Uruguay: Definitely A Country

Hello beautiful people, thank you for keeping up with us- I know it's a chore to be this far behind us (we're about two months behind right now) and still care...which is why these blogs are so delightful. Just think how dry they'd be if we were timely- so I guess count your blessings and stuff you guys.

Anyways, Shan1 and I left you whilst enjoying Buenos Aires where we were joined by a ginger Welshmen and non-ginger Aussie, Gareth and Sean. Only a few days to hang out and enjoy BA, where the opening hours for bars made for some very late and dizzying nights for us all, before boarding a ferry boat destined for Colonia, Uruguay.

 Carriages and cobblestones in Colonia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Carriages and cobblestones in Colonia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Word of advice: book these ferry trips ahead of time if you're looking to go from BA to Uruguay, since they fill up quickly (likely less so, now that you don't have to cross borders to get advantageous currency rates), and are weirdly way expensive. It was kind of a hassle to do, since much like all of South America, the build-a-good-eComm-website craze has not yet taken over. If I decided to stay down here, I'd build a year 2000-esque business and just make people decent websites out of goDaddy templates. I'd be a millionaire in no time.

Bought tickets, waited in line, took ferry to Colonia, pretty straightforward. Colonia is a great little tourist spot, we found. Old walled city, cobblestone streets, cafes, lots of places to grub some food, and plenty of welcoming hostels. We spent the day walking around, looking at some of the antique cars, chatting, and mostly just waiting to ride and/or die the next day and go to Montevideo. Sean and Gareth both watched "Best in Show" for the first time ever as well, what a film. Oh, highlight of Colonia was easily this huge creepy poster of what looked like Gareth with a cut out black mask on...so eerie.

 Gareth's masked doppelganger, mustache and all.

Gareth's masked doppelganger, mustache and all.

Then we went to Montevideo. I can honestly say I was looking forward to seeing this place, what I thought would be a smaller, more progressive, more beachy version of Buenos Aires. Not so much really. I shan't write about Montevideo too much other than to say it was nice and fine and I wouldn't go back unless I had to. We stayed in an awesome AirBnB though, made some wonderful meals all together, and hit up a few local spots for drinks after days spent walking all across the vast city. Nothing too impressive, especially after BA, and a bit underwhelming all over. Politically though, Uruguay IS super progressive and were one of the first countries in the world to legalize same sex marriage on the federal level as well as legalizing marijuana consumption and cultivation. Way to go you guys...now back to making your city cool again OK?

 Epic Sunday roast in Montevideo—thank you Chef Gareth! 

Epic Sunday roast in Montevideo—thank you Chef Gareth! 

OH YEAH! On our way out though, we arrived at the main bus terminal to take the three hour bus ride back to Colonia to catch our ferry, and found the entire terminal was blocked in by a protest. Not cool. We waited around in some decent heat, while the Uruguayans drank their mate (they love the stuff even more than Argentinians), but sneakily climbed onboard the first bus to bust the blockade. Few hours later, we were in Colonia and ready to git 'er done on the ferry.

BACK TO BA, met another AirBnB hostess in Palermo neighborhood where we'd be staying the next two weeks or so. Got our stuff sorted, then headed right back out, around midnight (when things are getting started in BA) to a Pearl Jam pre-party (the live show was the next day) at a bar across town. Just so happened a good buddy from back home (JC, I know you're reading this) had a friend in BA for the show as well, so we were lined up to meet him too. Well, after about an hour of being in Pearl Jam only bar, with my buddy's super duper turbo drunk friend screaming in my ear, I remembered, "Oh yeah, I don't even like Pearl Jam that much". Hey, don't get me wrong, I like them the same way every casual radio listener from years 1993 to 2001 likes them, but I don't LIKE THEM LIKE THEM the way every single person in that bar did. The night devolved, another 5am performance.

Next day was a mess, as we discovered "Pearl Jam in Buenos Aires" really meant they were playing an HOUR BY CAR outside the city, and there was no real public transportation option out there. Context, that's like saying you're playing NYC and actually your gig is at the Hot Topic in the Paramus Mall. We persuaded a taxi driver to take us, skirted the gay pride parade happening that day (two days in a row a crowd of peeps blocked our way, it's a streak), and went to the show. Great tailgating happening everywhere, with choripan and large beers being sold in front yards- I will say that Argentinian Pearl Jam fans have zero problem wearing the band's shirt to the gig (a no-no in the US and also everywhere else ever).

 Olééé olé olé olé...Pearl Jaaam, Pearl Jaaam!

Olééé olé olé olé...Pearl Jaaam, Pearl Jaaam!

Eventually we made our way inside, found the bathrooms (which for Argentinians were conveniently located everywhere there is a wall, because the dudes there pee on everything), and then tried to locate the place where beer is sold. You know about beer? At music shows? It's like popcorn at movies, or turkey at Thanksgiving, or an eye roll after someone rolls their RRRRs when saying "burrito". YEAH WELL, they don't serve any alcohol at big shows in Argentina, thanks for making me see a band sober it was...actually not terrible at all and I didn't have to pee once, so all in all...yup. Pearl Jam was good, Eddie Vedder drank more wine than than 20,000 people, and I gained a newfound respect for how cool a dude he is, even if I don't plan on listening to much Pearl Jam. Thank You Gareth for your wonderful present, we shall always remember (because we were super sober), the BA Pearl Jam show with much fondness and also because of the...

MOST TERRIFYING CAB RIDE EVER

Preface: I've driven cars, tuk-tuks/rickshaws, and motorcycles in Kazahkstan, friggin' Russia, Botswana, Cambodia, Vietnam, even INDIA YOU GUYS, and this insane, third-dimension existing, speed-me-to-the-afterlife loving, nightmare of a cab driver was BY FAR the most scary ride of my life. Seriously. It was literally crazy, like impossible and you wonder how this is being accomplished (scary level, that is), kind of crazy. Besides requisite high speed, non-obeyance of general road rules, and disconcerting amount of texting while driving (the holy trinity of bad driving) this guy was actually creating his own lane IN BETWEEN actual lanes. Imagine, two lanes on a highway, it's tarmac, you're near a major capital, there are lots of cars, and this guy was literally trying to fit between the two cars in the two lanes and creating his own third lane, IN THE MIDDLE. It that didn't work, and often it didn't and we were maybe an inch away from cars on both sides, he would switch out and gun the engine down the shoulder which sometimes had huge 2-4 foot dropoffs. I feel as though this is like trying to describe a bad dream where it's never going to be as scary as I want it to sounds, but let's just say I texted my rickshaw partner from India, Tall Paul, right after we got let out and told him I just had the scariest ride of my entire life. That's saying something, since vehicular manslaughter isn't really even a crime in India (don't fact check that).

Now back in BA, we partied a bunch more, had some great nights, Shan1 got to dance some tango, we walked around the city for days enjoying the sights, I rolled some jiu jistu in a local gym, and we reluctantly bid farewell to Aussie Sean from Brisbane (aka, Brisvegas, BrisneyLand, Brisbekistan).

Now we needed a fourth! Luckily, Gareth's friend Maricel from Lima came to join us for our ride west and south to the Lakes District in Argentina, and then to Bariloche to start our trip to Patagonia. Until next time (phew, only two months behind still!).