Week 10 - Tigre - Buenos Aires and Mendoza

A day by day account of the first week in our 2022 travels through South America, Mexico, USA and Canada.

Thursday 7th April 2022

The morning began with me teaching 4 pupils in China on Zoom from 8am to 10am while Megan prepared for the day and made coffees. We then got straight to work on the garden and finishing what we had started the day before. Raking up leaves, transferring the waste so a separate location via wheelbarrow and creating wood piles. We then spent the evening planning our next steps. At some point we squeezed in food and a bit of relaxing.

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Friday 8th April 2022

Today we had to leave our WorkAway in Tigre, as Cato had a paying customer booked in for the weekend in the cottage. While Megan taught two online classes 8am until 10am, I made the coffee’s, packed our bags and gave the apartment a tidy. We were expecting to have to leave by 10:30, but He messaged us from the city (Tigre centre) to say that he was taking care of some things and would be back for 1pm, so we took the opportunity to have a leisurely breakfast and do some writing, working and planning on our laptops. He picked us up at 1, and we had one last sail down the river to San Fernando port, where he dropped us off and we said our final goodbyes. We then walked through the town to the train station and travelled back to Retiro station in the centre of Buenos Aires. We then took the tube to our IBIS hotel, that we had booked for two nights, just before we left this morning. After all the moving around we had been doing, we decided that we deserved a night out, so we wandered Bueno Aires as the sun went down and then returned to the San Telmo area and visited some bars.

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Saturday 9th April 2022

Today we decided to venture out on our own as Megan wanted to visit the Eva Peron museum and I wanted to visit the Boca Juniors football stadium - La Bombonera. We both took walks to these places taking in some of the cities amazing parks along the way. One great thing to do here is sit and watch the Tango dancers moving beautifully and slowly around the band-stands. There are no photos of that because the dance feels to intense and personal to be trivializing it with a touristic photo.

We joined each other again just before sunset to sit at a cafe on the edge of the city square that we were staying near with a couple of drinks.

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Sunday 10th April 2022

In order to save on money, and due to the fact that we have to be at the airport at around  4am tomorrow, we decided to check-out of the Ibis today with the plan to fill our night with activities such as the cinema and then start the journey there at about 2am. The bus would take an hour anyway. The one problem with the early check-out was having all of our bags on our person, all day. We decided to message a Hostel from the WorkAway website, in the hopes that we could maybe exchange an hour or two working there for bag storage for the day. The Hostel replied almost immediately and said that we were fine to take our bags there for safe-keeping and they did not want us to do any work in return. The benevolence of the traveling community continues to please us every day.

Between dropping our bags around lunch-time, and collecting them at 8pm we walked to the east side of the city and to the coast that looks across to Uruguay. On that coast, there is a massive park and Eco-reserve in which you can enjoy many different plants, trees and wild birds/animals. The walk through here ends at the shore, where you can walk along the rocks, find a place to sit and relax and look out over the sea. We did that for a good couple of hours. We then walked back to the entrance, which is where this almost-island connects back to the cities mainland. There we stumbled upon an open area that had what seemed to be an outdoor rock and roll meets tango, dancing session. It reminded us a lot of the Norther Soul sessions back in England, with the Dj spinning variating tempo's of tunes while the attendees got up to each song they liked and just danced away the afternoon. It was amazing to see and a beautiful example of the human spirit.

We picked up our bags at 8pm and the evening was then all about surviving until the flight at 6am.  We first got some food at KFC and then headed to a small coffee shop to wait for our film at the cinema which was on at 22:20. We watched a film called 'C'mon, C'mon', A film starring Joaquin Phoenix, in which he plays a radio journalist that ends up looking after his nine-year-old nephew, who then becomes interested in the recording process as their relationship begins fractious but then ends with a very powerful family and mentor relationship. A very moving film that had us both leaving the cinema contemplating the rest of our lives and what our next moves might be after this stint of traveling. As we left the cinema, we were met with torrential rain that lasted for a good few hours until we got on the bus to the airport. We left the cinema and took shelter in the entrance to Mcdonalds, which is also where we dwell when we need free WI-FI. Due to the amount of rain, the Uber app was coming up with nothing constantly for a good half-hour, so we decided to walk a couple of miles to the main square where most of the buses seemed to go from. We took advice from a stranger who sent us to the wrong bus-stop, which led to an hour of waiting at a bus shelter for a bus that was never going to arrive. After a day of 30,000 steps, we were flagging a ittle and just really needed this bus. We went into a 24 hour a shop where the cashier put us right on which bus stop to be at. We then had another 45 minute wait and boarded the bus at about 3am. We then got the number 8 bus from Plaza de Mayo, which is very cheap and goes straight to the airport, Although at this time of night full of the type of characters you would expect at this time in a major city. Our bags got barricaded in a corner and held tightly for the duration.

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Monday 11th April 2022

As we did an all-nighter it is hard to know where to end Sunday and Start Monday, but we eventually got to airport just after 4 am and flew to Mendoza at 6am. We landed in Mendoza at 8am and got the shuttle bus from the airport into the center of the city. We then walked to Godoy Cruz football stadium, as we had seen online that tickets for the matches went on sale on monday mornings. We got there after about 30 minutes of waking with all our bags, only to be told that we had again been given information that was not entirely correct. The time was right but the day was wrong. The helpful facilities manager gave us his Whats-app number and told us to message him in a couple of days for the exact prices and ways to get tickets. We then went to a cafe next door to the stadium and got Coffee and Alfajores (An Argentinian sandwich style cake). After this little energy boost we walked another 20 minutes to another Mcdonalds where Augustine picked us up to take us to his house in Luján de Cuyo.

When we arrived, we met his partner Etu and he showed us around his amazing home and their workshop / office. Augustine is a violin maker and Etu is a software engineer. Augustine is also an all round engineer and handy-man, and it was amazing to see the building that he had built on his property and the resourceful and impressive ways in which he had constructed things and solved problems. It was humbling to see what one person was capable of when they devote their life to something. he had built his garage with a converted 40 foot shipping container, a two-story workshop of stone and wood and a pool house. Just an incredible place. We also met their 6 cats and 3 dogs, all very interesting and with very differing personalities. We spent about an hour with these.

Following a whirlwind day of being introduced to a new city, a new culture, a new family and a new set of plans, we were taken to the local Chinese supermarket for any supplies we might need. For the couple this was an every-day trip to the shops, but for us it was a ride of never seen before landscapes and views. This area in the south of Mendoza is built on a desert-type landscape, which is incredibly flat for miles, until the mountains dominate the skyline to the west, behind which are the Andes mountains and Chile. Through conversation, we worked out that all of us had a shared love of curry, so our hosts made us a late dinner of Chicken curry before a much-needed sleep after a good two solid days.

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Tuesday 12th April 2022

I got up at 7:30 in order to teach online from 8 until 10am this morning. I made a coffee, and then made my way to the voilin workshop to set up my laptop. The couple we are living with go to bed very late and start work at their own leisure, so it was the most appropriate place to teach, as to not wake anybody else.  Augustine told me to open the shutters if I needed additional light. I got there, opened the windows and the shutters and was met by the most amazing view. The red sun rising, crossing the desert type , flat landscape and hitting the mountains that led to the Andes. Megan came to the workshop at 9 and taught for an hour downstairs. We both finished at 10am and had coffee and toast, reclined in the garden joined by the couples' cats and dogs.

Augustine came to us with some local information that he had acquired. He had found out that due to this weekend being Easter weekend, there was a week-long classical music festival called 'Música Clásica por los Caminos del Vino 2022'. It is a festival in which classical music artist perform special one of gigs at the famous wineries, museums, art galleries and churches here. We had 63 individual performances to look through and see what we fancied. Following breakfast I cleaned around the workshop and filled some rubbish bags as Augustine carried on with his violin cases. Megan worked on our next Youtube video release about our trip to Ushuaia and things to do there (on a budget). I then cleaned the pool and decided that it was only right that I should go for a swim in it following this. I was in no way ready for how cold the water was going to be.

We made tea for our hosts in the evening and kept it warm until they finished working at about 11pm. We made spicy pasta bolognese and tagliatelle, which went down a treat, as we were all very hungry by then.

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Wednesday 13th April 2022

Megan got up 8am to do a quick 30 minute reading class with her Chinese pupils from 08:30 to 09:000 and then returned to bed. I think the constant moving and the all-nighter on Sunday night finally caught up with us, as we crashed back out and did not stir again until lunch time. We then got up and had a big talk with one of our hosts Etu regarding work required for the rest of the week and plans to see what we wanted to see while we are here. Due to them hosting many Couch-Surfers, as well as WorkAway's, they are very relaxed in regards to whether we do work or not. she mentioned that it would be nice if the car got cleaned and the lawn got mowed. We also mentioned to her that we wanted to get into the mountains at some point; visit the hot-springs and do some rafting. Also visit the famous wineries in this area. She talked us through a few options and told us where we could rent bikes etc. So then we set to work on forming a plan for the coming week, regarding work and experiences. First up was to research buses to Chile from here, as we had to know exactly what day was most appropriate to leave. As we wanted to stay at least a week, had a lot to fit in and needed somewhere as steady as this to teach our lessons on Monday and Tuesday, we found a bus that left Mendoza at 08:30 next Wednesday morning, which seemed quite appropriate.

As Megan worked on some of her ongoing projects in the house, I went to Augustine's workshop with him and started to learn about and also help him with his current project of carbon-fiber, instrument case making. I am hoping to learn some of the techniques associated with this and also see his current Cello case through from a square piece of polystyrene, to a finished lightweight case. Its a very long process which takes many days and a lot of patience. Sanding the polystyrene to the exact specification sizes of the case; making a mold from plastic; making the actual usable part of the case from carbon fiber sheets and epoxy resin/catalyst, waiting a day while the top and bottom of the case dries; then sanding to a perfect finish; painting and adding the hinges and locking mechanism. Not forgetting in this 'case', wheels for one of this size.

Megan also sent the drone up to get some great video shots of the local area. We then went to the local shop and got ingredients for a spicy spaghetti bolognese and returned the gesture of making dinner for our hosts. We then passed the night with a lot of conversation before bed.

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