I thought I had traveled before. I haven’t. It may seem fairly obvious to most people once the concepts are fully defined, but there is a vast difference between ‘traveling’ and ‘holidaying’. I assumed I had done both in my time, with endless poolside, villa-based, middle class Italian getaways juxtaposed with hostel-centric city breaks involving Australians pretending to throw me off the side of a bridge in Belgrade. Then I came here.
Without meaning to sound somewhat naive, there are two factors that make this feel different. The first is distance. City-jumping in Europe is easy – not only is almost every city on the continent a short hop from my home in London, but almost all of said cities are within a stone’s throw from each other. I once took a nine-hour train journey from Hungary to Serbia and it felt like the world was ending. Here in Argentina, you get travelling top trumps, where everyone feels the need to one-up each other about how far they’ve come, how long it took, and how many jousting matches against feudal lords they had to win to get here.
The second – and much more noticeable – differing factor is time. If you stop in a city for a couple of days, you wake up early, you go to bed late, and you crush as much exhausting nonsense as you can into every waking moment. And you drink. A lot. However, knowing that not only do I have months and months left, but that those months will be spread across 15+ countries, it means I have to learn to pace myself. There are and will be days where you mustn’t drink, where you have to buy supermarket value gnocchi and attempt to cook it using a propane camping stove in a kitchen that looks like an unused set from Se7en.
As an example, in the past few days I’ve done very little other than avoiding going outside because of the heat, going outside and complaining about the heat, and drinking to stop feeling hot because of the heat. For instance, right now I’m sat under a giant aircon unit watching Archer (or rather I’m sat with people who are watching it as I cannot stand its painful, pretentious brand of ‘comedy’) rather than plumbing the depths of this gigantic city. I just cannot be bothered today. On a side note – a man screaming through a blaring megaphone outside our hostel has just startled everyone sat here. In keeping with the bustling political activity of this city, we assumed a protest had begun outside, but when we rushed to the hostel balcony we looked down to see it was just a guy selling melons.
Anyway, the laziness of my trip doesn’t just stop here; last night we attempted to have a chilled night in, but instead inadvertently tested all our respective brain capacities by watching Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (hilariously called Basterds sin Gloria – ‘Basterds Without Glory’) on Argentinian Netflix, meaning we had a film mostly in German and French with English subtitles and Spanish subtitles at the same time. By the time Cristoph Waltz was having a swastika carved into his face I felt like I’d run a marathon.
I will admit, however, that I don’t know what tonight holds. That admission is made more prescient by the fact that I just went out and bought a £1 bottle of Malbec.