Desert, dessert, both are good when served cold

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January 24th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Walking down Florida this morning.
Geo: -34.6118, -58.4173

The hostel served up some licuado this morning - not so good and after, my stomach ... ooh ... not good ... Today is my last day in South America - the original plan was to do a day trip somewhere, perhaps San Antonio de Areco. But with that crazy full-body cramp last night, I decided just to take things easy, since I was still feeling a bit wrecked. Instead, I'm just going to be lazy and bum around BA.

As I packed up and left the room, the smelly Dutch guy woke up and asked me what time it was. I told him, but seeing that he had slept in the SAME outfit that he'd been wearing the previous two days, perhaps I should've given him some advice and said "Time for you to take a shower!"

Off for a walk - Florida was quiet, since it was a Saturday morning. Over to the Metropolitan Cathedral - I had walked over here on our second day in BA, with R&D and Wade, but we never went inside. The cathedral has a much larger interior than you would think, given how it looks from the exterior.

Inside were a number of

I came across a movie being filmed - not sure if it was the same movie that was being filmed during our first few days in BA with the GAP tour. I didn't recognize any of these Argentinean actresses, but I still admired their "talents" :)
tombs, with familiar names like Chacabuco, Maipu, and Las Heras - many streets in Argentina, and even Chile, are named after these guys. Coincidentally, Chacabuco was the name of the street where the Hotel Puerto Valparaiso was located, and was where you could find the lovely Liszett 😊

After, I wandered over to Plaza de Mayo, where I found a nice spot in the shade and tried to finish off my book of Neruda poetry. I haven't made much progress, given the amount of time I've been traveling. I suppose that I haven't had much opportunity to read for much of this trip.

Most of today's activities consisted of sucking down Gatorade, sitting around, eating, and shopping - the shopping was done mostly for the A/C! I was a little surprised today, because even at 1 PM, it wasn't oppressively hot. Back to the hostel to enjoy some more A/C and free internet. Robert ended up sitting next to me, and asked for help checking his email. OMG!!!

It was rather comical if you weren't me, because if you were me, it was torturous and painful. I kid you not, when Robert tried entering the website name, I was asked "Where's the 'H'?",

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral - the mausoleum of San Martin, a famous Argentinean historical figure.
then "Where's the 'O'?", then "Where's the 'T'?", and on and on until he finally spelled Hotmail. The worst part for him was that it was an old keyboard, so many of the letters were rubbed off of the keys. I suggested that he find a computer with a newer keyboard, perhaps one that wasn't next to me, but he said he'd just stay.

Honestly, I could've just logged him in within 30 seconds, but then some other poor sap would only get sucked into it like I was, so I tried to let him do as much as he could himself. I understand that he's never really used a computer before, but it took him 15 minutes just to get to the Hotmail page, and enter his user name and password! But of course, he entered the wrong password, so he had to go through the entire process again. All in all, it took him 30 minutes to find out that he had exactly ZERO emails. Sigh ...

During this whole episode, the guy across from me was smirking - I guess it was karma, because I was quite amused the other night watching some guy trying to help Robert out.

Obelisk in Plaza de Mayo.
I was incredibly frustrated with the whole thing but felt bad, because he's a genuinely nice guy, though incredibly annoying at times. I wondered how he was managing traveling on his own. Trusting, nice, naive ... it's only a matter of time before he gets scammed in South America, if it hasn't already happened. Needing to escape, I went in search of lunch at El Palacio de Pizza.

I'd still been feeling run down all day, but was starting to feel a little better after lunch and the OJ. I did some more shopping, not so much because I needed anything, but more because I wanted to stay out of the heat. I popped into the Zara, hoping it would be like the ones in Spain, but it wasn't 😞 Beautiful, nicely-dressed Spanish women assisting other beautiful, nicely-dressed Spanish women - they should really start charging an admission fee to see that! I'd pay hundreds of dollars for that privilege!

They had some great deals on jeans, but I didn't realize they were all skinny jeans until I tried them on - in most cases, they didn't get any higher than my calves before getting stuck. The odd pair that

Casa Rosada, the presidential palace.
actually made it past my calves, I only tried on just to laugh at how they looked on me - ridiculous! I'll never understand why guys wear skinny jeans - not only are they incredibly uncomfortable and only look good on women, but they will likely compromise your ability to have children in the future!

I was feeling very fatigued, mostly due to the dehydration from yesterday, but possibly partially due to poor circulation after trying on all those skinny jeans, so I hid out in Galerias Pacifico, drinking another big bottle of Gatorade. It was green apple-flavoured, and quite nice - it almost tasted natural, unlike the artificial taste of most Gatorade varieties.

I wandered around the mall a bit, not really shopping, because everything was so expensive here. It was surprising to find the Cultural Centre Borges inside of the mall, a live performance theatre that also had an art exhibit. You wouldn't think a soulless shopping centre would've had anything remotely cultural inside.

I stepped out of the cool, air-conditioned oasis of the mall, and felt a blast of BA's horrid mid-day heat - I immediately turned around and went back inside. I grabbed la merienda, what Argentineans call their

The worst dried fruit ever - I'd been carrying it around for a while, in case I needed a snack. It was flavourless, and it all still had pits inside. I left it behind for the birds.
afternoon snack, at La Brioche Doree, a big French patisserie chain. I stuck around a while, enjoying the air conditioning, and finally finished off the Neruda book - it took until the last day, but I finally did it! It's not that I didn't enjoy it, it's just that I never got around to it. I'll have to read it again when I get home, this time ignoring the horrid English translations.

It's quite disappointing, because now that I've finally got my Spanish back to a decent level, I'm leaving South America. I guess that's a bit of a problem when traveling with others - I never sought out opportunities to speak Spanish, because I didn't need to. It's a shame really, because with a little more time here, I probably could've made a real breakthrough and taken my Spanish to a higher level. Oh well, just another excuse to return to Spain this summer 😊

Having more time to kill before my flight, I went in search of an internet cafe - I preferred paying for the internet, rather than going back for the free internet at the hostel, and risk having to give Robert another computer tutorial. It's

Fountain in the Plaza de Mayo - I had hoped that the fountain, the obelisk, and the tower in the distance would form a nice line and result in a great photo, but it did not happen.
for his own safety - if I had to deal with that again, I'd probably snap and strangle him with the mouse cord! The place I found was a bit more expensive than others, but it had one huge selling point - A/C!

I returned to the hostel to get my bag, and walked over to the Manuel Tienda Leon terminal to catch a shuttle to the airport. It was a pretty hot walk, which probably was a bad idea, given how run down and dehydrated I have been these past two days. But I felt like I needed to do some physical activity, since I had been so lazy today.

I arrived around 19:00 and could've really used another Gatorade, but the terminal's cafe had just closed. It's funny that they don't even have a vending machine around, since you'd figure it'd be a great money maker, with the number of people they shuttle to the airports.

On the ride over, I reviewed and re-sized the photos I took the past few days, and realized that I hadn't done much of anything. There's been a lot of wheel spinning on this trip, with much of it due to poor

Gatorade - it was actually Cristian, a Mexican student in my dorm room that had I suggested I drink some today. I wish that I had thought of this yesterday, when my whole body was seizing and cramping up!
planning on my part. They say Rosario is a nice city, and I could have seen it had I organized the last week of the trip differently. It's been a great trip, but I was left strangely unfulfilled by the whole experience ... I think it's mostly due to the tour. I guess it's just not my type of thing, and felt that there was absolutely no value in it.

Ezeiza airport - I realized where all of BA's beautiful women had gone, they were all working here! It seemed like every airport counter was staffed by Argentinean models. I checked in, admired the views, and went to pay my departure fee.

The gouging at this airport is unbelievable - a bit bottle of Gatorade in central BA cost about $1.35 CAD, but here, it was over $5 CAD! Given the relative prices for food, that's like paying $10 for a Gatorade in Canada. I had enough time to grab a meal before coming to the airport, but decided to wait, since I'd have lots of time to kill before the flight. I regretted that, because I expected a reasonable amount of gouging, but nothing of this ridiculous level! Many of

A slice of ham and roasted pepper, and a slice of plain mozzarella, with some nice freshly-squeezed OJ. The flavour of the pizza has always been great here, though the crust has been lacking. I'm ending my time in BA just like I started it, stuffed with pizza!
the restaurants were offering a crappy steak sandwich for the same price I paid last night for an excellent ribeye steak.

After a day of doing nothing but relaxing and hydrating, I was starting to feel a bit better. After going through security, I bought a big bottle of water to take on board with me, but was instructed to throw it out. This was interesting, because every other airport I have been to allows water on board if it's purchased after the security checkpoint.

The on board dinner was a crappy beef stew made with frozen vegetables, and served with rice. The greens in the salad looked suspect, so I only ate the chunks of cheese on top. The chocolate mousse wasn't good, but edible. They had a great entertainment selection on board, with a choice of probably a few dozen movies and TV shows, and a bunch of video games. I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona, hoping there would be tons of Spanish hotties, but there weren't 😞 Oh well, it was still nice to see the city of Barcelona again! I managed to sneak a few hours of sleep in before landing in Dallas.

It was 3 degrees C

My afternoon snack at La Brioche Doree. For a few bucks, I had a small little bitter coffee with a strawberry tart, served with a bit of pastry cream. The tart definitely wasn't French-quality, but it was good enough - anything was better than being out in the BA afternoon heat.
when we landed, and a blast of cold air chilled me to the bone as I stepped out of the plane into the walkway. If I find 3 degrees cold, how will it be when I return to Calgary and its -25 degree weather??? I am NOT looking forward to that!

I had 4.5 hours to kill in the airport, so I wandered around, did some reading, some shopping, and used one of their free internet terminals. B&H and I had a pretty bad meal here on our way down to Santiago, because we had walked almost the entire length of the terminal and found nothing decent. If only we had walked just a bit further, we would have found a pretty good selection of places, including Einstein Brothers, an American bagel-shop chain.

I had never heard of them until recently, when I had seen some wall postings on Facebook between Diane and Hannah (from La Serena), that had made references to it. Feeling full at the time, I thought nothing of it, but later on, I found out that our flight offered no meal. It was a four hour flight, that takes place right over the lunch hour - how

Dinner at the airport - being a little tired of beef, something I never thought would have been possible, I had a chicken sandwich with some limp, mushy, oily fries. The chicken had a decent flavour, but was a bit dry. The sandwich was served on a dry white bun, loaded up with ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Dinner was both blah and expensive, but at least I was left feeling full.
could they not give you something to eat? I was glad that I checked, and I hauled ass over to Einstein Brothers to grab something, just five minutes before boarding began.

I lucked out and the emergency exit aisle was empty, so I stretched out and relaxed the whole way home. I'll definitely be back to South America, and have plans to return to both Chile and Argentina. It sounds like the distant parts are the most enjoyable, and I wasn't able to get to any of them because I had to be in certain places at certain times. Patagonia, the Argentinean lakes district, the salt flats ... I missed out on so much!

The problem is that you need too much time to thoroughly explore both countries. With such large distances, it's just not feasible to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. I'll have to think about it some more, but I'm pretty sure my next South American trip will include other more adventurous countries, but I'll still sprinkle in a few bits of Chile and Argentina.

I had expected more out of Santiago, and even more out of BA - I guess that's the problem

At the Dallas airport - I'm a lot like Wade, in that I rarely eat McDonald's, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to have one of their biscuits. Unfortunately, it was kind of tough and dry, and not tender and moist like they normally are. The OJ saved me from gagging on it.
with expectations, because neither of them lived up to them. They could both be nice places to live if you made decent money, but as far as tourists go, I thought they were both only OK.

But of course, the biggest disappointment was the lack of female Spanish tourists. Where were they??!??!? How come it took me almost a month of traveling before meeting even one? I cannot answer these questions ... perhaps they can only be answered by some higher power ...

It wasn't long before we were approaching Calgary - I'm used to flying in over the north and seeing my neighbourhood, since I'm usually flying back from London. It was neat to fly in over the south, for once. All that snow, and cold ... it made me want to cry! And even worse, I wasn't even made to feel welcome when I returned - I'm used to getting grilled by customs agents from other countries, but I'm unaccustomed to getting grilled by my own!

And so ends another journey - if the current economic situation continues, this will likely be the last one for quite some time ... sigh ... there is always a song that forever

I was glad that I picked something up at Einstein Brothers - I had a phenomenal sandwich, with juicy grilled chicken, mozzarella, provolone, roasted peppers, pepperoni, spinach, and pesto, all served on an everything bagel. The everything bagel wasn't salty or garlicky enough but was OK in this instance, as a true everything bagel would've overpowered everything. The texture of the bagel was good - toasted and crisp, but soft and chewy on the inside. The flavours were great, and even though it was a bit pricey, it was worth every penny. It cost about the same as the crappy chicken sandwich I had earlier in the BA airport. I had planned to eat it on board, but the incredible smell was irresistible, and the sandwich was gone before I even set foot on the plane.
reminds me of a particular trip, and in this case, there are actually two. If there really will be no return to Spain this summer, then at least I still have the songs I have grown to love over the past few years of traveling. I can just flip on my iPod any time those feelings of claustrophobia and wanderlust take hold - it's amazing how something as simple as a song can evoke memories that are as vivid as the day they were mentally recorded. In an instant, it can take you back to a certain moment, a certain place, a certain feeling ...

The first song of this trip is one perfect for those long, introspective bus rides through the Chilean dessert - the ideal soundtrack for the kind of soul-searching one does while gazing out at a desolate landscape. Melancholy lyrics, haunting melodies ... the song arouses a sense of longing, a sense of endless searching ... it's beautiful, and I love it. Even without listening to the lyrics, the emotion in the lead singer's voice and the music are powerful enough to stir feelings in anybody.

The second song is about losing sight of yourself, and living a life you never wanted. In some ways, I felt a little trapped by the GAP tour, and thought that this type of activity was not me in any way, shape, or form. The themes and words of this song go far deeper than something as trivial as an organized tour, but I still identified with the lyrics.

I'll keep hope that I will be in Spain this summer and if not, that sucks, but I'll deal with it. It'll just make it extra special the next time I am able to wander around the globe 😊

"Cold Desert" by Kings of Leon

I'm on the corner, waiting for a light to come on
That's when I know that you're alone
It's cold in the desert, water never sees the ground
Special unspoken without sound

You told me you loved me, that I'd never die alone
Hand over your heart, let's go home
Everyone noticed, everyone has seen the signs
I've always been known to cross lines

I've never ever cried when I was feeling down
I've always been scared of the sound
Jesus don't love me, no one ever carried my load
I'm too young to feel this old

Is it you, is it me
Or does nobody know, nobody see
Nobody but me

"Let me be myself" by 3 Doors Down

I guess I just got lost,
Being someone else,
I tried to kill the pain,
But nothing ever helps,
I left myself behind,
Somewhere along the way,
Hoping to come back around to find myself someday.

But lately I'm so tired of waiting for you,
To say that it's okay,
Tell me please,
Would you one time,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
And let me be myself.
Would you let me be myself?

Cause I'll never find my heart,
Behind someone else,
I'll never see the light of day,
Living in this cell,
It's time to make my way,
Into the world I knew,
And then take back all these times that I gave into you.

But lately I'm so tired of waiting for you,
To say that it's okay,
And tell me please,
Would you one time,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
And let me be myself for awhile,
If you don't mind,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
And let me be myself.

That's all I've ever wanted from this world,
Is to let me be me.
Please, would you one time,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
Let me be myself.

Please, would you one time,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
And let me be myself for awhile,
If you don't mind,
Let me be myself so I can shine,
With my own light,
And let me be myself,
Would you one time,
Oooh, let me be myself,
Let me be me


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