Weeks 91 – 96 | Argentina

Oops… one step back to Chile…
I received a surprise-video from Alain Feytie, from France, who I met with his lovely wife, Régine while cycling towards the Chile-Argentina borders. I have no words to thank Alain for this really really beautiful video! Enjoy.

And now, at the same time period, my own video attempting to document my last ascend to the Andes. The quality is clearly lower, a first-person-shooter account, haha!

I entered Argentina at Paso Jama. It was the end of June and the cold was extreme. The weather forecast was giving -10 degrees Celsius and on top of that the wind you feel while cycling… I suffered a bit in the mornings, but all good.

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My bike in a proper mess (clothes readily available because at night I was putting everything on)
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Frozen (formerly flowing) water
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Some more uphill, it never really actually ends

mapa

The first village I spent two nights in Argentina was Purmamarca. Seemed to be a tourist destination mainly because of the

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manufacturing of articrafts and traditional clothes
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and the Hill of the Seven Colors (which seems less fancy than its name)

I had some absolutely necessary time off there. Because of the steep and continuous climbs for many days I had developed saddle sores that were very painful and actually there was something more like a wound in the area. I had to “borrow” a little cushion from the hostel in order to put it on the saddle and ride peacefully to Salta. 193 km in total with approximately 120 km of downhill, and almost half of it steep enough so I can relax and enjoy a pedal-free joyful ride.

Salta

means jump in Spanish. And this was what I did, since I met Javier at the hostel. The man was so connected in Salta that I needed to pay no entrance or look for where to go or anything. He knew everyone, we where entering for free at the best clubs, straight to the VIP – hahaha.

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🙂
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στην κοσμάρα μου 😉

Yes.. some party time was necessary as my time from San Pedro, Chile to Salta in Argentina, was tough… Some mindlessness too, that can be depicted…

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like this!

Tucuman

Being in a hurry to reach Buenos Aires as soon as possible, I wanted to pass through Tucuman without a stop. My plan was to just spend the night there. However, I couldn´t find a free bed in the whole city the reason being that the following day, the 9th of July, was Argentina´s independence day and Tucuman was the city that in 1816, what was at that point Argentina, declared independence from the Spanish rule.

Ok, I said, I’ ll stay one more day in order to enjoy the National Parade. And so I did.

Very interesting indeed and to be honest it made me think. There was an intense moment for me, that I also happened to record it (video RMCA below, min 01:26). It is the moment where a young man passes in front of the crowd and shouts “viva la patria!” (= ζήτω η πατρίδα) again and again. Which is ok on the one hand, but on the other hand it makes me think: do we have any kind of celebrations for the whole planet? Do we have any kind of let’s say national activities that celebrate the things we have in common with other nations, or activities that celebrate peace and love among people independent of their country of origin. I am in favor of loving your country but this without putting it on top of other countries.

These thoughts come in hand with some discussions I had in Nasca, Peru (and also in other places) with young people from Spain, telling me they are not proud of being Spanish (because of the colonialist actions). And I was processing this thought in my mind as to where there should be a thing like “I am proud of being… Greek” let’s say.

Greece has a tremendous history and, undoubtedly, influenced the world a lot. However, should this make me more proud for being Greek than an Albanian being an Albanian, or a South Sudanese being a South Sudanese (South Sudan is the newest country in the world, 2011)? What did I do in order to feel proud? The fact that I was born in Greece and I am related in a way to all philosophers or great poets was pure luck. What I feel is a need to continue this great work, which seems more like a “burden”/responsibility than a reason to be proud. Quite the contrary, I feel shame for the current situation in Greece, given the fact that we have such a historical backround.

I don’t know, I am thinking that one of the results of parades and similar activities is fueling competition between countries and not unity. I can’t just say, though, I am against parades. I am thinking about it…

Cordoba

I had such a lovely time in Cordoba. On the one hand I was spending time and energy in finding sponsors to fund the air tickets to go to Africa and also to buy better equipment. On the other hand, the hostel was amazing, and I was surrounded by enjoyable and, also, thought-provoking people. I spent time with Yohan, whose name for me was Francia, haha and also with Thales. Thales, well guessed, comes from Greece, but grew up in France. It was a pleasure to speak Greek again, after months, and also be with such a nice guy! At times we were accompanied by… the mystery man. The mystery man left Buenos Aires because he did something really bad, I suspect some kind of robbery, and he just had to run away in order not to end up in jail. This guy was travelling without money. Without money at all. I told him at some point, we go to dance, come, he said I have no money. Another day I told him we go for beers, he said no money. Ok, myself sometimes I say I have no money at some occasions. But the complete phrase is “I have no money for this“. That is, my priorities are different and I won’t put my money on this. This man had absolutely no money. no money at all. He left Buenos Aires hitchhiking, he asked for food and he received food. he told his story at a truck driver and he gave him some money, so he found the cheapest hostel in cordoba to stay for 3-4 days. His plan was to leave the country… Crazy people around, eh? There was also some other beautiful people, el Chef, el Tucumano, el piloto… They were more than 40 years old, working in Cordoba for some time….. They had a particular life style that I can’t really share, but… very interesting!

Buenos Aires

Last, but not least, and definetely least comes… Buenos Aires! Throughout my stay in Argentina I couldn’t help but think that I am leaving from South America, Buenos Aires being the point of departure, my last city. I was thinking, the last ride, the last night, the last hostel. Everything had a dramatic bit into it. I loved South America a lot and in many ways it changed my life.

After spending some time at the kitchen of one hostel where I found very cheap “bed” and walking around and playing ping pong with Christian, I finally found myself in a very fancy area that, paradoxically, the cheapest hostel of Buenos Aires was located. I needed a proper bed and space in order to organise the next leg of my journey.

While the whole “crew” there was fun I had the pleasure to spend most of my time with Agostina (Argentina) and Pierre (France). We danced, visited museums, talked on life but most importantly we walked around. Pierre had one of the apps that count your steps and one day we had a walk of more than 30 km and at night we were dancing till 0800 in the morning!

Buenos Aires is full of parks..! We also went to the Ricoleta Cemetery, the Boca Juniors stadium and neighborhood, and the central Obelisk plaza.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Some friend of Agostina’s, musicians!

Being at Buenos Aires in a transitional stage (leaving Latin America, thinking of Africa) it felt just right being with Agostina and Pierre.. She, 21 years old, a bit crazy and revolutionary; he, 36, mild and calm (but still vibrant!)… Me, being age-wise in the middle, it felt like my past and my future combined.. In a crucial transitional moment… since the question of how much this trip is gonna last is never muted..

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…in the middle…

The idea was a bit crazy but there was no other cheap alternative. Find the right card boxes and ride with them to the airport, and there, do all the necessary… packaging.. It worked well 😉

All the above was my… whereabouts in Argentina. As to my… howabouts (haha):

… and also this …

Gems of Argentinian music…

Mercedes Sosa was an Argentine folk singer whose politically charged repertory led her to be known throughout Latin America as “the voice of the voiceless.” I found not even one person who was not respecting and admiring her. The natural way she sings is amazing. It worths listening to most of her songs.. here, two of my very favorites. The first one, a poem by the Uruguayan writer Luis Ramón Igarzábal… So good that it deserves learning spanish in order to understand it. The second one, a poem by the Chilean musician, Violeta Parra… just incredible!

This suggestion has an awkward beauty. It’s a modern version of a folklore song. The singer, Charo Bogarín, is singing and investigating folklore argentinian music and more specifically, indigenous music. She is coming from an indigenous family and there are a lot of songs she sings in Guaraní (indigenous language). This one, here, is called Indio Toba. Toba being an indigenous group that was widely persecuted by the formal Argentinian state, which resulted in them leaving their ancestral land. Enjoy!

Speaking of Argentinian music one cannot avoid Rock! Specially selected for you because I know your spanish is not so good. The lyrics are mostly in English.. Sumo influenced a lot the rock scene in Argentina and it worth checking it out.

As for… tango, a live performance above, in 04:57.

Leaving from South America

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