Bahia Blanca is a moderate sized port town about 14 hours south of Buenos Aires. It was planned to be a short stop on our way to the Lakes region and we were not sure what to expect there. It was fairly obvious when we got into our train carriage that it was not a big feature on the tourist trail as there was not a gringo to be seen. It was even more obvious after we had lugged our bags around the town for a few hours trying to find a backpackers to stay at. We were considering just continuing on, but it was my birthday the next day and I didn’t really want to spend it on a bus. Later on in the afternoon however, we got a couple of responses from the Couch Surfers of Bahia Blanca, and so began a really wonderful stay.

We were soon drinking Yerba Mate in the park with a really lovely guy called Manuel and his friend Vicki who was also amazing. Later on we met up with another guy Juan, who was going to host us for the night. For dinner he was kind enough to invite us to his fathers house where we had the classic Argentino meal, Asado, which is not unlike the classic Australian meal, the Barbeque. It was a really special occasion, and before I realised it it was past midnight and we were toasting my birthday with glasses of champagne.

In the morning, Juan, who had to study, handed us over to a couple of his friends that we had met the previous night. With Aladana and Pancho we headed out to see the sights of Bahia Blanca, which was difficult since there are not really any of note. We did go out to see the Port, third most important in Argentina, where a friendly mariner gave us an impromptu tour of his patrol boat. Later on, after getting lost and seeing most of the outer suburbs we returned to Aldana’s house for some more Mate drinking. It was really fun hanging out with Pancho and Aldana as their English was almost as bad as our Spanish, so they insisted that we try and use our Spanish.

In the evening we had another Asado with Manuel and Vicki and friends, followed by a couple of drinks at the local. So ended a very memorable birthday, so far from home, yet made to feel completely at home here in Argentina.

The next day we drove out to the Sunshine coast of Bahia Blanca. An hours drive north, Monte Hermoso is a small beach town where most of Bahia Blanca head on holiday. There were thousands of people on the beach, as far as the eye could see. Very busy compared to Aussie beaches, but Manuel told us it was actually a quiet day. It was good to have a swim though, and a very nice afternoon hangin out with our new friends. We got back just in time to swap some photos and music, pick up some food and catch our bus onwards.

So in the end, a town that we could very easily have skipped turned out to be a really great experience with some really amazing people. So far the most difficult thing about couch surfing has been saying goodbye to new friends, but we really look forward to one day seeing them again and being able to return the unbelieveable generosity and kindness they have shown us.

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