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Jodes and Tay escape to SA

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Way too much moisturiser

Hook, United Kingdom

Hola amigos,

Welcome to our blog!

So it's 02.16am and 5 long, bitter hours of ruthless packing wars have just ensued. Let's get ready to ruuuuumble.

The games began with a, frankly pitiful attempt from Jodes to veto Tay's Mr Motivator-inspired bumbag, which failed miserably. Meanwhile Tay managed to persuade Jodes to cut her elaborate and overly plentiful supply of granny panties in half, a valid first victory. Jodes got her own back however when her negotiating skills saw Tay's back-up lipgloss being thrown out of court. Things really began to heat up when Tay's toiletry supplies took a real hit, and her second deodorant hit the deck. A check mate situation arose and saw an end to the Battle when neither girl was willing to surrender their ridiculously greedy supplies of vitamin E body moisturiser.

After 1 box of maltesers, 6 glasses of Champagne, 5 slices of marmite on toast, 8 bag re-packs and 1 missing ipod panic, we are ready to head to the airport. And neither of us even had to sit on our backpacks to get them closed.

Smell ya later!


permalink written by  JodesAndTay on January 31, 2010 from Hook, United Kingdom
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That thong thong thong thong thong

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The trip got off to a cracking start when we were leisurely sipping our Starbucks, blissfully unaware of the fact that the gates to our flight were closing. After a Home-Alone style dash through the departure lounge and some loud exclamations of rather friuty language, we just about made it onto the plane. We soon realised we would have been better of missing it however, as Iberia airlines and its 70´s throwback decor was not an experience to be enjoyed.

Jodes was treated to some gobby woman shouting in her face for the duration of the flight. Meanwhile, Tay had her own problems with a balshy Brazilian kid in the seat in front, and had to spend a large part of the journey engaged in a stare-out contest. When the stare-out contest ended and she managed to drop off to sleep, she woke up from a pillow to the head from the little shitbag. Robbi was the only one who did ok out of the flight experience because he bagged our leftover processed meat sandwiches and the other poisonous plane food. Our main gripe with Iberia was the eclectic choice of films; we can only speculate but we imagine that having to sit through Lindsay Lohan pretending to be pregnant is actually more painful than labour itself.

We touched down in Rio welcomed by 35 degree heat, and with that heat came our hair nemesis- some intense humidity. Within seconds we looked like Diana Ross. We weren´t exactly overjoyed to find that our room at the hostel was in fact a corridor masquerading as a dormitory which had an unsettling aroma of cabbage. The next day we headed straight to Cosme Velho to see the statue of Cristo Redentor, Rio´s most iconic feature. Luckily for us the weather was perfect so we got incredible views of Rio and had the opportunity to adopt the really ´original´ crucufix pose for a photo.

To cool off when we got back we made a beeline for Ipanema Beach. En route to the beach we stopped off for frozen yoghurt which proved to be a massive error as it lead to an unhealthily obsessive relationship with Yogofresh, and it doesn´t come cheap. Ipánema is an amazing beach with incredible views of the mountains and water warmer than the hostel shower. The waves however, were not so relaxing and we were wiped out on several occassions and lost various parts of our bikinis. One observation we couldn´t help but make is that the men of Brazil are seriously buff. So buff in fact, that they make Vin Diesel look like Joe McElderry. We also couldn´t help but notice that we were the only females on the beach without a dental floss thong bikini jammed up our bum cracks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oai1V7kaFBk

Rio is literally bursting with cute dogs and cute babies. Tay´s sausage dog obsession spiralled out of control and she nearly broke down in tears when we discovered a pregnant sausage dog mum-to-be living next door to our hostel. The cutest baby we saw was on the train coming down from Christ the Redeemer statue, when we drooled over the baby cuddling up to his Mum. He was wrapping his chubby little marshmallow arms around her waist and giggling uncontrollably. The only words we could muster were from Jodie "I mean, you can´t write shit like that." A modern day poet.

We had heard a lot of hype about Brazilian all-you-can-eat buffets and we felt confident we could do one justice. For 15 pound a head you can fill your plate with salad, fresh meat, delicious seafood and the piece de resistance, chicken nuggets with cheese sauce. The meat sweats were a low point, but it was definately worth it.

On day 2 we got the cable car up Pao de Acuar, Sugarloaf mountain where you get jaw-dropping views of the city. The only thing obstructing the wonderful views, was Jodie´s chubby Shrek ear which she had sunburnt the day before and which had swelled up not unlike Alex Reid´s. That evening we felt we owed Robbi some testosterone based fun after all the baby and puppy perving, so we agreed to join the hostel tour to a football match at the Maracana stadium. Apparently for most boys out there this is a big deal as it holds more than 110,000 people which is twice a many as the Emirates (see, we even learnt a fact and everything) We had identified a potential group of BFFs for Robbi at our hostel who all looked terribly nice and reeked of home county private school. Actually they were from Bristol, but our Cilla Black-esque matchmaking skills meant they came to sit with us for the match so Robbi got more sensible football analysis than "he is small and quick" which is the best Tay could offer. The game had a lot of goals and a couple of penalties ending in a 3-3 draw. Unfortunately the stadium was a little bit empty so we didn´t get a taste for the proper atmosphere.

We were quite glad it would be our last night in the hostel from hell and the cabbagey stench. As if bunking in a corridor room hadn´t been weird enough , on the last night Jodie popped out of the room leaving Tay to witness the final straw. An inappropriately old man with no teeth wearing some crazy tracksuit trousers and a bumbag wandered silently into the room, crept over to a locker, opened it and extracted a box of eggs before wordlessly leaving. You know when a stanky old egg man comes univited into the place where you sleep its time to get the hell out of there. He didn´t even offer to make us an omlette.

We had intended to trek up the coast to Buzios but after a frantic high-pitched internet session we realised everywhere was fully-booked so we hopped on a bus to Paraty instead. At this point Jodes would like to inform Mummy Cooper that the buses are damn fine and there is not a chicken in sight. In fact they easily shit all over Iberia airlines.

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 5, 2010 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Take me down to Parati City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.....

Parati, Brazil

In Vitamin E moisturiser related news there have been some further developments. After Tay discovered an unsightly chest rash and Jodie experienced a mild allergic reaction on her arm, the ma-husive tubs of body cream were unceremoniously ditched and replaced by Nivea, a more reputable brand.

We arrived at our guest house Pousada Aquilara (as in Christina) overjoyed to find it was a mini paradise that resembled a tropical Sandals getaway, complete with pool, air conditioning and private rooms. As if these luxuries weren´t jammy enough, we were soon introduced to the resident baby, Felippe and the two pet sausage dogs, Teca and Preta. The hostel was run by a permanently stoned Brazilian called Emerson who loves a good chat but unfortunately takes ten minutes per sentence to get anything out- which is great unless you have a bus or boat to catch. He also enjoyed translating everything he said in each of the 5 languages that he speaks, so you can imagine the repetition involved. That said we completely fell in love with his stoner charms.

That evening we met our fellow Pousada guests who were also cooling off in the pool. There was Scottish Darren (later to be known as ´Big D´ or ´BDizzle`) and his fiancee Nicola, Aussies Sam and Sally, and the two Swedes Thomas and Johanna. In fact everyone staying at the hostel was in a couple and it seemed our little threesome situation had lead to some speculation leading Darren to later quiz Jodie on the sly on ´who was with who´. We think they suspected some weird Mormon shit was going down and that maybe we had the room by the hour.

On Day 2 we embarked on a group trip to the beach in the late afternoon. After a hell-raising bus journey we reacjed a cove worthy of a Bounty advert. We played in the sea, drank beer as the sun set and then covered in sand, hopped back on the bus. This is where things got interesting as the bus lurched and screeched round corners, putting the Oblivion ride at Alton Towers to shame. The locals played up to it with wooping and cheering, which only encouraged the driver further, and by the time we disembarked his ego must have been so inflated that he fancied himself as some kind of Formula 1 God; a Brazilian Jenson Button. That night our attempt at saving money by staying in and having a supermarket-bought dinner, was about as successful as Kerry Katona resisting a doner kebab. Teca, the James Bond of sausage dogs managed to create a distraction at the front door causing us to go and investigate. While our backs were turned she used her quick stumpy little legs to launch herself up onto the dinner table and get her long lizard-tongue all up in our cream cheese. Being the main component of our dinner we did try to salvage it, but she had nailed almost the whole pot. We ate dry crackers instead. Note to selves- always just eat out in future.

On Day 3 we joined our new found bum chums on a boat trip to four nearby islands. The soundtrack to the day trip was courtesy of the boats musician- Brazils answer to Enrique Inglesias, crooning away on the Spanish guitar. The best thing about his set was when he assisted the boat staff by mixing lunch order announcements into his songs. So inbetween the soft Portugese love melodies he would sneak in a few off-key food related shout outs "Number 11, your chicken nuggets are ready...oooooh yeah baby girl, lets make some luuuuurve.....come on number 11, your chicken nuggets are ready, where are you.......ooooh girl, do it good, oh yeah......chicken nuggets! number 11!.........oh yeah baby, its love time......please number 11 come to the front of the boat and get your chicken nuggets...yeah yeah yeah"

At each island we were given 40 minutes to jump in the water and practise our diving techniques. The cocky boys were all too eager to show off their Mitch Buchanan-esque dives from the top deck. The girls were a little more reluctant until Jodes stepped up to the plate and took one for the team, taking the heat off the rest of the girls who were quite frankly, too chicken. Each person brave enough to tackle the top deck dive was rewarded with a nationality based theme tune. The Swedes got ABBA, obviously (yeah yeah, you just try and think of another Swedish band.......we had tried Barbie girl, but apparently Aqua were from Denmark) Scottish Darren got the Proclaimers ´500 miles´, Jodes got Catatonia (you know, the Mulder and Scully song) and Robbi got nothing Italian but instead was lumbered with Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre, more to do with his slick rick haircut than anything else.
Ilha Grande which was going to be our next destination was all booked up so we decided just to extend our stay in Paraty by 3 more nights. On Day 4 we amused ourselves with an impromptu and uber-camp water aerobics session, taking it in turns to instruct the class. Moves included a Beyonce style bum shake, an 80s grapevine and the running man (fyi, a wedgie danger zone) We got a taste for the pool-based fitness so moved on to the ultimate challenge- a human pyramid. So much activity built up our appetite and we made a beeline for a recommended seafood restaurant where we nailed a delicious fish and rice number. There had been rumours flying around about a per-kilo ice cream parlour in the area, and the per kilo concept being our new best friend, we thought it would only be polite to go and stuff our faces. It turned out to be the Willy Wonka of ice cream parlours with rows upon rows of different flavours, an array of sauces and loads of tubs full of sexy toppings. Unable to keep our cool we became embarrassingly over excited and in a fluster, Tay hastlily mis-translated a couple of the flavours leading to a rogue scoop of coconut in the mix which was very disappointing.

The next day we had goodbye drinks with Nicola and B-Dizzle who were leaving the next day. Caiprinhas are renowned for being really lethal, and we experienced this first hand when after just two, we were laughing uncontrollably over a moob-tastic photo of Darren and then couldn´t quite walk straight on the way home. After an emotional goodbye in the morning, we spend the day lounging while the weather was cloudy. Even the eruption of a huge tropical thunderstorm couldn´t keep us from our favourite ice cream parlour and we ran through torrential rain to its marshmallowey chocolatey bosom.

Next stop....Iguazu Falls, Argentina

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 10, 2010 from Parati, Brazil
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Snakes on a Bus, starring Jodie Cooper and Helen Taylor

Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

Apparently whenever we put our backpacks on, we become about as graceful as Vanessa Feltz and Mandy Dingle. We had this horrible realisation at the bus station in Sao Paolo, when we discovered that when our backpacks were on, we were physically unable to stand upright and were constantly bumping into each other. We looked like a couple of clumsy goons. The Chuckle Brothers with backpacks.

We boarded our bus at Sao Paulo bus station which was to take 16 hours to reach Iguacu, the Brazilian side of the Falls. The bus was barely comfortable had really loud films badly dubbed in Portugese. As you can imagine this made sleep difficult. But what made sleep even more difficult however, was the discovery of a snake on our bus. Jodes spotted a slight commotion 2 seats behind and watched as 3 people peered into an open tupperware box. She then witnessed one of the box gang dipping their hand into the tupperware and fondling what appeared to be a black and red snake. We watched in horror as the 3 of them cooed over the creature of death and weren´t exactly filled with confidence when the lid was replaced and the box was `secured` with a tiny piece of red ribbon. Oh don´t worry, there´s a bright red, potentially poisonous snake at large on the bus....but at least its not going anywhere with that flimsy ribbon holding it in. Yeah, no way its escaping that impenetrable fortress of security. However hard we tried to sleep after that we couldn´t help but think ´is it on me, is it on me, its on me, its on my leg´. Those actors and actresses from box office flop ´Snakes on a Plane` didn´t have to put up with this shit...and they had Samuel L Jackson to protect them.

It was an arduous border crossing into Puerto Iguazu, Argentina- which saw us boarding 3 separate buses, bumping our total up to 5 buses in 32 hours. Luckily for us our hostel was a bit of a dream, kitted out with a lovely pool, spacious communal area and a games room. The only downside was our tiny sweatbox of a room which we had to share with 2 Israeli guys who had sensibly shot gunned the two bottom bunks. We considered moving our mattresses to the floor to be close to the air conditioning unit, but we thought it might be an invasion of their personal space especially considering due to the heat we couldn´t bring ourselves to wear much to bed and they had already got an eyeful the night before when they came in late, greeted by our sprawled near naked forms.

Iguazu Falls are arguably the most impressive Falls in the world with the highest drop being 270 feet. When we got to the National Park we grabbed a tram to the viewing part of the Devil´s Throat, when we got there the views took our breath away and the volume of water was unbelievable. Covered in waterfall spray we stood and tried to take it all in, but unfortunately the photos don`t do it justice, you will have to come and see it for yourselves.

We took a walk on the nature trail where we found a butterfly playground, a puddle where a cluster of brightly coloured butterflies had gathered. For most people the scene would have brought a tear to the eye, but not for Jodie Cooper who is possibly the only person in the world who is scared of butterflies. While Robbi and Tay frolicked with the angelic winged creatures, Jodes stood on the sidelines screaming like a girl and flailing her arms around. The only thing worse for Jodie than a gang of flappy butterflies, was her humidity induced inner leg chafe, which has been causing her grief for the duration of the trip. She decided she couldn´t face the discomfort caused by her tiny denim skirt any longer and was forced to purchase a fetching pair of heavily branded Iguazu Falls tracksuit shorts. A fashion faux pas worthy of any American tourist.

One excursion not to be missed was the Wet ´n Wild style speed boat trip. Donning our life jackets we got up close and personal with the falls and got completely drenched in the process. It was too much fun, and despite looking like wet t shirt contest rejects for the rest of the day, we instantly wanted another go. Overall the falls were the most enjoyable experience we´ve had so far and we´ll find it hard to top it. That said, the steak we ate for dinner that night came close. For 3.50 each we ate the most suculent, tender, juicy, delicious, tantalising, scrumptious, life-changing steak imaginable.

While writing this we have just witnessed Wales beat Scotland in the Six Nations....go Wales!

Speak to you in Buenos Aires! x

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 14, 2010 from Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
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BA= Bloody Amazing

Buenos Aires, Argentina

We had heard a lot of big chat about the buses in Argentina. There had been rumours flying around about unlimited free champagne, as many soft drinks as you could shake a stick at and food that would make Gordon Ramsay drool. The reality was much less extravagant; the seats fully reclined into beds complete with fluffy pillows and blankets, but in the first seven hours of our trip to Buenos Aires we had only receieved a thimble of Fanta and a measly boiled sweet. That said, if that little puppy was your regular mode of transport back home you`d be laughing.

We had also heard some even bigger chat about Buenos Aires as a city to visit, and this time the chat failed to disappoint. The city has beautiful European style architecture, cute boutique shops and must be the only city in the world where you can eat steak at 2am without being judged. In fact if we had to pick a city outside of the UK to move to, this would be it. When we arrived, `fresh` from our overnight bus journey, we headed straight to San Telmo for the weekly Sunday antiques market. This was comprised of a 1km street full of stalls selling vintage nick nacks, jewellrey and clothes. Even though every stall was virtually the same we managed to spend four hours um-ing and ah-ing over which nearly identical necklaces to buy, before heading back to the first stall we had visited to make our purchases. Women. That night we had a hankering for red meat, so grabbed a few people from the hostel and went out for a late night steak and red wine, Buenos Aires style. We finished eating at 1.30 am which is fairly early by Argentinian standards, and the local steak munchers were still rocking up at 1.30 am to be seated. They must have hardy digestive systems because surely a steak at 1.30 am is like a juicy helping of constipation on a plate.

We woke up the next day and wandered over to Palermo, the trendy district of BA which smacks of Shoreditch in East London, with its trendy wendies and kitsch boutiques. Typically we had picked the wrong day to visit as it was a Monday and the shops were all closed to we satisfied ourselves by leaving greasy nose prints all over the windows as we perved over the beautiful garments inside. Unfortunately this pleasant window shopping experience was tainted by our over enthusiastic bums as we´d all been struck down with a group case of the shits and spent the morning in a haze of toilet panic, wondering where our next lavatory was coming from.

With clenched buttcheeks we walked over to the Japanese Gardens which were really pretty and a nice place to spend an hour. One highlight of the hour was watching this otter-type creature go to attack a small child which had been pissing it off and trying to poke it in the face. We attempted a trip to the botanical gardens next door, but it turned out to be a mosquito landmine and within seconds we were surounded by the bastards and had to abort. Later, we joined a group from the hostel and headed to La Bamba, a South American drumming group who play in a huge abandoned warehouse. The show was really impressive and we got fully involved with some very English non-rhythmical salsa moves and shoulder shrugging. We emerged from the warehouse to find that we had missed a spontaneous thunderstorm and the centre of the city had turned into some sort of swamp- it even made the local news. We had to peg it home through torrential rain and made it back to the hostel looking like we´d been taking make-up tips from Alice Cooper.

The next day was wet and grey and miserable which created the perfect backdrop for our trip to the Recoleta Cemetery. This wasn`t your average English cemetery made up of modest gravestones, there were rows upon rows of elaborate marble family tombs and eerie statues. One of these extravagant graves was where Eva Peron (Evita) second wife of President Juan Peron who died at just age 33, is buried. Eva was known in Argetina as `Spiritual Leader of the Nation` and her grave seemed to be nearly the only tomb which is still visited as it had fresh flowers laid all over it.

The only touristy thing we had left to visit in Buenos Aires was the infamous Cafe Tortoni, where guidebooks tell you you must visit before you leave the city. The cafe was established in 1858 by a French guy called Touan, and ever since has been visited by many renowned people such a politicians and international figures; even Einstein popped in for a brew back in the day. We queued to get in and then enjoyed some rather untraditional but very tasty ham and cheese toasties with tea.

Next stop is a home away from home, Puerto Madryn, the Welsh settlement on the East Coast. 'Ma ddeuwn!

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 22, 2010 from Buenos Aires, Argentina
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You can take the girls out of Wales.......

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

In 1865, 153 Welsh families travelled all the way to the East Coast of Argentina to make a home in Patagonia. They created a row of Welsh towns; Puerto Madryn, Trelew and Galmain. We arrived in Puerto Madryn expecting it to be grey and windswept, but unlike Wales it was sunny with blue skies so we went to check out the sea. Having been spoilt with the idyllic beaches of Parati and Rio in Brazil, we were happily surprised to find a genu-wine, authentic, proper Welsh seaside. Admittedly it was nowhere near as pretty as the nationally acclaimed beaches of the Gower; It was more like Swansea seafront, complete with seaweed, litter and an undeniable stench of cockles in the air. To reiterate our point, please see the below photos and try and identify the beach from Puerto Madryn.......

Yes, that’s right. It’s the one with the dirty sand and the tractor on it. People even had deckchairs and flasks with them for Christs sake. It couldn´t be more Welsh. As if our backpacker diets haven`t been unhealthy and unbalanced enough, we felt we should celebrate being in our home away from home with some deep fried seafood. We headed to the squid lady on the promenade and for 20 pesos (about 4 pounds) bought a tub full of the most delicious calamari imaginable. And don`t even get us started on the seasoned King Prawns which we nailed later.

People don`t tend to visit Puerto Madryn for the grubby beaches, but instead they flock here for the town`s easy access to Peninsula Valdes. Peninsula Valdes is a huge barren landscape with the occasional salt lake, which people visit to witness Sealions and Elephant Seals in their natural habitat. In fact it´s so huge, it´s 3625 km squared to be exact (thank you Wikipedia). Unfortunately we didn`t visit in whale watching season, but we were told that we would have a 3% chance of seeing Orcas- we didn`t love those odds. The only thing brightening up our horrifically early start to the Peninsula was Tom and Aiden a couple of Bristolian jokers from our hostel who spent the first half of the bus ride busting out an inappropriately loud rendition of Ronan Keating´s Mum-favourite, `You say it best when you say nothing at all`. Their Bristolian heritage sparked a new obsession in us and since we met them we have been struggling to not switch between our own voices and an over exaggerated Justin Lee Collins West Country accent, much to Robbi´s annoyance. Unlucky. The day trip consisted of a lot of bumpy driving, some cheeky naps, a lot of stopping to look at Llamas, and a visit to the Elephant Seals and Sealion colonies.

We caught a glimpse of uber-cute sealion pups through the binoculars- a mesmerizing moment only interrupted by the sound of Tom and Aiden next to us “Yer, right, wouldn`t it be like amaaazing to see an Orca come up on the shore and rip one of those seal pups in haaalf, right,” (please imagine this with a Bristolian twang). As we mentioned earlier we had been told we had a 3% chance of seeing Killer Whales, so we weren`t overly disappointed when none appeared- that was, until we found out that the tour group who were a mere half hour behind us had seen a herd of Killer Whales in the distance shortly after we had left the viewpoint. It still hurts to think Free Willy was so near, yet just out of our grasp. In one day we saw enough wildlife to make David Attenborough`s eyes water- perhaps the most impressive of this being an inconspicuous little number which everyone was peering down a hole to catch a glimpse of. Seeing the group stop and peer down a hole, we ambled over (getting told off for treading on the plants as we went) and got our faces really close to the hole as we tried to work out what all the fuss was about. “ Yes, so this is the black widow spider,” says our guide as we managed to pull focus and make out the shape of the tiny but deadly arachnid. Great, how about you tell us that before we shove our massive heads in there? We have a photo but it´s not up to much because it was taken mid girly scream and with our eyes shut.

Apparently one day of wildlife had whetted our appetites for more animals, so the next day we got up even earlier and headed to Punta Tombo, a 3km peninsula home to the largest colony of Magellanic Penguins in South America. And my God those little rascals were worth waking up early for. Once there you have the freedom to walk around with the penguins, the only rule being no touching (damn rules). Tay tried to push the boundaries by going in for a Penguin snuggle after she misread the look in its eyes as wanting some affection, and soon found the rule was there for a reason as the Penguin aggressively lunged for her. There´s always one and all that. The experience of seeing the Penguins so close and watching as they cuddled up to each other was one of the loveliest things to see and so worth the trip.

After Penguin heaven we stopped in on Galmain, a small Welsh village where we saw the first high school built in Patagonia and an array of pretty gardens and Welsh Tea Houses. Not so pretty however, was the extortionate price tag attached to the Welsh Tea Houses, and we had to stingily pass up on the delicious looking Welsh cakes because we actually fancied being able to afford to eat for the next week. We amused ourselves with a little wander round and a visit to the playground where Tay caused a scene on the slide by misjudging the near-vertical gradient and her screams echoed around the village. The local kids looked on in amazement as she emerged at full speed with an embarrassing near-stack which involved a hurdle over the barrier and a triple-jump style landing.

That night we went to a local club with Tom and Aiden and newbies Dutch Renee and Guido, who to everyones confusion are NOT a couple and are just two single friends who don`t have feelings for each other. Yeah right. Tom`s quote of the evening came when Guido and Renee went to leave together and he winked at Guido and said`, “Renee, I hope you get bonafide by Guido when you get home.” Classy guy. His second best quote of the night must have been when he suddenly turned to Jodie, eyes popping out of his head and informed her, “Oh my God, your breasts are ennnnoormous.” (Again, a West Country accent is essential here) Great genes Mummy Cooper!

Now down to El Calafate to see some glaciers… x

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 25, 2010 from Puerto Madryn, Argentina
from the travel blog: Jodes and Tay escape to SA
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Ice Ice Baby

El Calafate, Argentina

We are currently in the lovely apline town of El Calafate, South Patagonia. Nearly the end of the world, but not quite. Over the last couple of days we utilised the town´s proximity to the Los Galciares National Park and embarked on a couple of day trips to see the Perito Moreno Glacier and a trek from El Chalten to see Mount Fitz Roy.

Perito Moreno Galcier was seriously impressive and we were lucky enough to visit on a warmish day which meant he was very ´active´. We watched in silence (well, in reality some loud swearing) as huge sheets of ice fell into the sea below with huge thunderous booms.

El Chalten was possibly even more beautiful than El Calafate, a quaint little mountain town sprinkled with toy houses set against the dramatic views of Mount Fitz Roy and other snow capped mountains. Unfortunately it looks as though the town won´t be small for long as there were lots of hotels being built so get there quick before it turns into a Mountainside Vegas. We trekked for roughly three hours to Lake Capri, which turned out to be a tranquil oasis of calm after a lot of sweaty uphill climbing. Buns of steel.

Instead of just waffling on with a load of facts that we´ve stolen from the internet, or anecdotes from our adventures, we thought we would let the pretty pictures speak for themselves........

We are flying on to Bariloche today where we plan to spend a week playing by the lakes, riding bikes and eating fondue. From there we might have to rethink our next step as we had planned to head to Chile but with the recent earthquake that will be a no go...


permalink written by  JodesAndTay on February 27, 2010 from El Calafate, Argentina
from the travel blog: Jodes and Tay escape to SA
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Bariloche, we like it a lo-che

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

While we are loyal to England – the beautiful country that we live in, we have to admit that Argentina´s Lake District kicks our Lake District to the curb. We spent four days in Bariloche marvelling at the green foresty mountains and sparkly lakes.

Our first hostel turned out to be a little bit too `dreadlock friendly` for us and we felt too shaved, un-pierced and un-inked to be staying there. However, they did have a huge St Bernard dog called Otto who we fell in love with. Jodie became so besotted with the big bear-like honey monster that she plans to go back, break him free and bring him home in her backpack.

We moved hostels after one night to one in the centre of town which was much more “us” and we began our three days of hardcore Bear Grylls style activities. The proceedings kicked off with a very hilly 25km cycle ride through the Circuito Chico lake circuit. In cool weather on flat terrain we´re sure 25km wouldn`t feel like such a bum-blaster but in the 28 degree heat and constant uphill-downhill gradients, my word we were aching, especially in the groin area.

Tay was proud to be the only one of the three who didn`t have to get off her bike once to walk up any hills - even if that meant travelling up one particularly steep slope at the pace of a heavily tranquilised snail. While Tay has always acknowledged that she has thigh muscles that would put Roger Federer to shame, she was a little put out when Robbi charmingly put her achievement down to her "amazonian thighs" - surely a comment worthy of any ´top ten things never to say to your girlfriend´list. The view of the lakes when we reached the highest point was unbelievable and fairly surreal. When we reached the top we came over all emotional although we`re not sure if this was down to the incredible view or relief that the physical excursion was over and our bottoms could relax.

Options for the next day were either kayaking or horse-riding and considering the ache in our nether regions we opted for the former. What we hadn`t considered however was the effect of going with Roberto aka the man who sucks the fun out of all remotely competitive physical activities. With it being a really windy day we were given various cautions about not heading to far into the exposed middle part of the lake, which we of course ignored. We spent the whole time laughing uncontrollably as we drifted helplessly against the wind, and Robbi spent the whole time being generally angry and Italian and shouting at us to "stop tickling the water!" with our oars. Outdoorsy activity numero dos? Done.

Next in line was a mountain-based horse ride. We arrived at Tom Wesley´s riding school expecting full instructions and a helmet. In fact we got neither, mounting our horses in short shorts, flip flops, and looking nervously over at the untouched helmet rack. Our guide, an Argentinean Frankie Detori, lead us out of the stables and onto the track where we were a little alarmed as our horses started cantering in opposite directions towards the gates. After the intital panic and some mutterings of "not sure i`m comfortable with this" the horses settled down and it became a really enjoyable, mellow trot through the mountains.
Robbi, fancying himself as a bit of a John Wayne tough guy picked up a stick to hit his horse with but the stick was a bit too weedy and he ended up looking like he could have beaten Jake Gyllenhall to his role in Broke Back Mountain.

As if we hadn`t loved Bariloche enough we ended our visit there on a food related high to really seal the deal on our love for the town. We met an English couple, Hannah and Martin, who were also upset on having missed out on Pancake Day, so we joined forces to put on a pancake making marathon at the Hostel. We made a selection of both savoury and sweet pancakes and washed them down with a bottle of rum. The only thing better than pancakes is definately slightly drunk pancakes.

Reluctantly we peeled ourselves away from the lovely Bariloche and boarded a bus to Mendoza for the annual wine festival

DISCLAIMER: A notice to all parents and siblings...we are NOT, we repeat NOT going to Chile, so no need to worry!


permalink written by  JodesAndTay on March 8, 2010 from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
from the travel blog: Jodes and Tay escape to SA
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Red red wiiiiiine....goes to my heeeaad

Mendoza, Argentina

The wine festival that everyone had been so excited about turned out to be a let down before it had even begun as we arrived in Mendoza and were informed it was more of a beauty pageant/ informative wine lecture hybrid; not quite the wine version of Oktoberfest that we had imagined. So we went elsewhere for our vino fix the next day and hit the vineyards by bicycle. At first we thought we had made a huge mistake, as the first 12 kilometers were extremely hard in the midday heat and we all got a little cranky. Well, we say a little, but Jodie had had more than enough and at one point screamed, "this isn`t a f**king holiday!". But as the wine flowed the cycling got much easier, if not a little unbalanced.

Our first vineyard was a liquer, chocolate and olive oil tasting session, which we really milked much to the distate of the lady leading the tasting. The stingy witch even tried to make us share one olive between the three of us, surely an olive each is a basic human right? Things reached a low when we had to share one crouton between us to sample the olive and garlic paste with. Robbi lost out after we took generous bites and he was left with soggy naked crouton. You snoooooze, you loooose my friend.

We stopped for what turned out to be a rather disappointing lunch where Jodes caused a hoo-ha by getting locked in the toilet. A German girl came to her rescue by shouting across the otherwise quiet restaurant, " Excuze me, someone is locked in ze toilet!" What an embarrassment. The next tasting session was a bit lethal and we were soon very tipsy and grinning like idiots. After a bit too much red wine suddenly everything was absolutely hilaaaarious and we amused ourselves by pretending to be wine conoissuers, sniffing the glasses and then using sleazy voices to describe its ´leathery but yet, smokey` flavours. This was followed up with Beavis and Butthead style snickering, soooo immature.

We got back on the bikes a little worse for wear and passed the time between vineyards by singing at the top of our voices. The theme was ´songs from your heritage` so Jodie treated us to some lovely Welsh folk songs, Robbi went hell for leather with some Lenozze Di Figarro opera and Tay, confused by the concept bust out a souful yet passionate version of Chris De Burgh´s Lady in Red.

That evening we attempted to head to a club with the crew from the hostel but unfortunately drinking vodka on top of the red wine and cycling exertions proved too much and we flaked out instead. Slightly fragile, we took it easy the next day by playing pool volleyball with the hostel crew, Australian Sheilas Cilla and Annie, and Dallas & Sylvia. We followed this up with a group meal out which absolutely bombed as the food was truly hideous. We hadn`t imagined that Argentina would allow itself to serve up a bad steak, but the establishment in question proved us wrong and we were presented with lumps of leathery gristle covered in a sinister cheese sauce. Dallas probably got the worst deal when he found a stone and two sticks in his burger. When he showed the stone to the waiter he laughed and told him it was a souvenir and that it must have just dropped out of the sky...yes, because teeny tiny meteors are constantly falling from the sky and wedging themselves into peoples hamburgers. Only Robbi and his iron gut managed to clean his plate and enjoy it, in fact he washed it down with everyone elses left overs.

On the whole Mendoza was a lot of fun, but not a particularly nice city so we weren`t too sad to leave.


permalink written by  JodesAndTay on March 12, 2010 from Mendoza, Argentina
from the travel blog: Jodes and Tay escape to SA
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Ty-Juan-asaurus Rex

San Juan, Argentina

Jurassic Park was undoubtedly a classic moment in film from the 1990`s. What could be better than watching a film where an eccentric old scientist brings dinosaurs back from extinction and opens a theme park where the public can come and see them in an elaborate `dino zoo`, only for them to slyly reproduce and break free of their electric fences, devouring the scientist`s colleagues and friends along the way? Well, perhaps seeing real life dinosaur bones and fossils in a huge canyon full of dead dinosaur bodies in the flesh perhaps? This is what we were expecting from our trip to Valle de la Luna (The Valley of the Moon) from San Juan, north of Mendoza.

After reading up on the Ischiguialasto National Park with its hundred of dinosaur fossils and valley of rocks and craters that resemble the moons surface, we were truly excited about visiting the real life Jurassic Park the next day. Tay got so excited she nearly transported herself back to 1993 to pick ùp the Jurassic Park cycling shorts she wore as a child.

However, when we arrived there was no cuddly Richard Attenborough limping along with his little mosquito walking stick, no annoying child actors, no Jeff Goldblum, no big fat guy with glasses getting stung in the eyes with poisonous dinosaur spit.....and there was definately no tour guides who spoke English. The tour turned out to be severely lacking in any sort of dinosaur information and the first fossil everyone was elbowing each other out of the way to catch a glimpse of, was in fact...a leaf. Not a huge T Rex skull, but a teeny tiny little leaf. We realised we had got a bit carried away and accepted that the tour was going to be very `rock` and `sediment` focussed. Well, the tour guide only spoke in Spanish, so we only have it on Robbi`s authority that that`s what was being explained.

No dinosaurs aside, the views of the valley were really amazing and it did genuinely look like the surface of the moon. So much so that we felt it neccessary to take a `look at us being astronauts` photo, I think you will agree it is VERY convincing. For all you science fans out there, we thought we should hit you with some facts. Firstly, the park contains fossils from plantlife and mammals from the late Triassic period (roughly 230 million years ago) and according to the internet, is the `only place in the world where nearly all of the Triassic is represented in an undisturbed sequence of rock deposits`. If only we had been able to understand the tour guide we might have been able to give you more information, but unfortunately our Spanish vocabularies still only include counting from 1-100 and various conversational phrases.

One great thing about having Robbi with us is that he is a complete Teacher`s Pet and on every day trip you will be sure to find him chatting up the tour guide at least once to ask all his little questions. This really pays off because we essentially end up with a mediator who can `dumb down`the real information and make it more manageable for us. This is how we learnt that a patch of perfectly round boulders which looked as though they had been specially arranged into a pattern, were in fact random small pieces of petrified wood and leaves which had then over time accumulated layers of calcium, creating round stones. The main sight to see at the park is the rock which we thought looked a LOT like ET...please see photo for ET likeness.

The museum at the end had a raptor skeleton, so in the end we did get a bit of dinosaur action which was nice. Overall, a really interesting day trip with incredible views.

permalink written by  JodesAndTay on March 20, 2010 from San Juan, Argentina
from the travel blog: Jodes and Tay escape to SA
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