Lets Get The Party Started
Arriving on a Saturday night was the perfect timing to start my stay in BA. I took a power nap and at midnight headed out with a couple from the hotel to eat before hitting the clubbing scene. In most of South America, the party starts at 1:00 and goes on until 6:00 where the dancing (and drinking) continues in “morning hours” bars… ’til now, no one could really explain this nightlife timing: I mean it kills your next day. Doesn’t matter if you work or on vacation, it’s just a hit on your system. But as the saying goes: when in Argentina do like the Argentinean and for the next month my sleep pattern was a chaos.
My roommates were also great and practically all on the same easy going pattern as me: Lisa and Sarah, 2 Kiwi girls at the end of their trip and in BA on a crazy shopping spree and Tamara a wonderful girl from Belgium who’s staying for 1 month in BA. Plus we were joined by Rich, another great hilarious Kiwi guy. Got to tell you, I never met New Zealanders until Torres Del Paine and now in BA, but they are the most fun traveler around. As a gang, and especially with Tamara and Rich, we took it slow during the day: a little shopping or some sightseeing, then we went to a park/waterfront/cafe before heading back to the hotel at dusk, rest, dine, have a few drinks and get ready for the night. I even managed to watch a couple of football game… although the Boca game was trouble (long story, suffice to say we were lucky to get out of there alive). I was lucky too: having visited BA before and done quite a lot of sightseeing, plus not really having a fixed date to leave, I could just go with the flow… and be lazy :). BA was my vacation inside my vacation.
BA is a city that never sleeps. It’s very busy: roads, buses, subways… all are packed during the day. At night, try finding a table to dine in the trendy plazas before waiting in the many line-ups to enter the clubs and party the night away. As for BA daily life, the contrasts are extreme: The Porsche and Mercedes vs the old (year 197x) Renault 12 or Peugeot 305. The rich neighborhood of Recoleta to the favella of “bario Once” (never expected to see such poor, garbage infested shanty town in Argentina, let alone inside BA). You can walk and party all night in the streets of Palermo yet you will be attacked and robbed (Carmen at gun point) in broad daylight in La Boca. But BA is a beautiful city and I will choose to live there in a second. The extremes that divide the society in some ways enrich its diversity; it’s visible in art, food, architecture, bars and nighclubs, even football teams (and their fans). This city has it all, not to mention the most beautiful girls you ever saw.
And what a small world it is. A few days after arriving to BA, I went to check the Latin American book fair happening here and who do I bump into? Augustine!! the friend I met back in Chile. I also hooked up again with Ale and Flora which was absolutely great as these guys are so much fun. Venesa was back in BA and she was un-employed 🙂 I met up again with Mark and Ben, the 2 funny and cool riders I bumped into down in Ushuaia at my hostel. They actually moved to my area and crashed for a week in the hostel nearby. Not to forget Marty, a crazy Canadian rider (his adventures are worth to be published)…. Well, my stay in BA was anything but a rest time :). And that’s not it: I then received an e-mail from Diego, my friend and mechanic from Quito. If you recall he helped get my bike ready for the trip and he was here in BA for a week! Even better he wanted to talk to the mechanic who was doing a check-up on my bike (it was about time, I rode ~19,000 Km through every kinda of road). So we met at Dakar Motos and Diego also checked my bike. In Quito, his work allowed me to ride all the way here with absolutely no mechanical issues, now he will help me make sure the remaining ~13,000Km are headache free. I knew I needed to change my chain but he noted that my sprockets are worn too. They “might” last until Quito but I just couldn’t take a chance: imagine me having a mechanical breakdown in Bolivia, on some gravel mountain road, in the cold and in the dark… and even if I make it to a city, finding parts for my bike in Bolivia will be close to impossible (it took 3 days to get parts in BA!). I also needed new rear brake pad, new oil+filter, clean the air filter + the injection,…. Decision was simple: shed the U$D450, change everything and I would not have to think or worry about anything for the remainder of my trip, just ride.
One of my BA stay highlight?: hooking up with long lost family. See, my grandpa’s brother (from my Mom side) immigrated to Argentina back in 1929. Facebook and Skype were not around at that time so there was little contact between the brothers and when my grandpa’s brother passed away in 1972, contact with his family all but disappeared. We knew he had 4 kids but they never visited Lebanon and we had no contact with them. My mission was to try to locate his kids, my mom’s cousins. My grandpa family name – with its European origin – was very popular in Argentina too. When I looked up through the white pages this “apelido” in just its 2 common spelling format, the search resulted in 88 results! All 4 spelling, and I got 173 results… and these people are spread all over Argentina. Now that I am in BA I needed to call the ones living here. At my third number I hit the bull’s eye: It was Ismail, my mom’s cousin. I made sure he indirectly answered a couple of “family questions” just so to be sure he is really family… hey, you never know! A few days later I went to visit him. What was supposed to be a ½ hour encounter turned to be a 4 hours chat and it was just great. I brought him family pictures of my grandfather and my uncles/antes (his cousins) which he loved. His son, Dario, was also excited knowing our family is actually big and our door is open to him to visit anytime. It was such a memorable encounter; I know my grandfather will be smiling on me.
Next: Party continues in Uruguay (after pics below).
or click on “page 2” below to visit Uruguay.