Thursday, 13 September 2012

Corrientes - Transvetite Drs and Hobo travellers

I love it when you know nothing about a place and it turns out to be somewhere great.  This is Corrientes.  I had no expectations before and as there are not many tourists you feel like you have the place to yourself.  Its a really nice city next the Parana river and if you like sunny weather like me (not Fletch the mountain boy from Colorado), then Corrientes has this too.  It was between 28 and 38 degrees for the 5 days that we were there.
The city beach  Looking towards Resistencia and the Chaco.
We arrived in the afternoon on the 13th hoping to contact Andrea from Couchsurfing for a place to stay, however I couldn't reach her on her phone.  So instead we parked up near one of the plazas and I left Fletch sitting next to the bikes looking like a scrounging hobo with his upturned cap on the ground, while I went to find an internet cafe.  Unfortunately we had mixed the dates up so we had nowhere to stay and I walked back to Fletch to break the news.

I'd only left him for 20 mins but in that time an older lady called Rebeka who spoke no English had walked past Fletch, thought he was homeless and offered us to go back to her house for a shower.  God knows how it happened, Fletch speaks no Spanish but I guess she was technically right as we didnt have anywhere to stay at that point.  In the confusion I thought Fletch had already agreed to go back when he hadn't.  I didn't realise this until we were already following her along the path with our bikes.  We debated whether this was the wisest thing to be doing and joked about how we were about to be scammed out of everything we have.

After a short walk we reached the front gate and could see it was a grand old house right in the centre of town.  Rebeka opened the 12ft tall black front door and beckoning us in, bikes included.  It turned out the only way in was to actually ride the motorbikes through the centre of her house.  We felt pretty uncomfortable and although I wanted to shout "StrangerDanger" I found myself saying "ok".  To get up the front steps I had to get a bit of a runup and I was a bit concerned about crashing the bike into whatever was behind the door, but I managed it successfully and shot through the house dodging furniture and burst out into a large courtyard out the back.

Looking around, the whole place was really ancient and quite rundown, but this gave the place a lot of character.  Backing onto the courtyard was a deceptively large overgrown garden, filled with orchids, banana, papaya, orange and a load of other trees I didn't recognise.  There was artwork everywhere, but for every piece of sculpture there was either a huge crack in a wall or an interesting attempt at repair.  For example one section of guttering had been replaced with a line of plastic Coke bottles taped together. The whole place was layer upon layer of dodgy repairs and I loved the originality of it.
Rebeka and Jorges House, spot the repairs.
If the house wasn't interesting enough Rebeka and Jorge made up for it.  They simply were the coolest ecentric old couple I've ever met.  Jorge is a retired businessman with a bald head and a rattail ponytail who hangs around the house all day in an pair of shorts.  He says he stole Rebeka 18yrs ago from Buenos Aires and never let her go back.  Rebeka is super healthy (if you ignore the cigarrettes and the odd joint) and only eats fruit and vegetable smoothies in random combinations.  Shes has converted one of the rooms of the house into a clothes workshop and works all night to avoid the daytime heat and sleeps in the day.  They both constantly joke about the other but you can see how much they mean to each other.

One of Rebeka's original smoothies, Apple and Tomato!  She insisted we had them too

We were only going to stay an hour or so and find an excuse to leave, but we never found that excuse.
Even if we wanted to leave I don't think they would have let us and with Fletch getting progressively more ill and me being in no rush to leave we ended up staying 5 days in a small flat next to the garden.  We soon felt part of their family and forgot the reason why we were there.  Especially so when all the extended family came up to stay from other parts of the country.  The only minor  downside to the stay was the unusual amount of mosquitos that flew through the windows left open due to their broken latches.  It took me a while to find, but the source of which turned out to be a half filled stagnated swimming pool hidden at the back of the garden.  I don't know how I missed it.

Hanging out with Jorge and Fletch
I was having a good time and seen a lot of the city and finally met Andrea and her friends for a night out.  I'd also taken a trip to San Cosme, where Andrea's grandparents had a house next to a lake.  But by the third day Fletch was still feeling sick and had no signs of getting better.  Rebeka told me that "Fletch is like a Tomato plant, and tomato plants whither in the sun" hahaha.  She then made me take him to the hospital to get checked up, which lead to some kind of surreal Monty Python incident. The hospital was not used to seeing foreigners and so a lot of people in white coats were clambering to see who we were.  We were crammed into an examination room and seen by two young trainee doctors, who found my job as translator hilarious as I struggled with my lack of vocabulary.  It decended into a series of ridiculous mime acts taken in turns by all four of us in the tiny room, while all the time a transvestite Dr was peeking through the keyhole to the room watching us.  We know this as he/she fell through the door when our trainee Dr opened it.  The whole visit was a really bizarre comedic exprience.  The peeping trannie Dr ended up being the person in charge of the ward and suggested Fletch should have an X-ray on his skull! So he had that done, but then they wanted to give him an injection in his arse too.  This was too much for me and I completely lost it by this point.  All this for a cold!  Funnily enough Fletch said no to this and went for pills instead.  We then quickly made our way back to the normality of Rebeka's and Jorge's.

Night time by the river.  The sunken ship is still used as a clubhouse.

Going shopping for Rebeka

Andrea's Grandparents house in San Cosme

Argentinian icecream and Dulce de Leche cake with Andreas's sister Gaby and friends.
Calle San Juan Murals
Parking up for the night Corrientes style
Fishermen in the portside area

The small flat at Rebeka's and Jorge's

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