Chapter 33: Mar Del Plata
Mike and I took a beach trip down south
Bienvenidos from El Calafate, and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to join 825 others reading about this weird trip around the world, add your email below:
Sup everybody, and happy Saturday to those who celebrate. Apologies for the delayed posting. It has been a minute since the last update, but I'm back. If you only have 12 seconds of time to read this, here's the summary from Argentina:
You can live like a king on $20, people down here are fascinated by English speakers, I have consumed a metric crap-ton of beef and steak, and the weather is phenomenal.
Anyways, on to the recap.
So we left off on Valentine's Day. I had a fantastic Valentine's Day in South America: I attended La Bomba de Tiempo.
Imagine the Blue Man Group, except none of them are blue. And it's in Argentina. La Bomba de Tiempo is this 2 hour performance where these locals shred on the drums. But they aren't using normal drums; they're using a lot of random objects as drums.
Here is a picture of me at said event:
The drink in my hand is "fernet". Here is Wikipedia's definition of fernet:
(Italian pronunciation: [ferˈnɛt]) is an Italian type of amaro, a bitter, aromatic spirit. Fernet is made from a number of herbs and spices which vary according to the brand, but usually include myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and especially saffron, with a base of distilled grape spirits.
For those who don't know, millions of Italians immigrated to Argentina in the 1800s, and pizza and wine are everywhere. However, fernet is the most popular Italian export in the country. Argentinians consume 75% of the world's fernet, and they typically mix it with Coca-Cola. Thanks to fernet, Argentina is also one of the world's leading coke consumers.
Anyways, I love fernet. After the show, all attendees were welcomed to join a bar crawl that ended at a night club. Mike ran into a British (Australian? idk) dude named Will that he had previously met in Portugal. We ended up hanging out with a bunch of Will's nomad friends for the rest of the night.
I won't go through the day by day of everything over the last few weeks, but it went something like this: Mike worked from 11-7 PM or so most days, and I would post up at a random coffee shop to write (read: waste hours and hours scrolling on Twitter then write for 45 minutes).
We got a gym membership at a local spot, which was probably the best investment of the trip. Our neighborhood, Palermo, is massive, walkable, and full of bars and restaurants, so we have been exploring a ton.
My favorite part? There are dogs everywhere. It's really funny seeing dog walkers with like eight pups on a leash trotting around town.
We found this bar called "Uptown" that was disguised as a subway station. Seriously, check this out. You walk down a staircase into a legitimate subway tunnel that looks like this:
But after you walk through the train, it turns into this:
Very cool, Argentina!
We also met another American, Hillman. Hillman is an early 30s Maine resident who just finished a graduate program. He's been traveling through South America for a bit before heading back to the US for work. He knows Buenos Aires well, since he lived here for a bit when he was younger. We got dinner one night with Hillman and his two friends Matt and José.
Matt, Mike, Jack, José, Hillman
Matt is an interesting dude. He's like 40 years old, and he's lived in Argentina for a decade. He's from the UK, and never got a work visa down here. Technically he was only "allowed" to stay for 3 months. But Argentina doesn't enforce immigration rules. He paid a $100 fine after five years and had no issues coming back.
The UK doesn't make you pay taxes if you don't live there, and Matt works as an independent contractor for a US company.
Because he doesn't have an Argentinian work visa, isn't living in the UK, and isn't a W2 employee in the states, he hasn't paid taxes since 2011. Dude is a living cheat code. He also DJs at a local club every Tuesday. Matt hooked us up with VIP access two weeks ago.
Mike and I also visited one of the local football (soccer) stadiums: La Bombonera. This is the home of Boca Juniors, one of the top clubs in the country. We didn't attend a match, but they get intense down here. If you wear the wrong club's colors to a match, you'll get your ass kicked. They take it seriously.
We also consumed like 47 steaks over the last couple of weeks. See below:
Last weekend, we took a bus down to the beach town of Mar Del Plata. MDP is a city of 600k or so people on the coast, and it's freaking awesome. Good beaches, good food, good bars, good vibes.
One of my friends in Atlanta, Conrad, set us up with one of his buddies from Mar Del Plata, Zeke (pictured below).
Mar Del Plata feels like a mix between San Diego, CA and Charleston, SC. Zeke texted me beforehand and recommended an Airbnb in a nice condo high rise on the beach, he couldn't have picked a better spot.
It was a 1 BR, 1.5 bath condo five minutes from the beach. Probably the nicest place in the city. We had a gym, pool, spa, and sauna too. The craziest part? We could buy one of the units for $300k. Shout out inflated currencies.
We arrived by bus on Friday, and Mike and I grabbed food by the beach. He had to work, so I went to meet Zeke and some of his friends. Luckily, they all spoke English.
It was Carnival this weekend, so a ton of people were in the city. A couple of girls that Zeke knew met us at a bar, and we went back to his place so he could shower and change for the night.
These girls spoke 0 English. In fact, practically no one in MDP spoke English. My brain was working on overdrive all weekend. Mike and one of Zeke's friends met us at a restaurant, and we grabbed dinner before heading out for the night. We bar hopped a bit before hitting a club by the beach, and we were out until like 6 AM.
Argentinians are nuts. Dinner at midnight, pregame at 1, party until 9 AM. We left at 6 AM, which was "early".
The next two days, Mike and I hit the beach. Mike tried surfing, but the waves were pretty weak. I read a book like an old man and sported a sunburn. We went out the next couple of nights, but took Monday off.
Buenos Aires is pretty international, and it's not that rare to see Americans there. However, we may have been the only two native-English speakers in MDP. I had dozens of people ask to see my passport out of curiosity, and 4 girls asked to marry me one night so they could get out of Argentina. Wild stuff. (For those curious, I said no. I think my grandparents would prefer that I marry someone from the states).
On Tuesday, we took a 7:15 AM bus back to Buenos Aires. After returning, we spent two days in Buenos Aires before flying down to El Calafate.
I'll end today's piece here; I'm in El Calafate right now, and it's awesome. Next week's write up will cover all things Patagonia, plus our last three days in Buenos Aires. Then back to the states.
See below for the previous and next chapter: