Choosing to come to Mar Del Plata as an end to our trip around the world was a fantastic idea. We have enjoyed our time relaxing, doing some “re-entry” work, and literally taking long walks along the beach. No, we aren’t placing a singles ad or anything, but the coastline here stretches for miles and it is wonderful that we have time to simply walk. Like many other beach towns, there are dozens of runners, roller bladers, power walkers and skaters moving about and enjoying the sunshine and ocean breeze. The beach is noticeably busier on the weekends and the atmosphere is charged with energy and excitement.
Determined to take advantage of the awesome apartment where we are staying, we wandered half way across town to find a better grocery store in order to make dinner for ourselves. Though this Toledo store is the same brand as the other, its much more expansive aisles and wider selection made this one far superior. We could actually identify vegetables through the mud caked on them, unlike our previous Toledo visit. The floors were also level, allowing us to let go of our cart without it racing to the other end of the store and crashing into a wall. What a refreshing change! We bought all the fixins for a truly delicious homemade dinner. Once preparations began, we found ourselves faced with a challenge. Now, bear in mind we have cooked using a gas stove and oven for years–this is what we are used to. Also know that our Air BnB host, Carlos, demonstrated how to use the oven on the first day we arrived. None of that made any difference. On this stove, the pilot light for the oven has to bit lit manually using a match. Simple enough, but we had the hardest time finding the right combination. Light the match, push in the dial, spin until you hear the gas release, then release and set the temperature. Each time we tried the last step, the flame disappeared. In fact, every time I had the stupid thing lit, the flame would die if I made any moves with the dial. I wasn’t too keen on sitting with my hand on the dial for the entire time and not only did my frustration began to build, but my fear that we were going to blow up this apartment in our efforts. Phil took over and had similar issues. Match after match, we lit the flame to see it almost immediately die out. As soon as we were about to change the menu from oven-roasted carrots to sautéed carrots, Phil saved the day and figured it out. It took us at least 15 matches and I’m not sure we’ll be able to do it again, but at least we were able to roast those carrots and enjoy a delicious homemade dinner.
After dinner, Phil was excited to check out the casino. I was feeling much more comfy and cozy inside and managed to talk him into staying home and just hanging on the couch. As Phil mentioned in his last post, one thing we have been doing is watching a fair amount of television, which we haven’t done much of on the whole trip. Now, almost every channel we get has the shows dubbed over in Spanish, but there are a few reliable channels that merely have Spanish subtitles and we can actually watch the programming. We don’t really get many typical American networks–no NBC, CBS, or ABC. We do get FOX, but it is some different version and of course there is AXN, with its endless episodes of CSI: Miami, Criminal Minds and Castle. However, even with our limited choices, we have managed to discover 2 new shows which we think are part of the new fall schedule (though we aren’t sure, because here they were shown on Cinemax). These shows are Arrow and Revolution. Both on in marathon format (though Revolution was only 2 episodes), we watched from pilot to current episode and really enjoyed them both. Are they high quality shows? Maybe, but we have been starved for such television, and it was fun to indulge and watch for hours. There is a 75% chance we won’t ever watch these once we return to the States, but I’m glad we caught them here.
After much begging, pleading and arm twisting, we finally found ourselves at the Casino Central the following day. Okay, so maybe Phil and I love casinos and we have found it interesting to see some of the differences between the ones we are used to in Las Vegas and those around the world. Set in an old hotel, this casino was said to be a fun time and the best of a few of these establishments in Mar Del Plata. It may be the best one, but think our standards might be too high. As we walked in, I got the distinct feeling that we were in an old hotel convention floor which is hosting a casino night. All the games were concentrated in one area with the corners and edges of the room largely empty. There isn’t much different from one slot machine to another, although we did see one of our Vegas favorites called Milked Money that involved racing cows and more fun. However, when we played electronic roulette, we couldn’t determine how to cash out our winnings. We hit all the buttons and read the whole screen (in Spanish), but no ticket printed. Finally we asked the attendant and he showed us this ridiculously obscure multi-step process of cashing out. Great, at least it was possible to actually get the money out. We weren’t ready to leave, so I went to put the ticket back in the machine and keep playing, but unlike most casinos, the tickets can’t be used at cash in this electronic game. Argh, what a pain. Finally, we settled in an played for a bit. The minimum bet was 1 peso, which is a little less than 25 US cents, so we weren’t exactly risking our life savings, just having some fun. Once we ran out of pesos, we headed for the door. The only thing this trip to the casino really did was give us the itch to go back to Las Vegas.
And now we find we have come to our last full day of the trip. True, we don’t leave until Tuesday, but that we mostly be spent traveling. So, we will continue to soak up the sun, reflect on this amazing journey and prepare to establish ourselves back into the world of work, family and friends. It may surprise you to hear that this is actually something we are really looking forward to. But first, we will enjoy Mar Del Plata–the beach, the sun, the seafood–for just a little while longer.