Forget about the jungle and the waterfalls: instead of paying big pesos to spend almost a day on a bus that would take me to a place where I could see some nice falls and not much else, I opted to get on a shorter bus ride with my flatmate Doug, to go and lie on a beach in Pinamar! We got up early yesterday and jumped on the bus that took us to the coast. Five hours later, and we were there, almost. The bus station is kind of nowhere near civilisation, so we got a cab to take us to the town. Ten pesos later, and we really were there. Excitement!
The first stop was tourist information, which was clearly signalled on the map that the taxi driver gave us. We walked up the relevant road... and didn't find it. Maybe it was on the other road? No, it didn't look like the kind of road for a tourist office. I got out my Lonely Planet guide. Yes, it really was on the road we'd just walked up. We had a number now, and walked back down the road looking for the office. There were no numbers on the buildings. We got to the bottom of the road. Still no sign of anything. I asked a lady if she knew where the office was. She pointed us back to where we'd originally looked, and gave us a more precise description of the location. We walked back up the road. There was a yellow house where she'd told us to go. The house was closed. It didn't look like a tourist office. We continued walking up the road. Where was the office?! I went into a restaurant and asked there. The waiter told us to go back down a couple of buildings. "The yellow house?" I asked. "Yeah! The yellow house!" he confirmed. "It didn't look like it was open..." I said. "No, no, it is," he replied. And we headed back down the street again, towards the yellow house.
Then the waiter came running after us. "No, no, sorry: it's moved! It's up there, on the corner now!" So, we walked up to the corner and, sure enough, there was the office. If only we'd had the right information in the first place... Anyway, the guy at tourist information told us that there was a cheap place nearby and gave us another map (the same map as the taxi driver had given us: he pointed to where we were, and I pointed to the sign for the old tourist office on the map, laughed and said: "Yeah, we're not there, are we?!" He laughed as if to say: yeah, I know where you're coming from...). The hospedaje was very close: he located it on the map for us with a pen, and we made our way there. 60 pesos for the night for a double room sounded like amazing value.
On the way down the street, we pulled out the map to make sure we hadn't overshot the mark, and a woman came up to us and started asking for directions. "I... I need hotel, er, street. Looking for street. Hotel." Doug and I tried hard to understand what she was trying to say. She continued throwing out words of bizarre English at us. Eventually we figured it out: she wasn't actually a foreigner, looking for somewhere to stay, but a local, trying to help us out... I said to her, in Spanish, that we were going to our hospedaje, told her the name of the place, and the street it was on. Still hell-bent on helping us, she took the map from my hands and tried to locate the street for me. Doug and I were amused, bemused and slightly annoyed by this point. She looked at the map, told us where we were, and then pointed to the street we needed to go to. Doug and I were both standing there, thinking: "Can't this woman see that the place we're going to is actually indicated on the map in biro, and that we know exactly where we are and where we're going?!" She told us, helpfully, to continue along the street we were on and take the third turning on the left, turned the map around for me so that I could follow it clearly, and handed it back to me. Then she finally left us alone to go on our way.
Of course, laughter and ridicule followed... What a bizarre episode! Did she not realise that we knew where we were going?! Nutcase...
Anyway, we got to the hospedaje and asked to see the room. For $60, it was amazing. We'd have paid about $200 for a similar room elsewhere in town. Bargain! $30 each for a night!!! We were happy: we dumped our stuff, paid the lady, and went for pizza and a beer. Then to the glorious beach, where I wasted no time in getting into the sea, coming out, lying on my towel and falling asleep. The pair of us were whacked from the day, and just dozed until the early evening.
Doug's going back to the city tomorrow afternoon, but I fancy staying here a bit longer. I plan on staying in the same hospedaje: even $60 a night is cheap. You'd probably pay about $45 to share a 6-bed dorm in the shabby hostels here. I think I'll stay until Tuesday, walk on the beach in the morning, lie on the beach in the afternoon, swim in the lovely warm sea, and enjoy the break from the city. This is my Christmas holiday! Woop!