Thursday, March 12, 2009

Por fin, LA PLAYA! (Part I)

Finally, after 4 long weeks of studying, teaching, and wondering what it's like to actually relax in Argentina, last Friday I graduated from my TEFL Certification course (w00t!) and made my way to the beach. Immediately. As in, I finished class at 8:00pm, and was on a bus to Necochea at 11:00pm with 6 other classmates, and several bottles of wine.

Our mission: To hang at our friend Emilia's beach house in Necochea for the weekend, and then explore a few other beach towns as we work our way back up the coast. More specifically, to get a tan, drink like fish, eat too much, and totally veg out.

The cast: Yours Truly (a raging, flame-headed gringo from Philadelphia and most recently, Boston), Paul (guy from San Fran and our trip's eventual appointed tour guide), Megan (rock solid tomboy and futbol superstar, also from San Fran), Marisa (London hottie and the woman who taught me to say "minger"), Emilia (1/2 gingo and 1/2 Argentine, she was Colorado born, but is Argentine in her soul), Matt (quiet New Yorker with a thing for pterodactyls) and Kieran (totally nuts and utterly quotable guy from Cork, Ireland).

The bus ride was 8 hours long, and I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of pounding rain and thunder. yup! A torrential downpour, complete with thunder, lightning, and the bus rocking side to side! I was too out of it (thanks to my good friend Dramamine) to react much, but I do recall waking up long enough to exclaim "On no it's raining!" eat a kind of stale pastry the bus driver had given me, and go back to sleep.

Saturday, Day 1:
We arrived in Necochea in early morning just as the rain was clearing. Though it started off a little grey, by noon there was not a cloud in the sky. We threw down our bags in Emilia's AMAZING beachfront apartment, and went off for the first of many consecutive gluttonous breakfasts of coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, medialunas (mini croissants delivered directly from heaven!!), and ham and cheese tostadas.

Then to the beach! Oh man, the seven of us had thought of almost nothing else for weeks. Every time we had to do an assignment, stay up late studying, whatever, we always remembered that soon, we'd be lounging on the beach uselessly, drinking cervezas and wasting our lives away to the beat of the crashing ocean waves. Por fin, mission complete! As we walked onto the beach, the clouds seemed to melt away just for us, and we found what felt like the perfect spot on the perfect beach. We flounced, we flopped, we swam, we played paddle ball... Megan, Paul, Kieran, and Matt even played a full game of futbol with some locals while Marisa, Emilia and I worked on our tans. Like I said, the perfect day. I left feeling like I'd been injected with positive energy and a heavy dose of Vitamin D. I also had the beginnings of a [reddish] tan.

And that was just the first half of day 1! I was gone for 5 days, peeps! This blog is going to take me forever to write!

Next order of business-- a feast! An asado! It was Megan's birthday (and damn her, I felt ancient as she announced she was turning only 23-- I mean, literally, it's like I have one foot in the grave), and so we went all out, picking up about 25 litros of Quilmes beers, bags of green and red peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash, and such a huge pile of assorted meats, I thought my arm was going to break off carrying the thing on the way home.

That night was quite the fiesta. A few of Emilia's friends came over, so at the peak of the evening there must have been about 12-14 of us packed into her covered porch thingy (I don't know what it's called), grubbing down on piles of meat and veggies, and putting back more cerveza than I should admit here. Needless to say, we were all pretty smashed, and some of the highlights of the subsequent events include Kieran becoming the DJ and stressing out over his music choices, Paul and Kieran gyrating and rapping along to all of Oakland's finest thug hits, having to go on TWO more beer runs (even though we had TWENTY FIVE LITERS), and the whole group suddenly pushing the tables out of the way and starting a dance party. We even made it to a dance club at some point in the middle of the night, and I recall riding there in the back of a pickup truck.

Megan, the birthday girl, had a blast, and we all really bonded that night. It was exactly what everyone needed after a long, hard month, and a sunny day at the beach.

Sunday, Day 2:
Hangover breakfast at a sweet little sidewalk cafe in the early afternoon. Coffee, juice, lots and lots of water, and medialunas. AND pizza, ham sandwiches, salads, and I think some people even ordered hamburgers...

...plenty more beach time...

...a walk in the woods, and a stop at El Lago de los Cisnes (Swan Lake), which lacked any swans, but had plenty of geese...

...a pile of churros stuffed with dulce de leche and pastry cream....

...and a huge seafood dinner! My first seafood in months! (Necochea appears to specialize in squid, because not only did we get this gorgeous pile of the world's largest calamari, but I also ordered a mixed seafood pasta dish, which prominently featured about 75% squid-- yum.)

Monday, Day 3:
Emilia was leaving that evening for Bariloche to visit a friend, and Matt decided to head back to Buenos Aires the night before to start working on *cough* getting a job. At this point we were all totally sunburned, and did spend some time at the beach, but also decided to do some wandering/ exploring.

Our desire to wander and explore led us to possibly the most exciting part of all, which was the pier (more of a causeway) and the sea lions! SEA LIONS! Really big ones. They looked like bears flopped on the sand in piles, falling over each other, waving to each other, and occasionally diving into the water for a dip. The call them lobos marineros in Spanish, which literally means "sea wolf," which I find interesting.

The pier itself was amazing, with stunning views of the ocean, the beach, and the city of Necochea off in the distance. There was also a very cool mural painted along the end. We had a blast wandering along the pier for hours, checking out the scenery, enjoying the sea lions, and doing a little rock hopping.

We also payed a visit to Necochea's landmark Quilmes and Speed cans (formerly bathrooms, now just tourist attractions for loons like us).

And wandered through a very, very cool outdoor nightclub that was unfortunately closed for the season. Man, it seemed like a fun place to party!

We had plenty more adventures on days #4 and 5, but unfortunately your beloved blogger is tired and needs to take a blogging break....

To be continued! xoxo


heather said...

welcome back, sweetums! i'm so happy to read your blog again. i've been in peanut-blog withdrawal! that is the HUGEST calamari i've ever seen! looks scrumptious too. your trip sounds incredible. yaay! love the pix. skype me. i miss my girl. xoxo