The Gamble

OK, so Argentinians love their Casinos. Some of the grandest buildings in Mendoza are casinos, their interiors gilded with mock-brass metal. They’re popular places to be for the upper middle aged, working middle class – possibly because they’re quite secure and therefore feel quite safe…

casino

Take your pick

There’s a number of them around. I’ve so far visited two – one in the centre and one just off a shopping mall towards Godoy Cruz. I’ve not witnessed what I saw in Vegas with people pouring what seemed like all their money into a machine – a lot of the machines here will allow you to play for $2 AR per spin which is about 10p (13/2/17, 16:51). I don’t know whether the cocktail of complimentary Champagne and passage of time has convinced me that in one of the Vegas’ casinos I could’ve sworn that I saw a phone-booth that encouraged you to phone to credit card provider for an advance or extension of available funds… For the sake of this blog, lets just say that I did see this. Well, I’ve seen nothing like that here… yet.

However, there is something always counting against you. And it’s bigger than any gamble than you could possibly make…

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Argentina’s currency – the fun never stops.

If, in the UK we slap ‘gamble aware’ logos and slogans over every form of bet-promoting poster then the Argentine Banco Nacion should carry similar warnings. Casinos seem like the responsible way to use your paycheque when inflation is running at 30%. The real challenge is to claim your winnings from the machine and spend it before its only use is as rather thin, rather slim, pieces of toilet paper. (It is known).

inflation

The real gamble is trying to save money

Buses, South America

Since using CATA to traverse the Andes to Santiago I’ve been a strong advocate for using buses to journey through South America. I’m still a novice though having only used them in Peru, Chile and throughout Argentina. They’re comfy, punctual and even though take longer than planes over distances there’s no mammoth check-in or wait for baggage and more often than not you arrive in the centre of the city – unlike flying into London (Southend on Sea).

They’re much cheaper than flying too. Aside from Sky Airlines there’s no real budget option on the continent so some micro/collectivo journeys are much cheaper. I always like to factor in the fact that many route operators offer a semi-cama service which travels overnight to your chosen destination. So essentially you wake up where you need to be having spent the night in a very comfy seat that opens out to 180°. You get your journey, food and accommodation at one rate as opposed to the flight / hotel combo you might have had to fork out for…

So, why am i sitting aboard this bus writing this? Basically, if this was a flight I’d liken this journey to that of a paper plane being flown through a tropical cyclone. We are en route to Esquel from Bariloche and should someone scrape the memory card from this gringo’s LG phone from the valley-strewn wreckage perhaps the information contained therein might help work out what happened on the ill-fated, late-departing 1515 Don Otto service to Esquel.

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Not the only Otto associated with bus travel.

I’m sure the one of the wheels temporarily hung over the side of the cliff face as we hurtled around a bend. We still had 5 sets of wheels spinning on loose tarmac so perhaps my worries are a little unfounded.

Tossed about

We were thrown around too. Rattling around like a tube of Smarties tumbling down an escalator. The TVs flickered and ceased broadcasting the soft-porn Latino music videos from 2012. Perhaps the loud bangs and cracking sounds were that of our breakneck-speed breaking the broadcasting barrier… Perhaps we will catch up with broadcasting from the modern era.. if only the driver would go that little bit faster.

Well, the TVs remained a laguna-blue colour. The driver was doing his best to push this rickety old vehicle into a new epoch but for now, no Latina titty tunes.

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Some very amusing typing errors are occurring as my phone struggles to interpret the intentions of my writing finger (examples: broadcasting originally went down as vietkong and finger as ginger – which isn’t too far from the truth).

I suppose there are worse backdrops to bid farewell to this life to than the lushous valleys, turquoise lakes and broken mountain teeth of Patagonia. To be a ginger smear on a beautiful valley-wall canvas in Neuquen.

If this was a plane I’d be there by now. Or enjoying a tasty buttock on an Andean glacier as per Alive!

Or even worse; waiting endlessly for my luggage to never appear on an airport carousel. Please, Mr Driver I love buses. Don’t break my heart… or any part of my body.

A Walk in The Park

Yeah, so the hottest day so far yesterday. And what better way to show your love for your ginger fiance than to get him out running. At 2pm. Apparently some Holarctic Wildfowl fly away from summer to breed. This would probably be a more appropriate action for someone with my lack of colour but true to form; I do the opposite.

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If I was a girl.

I really don’t want to turn this travel blog into a fitness one but parts of my body seem to following the Holarctic Wildfowls’ ideas of heading south for the summer. My mid 30’s body seems to be in a state of relaxation, not wanting to deal effectively with the volumes of cheese, meat and beer that is enjoying. When I turn, my skeletal structure conforms and I can be, facing 90 degrees in a different direction. However, the softer winter reserves catch up with my frame a good few seconds after. This can cause imbalance, unease and most importantly; my wedding suit may not fit.

So, we went for a run… Well, a walk… With a bit of running involved. The scenery required photographing  which is quite difficult when running if your man-boobs threaten to knock your phone out of your hands. So we walked mostly, took some photos then a few routines of sit-ups, playing with some huge, rubber band type things.

I’ve been assured that the park falls into one the wealthiest parts of town. And some of the largest, well maintained, older properties of the city line the street of Av. Emilio Civit leading to the ornate gates of el parque de San Martin:

san-martin-gates

Sorry, not my photo – there were too many cars for me to run and take a decent shot.

Jime had advised that only one of us should take our phone, as it would be better to have only one stolen than both. After much deliberation and compromise it was decided that my phone would be the one that we could sacrifice if the worst should happen. However, the only thing that we were to be mugged of was the $3,80 for a bottle of water when entering the park. But it was a pretty cold water and it definitely was needed.

And then we walked, jogged, and walked again before being overtaken by an old lady in purple Lycra pants. So we upped the pace to overtake her and restore a sense of pride on my part. And I took some pretty mean photos.

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Under the shade of the palm trees, the entrance, the museum and the lake.

What I didn’t take photos of are the people who use the park and lake to complement their fitness regime. The park is home to an exclusive gym, with a boating lake, restaurants and the like. There are plenty of outdoor fitness groups sweating their gordy-ness away to a beat. These guys and gals are fit – in all senses of the word. I shall return. I shall be less wobbly so that I won’t look out of place.

But I will still be ginger.