Edit Blog Post
Published: April 26th 2013
Departure day arrives.
And so my South American adventure begins!
To kick off, a fantastic weekend in London. After stumbling from the train under the weight of two backpacks (now aptly named Little and Large), I began in style with a trip to the Champagne Bar at St Pancras with the lovely Anna. Thanks to Mum and Dad, I knew "Little" was a not so little 8kg and "Large" a whopping 17kg. Mum had succeeded in winding me up earlier, announcing "Large" at 31kg and "Little" at 20kg. The fact I fell for this is testament to the level of panic I was in at the time, trying desperately to get some last minute bits and pieces tied up.
Thankfully, some culling of items took place in London, saving both me and the bags (whose seams were stretched about as far as they could go). Anna was a star at making me work for every item that made "the cut" - being highly amused by my inclusion of a travel hairdryer. I know! But I am quite new to this travel lark.
Making it to the Champagne Bar - feeling like my lungs were going to explode and beginning to image
The lovely Anna enjoying some bubbles with me at St Pancras.
how World Strongest Man contestants feel lifting those Atlas Stones - we were rewarded with an excellent glass of bubbly. After an hour or so of putting the world to rights it was home to dump my travel companions and get ready for an evening of Latin Hip Hop in Shoreditch.
After a Vietnamese feast with Beth we headed off and danced the night away. I did my best to translate some of the Spanish lyrics. I failed pretty badly, but enjoyed the slight flurry of excitement each time I recognised a word or phrase.
Saturday was spent in Hoxton and Shoreditch with my lovely friends from University days. A very relaxed day, catching up on all the amazing news and sharing my upcoming plans. I enjoyed a last Full English Breakfast for brunch (crossing one more meal off the list of things that must be eaten before leaving the UK). In the afternoon more indulgence in the form of cake - yum yum!
Sunday was a top class roast at The Old Red Cow near Paddington, accompanied by Amy-Anne, Rob (no 1), Antonia, Tom, Julia, Edmund (no 1), Vanessa, Edmund (no 2), Emma, Rob (no 2)
St Pancras Installation
Time to dream ahead of setting off on my adventure.
and Claire. What a truly lovely way to end the weekend...the food was beautiful and the company even better. Emma did a "bon voyage" speech accompanied by bubbles, which was really touching and almost brought a tear to the eye. It was a perfect moment to reflect on the wonderfully supportive family and friends I am blessed to have and will come back to.
Monday morning was departure day and with a significantly reduced load I set off on an uneventful journey to the airport. It was a fairly pleasant 10 hour flight across the pond and then came the endless passport control and customs queue in Dallas. I had been pre-warned about this!!! 2 hours later I was through and then it was 45 minutes more on terra firma before boarding the next 10 hour flight, mush to my dismay. At this point I was thinking a stop over in Dallas may have been a good idea - is hindsight not a beautiful thing?!
We were joined on the flight by a large group of Mormon missionaries, scattered around the plane. All were very young and sweet in their own way, but determined on beginning their "Mission"
La Catedral - Main Hall
La Catedral at the start of the night. View across main hall to the bar.
with the airline passengers in preparation for their 18 month stay in Southern Argentina. Luckily we were travelling overnight, so after a couple of hours it was lights out and quiet. I am still to master sleeping on planes - perhaps something to do with no leg room and a tendency to tip sideways when I do doze off!
Arrival into Buenos Aries was all on time. Passport Control was a breeze, but customs took forever. None of the British patience for queuing here though! Seemingly fed up with the slow pace of advancement, the locals began clapping and chanting. I am not sure if this was directed at the Customs Officers or the passengers, but it seemed to have the desired effect - for a short time at least.
Once through I boarded a Manuel Tienda Leon Bus to the central depot, where we were split into groups for each district. Heading to Palmero, I was joined by a man from the US who gave me some tips on where to go for Tango and recited a poem his Scarborough-born grandfather had written for his Norwegian grandmother when they were courting. So it turns out Yorkshire men
The Ring of Fire
Lighting above main dance floor at La Catedral - Tango Fire to take place below this later!
can be romantic after all! There was another man, originally from the UK (now living in the Caribbean) meeting his daughter in Buenos Aries) and an Italian man arriving for a 5 day conference.
Last to be dropped off, and marveling at the mere millimeters my taxi-driver was aiming to squeeze through, I arrived at The Chill House to a warm welcome from owner Antoine. I met another traveller called Anna, from Frankfurt, who is coming to the end of her travels. We arranged to meet later that night for a tango class.
After a much needed shower I headed out into the local neighbourhood to buy some provisions and get much needed cash. The area is reminiscent of Central Havana, though cleaner and slightly more developed, so I felt a familiarity with it immediately. Like Cuba, the streets are set out in a grid system, and the neighbourhood has a real residential feel. You equally have to keep on your toes negotiating the traffic - cars have right of way whether there is a walk sign or not!!! It is amazing how quickly you manage to get on top of it though, and following the locals is
Milonga at La Catedral
Couples social dancing the Argentine Tango
always a good tip.
The tango class that evening was about 10 blocks from the hostel in La Catedral - an old warehouse that has been converted into a Tango Hall. Odd bits of furniture and art made from recycled items decorated the venue, with a giant red heart hanging above the bar and above the dance floor, a ring of multi-coloured lights.
A small group of us were in attendance at the class. 2 hours went by very quickly and I picked up a few moves, but nowhere near enough to feel confident of a social dance later. One of my partners included an Argentine man, who seemed very amused by my failure to keep the correct posture. Wrestling with my arms and repeating "you need to fight, it is a fight", I got the giggles. He then tried to place us in a training hold, that disturbingly involved me having to put my hands on top of his shoulders and my thumbs in his armpits, whilst also having the same done to me. Not the most dignified of stances, especially after a day walking round in 27 degree heat. By the end I had begun to get a feel for the rhythm and tempo of the dance.
Whilst enjoying some food a glass of wine, we watched a further class that was much more advanced. We then took part in a second class, where I had the pleasure of dancing with two young men from Ecuador who were attending their first class. Despite grid lock on the dance floor we did ok, but were still far from looking like Tango dancers.
Then the Milonga (social dancing) began. We got to sit back and watch the locals at work. Some couples were just breathtaking. It really was all I imagined it would be, sitting in a hot, humid space, full to the brim with people and passion bursting from all the dancers. Definitely an amazing start to my stay!!!
I had to give up the ghost around 12.30pm, after struggling for 3 hours to keep my eyes open, thanks to the 27 hour mammoth journey. Sleep was very welcome when I crawled beneath the bed sheet.
The end of day 1.
Tot: 0.051s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 6; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0114s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb