no tree, no films. It was quite strange. The city was still alive, shops open, buses running, so I felt especially homesick. I didn’t get Home Alone this year but that will make the next even more special.

Today was a turn up though. We went to Palermo, a kind of fancier neighbourhood with real people instead of the city streets we’ve been staying on which are full of workers till 6 and more questionable characters after that. We ate food with this nice Irish couple we met in Uruguay. I suffered some quite laughable sunburn, just to top off the cold I’ve had for days. I suppose pizza, beer and sugar aren’t best for the immune system. We took a 3 hour walking tour which taught me more about BA and it’s history than anything else. And it was free.

Over Christmas we had a lot of fun with people we stayed with in Milhouse Hipo. We went to a terrible nightclub, drank some terrible cocktails, met some lovely people and some devoid of social skills, practised shoddy Spanish with a bunch of English, Americans and Australians, wandered through a cute market, watched some Tango on the street, made a pilgrimage to the air conditioned cinema for El Hobbit 2, ate some greasy Japanese food, bumped into a very excitable American and bitched a whole lot about Milhouse hostel.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, which I hate. Usually we spend it with our best friends at home over some delicious Szechuan food in Manchester Chinatown, taking away all need for a party or destination or plan. Tomorrow we hope to find some cheapo Chinese food and perhaps some fireworks. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a stress free New Year’s Eve.

part 2 of Colonia, Uruguay

This morning I woke up in incredible heat, scratching myself all over because I was attacked overnight by mosquitoes. I dreamt about getting out of bed and fixing them about three times before I did. But when I did, it was such relief. We have a clicker, a little electronic zapper to treat mosquito bites and it’s brilliant. I just had to climb down from the bunk, find the clicker in Oliver’s bag and sleepily stumble to the bathroom so as not to disturb everyone else with the CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.

I was elated to discover oranges and kiwis at breakfast! The first breakfast in Uruguay that consists of more than bread, butter and dulce de leche. That delicious caramel is perfect after dinner, or for lunch, or as a snack. Not breakfast. Not sugar and more sugar and terrible coffee that can only be fixed with sugar.

Here is a further million pictures because it’s just so nice to have instant access to them now.

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today in Colonia, Uruguay, part 1

I know I have so many pictures to post from the past few weeks; São Paulo, Iguassu Falls and Montevideo. This week we trekked to a kind of Apple shop and bought a handy SD card reader for my iPad. So I can upload pictures from our fancy camera online much easier than before. Give me a few days and I’ll catch up. Today we arrived in Colonia del Sacramento, a small colonial town in Uruguay. There are about 6 towns in all of Uruguay, so it seems, so our path was naturally predetermined. This is our last stop before Buenos Aires, our home for Christmas and New Year.

Jesus. There are a lot of pictures here, sorry about that, more to come.

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christmas

It’s 32 degrees here and feels not one bit like Christmas, despite the wreaths and lights and Christmas trees. I’ve taken to listening to the limited festive music I have with me and longing for Home Alone. I bet Love, Actually is saturating itv2. Well, there’s not a whisper of it here! Although, I did just read this. I suppose its not the best message.

This song is exceptionally festive and needs no further thought…

making a caipirinha

By now I’ve drank more than my fair share of Brazil’s national cocktail, as Jill and Hotch assured me I would. I even got a quick lesson in making my own in Foz do Iguazu. Although we’ve left Brazil, the caipirinha follows us to Uruguay and hopefully onwards. In Paraty we crowded the dinner table in anticipation one evening and had a full demonstration by an unwilling caipirinha creator, so I thought I’d share the process in pictures in case you have a craving. Or rather, to make sure that you do.

You’ll need shitloads of limes. Cut into quarters and get rid of the line of white pith inside so they squeeze more easily. Fill your biggest kitchen pan and mash them up with a cachaca bottle (that’s the spirit you’ll need) until you have a lot of juice. The lime juice is the only liquid in the caipirinha other than the cachaca and melting ice (if you need incentive to mash harder).

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Add so much sugar that you run out. Buy another bag and use most of that too. The sugar cuts through the alcohol making the caipirinha deliciously diabetic-ally drinkable, so add even more.

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Add a sack of ice and crush with the cachaca bottle. Liberally pour on cachaca. If you think you’ve added enough, you haven’t. This is no vat of Wetherspoons’ Woo Woo. Consider yourself lucky, the only reason we’re able to handle the caipirinha’s potency is because we’re unfamiliar with the delicious cachaca flavour. We are free of cachaca induced regret (well, I was). You can try with rum or vodka, but I would personally keel over.

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Mix. Try it. It should be citrusy sweet and strong. Drink with people who were strangers this morning and your breath will soon be flammable and your heart happy.

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The caipirinha I got to make myself was just in a short tumbler and needed 1 lime and all the juice it would yield, 2-2.5 tablespoons of sugar depending on your stomach, 2-3 cubes of ice and a good couple of measures of cachaca. Make it strong and the ice will quickly melt in the Brazilian heat, lessening the punch. Alternatively, drink it in Manchester and watch the drink turn to ice too.

quick pictures of Montevideo, Uruguay

We’ve just spent a hectic 2 days getting to Montevideo. There is a lot of update on and many pictures, so here are a couple just from our hostel right now. It’s very picturesque and we splashed out on a private room, that’s £15 a night each! Very extravagent.

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cosy hostel life in Paraty

We just left Paraty this morning, for São Paulo, it’s polar opposite. Paraty is pronounced almost as Parachee, as only Portuguese can do. It’s a cute colonial looking town, surrounded by hidden waterfalls and natural pools. We hadn’t even heard of it until Rio and it’s name began popping up alongside Backpacker’s House Hostel and Pablo, the owner. We decided upon a detour after Ilha Grande and it was the best decision yet.

The hostel is a house, with a kitchen, a huge dining table for dinners and breakfasts together, a living room, a porch with hammocks and benches, a tiny mischievous puppy and a pool that we didn’t even swim in. It was the best. Everyone was lovely, friendly, welcoming. The food was great and our one extravagance, a day tour of waterfalls and natural slides, was my favourite day so far. I was terrified about 60% of the time. But I would never have done any of those things without that incredible tour (and we wouldn’t have done the tour without my Nana’s generous gift, thank you Nana).

It helped that we took the tour with a bunch of our new found friends. Then spent the rest of the time with the same lovely people, eating food, wandering about Paraty and Trindade, watching films and playing cards. I was a bit sad to be moving on.

On the up side, we arrived in São Paulo, took the Metro to our hostel without mugging or attack. Brilliant. A few pictures of Paraty below, just from the hostel.

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