I hopped over to Bristol this afternoon with Christina; and while we were walking near the river, we saw a bunch of birds. Christina insisted they were swans. I said they were too ugly and weird to be swans, they must be geese. A local, when asked, assured us that they were indeed swans — "Bristol swans". I lost £5. What do you think? Geese or swans? If they really are swans, then they're the least graceful type of bloody swan I've ever seen — they must be outcast by the rest of their swan brethren the world over.
It's not much, but it's about all that England has to offer the world, as far as culinary delights go. And as with a cuppa tea, no visit here would be complete without at least one serving of Fish 'n' Chips. Deep fried. Smothered in vinegar. And served for take-away in a white cardboard box. Almost makes me feel like I'm back home in Oz. Except that the guy cooking it was a Pakkie, instead of a Greek.
When my flight landed in London Heathrow this morning, I was greeted at the baggage carousel not with my baggage, but with an amusing (if slightly worrying) message. Behold the Heathrow screen of death! What's going on, anyway — one of the world's biggest airports is using Windows? No wonder the terrorists are getting through: at this rate, Al-Queda will be CTRL + ALT + DEL'ing aeroplanes right out of the sky.
My dad and I returned to the Goldsteins this evening, where the 6 of us went down the road to the Main St of Newton Center, and where we observed Erev Shabbat at one of the area's fine Chinese noodle restaurants. The Chicken Laksa was superb. No better way to honour G-d's creations, and to observe his commandment of rest on the seventh day, than over a big bowl of Malaysian curry soup. That's my interpretation, anyway. So, as they say at the famous Noodle King of Lane Cove, it was time for some "Number Tertee-Tree, Pleess!"
This evening, our friends and amazing hosts Tara and Ashki took off north, for a semi-weekend getaway in leafy Vermont. So as of now, my dad and myself are all alone in the big house. It's party time! Call the band, call the DJ, call the caterers (parve please — this is a kosher house :P) — and tell all your friends to get down to Newton Center. Doritos and tomato salsa also welcome.
One thing that I remember quite vividly about Manhattan, from my last visit here, is the honking. Manhattan drivers honk at each other all day long. They'll honk if they're bored. They'll honk to the radio. They'll honk jingle bells. They'll just honk away any old time. Which was why I was shocked to discover, when I started exploring Manhattan today, that an effort is being made to change this — everywhere you look, you can see signs saying: "Don't honk, $350 penalty". Fortunately, despite the signs, the honking continues, and enforcement of the new fascist honk-free régime appears to be minimal. Manhattan's famous, trademark noise lives on. Vive le honk!
So I'm walking down 2nd Ave in New York, looking for a place to eat. And what do I see, but a store that claims (in bold letters) to sell "New York's best egg cream". So what do I do? Of course, I go into the store, and I say to the (Pakistani) guy behind the counter: "give me an egg cream please". No — actually, I'm not a bald 50-year-old Jewish man, I'm an Aussie backpacker; so I say "I'll grab an egg cream thanks, mate". And I must say, it did taste pretty good. You don't have to be Jewish to understand this — but as they say, it wouldn't hoyt. :P
I've been thinking for some time about how I should wrap up my entire, colossally incredible six months here in South America. And I've decided that a conventional wrapup is simply out of the question. Too much to say. Too much already said. And really, no regular little reflective summary could ever do this experience justice. So instead of attempting such a futile endeavour, I have instead embarked upon another, less crazy, more fun little challenge: I have composed a "checklist" of my time down here! The checklist "ticks off" the things that every South American backpacker should do during their time down here, and that I can honestly say I've done. Plus, I've added a section down the bottom, for a few more that I haven't done, and that I should have done — or that it's perhaps good that I didn't do. Read, laugh, and enjoy. Por favor. And if you want to check off a few more South American experiences of your own, feel free to add them as comments.
How to survive staying at a party hostel in BA, and going out all night long, all weekend long:
- Wake up and head upstairs to the hostel's bar, anytime between about 11pm and midnight. Get started on the drinks and the small talk.
- Form a group, choose a club, and head out to said club anytime between about 2am and 3am (no earlier than this — the doors won't be open yet!).
- Party in said club until anytime between 5am and 8am (optimally, leave between 6am and 7am).
- Arrive back at your hostel, and sleep until about midday.
- Hang around in the afternoon, maybe have a steak or two for lunch.
- Go back to sleep at around 6pm or 7pm.
- Repeat steps 1-6 until the weekend is through.
Just a quick note about the unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true wine situation here in Argentina. I was talking to someone on the bus today, and they told me that apparently Argentina produces 5% of the world's wine, and that it consumes 5.2% thereof! That is, despite producing a colossal amount of wine, Argentinians nevertheless drink more wine than they make. This would explain why you don't see that much Argentinian wine anywhere else in the world. It doesn't make it out of the country, and into the global export market. It's too good to let the rest of the world get it's hands on — the locals drink the lot! And considering how even the most basic, US$2 supermarket bottle of red tastes absolutely divine around here, I can believe that fact, despite how economically crazy it may sound.