Argentina is my Puerto of entry. See, I'm basically fluent in Spanish already. Heh, so I obviously have a long way to go but I'm very much enjoying learning. I have a very basic understanding of French and it has somewhat transferred into Spanish which has helped me with forming small sentences and asking if it is possible to ride a bus somewhere and how much that bottle of malbec is. Malbec is fucking delicious by the way. I'm surprised I haven't been exposed to it from my vino loving parents.
Before I get too much off track, I'll explain what I've been up to this last week or so. As I said, I flew into Buenos Aires which was a nice relaxing journey with south African airlines. I paid way too much for a taxi to my hostel in San telmo. San telmo is basically backpacker central and seemed 'backpackerish' and rather central. It borders on an area of b.a called La Boca which the lonely planet guide says one should exercise extreme caution and that there is a police officer situated on roads that are known crime spots, directing tourists away. I didn't see any of this, mind you. La Boca is very cool. I walked through the markets, witnessed a political rally and sat down at a cafe and ordered a coffee and some churros.
That night I booked something called the Argentine experience. I'll explain in detail how the night went down because it was worth every penny and I would recommend it to anyone fresh off the plane. We arrive in this storefront restaurant and are greeted with a wine cocktail called a malbeca. It contains crushed lime, sugar syrup, malbec, apple juice and pisco. Very nice. Cocktail in hand, we are ushered to a table with 20 wine glasses, all with a fragrance bottle inside. It is our job to test our noses and pin point the individual fragrances and flavors often associated with wine. I scored a measly 1 out of 20. I was rocking a very heavy cold mind you and clearly would have sported a perfect score if I was healthy and in my prime.
Games aside, it was time to eat... And drink... And also drink. We sat at a bar as a very witty and bubbly gentleman (perhaps from the wine?), taught us how to make 3 separate wine based cocktails each with a delicious tapas to compliment it. One word. Incredible. The first tapas was a skewered red pepper, mushroom and cube of beef. My first experience of beef in Argentina and I have to say it lives up to the hype. After our introduction to some of the flavours we would be experiencing that night we are brought up stairs to a table and taught how to make empanadas. Sort of like a pastie crossed with a meat pie. Using the technique they showed us where you pull and twist the pastry to seal it, I had created my first empanada and in turn, ate my first empanada. Also delicious. I have to add by this time I was already quite full and quite drunk from the apparently never ending wine supply.
The main course was simple and classic. Baked vegetables and a great big juicy steak. The best I've ever tried. Firstly the cows are bred and fed in a different way and secondly the method in which the protein is cooked is complex. The chef starts by leaving the meat overnight in the fridge with a salt and pepper season causing it to form a sort of crust, then the meat is taken out the next day and left to room temperature. After it is at room temperature it is cooked to your liking. Very juicy. By the end of the night I was satisfied with my over indulgent evening. It didn't end there though. One of the waiters took me and my friends out to a house that had been converted to host parties. By the time I was back at the hostel, I was destroyed. Asleep before my head hit the pillow. 2 more days in Buenos Aires and on to the university city of salta. Museums, flowers made from old aeroplane panels, ridiculous amounts of food and too much wine. We had realized that b.a was burning a serious hole in our wallets so the plan is to head north for Bolivia.
Highly notable - The best red meat I have tasted, some delicious wines and utterly and completely ridiculously outrageously gorgeous looking women. I think I'm going to keep working on my Spanish and move to b.a and work as a bike tour guide.