Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Our stopover in Carmelo was really just a matter of convenience.  We had a boat to catch from here the next day and didn't want to chance a late bus making us miss it. There are no hostels here, so we had booked ourselves into the cheapest hotel.

Well actually I say cheapest, but really least expensive would be more appropriate, as after our two accommodation splurges in Mendoza and Santiago, this is the most expensive place we have been.

And it was so not worth it. Hotel Centro - yes I am happy to name and shame -  is also the worst place we have stayed.  I can forgive the dodgy electrics in the showers in Bolivia, and for the prices, some of the pokey hostel rooms are to be expected, but the problems here were just pure lack of care.

Starting with the door to the room; the bottom pane of glass in the door was broken, and a couple of rather large and sharp looking shards were just left in the frame.

The room was cramped, dark and pokey.  The bathroom looked like it may have been fancy when it was put in, but the ceramic toilet seat was broken clean through, so when you sat on it you had to be careful not to get a nasty pinch.  There was actually a jacuzzi bath, but it looked like if you used it some very nasty stuff would come out of the holes with the bubbles.

In fairness the sheets and towels were clean. Which is more than can be said for the rest of the room. It wasn't all filthy, it just looked like they quickly clean the obvious areas and then the out of the way bits never get touched. But the real problem was the mould. The bedroom was full of mouldy spots and black patches. You could smell it.

The curtain, which was torn by the way, was covered in it too. Now even if you struggle to control the mould on the walls - and there was no evidence to suggest that they had even tried to - you can wash or replace the curtain.  We thought we might change rooms, but I looked at others and they looked no better. We knew that most places were either unavailable or way beyond our budget, so as the bed itself was OK, we decided to bear it for the one night. We stayed out all the rest of the day and evening and literally went back just to sleep.

As to Carmelo itself, well there is not much here either. The square is OK with a nice fountain that when it is lit up at night looks a bit like three candles. There are two attractions advertised in town. The first is the swing bridge, which is hand operated to open the central section.

The other is the old house of Colonel Ignacio Barrios, which is now a cultural centre. We took a quick look at both, but neither filled us with any great excitement. I found it more interesting to watch the sight of the various horse and carts and things like the old truck with a fancy antique looking sofa in the back of it.

Carmelo did have one slightly unusual thing. Its graffiti was on the streets rather than on the buildings. Not sure why, but I suppose it could be considered more considerate that they don't daub their rubbish on people's property. Rather less unusually, we were of course followed everywhere by various dogs.

There were a couple of reasonable places to eat in the square.  Both were simple, but had decent, cheap food and they were happy to let us while away our spare hours before we returned to our awful room.  We noticed here that people coming into a restaurant will often say 'buen provecho' which is bon appetit, to the customers already there.  We had seen this before in Montevideo, but as that guy was dressed like a clown, we figured he was just in character.

In the evening, the restaurant had on an Argentine football match, Olimpo v Boca.  We didn't really take much notice of it until the end when it got interesting.  It was Copa Argentina match, so a clear result was needed to decide who went through, but at the end of extra time it was still level at 1-1, so it went to penalties.  Being English, we know that a penalty shoot out can be entertaining to watch, especially one that doesn't hold the threat that your team will lose.  This one was especially good.

Olimpo went first and missed. Boca missed too.  Olimpo recovered themselves and scored the next, so did Boca. They both scored the third, and the fourth and the fifth, taking them into penalty sudden death.  They both scored the sixth and the seventh.

OK perhaps not so sudden death then. When they had both scored in the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh, they had got through the whole team, which is something I have never seen happen before.  Starting back through the team, Olimpo had the twelfth saved.  So did Boca.  On the thirteenth, Olimpo shot wildly over the top, and Boca finally managed to consolidate that by scoring theirs.  Final score 1-1 after extra time and 10-11 on penalties.

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