Saturday, October 18, 2008

Uruguay-Argentina 2008, Part 3

Uruguay-Argentina 2008, Pt. 3

Kathy and I scrambled for cover as the protestors' gunfire erupted in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo, piercing the late afternoon sky with the cry of a revolution. Our hearts pounded as we fled for safety behind the ranks of heavily armed Policia Federal, garbed in full riot gear as they filed out of their armored vehicles…

Okay, so this event in Argentina wasn't quite THAT dramatic. However, this is essentially how it happened, and Kathy and I can recall plenty of episodes like this from over a decade of world travel to nearly 35 countries. My problem is that I get so wrapped up in the excitement of the moment that I often delay updating my travelogue until there are too many stories to recount.

My solution? I usually upload my photos to as I travel from hostel to hostel, often adding descriptions and tags later (please contact me if you would like free access to my entire "private" photo catalog). As of today I have yet to upload the final batch from our Uruguay-Argentina vacation, but most of this trip is already documented online in pictures.

As in my previous blog post uploaded from our Uruguayan hostel, I could share our remaining October adventures in South America using the same dramatic flair (the kind of flair that you pin to your Chatchski's polo shirt) as above. Instead, though, I choose to take the easy way out and present to you in sentence fragments the awkwardly titled…drum roll please…

The top 14 most vivid memories from the second half of Garth and Kathy's Uruguay-Argentina vacation!


14. Stopping at a church at exactly 7:00 pm PST Wednesday night to pray for our student ministry meeting back home.

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13. Cautiously weaving and pushing through a crowd of protesters outside of a government building in Uruguay's Colonia de Sacramento. Little did we know that this incident would be relatively tame compared to the political activists whom we would encounter in Argentina (see #2, below).


12. A crippled local gentleman who followed us around the Plaza de Indepencia , insisting on taking our picture in front of the eternally guarded tomb of Artimas and every other landmark in the vicinity.


11. Capping off our tour of the cobblestone streets of Colonia with a scrumptious pizza dinner at the waterfront El Torrean café.


10. Traveling by intercity bus, slow boat Eladia Isabel, and finally a taxi from Uruguay to Argentina, only to discover that all of Buenos Aires' youth hostels were booked for the night. Around midnight, we finally sprung for the inexpensive hostel Hotel Europa.


9. Eating our first (and best ever) steak at Bistro Iberia at 1 a.m. Wednesday, resulting in our commitment to seek out delicious steak dinners and/or lunches daily. Another highlight was our humungous steak lunch at Natacha on Thursday, but we recommend that you skip the El Sito cafe. Steak tastes amazing in Argentina, and it's a bargain!

8. Argentine police allowing passersby to threaten, punch, and shove an accused petty thief (sometimes even restraining him!) into a steel door as we watched from across the dark alley. "Street justice" takes on a new meaning when the police give their blessing.


7. Attempting to buy local coffee beans as gifts from the Coffee House, a large Americanized café on Buenos Aires' pedestrian-only Florida Avenue. It required two cashiers, one manager, and a phone call to headquarters for the staff to figure out how to price a prepackaged bag of beans. Apparently brewing premium coffee at home is a foreign concept for some South Americans.


6. The entire city of Buenos Aires going crazy over a national soccer game on Wednesday.


5. Spotting Sun (or a look-alike) from the TV show "Lost" while sipping coffee at the upscale Richmond.

Locals squared off against each other at chess in the Richmond's basement, visible from our table upstairs.


4. Navigating many of Buenos Aires' streets by visually referencing the Capital Federal landmark, which can be spotted throughout various neighborhoods.


3. Looking on as a heated argument en español deteriorated into a near catfight between two women at the gravesite of Eva Peron. The face off was between an opinionated tour guide and a feisty porteña on a pilgrimage, each shoving their own take on the Peron legacy down each other's throats. But this throw down at Evita's grave could never overshadow what we faced across the plaza from Evita's "preaching" balcony a day earlier…

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2. …Short bursts of gunfire (as mentioned above, in italics) nearly causing Kathy and I to jump out of our hiking boots as we neared the Casa Rosada, the Presidential building in Plaza de Mayo.

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Policia Federal in riot gear were on hand as militant protesters marched around the plaza for an hour or so, frequently halting to discharge their weapons into the sky and shout a heavily accented, "Freedom!"

1. Strolling past a café that was blasting out an elevator music remake of "Sweet Child O' Mine"…with Slash's memorable lead guitar replaced by a flute solo (!). Truth is, I couldn't think of anything cool enough to top that last one for the #1 spot.

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