Crónica de una muerte anunciada

Hace desde unos meses que escribí un post en mi blog titulado Orgulloso ser gaspanico. Hace también desde más o menos cuatro meses que leí mi primer libro en español, y además, un mes después escribí la primera vez acá en español.

Esta semana es una gran semana para mi. Después seis meses en Buenos Aires, mi viaje solo en Argentina es mi examen final, para saber cuanto español he aprendido. Y, la verdad, estoy orgulloso. Muy orgulloso!

Cuando llegué en Argentina, no podía decir más que unas palabras en castellano. Hola, toro, ariba compañero, vamos y vámonos (sin saber la diferencia entre los dos). Ahora, no solo puedo escribir algo como este texto, pero también puedo conocer Suramérica totalmente en español, sin usar ninguna palabra en inglés. Obvio, todavía hago muchos errores, y falta mucho vocabulario para hablar perfectamente como un latino. Pero mi progreso ha sido mucho mejor que esperaba.

Hoy también compré mi segundo libro en español. Crónica de una muerte anunciada, del autor colombiano, y ganador del premio Nobel de literatura Gabriel Garcia Márquez, que se murió el marzo (creo?) este año.

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Entonces, mi progreso de español es un ejemplo de cuando estoy orgulloso ser gaspanico. Y—la verdad—creo que estoy más orgulloso de mi progreso de español, que de mis resultados de mi máster tesis…

Currently in Corrientes

Although originally only though as a stopover to avoid arriving ridiculously late in Salta, my day in Corrientes turned out much better than expected! It might not have any impressive architecture, nor any natural wonders, but this relatively small town has a very nice riverside, with beaches, bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Since it’s still late winter, or very early spring, these places were all pretty empty, but as a summer destination I can imagine Corrientes being a pretty nice weekend destination.

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The city also had some really nice street art, that beats graffiti any day of the week… Although it’s not a very fair comparison, since this type of art is all but temporary.

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For a while I was thinking of spending the night, to check out the nightlife which seems pretty vibrant—after all its Friday. But I finally decided that I had of tonight instead. This will be my third night spent on a bus. But what is worse, third day without a shower.

All in all, Corrientes gets three crocodiles out of six. Not a fabulous destination, but much better than expected.

Next stop Córdoba; I decided to skip Salta. It’s too far away… and I left my heart in BsAs.

Iguazú—Vale la pena?

Arrival 10:30 in Iguazú, and 15 minutes was enough to make me feel like in a tourist mecca. Not very surprising since the waterfalls are a UNESCO world heritage site, and the location is far too remote to attract anything but tourists.

I’m not sure why I have such a phobia against feeling like a tourist anyway, since that’s exactly what I am myself. But there is something about it that makes me feel nervous, and want to avoid it. But it’s clear that the high prices and the feeling of nature being exploited don’t help.

Anyway, an $80 bus ride and $215 entrance ticket later, I was finally inside. And I will let a photo speak for itself, but the waterfalls are indeed incredible:

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Unfortunately the path leading to the supposedly most impressive view was closed due to the high water levels. But after five hours of walking with my 15 kg backpack in 25–30°C, and with only two bananas to eat, I was pretty much done for the day.

Since Iguazú is so expensive, I’m thinking of skipping spending the night here and heading straight to Salta. That means another 20 h bus trip. But it will also give me more time for Salta, Jujuy, and eventually Córdoba, before I head back to BsAs.

All in all, Iguazú gets four crocodiles out of six possible. The waterfalls are stunningly beautiful, but considering the prices, how remote the place is, and the typical tourist feeling, the total rating will have to suffer a bit.

Edit: After all, my next stop will be Corrientes instead of Salta. Didn’t feel like spending 26 h on the bus and arrive at 2:30. Damn this country is big…

Time to prepare

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Long road to Graceland

I’ve learned over the years that a great trip always begins with stress. Or maybe it’s just that I’m always running late when I’m traveling. Either way, I made it to my bus five minutes before departure, so I’ve at least fulfilled that criteria.

Now I have a bit more time to ponder over life, the universe, and Argentina, as this bus ride to Iguazú takes at least 19 hours. And since I didn’t have time to visit the bookstore before departure—where I would anyway not have found any books in English—my guidebook will have to keep me company during most of the trip. But I’m learning a lot about Argentina, so that’s all good.

The plan for now is to head to Salta and Jujuy in the northwest after Iguazú, and then head back towards Buenos Aires via Córdoba. We’ll see how that goes…

Time is relative

The title of this blog post is specifically dedicated to an Animal, whom I know hates the misuse of the relativity theory

It’s funny how a little bit of planning and prioritization can create more time out of nothing. There always seems to be time for a little bit more, as long as you consider it important enough. This is something I’ve discussed with a good friend of mine, and something I’ve often noticed myself in times of stress.

Although I’m right in the process of finishing up my thesis, last Monday (and parts of Tuesday) was one of those days that demanded a rescheduling of my time, since I didn’t have the heart to let a person very close to me spend her entire birthday alone. So to make a long story short, we went on a two-day trip to La Plata, a city one hour from BsAs.

Considering the amazing weather (25°C and perfect sunshine), it actually felt like a good investment of my time, despite being stressed about my thesis writing. In fact, Tuesday I spent most of the day studying, but since it was at a new university in a new city, it felt like a good change of environment.

Anyway, a couple of photos from La Plata — one of few cities in the world built according to a precise, pre-designed plan. It gives the city a very odd symmetry (at least to a European), but also makes it incredibly easy to navigate.

Some visual memories

A case of anger management

One of the first thing I was told when I arrived in BsAs in February, was to at all costs avoid doing my grocery shopping in the chain supermarkets. A better choice is to go to the Chinos (the Chinese stores). The reason — she said — is that going to the supermarkets becomes a whole-day project, due to their slow-motion service. I laughed a bit then, and like all “good advice” I receive as a new arriver, I took it with a big grain of salt.

Turns out that this is completely true — the cashiers in the supermarkets are by far the slowest I have ever encountered. Attending one person with — say — 15 products can easily take over 5 minutes. Imagine then a line with 3 people (which anywhere else in the world would be considered short): that’s 15 minutes of waiting. And when the lines are longer than 4-5 people, I don’t even bother entering the store, but we’re talking 25-30 minutes of waiting to be attended.

Going grocery shopping here is a real case of anger management. Since I have worked as a cashier, I know how fast a person can work. Standing there in line while observing the cashier’s complete lack of hurry almost makes me wanna scream out of frustration.

And I’m sorry Gonçalo, but for these cases not even seeing it for what it is, not what you’d like it to be helps.