I've just been to Uruguay, the hosts and winners of the very first world cup.Not that they go on about it much, with the commemorative t-shirts, replica trophies and other assorted merchandise on sale on every street corner. While there I had a depressing vision of what England will be like in 2066, if we still haven't won anything else by then.
It's a relaxed and charming place, though, with a predominantly 1930's theme to the decor - and since that's when prosperity last paid the Uruguayans an extended visit, I wasn't sure whether it represents retro-chic or that was just the last time they could afford to decorate.
I'm now back in Buenos Aires, and am almost embarassed to admit how much I'm enjoying being in Argentina. I'd strongly recommend it for a visit, though there's one particular sports shop in the centre of town which is covered in four foot high photographs of Maradona's Goal of the Century against England in 1986 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rW-lK9F6TU). There's photos of him strolling past Peter Beardsley and Peter Reid, past someone that is apparently Terry Fenwick (forgive my slack memory), beating the lunges of Ray Wilkins and Terry Butcher, and then finally rounding Shilton and shooting. As a true born Englishman I'm not sure whether to applaud his skill or set fire to the city, but I can't help wishing he'd scored that goal (and the other one - you know the one I mean) against Germany so I could appreciate it's magnificence without grinding my teeth.
They love Maradona here, warts and c0caine ravaged nose and all. I'm told most Argentinians own DVDs of his 200 greatest ever goals, and several restaurants have signed Maradona shirts on the wall. I bet he never had to pay for a meal here in his life.
I'm also appreciating the little things, like the fact that the male toilets here are labelled "caballeros". There's something so swashbuckling about that word that I find myself swaggering a little as I enter every men's room. Obviously the wine is good and cheap (I might have mentioned that before, forgive my slack memory), and I've been to see River Plate to add to my Boca Jrs veteran-hood (and like a true football fan wh0re I have both shirts and wear them alternately, akin to wearing both Man Utd and Man City shirts in Manchester). I even watched a tango show in which some people danced, some of them wearing suits, and some red dresses. It was great. I think the ones in suits were men and the dresses women, but the lights were dimmed and I've heard stories.
I've also hooked up with the Aussies again, and am enjoying such weighty intellectual conversation as "If you were a cannibal, which part of the body would be your favourite cut?" and "If you had a death ray, which nation would you enslave and why?". Take away a few inches of waistline and add a few inches of hair and I could almost be back at college.
Other than that no real news from me, but I'll be heading up to the Iguazu Falls as soon as I get myself together to organise the trip.