Friday, February 12, 2010

Villa Gesell, Verano 2010

I'm baaaaack! The beach was wonderful-- a relaxing week of good food, sun, and waves. I shall now recap said week for your benefit, those of you stuck on the east coast of the US under 30 inches of snow!

After a good game of fulbo (lazy way of saying fútbol) on Wednesday night, I woke up at 6 am to a rainy Thursday and trekked out to Retiro (yay) to catch my 8:15am bus. No problems there, and the bus ride was uneventful…I pretty much slept the entire way, thanks to the comfortable semicama seats on all Argentinian long-distance buses. Arrived in Villa Gesell at about 2 pm and got a taxi out to Eli's apartment building.

Living room/my bedroom at the apartment (70's decor, note the rad curtains)

Villa Gesell is an adorable town about an hour north of Mar del Plata, far away from the joda and raging party scene I'm told rules the night down there. Gesell is more of a family location—lots of kids running around, flying kites, kicking sand, etc—and less bars/clubs/partying. The main street, Avenida 3, is lined with various stores selling beach equipment and various souvenirs and lots of restaurants and ice cream places. There is also a night-time artisan market and a little centro, where the street turns into a pedestrian walkway and performers do shows at night.

 Rather ungifted performer, but it was quite amusing watching him drop juggling pins...surprised he didn't fall off this thing...

Eli’s apartment was right on the beach, which was nice as it minimized the distance we had to lug chairs, towels, and the tent. Yeah, a tent. Apparently setting up tents on the beach is THE thing to do here in Argentina…everyone had one, so of course we had to get one too. It actually makes sense—with a little half-tent you can retreat into the shade during the heat of the day, protect yourself from the wind and blowing sand, and stay out on the beach all day! Anyway, big success with that.

 In the tent

I’d love to say that I did so many cool things at the beach, but to be honest I pretty much did nothing the entire week. Isn’t that what the beach is for? I read 4 books, three in English and one in Spanish, all very interesting. I suntanned religiously and am now a glorious shade of brown, thank god (pale Amy is significantly less attractive than tan Amy, at least in my opinion!) I swam in the ocean, which actually wasn’t as cold as I though it was going to be, and people-watched for hours. Listening to parents scold their children (“no tires arena!”) in Castellano is highly interesting, and watching families and trying to figure out the relationships between people is practically an art (Is she really married to him? Whose kid is that one, the one pouring sand down his pants? Are those two dating or is that her father?). It was a productive week.

 Reading book number 4 of 4 and suntanning...who says I can't multi-task?

On one of the two rainy days we took a day trip to Cariló, the rather posh little beach town directly to the north of Gesell. Lots of wealthy people have houses in Cariló, although for some unknown reason they refuse to fork out the money to pave the 5 mile long entrance to the community…I’ve never been on a more pothole-y road in my life. After a delicious pasta lunch and a drippy walk through the plaza, the sun worked its way out from behind the clouds and we headed back to our (more economical) beach.

 Cariló in the rain

The sounds of the beach are one of the things that impressed me the most. Villa Gesell might be a family beach, but that doesn’t mean it’s quiet or peaceful. First, there’s the music. There were two “balnearios” or beach restaurants/centers where you can get food, use internet, etc right near our little section of beach, and both blasted music all day, every day. The unmistakable beat of Argentinian cumbia (ch ch chh, ch ch chh, ch ch chh) was the background music for my entire week. Also on the endlessly repeating playlist of songs: reggae from Bob Marley and Fidel Nadal, “Paparazzi” by that chick, “Dejame entrar” by Makano (as featured on your’s truly’s Temazo Tuesday), “I know you want me, you know I wantcha,” and lots of Daddy Yankee.

Then, there’s the vendors. Men, women, and children walk up and down the beach all day, selling all kinds of random stuff: sunglasses, hats, bird-whistles, Bart Simpson bubble blowers, jewelry, skirts, bikinis. And food. So much food. All day long its “helado-helado-heladooOOoo!” or “fresquita la ensalada de frutaAAA” or “hay sándwiches de milaNEsaaa!” or “hay chuRRRRRos, rellenos y crocante los chuUUUrrrrrrOOOS!!” I can still hear the incantations in my head, a refrain of delicious and highly caloric offerings.

 Helado-man (and my slightly burned knee)

The best beach food by far is the choclo, or corn on the cob. For about 6 pesos it comes slathered with butter (or mayo, ick) and a pinch of salt, and is ridiculously tasty. Plus, it’s corn, so it’s good for you! Ish. Unlike the alfajores artesanales, of which there are several different local brands, each one as delish as the next. My personal favorite was Lithuen, and I brought home two boxes, one to share with the soccer boys and one all for ME (mwuhahaha).

 Choclos, calentitos los choclos!

Anyway, that was my trip in a nutshell! Caught an afternoon bus back to BA on Wednesday and made it home in time to play soccer that night. The cat was very happy to see me and began purring incessantly as soon as I walked in the door, twining himself around my ankles and crying joyously. His love was such that he felt the need to sleep two inches from my face and occasionally pat me softly on the head with his little paw, the darling. Although, considering I got home from soccer around 3 am and hadn’t really slept in 36 hours, it got old quick and I had to throw him out.

And so Life resumes as normal. Still hot in the city, sweating and wearing minimal clothing is required. Anxiously awaiting my mom’s visit in TWO WEEKS! Working as a freelance writer currently and making a few pesos from that. Also working on some how-to posts about traveling by micro and navigating Migraciones, so look for those sometime soon. And coming up soon, “Places My Cat Likes to Be.” It’s gonna be good folks.

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