I know, I know. Your lives have ground to a pitiful halt. You’ve lost the sparkle in your eyes; your boss is beginning to notice your lacklustre approach to work and your social life is stagnating. All because you have been waiting, glued to your computer screens, for my next blog. WHERE IS SHE, you’ve been yelling. WHERE IS LUCY ROBINSON? I NEED HER. I LOVE HER.
Well perhaps this is a little over the top but I apologise nonetheless for my silence, friends. It’s because I have done something a little bit wild; I’ve been on holiday. Whoa! Stop that girl! She CRAZY!
I know you probably think I’m living the high life out here but in fact I’m every bit as busy as I was in London and I haven’t seen a bikini in nearly two years. So last week I jacked it all in and took a week off to hang out with my friend Katy who was visiting me from Montreal.
Katy is an English Rose of the first order. She wears nice, well-made floral clothes and has a Mulberry wallet and scarves that smell good. She wears colourful jewellery and birkenstocks. When she goes to bed at night she puts on night cream that makes me want to sniff her furtively while she sleeps. As ever I am the accompanying rotter with my suncream-stained H&M vest collection, fake haviana flip flops and denim hot pants that worked well as jeans but look pretty crapping stupid as shorts. (They widen my hips to the extent that I look like I’m wearing a ruff or bustle. And don’t say ‘can’t you buy some out there?’ because good God if you saw the state of the clothes on offer you would pipe down.)
I’ve known Katy since I was two years old so felt obliged to pull out all the stops and organise a week of non-stop awesomeness. Needless to say, though, not everything went according to plan.
Katy arrived two hours late and, given that she had flown overnight, responded pretty well to the fact that I turned up in the wrong airport terminal and tried to make her take the 2 hour, 2 peso bus all the way back into Buenos Aires. “We’ll get a taxi,” she said gently but firmly.
We arrived at my house and I started shouting orders: GET IN THE SHOWER, GET OUT OF THE SHOWER, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, WE HAVE TO GO TO AN ASADO.
An asado is an Argentine barbecue. It is amazing. I knew there was prime beef grilling over charcoals right now. I couldn’t wait any longer.
We arrived via a stinky rattling bus and were deposited in a motorway lay-by somewhere near my asado-throwing friend’s house. Men drinking strong beer on the roadside stared at us and I felt rather guilty. Poor Katy had brought over two tonnes of supplements for me and this was the best I could offer? Fortunately we were rescued soon after by my friend who ferried us off in a jeep and shovelled beef and salad down us for hours. Katy, who over the years has developed a cut-glass British accent fit to rival those BA air hostesses who have been dug straight out of the 1940s, was an instant hit. I’ve even had emails since saying how much they loved her and her voice. I just kept my head down and ate hard; she entertained the whole party with witty English quips and clever observations.
Later I whisked her off for our Special Night at the Most Expensive Hotel in BA. It was going to be my first time wearing a dress and heels since I arrived here and I was VERY EXCITED. This is how I live in BA, was my unspoken sentiment. Look how posh and successful I am.
Rather unfortunately we weren’t allowed in to the hotel bar. Instead I treated Katy and my other friends to a night in the hotel’s toilet. It was the only part of the building to which we were granted access. As far as toilets go they were completely amazing but still, I was a little red-faced. And given the fact that I hadn’t worn heels in about 5 months I was lacerated and hobbling by the time we left said toilets so I insisted on a taxi which then got lost in a shit part of town and cost us a small fortune. Never let it be said that Lucy Robinson doesn’t know how to show you a good time.
After a couple of days of steak, wine, flea markets and afternoon teas we got on a boat to Uruguay where we were planning to spend three days on the beach. Or at least I was. I mentioned this to Katy as we boarded the ferry and she said “Ah. I don’t sit on the beach for longer than two hours.” I looked at her perfect light freckly English skin and realised – of course not. I tried not to look in the mirror at my leathery, sun-wrinkled visage because it would only make me want to buy expensive face creams which I cannot afford because I am, like, a traveller, man.
So instead we went on an adventure holiday of sorts. Town one day, countryside the next, beach the final day.
On night one we found a hosteria that was exactly like Fawlty Towers. It really was amazing. They had blacked out windows for no reason (drug deals at the breakfast table?) and a freestanding 1970s illuminated kiosk thing which listed all of the different types of sandwich you could buy. I like that sort of attention to detail. Who needs a piece of paper when you can have a six-foot kiosk spilling light and sandwich information across the sea of empty tables?
That night we ate in a packed restaurant and were entertained by a man who looked like The Fonz. He sang classics like “I just called to say I love you” while everyone ate their dinner and completely ignored him. He seemed remarkably unbothered; clapping and cheering himself at the end of each song to make up for the fact that the entire restaurant was oblivious to his existence. I sort of felt sorry for him until he tried to make us buy his CDs and then had the audacity to add a charge for his ‘performance’ to our bill. When I said he sang I did not imply that he did so with any talent.
The next day we drove into the country to hang out on an estancia (ranch) and rather unexpectedly found ourselves on Dartmoor in late Autumn. (See picture.) We went for a brisk cold rainy walk and sat by open fires in jumpers reading books. I loved it but didn’t really understand. I had rather thought that we were in South America and that it was currently between 26-30 degrees?
While on the ranch I fell in love with an old Gaucho called Beto. He is truly amazing. He gave me mate by his fire at 9.30am and told me to stop being so stupid and move to Uruguay. When, an hour or so later, I found myself proceeding across a beautiful meadow on horseback at a flat out gallop, I did rather wonder if he had a point. There is nothing that makes me happier than being out and about in NATURE. It makes me suspect that my meeja life in London is a bit silly and a bit not who I really am. Anyone else get this?
Finally, on day three, Katy gave in and agreed to go to the beach. We arrived in a state of high excitement, ready for some fresh seafood, live jazz (as advertised) and hot surfers. Instead we found
…nothing. A deserted town. A load of boarded up cabins and restaurants and not so much as a Greater Dreadlocked Traveller picking out Jeff Buckley on a guitar. Slightly taken aback, we went for a walk along the beach in the gathering dusk to find signs of life.
There were none, save for a stray dog. But then – SUCCESS! Wildlife! “Look! a Seal!” I yelled, pointing out to the darkening sea. Katy screamed her head off with excitement, never having seen a seal before. We ran down to the water’s edge to get a better look; night was falling fast and we didn’t want to miss a second of our whiskery friend.
“Look at him flying around on the top of the waves!” I shouted, as the seal hit the crest of a wave…and, er, stood up on a surfboard and surfed into the shore.
I was so embarrassed I couldn’t speak. “At least we thought we’d seen a seal,” Katy said kindly as I mumbled an apology. What the f*ck was a surfer doing out there in the dark anyway?
The next day was my long-awaited day though: beach time. I didn’t give a rat’s arse if this place was deserted; I was lying on the beach for some tanning and sloth and nothing was going to stop me. I slapped on my factor 30 and off we headed. We’d been laid out blissfully for around three minutes when an ominous rumbling in my guts made clear that I had a little less than five minutes to get back to the hostel. More specifically, to the bathroom at the hostel. Why? I muttered as I charged along at high speed. Why? Because you had a great big coffee at breakfast, you prick, came the response. Of course you need the loo. You don’t even drink coffee.
And when I returned, Katy was already burning so she left. And then I realised an hour later that I hadn’t remembered to put cream on the very top of my legs because I’d been wearing shorts earlier so had developed a massive red burn across my crotch region. And then a hot surfer came and started talking to me as I tried to cover it up but in the process I managed to eject my knickers from my beach bag which went flying off in the breeze and landed right next to his surfboard.
It was terrible.
I went back to find Katy who was serene and lovely reading a book on the terrace. “Let’s have lunch,” I said grumpily. “Great!” she replied. I asked the hotel to lay us a table outside and they refused on the grounds that they were painting nearby. Even the painter was sent out to explain this to me. But by now I was in a massive sulk and I’m afraid to say I behaved very badly. I said (in my poor Spanish) “this is all completely ridiculous. We are leaving. We are going somewhere where it’s not a problem to eat lunch outside when it’s 30 degrees.”
The woman who runs the hotel looked sad and hurt. I’m so ashamed it’s untrue… Does anyone else have a horrible messenger-shooting habit? Or is it just me?
Anyway, we then had a rather odd five hour journey back to the ferry during which one single radio station played:
-Soft Uruguayan Rock
-Pete Tong’s Friday Night warm up.
Yes, you heard. Suddenly, we were listening to Pete Tong. Wondering if we were perhaps on drugs we began to roar with laughter when it dawned on us that the station had simply taped a couple of hours of radio one and were playing it out for their own Friday evening listeners. I think that’s pretty enterprising. So we listened to the sound of stupid sub-literate teenagers crowing down the Disco Phone to Pete about how they were going to Have It tonight in crap provincial nightclubs. It made for a surprising soundtrack as we drove through the Uruguayan countryside.
So all in all it was a rather lovely, if not rather odd week. Which was rounded off quite spectacularly by an incident during which, after queuing for FORTY FIVE MINUTES for some fairly standard burritos at a Buenos Aires Mexican Festival yesterday, we were thrown out of a park by a man with a megaphone for SITTING ON THE GRASS. Yes, we were sitting on the grass. Would you believe it?
I have a feeling Katy may never come back. I even tried to feed her mate (pictured) which made her actually gip. I have not included a picture of the gipping but she looked very upset by it and said it tasted of ashtrays. It does.
So, thank you Katy for a truly magnificent week and sorry for being such a crap hostess. I’m quite sure the baggage handlers have never seen anything quite like our Cher performance at Luggage Carousel 1 on Friday night. It was moving and special.
Who is coming to visit me next, please?