Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Villa Gisel and the Hippy Bus

Now back to Argentina where I have left our heroin hanging while in real time I have been working on my rise to fame at a radio station...

“How do you think you’re going to be a famous writer at this rate,” you may ask? Just read my blog and don’t worry about things like that! Now for the Argentinean coast Gringa Trail style...

I like to think my Spanish is pretty good but there I was in a car heading to an unknown location on the Argentine coast with no idea where I was going to be sleeping. All I knew was I needed to bring a sleeping bag and I was going to an Artesania feria. This lack of information is due to my inability to understand my friend Paula’s Argentinean accent over the phone and my stupid tactic where when I don’t really understand someone I smile and nod.

Not knowing where you are going always makes for a good adventure. My friend Max drove up and Paula’s brother came along for the ride. We passed around Mate in the car stopping several times to fill up the thermos with hot water and to curb our hunger with alfajores. The Argentines are somehow unaware that these chocolate covered biscuits with dulce de leche lack any nutritional value but are a popular meal replacement on long distance buses.

We arrived to a beach at 2:00am, I was exhausted but the Argies wanted to drink and eat...of course. They also tried to convince me to go out partying with Paula’s 20 year old brother but to the disappointment of the kid I just wanted to go to bed...or go to bus?

I finally discovered where I would be sleeping, in an old and very classic hippy van. Well I had always wanted to follow around some travelling Argentinean hippy types and document their way of life and this was finally my in, it doesn’t get any more authentic than this!

The next morning I decided to peruse the souvenir shops to discover where I was. Although I was unable to locate myself on a map I discovered I was in a beachside resort called Villa Gisel. Apparently this place is trendy and more upscale than Mar del Plata. There were no hostels to be seen and most properties are holiday rentals and resorts. The beach is a lot nicer than the photos I have seen of Mar del Plata and a lot less crowded. Set back away from the glitz and glamour of the shopping district with teenagers spending all of their Christmas money was the little neighbourhood where my hippy van parked at night with streets ankle deep in sand. We were parked in the driveway of the guy who owned the van and he had several artisans staying with him in his little house during the two month long Feria. They all made incredible and original works of art from glass work and jewellery to kaleidoscopes, paintings and tie-dye clothing.

During the day we would sleep in then spend the entire afternoon making lunch and eating it. The Argentineans packed up the hippy van (my bedroom) and set up their stalls at the feria for 5:00pm while I hung out on the beach and browsed the shops. At night I got to know most of the vendors and became the unofficial mate server, which in Argentina is a very important title!

In addition to the feria was an acrobatic cirque du solei-esque circus that I took in while waiting for my bedroom to return. I was also entertained by a cute painter who had a stall beside my friend Paula and turns out is also an elementary school teacher. It seems most Argentineans have some sort of artistic talent. My friend Paula has incredible talent with glass you can check out her work at:


She works very hard for months to set up in ferias all over Latin America and even has sold her pieces in Spain and the USA. During my time on the coast and in Luis Guillon I got to know Paula quite well. She is such a lovely girl with a true bohemian soul. I was able to have a glance into the traveling Argentinean artisan’s way of life thanks to her and her friends who asked for nothing in return, in true traveller fashion though I left them with a full fridge of wine and beer as a thank you before I headed back to the city.

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