June 16, 2006

World Cup Fever

One thing is pretty evident as you travel around South America right now. The people of this continent LIVE for football!! The atmosphere here is absolutely electric, and I really wish Ireland were taking part. Every guy you meet is coordinating travel plans around the world cup games and the cities are jam-packed full of people on the hunt for big screen TVs.
The Argentina - Serbia Montenegro match is on right now. I am sitting in an internet cafe bursting with locals all glued to the tv! Argentina seem to be kicking ass, as expected. Most of the businesses have shut until the match is over, and there´s a real holiday atmosphere around the centre. Every time Argentina score, you can hear roars for miles around! The girls seem to be screaming the loudest, while the men run out of shop doors and perform strange ritualistic dances with each other in the middle of the street before hurrying back inside to catch the replays.
I´m waiting around like a fugitive for a bus at nine o´clock tonight. I´m off to Cordoba for a few days and am planning to escape into the Sierra mountains for a bit if I can. I really want to get away from the big cities for a while and just chill out somewhere quiet. Today, also, I have to organise my flight to New Zealand. I´m hoping to fly on July 31st and have found a pretty good fare, I think.
Went horse-riding for the second time yesterday. It was fantastic to be out in the fresh air all day surrounded by spectacular mountains, condors soaring above us. My horse´s name was Penqueño and he was a particualarly willful creature. We rode all afternoon and returned to a blazing log fire and a spread fit for a king in a little log cabin. We lazed for a few hours drinking Malbec wine and mate before climbing reluctantly back into our bus back to Mendoza.
(The Argentinians are really addicted to drinking mate. It´s a herb grown mainly in Argentina and Bolivia, and is full of good things apparently. They drink it from special gourds with a long spout, and it is prepared by filling the vessel almost to the brim with the herb, adding some sugar to the top and then topping it off with boiling water. You suck the liquid through the straw until it is gone, then top it up again and pass to someone else. It´s a very social pratice, and you rarely see an Argentinian without a gourd and thermos flask under his arm.)
When we arrived back Rachel, Ringo and Sarah left to travel to Buenos Aires, so myself and Karen had a "quiet night" in the hostel playing Jenga with some Argentinians and a couple from Longford. Good clean fun all around. Had a much needed early night but had some seriously crazy dreams....

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