Latest Update (as at 30/1/11):

Location: London. Back.

Total Distance Cycled: 10,325km
Days Biking: 140
Longest Day: 174km (2/12/10)

Friday 12 February 2010

'It looks a bit like Glasgow...'

After hours of dead to the world sleep on the plane, this was my less than profound assessment of Sao Paulo as it hoved into view en route to Buenos Aires. I blame the chronic lack of rest in the build up to leaving for my mental barrenness! Seconds later the plane turned and I realised that the city scape of tower blocks and housing was nestling amongst improbably large, dark green lush hills and I got my first taste of South America.

My first breath came minutes later when the plane doors opened and warm, rich air hit me. This heralded the rush of first impressions, discoveries, amazements and, inevitably, comparisons that have filled the last few days. We have been here a week and yet it seems like so much longer. From sitting in the taxi into the city listening to Tango or strolling barefoot across a polo pitch, to trying to work out how to have our bikes sent ahead of us to the south without remortgaging our flats, every second has been interesting.

We spent a few days resting at the lovely home of friends of Phil's and his family's. We were wonderfully well looked after and entertained and I met so many poeple who I had heard about. It was a precious time, putting faces to names, hearing stories, being introduced to Argentina through the eyes of people who live here. Thank you...Lucy, Jaime, Juan, Maia, Annie, Florian, Agustine, Pato, Jonathan, Monica, Damiana and of course Betty...and everyone else for being so lovely and making everything so easy. We rested and got a bit sorted and ate and ate and ate. In three days I was introduced to the cornerstones of the Argentine diet several times: Beef, (beef, beef and more beef), Wine, Mate and (unexpectedly) Ice Cream. Oh my, ice cream...Dulce de leche ice cream...I can say no more.

Then it was into central Buenos Aires where we combined sightseeing with 'THE LIST'. This was the list of final things to do, to acquire, to arrange. It is complex leaving one's responsibilities behind so fully. We have had sharp reminders of home already and needed to get some things sorted before we start biking and disappear more fully from the radar. But, this was easy to do the city. The city that is both familiar and surprising. The combination of a heavy nod to Europe and the native Latin makes it Paris, Rome and Madrid like and then trips you up with heat and Mate and views and faces that are totally new. We saw all the 'o's and 'a's. Obelisko, San Telmo, Tango, La Boca, Casa Rosada, Recoleta. I saw Evita's tomb and the Islas Malvinas war memorial, had Cafe Cortado in Cafe Tortoni, Ice Cream at Freddo and an Asado in Palermo. It was wonderful. And we bought an Argentinian mobile, and posted things home, I had a leg wax and we did find a way to send the bikes! the south beckons and the next phase of the adventure. And more comparisons no doubt. I was heartened the other day though to realise it works both ways. Emerging from the golf club after a particularly heavy bout of tropical rain (we have had some brilliant thunderstorms) we overheard one of the disgruntled golfers saying - 'Che, este es Escocia?'. Scotland's reputation precedes it.

1 comment:

  1. Lomo completo. Dulce de leche. Yes please. Not at the same time though, obviously...

    Lovely to read the first update from over there, and glad it seems you've not been suffering too much...! Good luck with the next bit, 1 Nicholls Cottage is MOST jealous.

    R & B x