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The first day...

sunny 18 °C

Madrid airport is a remarkably unstimulating place. For 7 hours, I was presented with the following, fascinating entertainment options: Sit in starbucks, sit in 'Henry J Bean's', sit on a counter-ergonomic bench, go to the loo. In the end, I did a bit of everything, just to pass the time. Starbucks provided me with extremely expensive coffee, and Henry J Bean's offered me a range of delectable choices, from the 8 euro despair-burger-meal-deal, to the Nachos of misery, only 5 euros. Hm. Then I sat on the bench a bit more. Having exhausted my laptop batteries in Starbucks, I was inspired to see that some seasoned and intelligent fellow passenger had plugged his in at a discreetly positioned plug, and I almost ran to the next plug along, only to find that I had brought the American, not the European converter in my handluggage. You can imagine my relief when my ride arrived, and after 7 hours of containment in the Madrid Terminal 4 departure lounge, I leaped for joy at the prospect of another 11 hours, except now confined to a pressurised metal tube a mile above the earth.
Fortunately, I managed to sleep, and the rest of the time I read Naomi Klein's excellent 'Shock Doctrine', (a thoroughly depressing but none-the-less fascinating book), and talked to my friendly neighbour, a Bolivian physiotherapist who was travelling with his employer, a French-man who has lived in Bolivia for 20 years, and due to being disabled needs a lot in the way of care. Iberia really are an awful airline, heaven forbid passengers may be entertained, or even comfortable, no no no! I don't think they've refitted their planes for about 20 years.. so it was quite a miracle I even managed to lose consciousness at any point.
Anyway, I arrived, relieved and made my way to the 86 bus, which took a gazillion hours to convey me via some of the capital's better sights (congreso, the awesome avenida 9 de julio, and the Plaza de Mayo) to my hostel.
Obviously, a shower had become something of an emergency by then, but after that I hit the streets and pounded my way through Buenos Aires, taking photos and enjoying its size and the architecture (very pretty). The plaza de Mayo, behind the Casa Rosada is the usual scene of popular uprising - and there's a few police trucks there, complete with water canon. DSCF0456.jpgOne protest, which takes place weekly, is that by Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, and even now the Plaza de Mayo has their logo painted on the ground in the circle around one of the statues - the route of the Madres' march every Thursday morning. DSCF0465.jpgAlthough the dictatorship ended 20 years ago, the Madres continue to march to seek justice, and work to reunite families separated by a Military policy of forcing adoption of the children of leftist parents. It's pretty noble stuff, and my first port of call tomorrow morning will be the Madres-run cafe on Hipolíto Yrigoyen (or however it's spelt!) - I hear they're pretty active on economic reform too...
So then, up diagonal norte to the mighty 62 ft Obelisco - which is very big. DSCF0474.jpg But more awe inspiring is the street it sits in, Avenida 9 to Julio, an 18 lane monster, quite alarming - they've even got policemen with whistles to help you know when to cross the road (Ideal for me, being a bit hopeless at crossing roads really). DSCF0485.jpgA little more of a wander then I headed to Pizzeria Guerrín, a hectic and bewildering affair which only involves buying a slice of pizza and eating it at a stand-up canteen thing, but actually is much more stressful given the amount of people there! But what pizza, that one is definitely to be repeated. In a flustered panic, I only bought one slice, so I headed down to a café on Avenida de Mayo and tucked into a beer and some yummy empanadas - something I've been looking forward to since I left South America last, 4 years ago. Finally, now feeling the effects of my exertions, I meandered back to my hostel... and here I am now...
Tomorrow: Chasing relavent organisations, chasing friends of friends who might want to be my friend, eating steak...

Posted by fuzzbuzz85 14:18 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking

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