ARGENTINA

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Post travel notes:

The time has come for my Argentinian adventures to come to an end… It was a wonderful suprise to visit the country. I was not planning to visit until I saw the prices to fly in to Quito, Ecuador. I could buy a return flight into Argentina for the price of a one way ticket in Ecuador.

I am so happy I got to experience such a beautiful country with amazing people. Not once did I encounter any issues. Every person I met was really helpful. There were many times where people approached me with the biggest smile and wanting to know where I was from and if I liked their country.

I found Argentina to be very similar to Australia in the landscape, I guess this is due to the position on the earth. I really felt at home and being able to see the Southern Cross really helped, plus the many eucalyptus trees everywhere. The only thing that was missing wad the koalas and kangaroos.

I spent my first month working at a farm close to Oberà Missiones, the north east of Argentina in the subtropical rainforest. I learnt some new skills for gardening, building etc. I woukd still like to learn much more so someday I can build my own adobe home.

I really enjoy the outdoors, I am not a city person however it was great to see the city of Buenos Aires. I love how creative people are, thinking way outside the box that we have compressed our brain into. Nothing goes to waste, everything is recycled, everything is fixed.. I guess when you don’t have much you really need to think.

We are lucky and we have a great county with a government that works most of the time however after seeing such a different world there are many things we see as important and complain about when its really not nesacessary. I am not going to get into specifics here as im no proffessional on politics etc.

I don’t work here and I have more than enough money to get by but a lot of people struggle with small things. It’s like going back in the past when you see everyone building their own homes. Everyone is a builder, Plumber, electricion, anything they want to be. You dont need a ticket you can just do it if you want to. You can start a business, a restaurant in your home, sell things on the street. We need to pay to even sell at a market. Everything is so strict. When it comes to building and electricity the rules are good because peoples lives can be at risk. I have seen some really bad buildings and wiring.

I like how the people in Argentina are trying to work for themselves whereas back home its easier to work for big companies etc anc much mre difficult to start a profitable business to live.

Enough babble and back to the Country. There is a bit of everything in Argentina, Rainforest, Mountains, Lakes, Rivers, Deserts. Its so larfe and it would be easy to stay for one year.

I fell in love with Misiones, the land and the people where so friendly. While working at the farm we would often visit the neighbors to buy eggs or mest and we would sit with them drinking yerba mate. They really didnt have much, a small home and a few animals,. Most of the farmers in the region farmed tabcoo which they sold to the huge companies who gave them much less money for their croops than they deserved, but they eother took the money or had nothing..

I really loved Bariloche and fell in love, its filled with tourists which is the only downside however the city is relaxed and the many lakes anc mountains surrounding the city really top it off. If you have a bike most places are accessible, hoever its quite hilly in a few places. The lakes and rivers are so fresh and lear that you can see through to the bottom. The entrance to the mountain’s is just a short bus ride from the city and there are many bautiful refugios you can hike too which found high in the mountains beside some beautiful fresh water lakes. Tent camping and entrance is free, this really got me excited. There are also many trails from easy trails to the mkre difficult which are not marked and most of the walming is on rocks and scree slopes. Refugio Frey has an amazing rock wall where you can find many long routes of differnt levels, I didn’t have any gesr so couldn’t try it out….. next time.

Arriving to El Chalten blew me away.. a super small town wifh mountains next door with many rock climbing walls. Everything is walking distance and you can take many hikes into the mountains. I could spend a few months here. It really sparked something in me and I started thinking about the outdoor industry again. I went to school in 2006 to study outdoor recreation, very similar to tourism here in Argentina. I wanted to be a rock climbing guide or hiking guide. I didnt get to pursue this because I required an operation on my hips to reshape the bine due to the ball joint rubbing away my cartilage. Many years of healing and physio I feel set to go again. I found an amazing mountaineering guide course near Mendoza to climb the mountain Aconcagua which is the highest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemishper rising to 6,960 meters above sea level. The course is reognised world wide however is costly and I will need to return home to save monry if I want to do this.

Cafayate in the north west had a great feel, very relaxed and many places to visit that were close. Its always a good sign to see bikes with no locks all around the city. This blew me away, working at a bicycle store back home in Austrlia I was forever doing quotes for people who had their bikes stolen while locked up. There were many great tours which were very affordable. The man in our hostel said I could go there and start a tour if I wanted.. maybe once I know a little more Spansih I can give this a try, the possibilities are endless. I just need to change my way of thinking.

My final must see in Argentina was Iruya, a small town high in the mountains. A great place to relax and watch the condors soar high into the clouds. I enjiy being by the mountains, just sitting and looking. I dont mind if I don’t get out and walk a lot, I just feel free. There are some amazing views if you do get out and push yourself up thise mountains, the rewards far outweigh the effort you expell climbing.

I will definitely be back to Argentina some time hopefully not too far away, I need to visit all the other beautiful places before I decide where to stay for a while.

I didn’t have much of a plan for my travels, just a general direction which changed a few times due to weather or just a feeling. I only pre booked my first two hostels before arriving to the country. From then I just arrive to the new place and ask information, I never say I need to be here on this date.. This is stressful, travel isn’t a job it should be relaxing.

I am on a budget of $30AUD/200ARS per day, so far I have gone way over my budget. I have kept track of spendings with the Expensify app which is a quick easy way to record your spendings.

https://www.expensify.com

I recorded everything in the local currency however the rates are always changing and I did miss imputting a few things so the most accurate spending is by looking at my bank account with all service charges and bank fees.

Please download the expensify file below which seperates spendings for meals, accommodation, transport etc. This will give you a rough idea of my spendings.

Argentina-1

My total spending for 117 days in Argentina:

Argentinian pesos: $22,881.00 = 195.56 peso per day- not including bank fees, just the purchase cost)

(actual spend at current rate from Australin Dollars-6th April 2014 $33,828 pesos. This includes my bank charges and service fees of ATM/Cajero) $742 pesos in bank fees.

Australian Dollars: $4,557.00 = $39.11per day (way over budget however this reflects all bank fees from the ATM/cajero) $100 in bank fees.

With 226 days remaining I need to cut back to average $30 a day so I do not run out of money. I am planning some spanish lessons in Sucre, Bolivia but I think I will be able to pull back the spendings after this.

Money Saving Tips:

BLUE DOLLAR RATE EXCHANGE: http://www.dolarblue.net

If you havent heard about the blue rate currency exchange, check it out. If you are happy to carry money into the country bring US$100 bills and you can exchange on the street for nearly double the official rate. Its not legal but everyone does it, even the police because it is not possible to get US$ in Argentina and its much easier for them to buy property or travel with US$ so they rely on travels.

COUCHSURFING: https://www.couchsurfing.org

A great website that is a lot like facebook where people offer you a place to stay in their home, on the floor or couch or even a bed. Most of the people have travelled and want to help you out with free board so you can spend your miney on imoortant things. This is a great option and available all throughout Argentina. It is free and I have met some wonderful people. I often take my host out for dinner or a drink. I have been saved a couple of times late a night with a place to stay.

WWOOFING: http://www.wwoofargentina.com

World wide opertunities for organic farmer. Another great way to save money. There are ariund 70 farms in Argentina that you can work for, generally you work for food and baord. The only cost is to the the website operators. You need to pay to get the contact information on the farms. You can check out the website and see all the information about the farms before you decide. It is best to write to a few farms in the same location as a lot of the farms do not have wifi and takes them a while to reply. Its quite popular so the more notice you can give the better. There are other sites out there that are free but I cannot remember the names.

The internet is filled with a lot of travel information such as Lonely Planet etc. I really found Fodors forums to be great..real people asking real questions giving trip reports and helpful hints. This was definitely my number one travel companion. A big thanks to Crellston for all the great tips and giving the time to write in so much detail. I find it difficult to find the time to sit and write, I hope I have helped someone a little.. if not its a good diary of my travels for the future.
Check out the Fodors forums here: http://www.fodors.com/community/

That concludes my journey in Argentins, if you want to see some beautiful places with a deep history and meet some amazing people, I highly reccomend you visit Argentina… Do yourself a favour and plan to spend many months, stay in places for more than a day. Get to know the locals, this is where you really start to learn about the Country and its sad history of bloodshed.

If you have any questions please send me a message, I really hope you have gained something from my writting as I have from reading blogs of others..

Here is a list of places I travelled in Argentina, in order of travel, some places were visited twice due to bus travel. All travel was by bus or taxi, on occasion hitchhiking but it was minimal:

Buenos Aires
Puerto iguazu
San Ignacio
Oberà
Villa Union
Posadas
Buenos Aires
Bariloche
El Bolson
Esquel
Into Chile for 12 days
Porito Moreno
El Chalten
El Calafate
Ushuia
Rio Grande
Rio Gallegos
Cordoba
San Juan
Barreal
San Juan
Barreal
San Juan
San Miguel de Tucumán
Tafe Del Valle
Amaicha
Salta
Cafayate
Tilcara
Purmarmarca
Iruya
Salta
La Quiaca

Pre travel notes:
 

Check out pinmaps link below where I have started to pin locations I would like to travel to.

http://www.pinmaps.net/map/26018/brenden

Buenos Aires, Argentina.. It’s really hard to imagine that I am finally heading away on a journey I have always dreamt about…….. I really don’t feel like it’s real. I don’t think it will until I step foot on the plane. Well only 98 days until I go is what my Trip It app tells me.
I’m all set with my airfares and travel insurance. I have most of my gear and a basic understanding of Spanish. I have a booking with the travel doctor on Monday to go through all my vaccinations and medical needs for the trip.

So far I am yet to have any plans set upon my arrival in Buenos Aires. I fly in at around 7:30pm, I will pre book a hostel and work my way from their.

I have received lots of good advice and ideas from the http://www.fodors.com forums, it’s filled with plenty of great posts and people who want to help share all the information they can on their travels.

I think I will spend around 2 months in Argentina if not a little more due to it’s size. While in Buenos Aires I will take some free city tours to see all the highlights. I am trying to see if there are any organisations that offer volunteer work in orphanages in the outskirts of the city. The search is still on to find something that requires only basic Spanish.

At this stage I would like to head north to Iguazu Falls region to see the amazing waterfalls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iguazu_Falls then I may spend some time working on an organic farm in the area. I came across WWOOFING (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) while searching on line. Looks to be a great way to help out the locals learning their way of living. Each country has it’s own yearly membership fee which is cheap!! Argentina is one of the most expensive I have seen at $38 per year. This allows you to contact any of the registered farms on the list. There are plenty to choose from! you basically organise with them when you can stay and work for them and receive board and usually food also! absolute bargain if you ask me.

From here I don’t have any plans! At some stage I want to head west to Tuzgle, Argentina for some bouldering (rock climbing without rope or harness. Generally at low heights). This place looks amazing!

tuzgle

In saying that, I think everywhere looks amazing and I can’t wait to head off. To just take it easy and not have to worry about where I need to be will be an amazing feeling.

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