Greetings from Talampaya National park, where as you can see I did some really beautiful interpretative dance.
So, things are following a very predictable trajectory for me as a traveller. I am running out of money (that is absolute piffle; I have completely run out of money), everything in my rucksack is slowly but surely being stolen (I lament the cardigan, the antimalarials for sure but my old, shapeless Primark knickers? Are you insane?), I’m wearing worse and worse outfits and the creations I make in hostel kitchens are daily becoming less like food and more like playdough with a side portion of compost. I do not yet own a guitar but I am probably less than 48 hours away from purchasing a poncho. Thank Jesus Christ I will be back in London in seven weeks. I am unrecognisable even to myself.
My latest traveller-type enterprise is washing my own clothes to circumvent the service wash charge levied by hostels. I have a scrubbing brush, a bottle of ariel purple liquid and an indefatigable knack for managing to clean only one armpit section whenever I wash a top.
Today, however, my penny-pinching habits bit me on the bottom. I emerged triumphantly on to the patio outside my room with a handful of sopping wet clothes (I quite enjoy the washing part of it; I simply cannot be arsed with the wringing stage however) and searched around for a suitable place to hang them. It’s boiling hot in La Rioja province at the moment and I knew they’d be done in less than an hour. I hung half of them in the grapefruit tree and the other half on some abandoned metal frame.
I returned an hour later. My clothes were dry! They smelled lovely! And no-one had stolen my knickers this time. However. The metal frame, it turned out, was not such a good place to dry clothes. All came back into my room with straight lines of rust stretched across them. F*ck, I cursed. I’m behind with my writing today. I don’t have time to wash them again. Of course, though, I washed them again. Apart from anything else my only ‘nice’ skirt looked like I had done a very neat, straight orange poo down the back of it. I needed that rust to come out, fast.
The rust didn’t come out, fast or otherwise. So I now have eight ruined pieces of clothing and no funds to buy replacements. If I go out somewhere special I have the option of a pair of hiking trousers, denim hotpants or a skirt that looks like it has been defecated on. Ideal.
Later on, to cheer myself up, I went to a ‘local’ sort of restaurant for some dinner. I’ve not eaten out in a week and was quite certain that I would go mad if I had another night of rice, courgettes and canned tuna.
Like any decent traveller I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu with no understanding of what it was. (I did ask the waiter and he explained but I didn’t understand a word he said and, because I am a moron, I just nodded my head and said “oh right, great, I’ll have that then please.”) A nice-looking chicken casserole arrived at my table. Quids in, I thought! Cheap AND lovely!
I sunk my fork into a piece of chicken, smiling, and saluted myself for choosing so well.
But the chicken didn’t taste right. And it was more chewy than it should be. Hang on, I thought. Is it squid? The texture was not dissimilar. But of course it wasn’t squid. There isn’t an ocean for several thousand kilometres. It must just be odd chicken.
Shall I stop? my head wondered.
No, I thought. You haven’t eaten out for a week. You is damned well gonna eat this freaky chicken, bitch.
No, it really was all wrong. I looked a little bit more closely at it and then recoiled in horror. The chicken was furry! It was furry I tell you! FURRY!
You probably know where this is going so I won’t bother to relate my conversation with the waiter when he pointed to his stomach and then started mooing. You have already guessed it. I was eating tripe. I was eating furry cow stomach. I was eating something that no human being has any business eating.
Finally, to top off my day of bargain-hunter disasters, I came back to the hostel early to comfort myself with a free cup of herbal tea (The Man sent some over for my birthday). The knob for the gas hob had disappeared while I was out enjoying a lovely dinner of cow’s innards and so I had to improvise with a fork to get the gas going. But by the time I managed to light a match the improvised gas supply had been going for a good fifteen seconds and so it is lucky that the room didn’t catch fire in the ensuing explosion. What did happen is that my new twenty peso cardigan, bought a few days ago to replace the one that was stolen, essentially melted. No finest argentine alpaca wool here! No llama hair woven by indigenous tribespeople from a remote Andean valley! Just a combination of materials so chronically synthetic that I ended up with a cup of melted sleeve rather than a cranberry infusion.
I write this blog wearing(quite genuinely) a one-armed cardigan. With neither a sleeve nor deet to protect me (my deet was stolen too, natch) I am rapidly being massacred by the local mosquito population. There are now 41 bites between my right elbow and right hand.
Sometimes, I think I am not cut out for travelling.