So, we made it to Mendoza. The place is very much like Canberra, its definitely got the city feel to it, just a lot more vibrant! The trip itself was terrifying! We figured we should be smart about it, and shopped around, and found a cheap minibus that seemed alright. Little did we know that the 6 hour journey should turn into 8, that the driver had emphasemia and would nod of, and that we would see Condors. They are big birds! But, we learnt some stuff, does and dont`s, so it`s all good!
Argentina has been kind to us so far, we got in late on Sunday, stumbled around town trying to find a hostel, before being accepted at a nice one where again, they spoke no English. We were really bloody keen to find out what was going on around us by this stage, so we caught some fliers and went looking for a phone booth. There is a whole heap of “Cabinas Telefonicas” around, which are like private public pay phones. Anyways, we got onto one, not realising we had changed timezone by this stage, and talked to our professors father. He knew some English and explained that it shouldn’t be any worries, and that I was to call back a bit later, which I did. This turned out to be late Sunday, but it all worked out! When I called back I got to talk to Maro, what a relief that was. We were accepted into her Spanish School starting the very next day.
So, since Monday morning, we have had our brains fried for 4 hours every day. We are making progress, but we have been told that we quite literally had no base in Spanish, which was unusual. We where planning on doing a group thing, but we would have brought the group down too far, so we ended up with the individual lessons. Its well worth the investments though, as we can now communicate with more than just sign language and gestures!
Outside school (funny being back at school) we have being trawling the city. We changed hostel too, and now have the whole place to ourselves, for reasons unbeknownst to us…. Our walking shoes have got a real good workout, we have seen all the streets, checked out the English bookshops again in search for a good phrase book, but given up on that quest. Instead, we have decided that our wits will have to do, which might be a big ask. However, so far we have done allright, and we seem to get better. Touch wood!
We started off cooking in, but by now, we have discovered the vegetarian buffets, and the various promotions you can pick up, so we just stick to those, its just as cheap, and we know enough now to order and make sure they take the meat off for Sara. We just had dinner, and I had a hamburger with a beer, and that only cost 12 peso, wich is $4AUD. Morning coffee with croisant and fresh juice averages around 8 peso, which is $2.7AUD. Not too bad!
The people here in Argentina are great, and I know I’m making sweeping statements when I suggest that they are quite nice! We are definitely having a better time here than in Santiago, less harassment and more friendly. There was a crisis here in 2001 that would have caused a fair bit of unsettelment (the economy devalued to 3 peso per $1USD, from being a fixed 1 to 1, so things skyrocketed in price) and which might have changed the economy a bit. Thriftynes seems to prevail! The petrol prices are identical to Australia, but a lot less affordable, due to lower income, so some wits are required!
The cars are what makes it most evident. There is whole heap of beat up Ladas, Fiats and Peugeot’s here, some sort of time lapse happening. The nick of some of them is surprising, considering how they are driven. You literally force yourself onto the intersections, time it with who is driving in which direction, and all the time hope that right of way and brute force will get you through. There always seems to be an ambulance cruising through the streets with sirens as well, which doesnt seem to mean anything unless they are honking too. There are continous car alarms going of, but not from theft, but as bumper indicators. So, the prevailing method of parking seems to be too keep reversing until the alarm on the car behind you goes of, then you start going forward. There doesnt seem to be any undamaged bumpers, and all the alarms sound the same, so we wonder what the point of it all is?! We are sick of the alarms though!
Does anyone what kind of a car this is? There is a few around.
We are starting to prepare for our next leg, to Salta in Northern Argentina. We figured out the bus system, and now went the whole hog. Cama so we can sleep. Should be interesting, its an 18 hour busride.
Saturday when we have finished school, we are going on the local winery tour.