I arrived to Buenos Aires, Argentina after an overnight flight from Colombia. As I mentioned in my last blog, I was a little out of sorts. I went with Jeremy´s recommendation on how to get from the airport to the hotel (about 30km away) and took this VIP car that was "supposedly" the best bang for your buck. As I was riding in the car I decided to glance at my Lonely Planet Travel guide (for the 1st time about Argentina). As I read through the guide I learned that the VIP cars where extremely expensive and the best option was to take the shuttle for $8. Hmmmmm I thought to myself...that is way cheaper then the $40 dollars I am spending right now in the VIP private towncar that "Jeremy" recommended. This was the intro to the next week of my life....my week of traveling with Jeremy Goodwin!
For those of you that do not know...Jeremy is one of my best friends. Our personalities are hilarious with one another and we spend most of our time laughing at our idiocracies then actually living a productive life. Furthermore, Jeremy is a well traveled individual. He even has his own business where he sends highschool students to go travel abroad and encourages people of all sorts to travel and learn about other cultures. HOWEVER...and I say this in all caps...Jeremy travels well! He is either a working traveler...or a vacationer. The word "backpacking" is not part of his vocabulary or his mindset. So when Jeremy randomly emailed me about 2 weeks ago and asked to meet me in my travels...I was very excited. Jeremy, however, did not know what he was about to get himself involved with.
And so the story goes...The Prince and the Pauper!
I arrived to the hotel and was really excited to not only see Jeremy, but to also chill in an actual hotel for a few days. We had a blast catching up with each other and exchanging stories. I was so happy to have a comfortable bed and a private bathroom with hot water. I opened my backpack to grab some clothes for my shower when all of a sudden Jeremy said "Wow Dude....what is that smell?" I really didn´t notice anything, but I figured it was coming from my backpack...proof that my natural aromas were not that popular among the "vacationing" American. "It is my towel" I explained ...a little embarrased. I decided though, that it was probably time to wash my clothes. That day, Jeremy and I went for a jog around the city and he showed me some of the main attractions. Then we met up with some friends that we knew and enjoyed a nice traditional Argentinian Parilla (grilled meats). It was an amazing dinner. We went out on the town to some posh bars and all I could think about was how I was not staying within my budget.
Buenos Aires was an amazing city, though. I am not much of a big city girl...however, this had to be one of my favorites. Every street comes to life with tango music, food, wine, people, and old architecture with a modern touch! I haven´t quite figured out 2 things about Argentinians... A) when and where they work and B) how they are not overweight and dying from heartattacks by the minute. People do not have dinner until 10 or 11pm each night and then hit the dance clubs until sunrise....almost every day of the week! On top of that...the daily diet is steak, wine, bread, and italian food. Not too many vegetables are consumed around this area. Every day I walked through the city and just saw people hanging out with each other...drinking wine and conversing. My argentinian friend, Adrian, explained to me that the people in argentina have a very different mindset then americans. They only work as much as they need to and then spend the rest of the time "enjoying life with family and friends". This has been proven to me...over the next few weeks of my travels I witnessed the wonderful world of Argentina and how they spend hours and hours with family and friends...eating..drinking...eating some more. Throw in a little bit of work...a few futbol games...and you are living the Argentinian lifestyle!
After a few days in Buenos Aires, I decided that I really wanted to see Uruguay, which is an hour boat ride from Buenos Aires. Jeremy really wanted to go to this popular beach resort town called Punta Del Este. It seemed pretty expensive to me, so I recommended a smaller beach town that was more on my budget. I like the more chill-out, relaxing, low key scenes, while Jeremy enjoys the scene and be seen places. Anyways, after much conversation about money, cities, etc. I decided to go to the beach resort town on one condition...we would have to stay in a hostel, because there was no way I could afford a hotel room. I think Jeremy threw up in his mouth a little bit, but he agreed to the proposal and then diligently started researching hostels online....I let him even figure out what hostel to stay at.
So then we were off...the Prince and the Popper on a ferry to Uruguay. Our first stop was in the quiant town of Colonia. This town was super cute with cobblestone streets and old timey cars. I felt like we went back in time about 40 years. We had gone back and forth about renting a car to drive around Uruguay in. When we got to the car rental place they only had manual cars in our price range. Neither of us really knew how to drive manual, but the salesman insisted that we rent the car. They even volunteered to teach us how to drive...haha I guess they get a really big commission check on rentals and an even bigger check from the insurance company when we crash the car. We decided to just rent a golf cart for the afternoon and cruised around the lazy beach town. That night a big storm rolled into town and the power went out in the entire city. We found an awesome little Italian restuarant and had dinner by candle light....how romantic! Our hostel in Colonia was actually really nice in "backpacking" standards. It had a great common area and the decor was trendy. We slept in a room with 6 other people. Jeremy simply could not understand why in the world you would want to sleep with 6 other random strangers in a room. For about 5 to 10 more dollars we could have had a private room. But when you are traveling for a year...5 to 10 bucks adds up quick. On top of that, the shower was about 1 foot by 1 foot...we had a snorrer in the room, and no AC. This was no big deal to me...welcome to my life for the past 4 months, but Jeremy on the other hand..could not wrap his head around the situation. He was a good sport though and we laughed a lot about his "vacation" with Andrea.
The next day we headed to Punte Del Este. We stopped for a layover in Montevideo. Jeremy and I were starving so we ran into the McDonald´s to grab a quick sandwich (this would be one of the first few times I ate fast food on my trip by the way). Jeremy was so proud of his spanish speaking skills and was handling most of the conversations during out travels. So it really cracked me up when he went to order a 10 piece chicken nugget. Apparently, the girl thought that he ordered 10-10 piece chicken nuggets....100 chicken nuggets! It was about the time she told more people to move to the kitchen to help cook and told Jeremy he owed about 700 pesos that he realized she misunderstood. Can you imagine us walking out of McDonald´s with 100 chicken nuggets?
We finally arrived to Punta Del Este and walked about a mile to our hostel. That is another thing that I try to do to save money....walk everywhere. Jeremy insisted on taking a cab, but I told him that was not in the budget. I carried my bag like a backpack and Jeremy had his roller suitcase. He rolled that damn suitcase wherever he went...REFUSING to stop rolling..no matter the conditions. Mud, potholes, curbs, grass, dog poo....he kept on rolling. I had to laugh everytime he went over an obstacle in which he had to struggle a bit to ROLL. Heaven forbid he carry it like a backpack!
We arrived to the hostel (that Jeremy booked for us). It was called Roger´s Hostel and was a house in the middle of a neighborhood. We walked in and there were a couple of surfer looking guys that appeared to be stoned out of their minds hanging out in the common area. We stood there for a few minutes not really knowing how to check in or who was in charge of the place. A few guys rolled up the driveway on their skateboards and one of them approached us to get us checked in. He explained that for the first night we would have to sleep in seperate dorm rooms. Hahaha I just had to laugh at this moment because this meant that Jeremy would be in a dorm room with complete strangers without me. The hostel was pretty funny as well...I would rank it at one of the lower grade hostels I have stayed in. It became clear to us that it was a cheap place for the surfers to stay at when they came to the beach resort city. It had character, but it lacked in other areas. We got settled in and went out to go grab dinner. Since it stays light until about 10pm down here, the time just slips away. I think we had dinner at about 9pm..then decided to go check out some bars around town. We found this lovely bar called "Company". From the outside it looked like one of our classic dive bars that I love. After we went inside and ordered a drink we realized it was a kaoroke bar...for people over the age of 50. We were the youngest people in the joint, but ended up having a blast dancing and singing with the old crowd. After that we made our way to the "cool" bars and met up with some people from Chicago. We talked to them for several hours then decided it was time to head home...since it was 5AM! On our way home we decided we needed some drunk munchies and stopped in at the McDonalds (3rd time to eat fast food on my trip). We ate a sandwich and then left, but we both were still kinda hungry for some crazy reason...so we walked right next door to the Burger King and had some nuggets (4th time I ate fast food on my trip!). Do you see the trend here....when I am with Jeremy I spend money and eat fast food...NO BUENO!
We finally got back to the hostel and to no surprise, there were still people up even though the sun was rising. Jeremy had a small issue in his room because a group of guys tried to sneak someone into the hostel and he was going to sleep on Jeremys bed. I am assuming they worked it out, because I found the guy passed out in the hallway the next morning. The next day I woke up to music blaring and people wrestling and acting goofy in the house. I was so hot and hungover and just needed to get out of the frat house. We went and spent the day hanging out on the beach...it was so nice. We found a place to eat and ordered some wine and relaxed ALLLLL day. The prices were outrageous and I must admit that it was hard for me knowing that each sip of wine could get me a nights stay in Ecuador, but I decided to let loose for a day and live like I could afford it ;)
When we arrived back to the frat house this really hot surfer guy came up to me and asked if Jeremy and I were a couple and if we wanted a private room to ourselves. I guess he worked there, but all I could hear was him asking whether or not Jeremy and I were a couple in which I immediatly responded "Heavens no....NOOOOOO...totally not together....I am single". He responded "Ok..so I will move him into your dorm room and you will stay in the dorm room again tonight, ok?". My eyes were still gazing at him when Jeremy came up to me and asked what in the world I was thinking. We could have easily shared a double bed for one night and had our own PRIVATE ROOM! This hostel was a mess and super loud with people partying all night long. It would have been much better for Jeremy and I to pretend we were a couple and get the private room. I must admit...I screwed that opportunity up for us...If the guy hadn´t been so cute we probably would have enjoyed our second night there a little better.
The next morning Jeremy and I woke up before everyone else in the house...packed out things...and left quietly. Good old Roger´s hostel...I am so glad Jeremy was the one that booked it or else I would have never heard the end of it. After that experience, Jeremy refused to stay in another dorm room or Hostel for that matter. It became clear to me that he loved HOTELS....he loved 5 star hotels...or 1 star hotels..as long as it was a HOTEL. But the minute you added an "s" into the word...he hated it. He was not going to stay in another hostel that was for sure...and he decided to book us a hotel in Montevideo for our last night together...his treat!
Montevideo was an awesome capital. I really loved the feel to it...almost better then Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is an amazing city as well, but Montevideo is way more chilled out. I am more of a chill person myself so I enjoyed the layed back pace and atmosphere. It is located on the coast and they have this awesome boardwalk that runs throughout the city. I got a good run in for excercise and was able to see the city while soaking in the Uruguayan people. I am not sure if I have mentioned this or not, but everyone in Uruguay and Argentina drink this tea called Maté. It is a major tradition in this area and is a bit of a process. First of all, they carry this huge thermos in one arm and then have a tea cup with this special straw that they sip out of. They don´t leave anywhere without the thermos and tea cup and the drink it allll day long. It is more of a social thing in which they meet up with their friends and pass around the maté. When I went jogging in Montevideo...people were even powerwalking with maté in their hands. I just could not understand the phenomenon. I mean...some people walk around with a smoke in their mouth, or chew gum all day, or a toothpick behind their ear. But these people carry a freaking thermos and tea cup everywhere...It just seems really inconvenient to carry all those things around all the time and still get your everyday tasks fulfilled. But they do somehow....they love their maté. Here is a picture of a nice fella drinking his Maté...loving life!
The Holiday Inn hotel room was a real treat from Jeremy and I am thankful that he got it for us. The prince and the popper had a blast together and we certainly laughed a lot. I wish I had room to share all of the stories that happend with the week we spent together in regards to our different travel styles, but I have already bored you enough. I spent more money then I normally would have, but we had a blast. Jeremy saved a hell of a lot of money too and probably even MADE money since he wasn´t spending it back in Austin...amazing, right?
Jeremy had another week or so in Argentina, but he expressed to me that he was not going to continue traveling with me. He needed a vacation and wanted to relax and he clearly would not get that from his backpacking amiga, Andrea. Plus, my friend Lark from Austin was coming to travel the last 3 weeks with me...she would also be on a strict budget and Jeremy knew that we would out rule him on every travel decision. So...Jeremy and I parted ways when we got back to Buenos Aires and I met up with my friend Lark....only 3 more weeks of my adventure in South America before I head home to Texas for a bit (tear....it will be sad to leave!).