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marge & ian’s Travel Diary

Friday, 23 Dec 2005

Location: *Puerto Madryn - PATAGONIA, Argentina

Map*Puerto Madryn - PATAGONIA* (23/12/05 - 26/12/05)
Our first night in a dorm room wasn´t as bad as we had envisaged. We woke up and went into to town to investigate where we could go for Christmas dinner just in case we didn´t make any friends! Went shopping and managed to cook up a chicken curry with rice without any spices whatsoever. The only foods you can buy in the supermarkets here either relate to Italian food or meat, if you want anything else you are completely stuffed, but as you know I'm a resourceful kind of person so I came up with a complete indian tasting chicken curry from scratch without a spice in sight apart from chilli flakes. Obviously the Argentinians had absolutely no idea what it was as they don´t eat any hot food out here and don´t have curries. Anyway after dinner I was treated to my first Mate' drink.

**Just to let you know what Mate' is. Its a herbal drink that absolutely everyone in South America drinks. Its drank out of a little wooden cup and has a silver straw type thing. They put the herbs in (which look supsiciously like weed but unfortunately don´t have the same effect!) and pour in some water, but you only get about two or three sips before the water is soaked up by the Mate' so you just keep on topping it up. The locals all carry around flasks of hot water and a mate' cup wherever they go, bus journeys from 20mins to 20hours, when they go camping, hostels anywhere its always "Mate' Time". Anyhoo if you get offered Mate' you are privelledged because it is a sign of friendship. It is also very similar to "smoking de herb" in the way that it is passed around after a couple of sips**

So as I had never had Mate' I tried some from a Brasilian girl who was in the hostel. It was actually really nice, I had it with sugar which was tasty. It tasted very much like green tea. So I was well chuffed that I´d finally had my first one. I also kept on draining the cup (well you do only get about 3 sips so its not that satisfying) and Luisa told me that it was considered a good sign for me to do that, can´t quite remember why coz I was a little pissed at the time.

We woke up with a hangover so we decided to just chill in the hostel. Went and stocked up on the Gatorade and sat in the garden of the hostel sunbathing, it was bloody boiling. Sat listening to the ipod and speakers then went to buy our Christmas Dinner and booze for the next day. Town was no different as it would have been at home, people madly buying last minute presents, boyfriends frantically scouring the jewellery shops because they hadn´t bought their girlfriends anything yet. All it did was highlight the bad aspects of Christmas and it made us glad that we weren´t at home doing the same. Ian was very chuffed with our shopping trip though as we bought 3 bottles of wine and 2 litres of Bramah beer for the grand total of 5.50 pounds.

Sat outside with everyone in the hostel finding it strange that it was Christmas eve, got my ipod out and put some christmas music on. So we were sat at 9.00 at night, bright sun, hot, singing to "White Chrismas" and "Jingle Bells" - very surreal.

Went out after a few drinks and got drunk. At midnight the whole of the pub went mental like it was new year or something, everyone started dancing, fireworks were going off, free champagne was given out it was pretty mad really. I went home about 3.00am, Ian stayed out.

Woke up on Christmas Day obviously with a hangover. Ian informed me that he had only got in at 8.00am as he had gone to this club called "El Rancho"!! on the beach with two English guys, I didnt even hear him come in.

Opened our two christmas cards, and spent the rest of the day hung over. It was pretty uneventful really until we phoned home and spoke to everyone. Went down to the beach for a walk and saw where all the Argentinians spend Christmas, they were all out in full force. Then went and cooked our christmas dinner - Chilli.

*Gaiman - ARGENTINA* (26/12/05 - 27/12/05)
On Boxing Day we said bye to the friends that we had made and made our way to Gaiman for the night. Gaiman is where a lot of the Welsh settled when they had made their mark in Puerto Madryn. There was a house called "Premiere Casa", which was the first Welsh house, it was stuck in time, and looked like it hadnt changed since the Roberts family had moved in. All the roads were called Roberts, or other Welsh names. Around every street corner was a Welsh flag, it was very weird and eerie. Went to see the Welsh teahouses that serve welsh tea and cakes, Princess Di had been to one of them and they were very proud of this fact so it had put their teahouse on the map. Wandered round and saw the other historical sites. It was like a ghost town thought, very small place, with a few people who still speak Welsh. Went for dinner and had pasta (for a change!). Ian did his usual trying to speak spanish to the lady in the restaurant and instead of saying that we were on our honeymoon, he told her that we were on our "Vacation Baños" which translates to "Toilet holiday"!! what an idiot! She looked at us very puzzled until I set her straight and told her that it was our honeymoon. She seemed relieved and then gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.