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Days 28-32: El Calafate

February 12th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

We left Esquel on Monday. We were planning on visiting El Chalten next, but there was not a bus going there with empty seats on Monday. We could, however go to El Calafate, which was a few hours further south. Seemed logical to go there, instead of waste a day, and then backtrack a little to El Chalten after. So we jumped on the bus. 

What I did not fully appreciate at the time, is that there are two ways to get from Esquel to El Chalten / El Calafate. The first takes the famed Ruta 40. The second takes Ruta 3. Ruta 40 is pretty much a straight shot south, while Ruta 3 is near the coast, on the opposite side of the country, and I’m guessing a 50% longer trip, distance wise. However, much of Ruta 40 is unpaved, so time wise, the trip is just about the same.

So, imagine my surprise when, in the middle of the night, I woke up and checked our location via GPS on my trusty Evo 4G (don’t hate) and discovered we were at the beach! My first thought was we got on the wrong bus, followed by we bought tickets for the wrong destination. Then I remembered people talking about the unpaved roads, and how the buses go the long way around. I went back to sleep. Only to panic briefly again, early in the morning when I realized we were still on the coast, but a lot farther south then where we were supposed to be heading. I decided it didn’t matter where I ended up, I just wanted to sleep. And sleep I did. Well, sorta. Sleeping on the buses is usually much easier than most of the planes I’ve flown, especially if you get the ‘cama’ seats. They are sort of like ‘first class’, and they recline very far and are wider than the normal seats. But still, it’s loud, there are lights, and you aren’t completely flat so it’s hard to sleep in more that just one position.

We ended up in El Calafate eventually, on Tuesday about 20 hours later, and found our way to our hostel. At first glance it seemed like the coolest one yet, and it turned out to be nice, but it still amazes me how poorly designed most of these places are. The kitchen and dining area, for example, was on the top floor, where all the heat collects. The dining room was solid windows, and the sun was intense, and it was baking in there. The problem? None of the windows open! We went one night to cook in the kitchen, and there were already several people cooking, and the place was blazing. Not to mention smokey. There were two windows in the kitchen, but only one opened. Seriously? Ventilation anyone? 

On Tuesday we decided to go see the glacier Perito Moreno. There are several options for doing so, and we chose to simply walk the viewing platforms directly in front of the glacier. We were there a couple of hours, and most of that time was spent waiting for large ‘calving’ events, where pieces of the glacier break away and fall into the lake. I did end up seeing a few and getting them on video. It’s a pretty amazing site, and the glacier is just enormous, going as far as the eye can see

On Wednesday we went to the Glacier Museum. That was actually quite interesting. We had been wondering how glaciers had formed, how they worked, etc. All our questions were answered there. It is actually a quite dramatic and spectacular process, and I’m really glad we spent the day there.

Friday, we went on the ‘Big Ice’ trek. We took a boat across the lake, then hiked for 45 minutes through the forest. After donning harnesses and crampons we headed out onto the ice for over three hours of ‘trekking’. We had been hoping to actually go ‘into’ the ice, like into some crevasses or caves, but alas we were only only able to walk on it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty amazing, and I really want to spend some more time hiking, climbing, and descending into glaciers in the future. They are beautiful and awe inspiring. The most amazing thing to me were the rivers ON TOP of the glacier. And even small pools of water. It reminded me of a water park. You could literally grab a inner tube and ride down the river and into pool of water. There were a few small holes where the water running on top of the ice would suddenly descend down into it. I would love to repel into one. I found one that was only about a foot in diameter, and did not have water running into it, but I could hear water running. I peeked down into it, and maybe 20 feet down could see what looked like a raging river of water. Glaciers have a network of rivers, streams and lakes inside them, constantly changing and morphing, and to go inside and explore them would be so awesome.

Saturday, we were planning on moving on to El Chalten. While having breakfast in the lobby of the hostel that morning, I met Sandra from Switzerland. She had been traveling for only a week with a companion, who at 2AM the previous night, when arriving at the bus station, told her he was going his own way, and bailed on her. Super lame thing to do to someone who I discovered as time went on was a really cool girl.

 We talked a couple hours about our travels, about life in Switzerland, etc. She was heading in the opposite direction, so I gave her my recommendations of going to Chaitén and Futaleufu. We said our goodbyes, and we hopped on the bus to El Chalten.

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Days 26-27: Esquel, Argentina

February 6th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

We spent two nights in Esquel, Argentina. There is not a whole lot to do. Khristian and my parents had already been there a couple days, and I guess they did a hike. The first night I was there Khristian and I walked up to a lake to check out the sunset. Wasn’t all that exciting, and the walk was along a dusty dirt road, again not that exciting. There was a really cool cat there, though.

Close to the lake was a ranch house with dogs, a horse, some sheep I think, and who knows what else. While we were looking at the lake this cat walked up and stopped about 20 feet from us, and just sat there and watched what we were doing.  Then I called it over, and it came running, and seemed to be super excited. I pet it, and from that moment on it was my best friend. It followed me every where I went. When I stopped walking, it would start rubbing it’s head on my feet. As I walked, it would run alongside me, crouching down in the grass, like it was hunting, then it would leap out at me like it was attacking. It was really cool. I don’t normally see myself as ever owning a cat, but if I could have one like that one, I’m in. 

The next day we road the ‘La Trochita’ train. It’s one of only a few ‘narrow gauge’ trains still running in the world, powered by a steam engine. It used to be a primary form of transportation until not veery long ago. Now it’s just a tourist trap, and while it was interesting, I was expecting it to be more in the mountains.  It ran only in the foothills, and ended at a small market with locally artisans. I did end up buying a bombilla for my mate cup, that I still had not purchased at this point. 

The next morning the parents were off to the bus stop and heading back to Buenos Aires. A few hours larder, Khristian and are were on the bus for a 22 hour ride to El Calafate. 

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Days 9-14 Bariloche, Refugio Lopez, and Refugio Frey.

January 24th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

Wednesday, January 19th. 

Wednesday was uneventful. More checking out the town, hiking in the hills to take photos of the lake, reading about things to do and trying to make plans. We are starting to realize the need to spend at least some time planning ahead so that we don’t waste a day doing nothing.

Oh, and Khristian met his childhood hero:

Khristian and his childhood hero

We did finally find a Mexican restaurant to eat at, but that was a bit disappointing. We received some coupons from a guy on the street that promised a free margarita. No need to ask us twice, we’re there! (on a side note, the coupon mentioned in big bold letters that the food was NOT spicy. That should have been a clue to what we were in for). We got our free margaritas, straight from the machine that was making them. They were small, had little or no tequila, and sugar on the rim. Certainly not what my taste buds were anticipating. Then came the bread (sourdough?) and salsa. Strike two. Finally, my tacos, beans and rice. The tacos were actually pretty good. The beans and rice a bit bland. Overall, not the worst Mexican I’ve ever had, and under the circumstances, I did enjoy it. 

Thursday we decided to go for a hike to a Refugio called Lopez, on Cerro Lopez. It was supposed to be a 6 hour return. We took a 30 minute bus ride to Catedral. At the trailhead was a food stand, where we ate panchos (hot dogs) with potato chips on top. Also really good, but not something I would eat regularly. The hike started out tough right away, and didn’t ease up until the last couple miles. It was really steep, and seemed to go straight up the mountainside, with very few switchbacks. I completely overdressed. When we arrived in Bariloche it was raining, windy and cold. The next day it not raining, but the wind and cold did not let up. The lake was covered in white-capped waves. And there was talk it might start raining again on Thursday where we were going hiking. So, I broke out my cold weather gear, and piled it on. Not only was it not raining there, it was sunny and hot. I gradually stripped down to shorts and a T. Unfortunately, because I was planning on being bundled up I didn’t put on any sunscreen and I regretted it. That night blisters formed on my nose and I woke up in the middle of the night with water leaking out of them and down my face. I hate when that happens.

The Refugio was kind of cool. The view from up there was spectacular. There was more hiking to be had higher up, but it was much more difficult, and a combination of being tired and fear if trip ruining injury kept us from attempting it. There will be plenty of hikes to come.

Which brings me to Friday and Frey. Another popular Refugio, Frey is a bit further in the mountains than Lopez. We had made a reservation for 4 to stay the night there, but my parents opted out so it was just K and I. The trail we took starts at the bottom of the renowned ski resort Cerro Catedral. The first couple miles are fairly easy, sort of just wrapping around the base of the mountain, with only a light elevation gain. Then the trail turns into a valley and starts climbing. But it is still a gradual climb, not the the previous hike we did. And it’s mostly in the trees, and runs along a large stream, so it’s cool, and protected from the sun. My legs were definitely worked from the day before, but not feeling too bad. I knew this was going to be a longer hike, but the fact we would not be returning until the next day made it easier. 

The were several stream crossings, many with cool wood bridges. Overall a very nice and enjoyable trail. I was surprised to see so many young kids especially up towards the top. Pretty impressive that they were able to hike so far. At one point we came to a clearing where people can set up their tents. There was a little wood hut that was build into the overhang of a very large rock. At first it seemed really cool, but once I got close I discovered that many people have burned fires inside and the small was unbearable. What a waste. It would be nice to sleep in there.

It was also at this time, when I was actually feeling pretty strong, especially considering I was coming down with something and had a nasty sore throat and horrible cough, that I noticed a sign I wish I had never seen. It said “Frey 1hs.” ugh! What energy and enthusiasm I had left disappeared instantly. It was all mental, of course, but sometimes what is in our minds is what is most important. I sat down and considered calling it quits. I felt like I had been hiking forever and my legs, only moments ago full of vim and vigor, were protesting any further duty. I sat down on a rock sighed, and tried to get my head wound the idea of another hour of hiking. 

A few minutes later we were pressing on, Actually, Khristian took off without me, so really, what choice did I have. I soon caught up to him, and we started the hardest part of the hike. This was steeper, but it was also approaching the tree line, and we could now see the jagged peaks around us. They were amazing, and a source of motivation to keep pushing. Khristian spotted some tents on the hillside, and then the Refugio was in sight. We were almost there!

Upon arrival we we’re greeted by Lucia. We told here we had reservations, but she could not find our names on her list. “No worries” she said, “we have plenty of room”. She offered us some lemonade as more hikers were arriving. 

There were a dozen or so tents that I could see, and a two small buildings. One was for people who wanted a private room, and one was the banos. There was an enclosed room on the outside of the main building that served as the kitchen and dining area for campers. Inside was another kitchen and dining area for people that wanted to buy food. They had a pretty extensive menu, and two types of draft beer. I opted for the negra, and it hit the spot. 

There seemed to be three or four employees, all women, and I was curious how much time they spend there. One had been there for 3 months, another 1 month. Their supplies are delivered by helicopter. They were working furiously on preparing the dinner, cutting vegetables, boiling this and that. We opted to eat with them, and it turned out to be really good lasagna, and a large portion. We ate dinners with people from Germany, Brazil, France, and San Diego. 

After dinner we went to get in our bunks, which was awkward because there were so many people already sleeping, it was pitch black, and every step made loud creaking noises. We rented sleeping bags, but probably could have gotten by without them, as it was plenty warm. There were unverified claims that I s’mores loudly all night. Yeah. Sure.

In the morning we had some coffee, said goodbye to some of the people we met, and started the hike back down. Overall it was a really good time, and I hope we have some more experiences that are similar.
Sunday I spent sitting around all day writing and uploading photos, trying to get caught up. I didn’t quite, and as it is, that Sunday was the 21st, and I’m writing this on the 31st. Everyone else went to some outdoor market or fair. We spent one more night in Bariloche, and then Monday morning caught a bus for Puerto Montt.

Many more pictures in my GALLERY

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Bariloche, Argentina

January 18th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

After a really long bus ride on a really nice bus, we have made it to San Carlos de Bariloche

My location: Mitre 201-299 San Carlos de Bariloche Rio Negro Argentina 41°08.040′ S, 71°18.368′ W,-71.30614

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Days 7 & 8: Bus ride to Bariloche

January 18th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

Monday, January 24

We checked out of our Hostel and took the subway to the bus station. It’s near the train station, and it is pretty big, with over 60 spots for buses to park, and dozens of companies operating their. We were a able to get tickets to Bariloche, but the bus wasn’t leaving until 5 PM. So we checked our bags in at the bus companies cargo counter, and set off to find some lunch and do some more exploring. 

We went looking for a museum that was supposed to be right across the street, but all we found was a daycare center. Let me tell you that a 2′ kiddie pool never looked so inviting. Its hot and muggy in BA in the summer. There was another museum close by, so we walked there. It was a train and machinery museum. Not very fancy or impressive as museums go, but was still interesting. I especially liked the photos of the old city and railroad station. This was a nice place back in the day. It’s sad to see it so run down and dirty now.

We also came across a park that was a memorial for a terrorist bombing that happened in 1992. A suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the Isreali Embassy, killing 29 and wounding 242. More info on Wikipedia:

We had lunch, walked around some more, kicked it in the park for while. I broke off to find some WiFi. I know our bus ride was going to be long, and I wanted to update some things. I met up with the others ate the bus station with about 20 minutes to spare, had a beer, then boarded the bus.

Bus to Bariloche

The bus is a double decker, and the ‘cama’ seats we purchased were wide and comfy, and reclined pretty far. Much better than any economy airplane seat I have ever sat in. We were looking forward to the hot meal and vino that was supposed to be served. And after about and hour or so, the attendant walked through handing everyone plastic lap trays. Tense passed out the food. It was on a little styrofoam plate, with dividers, and had utensils, condiments, some bread, and dessert. But not much of a meal. I was feeling disappointed until he came by a second time and handed out some tinfoil covered bowl. Inside was some really good chicken and macaroni. Now my impression has improved quite a bit. That is until he comes back around handing out styrofoam cups and pouring a small portion of Coke for each passenger. Really? Not even a choice? My impression sank even further when he was back around again I what seemed like five minutes to pickup all the trays and cups. I wasn’t finished, and still had my dessert to eat.

The ride was 20 hours, and there were two more meals, which we decent, and several movies, including Forrest Gump. I took advantage of the time to do some reading and to catch up on writing about our trip.

There was one pretty amusing incident: we stopped at a bus station and were told we were going to be there 10 minutes. It was a pretty big station and many people we getting off. I wanted to use the restroom, because I heard bad stories about the the bus lavatory, and was trying hard to avoid using it. So I got off the bus, as did the rest of my family. 

Followed them inside and toward the restroom. Without getting into detail, I hadn’t been feeling well the last couple days. So I was concerned a out taking to long, and really tried to hurry. Still, I thought I had plenty of time. When I walked back outside, there were two buses, neither of which was mine, which was a Via Bariloche.  I looked around frantically and did not see it or any of my family. A moment later, a a VB bus came around the building,a dan I thought to myself “oh great, I missed the bus and it took off without me, and my family had to beg the drive to go back and get me. I m NEVER going to live this down”. The. I saw my dad and Khristian walking across the parking lot. It turns out they all thought the bus left without them as well. My dad even ran out into the street to chase it down, or at least what he thought was it. Turns out there were several similar busses there, and they typically drop off passengers, then drive around the back to pickup cargo, refuel, empty trash, etc.  Then they drive back to the front to pickup the passengers again. And sure enough, a few minutes later, here was our bus pulling. We hall discussed the various feelings of panic we felt, laughed at our reactions, and learned to never get off the bus without your passport, money and camera. 

The scenery on the way to Bariloche was reminiscent of highway 395 through the high desert. Except the sky seemed to be a richer blue. I think perhaps the air is a lot cleaner? You can see forever, and the clouds were amazing. There were several large lakes that looked very inviting as well.

Once in Bariloche, we took a cab into centro, tried to use the internet to look up a hostel, found most of them booked, and realized we needed to start planning a few days ahead of time. We ended u just walking into a place off the street, got a room, unloaded, showered, and headed out to explore the town. 

This is a really cool town, right on the edge of a huge lake, Nahuel Huapi. It’s s resort town, with one of Argentina’s best ski resorts,  Cerro Catedral. Too bad it’s not winter! The couple main streets in town are packed with tourist type stores and shops. Lots of chocolate, outdoor gear, and restaurants. And it’s quite busy. Some of the cars here are classic. Really old, but still running strong, some not so strong. Pedestrians, as in BA, cross streets at their own risk it seems. There are many uncontrolled intersections, and people just go when the feel like it is safe.

We had dinner in an Irish pub. I had a meat pot pie that was really good.
Pot Pie

Many more pictures in my GALLERY

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Days 5 & 6: The Recoleta and Tren de la Costa

January 16th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

Saturday January 15

On Saturday we walked about 12 blocks to the famous Recoleta cemetery, where many famous people are buried. The neighborhood around it is much nicer and more upscale than any we visited so far. The streets are clean and in good repair, and there are lots of high end shopping. Fur coats, jewelry, that type of thing.

The Recoleta was built in 1822. It’s quite ridiculous. The size of some of the tombs is quite large. Many are obviously very old, with some in dire need of maintenance. Broken glass, weeds growing inside. Some were very modern looking, some very creepy. Altogether, pretty amazing, and yet I could not help but feel sorry for the people who put so much time and effort into them, thinking some how it made any kind of difference to their dead loved ones.

Outside the Recoleta was a small arts and crafts market. People selling all sorts if jewelry, leather goods, etc. Also there is a very large tree. Probably the most impressive tree I have ever seen. You could probably sit several hundred people in it’s shade.

Sunday we took the Tren de la Costa to Tigre. First you catch a train at the Retiro train station, which is quite old and very cool, to Mitre. Then hop on the Tren de la Costa to Tigre. Altogether about a 45 minute ride?

The is a small amusement park there, with some roller coasters and ferris wheel, etc., lots of resaurants, and a lot of boat tours. We were actually okanning to take a boat tour around the Delta, which is supposed to be very interesting, but it started raining about 15 minutes after we arrived. It was really crazy, because there we’re many people out and about, all dressed for the summer whether, and within minutes the wi d was howling and the rain was pouring, and the lightning and thunder were striking. Fortunately we ducked into a restaurant just in time to get a seat, because it became standing room only real quick. It was pretty entertaining watching all the people scrambling around outside, most of them completely drenched, trying to get to their cars, the bus, or just anywhe out of the rain. I think many of them were on the boats when it started raining, most of which were open air types. Had we been an hour earlier, the same thing would have happened to us.

After lunch we hurried back to the train station. My mom had plastic shopping bags on her feet to keep her shoshone dry. My dad was carrying an old cardboard box over his head. I got wet, but my clothes dried quickly. And after another hour and two train rides back to Buenos Aires, our trip to Tigre was a over.

There were actually some really cool neighborhoods we passed through on the train. Some very big houses, mansions, not quite on the beach. Tree was also a really bad slum area just as you are leaving the train station. Looks similar to the areas you see in the hills in Mexico just over the border from San Diego.


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Day 4: Visiting the Branch

January 14th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

Friday January 14

After breakfast, Khristian and I hopped on the ‘subte’ and headed to the branch. I never visited a branch before so I didn’t know what to expect. We arrived there about 1PM, but the first afternoon tour wasn’t until 2. So we waited out in the front porch and got some sleep. 

We ended up taking 3 tours. The first was of the kingdom hall and the living quarters. There were 6 or 7 buildings in all. The main used to be a doctors office, the rest were built by the brothers. There was a 300? seat Kingdom Hall that was use by the Bethelites for the ‘family worship’ study if the Watchtower. It was also used by other congregations in the area, though I forget how many. 

It was a slow day, and there weren’t many people around. I think there are about 260 brothers and sisters living there? They are bursting at the seems and in need of expansion. 

Next we went to the office, just two blocks away. We got a tour from Marcus, whom we met at the English meeting the night before. This was his first tour in English so we were helping him out. We went through the legal offices, the several film studios, the translation department. They are doing sign language translation, and also two native languages of northern Argentina. 

When we got to the computer department, and I saw a cabinet full of old computer parts, I told Marcus I was a computer engineer, and so he jokingly asked me to take over the tour for him. Then he asked if I wanted to see the computer room. It’s not on the normal tour, but he was going to pull some strings. Sweet!

He found Steve, one of the IT guys, who misunderstood and thought we were brothers from IT in New York. He breathed a sigh of relief, and then happily showed us the server room and answered all my questions about their environment. They were in the process if migrating all their old servers to virtual servers. Impressive. I could work here…. Except for the hideously slow Internet speeds 🙁

Thanks Marcus and Steve!

Next was the printery where we were guided so graciously by Gustavo. They have an old Harris printer they inherited from Brooklyn. They print 1,500,000 magazines a month.  They ship magazines all over northern Argentina with two trucks. Soon they will be shipping to Santiago, Chile as well, providing for all of Chile, who currently get their literature from Columbia. Apparently there are problems with that. The trucks will have to climb up over the Andes, through a very high pass that is often closed for days and weeks due to snow. Magazines for the southern half if the country are shipped using a commercial company. It’s cheaper that way.

There was a pretty impressive machine shop, where they do repairs or create parts for the various machines, and also manufacture fluorescent light fixtures, door jams, and even mixing board chassis for the kingdom halls. There is also a very large paint booth. I think it was originally used for painting buses.

We didn’t get to see any of the machines in action, because it was late. Actually, they stayed late for us because we took so long at the office tour.

Thank you Gustavo for waiting and for the excellent tour.

My camera battery was dead, so I did not get any photos. Khristian did, but I’ll have to wait until we get home to post them. 

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Day 3: New hostel and exploring the city.

January 13th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

We had breakfast at the hotel, then spent some time researching hostels in a better part if the city. We decided to check out the HostleSuites Obelisco, which was just two block from the Obelisk and right in the middle of all the action downtown. It turned out to be a cool place, so we booked 4 nights. The first night, Khristian and I were in a dorm room with a girl from Columbia and a guy from Brazil. My parents had their own room. The next three night the four of us were together in the same room.

The hostel had a pool table, movie room with free movies, a bar, free breakfast, and organized a lot of events, although we did not participate in any of them.

We could not check-in until later, so we put our bags in storage and went for a walk down to Puerto Madero, an old abandoned shipping area. They gutted the old brick warehouses renovated them into offices and restaurants. There are several high rise condominiums on the water as well.
Old shipping yard

High rise condos

We came across a demonstration that was taking place in the street that was pretty amusing. About 60 people banging drums and carrying signs, standing in front of a bank. I think it was some kind of labor dispute. It was actually well organized, with police handling traffic redirection.

We saw many of the more popular landmarks, including Plaza de Mayo, where many important events have take place in Argentina’s political history, none of which I can recall at the moment.

The famous Obelisco

.What I can recall is the endless supply of incredible buildings. Most of them are old, and very ornate. Down every street for as far as the eye can see, amazing architecture. Don’t ask me the style, era or influence because I am ignorant of such things. But I think mostly Spanish, obviously. The down side is many of the buildings are not well taken care of. They are dirty, and worn. As are the streets. I’ve not traveled many large cities in foreign countries, so perhaps BA is typical. But there is trash everywhere. There are parts of the city we visited that were clean, but downtown was filthy. And it stinks. But it’s alive and bustling, with people everywhere going in every direction at all hours. Pretty chaotic, actually.

After a long day walking around, we had a nap, then out to find some grub. It was at this time I started realizing how limited the options were for food. Pretty much every restaurant had the same basic choices. Hamburgers, fries, pizza and related (calzones, etc.), steak, or sandwiches. And by sandwich, I mean ham and cheese on withe bread with the crust cut off. And the annoying thing is that each items comes in various levels. For example, if you simply order “hamberguesa’, you get a hamburger patty. That’s it. Then there’d are about 5 levels of more sophisticated hamburgers, up to the ‘complete’ which has all the trimmings. I ordered a turkey sandwich, and it was thin white bread and a few slabs of turkey. It was the driest sandwich in the history of dry sandwiches. My point is that no matter how far you walk, it seems like all the place have pretty much the same menu. It got old real fast.

On the upside, the restaurants are all nice. All the tables are setup in advance with place settings. All have tablecloth. And all the waiters are professional. I was told that waiting tables it not something college kids do in their part time, but it is a career people take serious. It’s true, most of the waiters were older, almost always dressed nice, with a vest and a bow tie. They don’t bother with ‘how is everything’ or ‘I’ll just leave the check for whenever you are ready’. They stand back and wait for you to beckon them when you need them. It’s a much nicer dining experience compared to what I am used to at home.

There is very little ‘fast food’. Pretty much everywhere you get waited on. There are, however several McDonalds and Burger Kings around town. I was really tempted on one occasion when I was by myself looking for something quick. Many of the items on the menus I am unfamiliar with, and I was starving. McDonalds would have been the easy way out.

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Hostelsuites Obeliscos

January 13th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*


Haven’t had time to make any in depth updates, but
we are staying at the Hostel Obelisk in downtown Buenos

My location: Suipacha 401-499 Buenos
Aires Capital Federal Argentina 34°36.150′ S, 58°22.774′ W,-58.37956

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Day 1 & 2: The Plane Ride, BA, and KH.

January 12th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

We left LAX the afternoon of January 11th, flying LAN Airlines. I think this is the biggest plane I have ever been in. 7 seats across. Video screens in every seat. Ended up having two meals, watching two movies, and takin a long couple naps on the fourteen hour flight (including a a90 minute stopover in Lima, Peru. We landed in Buenos Aires around 8 AM local time, which is 3 am back home. Had a bit of jet lag all day)


We took a two hour bus ride into the city which in itself was an adventure. There are clearly no limits on passenger occupancy. Met some guys from Holland who were going to be traveling all over South America for up to a year. They had ridiculously large and heavy bags, weighing a claimed
50-60 pounds. And one of them was just a duffle. No matter how many times I showed them on my GPS they were going the right way, they kept wanting to get off the bus because they thought they were missing their street. I finally stopped trying to convince them, and they exited miles away from their destination.

We met my parents at their hotel south of downtown. Even though it cost more than I wanted to spend, they were already booked for another night, so it was just more convenient to stay there as well.

We got settled in then took a walk to an Italian restaurant that was recommended to me for some pizza and wine. It was an old restaurant, as most of them are, with a lot of history. There were thousands of photos of what I assumed were Argentine movie stars, directors, singers, and other celebrities. Buenos Aires had it’s own version of Hollywood back in the day, and it was pretty glamorous.

After eating it was back to the hotel to shower and change for the meeting. But first we stopped to ask the guy manning the corn err magazine rack if hey could dict us to a barber. He asked if we wanted a good one, or an OK one. We opted for whichever was closer, and point to the building firefly behind us, which had a barber. (this would be just one of many occasions where we would ask for directions to some place that was right in front if us). Khristian got a cut, I got a buzz from an old school barber with a while shelf full of old school equipment. I thought for sure he would be awesome. And he was. His style anyway. His skills, not so much.(I end up using my multiple-tool the next day to trim the places he missed) I did appreciate the after-shave doused into a large ball of cotton that he used to wipe down my neck, forehead and face. It was a nice touch.

After a quick shower, we had a short taxi ride to the Kingdom Hall. It was the nicest Kingdom Hall I have ever seen. 3 stories, with multiple halls (3 or 4?), modern interior, glass doors with brushed metal trim and security gates. Really nice.

Buenos Aires Kingdom Hall

There is only one English group int the whole country. We attended the Book Study and Ministry School in English, but the Service Meeting n Spanish.

After, we met a lot of the brothers and sisters, and ended up going out to eat dinner with them. Dinner is usually really late, with crowds not showing up until after 11PM. One brother mentioned he never gets home after the meeting before midnight. We had our first of many steak and fries. The steak was OK, and I was told it was usually much better, but the fries were amazing.

We finally said goodbye to the friends and walked back to the hotel for some sleep. (I was so tired, I barely made it through the meetings)

More to come. Pictures too when I get a chance.

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