Saturday, February 14, 2009

Patagonia dreamin'

Order of the day - sort out my self-inflicted travel woes. My aide in this was another of the hostel's fantastic staff, Yamila, who helped me out by going through the small print of my ticket with me and checking the e-mail I had composed in my workmanlike EspaƱol to the transport company, then (once I eventually, after about 3 hours, got the confirmation in that my big ticket had been amended) booking that elusive El Calafate to Gallegos bus. My hostel in Puerto Madryn was similarly brilliant about my changing my reservation, and just like that, it was all fixed.
A good start to what is generally My Least Favourite Day Of The Year. Better yet, I went back to my dinner venue of the previous night, the Casablanca pub-restaurant, where I managed to watch both an FA Cup game and the Wales-England match from the 6 Nations (the result of the latter may have gone against us, partly aided by a horrific referee-ing display from pesky South African Jonathan Kaplan, but at least England played with some kind of feeling and panache again). All this accompanied by more of the very pleasant cerveza negra from the Austral brewery just over the border in Chile. Afterwards, I popped back to the hostel for a catnap of about an hour or so before heading into town again.
First order of business was dinner, for which I treated myself to one of the local specialities, trout, cooked in this case in a beer sauce with onions and peppers. From the restaurant, I headed on to the venue for the celebratory concerts, although as I arrived there wasn't actually a band playing. Instead, I had unwittingly turned up to the decisive stage of the contest to find the Reina del Lago Argentino, the Queen of Silver Lake - there were girls from various of the districts around the area all competing for this prestigious title, and I ended up standing through the best part of an hour of the contest, a comedian and a long medley of Phil Collins songs over the PA system (seriously) before the night's headline performance, a nationally known group called La Bersuit.
The music was pretty eclectic, anything from quite stately, almost folk, songs through to bouncing tunes more akin to rock, all pushed along by the three singers. Style-wise, the only thing I could perhaps compare it to amongst English-language groups I know would be The Cat Empire, although the latter has more of a salsa and reggae emphasis. In true Argentine style, it looked set to continue well into the small hours, so I made my way back out of the crowd around 1am, slightly confused to be stumbling over push-chairs and baby-buggies as I did so (the Argentine tendency to stay up until all hours starts early...) and headed back to the hostel.