IGUAZU FALLS
June 3 - Glorious Iguazu Falls

There are few places in this world that I can deem better than watching Youtube, but Iguazu Falls is definitely one of them. Some dignitary came here once and said "Poor Niagara". I can fully back that sentiment. Niagara falls is like an overflowing sink compared to Iguazu.

My friend Ray had flown into town and we decided to do a side trip during the week. Buying the flights was a bit interesting. First after buying the tickets online, you have to visit an agent to pay the money in person. And on top of that, foreigners are charged over twice the price for flights. When I asked the agent why this was so, she said that it was because foreigners were paying the normal price, but they had a "promotion" that was only available to locals with residency cards.

Anyways, landing in Iguazu it was unseasonably chilly. Somehow winter had creeped up to this sub-tropical area of Argentina. We spent the day hiking the easily laid out trails in the jungle park and saw the falls from lots of different angles, panoramic vistas to standing almost inside a waterfall. In the afternoon, we took a ride on a speed boat that aimed itself directly under the falls. It was super fun and we got soaking wet. It felt like I was being attacked by hundreds of kids with waterguns. (I would not suggest doing the 4x4 jungle trek part of the tour, not really that interesting).

The best part of the day was standing on a catwalk directly above the Devil's Throat, a horseshoe of impressive waterfalls. It's a fitting name as it really looks like a gash in the earth erupting with water. It looks unbelievable as it swells and bubbles just before jumping into thick plumes of mist. I couldn't stop staring at the falls. It kept changing with the light and the wind and I couldn't stop myself from smiling and enjoying the show.

UPDATE: I found out after coming back to Toronto that Niagara actually has more water flow than Iguazu! Who knew?

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NUMBERS 10.06.01 IGUAZU FALLS
ticket, Aerolineas Argentina: 1202P
- discounted ticket for locals: 528P
cab, San Telmo to Aeroparque: 25P
cab, airport to Iguazu Grand: 90P
cab, Iguazu Grand to Iguazu Falls: 80P
cab, Iguazu to Aqva: 12P
3 course dinner, Aqva: 105P
Iguazu entrance: 85P
- discounted for locals: 25P
boat ride + 4x4 jungle trek: 200P

BUENOS AIRES
June 6 - Canilla Libre for the Uninitiated

My friend Ray killed me these past couple of weekends. When he found out about the "canilla libre" (all you can drink until 5am for about CDN$8), he went nuts. Trying to be a good host I stayed out with him well past my bedtime. It was fun drunk-chatting with the locals at Sitges and dancing at Glam, but I can't handle 6am nights 3 nights in a row 2 weekends in a row. One night I left him at the bar at about 4am, and the next morning he couldn't remember how he got back to the hotel, but he seemed to have spent a lot of money. I feel guilty about that.

I don't think we saw the city during the daytime his whole time here. Oh the joys of the canilla libre!

 

 

 


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NUMBERS 10.06.06 BUENOS AIRES
canilla libre, Sitges: 30P
canilla libre, Amerika: 60P

BUENOS AIRES
June 12 - Waka Waka This Time for Argentina

Soccer is huge in Argentina. They're selling millions of jerseys everywhere with some guy named "Messi" on the back. And today was their first game in the World Cup against Nigeria. They won, thank god otherwise the whole city would probably have been shut down in anger.

I'm not a huge fan, but I'm going to try to get into it this year. I'll post any photos here. I'm sure I'll see a lot of funny things going on around here. Go Argentina!

 

 

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BUENOS AIRES
June 15 - Dreams Revealed

It's 5 am and I just woke up from a strange dream.

I had just bumped into my first ex, Curtis, again after not seeing eachother for a long time and we were chatting and laughing and having fun. I was feeling a bit awkward because it was like falling for an ex again, there was that electricity between us.

We were at his hotel, a huge swanky room with gold everywhere. We reminisced and laughed. And I noticed quirky things he did that reminded me of how I fell for him. How he ended up collecting a a bunch of pens and pencils as he absentminded kept buying more and he was pushing them aside in the closet to make room for my bag. (In reality this isn't true, but that's what happened and I was feeling, "aw, I remember when he used to do that...".)

Then his boyfriend came back and I felt sheepish and guilty for feeling happy about our reunion. They were about to go to some social event. I was about to leave and then Curtis suggested that I stay until they get back and then we could talk more. His boyfriend kind of looked at him with a funny look. Panning up his boyfriend, he was handsome, stylish and dressed to the nines. Then Curtis, his boyfriend, and I all looked at me in a dramatic swivel of the camera that put me in the spotlight. I was dressed in an ugly oversized short-sleeved blue checkered buttoned shirt. I had a feeling that it was something that Curtis and I would have worn when we were young and together. I had been fine wearing it, but now it just looked ugly and out of place.

I think it was all a symbol. A symbol that I hadn't grown up. I felt embarassed and wanted to crawl into a hole. Curtis smiled, a cross between pity and wistfulness, like remembering his own youth. He said they'd be back later and with that they flipped off the lights and left with me dejected and alone in the dark hotel room. Then I woke up.

I don't ever think of Curtis. Like never. It's a relationship long gone. He's a quiet facebook friend so I barely see what he's doing in life nowadays. But I think he's symbolic of what I feel that I'm missing in life. A relationship with someone who I love. A sense of belonging and belonged. A place to call home. A place to keep the pens that I absentmindedly forgot I had. I think my dream symbolized all this.

I used to think that he would never grow up, collecting his volkswagens and listening to his ska music. He's probably doing the same thing right now that he was doing when we were in university. I thought I was the one who grew up because I was traveling and experiencing different things. But in the end, he's really the one living the life that I thought I would have had. With the husband, and a house probably with a white picket fence, and 2 cats.

I feel alone out here. And like a kid who won't stop playing with his toys to go to bed, I feel like I haven't settled down. I feel like I haven't done anything important with my life. I thought this trip would bring a revelation about who I was and what would make me happy. But maybe it's just another way to avoid responsibility. Maybe it's time to settle down?

I woke up feeling sad. I remembered seeing everyone leaving, turning the lights off, and leaving me alone in my blue-checkered shirt. The ugly one.

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BUENOS AIRES
June 20 - Leaving Buenos Aires

So it's my last week in Buenos Aires. It's a bit sad leaving. I really enjoyed staying in this apartment. I loved the feel of the place and the neighbourhood. San Telmo looks a bit scary sometimes, especially at night after the metal grates have come down on the storefronts. But behind the talls doors of the non-descript buildings lie small little communities--I always love to peek through the doors when I walk by a couple of porteños chatting under the doorframe in San Telmo. It always looks like a hidden city inside.

The building does have a communal feel to it. People say "hola" as they walk by. You can smell dinner cooking. The landlady is super friendly. The building was built before the era of soundproof flooring and walls. And so you do get to hear a bit more of the neighbours than normal. It's kind of fun to listen to them--playing guitar, kids laughing loud, dogs barking on their owner's return. But you also hear the lady upstairs with perpetual insomnia and army boots.

I started to recognize the people in the area around my building. The waitress at the restaurant across the street started anticipating my order. The macho guy at the place where I grab a steak on the way home from the gym actually broke a smile yesterday. The chinese girl at the supermarket next door will be crushed that I'm leaving. I might have been her last chance at having pure offspring. Unfortunately I was yearning more for the carnicero.

Making friends was tough here. I had visions of meeting a whole group of cool people and becoming an episode of Friends. But I think that gay Buenos Aires is more a place of sex first and friends later. Which is frankly too much work for me. Also, I think the locals didn't want to put too much energy into a friendship doomed to be temporary, especially when they already have their own group of friends. Anyways, if I had come here again, I would have hung out more at straight pubs and expat joints. Straight people and visitors are a lot better at making friends.

So it's all coming to an end. I'm ready to pick up my roots--3 months is a long time to spend wandering a foreign city. It was a cool experience and I look forward to coming back here again one day. But the first thing I'm doing when I get home is getting rid of this damn mullet!

 

 

 


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BUENOS AIRES
June 24 - Ed Jumping Across Buenos Aires

Ed...Funny guy...

 

 

 

 

 


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BUENOS AIRES
June 27 - Last Thoughts on Buenos Aires

It's my last day in Buenos Aires, and I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. I'm ready to go home now, even if it is just for a week before I head off again.

BEING CHINESE IN BUENOS AIRES:

I wrote a blog entry about being Chinese in Hong Kong a while back. It was a bit of a shock to leave Hong Kong and go right to Buenos Aires where the situation is the complete opposite. Walking down the street, there are not many Asian faces in the crowd. I felt a bit uncomfortable as I'm not really a fan of sticking out, but I didn't really have a choice. Overall, I think I was treated pretty normally--no obvious signs of prejudice. In fact, they barely flinch when they see an Asian guy speaking Spanish. But I was told that there is a bit of hidden hostility towards the asians because they have been doing well regardless of the bad economy because they own the supermarkets and grocery stores.

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED:

To forgive bad English by foreigners. I know now how it feels to live in a foreign country where no one speaks your native language. You feel nervous talking to people. Maybe a bit embarassed sometimes. You are constantly asking people to repeat themselves which probably drives them crazy after a while. You learn to read people's expressions more, and rely less on their words. A stupid person in Buenos Aires will sound more eloquent than me.

Life isn't fun when you have nothing to do. Actually time goes a lot faster when you have nothing to do. Maybe retirement is overrated? So if you want to prolong your life, stay active! After my last Spanish class, I had nothing to structure my day and that became draining. I had to think more to find things to do. Some days I just stayed at home and played video games and surfed the internet all day. If I did this extended stay in a city again, I would make sure I had at least a loose plan of things to do during my stay.

I hate line-ups. They have huge queues here for things like the bus, banks, post offices, paying bills. And anytime I had to stand in a line up in Buenos Aires, it meant that I would standing there a long friggin time. And by the time I got to the front, it was not guaranteed that I would get what I was waiting for. I'm surprised there isn't more "line-up rage" in Buenos Aires--even I had to calm myself down a few times.

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