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Posted by Tim on Mar 26, 2005
Catching Up: Happy Easter, Everyone!

So in the end we did leave Punta del Diablo. We didn't go willingly: we were out of money, and in need of an ATM before we could afford another night in a hotel. There wasn't an ATM to be found in our beloved little village, so we each shelled out 38 Uruguayan pesos (about $1.43) for a bus to the town of Chuy, on the Brazillian border. Chuy, unfortunately, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, all casinos and duty-free shops and not an ATM to be found anywhere. So (after a hop across the street to take our photos in Brazil) it was back onto a bus, and about $5 each for tickets to the one place in Uruguay where we knew we could find an ATM...


Yes, friends, we returned to hated Montevideo. We really didn't have much of a choice: virtually every bus route to the west went through it. And it was getting late, so we resigned ourselves to doing something we'd promised we'd never do again: spend the night in Montevideo.

This time, it wasn't so bad. And by "it wasn't so bad", I mean "we were able to score a private room at the lovely Red Door Hostel and we pretty much just didn´t come out." We shunned the city, running out only quickly for some food. Very bad food, but I digress.

We used our time at the Red Door to catch up on some errands, to post the first couple of Punta del Diablo entries, and to get the Photo Gallery section of the website working again. We liked it there so much, we actually stayed for a second night in Montevideo (again, without actually leaving the hostel to go out into the awful city, which was just as well because it was raining there again). We also used the time to sort through what our options were as far as getting back to Buenos Aires.

When we'd come over to Uruguay, we'd taken the "slow boat", which crosses the Rio Uruguay to the town of Colonia in about 3 hours, then followed by a 3-hour busride to Montevideo. This costs about $22/person, considerably less than the "fast boat", which crosses in only 1 hour (followed by that same 3-hour busride) and runs about $40/person. Most expensive of all is the "fast boat" taken directly from Buenos Aires to Montevideo (no bus), which takes 3 hours and costs about $57/person. Being thrifty hedgehogs, we were planning to take the slow boat again. But the cretins at Buquebus (the bus/boat company) are crafty. It turns out that you can take the $20 "slow boat" from Buenos Aires just about whenever you want, but to take it back to Buenos Aires, you have two options: leaving well before dawn or arriving just before midnight. Neither of those were really all that appealing, and in the end, we succumbed to their scheduling trickery and shelled out the extra cash for the fast boat. Grrr.

We got in at the Buenos Aires docks at about 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, and made our way directly to the bus station, planning on buying immediate tickets to Puerto Iguazu, home of the world-famous Iguazu Falls (a series of waterfalls about ten times the width of Niagara). Not only were no tickets available, however, but a few of the ticket agents were pretty damn rude to us. The problem was holiday travel: Easter week, it turns out, is the worst time in the world to try and travel in Argentina. We weren´t going anywhere until next Monday. Better find some place to ride out the holiday.

We had already walked about two miles wearing our full packs (from the hostel to the docks in Montevideo), and now found ourselves tacking on another five miles, walking around Buenos Aires looking for lodging. Easter week was beginning to haunt us. No one had vacancies. Eventually, we found ourselves at the steps to our beloved St. Nicholas Hostel, where we had stayed before we went to Uruguay. They, it turned out, did have a vacancy, but only for two nights. We took it, and wound up staying there Tuesday and Wednesday nights, then at the budget hotel across the street Thursday and Friday nights, and then back at St. Nicholas for Saturday and Sunday.

On Wednesday, while we were trying to figure out where to go next, Chris and Vikki checked back in. We'd met and befriended them during our first week here, and were happy to see familiar faces. Later that evening, we met and similarly befriended Irish couple Aoife (pronounced, roughly, "ee-fah") and Colin. It seems St. Nicholas is just the best hostel in the world for making friends.

We decided to take our techincal difficulties the day before as a sign, and put off seeing Iguazu for a few weeks. Instead, we booked ourselves a bus ticket to Puerto Madryn, where we'll try and take in some penguins and whales (off of the Peninsula Valdez) before heading west and south to see both Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia.

Don´t worry if all that is confusing: I´m going to try and get some maps posted before we leave. The important thing for now is to know that Buenos Aires and Puerto Mardyn are about as far apart as New York and Atlanta, and the busride from one to the other takes 18-20 hours.

Twenty hours on a bus?! That has to be hell, right?

Wrong. The long-distance buses in Argentina are the finest in the world, famously so. Our plush leather seats fold down into beds, and we have enough legroom in front of us to literally sit on the floor in front of our seats with our legs extended if we want. We get served three meals, good meals, as well as all the free wine and coffee and bottled water we can drink. Some buses even have showers. I'm looking forward to the busride as much as I'm looking forward to the destination, I think. (Cost of a first-class ticket from BA to PM: $60 each.)

Anyway, we've spent the rest of our time here researching what we'll find down there, trying to find some fleece jackets for the excursion, running some errands, and just hanging out with our friends. Thursday night, Chris and Vikki went out to dinner with us, to a fabulous restaurant where the cover charge of 24 Argentinian pesos ($8) rewards us with all-you-can-eat salad, steak, chicken, fish, and dessert, plus a bottle of wine each! (The steak in particular was fantastic. They know their meat in Argentina.)

Last night, Chris and Vikki made us dinner, and we sat around and talked for hours and hours. Earlier today, they and Aoife took a cab with us out to Recoleta (home of that famous cemetery) to do some shopping at an enormous weekly gathering of street vendors. It's also been great swapping information with everyone: we've been pushing Punta del Diablo, as you might expect, and have picked up a ton of good tips on Galapagos and Southeast Asia in return.

Tomorrow is Easter (well, technically, it's been Easter for some hours now), and we're all going down to San Telmo, a colorful part of town with the city's largest open-air market. On Monday at 7:30pm, we board our fantastic bus and head off in search of penguins.

All of which is to say, I guess, that we're doing pretty well here. Happy Easter, everyone!

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these ones:

Patagonian Anecdotes

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Happy Accidents, Part 2

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March 27, 2005 at 7:44am
Transpotation sounds wonderful. Enjoy the scenery. Love ya.
March 27, 2005 at 8:32am
dam it 2nd
March 27, 2005 at 5:40pm
Hey there guys. I was at Ikea and was shocked at the immense number of hedgehogs there – pictures of them, an inflatable chair for kids and then a few more that I'm blanking on now.
Happy easter stuff.
March 27, 2005 at 10:14pm
sounds great, especially the penguins. hope you enjoyed your easter :)

the kids at school are fascinated that there's a breed of penguin called macaroni penguins. :)

Sister Soldier
March 27, 2005 at 11:07pm
IKEA has hedgehogs again?! (Yelling to my sister) We got to go to IKEA again! I don't care if I go into debt I gotta buy those hedgehogs! Especailly since I miss the reals ones so dang much…

Easter was not the same without you, but I survived despite the dark cloud of stress that keeps lingering over me. There was no butter lamb sacrafice this year *BOO!,* but the jello eggs were OK.

I'm gald that you two are enjoying yourselves despite the re-visit to horrid Montevideo. I hope the trip to Puerto Madryn turns out to be a good one and that the penguins are as cute as "The Loud One." Take care of yourselves and know that I miss you more than words can say…

~~~~ The Post Hog

March 29, 2005 at 12:39pm
not only were there hedgehogs, but there were delightful little rats as well. it was only due to the "end of the month" status of my bank account, that i didn't buy a whole dozen.
March 29, 2005 at 1:46pm
This website and the details of your trip continue to amaze and delight me. Have I mentioned how awesome it is to share all this with you? Yes, I have. But I must say again, "THANK YOU!" This is more fun than The Amazing Race -– plus I actually love the starring characters!

That photo montage at the top of this entry is so creative and fun! And you've posted some spectacular photos -– that one from a few entries back that everyone commented on in particular! The writing is fantastic too! I can practically feel I'm there with you.

Happy travels! Can't wait to hear more!

Sister Soldier (Post Hog)
March 29, 2005 at 10:49pm
Re: Comment by anotherjess at 12:39 PM on Mar 29, 2005 ::

not only were there hedgehogs, but there were delightful little rats as well. it was only due to the “end of the month” status of my bank account, that i didn’t buy a whole dozen.

Only rats?! No alligators, or lizzards, or dinasaurs, or anything of that nature? When will IKEA get with the program?! Anyway, take care of yourselves people and keep on writing, for I love reading these posts! xxxooo

~~~~ Post Hog

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