07.12.2007 - 10.12.2007 36 °C
After having a few more gret days in Cordoba we decided to try our luck in Rosario as we headed towards Uruguay. Rosario is supposedly ´Rocking´at the wekends so where better to go.
We arrived early evening on the Thursday so there was still plenty time to head on out. A few blocks from the hostel we came across the Monumento Nacional A La Bandea. This is a national monument built to hoour the man who designed the Argentinian flag. It´s pretty amazing and stands at almost 80m tall. I read that the designer rests in a crypt below. We managed to go up to the top nd the views over the city, the local Parana river and the islands is superb. To top it off there was an orchestra playing some sort of concert at the bottom. Normally that´s not exactly my cup of tea but it felt quite apt there and then.
A huge reason the city is so popular is the man made beaches running along the Parana river so we decided to hike up the river on the Friday given the weather was it´s usual brilliant self. It runs for almost 15km so it´s quite a walk in the heat. The girl behind the hostel desk was quick to tell us how beautiful it was but in all honesty it was nothing more than average and I think I am being kind. The beach itself was nice though but by then we were needing to seek cover from the sun so off for lunch it was and it wasn´t long before we were breaking the golden rule .... no drinking in the sun .... it´s bloomin´dangerous I reckon, and I should probably know. Walking home was less of an option now so we took cover in the local shopping centre where I made my first Boca purchase. Christ, I am now wering sleeveless tops. Whatever next.
We decided that if we had some sleep now then we could go out and experience the ´rocking´nightlife Rosario has to offer. When we were out we came across a local festival of Tango. I hadn´t really seen much Tango in Argentina as yet but what I had seen was definately younger, sexier and better, as I was lead to believe it should be. Anyway, we eventually made it to a bar/restaurant/club type place called Soho. Apparently that´s where it´s at in Rosario. It was a mix between a 70´s, 80´s and 90´s night wih some 00´s thrown in for good measure. Basically I think they just couldn´t decide I reckon. The men (mostly elderly) were all drinking champagne in order to lure the ladies. I am quite sure these weren´t the wives so to speak. We got talking to some guys called Sebastian and Rodrigo after a short while and in the end we spent the whole night talking to Rodrigo. By this time Sebastian had gone awol. Rodrigo didn´t seem too worried by this so no worries. Come the end of the evening, or rather the middle of the night Rodrigo invited us to meet his family and spend Sunday with them at their weekend home nearby. This is quite an honour by all accounts so I took his number and said we would give him a call later .....
Saturday was a fairly quiet day by our standards. We took in a few of the travel guide attractions. Unfortunately I had hurt my foot pretty badly but since I am a stubborn Aberdonian I still found it in me to walk half the city length. We ended up at some park on a pedalo which was surprisingly good fun. Only in Argentina could 3 people be employed to get you on a pedalo. One to take the money, one to take the ticket 2 yards later and one to make sure you didnt drown as you got onto the darned thing!!
Sunday was upon us. We had discussed the date at length and I was now to phone Rodrigo. In the UK there is no way you would put your trust in a total stranger and get in their car and travel 20 or 30 odd miles to a house in the country side. I hope when Rodrigo reads this he doesnt think any less of us for thinking so much about it. It's an unfortunate reality of the lives we live today that we need to be a little wary of something that seems too good to be true.
The reality ...... probably the best day I have had travelling, maybe one of the best days of my life. Rodrigo picked us up a little before noon. As per Friday night we were chatting away as if we had been friends for quite some time. We picked his sister Veronica up along with her boyfriend and we spent the journey discussing university and life after. The differences are quite amazing really. I felt embarrssed to have so many holidays for example. We arrived at the family home and it was beautiful, a 2 bedroom house in a little land with a pool out front. Paola, Rodrigo's girlfriend of 7 years, made us feel extremely welcome. Then there was his mother Lidia and father Rodolfo who quite simply could not do enough for us. Lidia was an English teacher of quite a number of years and Paola spoke perfect English. They mocked Rodrigo on his English skills but in all honesty he put our Spannish to shame. Not many topics weren't covered over the course of the day, least not the amazing asado we had ... thank you Rodolfo. At this point I should mention the grandmother. As all grandmothers do she took care of us all, making sure Ali ate enough for instance. As if Ali wouldn't eat when hungry!! An afternoon was spent by the pool with lots more chat. Education, history, politics, religion, work, the list goes on. It was an amazing afternoon and I really am not doing it justice here. To be invited truely was an honour and we felt it was one shared by our hosts. I ended up in the house before long playing a card game called Canasta. I am not too bad at picking up games but this was something else. Four packs of cards plus jokers and a whole new ruleset to get to grips with. Of course Lidia won in a race to 10,000 points but I think I hit arout 5k and I was more than satisfied with that. Paola said it was some achievement and I took that on board given Lidia had played the game pretty much every day since she was 15 years old. It has since come to my attention that Giuliano (Paulo's son) has passed some exams to enter him into a very important school. Congratulations young man, good luck with it.
Rodrigo and Paola took us home late that night and not satisfied with feeding us a ridiculous amount they invited us for dinner. We politely declined as we had to pack for the remainder of our journey. Sometimes you can't say thank you enough. I'm going to say it again. Thanks Rodrigo, you made Rosario very special mate and you´re certaily not a stranger any more.