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ARGENTINA AT LAST :)

 

Hi Everyone. I will be returning to Argentina on Monday. It will take me a couple of days to get running as I have to get Nirvana set up for the road. I will then make a 24 hour bus ride to get back to where I finished in J.B. Alberdi, Province of Tucuman before this timeout.

As promised here is my updated blog. I have made about 7 or 8 postings over the last 3 days, as always a lot to write about and I ask for your patience as some are long! I will upload the pictures as soon as possible. To catch up fully on the blog please read back as far as

LIVE INTERVIEW ON RTE RADIO’S SPORT AT SEVEN.

Click on link above if you haven’t heard my Irish radio interview.

As I said that’s about 7 or 8 postings!

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 Welcome to Argentina! The officials stopped me from taking a proper picture :(

 

 Crossing the border from Bolivia to Argentina was like crossing from Mexico to the USA. Running from a poor country to a more affluent society, though obviously still a Latino country Argentina has long since promoted itself as ” The Switzerland Of South America. “
Perhaps much of its forward thinking mentality is due to large, mainly European settlements all over this vast country.
Many people believe this began with the large German influx after the second world war, however the reason those German immigrants settled there in the first place was because as early as the 1880′s Europeans, mostly Germans settled in the South American country, so there was already a large base there.
 Actually I saw it for myself while I was queuing up for almost two hours at the border. There was a motorbike parked at the side of the road which had an Irl Irish sticker next to the licence plate. At first I though the owner was Irish but then when I saw that the registration plate was indeed Argentine and it was a small 200 cc bike I decided the owner was indeed a local.
The owner from a nearby town approached me while pleading for me to take a photo of the ” Malvinas son Argentinas! ” (The Falklands Belongs to Argentina) a sign at the border.
 This is the same propaganda one sees all over Argentina. Schools, streets and even villages are named, Malvinas son Argentinas.

Over 5,000km to the end of the road in the Americas!

 His name was Carlos, born here but proud of his Irish ancestry.
 
I enjoyed that first day after I crossed with my 90 day visa in my hand. I asked for a longer one but was told it was not the norm to issue more than 90 days. I will have to extend it later or leave the country and return for another 90 days.
That first day I took a rest day just wandering around enjoying such luxuries as olive oil on thickly cut bread, real hot food and yes that much dreamt of steak :)
It was my first rest day after 27 consecutive road days. Country number 15 here I come.
 Argentina is special to me, she happens to be my favorite country in the world, a country I have loved these last 29 years.
 I spent almost all of 1983 travelling in South America, of which 5 months were here in the Puma country.
Oh yes its great to be back, delicious hot food, hot showers and paper napkins on the table.
The bathroom in this hotel, Hotel Frontiera even has a bidet! Compare that with Peru and Bolivia where restaurant and hotel owners just popped a broken toilet seat in a sink to tell people there was no water supply, very much a hard luck we ain’t got it and why are you bothering me for mentality there.
Yes it’s great to be back to what I feel is the western world.
 
Litter? Yes still a little bit, but not as much as most of the other Latino countries I have run through. Also, thankfully very little stupid car horn honking here.
 
That first day was a windy day as I ran from the border at km marker 1975. I was south and bound for Ushuaia, the end of the road in the Americas, almost 5,000km away.
It was so windy that many of the signposts were broken. Why they use wooden signposts is a mystery to me.
 

The wodden signpost just keep breaking by the heavy wind.

Anyone reading this blog who is gasping for a cigarette please make your way to km marker 1,969 as there were no less than 12 cigarettes spread out and all within a 3 metre distance.. The great cigarette mystery continues across the border from Bolivia to Argentina.
That night I stopped in Puma Huasi. There was nowhere to stay, the nights are not so cold now, but it is always nice to have a comfortable bed and secure room.
I noticed a school house with about four classrooms in a courtyard. A light was still on in the school’s office. I went walked in through the gate and knocked on the office door. Nobody there, I guess someone just forgot to turn it off.
While I was there I checked the classroom doors and discovered that one of the classrooms had a door with a broken lock. That will do nicely for a place to sleep tonight, but as I was very hungry, off I went to the village looking for something to eat.
Around and around I walked and eventually found a store which was closed. In the window there a sandwich for sale sign.
 I knocked and asked the nice couple there if they would make me a sandwich, no problem at all, nice people.
 

I was able to get a sandwich after hours in this shop and boil up some water in my beaker with my beverage heater as shown.

They also let me plug in my beverage heater to boil up some water for coffee.
The man walked me back to the highway towards the police station as he said he knows the officers there and I could probably stay there. The police station was closed, no worries I had my place to stay anyway and besides tomorrow is Sunday, so that’s tonight sorted and just as well as it’s a chilly one! I just lay out my summer sleeping bag in a corner and settled down to sleep.
 

The classroom door was open, so I just settled down to sleep out of the cold night air,

A 50km windy day followed by a marathon got me into a nice stride here in the north of Argentina. It’s an expensive country, that’s for sure.
The landscape is really boring now, like running in the desert again but to be honest it doesn’t bother me, it has to be run through and that’s what I will do. The wind continues to be swirling and strong, just like a couple of thousand kilometres south in Patagonia. Down there in Patagonia the wind is infamous. I was not really expecting it to be this strong this far north.
 
There is no paved shoulder whatsoever, just gravel at the side. There are a lot of loose chipping and sharp stones – already after a few days here the soles of my feet are very sore.
I arrive in a small town called Humahuaca noting signs for a nearby volcano. Such signage only means tourists and high prices to me!
Sure enough I stop at a couple of hostals and am shocked when the prices are 45-60 dollars, what’s going on this is as expensive as the USA or Europe!
I am thinking that I may just have to go back to the highway and find a place to sleep under the stars as it’s a nice pleasant evening.
So I try another place, it’s even more expensive. This time instinct tells me to take out a business card and show it to the owner. Sure enough he takes an interest in the run. His hotel is full, his name is Carlos, so he makes a phone call to a friend that has a small economy place a few blocks away.
Bingo! I got a place for $8 a bargain here but the same kind of place that cost just a dollar or two in some of my other countries. It shares the same building that a watchmaker uses for his workshop, that’s why its called Hostal Relojero.
 

It's a bit like the desert here.

Next morning I am invited into a large kitchen by a very old lady who says I can boil up some water for coffee and eat my bread and cheese there with her. She tells me she has 8 children, they all live far away. It seems people just work till the day they die in all of Latin America.
 
Arriving in Humah Uaca I found a backpackers hostal. The staff were sitting on a park wall across the road drinking beer. Can’t say I blame them as Charlie the manager told me the very next morning he would be out of a job as the hostal was being sold to a new owner, so it was no problem him giving me a discount dropping it from $9 to $6 for the night.

I wondered if I would have gotten a bed had I arrived a day later.

That night I had a vicuna steak. Vicuna is much greasier and tougher than the tender llama steak I enjoyed a couple of weeks ago. Vicuna is also a protected species in Peru and Bolivia, I guess not so here in Argentina.
 

Vicuna steak! Life just gets better :)

In the restaurant I get talking to a man called Christian who is a layer, he is also a photo journalist. He tells me that in Argentina the minimum pay is just 3,800 Argentine pesos, which is around $900 US per month for a 48 hour week. I really don’t know how people make ends meet here.
 
The Argentine economy has always been a disaster. Argentines have always been victims of rampant inflation. One way they survived was by buying dollars on the black market. Now its illegal for Argentine citizens to be in possession of dollars. There is a thriving black market here for dollars, the official and black market rates are published in the dailies. Official rate around 4.25 pesos while the black market is around 6.4 pesos for the dollar. The reality is it’s not possible to purchase dollars officially. There was a time when the government allowed people to buy small amounts for holiday purposes, then they realized that people were not taking the holiday, just keeping the dollars in an effort to stay ahead of inflation. Life has always been difficult for Argentines, yet with hard work they not only survive but prosper despite all of this.
 In 2001, Argentina was in the midst of a crisis heavily indebted with an economy in complete stagnation – an almost three-year-long recession, and the exchange rate was fixed at one U.S. dollar per Argentine peso by law, which made exports uncompetitive and effectively deprived the state of having an independent monetary policy. Many Argentines, but most especially companies, fearing an economic crash and possibly a devaluation were transforming pesos to dollars and withdrawing them from the banks in large amounts, usually transferring them to foreign accounts capital flight.
On 1 December 2001, in order to stop this draining from destroying the banking system, the government froze all bank accounts, initially for 90 days. Only a small amount of cash was allowed for withdrawal on a weekly basis, initially 250 Argentine pesos then 300, and only from accounts denominated in pesos. No withdrawals were allowed from accounts denominated in U.S. dollars, unless the owner agreed to convert the funds into pesos.  Operations using credit cards, debit cards, cheques and other means of payment could be conducted normally, but the lack of cash availability caused numerous problems for the general public and for businesses.

 

 

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One Response to “ARGENTINA AT LAST :)”

  1. Ann Says:

    Steak looks delicious. Good photos and blog :)

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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