Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

I don't like New Year's Eve.

It's weird, because I love holidays, in general. I love colour themes and food themes and dressing up and presents and desserts, and New Year's Eve has all of these, if you apply yourself. I also love unbridled optimism, which is New Year's Eve all the way. Not to mention gratitude. And resolutions! I pride myself on these things!

But New Year's Eve? No thanks.

I admit I'm into the food themes. I can't argue with pork for luck and fatty wallets (not to mention that pork is delicious, in any form) and black-eyed peas, symbolizing coins for wealth. And colours, yes! But gold or silver for New Year's, maybe kind of? And black and white? It does have a certain cache, but it isn't universal like Halloween's black and orange, or Chrismas's red and green, and I just can't fully commit. Optimism is awesome, for real, but can't you make that resolution on November 15 just as well as you can on January 1?

Scrooge much? I know. Maybe it's the expectations; that you're secretly hoping that your party will turn into a Bacardi ad. Also that your arms should look fabulous in that shimmery tank top, even after all that Christmas morning bacon.

I'm way grateful for everything that happened in 2009. I've been unemployed - by choice! - for most of the year. I've made amazing new friends, and, mostly thanks to Facebook, reconnected with people I haven't seen in 10 years or more. I lived in Buenos Aires. I learned to speak Spanish, más o menos. I opened a restaurant. I tasted 40 new fruits! I trekked to Machu Picchu, had my passport stolen - and replaced! - in Bolivia, and spent the Winter Solstice in the southernmost city in the world. Gratitude, anyone? And yes, here I am in Buenos Aires on New Year's Eve, celebrating with a wonderful human being (with whom I plan to spend many a New Year's Eve!) and two sweet sweet kitties (who aren't Memphis, but are still lovely).

OK. Maybe gratitude trumps, because I have a lot for which be thankful, and after writing this post, maybe even a newfound affinity for December 31. Happy New Year, friends, and may your 2010 be that much better than your 2009. xoxo

Monday, December 21, 2009

Slam, Fight, Bright Light

Feeling pretty psyched.

Ushuaia is the world's southernmost city, and at a distance of 1000km, the closest to Antarctica. In other words, the end of the world as we know it. We timed our trip to be here for the solstice, and here we are. We aren't quite far enough away from the equator to experience a midnight sun, but it's now after 10 p.m. and the sky is still light.

And I feel fine.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

Last night we arrived in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, where daylight lasts for a disconcertingly long time this time of year. Last night Ken reported spots of brightness in the sky past 1 a.m., and I'm pretty sure sunrise was around 4 this morning.

It's something of a challenge to maintain Monk Mode here in Southern Argentina. Apparently the cost (in pesos) of a hostel dorm room in Argentina is indirectly proportionate to its latitude. And although we haven't slept in the same bed in over two weeks, we have splurged on a few tourist attractions, including a visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier in the Los Glaciares National Park near El Calafate.

Some of you may be shocked to learn that even though I hail from Canada I've never seen a glacier. I know! I had no idea what to expect. I anticipated only that: a) it might be cold, being next to a glacier and all, so I brought an extra sweater; and b) since we'd be gone for around six hours I might get hungry, so I also brought a ham sandwich.

What I did not anticipate was that the glacier would be so cool (pun intended) that I wouldn't even have enough room on my camera for all the pictures I'd want to take. The Perito Moreno Glacier is vast: it's 30km long, and rises 60m above the surface of Lake Argentina. Falling chunks sound like thunder as they break off and when they hit the water. (Apparently this happens with some regularity, as we saw several in the few hours we were there.)

Glaciers. Who knew?

More glacier pics on Flickr. Coming soon: Rainbows, penguins, and overuse of R.E.M. lyrics.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Bus Diaries

Since we crossed the border into Argentina we've been travelling south along Route 40, with stops in Salta, Mendoza, Bariloche, El Chaltén, and now El Calafate. (Click map, at right, to enlarge.) Along the way we've walked through beautiful parks filled with lakes and wildflowers, and been awed by views of snow-capped mountains. Last night in El Chaltén, after a day of hiking, we dined on delicious Patagonian lamb and marvelled at the daylight that lingered well past 10 p.m.

From here we'll continue south through Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia, Argentina's southernmost city, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. For Christmas and New Year's we'll be in Buenos Aires where we're housesitting (and catsitting!) for three glorious weeks, during which I expect highlights to include unpacking for more than three hours, and cooking.

That is, unless someone wants to buy us a trip to Antarctica for Christmas. We're flexible.

More pics on Flickr.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Adios, Bolivia

Pictures from our last two weeks in Bolivia are on Flickr. We toured a working mine in Potosí (claustrophobic), spent four days driving around salt flats, geysers, and lagoons near Uyuni (surreal), and rode horses through the canyons and valleys around Tupiza (pretty, and painful).

Tomorrow we head to Salta, Argentina, and while I'm not exactly excited about the 24-ish hours we'll spend on buses to get there, I am excited about the delicious steak and wine that await us across the border, and we're both looking forward to reviving the mate habit we developed in Buenos Aires!