Category Archives: dancing

fortune cookies, condoms and chaos

WUP poster1 Busy busy week in Pune. Not helped by the fact that three nights over the weekend were spent indulging in a significant amount of Kingfisher beer. Also, surprisingly a bloody (literally) good steak in a restaurant found by Dave, Carole and Gill. Indian food is great and I’ve no problem with having a mainly vegetarian diet but my god, it felt good to have a steak again!

All the younger LINK volunteers who’d been travelling for the past few weeks got back on Sunday night so the house is pretty much full to bursting, and the somewhat more chilled out, laid-back atmosphere that has been so nice, has burst and things are back to feeling like we are living in boarding school once again! Still, it was nice to see everyone again!

So this week we are all out putting up my lovely World AIDS Day posters, sorting out leaflets with shopping malls and planning street dance performances, getting red ribbon iced cookies and fortune cookies done for December 1st and getting slides done to hand out to the cinemas on Thursday. Crazy days. Someone is also going to have the fun job of putting 1000 condoms into little white boxes and tieing them up with red ribbon. We have been given the okay to hand out condoms, but only if they don’t look like condoms! Don’t ask, even oral sex is technically illegal in India, seriously! And on Saturday night about 1000 of the inhabitants of Tadiwala Road slum in Pune are going to have the delights of watching a group of us do a Bollywood dance performance at the Celebration fo Life Rally being held for World AIDS Day. Our friend Rujuta is a dancer in her spare time and is teaching us a dance all this week…there is a lot of jumping involved…

bombay mix

Clubbing in Mumbai On Friday evening I had just about recovered for the previous night where a post work business meeting near Koregan park in an unassuming restaurant called Prem somehow got a little out of hand and Ayesha, Lianna and I ended up drinking vast quantities of beer and getting slightly pissed. Those of you more familiar with the drunken Claire will know from experience that my voice does tend to increase ever so slightly in volume after a few drinks. Given that we were sitting in a restaurant of families and couples and that generally India does tend to be more conservative, I think my contributions to the general topics of conversation may have been slightly inappropriate. As also may have been singing Disney songs incredibly loudly all the way home and having to tip the rickshaw driver as Liana jumped out the back as we rounded the corner into our main road and hopped in beside the driver announcing she was driving the rest of the way home as Ayesha and I were impersonating Jordan and Peter Andre singing a Whole New World in the back. Clearly reaching the age of 27 has done wonders for my maturity!

Sunset on Marine DriveAnyway friday night in Deep Griha was the DISHA party for all the DISHA clients (people living with HIV) and their families on the terrace of the Tadiwala Road centre. The kids all did performances of Bollywood dance numbers, sang songs and read out poems (the little ones were so cute) and then we all danced like crazy for an hour on the roof with all the kids. My arms were completely dead by the end from carrying all the kids around whilst trying to be taught Bollywood moves by the younger girls. Good fun though.

CST terminus in MumbaiThis weekend after a Saturday morning partners meeting for Wake Up Pune, four of us, (Ayesha, Sarah, Lianna and I) decided to head off to the coast to the big city and spend the weekend in Mumbai. Love Mumbai, really fantastic town. I think it was the reaction I was expecting when I first arrived in India. Everyone has such strong reactions to the country one way or another but Pune is relatively unstressful and I guess I’d not felt polarised either way. Mumbai, however, I loved. We met up with Ben and Kev, a short and tall comedy double act volunteering with the same organisation as Ayesha and Lianna but they are teaching in a catholic ashram in an old fort an hour from Mumbai. After arriving on Saturday evening we had beers, amazing kebabs from a street stall in Colaba and then went in search of a bar to watch the rugby. Due to the “moral police” all the bars were closing before the game was due to start and by midnight we were starting to wonder if it was worth the fuss. Usually I love the rugby but having been in India during the whole world cup and hearing virtually nothing about anything except cricket I haven’t felt that bothered. We decided sod it and went clubbing instead, which given that England lost, was definitely a good decision. Instead we danced to cheese, rock, bollywood hits and hip hop in a heaving club called Polly Ester drinking suspicious looking shots brought by Ayesha and being taught moves to the recent Bollywood hits by the locals. Continue reading

parque nacional da chapada diamantina

My last night in Salvador a few of us girls went to catch a Capoeira show in one of the schools. I have never seen anything like it, so graceful and so rhythmic. There were about 20 guys and girls including some of them paying the drums and a strange elongated bow-like instrument and they would take it in turns to tag each other in and then fight/dance for a few minutes before another pair came up. Plus a lot of the guys were incredibly gorgeous with the most amazing bodies, well we know because they took their tops of half way through, Eileen and I didn’t know quite where to look!

Despite the lure of the half naked capoeira guys and a strong temptation to go to one of the beginner classes, the next day I decided to head out to Lencois instead and the Chapada Diamantina National Park. I arrived mid afternoon to find myself in a small town of cobbled streets, brightly coloured buildings surrounded by thick lush green forests and plains. Lencois is one of the old mining towns from the days when Portuguese explorers found deposits of Diamonds in the area that are thought to have been formed millions of years ago near present-day Namibia. The diamond boom didn’t last long and now the town and those around the park survive off Eco-tourism running tours in and around the park.

Monkeys, ChapadaYesterday I had arranged to go on one of the standard tours to various sights around the park without really paying much attention to what I was going to see. I have this terrible habit of managing to give people the impression that my portuguese is actually a lot better than it is. The problem is I can usually ask all the questions but I rarely understand the responses! I ended up in this exact sitatution and feeling too tired to go over it until I understood I resorted to my default, “sim, sim, esta bem!” The result was, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of places we in fact ended up visiting during the day.

Our group was myself, our guide Pedro who kept insisting he was Pedro and not saint Pedro when we quizzed him on whether the weather would stay sunny all day, Birger, a guy from Germany with a habit of taking some of the funniest photos, and a lovely couple from Recife in Brazil called Cris and Cris! Cris spoke really good English so was an absolute saint and translated all the things that went over Birger and my heads during the day. We started off visiting a waterfall called Poco do Diablo, the Devil´s pool. The organic matter and pollen that are blown into the water lend it a deep clear red brown colour as it flows over the rapids and finally into a deep pool where the boys went rock diving. On the way down I spotted a tiny movement in the trees and excitedly started pointing and yelling “look, a monkey” clearly thinking how sharp eyed I’d been to spot it. As it turned out there are about six these small grey monkeys that live above the path and are so tame they will even let you feed them bread and fruit. So not such an amazing find then, but they were still very cute.

Gruta AzulAfter the waterfalls we visited a labyrinth of tiny caves in a place called Gruta Fumaca where the ceilings were dripping with hundreds of needle like stalactites and large stalagmites grew up to form large columns from the ground. One we crawled into was less that five feet high so we all had to sit down in the centre to look around. Our guide decided it would be very relaxing and peaceful to turn the oil lamp burner out for a minute to enjoy the darkness and silence for a minute. It was so black that opening and closing my eyes made no difference and it was strangely peaceful until eventually my stomach betrayed me with a huge rubbling growl and everyone started laughing! Next stop was the Gruta Azul which is a small pool at the entrance to a cave that has this amazing intensely blue, turquoise colour and it is so clear that you can’t see where the water begins and the air ends. When a few small fish swam past it actually looked like they were swimming thorough the air!

Morro do Pai Inacio

The final Gruta, we decided to pay extra and go cave snorkelling which was unbelievably cool. Putting aside the facts that I am slightly claustrophobic and generally speaking don’t like swimming in dark water, it seemed like too good an experience to miss. We got life jackets, flippers and snorkels and slid into the pleasantly cool water at the opening of the cave. With torches we followed the guide further in, shining our lights on the bottom which was incredibly clear and catching the odd catfish scurrying out of view. We stopped to look at the rock formations on the ceilings and under the water, swirls of creamy coloured rock and tiny stalactites. The final cave was over 14 metres deep but you could still see the bottom. Shining my torch past a gap between two rocks I saw pair upon pair of tiny red eyes looking back at me, for a spilt second I nearly panicked, convinced a multi-eyed mythical beast was waiting to devour innocent tourists, until I realised it was just the fish hiding from our beams of lights in the rocks! We finally emerged into the first cave and swam through the shoals of white and black fish near the entrance, spotted catfish swam over the sandy bottom and wide-leafed plants grew near the edge of the lake like a green, silver forest, really beautiful.

Our final visit was to climb up to a peak called the Morro Do Pai Inacio half and hour before sunset to see the amazing views stretching over the valley which is filled with these huge sweeping slopes leading up to rocky outcrops with green plateaus on top. Nothing that I ever expected to see in Brazil and really spectacular, I don’t think this country will ever cease to surprise and amaze me! Birger and IWe spent ages up on the peak taking some really silly photos, including Pedro sitting on our feet so we could lean out over the edge and take a photo to look like we were flying over the valley! This one was one of my favourites because I look so ridiculously short compared to Birger who is pretty tall, must be a German thing. We all got back and went for food and drinks, they have some really good restaurants here and Cris introduced us to a really dangerous Brazilian saying saideira (which is definitely the wrong spelling) but it means one more drink and of course you keep saying it over and over again throughout the evening. It’s not just the English that are a nation of piss heads…

samba rhythms in Salvador

Salvador

It was hard to leave Rio, and the group of people I’d been hanging out with although two of them, Charlie and Eileen have now arrived in Salvador which is cool. But time, my liver and my wallet were urging me from the city so I caught a late night flight to Salvador in Bahia, North East Brazil. I arrived at the hostel at 2am in the morning, climbed what seemed like a mountain into my third level bunk and fell asleep. I was woken up in the morning to the sound of percussion and drum beats and after breakfast went outside to discover myself in a maze of cobbled streets, brightly coloured colonial buildings, cafes, capoeira schools and music playing just about everywhere. It is as if the city itself has some kind of internal musical pulse that you cannot escape.

During my first day I managed to make friends with two lovely American girls who had somehow wangled seven weeks of research interviewing women on Ipanema beach about their body image, and a girl from Taiwan. We ended up in a cinema cafe on one of the plazas, watching a really bizarre, but good, moderately incestous Brazilian film called Tieta of Agreste. In the afternoon I ended up going for a percussion lesson, it was just myself and another French lady, it was so much fun. We did two different kinds of samba rhythms, samba reggae and I got to play the big bongo drums and the huge drums which you pound away on with large padded sticks. After an hour and a half though my arms were so sore! In the evening I went with the girls to drink shots of different flavour cachaca in a bar on one of the plazas before ending up sitting on the cobbled streets outside a bar with a huge contigent of English guys drinking until 2am.

Yesterday Eileen and Charlie had arrived and since Charlie doesn’t really ever appear out of bed before the early afternoon Eileen and I went around the shops and explored the historic part of town ending up looking round one of the beautiful opulent old churches. The architecture here is beautiful but it’s not like any colonial city I’ve seen before, it’s so much more colourful and everywhere there are guys selling multicoloured beads and bracelets, women in huge lacy dresses that billow out from their waists with bright red lips encouraging you into their shops or cafes, guys practising capoeira in the squares and random drum beats errupting from anywhere and everywhere at all times of day.

Samba class We wandered down to the local beach in the afternoon and went for a quick swim and then lay watching the tanned old locals in their tiny retro trunks playing ping pong on the beach. We got back just in time for the four of us girls to have a samba lesson. Now I had imagined learning some steps, doing a little light dancing. No chance, and a very good thing I didn’t bother to shower before hand as by the end the sweat was running down my temples. We had a crazy warm up to the bongo drums before we even started and then in two lines started following the samba steps, forwards, backwards, winding your hips around in a circle and just when you begin to think this is actually pretty tiring the drummer doubles the speed! A lot of fun but I haven’t done that much exercise in months! Afterwards I managed to get out between breaths, preciso um caiparinha, and we all came back to the hostel bar, glistening with sweat for a little refreshment.

favela chic

The tiny trunks of Ipanema beach

Rio is such a city of contrasts. One minute you are walking past Louis Vitton shops and stylish cafes in Ipanema and then the same evening you are 10 minutes away down the road in one of the biggest clubs in the favela of Rochina practically next door. Clubbing in the favela was definately an interesting experience, on one level it’s just a really huge club playing brazilian and american music, but at the same time we have all these enormous Brazilian bouncer guys with the groups of travellers to make sure that we got in and out safely, so a little bit out of the ordinary! The next day I also went on a favela tour of Rochina which was one of the most bizarre excursions I’ve done in south america.

Rochina is the biggest and oldest favela in Rio, 80 years old with 200,000 inhabitants, they hook up their own cables to the telegraph poles with the result that every one has a explosion of wires protruding from it; clubs, shops, internet cafes, everything is in the favela. Three main gangs control all the Rio favelas and this one belonged to A.D.A. amigos do amigos. The police are not allowed in so there is usually a group of them a few streets down from where the favela begins. So we drove past the policeman and then we all had to hop on the back of a motorbike (mototaxi) to get whisked all the way up the windy road to the top of Rochina…so much fun! From there we walked in a group, with the guide, past a guy carrying the world’s shinest machine gun (he must polish that thing all day long) and into the maze of tiny streets, rubbish, and mish mash of houses. We saw at least 4 or 5 guys with machine guns, they are the 3000 or so soldiers of A.D.A. that patrol the favelas. Bizarrely by the end of the tour their presence was strangely comforting, apparently very little, if any, crime happens inside the favelas as the drug gangs police them so tightly. Unfortunately though, the occaisional police raids or attacks from rival gangs tend to preciptate gun fights and that is when the locals get caught in the cross fire. We visited the house of one of the graffiti artists, brought banana cake in the bakery, chatted to lots of the kids and went to visit a day care centre that is funded by the tourist money now coming into the area. Really interesting day!

Corcovado

My final day in Rio was finally blessed with clear blue skies and no clouds, so after a morning drinking coconut milk on Ipanema beach, it was perfect to round off the Rio experience with the obligatory visits to Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) and Sugar Loaf Mountain. Both are pretty spectacular in themselves and also for the views that you have of Rio. From the Corcovado the huge white, grey mosaic out-stretched arms tower on top of a 710 metre hill with views all around Rio. From here we went across town to catch the cable car up to Sugar Loaf mountain to watch the sunset over the centre and the lights start to twinkle along Copacabana beach.

>>Rio Sunset

the meaning of maximum capacity

Cordoba

I’ve spent the past few days chilling out in Cordoba, a big student town…in fact I accidentally gate-crashed a graduation ceremony yesterday morning which was quite interesting. It was a nice return to civilisation, lots of people in the hostel, got to watch Liverpool loose to AC Milan, sorry but after beating West Ham in the FA Cup final last year they had it coming! Spent yesterday afternoon visiting an old Jesuit Estancia north of Cordoba with a swiss girl from the hostel, Francie. It was a beautiful chapel and courtyards but, given that it took an hour bus ride and a rather expensive cab journey 14km down a dirt track to get there, not entirely sure whether it was entirely worth the effort but hey, all good fun.

Francie and I in Baluch Backpackers

I actually cooked dinner for myself last night. Now I’m not sure how I’ve managed to avoid this for the three weeks I’ve been hostelling it, but finally I had to get out the pots and pans and get stuck in. I got so carried away I even made porridge for myself this morning. Actually the porridge was definitely a necessity after the previous night. Typically how these things go is; you are merrily drinking a quiet beer chatting to people in the hostel and then the next thing it’s 2am and everyone is on their way out to a club, I’m so easily led. This time it was a club called Carreras about 15 mins out of town, we managed miraculously to get through the hoards at the entrance (it is only the English that can appreciate an orderly queue) and inside, I think on the basis that we spoke English, (drunken Argentians really love the English)! I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a packed club in my life, we were dancing like sardines to lots of cheesy music (the Argentinos love a bit of Here Comes the Hotstepper it gets played everywhere!) and then randomly, at around 4am, to an Argentian rock band. Not sure if the whole Indie rock thing quite works in Spanish but the crowd were loving it! Got back at 6.30am, then had to get up at 10.30am to check out, clever no?

Anyway I have gone on another of my random detours and am now in the very cute town called La Cumbre in the Cordoban sierras and I’m off paragliding in the morning! Right, time to go and forrage for food, I tell you, this travelling business is hard work…

spoons and the seven lakes

Mount Tronador from Pampa Linda

There were lakes which were stunningly beautiful, then there was food, there was a drinking game called spoons, there was beer, there was dancing, there was Elvis and Shakira and at some point around 6am there were empanadas. Now there is tiredness and hungoverness and I am going in search of banana licuardos!

Okay, banana licuardo done, feeling a little more human and I have just a few more hours left in Bariloche. This place has been a lot of fun this past week. Wednesday was a long trip through the national park and a series of short walks. Driving along the lake you see the snow covered peak of Mount Tronador in the background. We walked to two beautiful slender waterfalls, one in a grove through a forest of bamboo and the other overlooking a sheer drop into the mountains. We also walked to a black glacier, small but pretty cool with a lake covered in ice. I have been temporarily adopted by the boys, Phil, Glen and Gary who were very entertaining all day.

Thursday was a non crazy adventure day, checked email, did laundry and hung out with Craig eating chocolate (a local obession), drinking coffee and watching the Motorcycle Diaries with spanish subtitles. That film is so much more interesting to watch from Argentina than it is back in the UK, especially when a lot of the filing is of places you are in or going to in the next few weeks!

Seven lakes road trip
Yesterday the boys and I hired a car and went off to drive the seven lakes route from Bariloche up to Saint Martin de Los Andes. Really beautiful day and a beautiful drive that goes past, well seven lakes. The road is a dirt track for about half of it but the views are stunning. We had a picnic lunch by a farm at one of the lakes with white ducks running around and calfs mooing loudly in the background. Whilst stopping en route back to town with 150km still to go we got a puncture. I start to internally panic and wonder what to do when I notice the boys are merrily getting the spare tyre out of the boot and changing it over. Do they take guys aside when they reach puberty and just teach them this stuff, I would not have had a clue! Tyre changed and we managed to get back in time for dinner at the hostel. After which things got rather entertaining, we moved onto a famous Irish pub in town called Wilkenneys where there was much beer and more dancing. Especially when Craig and I requested Cara Luna, our favourite spanish song from school in Bariloche (everyone else thought we were mad but it’s a fab song!). So three hours sleep and I’m still standing but looking forward to sleeping blissfully on the luxury transport they call buses in Argentina!

all night long

intermediazero.JPG 

Well it took three weeks but I finally managed to aquire a hangover in Buenos Aires! This has definitely been the best week here so far though. Thursday night was a really nice chilled out affair, four of us went to dinner and out for a few drinks in Palermo. Typically I didn’t get home until 2am which considering Craig and I had a spanish exam at 9am the following day was maybe not the brightest idea. Anyway we totally aced the test anyway and next week we start Intermedio Uno!

We watched a really good Argentian film called Valentin by Rodrigo Noya in school on Friday afternoon. It’s the story of a eight year old boy who lives with his elderly grandmother in Buenos Aires in the 1960s. The kid in the film is just brilliant, so funny and so cute but the story is quite moving. We watched it with Spanish subtitles which definitely helped me follow most of what was going on but I think I’ll try and get hold of a copy to watch again with the English ones!

Last night was a fairly big one. Thirteen of us ended going out for a meal, two brits, one kiwi, six americans, one czech, one austrian and a south african. Chris had booked a table at a really gorgoues restaurant called Milion in Recoleta and we ended up with our own private room. Then there were beers in an Irish pub until around 2am at which point we hopped off to a small local club somewhere in town to dance. There was a lot of crazy salsa and Meringue music and downstairs there was some bizarre equivalent of line dancing but salsa style being led by a group of ridiculous muscled male dancers on stage. Craig and I tried it out but gave up in the end, it was pretty damn complicated, either that or maybe I’d just had too many beers by that point. A pit stop for empanadas on the way home and Miss Linney crawled into her bed at 6.30am. I didn’t get up until one this afternoon. After sufficient coffee and cereal I sauntered out into the sunshine (sunglasses firmly on) and strolled around the markets in my barrio before settling down outside a cafe to drink Licuardos and watch the world go by. And I’m doing it all over again tonight as it’s my German friend Basha’s last night in Argentina! And then tomorrow I’m getting stuck in to the football madness and going to see Boca Juniors vs Racing!

suits and salsa

Just when you think you cannot stand the rain any longer and silently curse this place under your breath having had to run for shelter into an internet cafe after slipping on a sodden smear of dog shit in your flip flops, everything changes. You emerge an hour later to find the rain has stopped, the sun is shining through the clouds onto the cobbled streets in Palermo, the leaves just starting to turn gold and just like that, you fall in love with Buenas Aires all over again. It’s a place where popping into a shop to ask about buying stamps leads to a fifteen minute chat about where you are from, what you’re doing and how you are enjoying the city; when you end up sitting outside a cafe in the early evening to do your homework and the owner comes out to adjust the position of the lights so you can see better; where dog walkers wrestle with ten huge beasts along the streets at 8am in the morning and where you can pop out for Mexican food at midnight and find the restaurants heaving with life.

This week has been fairly dance-tastic! Nero and I have a new playmate in our class this week, Craig who’s from Wigan. Unfortunately having two brits in one class has significantly lowered the tone of the general conversation, the first and last time I try to explain the double meaing of “cuning linguist” in a spanish class. It has been very funny though and luckily our teacher Tali is lovely and very tolerant! Craig and Nero got roped into our second visit to Tango lessons, Taral and I got to do the whole foot kicking thing which was very funny although things definitely got more complicated.

Nero and Taral tango-lesson2.JPG getting the hang of tango? Craig gets marched around the Tango salon

 Then Tuesday night we randomly orgnaised a wine and salsa evening in Taral’s flat with his Venezuelan housemate Cristian, who teaches Salsa. As we had more girls I can now salsa as a boy or as a girl, some serious gender confusion going on here! It also randomly turns out that Taral’s sister is Asne Seierstad who wrote The Bookseller of Kabul, a present I got a few years ago and really enjoyed!

Salsa, Venezuelan style! Salsa with wine

Last night we checked out a club called Opera Bay which has this wednesday night after-work scene. It was like being in a bar in Canary Wharf on a Friday night. Lots of guys in suits all over the place but it was very entertaining that the boys got all suited up so they could get in. Chris, who’s from California, looked particularly mafioso in his get up! We left earlyish and walked to Recoleta for Mexican food. We ended up having an rather loud hour long discussion as Chris had ben eyeing up one fo the girls on a table next to us and we were debating the best way for him to approach her. Eventually he goes up to bar to give the waitress his number on a napkin (yeah, so we didn’t come up with anything hugely original!) to take over but while he’s explaining all this in Spanish the girl and her friends are leaving. So Nero nabs her by the door and asks her if she has a boyfriend. She simles and says “yes, he’s called Chris too!” So it turns out they clearly spoke english and overheard most of the debate. Ah well, I don’t think it’s entirely disuaded Chris from perservering with the local girls!

tangos and thunderstorms

Five of us and the riverThe weather is crazy, properly loco and not even the trusted bbc is up to the task of prediciting what will happen tomorrow. On Tuesday we awoke to blue skies, sun shining, warm with a lovely cool breeze. There were a few odd grey clouds on the horizon, but nothing to be concerned about, or so I thought.
After school Nero, Rebecca and I headed out to San Telmo which is the part of the city that looks most like you imagine Buenos Aires: cobbled streets, cafes, music playing, antique shops with a definite raffish charm. We stopped for beers along the river in Puerto Madeiro which is an area of converted warehouses along the river with views across the city. By now the sky had started to turn a very strange shade of luminous grey but I ignored it and hurried off to my first taste of tango in the centre and got there just as the heavens opened.

Tango was awesome, really good fun. I managed to convince Basha and Tarell to come with me and there were two other beginners and about 7 or 8 portenos who were rather more advanced. We were taught by a stout little guy all in black with an impressive moustache. Outside the rain poured, the thunder roared and the sky was starkly illuminated with flashes of lightening while inside the tango rhythms played on the stereo and we stumbled through the first three or four steps. As Basha and I were both sharing Tarell as a partner (who was pretty good) I got to dance with our teacher quite a bit which was fantastic especially as, with the other guys, I got told off for trying to be the boss (I mean, can you imagine?) where as with someone who is good and confident, you totally follow their lead without thinking. The basic steps are not so difficult once you get the hang of them and you get to do some cool little foot twiddles which look very impressive! We are definitely going back next week.
Unfortunately due to the torrential rainstorms the subte (underground) flooded and then stopped when I was half way home and all the taxis were full, it took 20 mins in the rain to find one, and then, they charge you extra due to wet weather. I may never complain about public transport in London again!

Wednesday was hot, sunny and beautiful so we all fled up to Tigre as soon as class finished to go and do the boat trip we´d planned for last saturday. It was wonderful because the whole river delta area is heaving at the weekend when the weather is good with hundreds of boats. But on a wednesday afternoon in autumn, apart from the odd rower and occaisional small ferry, I felt like we had the river all to ourselves. Just five of us, a mini inflatable speed boat, our guide and the jungle.

Jungle river delta from Tigre

Tigre is a town on the end of a large maze of rivers that go through the delta of the Rio de la Plata. And along the main waterways are hundreds of houses, bars, cafes,  few churches, a floating petrol station, poilce station and three schools. Most of the houses are weekend houses but some people live here all year round and the only way to get around is by boat. The further out you get the more remote and infrequent the houses become until suddenly all signs of civiliastion vanish and you are alone in the jungle with the turtles, kingfishers, dragonfiles and the mosquitos. We boated around for about two hours in all the tiny channels and wide cross rivers of the area, skating around huge expanses of floating lilies. Heading back to the habited part of the Delta we stopped in a riverside bar for beers and snacks – being 5pm I did point out that it was definitely beer o´clock. We headed back into the marina just as the sun was setting behind the ferris wheel in Tigre.

In theory we should have chilled out after Tigre but there is a big after-work club night in San Telmo on wednesday evenings which everyone from school was going to. It´s a fairly big club called Museum which kicks off from 8pm, gets going about 11pm and continues until 2am which is really early for this city. For 20 pesos (about 4 pounds) we got entry and a speed and vodka (speed as in a type of red bull that is!). There were huge mirror balls hanging from the ceiling, galleries of seats occupied by the professional late twenties and thirties local crowd, a lot of guys still in work suits, very banker style, and bubbles pumped continually over the entire mid section which formed the dancefloor. I think we danced to everything from the Rolling Stones to Madonna, House of Pain to Scissor Sisters and even Flashdance! It was a very entertaining evening especially as being ´touristas´ we attracted a lot of attention from the portenos. I even got seranaded to Duran Duran! I think what was more incredible is that I only had about three drinks all night and woke up this morning, a little tired, but otherwise feeling quite perky which, after a night clubbing in the UK, would definitely not be the case. Either this is a sign of my growing maturity (no really you can stop laughing) or I´ve just finally settled into the pace of life in Buenos Aries.

My Neighbourhood in Palermo