For our last meal in Mar del Plata, Maru made a feast of various types of gourmet pizzas. They were made completely from scratch with ingredients that we bought at the store just moments before, and were ridiculously delicious. Though I’m a fan of the pre-pizzas that I buy and cook here in Buenos Aires, these homemade pizzas obviously wiped the floor with them. It was a good and laid back dinner, but before long it was nearly 1 am and we were all pooped, so we decided to just call it a night, rather than forcing bad hangovers for the ride home on Sunday afternoon.
Even with a laid back night, I was exhausted on Sunday, and just moving about the apartment for a few moments was laborious. What made it worse was the sunburn, and extreme third degree burns I got on my feet. It made me feel sick, and I actually got a runny nose, but in general my body just felt like it had been hit by a truck. After the apartment was cleaned up and we were all packed and ready to go, it was time to leave Mar del Plata.
It was a nice and sunny day, already very hot and humid. Imaginably, Buenos Aires would be much hotter. Picking up some more snacks for the road, it was time to start back on Route 2, and back through the empty pampas. There wasn’t as much conversation on the trip back north, mostly because we were all pretty exhausted from the weekend, but a car ride has its ways of being enjoyable nonetheless. As I fought fatigue, I looked from left to right soaking up as much of the green space as I could, aware that soon it would all be concrete again.
Somewhere along the road near a town called Maipu, we stopped for about 45 minutes at a little lake hidden off the road. Though it had a sign advertising it, the area seemed forgotten, and only a handful of people were there. Pablo had discovered it the last time he was down in the area, and we walked to the shaky wooden dock, taking some pictures and looking at the dark, motionless water. Only occasional bubbles would pop up from fish down below. The heat had died down as dark gray clouds loomed in the distance, and with some shanty tin buildings, a few picnic tables, and windmills spinning wildly, I again thought back to how the pampas reminded me of my image of the Midwest United States. I could see some movie where the peaceful farm town was about to be rocked by a tornado.
It was so quiet and relaxed, with the gentle breeze blowing from the west. Pablo said the last time he was there it was packed with cars and people, and the water was filled with swimmers. We got lucky and had it nearly to ourselves for almost an hour before getting back on the road towards Buenos Aires. Up through the north of the pampas I noticed that on the side of the road, where one might find McDonald’s and diner’s in the United States, all you would find here were parillas, or steak houses. McDonald’s will generally always be bad (though good), and it’s possible to get a so-so diner. But I had to think that every one of those steak houses was great, and what’s worse about not trying all of them was not trying any of them. But it was Sunday afternoon and we had snacks, so on to Buenos Aires we kept going.
Reaching the outskirts of the province and city, we passed through many small towns along the way, with the population steadily rising as Buenos Aires grew closer. Finally we came to Banfield, where Pablo and Paola let us out to catch the bus back to the city center. It was a fun weekend and was great to see another part of Argentina, but what made it so worthwhile was that I was able to share the experience with Argentinians, learning cultural things, sharing mate, and speaking in their language. Though I’ve had some experiences with locals, this was by far the longest of its kind in my time here, and just a few days in the presence of Porteños taught me almost as much as my time winging it alone has in 4 months here. A successful start to the new year, and hopefully with many more good times to come.
Above: The pampas, near Maipu.