roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

29 Apr 2009 - 3:27:23 PM

Well, I wanted to upload a bunch of Iguazu Falls pictures, but the crappy computers in the Salta internet shops didn't recognize my 4 Gb memory card. Jeez. So pictures may be a bit less frequent from here on out. Sorry about that. Too bad I didn't pack along one of those fancy NetBooks. Now I'm in Humahuaca, and the internet place I'm in at the moment has disabled their USB and memory card ports, even -- bastards! I guess it helps keep the pc viruses away.

But yeah, Iguazu Falls was pretty dang impressive. I'm glad I went a bit out of my way to check them out. It was basically two days in Puerto Iguazu and then a 23 hour bus ride to Salta. Went with the more convenient and slightly cheaper FlechaBus, which had its pluses and minuses. Well, mostly minuses, actually. The food sucked, the bathroom sucked, the movies sucked (and they were Spanish dubbed and subtitled, except for the one that was Russian dubbed, and they played the rather lame WarGames: The Dead Code twice for some reason). But in its own awful way it was entertaining, and I was very glad I brought my own food along. As for pluses... well, the departure and arrival times were better, and nobody slashed through the shoulder straps of my travel pack, which happened to what sounded like a German couple on the previous bus ride from Concordia to Iguazu. I guess if the luggage handler asks you for a tip, it's in your best interest to pony up a peso.

When I arrived in Humahuaca, I thought it was pretty enough to spend two nights here, but it's a very small town, and I walked around a good bit of it already in just an hour. The valley it's in is exceedingly scenic, though, so it would've been nice to have spent several days working my way up from Salta, but instead I just stared at all the colors and cool formations of the hillsides from the bus. I want to get to Bolivia sooner rather than later, actually, and so I think I'll just hop on a bus tomorrow for La Quiaca. Hopefully the border crossing will be easy. Wish me luck!

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22 Apr 2009 - 8:52:10 PM
Last night in Uruguay

I'm in the town of Salto, Uruguay, and tomorrow I'll be taking a river ferry to Concordia, Argentina. Then it's only a 13 hour bus ride to Iguazu Falls. I could just go straight to Salta (yeah, that's a little confusing, the Salto/Salta thing -- the former is in Uruguay and the latter is in Argentina) in order to gain a few extra days there before diving into Bolivia, but I really want to see the falls, so I guess I'll deal with all the long bus rides.

So, yeah, I ended up stumbling across an unexpected highlight here in Uruguay: Cabo Polonio. It's a tiny beach village on a cape surrounded by sand dunes, and in the off-season it's amazingly quiet and laid-back and just plain lovely. Rented a little house with folks from the truck ride in the first night, and then moved to a beach-front hostel the second. It was the kind of place where if you curl up in the hammock on the deck the next thing you know a couple weeks will have passed. There were two restaurants and one bar open. One restaurant, La Goloza, out-quirked Cafe Bizarro in Seattle, and yeah, I loved it. Wish I'd spent longer there.

Cabo Polonio
View of the cape from the west -- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Cabo Polonio
View of the cape from the east -- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

polonio sunset
Should've held off on the previous sunset photo... -- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

dune doggy
Went on a little walk in the dunes one day, and a friendly beach dog tagged along. I named her Pepper. Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Faro Cabo Polonio
The obligatory lighthouse -- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Faro Cabo Polonio lens
The lighthouse's lovely clamshell lens -- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

So yeah, I liked Uruguay. Ended up seeing nine lighthouses here (one from very far away), and there's one I missed completely but it's on an island that seems less than easy to reach. There are two others but from pictures I saw they looked more like overgrown navigational aids than full-fledged lighthouses, so I'm not going to worry about those. These might be the last lighthouses I'll see on this trip, actually. Huh. Maybe I can find another one or two in Peru before I head home. Maybe.

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19 Apr 2009 - 7:04:12 AM
Punta del Este

Quick post. I have 10 minutes before the bus leaves for Cabo Polonio. So yeah, here are some pics.

Faro Punta del Este
The Punta del Este lighthouse -- Punta del Este, Uruguay

hand in the sand
The Hand in the Sand -- Punta del Este, Uruguay

Uruguayan sunset
Haven't posted a sunset picture in a while, so here you go -- Punta del Este, Uruguay

the cry of the fishmongers
Fisherman throwing fish guts to the hungry sea lions -- Punta del Este, Uruguay

Faro Isla de Lobos
Isla de Lobos lighthouse -- Punta del Este, Uruguay

Faro Jose Ignacio
Punta Jose Ignacio lighthouse -- Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

Okay, that's it for now. Hasta luego!

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18 Apr 2009 - 5:08:52 PM

Okay, I'm actually in Punta del Este, about to head to the electricity-less village of Cabo Polonio (how do they check their email without electricity?), and thought I'd slap together a post before going off the grid. So yeah, Montevideo. My pre-conception of it was of a crime-riddled, dirty slum, but actually it wasn't too bad. It has two lighthouses, in fact, which is always a good thing. I ended up spending three nights there, in fact. It's not as impressive as Buenos Aires, IMHO, but yeah, it's not too bad.

The first time I'd ever heard of Montevideo was back in elementary school when I memorized a bunch of world capitals for some sort of capital-bee thing which never actually happened -- a bit disappointing, but I'm pretty much over it now. Anyway, the mnemonic I used for Montevideo was Monty's Video Store in Uruguay. It didn't help too much with the connection to Uruguay, but it helped me remember Montevideo. So when I arrived in town, I was hoping to find an actual Monty's Video Store -- that would have made me so happy -- but I never ran across one. It's tempting to move there and open my own, but I think that might be one of those dreams that's better left unrealized.

Let's see, before I put up the pics, a couple of impressions. Or maybe just one. Uruguayans are much more serious about their mate drinking than elsewhere. It's very common to see folks walking around with one arm bent, cradling a thermos of hot agua in their elbow and holding their mate gourd with bombilla in that hand. Even saw one guy with the mate arm while riding a bicycle in the busy city streets. I finally broke down and bought a mate gourd and bombilla myself. Now I just have to spend three days conditioning it before actually getting to sip a bit mate from it. Not sure when I'll get around to doing that.

Okay, picture time.

Palacio Salvo
This very dominating building bordering Plaza Independencia is called the Palacio Salvo, but I don't remember what it was originally built for or what it's being used for these days -- Montevideo, Uruguay

teatro solis
Teatro Solis is the oldest theater in South America (1856) and this is a view from the edge of the stage -- Montevideo, Uruguay

solis ceiling
Cool artwork on the Teatro Solis ceiling -- Montevideo, Uruguay

Faro Punta Brava
I rented a bike and made my way down the waterfront to the Punta Brava lighthouse -- Montevideo, Uruguay

Faro Cerro de Montevideo
It was a fairly long bus ride from the old city to the Cerro but there were some nice views from the old fort that's been turned into a Military Museum -- Montevideo, Uruguay

Ah, Monty's Video Store. I'll probably be heading back through there on my way back into Argentina and Iguazu Falls, but I don't think I'll spend much time in town, just change buses in the terminal. And maybe if I wake up early enough tomorrow (yeah, right) I'll write up a quick Punta del Este post.

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16 Apr 2009 - 3:04:13 PM

After longer than expected in Buenos Aires (didn't want to deal with vacationing crowds over Easter weekend -- it's very inconvenient for me when other people have holidays), I jumped on a ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. The old town there is way too pretty. Really, it's just too much with all the stone streets and small, colorful buildings and strategically-placed antique cars and various tiny museums. And it has a lighthouse. So, yeah, I liked Colonia. Spent one night there, and now I'm in Montevideo. It's a big city, but it's not so bad, and it has two lighthouses. I was only going to spend two nights here, but today was pretty slow, and now I'm staying a third night. Bright and early tomorrow I'll head to the main beach resort in Uruguay, Punta del Este. I probably won't like it, but I'll just have to deal. My life is so hard, isn't it?

Anyway, here are some old Buenos Aires pictures from the Recoleta Cemetery. Lots of famous Argentines are buried there, including Evita Peron. I visited her tomb but didn't cry for her.

corner face
Funky corner stone face on one of the tombs -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

spacious tomb
The glass on the doors to this big tomb was all broken so I was able to stick my camera inside and get a decent photo -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

two paths
Two paths in the cemetery -- which one will you take? Buenos Aires, Argentina

Close up of a railing around one of the tombs -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

cemetery pets
The cemetery has quite a few scruffy-looking resident felines. They either keep the rodent population down or feast on the souls of the dead. Or both. Buenos Aires, Argentina

So yeah, after nearly two weeks in BsAs, I finally made it out. Colonia felt like a completely different world. So quiet and calm...

faro de colonia
The local lighthouse -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

stone wall
I liked this wall with all its little stones -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

christ leather
I never knew that Christ was German for "Leather Fashion." They had a sale on Christ bags, too. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

old building
This old building is in need of a little love -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

old stone building
Nifty old stone building -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

street of sighs building
There's a small alley called the Street of Sighs, and this was one of the little houses on it -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

street of sighs window
Window on the Street of Sighs -- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Maybe in Punta del Este I'll put up a few Montevideo pictures, but maybe not. I might be too busy lounging on the beach. I guess we'll see.

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11 Apr 2009 - 1:42:45 PM
Still in Buenos Aires

I didn't expect to be in Buenos Aires so long, but that's what has happened. I was going to head to Uruguay, but with the holiday Easter weekend happening it would've been crazy crowded with vacationing Argentines. So I decided to hang in BsAs until Monday, and it has had the useful effect of making me feel like I've been in one place for too long -- I'm looking forward to moving again.

Staying longer also gave me the chance to check out one of the "closed door" restaurants that seem to be popular here in BsAs. Small seatings in the apartment or house of the chef. Not cheap, but a pretty cool way to spend an evening. The one I went to calls itself A Little Saigon, run by a Vietnamese-American woman living here. It's basically the only Vietnamese restaurant in town (possibly in all South America...) This weekend turned out to be a vegetarian menu, as well, so I was pretty psyched. Started with some fried dumplings that didn't quite win me over, but everyone else liked. Then came the nicely spiced cabbage and carrot salad before the main dishes were served. A good soup to wet the rice, spicy green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, and fried tofu with a caramel sauce. I'm not usually a huge fan of green beans, but these were quite tasty. The broccoli and cauliflower were awesome -- subtly spiced but still with a bit of a kick. The fried tofu was also quite good -- not as sweet as I feared when I heard "caramel sauce." And fried banana and green tea for dessert. All in all I enjoyed the meal (and I was stuffed by the end of the evening), but it was the most expensive meal I've had on this trip so far.

Anyway, no pictures for this post. I got some interesting shots in the Recoleta cemetery, but haven't sifted through and uploaded any yet. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

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5 Apr 2009 - 6:09:15 PM
Buenos Aires

Well, I've been in BsAs for a few days now, and I'm having a mostly lazy time here, which is not a bad thing. I've gotten out and about a bit, though, so I have a few pics to share. BsAs is pretty nice -- it's definitely a city I could live in. Lots to do, lots of energy, good restaurants -- only problem is it's full of thieving Argentines. Nothing's perfect, I guess. Anyway, I did a little walking tour of the Boca and Puerto Madero neighborhoods with a couple folks from the hostel one day, went to a River v Racing soccer game another (Racing won, 1-0), and today I wandered through the San Telmo feria artesenal. Some pretty cool stuff for sale, but I didn't buy anything.

come up and see me sometime
Boca's full of color and these kinds of statues. Looked like she's asking me to take her picture, doesn't it? Buenos Aires, Argentina

Evita and Che
Evita and Che, working the crowd -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

El Caminito building that's in half the Boca postcards -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Window on wall of museum -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tengo sueños de angelitos -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Periodic tango show during lunch. Got several lame pictures and this decent one. Buenos Aires, Argentina

clever pun with horse and whore
Horse and woman -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

has anyone see the bridge?
Pretty cool pedestrian bridge connecting Puerto Madero and downtown -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

Old soda water bottles for sale in the San Telmo antique and arts fair -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

scary clown for sale
Scary clowns and dolls for sale -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

hat guy
This guy seemed pretty funny, and I think he sold quite a few hats -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

There's so much to do in BsAs that I may end up staying here longer than expected, but I guess I'll see. Uruguay's just across the river, with all its lovely lighthouses -- I'll probably head there next before making my way to Iguazú Falls. Hopefully I'll cross back into Argentina before that slap a $100+ entry visa on Americans. Apparently Chile just did that a couple weeks ago. Good thing I'm not going back to Chile...

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