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Houston, We Have A Problem

OK, so it is now less than 3 weeks until I re-enter the real world stratosphere and am back on Canadian soil. I am not ready. Six months on the road has been incredibly lucky but when I think that I will be leaving Rio on the longest day of the year and getting back to Canada's frozen, urban tundra on the shortest day, it makes me nervous. Add in the fact that I will likely experience a 50 degree temperature difference over 10 hours and I am ready to burn my ticket. At least I don't think I will burn up entering the Canadian atmosphere.

I am still in Argentina, having had extreme difficulties making my way out. For once, however, it was not based on bribery or lost documents but rather on my own innate laziness which sort of surprises me that that hadn't happened sooner. After writing last Thursday, Rob, Maggie, Stephanie and I made our way to a local nightclub, Club 69. Greeted at the door by kisses from drag queens and leather clad ladies, we knew we were in for a good time. The club filled up around 4:30 at which point we were treated to a stage show including a dance between a gay Arab and a he-cum-she transsexual who was naked except wearing an electric generator over the area where her-his penis used to be. Until she-he dropped the generator to the floor and continued to dance. It was a little different from the night clubs I am used to back home. Slightly fewer Canadians, I guess.

Rob and Maggie flew to Southern Argentina early the next morning and Stephanie and I had also planned to leave Buenos Aires, the only thing being that it relied on was the fact that we had to be out of the hotel by 10 a.m. We got up around 5 p.m. I tried to convince the owners that we were just trying to fit in and were also working on South American Time but they charged us another night, so we stayed. We then tossed in Saturday as well, as Stephanie and I decided to make a day trip to the nearby city of La Plata. The town was very nice - quaint and a pleasant getaway from the big city - but with numerous theatres in town we had hoped to catch a play or an opera; do something all cultural'n'crap. The only thing going in town, though, was a free choral recital and ballet performance by 2 small local groups. Nervous about the quality of free chorus and ballet, Stephanie and I sat in the back, fully prepared to make a big escape.

The chorus came on and sung their first of six songs, which was quite nice though the only lyrics for it's 8+ minutes were "Bum-bidi-bum". Happy to have it over, song 2 came on... also only with the lyrics "Bum-bidi-bum". In fact, all 6 songs, totaling over an hour of music ONLY had the lyrics "Bum-bidi-bum". Track 4 had tried to go a little crazy, changing it up to "Bum-bidi-BUM-bum", but I think worried that they were going to lose the audience, the chorus quickly switched it back to lyrics that people could really get in touch with. Stephanie kept me in my seat, otherwise I was long gone. Culture shmulture. The ballet was really quite good, as it was actually mostly flamenco as danced by young, beautiful Argentine women; nearly as many bums as the choral performance, but I think it was the lack of "bidis" that kept me entranced.

Sunday, Stephanie and I made our way to see a local soccer game featuring Boca Juniors, one of Buenos Aires' massive home teams. The other major team in the city is River Plate, who I was brought up to support, but as Boca's stadium was over an hour closer we opted to head there instead; it is sort of like how you pick your friends when you are a kid: whoevers house you can manage to get to on your own the most often is always your best friend. Boca is presently number one in the league and they were playing the number two team which led to a frenzied atomsphere. The 50,000+ seat stadium was filled over-capacity and the concrete would shake every time the team songs were chanted. As well, we ended up sitting in the section directly below the opposing team's fans and were pelted with mud and water and spit from the upper deck throughout the entire game. Fantastic stuff!

Boca came out to a 1-0 lead at halftime, spurring their opponents to try and change their luck by switching their jerseys at half-time. The clothing change was sort of like being at the Oscars, save for the fact that there is generally much better acting in South American soccer games than in Hollywood. With players limping and mincing about the field with fake injuries the attention was soon dropped from the match and focussed on the fact that Diego Maradona was in the crowd, watching the game from a luxury box. Maradona, despite his sublime idiocy in his post-retirement years, is still considered a hero, if not legend, throughout Argentina and is still regarded as the greatest player who ever lived. He leant out of his box, took off his shirt and started waving it at the crowd, sending people into fits of madness. Supporters of both teams stopped watching the game and every song sung throughout the stadium was some kind of homage to Maradona who just soaked it up all game long. A definite highlight of the whole trip for me.

After the game, Stephanie and I finally jumped on an overnight bus and made it up here to Puerto Iguazu, Argentine home of the Iguazu Falls. We spent today wandering around the falls, pretty much awe-struck. Niagara Falls are very impressive but nothing compared to the hundreds of cascades shooting down over the space of two-miles along the Brazilian-Argentine-Paraguayan borders. Chuck in the fact that, unlike Niagara Falls, the falls her are not located right beside one of the world's tackiest cities and you have an incredible sight. Or set of sights. Seven hours in the park today was not enough, so we are heading back to view it from the Brazilian side tomorrow and even that may not be able to capture all of it. Incredible, and nothing less.

But so tonight finally IS my last night in Argentina before I head back to Brazil. It is interesting - save for some minor disaster to befall me in Brazil, the order of how I have liked the countries down here will end up Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina then Peru. What is interesting is that this is also the exact same list in order of how much time I spent in each country. Whether I stayed longer because I liked it more or the other way around, I am not positive...