Sunday, 27 May 2012

This blog is on time for Bolivian standards...

Oh boy, am I in Trouble. Trevor just tweeted me saying "grandma says to write a blog.. She really is ambushing me from all angles!! I'm sorry grandma, here we go! Last time I wrote we had just gotten to bolivia. Bailey and I recovered for our adventures in Rio in the luxury of a nice Bolivian hotel in Santa Cruz. We enjoyed the privacy of having a room to ourselves, hot showers and most importantly, cable tv to watch American idol!! We spent 3 days in Santa Cruz enjoying the nice weather, cheap food while admiring the limberness (is that a word?) of the bolivian women. We couldnt help but be amazed at the sight of these Bolivian woman who would spend their days on the concrete beside their fruit stands. I just kept wondering if they were going to be able to stand up after! Evidently, these women dont like to have their pictures taken, as we learnt when bailey tried and Then had a peice of Cheese thrown at her. After santa cruz, we made our wayton to the high altitudes- which bailey fell victim to. On our way in to the mountains and on to sucre, we learnt a very valuable lesson. DO NOT DRINK COCA COLA BEFORE A BUS RIDE. We had been warned by other travelers that buses in Bolivia lack washrooms and fail to make bathroom breaks- apparently, this is true. We somehow managed to hold our bladders until we arrived in sucre, where we learnt that not all of south America is warm. Sucre was about 6 degrees, which felt unbearable to us. We decided to "adapt" to the cooler weather by hiding indoors at an Irish pub and starting our on-going tournament of crib, whichim convinced bailey spends all her free time online practicing, as she always seems to win. After sucre, we headed for the south of Bolivia, stopping in potosi- the worlds highest city, and arriving in uyuni. This is where we were able to do our salt flats tour. We bundled ourselves in alpaca wool and set off on a 3 day tour with 4 other people. The tour was excellent. We got to see so much of southern Bolivia. Unfortunately, bailey was suffering from severe altitude sickness (self diagnosed) and spent the majority of the tour snoring in the back. The highlight for me was the mountain of seven colours. I will try and post pictures soon of this. During the tour we also go to sleep in hostels made of salt, we ate llama(vegetarianism is so not in here) and we toured various lakes within the southern region- some covered in flamingos! We took our first train after the tour in uyuni to la Paz. This was awesome, especially since we heard the road was treacherous. We checked in to a comfy hostel in la Paz. The city was amazing! It is developed within a big canyon, and the lights of the city at night are spectacular. Bailey was still sick for our first few days in la Paz so we took it easy. As soon as she seemed to turn the corner, we signed up to bike "the death road". This is supposed to be the worlds deadliest road, however cars don't run on it anymore. It's now just set up for tourists like us who want to give their mothers a heart attack. Don't worry, we were definitely the back of the pack! On the Sunday of la pa, bailey and I treated ourselves to a gourmet Easter dinner- pizza and beer. After la Paz, we went to lake titicaca. We took a bus to copacabana, where we spent a night and then boarded a boat to "isla del sol" the next morning. Isla del sol is supposed to be the island of the sun. We spent one night on the island in a hostel way up high on the island to get the best view. Unfortunately, you have to avoid large amounts of donkey poop while attempting to hike up to it. The island was really cool, we had a spectacular view of the lake- it seemed to go forever. That night, in search of dinner, we somehow managed to wonder in to a place, which we believe was just a woman's house and sat down for dinner. The woman agreed to make us supper though, so that night we were spoiled with a Bolivian feast! The next day, bailey and I were somehow convinced into hiking across isla del sol, to visit the origin of the sun. This sounded like a great thing to do, until we go to the ruins and found a stone table with a couple of rocks around it and then realized we now how to hike 4 hours back. We no longer trust 6'5 German men. So that's bolivia in a nutshell!! I am now writing this on my phone as I am terrified that my grandma will refuse to make me tuna sandwiches when I get home if I don't start posting something. I will write about our adventures in Peru and Ecuador within the next few days. Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

¨Traveling Blondes¨- new sitcom perhaps??

We only spent one more night in Salvador before heading to Praia do Forte. We heard this was touristy and expensive, so we would only plan to stay one day.  Before leaving Salvador, Bailey and I booked our flights from Fortaleza (our last stop in northern brazil) to Rio and from Rio to Bolivia for March 27th. Unfortunately, due of time constraints, we had to cut out the highly recommended Jericoacoara - I´m sorry Mitch!! We spent 2 full days in Praia da Forte. The first day we went to a turtle sanctuary.. So cute!! And the next we spent on a beautiful beach. It was nice to be on a quieter beach not having people walking by us yelling "a-c-ai" all the time... Although, acai IS quiet delicious!

Praia da Forte

The second night we took on bus back to the Salvador bus station to hop on an overnight bus out to Recife. We arrived mid morning in the large, hot, stinky northern city.  We wondered to the beach that day so I could go for a swim, only to find out after two days spent in the water that no one goes to that beach because there are sharks... Oops! Gotta love blonde travelers!! The next day we ventured with our new friend Peter (whom we prefer to call Holland, as that is where he is from and we are known to him as Canada) around Olinda.  Olinda is recife´s sister city, it is known to be a picturesque colonial town, but to us it was nothing compared to the historical area of Salvador.  After spending two days in Recife, we were ready to leave the city that will forever be remembered for having shark in fested beaches, nice people, and extremely foul smells!

Watch for sharks....

We Bailey and I went took a 4 hour bus north to find the beach town of Praia da Pipa.  Although we arrived in the evening, Pipa, seemed like everything we wanted and more. It was a peaceful beach town, with great shopping, restaurants, pristine beaches backed be gorgeous cliffs.  But what really drew us to Pipa, was that we heard there were dolphins! The next few days, we found ourselves on some of the most beautiful beaches we had every seen, watching dolphins pop in and out of the water. The beaches were so calm and quiet, we were actually able to swim far enough that the dolphins would pop up near us! We also took a surf lesson one day.  It was Bailey´s first time surfing and she was quite the natural. It was my third time surfing and was a bit more successful than my first attempts in Tofino- where I was taught by Trev who´s idea of a lesson is to ¨go for it and see what happens¨, well this tactic only resulted in me spending most of the day getting beat to the ocean floor and trying to spit out the water I had just inhaled! Needless to say, the waves of Pipa were much friendlier to the uncoordinated surfer.

Bailey in Pipa

After 5 great days in Pipa Bailey and I reunited with our friends from the hostel in Recife, Holland, in Natal.  Natal, draws most tourists for its sand dunes. This is a city enclosed by sand dunes, which most people buggy around.  Natal is also home to the worlds largest cashew tree! As we wondered around markets, there were massive baggs of cashews everywhere - the perfect bus trip snack!

That´s nuts....

We had only a couple days left in the north, so we now had to catch an overnight trip out to Fortaleza, our last stop.  We arrived early in the morning to a great hostel on thursday morning, March 26th. Bailey and I had our flight to Rio for March 27th at 2 am. So, like the blonde travelers we are, we assumed this meant that we would spend thursday night at the hostel, all day friday in Fortaleza, and set out friday night. However, as we tried to explain this to the hostel owner, Bailey realized that our flight out to Rio was that night! It hadn´t occured to us that the 27th at 2 am was friday morning. Good thing Bailey had consumed her usual 6 cups of coffee that morning or else we may have not made it to Rio! Yes, I am traveling with a coffee addict. Luckily, all the hostels have hot coffee for us in the morning or else I think Bailey would have never come to South America!

Feast in Fortaleza!

I hate this game....

So us two groggy travelers were off in the middle of the night to Rio, the land of hope, dreams and Lapa!  I was excited to be back in Rio to be able to do the tourist things which I had not had much a desire for during the madness of Carnaval. We landed in Rio at 6 am and found our hostel on the edge of Lapa and Santa Teresa. This location was great! It allowed us during the day to catch buses to Ipanema, Copacabana, Botafogo, and at night we were in walking distance from the streets parties in Lapa and Santa Teresa. Our first night we went to a Favela party arranged by our hostel.  The party was outside, way up on a hill which overlooked Ipanema beach, where were spent our next day.  Bailey and I also joined friends from the hostel for a soccer match of two Rio teams. The game was played at the same stadium I had gone to for the soccer match during Carnaval, however, this atmosphere was way better! I don´t think the drumming and chanting stopped the entire game, until the end when it resulted in a tie and you could feel the disappointment cast over the crowd.  

Bailey and I were also able to cross our last two outings off our list for Rio: Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf) and Cristo Redentor.  Sugar loaf, now this is a view! We went up for sunset and watched as the sun disappeared over one of the most incredible cityscapes we may ever see. You see the cristo in the distance, how the city is developed around such lush mountainous land and the 14 km bridge connecting Rio to  Niteroi- just amazing!  Bailey and I both preferred the view from Sugar loaf over the view from the Cristo, but nonetheless, it was still awesome to see it from the otherside. And the Cristo himself is nothing to shrug at either!

View from Sugar Loaf


After visiting the Cristo on our last day, we took a flight to Bolivia that night.  I spent just about 7 weeks in Brazil, and as our friend Holland would say, it was ¨really amazing¨.  Some highlights would have to be: Iguazu falls, Carnaval, Rio, Ilha Grande, Salvador and Praia da Pipa. I suppose that is about 70% of what I did in Brazil, so really I should just say that I loved it!! However, it is very expensive and if I planned to stay any longer, you would find me juggling in the streets, probably not earning much since I do not know how to juggle! So I am now happy to be in Bolivia, where the cost of living is much cheaper and if not, then at least the people here will be entertained by two blondes getting hit in the head by bowling pins...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Brazil Adventures Continue!!

Hello everyone!

I apologize I have not blogged in a while! We have been on quite the adventure since my last blog so I think I will break it up into segments so that I can give as many details as possible.. here it goes!

After our day on the Argentinean side of Iguazu, Colin and I tackled the Brazilian side of the falls. We has heard mixed reviews about that side- most people seemed bias after a day on the Argentinean side, but we were definitely not disappointed!! We spent a couple hours - does not take quite as long - doing the brazil side. The nice thing about the Brazil side is that there is a walkway where you get right in to the falls. Its great for picture taking, but the smell is horrific! We´ll just say I didnt become homesick when it reminded me of Trev´s hockey bag! 

Brazil side of Iguazu

After the falls we caught a bus that we predicted to be about 22 hours to Rio. However, we did not anticipate the delays that we to come. A few hours in to the bus, Colin and I were awaken by a massive police dog sniffing the travelers for drugs while Brazilian officers went through the bags on the bottom of the bus. These searched would occur 3 more times on our way to Rio. We later learnt that a large portion of drugs are trafficked through the Paraguay border.  Needless to say our 22 hour ride turned into a long 26 hour ride on an extra smelly bus. Yum! 

We arrived around 10 pm on February 16th in Rio.  Carnaval was to start Feb 17th so the bus depot was packed. Colin and I made our way to meet Jel, the owner of our apartment which was beautifully located in the middle of copacabana beach! Jel did not speak a lick of english, so we went with him to his local watering hole to meet his friend Marcello to provide us with translations. Our apartment was close to Graydon and the other Canadians whom we hed been travelling with previously, as well as other travellers we met along the way. During the five days of Carnaval, we spent our days on Copacabana beach - yes, the bikinis are exactly as you imagine! I don´t think the boys were too disappointed with that. Ánd we spent our evenings meeting up with other travelers we met a long the way for a caiprinha - or 6.  After a few caipirinhas, we joined the partyies on the streets of Rio, dancing and soaking in the atmosphere. It was great. The blocos (block parties) were colorful and lively. The largest blocos were in lapa, a gritty area of Rio where most people go to dance and samba in the streets.  The streets of Lapa and Ipanema (another popular area-similar to Copacabana) were hard to manuvre through, but it was always easy to find my other gringo friends. Gringo is a term used by Brazilians to describe foreigners.. apparently we´re easy to pick out or something?? Colin and I were 2 in 900,000 foreigners who come to Rio for carnaval. The city was packed. It still boggles my mind how the city was able to manage all of the garbage. Sometimes in Lapa, when the streets were flooded with people you would some how have to make space for a garbage truck to pass - that was interesting! 

Copacabana beach

I decided not to do any of the tourist things as I knew I would be coming back to Rio later with Bailey - I like to use that as an excuse as I spent most of my days in recovery from nights of carnaval. Only Brazilians could throw a 5 day party like that one!  I am excited to go back to Rio though -  there is so much more to do and the landscape is incredible!

After carnaval Colin and I were itching to get out of a city. We made our way to a gorgeous island (a Mitch recommendation) called Ilha Grande (big island). This was paradise to me. I could have spent 2 weeks on this island. We bought snorkels and spent our days searching for sea turtles. Colin saw a couple. I only saw them pop up out of the water as I was swimming. I joked that I didnt see any because I was too fast with my flippers on. The island hosted the same Brazilian landscape we now grew to expect. Ilha Grande also had no cars and was home to the largest pizza I have ever seen! Graydon came to meet us on this island as well. I have decided that he is a travelling ninja - each time we tell him of our next destination no matter how much info we give him he is somehow able to find us. We were happy to see him on the island! Another cool part of our week on the island is that I had an extra special canadian visitor come see me! I had been in contact with Kyle Gros - a family friend from Victoria, who was also going to be in Brazil for Carnaval.  We had just missed Kyle in Rio, but he made a trip to the island for a visit! Kyle and I hadn´t seen each other in about 10 years, so we had some catching up to do! Kyle stayed on the island for 2 nights. We had an awesome time together.  Ilha Grande was a great recommendation but I also keep being told by other travellers that I may be an easy critic!!

After our week in paradise, we had to start our journey to Sao Paulo. My friend Bailey would be landing there in a couple days. Colin, Bailey and I had planned to travel together for a couple weeks in northern Brazil, but Colins plans have changed as his interest in Columbia has sparked.  One route to Sao Paulo we stopped in Paraty - another beach town.  Paraty was a beautiful city with the most uneven cobblestone streets I had ever seen. It would take me twice the amount of time to walk anywhere as I would stare down at my feet in anticipation of an ankle about to be rolled.

Colin and I arrived in Sao Paulo on March 1st. We stayed at a great hostel in Vila Midelena, the artsy district of Sao Paulo. On March 2nd we met our friend, a very excited Bailey!!   The three of us went on a pub crawl for her first night of 4 months in South America. We walked the area of Vila Madelena with other travelers on the pub crawl and then at the end of the night we were transferred to a night club. It was a great first night together. The next day, as we were all moving very slowly, I got a message from my friend Juninho. I had met him in Rio during Carnaval. Juninho was from Sao Paulo, so when I told him we would be going there in a week he was excited to be able to show us around. Juninho and his friend Fillipe picked up the 3 of us to take us to a university party. He said it was his faculties best of the year. We went to the campus of the University of Sao Paulo, where both guys go to school.  The party was awesome! It was one of the funnest days of my trip as it was a very different experience than most travelers get. They had bands playing spanish music on the balconies of the building. The songs seemed familiar to the students as they all seemed to dance together to them.  We definitely stuck out with our moves! At one point I think I resorted to the YMCA...yikes...

We stayed at the party all day and then went for japanese food that night. Sao Paulo has the second largest population of Japanese people outside Japan... So when in Sao Paulo, get Japanese food?? It was amazing though! Bailey and I agreed that it may be the best food we have ever eaten (I can just sense my dad being offended by that statement).  The next day we toured Sao Paulo, visited a park and had pizza - which Sao Paulo is also famous for. We had a lot of fun in Sao Paulo due to the people there, but the city is absolutely enormous. It was time to get back on the beach.
We said goodbye to Colin on monday March 5th. He began a journey on his own to La Paz, but has plans to meet up with many people we have met in the past 5 weeks. It was sad to see him go as we have had an awesome time together! But we both are very excited for each others journey to come.

That night Bailey and I caught a flight to Salvador.  Salvador is in Northern Brazil. We are now following all Mitch recommendations, so if my next blog says how terrible a time we are having I will be directing all my frustration towards him... just kidding! Salvador is an amazing place! We arrived at night and are staying in the historical area. Salvador has a large African influence, so it is nothing like I have seen yet. The buildings are colorful and very well kept. Our hostel is great, the best part being happy hour - free caiprinhas! We met an awesome group of people at this hostel. We go for dinner with many of the travelers at Zulu´s, a restaurant that the hostel owner owns. There we have eaten Muqueca. Muqueca is a very common seafood dish the province of Bahia is known for.  We have also tried Acarejae, a common street food, which was not our favourite and Feijoda, a bean dish native to the Bahia region as well - delicious! On tuesday nights in Pelo (the historical area) there are street parties. Drumming starts in the streets early in the evening and tourists and locals accumulate behind the drummers throughout the night. It was incredibly fun! It may have been the happy hour caiprinhas but I believe that Baileys words were ``This is the most fun I have had ever!`` I definitely had to agree with that!

Bailey in Salvador

We spent a couple days enjoying Salvador and then traveled with 2 girls, Holly and Martha, we met at the hostel to Marre do Sao Paulo. Morro do Sao Paulo is an island off the coast of Salvador.  The island was great! The transportation... not so much. I was very sea sick on our three hour ferry to the island. But once we got there we had an amazing time! We beached, jumped off Brazils highest zip line, and danced at the beach parties.  After a great 3 days on the island we arrived back in Salvador for one more night in the historic area.

We are now in Praia do Forte. It is a very touristy and ritzy beach town two hours north of Salvador. Bailey and I booked flights from northern Brazil back down to Rio today for March 23rd. We will spend 4 days there, then head over to Bolivia on March 27th.  I will be sad to say goodbye to the beach but it will be about time for me to get in to the cheaper countries!!

Hope all is well with everyone and the Winnipeggers continue to get the warm weather!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Capirinha, Capirinha, Capirinha!

Colin and I have spent the past little while in Uruguay. After arriving in Punta del Este, we hung out one the beach an recovered from the time we spent in the cities. Our hostel was great. It was 20 km outside of the city. The beach was beautiful, the drinks were strong - to us, life was good. It was here that I fell in love with the capirinha - introduced one country early as they are famous due to Brazil. Although I didn´t complain about the early introduction as I realized this will allow me to drink the capirinha for the next few months!

After 2 nights, and a couple great beach days in Punta del Este, we caught a morning bus to La Pedrera. This was a very remote town on the coast of Uruguay. Here was a gorgeous beach. The town had 1 main road, only one paved road in the town, and sand streets off of it. We stayed one night with our Canadian friends from Buenos Aires and Punta del Este here.
Us large Canadian group continued up the coast of Uruguay to Punta del Diablo the next morning. We had heard wonders about his place, and when we got there it did not disappoint. It was larger than La Pedrera, but still very remote. We stayed at a hostel over looking the ocean, with a cabin feel to it. We spent our nights at the neighboring hostel bar, talking with other travelers. One night we went with Argentinian girls to a street party. This was probably my favourite night so far. The area had 2 open bars to the street where everyone danced. Uruguay is supposed to be the safest country in south America and you could tell here. It was fantastic. The last night we spent in Uruguay was super bowl night. We planned to have a traditional North American night in South America - beer, food, football.  But we soon found out that the football disease is viral around the globe, as the only TV area providing the game was completely currounded with fans. So all of us Canadians ended up having a usual South American night of drinking  and mingling with other travelers.. This was definitely my favourite super bowl ever! 

Punta del Diablo

The next morning we headed by bus to the town of Chuy. Chuy is an interesting city as it lies both in Uruguay and Brazil. We left at Punta del Diable at 1:30 pm and boarded the bus in Chuy at 930.. It was still 28 degrees in Chuy at that time. After a long day and an overnight bus we were exhausted but we brightened up quickly once we got to our destination - Florianopolis, Brazil!
Florianopolis was amazing. It was mountainous, lush, and lively. The beaches were gorgeous and filled with people.  We stayed on the east side of the island for 5 nights. Our hostel was close to the beach in an area full of hostels and travellers. OUr route so far has been great as it has allowed us to run in to the same people since Buenos Aires- everyone is on the same route to Carnaval!  We had great times on the beach during the day, spent the nights at our hostel with all the travelers. Our dinners were made by an amazing Brazilian chef at the hostel and along side of dinner was no shortage of Capirinhas! (That may have been why I stayed so long). At night we would all walk down to a beach where there was music and many other travelers from all the hostels.
After spending 5 days on the east side of the island, we decided to venture to other areas. One of our Canadian friends rented a van for 6 of us from the hostel to motor around in. One of the six was a woman named Tania. Tania was from Switzerland and recently bought a house in the jungle on the south side of Florianopolis. She was staying at hostel because she was at the house for a few days on her own and decided she wanted to meet other travelers. Tania graciously invited us all to stay at her house for the night. So the six of us squished in to our rental van and spent the day finding new beaches in other areas of Florianopolis! It was a nice change from hostel life, as that night we BBQ´d at Tania´s and spent our night in the jungle! 
Jungle House
On sunday night Colin and I said goodbye to Florianopolis and hopped an overnight bus to Iguazu falls! We had a long travel, as we re-entered Argentina to see this side of the falls. Yesterday we rested up for a full day of hiking the today. Good thing we did because it was hot in Iguazu today! We spent 6 hours at Iguazu falls - It was spectacular! We hiked every trail, swam in the water at the bottom of the falls, and took the train to Gargante del Diablo... the big drop!! 
Gargante del Diablo
The day was absolutely amazing. Besides from the incredible amounts of water we saw today, we saw a lot of wildlife as well! We saw giant lizzards, possum/armidillo type things, a monkey, and a tucan!  We had a great day and are very tired now.. Colin is currently down for a siesta.
Iguazu Falls
Tomorrow we will go back in to the land of the Capirinha and examine the falls from that side, then hop an overnight bus to Rio for Carnaval!
Hope all is well with everyone! Ciao!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I have added some pictures below. I appologize for the size of them being so silly.. Either the computers here are slow, or the user is... I prefer to blame the computer.

Empanada por favor!

I seem to be recieving my blog reminders again, so its time to type up another one! I´m glad many of you liked my first entry. My head got quite swollen after all the great feedback, but don´t worry it quickly deflated after seeing myself in the mirror in my bathing suit after how many Empanada´s I ate in Buenos Aires.

Amanda and I enjoyed our last few days together in Bariloche. We shopped, had chocolate and participated in a 30 km (thankfully shorter than originally planned) bike ride around Circuito Chico.  The bike ride took us 6 hours. This has been my favourite activity so far. It was difficult to bike through the mountains, but the beautiful views and the fresh lakes to jump in to were well worth it. And I can´t forget the bike rental shop gave us chocolate at the end of our route! Later that night I met a guy at the hostel who told me he saw me walking my bike uphill on the route (how embarassing). He claimed I looked tired and we got talking about how we don´t have hills where I´m from in Canada. This surprised him greatly, and he told me that he heard that Canadians live underground to avoid the cold.. I exlpained to him that it is cold, but most people in Canada manage to live better than the average rabbit.

Circuito Chico


I left Bariloche at noon on January 23rd for an overnight bus ride to Buenos Aires.  The bus was excellent, especially after a young waiter took extra liking to me and gave me luxury treatment. I sucessfully checked in to Millhouse hostel which lies just off of Avenida 9 de Julio. It is common in South America for streets to be named after dates - 9th of July being Argentina´s independence day.  This Avenue is particularly interesting because it occupies an entire city block. On either side runs an express way connecting the south and north sides of the city, and
in the middle are monuments and greenspace. Originally, this grotestly large boulevard seemed very interesting to me, but soon became my nemisis as I inconveniently never seemed to be on the side of the boulevard that I needed to be..

My first day in Buenos Aires was great. I caught the subway went to Palermo, an artsy district of B.A. There were many shops, restaurants, bars and like in true Argentine fashion nothing seemed to be open. I then ventured over to the Botanical Gardens and then to Museo Eva
Peron (Evita Museum). This was excellent. It was very interesting to see her story told from the Argentine side, viewed as a very passionate but controversial leader.  That night I was the
first night I got to see what brings most travellers to Buenos Aires- parties. 
My Millhouse hostel was one of two a couple blocks apart. This hostel had 6 floors with about 8 dorms per floor, mostly filled with Aussies. Each night one of the two hostels had a joint party with my favourite part, happy hour!

My second day I ventured to Ave Florida a vehicle-free street filled with shops and people then over to the beautiful mall of Galleria Pacifico.  This mall had tile floors and a gorgeously painted ceiling. After strolling around for a few hours I hoped back on the subway and down to Palarmo area again to see the Japanese gardens. Buenos Aires has a lot of greenspace for such a large city, with most streets shaded by old trees. The architecture of the old buildings is
spectacular as well.

January 26th Colin Parsons joined me in Buenos Aires. He arrived early afternoon after a long flight from Winnipeg.  Him and I wondered around Palermo area and through some of the parks. When we got back to the hostel we our roomies. 3 other Canadians from Vancouver and
¨Aussie Lee¨. All of our roomates had just arrived that day to South America. Colin and I ventured down to happy hour which would be exceptionally busy because as we were explained, it was Australia Day in Australia.  The patriotism of the Aussies in our hostel only seemed to feed off each other, making for a pretty job night! As we entered the drink line we met 2 solo travellers from the other hostel. Jakob Jakobsen (honestly) from Denmark and ¨Aussie Jaime¨.  Later, Lee would join us as well and the group of us partied together all night.

The next morning, after waking up slowly we learnt that Lee at the end of the night found a great Empanada place near our hostel. So for the first of many visits, we ventured over for lunch.  That afternoon Lee, Colin and I visited the gritty, colorful area of La Boca. We saw the tango, the pro soccer stadium and vibrantly colorful buildings.  On the way home from La Boca, we picked up more Empanadas. That night we attended the usual hostel party, where Colin has discovered a new love - Quilmes beer.

La Boca

Colin and I decided to visit Roceleta Cemetery the next day. Actually, we planned to visit the Urban Eco Reserves we had heard such good things about. But, after my bad navigations we ended up in the opposite direction. Fortunately, we were near Roceleta Cemetery. This is a massive cemetery in Buenos Aires I had planned to visit. Colin was not so wild about this visit, I believe his words were ¨this is just creepy¨. I promised him we could stop for Empanadas on the way back.  I have since been contemplating keeping a blog of all the strange things I drag Colin to and his reactions.  I found the cemetery to be very interesting. That night Colin, Lee and I decided to upgrade from our usual cuisine of Argentina. Colin had been talking about Argentinean steak since he landed, so that was what we were going to find. He claimed it was better than any of the steak back home, so our adventure was a success!  We later met with Jakob Jakobsen and got our first taste of Buenos Aires night life. The hostel sets up shuttles to go from the parties to a designated bar, a fun, safe way to experience the nightlife.

Sunday was our last day in Buenos Aires. Colin, Lee and I wondered around San Telmo market. This is a famous market in Buenos Aires that is only on sundays. It is known for its antiques. Although no one bought anything, we enjoyed the atmosphere.  The three of us went out for our last Empanda together.  We hung out at our hostel that night with our other Canadian roomies and played cards. Our Canadian roomies are on the same path as Colin and I until Carnaval. We all left the next morning for Montevideo, Uruguay. Colin and I boarded a ferry at 8 am the next morning.  We had an hour on the ferry and 3 on a bus to land us in Montevideo, where we met the other canadians. Montevideo was loud, stinky, and dirty - I joked that
it is just like my travel partner. Speaking of dirty and smelly, I decided to do laundry in Montevideo. I took all of mine, and some of Colin´s clothes to a laundry mat by our hostel. We explained to the woman working there that we needed our clothes back that day because we had a bus out at 10 am the next morning. She agreed that they would be ready by close, 7 pm.  Colin and I returned to pick up our belongings at 630, only to find the laundry mat closed.  We were very confused and a bit paniced, because if Montevideo was anything like Argentina this place may not be open again until next month!  We had no choice but wait and return again in the morning.  Montevideo was definitely not my favourite, but we made the best of it. We spent the day on the beach and played a spanish version of Pictograma at the hostel that night with our Canadian group and some Chilean travellers.
We returned to find a closed laundry mat again the next morning. Now we were a bit panicked, as I had been wearing my beach wrap as a shirt for the previous 18 hours.  Luckily, the other Canadian travellers were on the same route as us that day and departing a bit later, so they agreed to pick up our things. Although relieved we would be getting our things back, I was slightly disappointed that I no longer could justify buying a new wardrobe.

Colin and I arrived by bus to Punta del Este in the afternoon. This is a beautiful, posh beach city. We are staying about 400m from a massive beach just outside the city. We spent the day on the beach where we met Aussie Jamie from Millhouse hostel and returned back to our hostel
to find the Canadians with our laundry!! We plan to stay here for a couple nights, then off to another beach town a bit more remote, Punta del Diablo.

Time for happy hour, ciao for now!!