For those interested, my beard has progressed to, BEARD.jpgwhat my father once referred to as, the “Scottish Homeless” stage (he would know). As all fellow male travellers will agree, if you possess even the smallest propensity to grow facial hair (and mine really is a small propensity) you are prohibited from shaving for the duration of your trip. Therefore when asked, “How long have you been travelling for?” One must reply, “2.3cm.”

To a great sigh of relief from those who persevered through last week’s 3000 words, this week will be shorter. I have done sweet Felicity Arkwright.

My return to Buenos Aires was met with a fanfare as I stepped off the metal floating vessel. This fanfare took the form of a complete blockade of (ground and air) transport due to a further national strike and protest. This time I believe that the motive was some sort of Public Sector staff shortage; clearly not on the part of the police though, who were ubiquitous! I, however, think that the Argentines spotted the last nice day of summer and thus felt entitled to a day-off!

After some muttering and complaining, to say nothing of the idle wandering, I returned to my destined location. Another hostel. This hostel was not a party hostel like the first week in Buenos Aires, nor did it have the space and relaxed vibe of the one in Montevideo. Considering it was clean and quite quiet (not woken-up at all hours of the night), it was astonishingly unpleasant. I am genuinely not sure why. The people there were quite nice, the service and advice was decent, but it just had no soul. Very odd. People were genuinely fighting to leave. Did meet a nice German to-be-banker who explained to me how to make a vast amount of money. Too bad I was paying so little attention to that, but rather contemplating how he was going to eat four croissants for breakfast, two of which filled with cheese&ham!

COW SHOW.jpg

{“Cheto” here means “posh” and is to be used in place of the word in Spain that they use for posh, “pijo”, which means “dick” in Argentina.} HAT.jpgI was invited by my cheto friend to a horse show in Buenos Aires that celebrated the Gaucho (cowboy) culture of being put in a small ring on a horse with a young cow (steed) and body-slamming this creature with your horse into barriers. The faster and more ferociously this was done, the higher points. While there were other disciplines, after cow-slamming, galloping and stopping quickly felt a bit bland.

Ever the supporter of all things cultural, Charles Bennett bought himself a hat. What a… pijo!

That evening I went with said same friend to a club out of town. One entertaining moment was when CB and cheto (called Austin btw) said hello to a group of attractive females. After 10 seconds of Spanish, it was concluded that English was far more appealing to these girls who all went to bi-lingual schools. A further 20 seconds and a small semi-circle had gathered around CB with the six women barely taking it in turns to fire questions at him.WOMEN FEAR.jpg Everyone knows that the average man can only handle two women at once. Given that CB is a demigod, lets double that, still – 50% more than even he could cope with. Ordinarily a cool customer in the face of predators, CB abdicated this throne and was visibly scared, or so I was informed after. I can assure you that Scottish Terriers and the Oxfordshire countryside should not be enough to entertain a group of beautiful women! I think the fear and surprise on my face is actually visible…

<Long train ride back to hostel>

Amidst reports that England was experiencing a mini heatwave, the flourishing of a beautiful spring and a crystal-blue sky unadulterated by clouds, in Buenos Aires: Saturday – it rained; Sunday – it rained; Monday – it rained. Rain is perhaps unfair as it implies that there are small pieces of water in an otherwise airy atmosphere. The inverse was more accurate!

TEA&MATE.jpgThree things happened on, what from now-on shall be referred to as, the “wet days”.
1) English culture and Argentine were brought together with the union of our two deeply strange drinking obsessions.  For the first time in history, Mate was drunk from a mug and the hot water administered from a teapot.

2) At a beautiful bookshop that once housed one of the city’s many theatres, I discovered that, while i cannot even read children’s books in Spanish, I can read complicated philosophy. How does that work!? The stories of “Stick and Stone” remain impenetrable, but Aristotle’s views on ethics – easy!?STICK&STONE.jpg

3) On the bus journey back, I was busy explaining to Mila (long-suffering Argentinian friend) my theory that Sicilian roots must still resonate here. This was received by a blank look. Thus I explain that I had seen “Cosa Nostra” painted on a wall earlier that day. Blank Look. Now, what I felt I then explained was: Causa Nostra is one of the many names that Italians have for their infamous gang (pandilla). What I had actually said was, “Causa Nostra is one of the names that Italians have for their celebrity grills (parilla)…”

It was pleasing to see that the Argentinians enjoy partaking in an English Barbecue and leave nothing out of our qualification criteria: token leaves for vegetarians at best, at worse they go hungry; far more meat than twice the number attending could ever eat; large amounts of rain. The “Asado” was thus conducted British-Argentine style, with a smattering of Europeans who were thoroughly perplexed by this spectacle.

ASADO.jpg

The rest of the week actually consisted in trying to eat healthier food (in private apartment) and learn spanish. SUBJUNCTIVE.jpgI thought that the subjective finally clicked. That was before Rawlsian Reflective Equilibrium suggested I look-back at the all of the Spanish language to consider what I thought I knew… It has been said by my more bigoted friends (you know who you are Kitten) that everyone of note in the world speaks English, so why learn another language? While not a very pleasing philosophy it is, irrefutably, a practical one in the face of such absurdly complicated grammar.

If, however, you remain determined to learn Spanish, I council you do do what I am doing, which is to appeal to the lovely Latin Americans for support (apoyo) with your Spanish. This must not be confused with what I have been asking for, which is “Celery (apio) with my Spanish”.

Off to Patagonia today / tonight / tomorrow morning at 3.35am. Thursday 13th April will prove, I think, to be one of the low-lights of life. I do hate the travel bit of travelling, why can’t I just have the ling!

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