Geo: -34.4771, -57.8386
Today (14th July), it is exactly a year to the day since I first arrived in Buenos Aires. Happy anniversary to me. I am also just over three weeks away from returning to the UK, with feelings as mixed as my hairstyles have been over the past twelve months. (The fact that the "News of the World" is no more makes me a little more inclined to come home, I have to say.)
I had to renew my 90-day tourist visa one last time a couple of days ago, so I went across the river on another day trip to Colonia, in Uruguay…this time with a friend who was getting over the same flu that I was recovering from. We figured we wouldn´t be likely to cross-infect each other if it was the same flu. This conclusion was only based on a feeling, not on any medical science, but I think we got away with it.
Luis, my friend, is very smiley. I like that. Especially in Colonia, because the town is quite small, and I had already done most of the things there are to do there, and it was winter and there were not many leaves on the trees,
so it needed a bit of smileyness.
The immigration people were a little suspicious because I only had two days left before my visa expired, but I think I was working within the rules..and they knew they had nothing on me, so they let me through the border and back again to Buenos Aires after giving me a frowny face.
We did some things that I didn't do the last time I was in Colonia. We climbed to the top of the lighthouse (15 pesos uruguayos/80 US cents/50 pence per person), just about managing to squeeze our bellies through the little ladder hole at the top. We tried to buy a rug for Luis, spending a lot of time in one shop that he particularly liked, but we couldn't find the rug that we had pictured in our minds. We went on a tour of the town in a taxi (AGT, Gral. Flores 272, Tel: 4522 7882, 800 pesos uruguayos/$42/£26 for an hour and a half or so). I have become a big fan of these taxi tours. We visited a beach and a church and saw a big bullring building that looked very nice, even in its derelict state. We
met various stray dogs, the sweetest of which was sitting by the sea and liked playing fetch. We drank sangria and ate jacket potatoes.
We walked along a main road to get to a shopping centre. (I will really miss using "shopping" as a noun when I go back to the UK…here you simply say, “Is there a shopping near here?” or “Can you tell me the way to the shopping?” I am not sure I will ever be able to stop saying that.) Anyway, in this particular shopping, there were not any places selling rugs and there wasn't even the Starbucks that Luis used as a carrot to encourage me to complain less about the walk to the shopping. So we left and walked back into town again along the main road.
On the way back, we stopped off at a casino, but the fruit machines were the only things open at the time. We asked if they had some machines with arms that you pull, and they said that it is all done with buttons these days. Machines without arms are very boring, so we just chucked all our tokens into the machine as fast as we could.
I think we spent longer checking our coats in and out of the cloakroom than we did on losing our tokens.
Luis taught me the words for different types of boat in Spanish, because I have been a bit confused about these. I don't like to brag, but now I can say “cruise ship”, “ship”, “ferry”, “yacht”, “speedboat” and “rowing boat” in Spanish and I know which one I am referring to, whereas before I was using the words interchangeably. In return, I taught Luis how to say “bathrobe” and “voyage” in English. And back at the port, whilst waiting for our ferry, I discovered that Milka have just started selling a new chocolate bar here, which I think is now my favourite ever chocolate bar…milk chocolate with a light cappuccino whip inside. I bought it for the journey but it was gone before I made it onto the "buque" ("ferry"😉.
Those are the things that we did on our snot-filled day trip to Colonia. And it was all a lot of fun.
And, back in Buenos Aires, to mark my one year anniversary today, I had my hair cut, but I don't think I like it very much. I showed
the barber a photo of me a few years ago when I had the hairstyle that I want to have now, but he gave me a completely different cut. Maybe there's a lesson there about the impossibility of recreating one's yoof. I know that, when I go back to the UK in a three weeks' time, I will feel just as keen to recreate my year in Buenos Aires as I feel now to recreate my old hair, and I will feel just as frustrated when I look in the mirror and realise it can't be done. It would be nice if I could at least take the stray dog back to the UK, but I can't. And whilst I will try to take some Milka coffee chocolate back with me, I know now that it won't make it.
That is why I have this blog, to remind me of Buenos Aires when the lovely chocolate, the crap haircuts and the stray dogs are all in the past.
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