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October 2016

Peaceful Punta del Diablo

My Spanish skills has increased a lot since the start of my travel in South America. Perhaps not the biggest of achievements since it was pretty much limited to: «Hola! Una cerveza, por favor.» Even though my vocabulary has grown a lot, there is a big difference in knowing the meaning of a word – and to know what it actually means. Compare it to hearing someone speak – and listening to someone speak. You get me? Anyway, there is this one word the Latin-Americans use a lot: tranquilo. The meaning is easy to find in Google Translate, but the real meaning of it I first understood when I arrived to this place.

Punta del Diablo means «Tip of the Devil» – a dramatic name I must say and not describing the place at all. Tranquilo means peaceful and I would say that the devil has a pretty peaceful holiday resort here in Uruguay. Punta del Diablo is a small fishing and surfing village along the coast of Uruguay. When I write small, I really mean it – about 300 people living here. Only dirt roads and not even a ATM / cash machine. Having spent the last week in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (both big capitals) the contrast of coming here was huge. As big as the contrast was, as good it felt.

It’s still low season here, so there are almost no tourists. I was lucky sharing hostel with a guy from Hungary on the same age as me. We spent the days relaxing, exploring some of the ( what seemed like) endless beaches and I finally also got to surf a little. Seven months since last time on a board I was a little rusty and the waves were a little too fast for me, but it felt good being back in the water again and I can’t wait to have some more surf in Brazil in a few weeks.

Growing up in a really small place myself, I definitely know how it is to have stressless surroundings. But living the last 11 years in Oslo, you get a different kind of life and I must say I prefer living in a city – but I also prefer leaving as often as possible. In search of what I found in this particular spot; tranquilo.

Punta del Diablo

Busy Buenos Aires

The name Buenos Aires means “good air” and compared to some other heavily polluted cities in South America like La Paz, Cusco and São Paulo, the air sure is better here. But traveling from the southernmost city on earth, Ushuaia, it’s hard to compete with the level of freshness of the air – but I didn’t really care about that. Buenos Aires was warm, and that was what I needed right now. Arriving in blue skies and 26 degrees was a really good feeling after 8 days in cold and windy Patagonia.

It didn’t take long for me to understand that this city is big – and I mean really big! The city itself is home for about 3 million people, but the metropolitan area houses a staggering 15 million people. The same as the entire Sweden and Norway in one city. When a city is big it’s usually both busy and buzzy and BA is not an exception. The city centre is massive, crowded and with lots of traffic and we are not talking small narrow streets. Everywhere there are 4-8 lane ways with traffic pretty much all day. Spending 5 days here I only scratched the surface I think, but there is everything from bohemian areas to business districts. The standard was by far the highest so far in South America. It felt like a mix between the US and Spain – with Subway and Starbucks on every corner, and I don’t mind that – since I’m a big fan of the US.

So what did I do and what do I think about Buenos Aires?
I actually didn’t to anything special at all. After a lot of adventures I didn’t mind just doing everyday things like relaxing, working out and walking around enjoying the city – both day and night. In the other hand, that’s pretty much all you can do here. Before going here I heard a lot of people saying that it’s AMAZING! Well, it’s OK. Nothing more if you ask me. Am I negative? No, I’m picky and fortunate having visited a lot of really amazing cities which really can live up to the word amazing. For example: Cape Town, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Rio de Janeiro, Honolulu and Sydney. Those cities have high standards, they are beautiful and with lots of things / activities to do. In BA there is pretty much nothing to do besides the everyday stuff. No beaches, no hills or no nature at all. It’s just a big concrete jungle – which for me is not very entertaining. That being said; I really appreciated having some days here with good food, Starbucks and hitting the gym again. It’s soon time for the Brazilian beaches so time to get in shape 😉

buenos-aires

Ushuaia – the end of the world

When most of my friends hear the name Ushuaia, they probably think of a hotel on Ibiza. Not to blame, since it’s correct. But, it’s also a much cooler place! With cooler I mean literally COOLER – since it’s the name of the southernmost city in the world. Also called “The End of the World”.

It took me a 14 hour bus ride to get here, so you can say the dramatic name was deserved. There were two reasons for me coming here: at first it’s a lot cheaper to fly to Buenos Aires from here than from Chile, since this is Argentina and when flying over borders you have to pay a lot of flight taxes which you don’t have to do crossing borders by bus nor when taking domestic flights. The other reason, call me a tourist if you want, is just because I think it’s cool to have been here! It’s also literally cool to be here with the breeze from Antartica.

I spent 1,5 days here pretty much just walking around in the city and the nearby areas along the ocean and a small hike in the mountains. After long and hard days in Torres del Paine I felt for taking it pretty easy, so I did. The plan was actually to go on a trip or two, maybe to see penguins or take a boat trip, but I ditched that due to really high prices. When backpacking you have to prioritize your money sometimes and I simply felt that paying 150 USD to see some big birds walking around was too much when I already have seen them other places. That’s perhaps the only negative thing with Ushuaia; it’s expensive!

You would think that a place this remote should have been super safe through all times, but think again. Only back in the 80′ there was a war down here. Argentina fought against Great Britain about to whom the Falkland Islands should belong – sounds pretty silly actually. It “only” lasted a little more than 2 months but over 900 men were killed, most from Argentina which gives a clue who “won” the war – Britain. Really hard to imagine that such a peaceful and beautiful place today was a war zone for not may years ago.

I’ve now spent a week down here in Patagonia and the southern chilly areas and I must say I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather and to finally wear my favorite outfit again: tank-top. Next stop: the city which should have really good air; Buenos Aires.

Ushuaia