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What am I doing It's all fun and games till Annette faints and Carlyn gets her pants slashed... who am I kidding, it's still fun

Not really a Fiesta de la Tradition

ARGENTINA | Saturday, 10 November 2007 | Views [1093]

I was modivatied... I was going to leave Buenos Aires for the first time in almost 2 weeks... visit a new place, see new sights, meet new people... 

For my day trip I chose San Antonio de Areco, apparently the town where all the best crafts people of Argentina congragate.  And it just happens that this last week and this weekend happen to be the yearly Fiesta de la tradition.  A festival celebrating the Gaucho and gaucho culture (aka: cowboy and cowboy culture.) 

I figured I´d head up for the day (since all the guide books informed me that most likely this time of year accomodation in San A. de Areco would be mighty hard to come by)  look around, maybe pick up a well made silver souvenir or two.  I on going Thursday, but after a tough day of museum hopping Wednesday, I hadden´t had time to go to the bus station and buy a ticket.

Sure I´d been told I could just show up and purchase a ticket a half hour before the bus... but when I slept in till 9:30 Thursday morning, the prospect of sitting on a bus for 2 hours, to arrive some time around 2 in the afternoon only to leave 3 to 4 hours later just didn´t apeal to me all that much.  So instead I headed to the bus station to buy myself a ticket for friday.  Figuring if I had a ticket I would have to go (not allowing myself to make anymore half ass excuses to stay in Bs. As.) 

I ended up buying a ticket for 7:30 the next morning.  Granted, I did not want to go this early... but my limited spanish prevents me from asking if there were any later busses (I really should look up the words for eariler and later... they could come in handy)  So 7:30am it was. 

Needless to say Thursday night I got no sleep.  I didn´t even go out.  I tried to go to bed early (2am) tossed and turned all night telling myself I better fall asleep soon because I needed to get up at 6.  Mixed with four guys in my room arriving back from the bars at 4:30am and the ensuing symphony of snorring and it ment I got maybe a whole 2 hours of sleep. 

Allarm goes off.  There is no breakfast this early and nothing is open, so I make the only food I have... macaroni and soy sause (not one of my favorite breakfasts)  I pack my backpack and realize that I have about 20 minutes to get to the subway, get on the subway, ride for 12 minutes, and walk a half mile to the bus station... or speed walk in my case.  I needed to arrive at 7:15 for my 7:30, and I got there at 7:17.

Now the way the gigantic bus station works is that you are told that your bus will be some where between gates 24 and 36 (there are over 70 gates at the terminal) then you try and find a bus run by your company (Chevallier) with the final destination in the window (not San A. de Areco... someother town starting with a P)

Well.... no such bus.

Hmmm... did I miss it? If so I´m getting my ass back to the hostel as fast as possible and sleeping for the rest of the day. 

Maybe its just late.  There are a few older women who also look confused.  Yep, they´re going to San A. de Areco too.  One´s from Texas and the other´s from washington DC.  In my delerious state I proceed to have a 45 minute converstion with them about travels, traveling, politics (of course you can´t have a conversation with out hitting on the Bush topic... no, i didn´t vote for him... yes, he sucks) where their children when to school...

"Oh, you went to Cornell?  A lot of my son´s friends went to Cornell.  What year did you graduate?  2002?  Oh they were just graduating high school.  Do you know anyone who went to Thomas Jefferson High in Virgina?"  S

Seeing as the fact that I had told this woman I had grown up in San Diego and went to school in Upstate NY, I couldn´t really figure out why she might possibly think I would know someone who went to highschool in Virginia. 

I have a head ache, think I´m getting a cold, am exhausted, and all my energy is being focused on trying to hold a conversation about cave paintings I didn´t see in Jujuy... all the while I´m contemplating just leaving, forfeiting my 21peso ticket and sleeping.  This town cant be all that great right.  No, I´ll wait... I´ll do it... I´ll be mad at myself if I don´t. 

So finally when the bus arrives at 8:10, I´ve been up for 2 hours, I´m exausted and just want to sit and sleep.  I have a window seat on the right side becaue after a five minute game of chirades (where I chose the left side because the word izquerda is so fun to say) I gleaned that the ticket man was telling me all the views were on the right.  Not that it ended up mattering.  You don´t see much when your sleeping. 

I slept or was deleriously half awake the entire ride, ocasionally being woken up by the guy two rows back with the nex-tell walkie.  Beep, beep, muffled yelling in spanish... beep, beep, beep, crystal clear yelling from the guy on the bus.  As I tried to drift back to sleep, kicking myself for leaving my ear plugs at the hostel, I wondered why no spanish speaker had asked him to shut up, and nodded off to thoughts of throwning something hard at him.  

Arriving at a gas station out side of San A. de Areco I was not all too impressed.  I picked up a map from the woman with the porn magazine at what I can only assume was the info desk and began to walk the five blocks or so to the central square. 

San Antonio de Areco was quaint... and empty as a ghost town.  I though there was a festival here?  Where is everybody?  I picked up a litre of OJ (the cloudy kind... I found out a few weeks into the trip that has not in fact gone bad, it apparently is mixed with soy milk) hoping to drown my on coming cold with vitamin c... futilely trying to stop it in its tracks.

This hope would be dashed by the ensuing 3 hour walk in the rain... you know, the thing your mother tells you not to do unless you want to catch yourself a cold... or ensure the one you have stays with you.

I didn´t choose to walk in the rain.  It was just that in the morning all the stores were so empty I didn´t want to be the only one walking around.  So I went to lunch around noon (finding out there that I had missed the one and only gaucho event of the day which had occoured at 11... oh well)  I had two lovely fillet mignons, a salad, and contemplated a glass of wine (only because it was cheaper than ordering water) but decided, with the ensuing cold, mid day alcohol probably wasn´t the best idea. 

While happily eating by myself (even traveling alone, you are very rairly actually by yourself) Dave the very out going and very much too old for me (55+) man from the States invited me to join him at his table with his friend Ron... I politely declined. 

After lunch and as it began to rain, I realized the mistake I had made.  It was 2pm... siesta time.  Everything was closed.  San Antonio de Areco is a small town... that means every thing shuts down... and lucky me, its raining.  Time to test my rain jacket.

This is where I learned the difference between water repellant and water resistant.  My coat appears to be water resistant.  What this means is that you stay dry for approximately 30 minutes after which the inside of your coat becomes damp then acts like a green house creating quite a bit of humidity.  Then you walk around for the next 2 and a half hours wondering why none of these store have anytype of an over hang.

Finally I found an open store and spent so much time in it I felt obligated to buy someing... an other mate gourd? Why not? And maybe a bombilla or two. Sounds great. 

In the end I was able to visit a few artisan shops (most were still closed by the time I had to leave) and the one store I really wanted to see, the chocolate store, had some school group in it all day... damn it, I´m soaking wet and i just want a hot chocolate. 

Heading back to the bus station I found I had made yet another mistake.  I had, apparently in passing, mentioned to my new frind Old Dave that I would be taking the 5:25 bus back to Buenos Aires.  Guess who was there to back me into a corner and talk at me for the next 40 minutes (yep the bus was late) you guessed it Dave and Ron.  After politely declining to meet Dave out that night, enduring his guessing what nationality I was (apparently I look latino,) as well as some minor invasions of my personal space (please don´t touch me) the bus arrived and I ran for it. 

Dave and Ron thankfully were not able to change their tickets and accompany me, so I happily left them at the gas station and started my way back to Bs. As., again missing all the scenery due to the fact that I was sleeping. 

Upon arriving back at the dorm all the guys (who I had not been able to go out with the previous night due to my early departure time) asked me how it was... I didn´t even know what to say... I searched for some postive thing that had come out of the day trip and all I could think of was the fact that i learned first hand the difference between water repelant and water resistant, and spent my afternoon actively avoiding Dave... they missed nothing and the fiesta was actually on saturday and sunday. I had learned nothing, seen nothing and been soaking wet... wait, I lied, I saw a really old bridge. 

It was a bit of a let down, but I was so tired I didn´t even care.  Did I go to sleep.  No.  I went out to dinner with a Sean, a new guy in the hostel fresh in from Hawaii.  We got an icecream and ended up making circles in a very trendy Palermo bar trying and find the guy with the best mullet and/or rat tail all while wondering if the girls here were really only 14 or just looked that way.  Found my way to my bed at 4:45 collapesed and figured it ended up not being too bad of a day after all.  

Tags: Culture

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