Home Again

We’re home. I almost wrote “we’re back”, but we’re not in the same place we started from. It has been an affecting journey and from the point of view of our purpose for Transplants in Mind, it has given us more impetus. Much more than: been there, done that. Partly because of what we had to go through to get there and partly because of the effect of Antarctica.

I’ve uploaded some photos to my flickr site as a taster, and in the coming days we’ll post some descriptions of our days travelling to and from Antarctica and being there. I’ll get the wordpress widget thing going but you can just go to www.flickr.com/frame_by_frame and find the photo set “Anatarctic Taster”.

Foxtrot Oscar

One more day in Buenos Aires and we head home. We are very conscious that this is not the end of the odyssey and that there is more work to do in our Transplants in Mind campaign. We have some GREAT pics with our sponsorship banners, which I am desparate to post, but I can´t get them uploaded here in this Internet café on Florida street.

Now that I´m not hassled by the queue for use of the one PC in the hotel, I see that the donations have gone past the 1000 pounds mark, which is a pleasing and a very good start. Thanks everybody! We have our first Ambassador in the shape of the Create Group in Sweden. I look forward to working with you when I get back.

We both feel it´s time to be home. Our hotel, the so-called Days Inn Comfort was pretty grim. It seemed a good idea to keep to a budget when we booked, but in reality, living in a box is no fun. A little research in the Rough Guide beforehand and we could have found a comfy hostel a little outside the city centre. There was a massive downpour and thunderstorm last night, and humidity is 95% today. We are just trying to keep cool and out of the sun.

Next post from Madrid airport, tomorrow lunchtime, if we have time. ..

The next whisky bar

Today, we found our Buenos Aires in the Palermo district – Palermo Soho, to be precise. It is like a cool version of Islington or Soedermalm with a design awareness of Italy. Clothes and furniture (Habitat stuff) are extremely good value and look so fresh.

Walking back to the central point Plaza Serrano, a roundabout surrounded by cafés the unmistakable sound of Miles Davis drifts out of café Malasartes – a better invitation to lunch is hard to imagine. AND they have microbrewed beer. I´m really suprised by the beer culture here: It´s dominated by Quilmes, but everywhere seems to have a micro – 2 in Ushuaia. Negra beers (stouts) seem to be the in drinks which Cim finds especially pleasing.

We are up for a real steak dinner and find a smart-looking but reasonably-priced grillados restaurant and book a table for later on the patio. When we turn up, it´s the perfect temperature for sitting out and the service is impeccable. It seems appropriate to choose the grilled riñones (kidneys) as a starter and we share a huge and tasty sirloin piece which would have fed four.

One more item on the agenda: the bar “Ocho7Ocho” (878 Thames) eight blocks north. Tipped off by an article in the Guardian as being one of the top ten bars in BA with an impressive collection of whiskies. The place is completely unmarked – no window to the street, no sign, no lights – just a tall, heavy wooden door and two guys in suits outside. It reminds me of that episode in Tombraider where you´re not supposed to attack the Bhuddist monks and they end up fighting for you – Perhaps they´ll only allow us in if we know we´re allowed to go in.

Inside it is like a converted church, dark and spartan. They do have a long shelf of whiskies about half of which are malts. We choose a Clynelish 14 and a Balvenie Doublewood. Leo the head barman pours us half a bottle each, and gets on with his mixology. The attention to detail is amazing – flavouring the ice with the spirits before chucking it down the sink. I pose him for a photo with a bottle of Ardbeg before he orders a taxi home.

The demonstrations (football riots?) have calmed, as has the traffic, well at least compared to the trip to the restaurant, which felt like being in a car chase with five million cars, taxis, lorris, and cyclists (!) . These old guys just swerve in and out while we desparately try to put the brakes on from the back seat. We are going to need to chill tomorrow (today?) before we fly out in the evening.

Tango Bravo, take two

Yesterday was also a public holiday for Easter we discovered when meeting Sabine. She couldn´t belive how quiet the city was. As I type , I can understand what she meant: it´s extremely noisy out there. Still, it´s perhaps a gentle introduction that you need after being away from the big city.

How great to have a guide when you are new to Buenos Aires. It´s a BIG place and with our limited castellano (spanish), a bit intimidating. Sabine was a star and took us past the Casa Rosada government building, where there was a customary demonstration going on (complete with Gentle Giant style drum bash) and across the women´bridge to lunch. We only know each other because of a common interest in 70s band Gentle Giant and met up because of the Internet community we belong to.

The Plaza de Mayo was full of the demonstration making nonsense of the Silencio signs posted at the entrance of the Cathedral. Still, it was a welcome break from the heat. She introduced us to the delights of Havanna´s extremely sweet Dulce de Leche chocs and on a sugar rush we retired for a couple of hours siesta before the Tango Show.

Despite having the wrong date for the show , it didn´t seem to be a problem, and the minibus picked us up, first as it turned out. The next tourists for tpickup were at the intercontinental hotel which put our grim little establishment to shame.

You never know with these toursit things if they’re going to be naff or not. This was most definitely the real deal. Dinner was excellent, with an forerib of veal to die for, so it was worth it my little bovine friend. The place (ElQuarandi) was an intimate affair and smartly turned out. The show itself had the Tango band on stange (piano, bandoen, double bass, and violin. The dancers were great (as I´m sure Cim will tell you) and the evening told the story of Tango in music dance and song. Highly recommended.

The minibus journey back dropped us off second so we pretended we were headed for the boutique hotel next door, and headed off to a bar for a nightcap.

Tango Bravo

Easter Monday, BA turns out to be very quiet and it´s hard to get an impression of the city other than it is hot today. We have planned a Tango show and dinner but the date on our ticket is for 24 April. Also we are to meet Sabine from the Gentle Giant mailing list.

More later

Arrival in Buenos Aires

This is a bit of a change – it feels like summer. Flew in to Buenos Aires late last night and promptly lost our jackets. Not like we need them in this heat, but you know.

We line up to get a taxi and the porter eventualy muscles our bags into the front seat – but not our jackets. Cim realises this as we dirve off, but how do we communicate our loss? He has no English, and I realise there´s no point in ordering two beers from him, the limit of my capability. What the hell is “jackets”. He rants at us in Spanish. No hablo espanyol, I say. He repeats, waves his hands around a bit, slaps his head and gesticulates wildly. As if that´s going to turn me into a fluent speaker: “Oh I see, I didn´t realise you were using the subjunctive…”

He eventually turns the car around and we weave our way back to the terminal. He misses his turning for the airport. Clearly our fault. We arrive back at our departure point and taxi man asks porter man if he’s found two jackets (campalleros -or something). He has, and has given them to the police. “It was these idiots and I´d watch out – they´re Ingles.”

No Espanyol says policeman? Ingles I apologise, and get passed up the chain. They do have the jackets, but they´re already at the opposite end ofthe airport, guarded by a formidable policewoman in an office. She rapidfires. The policeman offers “Ingles” pointing at me. “No espanyol?” she says. “Potruges?” she enquires. I counter “French?” “No” “Swedish?” I offer, perhaps a little optimistically.

Anyway, she wants to know what is in the pockets. I haven’t a clue, but can see half a packet of gluicose tablets. “Small sweets” I say and mime the enjoyment of eating Dextrosol in the airport at 1 am. Unfortunately there is also a single glove, she points out. “where is the other one?” I suppose she is saying. She now suspects I am Michael Jackson in disguise, and interrogates me on Cim´s jacket, producing a pencil with IKEA written on it. “You see, Swedish!” She smiles and hands over the jackets.

Return from Antarctica

We´re back from Antarctica! It has been the most fantastic trip. We arrived back in Ushuaia on Saturday morning and it has been pretty full on since then. Now in the quiet of Easter Sunday we´ve found a few minutes  to find an Internet café and get in contact with the world again.

Leaving the ship was like a separation: “You fall in love with Antarctica, then she breaks your heart”. We had an extremely quiet return crossing over Drake´s Passage – in stark contrast to the aftermath of the storm we encountered going out.

We had no Internet connection at all, so we have been unable to blog or do the web cam. We´ve had a bit of struggle with technology too (does this go without saying?). However, we have both been writing journals and taking video diaries, so we’ll post as we go along. So watch this space over the coming days. I think it will be easiest if I post it in day order and you just follow the days. This isn´t making much sense, is it? Sorry, but it’s all a little overwhelming. Basically, just subscribe and you should get notifications of the updates.

We fly out of Ushuaia this evening to Buenos Aires.

/Jerry, Tierra Del Fuego, Easter Sunday