Just time for a quick update before lunch. I'm still in Rosario (but back at the hostel now - lured back by the swimming pool and not wanting to overstay my welcome chez Vanesa). I'll try and get two days done in this sitting, and then (fingers crossed - if no-one else is using the computer), come back once I've had lunch and a siesta next to the pool!
Thursday 20th January 2011
After a night of getting up every hour or so to go to the toilet I was tired of/from shitting. Luckily it was just coming out of the one oriface (not the double-whammy of concurrent puking/shitting), and it wasn't totally liquid, so it could have been much worse. But diarrhoea is never pleasant. In the end I took some Immodium and that seemed to reduce the frequency of my thunderbox visits!
After all that nocturnal exercise, it was hard to drag myself out of bed. However, despite my shitting-induced lethargy, it was still a gorgeous day, so it wasn't too much hardship to spend the day relaxing next to the hostel's very nice swimming pool (even if it wasn't big enough to actually swim in).
By lunch time (and a little siesta) I was feeling much better, so in the afternoon I went off to find Oscar (who was working in Rosario, at a Chinese supermarket - which sounded like extremely hard work, for very little pay and with the added bonus of a slave-driving boss who barely let him leave the shop. Still, that was better than spending the summer doing nothing in the boiling furnace of La Rioja, apparently). Anyway, he somehow managed to get the afternoon off and we walked together to La Florida, which is a beach in the northern suburbs. It was lovely... another balmy late-afternoon/evening, strolling along the beach... people watching... gawping at the huge ships which occasionally pass by... paddling in the silty brown water. As we strolled back, we passed some beautiful houses in that part of town, and took refuge for a while in a plush new air-conditioned shopping centre. It was great... and especially nice to have some good company once again!
Oscar decided that he would take a break from the supermarket for a few days (a mini-break, if you like), so gathered up his things and came back to the hostel with me. When we got back we met some lovely Argentinians who were staying at the hostel (Fer, Gigi, Roxana, Paula and Agustina). We ate pizza with them and drank beer and Fernet. It was a lovely evening, and my stomach was feeling quite a bit better by that point. I had a slight relapse during the night (only one toilet visit required, though!), so didn't sleep all that well, but the diminishing frequency of toilet visits was reassuring, nonetheless (and a blessed relief for my sore bottom)!
Friday 21st January 2011
It must be said the hostel breakfast is a triumph. It's simple - nothing more than 2 types of croissant (butter or lard - the former sweet, the later savoury) and cafe con leche, but it does the job and tastes nice too (except when they don't put enough coffee in the machine and it comes out watery... but it's a minor quibble).
After breakfast Oscar and I met up with Vanesa and did some proper sightseeing in Rosario (with our local guide leading the way!). First we sauntered up Av. Oroño (with a beautiful tree-lined promenade all the way down the middle) to the river's edge. It was getting hot, with the sun already high in the sky by 11am (I believe we are on an equivalent latitude to southern Morocco in this part of Argentina). We then took in various waterfront parks (including a huge private school, which is sort of located under the esplanade), all of which have great views across the river, and our visit culminated in the impressive (if massively Fascist-looking) Monumento a la Bandera. As the name would suggest (if you understand Spanish), it's a monument dedicated to the Argentine flag, and it is certainly monumental! Although I'm not sure I would exactly call it beautiful, it looked really dramatic against the very blue sky! The views from the top of the tower were fantastic too. (as always, visit http://picasaweb.google.com/sidmouth13 for pictorial evidence).
We had a lunch in a riverside restaurant, which, naturally, given the location, was over-priced and a bit disappointing, but the setting was lovely, so I'll forgive it (this time!). I had Cesar Salad, which was okay (I'm in a forgiving mood, otherwise I would be more critical of the lumps of stale bread that passed for crutons and the mediocre pre-packaged dressing).
Vanesa had to return home to get ready for work, so we walked back to the hostel (along Cordóba, which is the main street in Rosario, and another pleasant place fora wander). We quickly grabbed our stuff for the beach and went to meet the 5 Argentinian ladies from the night before (and Kevin, from France), who were on the beach up at La Florida (getting the bus for a bargain 2 pesos). It was lovely to be on the beach (it felt like a proper beach holiday - something which I'd rather been craving all the time I've been inland) and although the river looks absolutely disgusting ("thick brown sludge" would be an accurate discription, with islands of debris floating by, along with ships [and people!] of all shapes and sizes), it was still refreshing for a quick dip. However, I couldn't bring myself to swim with my head in (plenty of people did!) as it just seems so counter-intuitive given the colour and squelchy mud underfoot (I'm sure it's just silty, but when water looks that brown, it isn't something that invited prolonged submersion). Oscar and me tried to teach Shithead to the others, who, apart from Gigi, didn't seem that receptive an audience (or maybe the sun had made them a bit slow), and we drank mate with squash (think: squash drunk through a straw with bits floating in the glass). Oh yes, before I forget, a quick comment on the bikini bottom fashion here. I have to admit I don't quite get the style, which is best described as a cross between a normal brief and a thong, therefore cutting in half-way up the bottom. I guess it is supposed to accentuate the round curves of the bottom (which I believe is the most important part of the anatomy here in South America), but on most people it just kind of looks ridiculous (culo means ass in Spanish [and Italian] for anyone who didn't pick up immediately on this hilarious pun). Hmm... Maybe it's me, but you just can't beat a good old-fashioned knitted swimming costume IMHO!
Well, as the sun was beginning to set, it was back to the hostel to contemplate bikini fashion, cook pasta for dinner, drink wine, drink (more) Fernet and prepare to hit one of Rosario's premier nitespots. Madam was the name (don't worry, it wasn't a whore-house [as the name might suggest], just a night-club), and dancing was the game. Actually, we were all feeling a bit tired after the exertions of the day, but still managed to have dance-related fun until 4:30am, when we headed back to the hostel. Vanesa had come to join us and (having lost each other in the Reggaetonified melee) stayed a bit longer at the club with Udi, from Israel. Unfortunately, on the way to the bus stop, she had her handbag grabbed by a passing motorcyclist (a common form of theft on the streets of Argentina, apparently), and so had a rather longer night that the rest of us (reporting it to the police before finally managing to get the bus back home around 7am, I believe).
Right, it's time for lunch so I will leave it there for now. Another two days down, another couple of weeks to go (am I ever going to get this thing back on track?)...
Best wishes y'all...
Love J xx