Argentina To Brazil
June 9 through July 20, 2004
WorldRiders Become BusRiders2
Bicyclists on a Bus are Like Fish Out of Water!
The biggest change, from our African experience to that of South America, came at the doorway of the plane and extended out into Buenos Aires. Used to being in a SEA of black faces there wasn’t a black face to be seen? Though the language and culture are quite different many of the people face many of the same hardships. The weather which remains cool to cold forces us to change plans and seek sun.
Step into these pages and get acquainted with a Buenos Aires we hadn’t been able to picture before arriving. Meet Evita, “Che”, Gaucho Gil and others. These three had dubious beginnings but now have been placed on pedestals in some parts of Argentinean society. Wild animals? Yes, you’ll meet a big cat, gators and capybara. See, even hear, the best of Mother Natures Power at Iguazu Falls. Best of all, you’ll meet some new WorldRider friends! So, GET ON THE BUS!
June 9, 2004
Flight to Buenos Aires
Our flight originated in Kuala Lumpur. Some of the passengers have already been sitting in these seats for 10 hours or more. Others joined them in Johannesburg. Thinking that we were in a small crowd on a big plane ended as we entered. Thoughts of having plenty of room ended as we took our seats. They were obviously designed with the average Malaysian in mind and not my long legs. On the positive side, each seat has a TV screen and choices of movies and music. So, we sat back and tried to relax as the big bird lifted of, on time, 11:00 AM, Cape Town time.
9 ½ hours, 3 meals and 3 movies later we touched down at 3:30 PM, Buenos Aires time. It was a cloudy and cool day. After the typical struggle we found a Mini-Bus that could handle the bikes and were headed into town. A girl at the 3rd Tourist counter we visited was able to book a room for 1 night. She informed us that it was a Brazilian Holiday and all Hotels were fully booked.
It was dark by the time we rolled into the center and up to the door of The Broadway Hotel. It is stark, art deco and expensive. Our room is an ill-furnished suite. They don’t have any English language news but then we’re too tired to watch, anyway. We’re still on Cape Town time, it’s 7:30 PM here yet it feels like the middle of the night. A light meal seemed appropriate and we found a Café just across the street. Of course we’re the only people in the place, dinner here really doesn’t start until 9:00. Cat had soup, I had chicken and we had wine. Back in our room, we struggled to stay awake but Mother Nature took her toll and we zonked by about 8:30. Awe Jet Lag!
June 10, 2004
The Hotel Search
Two years ago today our pal, Terry Tintorri died. We were shocked, we struggled with the reality and getting back home to be with Judith and our friends. We miss him still. Today Ray Charles joined him, he was 73.
The included breakfast was pretty good but the news that we’d have to move, wasn’t. So, we set out first to an Internet Shop. After a quick check I stayed to clean up the 100s of messages while Cat shopped Hotels. She braved the cold and wind visiting 12 places and finding only 2 rooms available. One was $112 US the other $35, she took the small room small dollar deal.
Another expensive Mini-Van ride stuffed into the baggage and bikes. The Hotel Froussard is centrally located. The room is small but the staff is great. They helped us move the bikes in and stored them in the basement. They also provided a table where we set up the computer, AND, they do have CNN. I began the catch-up typing process while Cat sought picnic supplies. We lunched in then I continued typing while Cat cleaned up her e-mail messages.
Together at 5:00 PM for TV and a glass of wine. The big news is coverage of President Reagan’s funeral. Local news is full of a story about the kidnapping of a boy named Cristian. The Restaurant down opens at 8:00, it was a long wait but worth it. Pizza and pasta!
Another sleepy evening. We were down for the count by 9:30.
June 11, 2004
Breakfast is watery juice, coffee and Media Lunas, croissants. The Hotel owner, Perla, told us that Cristian’s Father had paid the demanded ransom a few days ago but still no Cristian.
Worked on journal pictures then we walked down to the water, through streets that feel like Lisbon or Seville. Narrow, traffic swarming in one-way patterns. And buses, they sit and idle then rev up and spew smoke. Not choking, maybe in part due to the breeze and cold? It was just barely on the plus side of the Celsius scale when we emerged into bright sun. The canyons of low-rise buildings here in our moderate to low-end neighborhood cause a constant cloud of shade, cold shade fanned slightly by a lazy wind.
There is an interesting display of aerial photos in Plaza de Mayo. Fantastic shots from above fantastic places, around the world. We just wandered through and wondered at them then walked to the waterfront.
Passing through tall buildings and war memorials we found the bus station and disappointment. It’s a 40-hour bus trip to Tierra del Fuego, we decided to look into flying. Lunch on the water. The harbor isn’t that great looking but the food was great and cheap. Prices here are extremely palatable. Once past the original Hotel problem we’re finding that food, transportation and other homegrown goods are less than 1/3rd the cost of Africa and back home.
Looking back at Buenos Aries from the water reminds us of New York City. Turning a corner we found ourselves in the midst of an angry protest. We think is has to do the devaluation of the Peso in 2002 and the loss of savings by many hard working people. They say the banks have frozen their accounts?
Cat spent most of the afternoon at the Internet keyboard, I on our machine slaving over the final chapter of our African Journal. We are learning via local news and Internet that it’s freezing in Ushuaia, the Southern most City in the world and our chosen starting point. In fact today’s weather report there includes snow and wind.
Dinner down the street at a nice place called Las Posadas. Cat has been suffering that old familiar stomach pain today. We think her Diverticulosis has retuned. We had ordered fish dinners when she became dizzy, broke out in cold sweat and felt nauseous. I had them continue to cook and prepare the order to go. We walked back to the room and Cat tried to relax while I went back for our food.
Cat began a course of Cipro, the Anti-Biotics we have on board for just such an event. She nibbled, I wolfed down more than my fair share. CNN is completely consumed with President Reagan’s coast-to-coast burial ceremony. It began this morning in Washington DC and ended at sunset tonight in Simi Valley, California. Pretty exciting to see the freeway and places we call home. Pretty impressive, the number of people who passed by the casket in DC and the number lining the freeway as the hearse carried him on his last ride, to his Presidential Library. Sunset in Simi is midnight here. Continued jet lag kept us awake and interested, then after mid-night we couldn’t get to sleep.
June 12, 2004
Same light breakfast only we added bananas and fresh backed goodies from down the street. Cat is feeling a bit better but the pain persists. For me it was a morning of computer keyboards, ours and that of the Internet Shop. Cat walked in search of a Bike Shop, Post Office and CDs.
Picnic lunch in our tiny room then we walked to Plaza de Mayo. They’re preparing for a speech or concert. After a few photos of Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace where Evita addressed the masses and Madonna sang for the cameras. Even a changing of the guard. There is an encampment similar to those of the Vietnam Vets back home. It is a protest of “The Dirty War” and a call for a full accounting of events and missing people.
The Dirty War
During the late 1960s and early 70s students and workers staged protests that exploded into riots. The protests included government policies, job losses and taxes. This led to armed guerrilla organizations. It was near the end of Juan Peron’s widow, Isabelita’s time as President after his death. She created something they called the “Triple A”, the Alianza Argentina Anticommunista. By 1974 they formed a death squad and soon hundreds of intellectuals and lawyers, as many as 50 a day, were murdered. The guerillas targeted the army and bombed, robbed, and kidnappings. Argentina was in chaos when in1976 the army took over, pushed Isabelita our and began a period of terror and brutality. Our own CIA helped the Right Wing develop a system that would arrest, torture, rape, even kill suspected Left Wing liberals. During the following 7 years more than 30,000 people disappeared. Most Argentineans were unaware of the atrocities, kept in the dark by the government. They only came to light when the Military Government decided to go to war against England over rights to the Malvinas and Falkland Islands. A feeble attempt to bring the bad guys to justice culminated in arrests, then release of most of the worst perpetrators. In 1995 a book told of dissidents being throw from airplanes, into the Atlantic. This was seen as the first “proof” of the rumors that had been circulating for years. There are still as many unanswered questions, as there are missing people hence the ongoing protests.
As the setup for the speeches and protest moved along a huge group, Juvenils para Corpus Christi, came marching down the street and spilling into the square. These, we were told, were Brazilian kids. Lots of excitement.
Back in our little room, we hovered under the heater and watched The Odd Couple movie with Jack Lemon and Walter Mathau. That and a glass of wine helped wile away the hours until our favorite restaurant, downstairs, opened at 8:00 PM. Again, we had the place to ourselves. Filet Mignon was great and a bargain. Our waiter, Victor is fun and trying to communicate even funnier. The place was packed as we exited at 9:00.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Buenos Aires, Tango
San Telmo and La Boca
Another enhanced breakfast then, a work frenzy. We went through the bags and sorted out all things we could mail home. Cat did accounting on our computer while I boxed the things for mailing.
San Telmo is the antique neighborhood. Shops, Flea Markets and Artist Stalls cling to the side of every street. Tango dancers on almost every corner hoping to spin well enough to earn a few Pesos. One Artist, Miguel Angel Biazzi’s work was strange, almost Dali-ish. We looked and enjoyed, even had a small conversation stumbling around between two languages.
It was turning into a beautiful, sunny day and the streets began to team with people. There was music coming from almost every door. We chose to have lunch on a balcony overlooking a square and more Tango Dancing. The sun was nice, the food good and our waiter, another Victor, was great. The restaurant has a Tango Show, too. We caught a little of their act then went out and took pics of dancers we’d been watching from above.
We took a bus to La Boca, a ghetto that is emerging as a big tourist attraction. The buildings are painted in bright colors and the streets lined with artists and their wares. More Tango dancing, right in the middle of the street. Two young couples were swinging and swaying, dipping and twisting to the delight of diners sitting at tables on the sidewalk. A strange mix of color, music, tourists buying typical trinkets and then, down the streets, some of the poorest of Buenos Aires. Our bus ride back was a thrill a minute. Better than a ride at Disneyland.
Dinner across the street at a tiny Café. The food wasn’t very good, the wine list so limited that I ran down the street and bought a nice bottle. We did enjoy watching a guy touting for another place down the street. Most restaurants have people out front handing copies of menus or specials. This guy was animated, his big tummy stuck out like a good restaurant review as he ran back and forth, talking and hustling people back to his place. Our favorite restaurant, under the Hotel, has a very quiet well-dressed guy who seems almost too reserved for the job. We picture him as an accountant rather than a salesman.
We caught a weather report from Ushuaia, it was –10 degrees there today. No fun for cycling. We are thinking about alternate plans. In fact we began looking into taking a boat to Montevideo, Uruguay for a little side trip. Perhaps a bus trip to the wine region, Mendoza, too?
I called our friends, Don and Shirley in Oxnard this evening. I want to introduce them to Derric and Sharmain our artist friends in Africa. Don has the equipment to reproduce art like Derric’s. We feel that more of us should be able to have VanArt on our walls. It was fun talking with them. They are great wine friends. They’ve visited Mendoza and recommend a few days there. I will e-mail some of our pictures and the pictures of Derric and Sharmain to Don and Shirley. We hope that Don can also help us with some ideas we have for our photos. You know, I love connecting people, especially nice people. And, we all have wine in common, too.
June 14, 2004
Buenos Aires, Evita’s Grave
Earl & Glenys’ 63rd Anniversary
The usual breakfast then an e-mail to Cat’s Mom and Dad. Today is there 63rd Wedding Anniversary. What a wonderful couple, we should all be so lucky to live long and last as lovers, like they have!
I wrapped up the pictures for Don and Derric while Cat mailed our package home and the new pictures to Web Master Wally.
We’re getting pretty well acquainted with BA. It took a little asking but we were able to get the neighborhood called Recoleta by bus. Recoleta is the most upscale neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It’s also home to one of the strangest cemeteries in the world. As our Lonely Planet puts it, “Death is the great equalizer, except in Buenos Aries”. The wealthy seem to jockey for position, the crypt with the best view? There’s a saying that it’s cheaper to live an extravagant life than to be buried in Recoleta.
Also, traditionally, money alone isn’t enough to get you in. You need an established name, one of the upper crust, so to speak. We’re headed there to see the grave of Evita Peron. Many of the presumptive aristocracy are infuriated that after a strange journey in death her remains are interned here, among them. It really is a strange place and her crypt is no exception. We met a couple of young guys, Jonathon and David from San Francisco who joined our search for Evita. They’re here to ski for a month in the Andes so the very cold that we curse is a boon for them.
Lots of choices for lunch just across the street, even a Hard Rock Café. We found a Bicycle Shop with long cycling pants and also bought a tire pump on our way back to our lesser neighborhood. Florida, the walking street, had no answer for our need of long underwear.
Checking UP on Our Health
Our appointment with Dr. Munoz is at 5:30 PM. We bussed there and he poked, prodded and listened. Blood pressures were normal but he did detect a slight Heart Murmur when listening to Cat’s heart. We aren’t sure if this is new or has been there. He doesn’t think it’s a problem but we’ll check with her Cardiologist. He also set us up with appointments with a Dermatologist and Blood tests. Cat will also have a Pap Smear and Mammogram. We want to feel confident in feeling good before we begin the uphill dash, north toward home.
We spent time at Internet, again. Underground Weather reports that Ushuaia is going through a virtual heat wave. They forecasts –5 at night and up to +5 during the day. We are beginning to think of just going for it?
I called Daughter Lori to see if she has found our cold weather clothing. We had a great conversation, the first in months. Yes, she’d found our long underwear etc. and will ship them. This leaves us on out on an even greater limb? To go or not to go?
Another okay dinner, lamb and potatoes. Cat returned to Internet, I hit the journal.
June 15, 2004
Up and off, before breakfast, for blood tests. We got there before they opened and had to sit while our hungry stomachs growled. Back for breakfast by 9:00 AM, the now usual enhanced faire.
A walk to our new Bike Shop looking for cycle shoe covers. Our old ones are goners and we hadn’t thought of them until Lori mentioned how tattered they were last night. They didn’t have any but called another shop and will get them for us by Thursday. Still no luck in our quest for Long Johns. Another lost cause and a little time, we thought we could apply for a CitiBank Visa Card here. They almost chuckled as they told us it was impossible to get here, we’d have to go back home. Well, we won’t be there for another 10-11 months.
Buquebus is the company that runs the boat to Montevideo and also buses to Ushuaia. The bus trip was a bust, we just decided that we couldn’t make a 40 to 50 hour ride, no matter how plush the seats were. On the other hand we did book the boat to Uruguay. Just a name, but one I’ve heard from songs and geography books since I was a boy and now, it’ll be a Fathers Day weekend. We will definitely fly to Ushuaia.
Next quest, Aerolineas, to check prices for the flight. A longer walk than anticipated, and a shock to our wallets. Getting there with the excess baggage we call bikes will cost. You gotta do what you gotta do! They only allow 15 kilos, about 35 pounds per passenger. Our excess could cost more than the tickets? They suggested that we go to the check in counter and beg.
Another bus to Cat’s mammogram. They really flattened her breasts and all for only 50 Pesos or about $18 US. In fact our visit yesterday and the tests this morning were of the same great low cost value. As we walk around town we think how this place or somewhere in Argentina could be a GREAT place to retire.
A very affordable lunch at a local Café, strange but good burgers. Back at our BA Base Camp, I hit the journal, Cat went for her Pap Smear, her third Doctor trip of the day. She did the long wait then told him that she had just started her monthlies. He sent her packing. No deal during that time.
Dinner down, great pasta and salad. The waiters all know us, the place feels like home. We met a couple from Australia who are headed home, tonight. Well, they leave tonight but won’t be home for 2 days.
CNN news and early to bed.
June 16, 2004
Meeting Tim & Cindie
We hurried our trip to the bakery, banana run and breakfast. We’re off to meet Tm and Cindie, the couple who have been cycling since we started. They have slowly made there way to Bariloche, on their way around the World. They’re busing in here then flying out, today. We met them through Adventure Cycling’s Electronic News Letter, Bike Bits and have established an e-mail relationship. (
www.TimDownThe Road.org )
On the way to the Estacion Omnibus we walked back through the Aerial Photo display. They are really special. We also found and English/Spanish Dictionary then bought some needed medications and some blank CDs.
They have an Info Desk at the station. We checked into sending the bikes via bus to save money when we fly out to Ushuaia. They can only take them as far as Rio Gallegos. Language was a problem but we finally got the point, they will keep them for a month, there then, who knows. We think it would be okay but decided that despite the cost we want the bikes with us. We did figure out where Tim and Cindie are coming in and went down there to stand by.
It was recognition at first sight. We even hugged and helped them carry their gear and bikes. After a hurried search for a secure place to store their things we hailed a Taxi and took them to La Boca. They wanted to see our favorite spot since they have so little time here. Weekdays are a lot less hectic and there are fewer people here. The neighborhood tends to lose some of its character. We’re not sure that they found the same level of enthusiasm that we’d experienced. We had lunch and even asked the singer to turn down the volume of the music while the dancers danced so that we could talk.
Tim and Cindie's Adventure is a lot different from ours. They are out here, in the world, for at least 7 years. They are trying to wring enough money out of the experience to keep them going, maybe indefinitely. They’re headed home, “Back home again in Indiana”, to write a book chronicling they’re adventure to date. They’re undecided as to their next step, we urged them not to fear Africa.
Our afternoon was over all to quickly and we were back at the bus station. A tough situation developed as we tried to help them get a Mini-Van to the Airport. A Van pulled up and dropped some people, I hailed it and the driver pulled up. As we tried to discuss loading the bikes another Taxi Driver came up and began scolding him. I could tell that it was a Union thing. Drivers are supposed to go around and get in line. I tried to explain why we needed the Van but he didn’t seem to care. He began writing down the license plate number of the Van and the driver jumped in and drove away. I got right in his face and said, “Gracias, muchas gracias, you really screwed up a good deal.” Then I wrote down his license number as he pushed his crappy car up, to try and take Tim and Cindie’s bikes and bags.
There was another guy sort of hanging around. He offered his van but none of us felt he was really a Taxi driver. Tim went over and looked at his rig. We carried the bikes and bags over then, as a precaution, I took the drivers picture with them and another of his driver’s license. More hugs and promises to stay in touch then they were out of our lives, at least for now.
We again looked for thermal underwear and did find uppers. Then it was back to dinner at Las Posadas. This time we both felt great and the food was even better than our take away dinner in last week. Lamb and pork, maybe our last after we see our blood tests. Huge portions, extremely tasty and served in a wonderful ambiance.
Florida Street Tango
A little more Internet then bedtime, a truly wonderful day shared with great people.
June 17, 2004
BA Errands & Dermatologist
Apre breakfast Cat went out to mail the pictures on CDs to Derric and Don then worked on Internet adding names to our list and answering e-mails. She worked until 1:00 PM. I continued pecking away at our African journal pages.
Sandwiches in our little lair then we caught the local bus to our appointment with Dermatologist, Dr. Pulaski. Nice guy, his parents emigrated from Poland. He, like so many we met in Africa, is a “Born and Bred Argentinean”. He spoke enough English for jerky conversation. We both stripped down to underwear and he explored our bumps and blemishes with a magnifying glass. His findings were positive, no real problems. The blivets on my on my leg turn out to be nothing more than a strange kind of wart. So with a clean bill of Skin Health for a small Peso fee, we exited through the crowded waiting room and into the cool sunlit morning.
Picked up a few needed items on our way back to Froussard then repacked for our Montevideo jaunt. We’re still undecided on a plan regarding when to head south. We may take a bus, loop west and see Mendoza then down the Andes through Bariloche then on to Rio Gallegos where the bikes will lie in storage.
Dinner at Forest Hills, across the street and down on the corner. “Big Al” our favorite Tout hustled us across. Salmon and Sole, great veggies and wine.
He Made Us Do It
A movie that put us both to sleep.
June 18, 2004
BA to Montevideo, Uruguay
We awoke at 3:00 AM, 5:30 and again just before our scheduled wakeup call at 6:00. Anxious to get going and get on board the boat to Montevideo. It was still dark as we ate our breakfast. A short Taxi ride, and an hour wait in a place that feels like an airport. The boat is bigger than we thought it would be. They are a fast ferry and do take cars, too. The seats are roomy and comphy. The 2 hour 45 minutes passed fairly quickly.
Our package includes transport to the Hotel. A bus ride that made the rounds past several Hotels to drop fellow passengers. Our Crystal Palace Hotel is better than we expected, for the price. We dumped our light bags off and went looking for lunch.
The guy at the desk suggested a place just around the corner. It was another great find. Wonderfully low prices and good local food. It was packed, we had to wait a few minutes for a table.
A walk down 18 de Julio, the Main Street, led us through Plaza de Cagancha full of artists and sellers of knick-knacks. Then on to Plaza Independencia and around the giant statue of Jose Artigas astride his huge horse. He’s a National Hero, the guy who fought to liberate Uruguay from Spain only to lose her to Brazil. That was way back in the early 1800s. His remains are interned under the Statue. On the west end of the Plaza stands a garish looking, almost Flash Gordon, Spaceship looking apartment building. Completed in the 1920s, it is as much a tourist attraction as Jose.
The walk to Puerta de la Ciudadela was disappointing. The musicians and artisans we’d heard of turned out to be few and far between. The best of it was a flock of old cars and the interior of the Puerta building.
Another Unique Traveler, A Crafty Thief
A short visit to friends on the Internet then back toward the Hotel. There was one message of interest, Luis our Argentinean friend we met in Marbella Spain is cycling in Bolivia. He reports that it was –15 degrees on the mountainside this morning. Brrr.
As we walked a gutsy crook tried to get something of value from us. The few things we had in our plastic bag must have been a real disappointment to them? It wasn’t until we were back in our room that we noticed a slit had been cut in the bag just large enough for their hand to slip in. Another warning shot from the darker side of travel!
A Taxi ride for pasta at Panini, a great place, then back. A little TV in Spanish did inform us that American Paul Johnson, captured in Saudi Arabia, had been beheaded today. What a terrible thing to hear, just before bed!
June 19, 2004
A City Tour With Fulbright Fellows
The breakfast room seemed full of Americans. Most of our fellow US citizens turned out to be Fulbright Professors or Students. I heard two couple talking near our table and couldn’t resist jumping into the conversation. Eleanor is the Professor leading the group of International Law Students. She and husband are from Indiana. Fran is here to check on the progress of the group for the Fulbright Fellows. Her Husband, Hugh is a retired Cardiovascular Doctor and a great character. We really hit it off. He loves stacked rocks as do I. He has been working and re-working a rock wall at their home near Boston for several years. They invited us to join in a City Bus Tour this afternoon, we accepted.
A visit to the Tourist Office for maps and info then we hoofed it to the Mercado del Puerto. Our Lonely Planet made it sound bigger and more developed than it turned out to be. The Candambe Drums they promised never appeared. The best of it is the indoor dining area. A huge old warehouse full of various food stalls. Each was emitting smells and smoke betraying the morsels they hope to sell, soon.
Too early for lunch so we made our way back to the Hotel. There we found that they offer free Internet connection so I took advantage while Cat shopped for lunch items.
We ate on the bus. The tour was pretty typical, too fast and jerky enough to cause seasickness even among the saltiest of sailors. We did get to see neighborhoods and areas outside the center. It was after 6:00 PM by the time we returned to the Hotel.
The lunch food had been so good that we chose not to wait until after 8:30 to eat. We walked back around the corner to the take out place and loaded up on chicken, pork, potatoes and desserts. It was a relaxing evening watching an English language, subtitled, movie.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Back to BA, and a Meeting With Xandra and Maxine
Breakfast was good and gave us the opportunity to bid our Fulbright friends adieu. The bus to the boat was a little late. Due at 10:00 AM, he wheeled through the streets from Hotel to Hotel like a maniac. The boat pushed off on time.
During the voyage a gal approached and asked where we were riding to? She had seen and recognized our cycling jackets. She, Xandra, is a cycle tourist, who rides with friends every summer. She is here accompanying her Sister Maxine on a trip to visit British Cemeteries in Montevideo. Maxine is a writer and her current book centers on early British settlers here and in Argentina.
When they heard of our plan, Xandra insisted that I come sit with them. She wants to fill me in on why we mustn’t try to start in Ushuaia at this time of the year. They both say that it is so cold and windy now that Cat will turn blue. Xandra suggested that we ride north then across to Mendoza and slowly south as the weather improves. It took a while to get them to understand my feelings that we’re on an orbital path and riding backward isn’t an option. So, Xandra began thinking of another idea, we take buses and travel north, waiting the weather. See Brazil up to Rio de Janeiro then go south and cycle up the Andes on Highway 40. Xandra has cycled that route several times with her group of 10 girl friends. Xandra did offer to store our bikes and bags if we decide to go this route.
Lunch aboard was pretty plain but we did avoid seasickness. It was raining but warmer as we bid Xandra and Maxine goodbye. We Taxied back to Hotel Froussard and spent the remaining afternoon hours working on the journal and watching CNN news.
Dinner down at our favorite place, Il Fratello for pasta. More CNN news, then a movie and sleep.
June 21, 2004
Flag Day in BA
Breakfast without the usual fresh pastry enhancement this morning. The bakery and most other shops are closed today, it’s National Flag Day. This means another day of waiting. Cat talked with Perla, the owner of Froussard. She totally agreed with Xandra and said that the weather will only get worse during July and into August. This means go now or wait. We are now settling on a course of waiting the weather and traveling by bus.
A Major Change of Plans
We’ll start by taking a few short bus rides the first of which will be to Rosario, then on to Cordoba. A little exploring there, Alta Gracia, the home of Che Guevara. We will go as far as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as we wait and watch weather patterns. This also means that we’ll change our route as Xandra had suggested and cycle up the Pan Pacific along the Andes.
We went back for our Thermal Underwear tops. Mine was in but we had to do another tour of BA to pick Cat’s up at a different store. Two events worth noting. As we walked a Taxi spun around the corner and almost got us as we stepped from the curb. I yelled out a big “Gracias” which caused the guy in such a hurry to slam on his brakes and jump out of the car. He was quite a ways away. He looked fat and my age. Okay, I could probably give him a good go but do I want to? He yelled, I looked at him then waved him off and turned to take a picture of an obelisk in the center of the round about. He yelled for a couple more minutes then screeched away, in an even bigger hurry? Probably figured out how much time he’d wasted trying to be macho?
We also decided to pay the $100 each and get our Brazilian Visas. Lunch in a local Café was okay. Service was slow then we figured out that our waiter got off work. The new guy was great once we got his attention.
The afternoon was spent researching our maps, preparing for our BusRiders2 voyage. Dinner down in Il Fratello again. Our favorite waiter, Victor, was trying to help Cat cut through the language problem. She wanted lamb and couldn’t remember the Spanish to order. She bleated, he laughed and bleated back. It was a wonderful dish of Cordero for Cat and Chicken for me.
June 22, 2004
Visa & Evita Museum
After breakfast it was off to the Brazilian Embassy. What a surprise, everything there is computerized. We had to fill out a form on the screen before they’d even talk with us. Thanks to a fellow English speaker, there to apply too, we got through the basics and to the window. The lineup was full of US citizens putting up their $100 and filling out the form. This cost is a bit of payback. It is exactly what is expected of Brazilian citizens who apply for a US Visa. One guy traveling on business was pretty disgusted. He said that they should weigh the advantages and benefits of business with our country. We thought that, “Turn about was fair play”! They kept our Passports, we’ll have to come back for them and our Visa tomorrow at 5:00 PM
They don’t accept payment, we had to stop at a bank and deposit our $200 before they’ll start processing. One good side to the cost, the Visas are good for a period of 5 years. That will work well for us as we’re still planning on finding a boat to travel down the Amazon River in northern Brazil when we get to Ecuador.
A Travel Company next to the bank had lots of info about travel north and into Brazil. They suggested just buying bus tickets as we need them. They did warn us that we are headed into winter holiday season and may need to book bus and hotels in advance during the last two weeks of July.
As we stepped out we ran into Alain, a fully loaded cyclist from Switzerland. He has just completed a 9-month journey from the north. He stayed in a village on the Amazon and has agreed to stay in touch and help us with our plans. You can find his web site full of pictures and stories in French at
www.Zoomweb.ch/Alain. Check it out!
We have seen dog walkers and doggie care centers. This afternoon we watched as 3 walkers burdened with at least 20 dogs were followed by 3 Policia. Later we saw that they had been arrested for carrying and attempting to sell drugs. We were trying to make our way to the US Embassy to register. A gal, Mabel, gave specific directions then even walked us to the next corner to show us the bus stop where we should wait. Another example of wonderful hospitality we’re beginning to experience here.
The Consulate was an in and out, no hassle, no problem and no friendly encounter registration. We are always hopeful that we’ll make a friend or at least link to someone we can turn to if we have troubles. No such thing here. Everybody seems to want to keep us at arms length?
Taxi Driver Drama
No hassle then as we walked along and started to step off the curbing a Taxi came around the corner, tires squealing. I shouted at him, he may have had the right of way but he might have killed or maimed us, too. As big a hurry as he seemed to be in, he slammed on the brakes, more squalling tires, pulled up and jumped out of the car. He was about my age, shorter and pudgier. I didn’t feel threatened so I just laughed and waived him away. He shouted and waived a finger or a fist back. I turned my back and took a photo of the wonderful monument across the street. Tires squealing, again, he drove away.
Lunch was another in and out affair. Our waiter didn’t understand most of what we said. He did get the order then leave? Another took over. No better at communicating but friendlier, smiling and happy.
Evita, Saint or Sinner?
The Museum of Evita is a bit disappointing. Sort of stark but it does give us a better feeling for who she really was as compared to that song, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina”. I have seen the musical twice. Neither of us has seen the Madonna Movie but now feel that we must.
The Museum portrays her as having been a Movie Star before meeting Juan. Others say that she was living with or off of a Movie Producer? The poor adored, even idolized her. The conservatives disliked, even despised her. As she lay dying of cancer at the young age of only 33 years thousands wept openly, others cheered for the disease. It really made us aware that it was either love or hate depending upon ones politics, and there were few in-betweeners. Argentina was at least as divided as the US is today?
During there time in power Evita concentrated on Charitable Work and Woman’s Rights Campaigns. Her influence led to the legitimization of Trade Unions and benefits for the working classes. In fact she and Lt. General Juan were finally able to procure the vote for women in 1947.
Okay, we admit we knew little about her and still don’t know a lot. We’ll have to study the short life of Evita a bit more at a later date.
Of Blood and Boobs
Back to the Doctor’s office for the results of our tests. It was a stand then sit and wait until we talked with a young girl, Carmen. She has a broken arm but will get the cast off tomorrow. Thanks to her we were finally able to communicate, she knocked on the closed door and talked with the woman there. They brought the printed results out and handed them to us then shrank back behind the closed door. When we checked, Cat was puzzled as to why my tests cost so much more than hers. Well, neither was very costly but mine was definitely more. I scanned down and found that the PSA sample or what they call “Prostateto”. Then as we scanned the tests we couldn’t find my high priced test.
Carmen tried to help but couldn’t find it either. She knocked and the gal stepped out, listened then grabbed the tests and disappeared again. When she came back out Carmen told us that she said we would have to come back tomorrow? Why didn’t they tell us to come tomorrow? Was this normal, is it a mistake or did they forget? Guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
The X-ray Lab is just around the corner. Another wait then another hand full of papers and an envelope of x-rays that we didn’t understand. Cat wanted to know, she asked and they asked us to sit. Soon they ushered us into a tiny office and a lady in a white coat, maybe a Doctor, looked the results of our blood and the mammogram over. Her conclusion, we’re healthy and good to go.
Another trip back to the Bike Shop to buy wet weather shoe covers. They didn’t have any my size but will tomorrow. So, two reasons to stay, another day or two.
Internet e-mail retrieval for an hour then back to the Hotel.
Dinner down again at Il Fratello, our favorite waiter began bleating like a lamb as we approached the table. Good for a good laugh.
I was unusually tired and fell asleep. Cat was unusually wide-awake and watched Larry King Live. He aired re-runs of interviews with a young boy, Marty Stepanek. Marty had Muscular Dystrophy, he died today at age 14. Wiser than his years, he was a Poet and Peace Activist. Of course Cat cried.
June 23, 2004
Breakfast then a long session on the Internet. Cat slipped off and had her hair cut off while I continued to plug away at the African journal. She brought goodies and we picnic lunched in room. Cat re-packed our bags, separating the things we’ll store from those we will take along.
Back at the Clinic, my PSA number seemed so low that it worried us? The same nice lady in white looked, smiled and got the point across that we shouldn’t worry.
The Bike Shop did have shoe covers. Mine look small but we’ll try them on tonight.
A return trip and a quick turn around at the Brazilian Embassy. It was just a ride up the elevator, through the metal detectors, to the window, pick them up then the reverse the process.
Our package of cold weather warm cloths came in. We unpacked and found to our disappointment that some of Cat’s things were missing. I was able to cram, jam and squeeze my shoes into the weather covers.
Xandra has been having work done on her house. Storing the bikes there won’t work but she volunteered Maxine’s place.
Boy do we love Il Fratello, another dinner. Cat says it’s like living in an “Old folks Home”, a room and meals.
Larry King Live had President Reagan’s son, Ron, on. I watched while Cat slept. He is a very liberal thinking guy. I enjoyed the show? Maybe I’m becoming more socially liberal?
June 24, 2004
Bikes to Maxine’s
Arnie and Helena from Colorado came in as we were breakfasting. They have just bought a Finca, a small farm near San Rafael. It’s just south of Mendoza. In fact they have 14 acres of wine grapes. The place has two houses. The family who’ve been working the farm for several years occupies one. The other will be theirs when they move down next year. He says that they have their work cut out for them, the house needs a lot of work but what a deal. The entire 40+ acres with the houses cost $50,000 US. Imagine, if it was in or even near Napa Valley it’s be in the $5,000,000 range!
Cat took her shoe covers back and exchanged them for a larger size. They are made of neoprene, like diving suits. I fear that they’ll wear out in no time because we have to walk up hills in them. She took our shoes with her and found a shoe repair shop. They will glue leather soles on them for only 21 Pesos. (About $7.00 US) I was still sitting, talking with Arnie when she got back to the Hotel.
We called Maxine and a Taxi Van. Pablo, the great young guy at the Hotel helped us carry the bikes and bags down. We off loaded across the street from Maxine’s place due to the one-way street. Cat called or tried to call Maxine on the intercom while I drug the bags and bikes across. We loaded them in the elevator and Maxine opened her storage area in the hallway for us. It was a pretty tight fit.
The flat is very nice, the view of Avenue 9 de Julio is great. She and her 4 kids seem to have a good lifestyle. It was interesting to see her work as an author, too.
Back to the Shoe Shop, the guys had the soles fixed tight and it looks like they’ll hold? We ate Calzones at a little place nearby then Cat took the shoes to Maxine’s. I went back to work on the journal. She had a tough time getting through the security system and language issues with Maxine’s housekeeper.
Her next quest, one for a backup computer battery, was fruitless. She did learn after visiting every Electronics store she could find, that they just don’t have our battery here.
A relaxing hour, wine and CNN then dinner at Las Posadas, the place down the street where Cat got sick and we did take out. Great food and service. They even served a digestif, we almost turned them down then wolfed them down.
A sweet tooth followed, we walked to Mac Donald’s for ice cream and talked about Don and Roxie back in Rapid City, South Dakota. They told us about the good ice cream and how they faked friends out, saying they were taking them to Mac’s Steak House for dessert. Great guys, great story, great ice cream.
June 25, 2004
BA to Rosario
On The Road Again, By Bus!
Taxi to the Bus Station, we even had 25 minutes to spare. The tickets cost 56 Pesos. (A bargain, less than $20 for both of us.) And, the bus is almost like being in first class seats in an airplane, even leg and foot rests. AND, a movie, a recent movie. The landscape is brown and flat. A few cows and sheep dot the monotony. A 6-hour ride and an “On Time” arrival. Our Taxi driver was great. We started by doing a drive-by on a house that Lonely Planet suggested. It looked sort of bleak so we had him move on. Another, older looking place down the street looked okay. I checked and felt like it was locked into a time warp of the 1940s. Our friendly Taxi Guide suggested Hotel Presidente and it was a winner. I asked and they made the price even more palatable.
A nice room, large enough but slightly under furnished. Awe shucks, like Cat always says, “Its only for a couple of nights”!
We took a long walk down the pedestrian street to the Rio Pirana. Lots of young people sort of hangin’ out. There’s a huge monolith to Banederias near the river, a monument to the Argentinean flag.
Back at El Presidente, we took advantage of their included Internet service. A glass of wine in the room then we set off in search of Japanese or Chinese food. Another long walk and a lot of ask, ask, ask. We finally settled for called Petra. A Chinese family owns it but the array of food on the Buffet is varied. A spread of almost everything imaginable and good, too. Imagine, all for only 14 Pesos (about $5.00 US) for both of us, not including wine. However, the wine was only 15 Pesos, you can figure that one out.
Besides a taste of everything we also made new friends. As we ate a family, Mom, Dad and daughter, sat next to us. The daughter was almost embarrassed but tried to talk with us. We could understand her as she proudly told us that she is studying English in school. Daniele is a cute 16 years old, anxious to have an English language conversation. Her parents, who don’t speak a word of English, sat and listened with pride shining from their eyes. In the end they even had her invite us to visit them. We traded e-mail addresses and promised to see each other before we leave Rosario.
Larry King had former President Bill Clinton on. He was pushing his book, I was interested in what he had to say. Cat slept through, I even got hooked on Aaron Brown’s late night news show. It was midnight when I finally shut the TV down.
June 26, 2004
Early wake up for such a late night, for me, the damn wall heater started banging and clanging. Breakfast was fruit, croissants and other goodies. I shrank back to the room and hit the keyboard. Cat spent her morning on the Internet then picked up picnic things.
Another walk, to the river then along the bank. It isn’t all the guidebook said it would be, a few local fishermen and lots of rundown warehouses. We did quest for the Tourist Office, in vain. We did spot a Café that was open and they promised they’d be waiting for us at 7:00 PM.
More journal for me, a movie for Cat then a walk to dinner. The place is local and cute but dinner was a slight disappointment. I thought I was ordering a beef fillet but got chicken. Cat ordered lamb and got beef, go figure.
Walking back toward Presidente we spotted a bicycle image stenciled on a wall. I squatted and took a picture which caught a few of the locals attention. One young guy was curious, I tried to find the meaning of the words, “Justicia Para Sandra”. He wasn’t getting it or at least acted as though he wasn’t. Then he clearly asked, “Give me money”? I used his ruse and acted as though I didn’t get it.
Safely inside the Presidente, I asked Carlos, our pal at the desk, about “Justicia Para Sandra”. His brow furled and he leaned forward as he spoke. “In earlier times we had a terrible government. Many people were taken, put in prison or killed. Here the symbol of this terrible time became bicycles, abandoned on the streets. When the people were arrested their bicycle was often just locked to a light post or leaning on a building. Those bikes, and there were many, became monuments to our missing friends”. I wanted to know who Sandra was. He told us that she had been arrested by the Policia and died while in custody. People here think it was under strange circumstances and have waged a campaign to get answers. Funny, we hadn’t seen or noticed these bicycle memorials but, as Carlos had said, “You will see many here in Rosario, as memory of many people”.
Larry King and Aaron Brown are getting to be a habit, a late habit. Midnight again.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Rosario to Cordoba
404 Kilometers, 56 Pesos!
Up early to a foggy and cold morning. The only other patrons were a couple drinking champagne and looking like they’d been up partying all night. They had a plate of uneaten sandwiches but seemed more interested in each other. As we filled out plates at the Buffet she approached and asked if we remembered seeing her in Buenos Aires. Though she seemed a little out of it she seemed forthright. We think they are part of a big Sales Meeting we heard going on last night. Our best guess is that the deal is New Skin, a Multi-Level marketing scheme. She couldn’t muster enough English to ask us to join them and get rich selling others on selling the stuff.
Our Taxi had us at the Omnibus Station by 9:00 AM. We were on board by 9:15 and the bus backed out at 9:30, right on time. Our bus isn’t as nice as the first one but still, not bad. The air was cool and full of fog. The landscape remained flat and brown. The bus pulled into a Service Station/Restaurant after 3 hours on the road. We bought some cookies and used the Sanitarios. (Toilets) The restaurant was big, stark and cold except near the roaring fire in a pit. All the customers were huddled around it, eating, talking and soaking up heat.
Closing in on Cordoba, the scenery greened up and began to fill with cattle and horses. The Tourist Office in the station recommended a Hotel and we took a Taxi. It turned out to be a disappointment, old and worn. They didn’t have CNN, either. The young guy there assured us that we wouldn‘t find CNN or any other English language TV in town. We stood outside for a moment then struggled off, bag and baggage, down the sidewalk.
We’d seen Hotel Windsor around the corner as the Taxi pulled in. It was gorgeous, the staff friendly and best of all it had the impossible, CNN in English. We’d found a new home. Our next mission was to find a restaurant that opens for dinner before 9:00 PM. Our new friends at the front desk suggested one that may open at 8:00. It was a great place, we loved the décor and server. The bread was great, when we told him he brought extra. Then as we were leaving he gave us 2 full loaves. They’ll come in handy at Happy Hour, tomorrow.
Larry King Live was a rerun of President Clinton’s interview. A good reason to get to sleep, early. 10:00 PM and lights out.
June 28, 2004
Earl the Pearl’s 85th Birthday
The first BIG ISSUE of the day, Cat’s dad, Earl, achieved age 85 today. The second, in a surprise move, 3 days earlier than expected, The Coalition handed over power, of a sort, to Iraq. The 3rd biggie, The Supreme Court handed down a decision that the Prisoners held at Guantanamo for over 2 years now, have a right to hearings and defense. Isn’t it about time that we who espouse freedom and rule of law begin to treat them like we would any other criminal? Okay, enough politics but I will say thank goodness for it is goodness that will eventually rule.
Wow, the included breakfast makes The Windsor a bargain. The price of 110 Pesos translates to less than $40. The big spread, Breakfast, is served in the main restaurant on the 7th floor. Free Internet access and the commanding view of Cordoba’s skyline are added bonuses.
I spent time typing, Cat took our large accumulation of dirty laundry and went out in search of a Lavandaria and a map and info on Cordoba. The local Tourist Office had lots of handouts. Cordoba is celebrating her 431st birthday this year. Cat came back and we walked through the old cobbled streets lined with interesting and historic buildings. Lost, we just continued to walk because it didn’t matter. Around every corner we found new evidence of one of South America’s oldest European settlements.
The Jesuit Colleges were abuzz with student activities. Even a small display of hand painted banners of protest. Well, we had to assume it was protest, the main giveaway was the word “Iraq”. Some streets are lined with booths or just blankets covered with the crafts of local artists. It was a long walk to the Main Mall but we took it in stride, in search of a good bottle of wine. We almost forgot the laundry and had to rush to get it before closing time.
A relaxing glass of wine then dinner around the corner. We almost walked out of the place. The waiter seemed to be ignoring us. When he finally made his move we struggled with the order then he served delicious Fish to Cat and Pork for me. The best was a huge plate of roasted Veggies.
Larry King’s show centered on Iraq. It caught my attention, Cat slept.
June 29, 2004
Start The Day With Exercise
Fearing that we’ll be so far out of shape by the time we hit the bike seats, we got up early and enjoyed a light workout. The Gym is another bonus. Well equipped, Cat walked/jogged on the treadmill. I pedaled the stationary bike and dreamed of warm days along the Andes. We spotted weights for each other then went directly to breakfast, covering our shorts with sweat pants.
What should be a big attraction, The Criptas Jesuiticas (Jesuit Crypts), was hard to find and though the walls spoke of earlier days the displays of modern photography were distracting. Built originally in the early 1700s, it was abandoned in the early 1800s after the Jesuit expulsion. In 1989 the Telephone Company dug into it while laying underground cable. It has been restored and is used for musical and theatrical performances. It’s worth the time if you can find the non-descript stairway that looks like a subway entry.
The river was another disappointment. It is little more than a trickle and the muddy banks are littered. The little stream they call La Canada is a nicer walk. It’s finished in concrete like a storm drain but the one-way streets on each side are lined with interesting businesses and residential buildings. We pulled into a Pita Sandwich place for a bite. Tasted okay but the price was high.
Cat headed out to the bus station seeking info. I typed journal pages. We are so far behind. It’s hard to believe that this episode started as we crossed from Zimbabwe into South Africa on April 14th. Make a note, never wait 2 months between chapters, again.
The bus leaves at 11:00 AM, Cat has the details covered, how to get to the station and where we catch it. We watched two English language movies, subtitled for the Argentinean audience then returned to The Mandarina, the restaurant we loved on our first night here. On the way we passed a homeless guy we’ve seen before. He seems to be living in a little alcove. I wanted his picture, when I asked he smiled and said something in Spanish. “Que es su nombre”? I asked. This time the smile was ear to ear. “Nicola” he said as though he was pleased that I’d asked. Another smile as I raised the camera then Nicola struck a serious pose. I gave him 2 Pesos, about 65 cents. That brought another broad smiled as he accepted.
Part of the joy of dining at Mandarina is the art so I took a couple of pictures. I asked permission and Franco, a fellow diner, agreed to be in one of them. Nice guy, we chatted off and on as we ate. The food was at least as good as our first time there. Our new friend, Franco and I talked about music and “Che” Guevara. In fact we may have stayed on, talking, but I wanted to see John McCain, the Republican I wanted had supported in the Primaries, for President.
Larry King had John but the conversation seemed to just drag as our eyelids drooped.
June 30, 2004
Cordoba to Alta Gracia
An Encounter with Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Another workout morning and breakfast in sweats. A quick trip to the Internet Shop then we were off to the bus station. Cat really had it scoped out, we went right to the ticket window, bought then sat in the sun and waited. At 11:00 AM, exactly on time, we were off on our 50-minute, 5 Peso ride to Alta Gracia. (Imagine, tickets for less than $2.00 each!)
It’s a local run, lots of stops, pickup and drops. In fact, the driver pulled up on the Main Street of Alta Gracia and suggested in sign language that we get off. It was a pretty long walk with the baggage, to the Tourist Office. It’s in the big clock tower next to El Tajamar, a lagoon formed behind a limestone dike that was built in 1659.
Laura, the girl in the Clock Tower spoke just enough English to direct us toward Hotel Solares del Alto. It’s a Taxi ride and not right here in the main area but she assured us that we would like the place. The driver wound through streets, over hills and to the door. We sat in the Cab and talked about going back into town. He told us that the only place there wasn’t very good and Solares is new. We had him wait while Cat took a look. She came back, more discussion then we unloaded and paid the driver.
Solares is newer and the room, though sparsely furnished, is okay. (We’re spoiled after staying at The Windsor.) Lunch, in the Hotel Restaurant proved to be great. The waiter was friendly and the food wonderful. I capped mine off with ice cream. It was served with a huge dollop of something they call Dulce Leche. Wow, soft Carmel, it was so good that Cat couldn’t keep her spoon out of it. We’ve discovered a new, favorite thing!
Following our map, we walked to the Museo housed in one of the houses where Ernesto Guevara lived as a child. Laura, the same nice girl who had greeted us at the Tourist Office, was there and again proved to be extremely helpful.
Ernesto was born into an upper middle class family in Rosario in 1928. The eldest of 4 children, he was plagued with Asthma. His Father moved them here to Alta Gracia hoping the mountain air would help. They only lived here during Ernesto’s primary school days. He later attended High School in Cordoba and University in Buenos Aires where he studied medicine. Dr. Ernesto became a Dermatologist but during the process he took two trips that would change his life.
Ernesto On The Move
During his College days Ernesto made two trips that would change his thinking and his life. The first, on a Moped, a bicycle fitted with a little engine to assist him on the long pulls due to his asthma. The second on Norton Motorcycles with a friend. Both journeys brought him to the conclusion that wealth was unequally distributed and too many people here and in Bolivia and Peru were way too poor. Eventually he joined with a Communist group in Central America but was forced to flee to Mexico. As fate would have it he fell in with a fellow named Fidel who was primed and ready to start a Revolution in his home land of Cuba. Ernesto who called everyone “Che” a slang word in Argentina loosely meaning “Buddy”, was soon dubbed “Che”. And so, a legend was born that would transcend beyond even Ernesto’s own short-lived dreams.
That Picture, Those Shirts
Fidel and his band of Merry Men did defeat Batista, in 1959. However, “Che” found Government building boring. He spread his Revolutionary wings and took the fight as far a field as The Congo, in Africa. Though his writings and speeches are said to have been eloquent he is best known because of the photo of him in a beret. We saw him on the chests of thousands of Africans. And though he is featured on banners and posters proclaiming the values of Socialism, his worst nightmare would probably be in knowing that products like Smirnoff Vodka and even Taco Bell use his image to sell product.
The END Comes, All Too Soon
It was in Bolivia, in 1967, that he was routed out, some say by our own USA-CIA. Captured, he was only held for a couple of days by the then Bolivian government, then shot to death. There are varying stories of his bravery in the face of the firing squad. One account tells of a last message to his family. Another says that he faced them squarely and said, “Look at me as you shoot, you are killing a Man”. Well, it was that or something close to that? What a shame, such an interesting guy, cut down at age 39. In death, he was still an enemy of the Right. They cut off his hands as proof that he was dead then buried him in an unmarked grave.
So How Does One So Hated (Or Feared) Become an Icon?
Many think it was his piercing eyes in that picture, the famous black and white shot by Alberto Korda. He also had a photo famous in Cuba on one of their currency notes when he was Minister of Finance but it was probably the softening of his own Government in Argentina that had as much affect. When the Right-Wing Military Dictatorship ruled he was despised. Since they were replaced by those of a more Left leaning persuasion he’s become something of a National Hero. Even a Postage Stamp has been issued honoring “Che’s” Argentinean roots.
The old Sierra Hotel is run down to the point of falling down. We walked through the once opulent grounds. The building, completed in 1907, was modeled after a Hotel in Calcutta, India. You can’t see anything that looks Indian today. We did see old photos of the by-gone eras filled with happy guests here to rest and breath in deeply of the dry, healthy air that once brought the Guevara family to this place.
La Residencia Jesuitica is a nice example of early church. The Jesuits lived here and students from Cordoba came to spend their summers. Though we’re usually not much for this type of tour, today was special and there was no charge. We took advantage of the deal.
The rest of our afternoon was spent in the Internet Shop. We did relax for an hour then were allowed an early, 8:00 PM dinner. Back in the room, we watched a Mohammed Ali movie. Cat drifted off but I was hooked. Then bad went to worse, the movie, “Days of Thunder” kept me up until almost midnight.
July 1, 2004
R&R in Alta Gracia
The little gym at Solares is sparsely furnished with poor equipment. We did a little stretching then jogged down the stairs to breakfast. Though it’s limited to juice, croissants and coffee the coffee is great cappuccino.
I went back to the keyboard, Cat walked and found the Nuevo Terminal de Omnibus, the New Bus Terminal. We walked to the Museo de Falla. Manuel de Falla was a famous Spanish Composer and Director. He spent the last few years of his life here, living with his Sister. Her home became the Museum. It was interesting because his photos reminded us of Frank Salazar, who was Conductor/Director of the Ventura County Symphony Orchestra for 27 years.
Back on the Main Street, we lunched in a very modern looking Café. They had a list of sandwiches, we had no idea what we ordered but it turned out great. We visited the Cultural Center and viewed what will be an exhibit of local Photography. The show won’t open until 8:00 PM and we hope to be eating dinner by then. A nice fellow allowed us to enter and browse. A small town, small Exhibition, but interesting.
Another movie before dinner, a comedy then as hoped, we dined at 8:00. Good Pizza and Pasta.
All The Latest NEWS
Pictures of what the English voice, half hidden under the Spanish translation, described as, “A defiant Saadam Hussein” filled the TV screen. Cat thinks that most Iraqis would like to see him executed. I wonder how the ones George, Dick and Donald call thugs feel? There are certainly more than a handful as earlier projected and, they’ve become quite a HANDFUL!
Eight tourists were killed in a storm in Bariloche today. Floodwaters have driven many from their homes there and a falling tree hit the SUV the 8 were in. So, once again we thank Xandra for setting us straight.
July 2, 2004
Alta Gracia to Carlos Paz
More Great Cappuccino then off to the Terminal Omnibus Nuevo. Funny there was a horse grazing on the lawn out front. Well this is sort of a 1 horse town? A couple of “Che” things, a poster and a van painted for the Tourist Bureau. As we waited a bus from Cordoba pulled in and a guy, Luis Alberto, got out and claimed his bicycle. It’s a special bike, outfitted with a grind stone for sharpening knives. He set it up and gave us a little demo then rode off looking for business. He blows a whistle, in a melodic way, as he peddles. His notice to the neighborhoods we assume. We could still hear him 15 minutes later when we boarded and headed for Carlos Paz.
A simple 5 Peso bus ride and we were in Carlos Paz by 10:30 AM. For convenience sake we chose a Hotel across from the Tourist Info Center. Our first impression, that of a Senior Citizens Home. Rather than setting out in the cold to go find something better we held a little conference. On a 2-0 vote we decided to stay tonight and move on in the morning rather than spending 2 nights.
Goin’ Cuckoo For Mexico?
There are only a couple of things to see here. One, the village Kuku Clock was a pretty long walk. We hustled to see her chime 12 times but missed by 2 minutes. The other is a chair lift that carries you up to a viewpoint and restaurant. Speaking of restaurant, they advertise a Mexican Restaurant here in Carlos Paz. We had to give it a try. The place was open but not a soul in site? We walked around the little center until we found a live one. She said that they would be here, at 1:00. We Sat and waited, they did show and we ordered. The food wasn’t even close to Sal’s in South Oxnard and the Margaritas were bitter.
Mulling over the plate of Mexican food, thoughts and desires for Mexico filled our minds. We talked about the language, food, drinks and especially the tropical climate. Alas, we have 8 or more months of adventure and a dozen or more cultures to cycle through before we’re in Tequila land.
They do offer a City Tour so we chose to see all the sites, or at least we thought we did. Our tour in a fake train, complete with whistle, was along the shore of Lake San Roque, the true reason that this place is a destination, during warmer summer days.
A two-hour bumpy ride and our only salvation, a woman from Uruguay who teaches English translated some of the driver’s commentary. Pretty boring, overall. Of course we missed the Chair Lift but the woman from Uruguay told us that we didn’t miss much.
The early evening was a walk around and wait at the doors of the earliest opening restaurant in town. We were in at 8:30 but had to wait. Dinner was fair. We picked up a package of cookies and spent the evening hours eating them and watching Spanish language TV.
July 3, 2004
Carlos Paz to La Cumbre
The included breakfast was equal to the rest of our stay. Pretty bad! Alas, we’re just across from the bus station, an easy walk even with our bags. The fellow we tried to talk with yesterday who got the point across that his bus would leave at 9:50 AM was now trying to send us elsewhere? It was pretty frustrating, times like this it pays to back off a little and remember that we’re here for the cultural and language differences. At last, a gal in another bus Ticket Booth spoke enough English to tell us that his bus doesn’t stop in La Cumbre. We’d have to find a Taxi or walk into town. She, on the other hand, did have one to the heart of La Cumbre leaving at 10:20, we bought her tickets.
This is a local run, over booked and over crowded. Several people had to stand in the aisle. Though it's only an hour and a half ride it entails lots of stops. The bus is pretty old, the suspension is shot. It rolls back and forth as the driver navigates tight turns on the long slow climb. The downhill runs are thrill a minute. The scenery is sparse and clod looking. Our route takes us up to 1141 meters. (Not quite 4,000 feet)
The tiny town of La Cumbre, the High Point, is picturesque but cold. The cold is increased by a howling wind today. The gal at Tourist was nice but limited by language, as were we. I finally chose a place based on the picture she had. Our Taxi driver was great, he waited as I pushed through the busy aisles of the Super Market getting cheese, bread and wine.
In this picture, the little strange white car, is an Auto Union. The driver was proud to tell us that it was manufactured in Argentina. Clunky, small and needs lots of work but quite rare according to him. Suicide doors, that open out, into the wind, are quite rare too. I asked if it was the only car manufactured here. He didn’t have enough English nor I Spanish to get his answer. However, since that time we’ve seen a Chevrolet Factory. Maybe the only car designed and built here? Do you know?
Hosteria Pastoral looks better on paper than in person. They did have a fire in the fireplace, too bad it’s in the lobby instead of our room. Though they have a restaurant, as advertised, it’s not open this time of year. Well they do have CNN in English so we ate our bread and cheese for lunch and digested the latest news. In sports, Serena Williams of the US was defeated at Wimbledon by a 17-year-old Russian girl. Sir Lance pushed up a notch in the Tour de France. He came in second today just seconds behind a Swiss rider. This moves him up but he’s still behind by more than 4 minutes in the Tour. They say his strength will be, as in the past, in the mountain stages. Oh, actor Marlon Brando moved on, into the next dimension, at age 80, today.
The wind died down, some, and the sun shone through. We donned our long johns and gloves then walked through La Cumbre. Just a nice little mountain village. The high point is a large statue of Cristo, arms spread, smiling down from a hill above.
We did find a restaurant that opens at 8:00 on our walk. Internet filled a couple of hours then we walked back in the dark and cold for dinner. The food was good, the service too but as they presented our check Cat caught them. They had added some extra charges. Okay, it was only $2.00 but beyond the fact that it’s our $ 2.00 there is principle involved. They acted slightly embarrassed and made the adjustment.
Sunday, July 4, 2004
La Cumbre to Cordoba
Independence Day USA
Soccer is huge here and in Europe. Euro 2004 is almost an unknown event in the US. The tournament was full of surprises. None of the favored teams won, then it all finally boiled down to two long shots, Portugal and Greece. The underdog, Greece pulled through to the surprise of most. If we were betting people and had placed a couple of € on them when the games started we’d be rollin’ in dough today. Wimbledon’s boiled down to finalists, Federer and Roddick. Lance continues to chase yellow in the Tour de France.
We met Ruth, a teacher from San Francisco, at breakfast. She’s here studying Spanish and living with a family in Buenos Aires. Breakfast was good, speaking California English was even better.
Once again, we have decided to move on, cancel our plan to stay another day, get down out of the cold and back to Cordoba. The temp dropped to almost 0 Celsius last night and won’t get above 8 here today. Cordoba, on the other hand, will be 22 (about 72 F.) and that sounds too good to pass up.
Our bus pulled out at 11:10 and we were in Cordoba by 1:30. The driver was great, we noted that he was dropping people off along the route so we told him we wanted to go to the Windsor Hotel. He stopped at a corner then gave us specific directions in Spanish with plenty of hand signals. We got it, got off and in short time were back home. The staff welcomed us with open arms. The offered the same rate and put us in an identical room one floor above our other.
Since it is Independence Day back home we decided that we had to have a hot dog. Our friend at the front door told us of a place called Mustard that is close by and has great dogs. We walked only to find that it was closed. There was a small café nearby that advertised hamburgers so we adjusted. The burgers were pretty good but nothing like we’d have at home. So, this is the 4th of July and we are having Argentinean burgers, what’s wrong with that? Nothing!
It was back to our computer for me while Cat spent the afternoon working on our mailing list at the Internet Café.
We watched a pre dinner movie, a thriller then walked downstairs at 9:00 PM. AS much as we love the Windsor we don’t recommend the restaurant. Our pasta was only so-so at best.
Larry King aired footage of an interview with Marlon Brando done 10 years ago. Good but not good enough to keep us awake.
July 5, 2004
Geez we love this Windsor Hotel. The shutters keep out most noise and light. Push back the drape and pull them up, voila, an even better view of the Church and School. And the gym, everything works, we worked up a sweat then pulled our sweats on and enjoyed a huge breakfast. We’ve begun to think that our job right now is to put on a layer of fat, like seals and penguin do, to survive winters cold. Hard to believe, sunny and warm here, stormy and cold in Ushuaia.
Cat took our bag of soiled things to the Lavandaria while I applied the finishing touches to our African Journal pages. When she returned we stood at the window and witnessed the opening event of Cordoba’s 431st Birthday. Though the locals back then, the Comechingones, put up a fight they soon caved in and a fellow named Jeronimo Luis de Cabrera founded Cordoba on July 6, 1573.
The Church and Schoolyard was host to dignitaries, students and a Military Band. There was speaking, cheers, music, even an appearance by the local Conquistador. He strode in and struck a pose as the music and words flowed. Cat learned later that The President (Mayor) of Cordoba invites the kids to have hot chocolate and Churros.
We picnicked in room then Cat bused to the Omnibus Station. She learned that it’s a 40-hour bus ride to Rio. Checking she found that we could fly in 5 hours but the cost is $400 US, each! This led us to return to our original hop, skip and jump plan. We’ll take short hops and explore cities, villages and places of interest along the way.
Cat did Internet, I continued to journalize. We’ve been anticipating dinner at The Mandarina for several days. It was a different experience tonight. For starters, the guy that greeted us indicated that we were too early for dinner. I asked when they would start serving and he said, “Ocho”. I held my watch up toward his face and pointed, it was 7:55? He called out to the Chef then reluctantly said, “Take seat”. The food wasn’t quite as good, either. Then as we ate our buddy, the waiter we had grown to like last week, appeared. He checked our bread plate then rushed a loaf of the good stuff out to our table. The other guy had told us that they didn’t have any?
Another pleasant thing, a gal we’d seen here last week sat nearby then turned and struck up a conversation. Well she and Cat exercised Cat’s French. Maria was born here in Argentina but is now living in France. Her Father is ill, fighting Cancer. She’s here to help and has started a food business of some kind? Details get sketchy because of language gaps. Nice person! She and Cat enjoyed the talk, I tried to tag along and caught a word or two. Or I just sat and enjoy the beautiful strains of French.
July 6, 2004
Cordoba, 431st Anniversary
Argentinean Guff Guff?
Sometime, before dawn the Guff Guff struck. I began the hourly trips first then Cat followed. I began to link mine to the 4th of July burger? When Cat began to hit the sand box we sort of concurred? Well it’s never easy to put a finger on the source. We passed on the Gym and the Big Buffet in favor of toast, juice and weakened coffee.
This is the day of Festivities, the 431st Anniversary of Cordoba. We walked to San Martin Square and found a long line of Soldiers in a variety of uniforms preparing to march. The sounds of the two Marching Bands intertwined as it echoed through the canyons of old buildings, at times. Even the Conquistador we saw at the Church yesterday played a part in the action. It was really a Pomp and Circumstance kind of event. We spent 2 hours walking and watching.
We spent an hour back in the room, resting between surges and urges. I had been forced to trot home at one point during the Pomp. After eliminating most of the problem we took another walk to the square. The smoke and smell of wood fired sausage was too much, even for our weakened digestive tracts, to avoid. So, it was late lunch on the square. We sat near the flagpole and savored the sausage they called “Hot Dog”. They were great and really filled out empty stomachs. Music and laughter and sunshine filled the Square. The flashing digital numbers told us that it had reached an unexpected high of 27 C. (80 degrees F)
Following the drift of the crowd we came upon the starting line of what was advertised as a Marathon. The runners were at the ready, the Conquistador again marched ceremoniously in and struck the pose as the starters gun pooped. There is a Skateboard Competition adjacent to the start/finish line. We walked through the crowd and took pictures then were surprised to see the first runners passing under the finish line of the “Marathon”. It had to have been a 10K?
Plaza General Paz was awash with festivities, too. A skate board competition, a band and more food. We watched for a while but the noise of the Heavy Metal Band finally drove us away.
More Internet and journal in the late afternoon then off to dinner. L’America, a place we’ve passed several times, was open at 8:00. Of course we were the only customers at this uncivilized hour. So, we enjoyed special service from our table with view of the kitchen. The food was really great.
The Windsor lobby was awash with people enjoying a before dinner drink and the music of a Pianist and Sax player. We listened then even danced, to the delight of the crowd. I led and we ended with a dip amid applause, in front of the elevator.
CNN’s Larry King Live spent half his program talking about Sen. Kerry’s choice of running mate, Sen. John Edwards. The second half covered a trial in Modesto, California. A guy, Scott Peterson, allegedly killed his wife and child? Boy, must be a slow news day? Well we did enjoy part of the intro of the Democratic Ticket.
July 7, 2004
Work, Work, Work
Up early, feeling better, and off to the gym. An earlier bird had Cat’s treadmill tied up. He had been there a while and was soaked with sweat. Hoping he would finish we began by stretching together. Then I rode the stationary bike while she finally got the other treadmill to work. We warmed up, pushed a little weight and went to breakfast. The other guy continued to run and sweat. We thought that if we could cover that distance we’d rather go outside and jog. Breakfast was the typically great spread.
I worked on the journal pages, Cat spent a lot of the day reworking our bags. What to take along and what to mail home? Lunch in room.
Cat sent the CDs of pictures home via UPS this afternoon. She watched her favorite Sit-Coms while I typed. (Mad About You, Cybil and The Nanny.) She laughed so hard I had to join her from time to time.
Last nights dinner at L’ America was so good that we did a return trip. At least as good, no, better!
CNN, news and Larry King. We drifted off during the show.
July 8, 2004
Cordoba to Santa Fe
Up and at em’ early. I am stressing, to finish placing pictures in the journal and send it off to Web Master Wally before we leave here, today. Cat hit the gym, I hit the keyboard. She drug me off to breakfast then I rushed back to the pages. Two hours to Bus Time, this is going to be close.
Halleluiah, with just a half hour to spare, I showered then hustled to the computer room and sent off the South African Adventure. A really quick shower, Cat checked us out and we caught a Taxi to the Estacion Omnibus.
Another close one, if the bus hadn’t been a little late we might not have crossed paths. Out of the cab, on the run, not knowing where we’re going! Ran to the wrong Platform, asked then ran back across the station. They were still loading when we threw the bags in the bay and climbed aboard. They immediately handed out a saran wrapped package of sandwiches and a cookie. We hid them until hunger drew them out, again. Scenery is the same, kind of boring, flat and brown. The sky is cloudy and it’s windy out but high and dry in our bus. What a way to travel.
Five hours and we were in Santa Fe. Our taxi driver was considerate and helpful. We asked for a small Hotel from our Lonely Planet. It looked a little decrepit, we stopped, looked, talked then decided to move on. He had a suggestion so we went with it. As he drove we spotted a nice looking place. His suggestion was old and a little run down looking. I went in to check a room and get the price. The clerk asked me to wait then disappeared. I waited but didn’t like the feeling of the place. Out the door, before he returned. We turned and went back, Cat checked the room this time. Okay but small and they only had twin beds. Oh they have doubles but they’re all booked. We slipped the two beds together and made a nest for the next two nights. Awe, forgot, they do have CNN in English.
Mi Casa comes highly rated in LPGB and a local paper we read. The part we liked best is that they open their doors at 8:00 PM. We were there and had to wait. They were just putting the final touches on the Buffet. What a wonderful meal and for only 7 Pesos each. Out bill including wine only came to 23 Pesos. (About $7.50 US)
For some reason CNN disappeared while we dined. Okay, early to bed.
July 9, 2004
Cold Day in Santa Fe
The other thing we liked about this Hotel is that they have a Gym. Well, they had a Gym but the equipment went south a long time ago. None of the machines worked. We did a little calisthenics, not enough to work up a good sweat, then gave it up and fast walked to the included breakfast. Media Lunas (Croissants, funny they call them ½ moons) with coffee and juice. We provided our own bananas.
9 de Julio, Dia de Independencia
A walk around the town led us to the bus station. We wanted to buy our tickets for tomorrow but the computer was down. Searching for any sign of Independence Day celebration, we walked almost every street. Closed shops seemed to be the only sign of celebration. An open Internet Shop beckoned but the machines were on holiday. The only Café we found open was McDonalds so we did the Big Mac lunch. Back to the Station, we bought tickets fro the 7:30 AM bus. There is nothing open, nothing to see, nothing to do and, it’s cold. We went back and hibernated in our little room. I fiddled with the remote and did get CNN back so we filled up on news then switched to Sitcoms.
Last night was so good there was no reason to change venue. Mi Casa was nuestros casa, again tonight. We had talked about the chicken we’d seen on the wood fire last night, so much so that we were both salivating. Of course they had none, tonight. A taste of the Chorizo sausage proved to be too spicy. We were down to Chinese food, good Chinese food at that.
News then Larry King, a woman who says that she talks with spirits. She took calls, talked with and sort of led people toward personal experiences. You know, “Does the problem involve someone whose name, first or last, starts with R or T”? Fairly lame, slightly interesting. Amazing what boredom does to ones tastes in entertainment.
July 10, 2004
Santa Fe to Corrientes
The 6:00 AM wakeup call worked. They have no coffee at this hour. It was cold and we were hungry. The taxi driver had us back at the Station by 7:15, the bus was late. We had coffee and rolls then boarded for our 10-hour ride. The seats weren’t as comfy as the other bus.
We crossed the Rio Santa Fe and shortly the Parana. Both ran swift and muddy. The scenery began to transform from the flat to rolling and brown began to transcend to shades of green. No animals to speak of as the foliage thickened. Soon we were in a tunnel of trees and brush. The sun broke through the clouds and flooded our seat with light and heat. The curtain came in handy but completely blocked the view. The little girl in the seat behind us threw up. The sound almost had us retching then when the smell made it’s way forward we were both close to car sick ourselves.
Luckily we made a lunch stop and the Mom took a mop and cleaned. I was completely lost in language when Juan walked up and interpreted. We got two sandwiches and soft drinks. He and I stood and talked while we waited. He’s in the Army, a career guy. Married and divorced, he has a daughter 13. He’s on winter holiday, headed to see his new girlfriend. What a nice young guy.
It was sit back and relax time. Juan and I shook hands as he departed the bus in the small town where is love awaits. It was 5:30 PM when we got through the streets of Corrientes to the Station. Our Taxi Driver suggested a Hotel. We hoped that we didn’t upset him but we passed just based upon the exterior and neighborhood. We want comfort and location, we’ll stay tomorrow just to de-bus, if nothing else.
Cat pulled a suggestion out of the LPGB, The Corrientes Plaza, central and better looking. Another suggestion from the guidebook, Pizza Echo, for dinner. The pizza was great and service, too. Well, we were the only patrons at this early hour.
Back at The Plaza, we burned up the keyboard on the FREE Internet connection for an hour. Tried to guess what the Spanish language news stories were about on TV, then bus weary, we turned the lights off and slept.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Quiet Day in Corrientes
Another Gym that turned out to be a joke. We found it, then had the clerk turn on the lights only to find that the cables on the machines were broken. So we worked out, walking down the 3 flights to breakfast. The limited spread does include a little fruit and the nice kids working there offered real Café Latte. Lets not forget the cake, a golden with streaks of dulce leche, the sweet caramel.
A family seated next to us is going skiing in Chile. Two little girls probably 3 and 5 will see snow for the first time. They live in Ponta Grossa, Brazil but the parents, Jaap and Camie, came from Holland. He works with an Agricultural advisory company. They’ve been here in South America for 5 years. Another example of how varied the population is here. As much a melting pot as our own in the US.
Walking, we covered a lot of territory. A Tourist handout told us of a walking tour. After exploring the Plaza Park across the street we set off clockwise, backward to the suggested route. And, for the second day this week, all shops and points of interest were closed. The streets were deserted. Our tour took us to the river and a Sunday Tourists Market.
One small high point was the FREE Zoo. We dislike caging and mistreatment yet it was interesting to see a broad variety of local animals. Another jewel of Corrientes is a series of three-dimensional murals. They are unique the subjects slightly exaggerated and the colors muted. Of course we had to seek out the Cathedral de San Francisco. The clouds have been replaced by a warming sun making it a very pleasant day.
The Casino along the river looked interesting. It is about the same as all these kind of places, nervous people clutching money and praying for luck. Women pushing coin after coin into the machines. Men at the card tables smoking and hoping. However, they do have a nice Buffet and view of the river. We did a gamblers lunch, pretty good.
A little rest, a glass of wine and it was time for dinner. Enofilos, a place we discovered on a brochure, was fantastic. Great place, food and wine at an even greater price.
A movie, kind of a science fiction, caught our attention when one of the characters mentioned Santa Paula, California. That’s only 20 miles from Oxnard, pretty close to home. The story line is of experiments at White Sands New Mexico during WWII. Somehow 2 soldiers, both from Santa Paula, were spirited through time and dumped into the year 2000. A not so simple plot, one went back and they meet in Santa Paula, one is still young the other old. The young one falls for a local girl but eventually has to go back, to save the world. For us the best of it was the shots of Santa Paula and surrounds.
July 12, 2004
Oh Lord, Stuck in Corrientes, Again
Another pretty good breakfast and great coffee. The kids at the desk tried to cut through the language gap and help us with info about the bus to Mercedes. We’re going to try a slight backtrack in order to visit the Wet Lands they call Ibera. The girl made the call then wrote down times. The boy who has slightly more English explained that there is a bus at 10:00 AM and one at 2:15 PM. Too late for the ten o’clock, we decided to walk down and buy tickets for the afternoon flight.
Cat went searching for info on how to mail our package of homeward bound things. The staff at the Poste presented another language struggle. Somehow she learned that they wouldn’t send items heavier than 2 Kg so she will have to break our things into 2 packets. I spent time on the Internet culling out the junk mail and answering friends and family. It took another hour and almost $40 US for Cat to get the packages into the mail.
Another Taxi ride to the Bus Station which, by the way, is located 6 Km from the center. (Luckily the Cabs here in Argentina are very reasonable.) With bag and baggage in tow, we learned that there is no 2:15 bus. The guy at the window looked at the slip of paper our kids at the desk gave us. He pointed out that the second number we thought was 2:15 was actually 7:15 and yes they did have a bus leaving for Mercedes then. Frustrated, we decided that leaving that late wasn’t a good option. We’d arrive in Mercedes at almost midnight. The fellow did tell us that there are some Mini-Buses, they charge more but may leave this afternoon.
Taxi back to town, we left the bags at the desk of the Plaza and went searching for a Mini-Bus. Each office we were told could help us moved us onward to another. In the midst we took time for a local lunch. Burgers and fries at another unbelievably low price. (Lunch for 2, less than $4.00) The office of last resort was closed, their bus does go to Mercedes, weekly and today isn’t the day.
So, we went back to The Plaza and were able to get the same little room again. I hit the Internet again and Cat went back to the Bus Station again. Another wasted trip, they won’t book or sell tickets in advance.
Another Pizza Echo dinner, same stuff, same good service and food.
Another movie but quite forgettable.
Bulls 18 Runners 0
The big news of the day brought back memories of a year ago. This is, by the way, an anniversary of sorts for WR2. It’s been 2 years and 3 months since we left the safety of home. Last year we were in Pamplona just a few days after the “Running of The Bulls”. Today the Bulls almost won the event scoring a bloody count of 18 injured runners.
July 13, 2004
Corrientes to Mercedes
Early to book, we got the 2 front seats, the window with a view from the upper deck. The bus was a little late, we were finally underway at a little after 9:00 AM. Great view, but nothing much to see.
For the past few days we’ve seen little red shrines with red flags fluttering along the roadside. Just 6 Kilometers from Mercedes the bus makes a stop where the faithful devoted to Antonio Gil disembark. It’s almost a village, a row of red shacks with hundreds of red flags flying. Gil was an army conscript in the early 1800s. He deserted and spent several years avoiding capture. Antonia robbed from the rich and gave to the poor in Robin Hood or Jesse James style, so much so that the locals supported his efforts. The Lonely Planet says that there was a Judicial Pardon waiting for him in nearby Goya but alas, he was captured and hanged, here, before word of it arrived. The tree still stands and he is buried nearby. The red shacks contain small chapels and are loaded with offerings ranging from t-shirts, guns and Bridal Gowns to license plates, hair clippings, even cigarettes. These gifts are left in the hope that the givers may receive one of Gaucho Gil’s purported miracles.
Mercedes is a village. The bus station has no Information. There is only one Taxi. The driver approached but couldn’t get his point across. A woman nearby heard our struggle and lent her small knowledge of English. She suggested that we go to the Tourist Center just outside town. We’d seen it from the bus but it looked closed and shuttered. She told us it was open just a half hour earlier then asked and the Taxi driver told her that it was open all day. So, we took their words for it and his fare. Unfortunately, we were right and they were wrong. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Were not sure but he may have been cursing, he felt pretty stupid.
Back to town and another Hotel search. A sign near the Bus Station had said, in English, that Hotel La Recova was the nicest, newest in town. We pointed to the sign and instructed our driver to go. The Hotel does look good from the street. A little stark and modern inside but clean. I checked out a room, it was twin beds and small. Since we may stay a couple of nights I had Cat take a look. Reluctantly she agreed that it would do. Then as we unloaded our bags from the Taxi a gal stuck her head out the door and asked, “Can I help you”?
Anna and her husband Eduardo are from a Buenos Aires suburb. They are on a get away during the Winter Holiday. He’s a Doctor and she a teacher. She did help and in fact they decided that they would have a room with double bed in an hour. We took the deal then took a walk. Found lunch and an Internet Café. The food was okay the Internet sucked. We just couldn’t connect. The girl worked with the machine then finally gave it up. She didn’t charge us for the half hour we wasted.
It didn’t take long to see Mercedes. It’s only a 2 street town that stretches less than 1 Km from end to end. Pretty rural, the big deal here is a cattle market. They have a County Fair event annually but the market attracts buyers and sellers weekly. They have, as most villages and town do, a square marking the center and a large church.
A very non-descript white slab had the words, “Never Again” written in 8 different languages. Upon closer inspection it struck a chord, above the characters or letters was the unmistakable mushroom cloud with a skeleton stretched out below it. Adjacent was Mother Earth with the sun rising and held in capable hands, our hands. We agree, this should never ever happen again.
Back at La Recova, Anna invited us to join them tomorrow. They have arranged a 4WD truck to go to the Ibera Reserva, the wetlands. We’ll split the cost, saving money for all of us. Anna was born in Argentina but lived in Santa Monica, California and Salt Lake City, Utah for more than 10 years. Her Father and Mother worked for the guy who owned most of the Jack LaLaine work out gyms among the many other things. She moved back to Argentina at age 18, met Eduardo in College and they fell in love. They have 3 kids, all almost grown but all still living at home.
The 4 of us walked to dinner. The place they had chosen was closed, we walked on around the square and found so-so food and warm conversation at a place called Asador Criollo.
No English language news here but we did get a movie with subtitles. However, it was less than spellbinding. Early to bed, we’re leaving early in the morning.
July 14, 2004
Esteros Del Ibera
Up at 6:00 AM, down to breakfast by 7:00 and out the door to the marshlands by 8:00. The road is dirt all the way and rough at times. That may soon change, our driver/guide told us of an American who has purchased thousands of acres. He’s just beginning to improve the road and put in an airport. Luckily we’re here before the rush of tourists begins. It’s a boring, bumpy, two and a half hour ride but there are few other folks here.
Our first jaunt is through a forest or jungle area with a guide. Most of the life is plant. We did see a large monkey curled up, high in a tree and we caught a flash of a deer as it burst across the trail. The Information Center is limited but one point of interest, the floors are wet. We thought they had just mopped but the guide explained and Anna translated that it was just jungle condensation.
Getting to the Laguna Ibera is a trip across a noisy wooden bridge. Our Driver lined up a boat and what he said was the best guide on the lagoon. He was out with others so we ate food that Anna brought along, sausage, bread and oranges. Good thing for us that she had, there is nothing right here to buy.
Gators and Capybara, Up Close and Personal!
The boat trip started like most of these kinds of expeditions do. A jaunt across the lagoon, a pass by the Park Rangers offices to assure them that we all had life vests then off across the water. For some reason our driver had taken the story of our trip and twisted it slightly. The young guide thought we were famous bird experts. He had a book and proudly showed us page after page, photos after photo of birds large and small as they flew by. (More than 350 species of birds call this place home.)
Anna and Eduardo talked about Caiman and Carpenchio, we quickly learned that Caiman are a breed of Alligator and Carpenchio, what we call Capybara. The guide shuts down the outboard and poles the boat into shallow waters. What a shock, the ground is covered with the wicked looking Gators. We expected to have to hunt, but they were everywhere. And, the Capybara, the huge rodent looking animals seem to co-exist nicely with them. Arielo, our Guide told us that the Gators will make an occasional meal of their babies but they mainly exist on fish. We were so close at times we feared that they might take a bite of the boat.
The really unique thing about these islands is that they are floating. Yes, the plants cling together and form an island. Perhaps some of the roots reach bottom? That one you’ll have to check on Google. None of us were that anxious to get out of the boat. We’ve seen how many Alligators there are in these waters and they all have a hungry look in their eyes. Arielo insisted and assured our safety. It is an eerie feeling, what should be Mother Earth, the ground, is spongy. At one point he had us jumping up and down to get the effect. Very strange, indeed.
Feel the Earth Move
The adjacent village of Carlos Pellegrini, the place we had been planning on staying for a couple of days is little more than a few dirt streets and simple buildings. A rough looking place, the Hotel we were going to book looks more like a shack. The more we drove the few streets the happier we were to have met Eduardo and Anna. It made the next 2 ½ hours seem simple bumping along the dirt track back.
Late and tired, the 4 of us enjoyed a pasta dinner downstairs. I brought the computer down and we did a slide show of our travels. What a joy these two happenchance friends are. They convinced us that we should ride with them tomorrow rather than take the bus.
July 15, 2004
Mercedes to Obera
A slow start to offset yesterday’s early rising. Continental breakfast for four then it was pack, load and go by 10:00 AM. Eduardo swung the car around to the Super Mercado and the girls picked up picnic goodies.
Eduardo and Anna invited us to go with them to a waterfall they call Saltos del Mocona. He says that it’s a phenomenon, the water falls sideways to the flow of the river. We can see in a picture what he’s trying to explain. It looks like the river is flowing along the base of the long falls. He says it is two rivers, one above the other.
Their car is a Renault. We told them of Scotty our little Renault 4 and Anna reminisced, her first car was the same, funny little quatro. She told us of her life in Southern California and Utah. Her Mom and Dad worked for a very wealthy family. She grew up in the shadow of money helping to serve them. The family valued he parents so much that, after they retired and came home to Argentina the youngest child became ill. They insisted that Anna’s parents come back to help, even paid them a well-earned bonus. The family her parents worked for moved to Utah because they feared raising their children in Southern California. Though Anna loved the out of doors and skiing there she disliked the rigid lifestyle. At age 18 she ventured back to Argentina, alone, to attend University.
Anna has had a bad cough these past two days now Eduardo is beginning to sniffle. We stopped for a picnic at a fairly large Gaucho Gil Shrine. It was cold and windy. We sat outside and in reasonable discomfort, and had our picnic. The Shrine is interesting. Several trucks pulled in, the drivers hop out, visit the little red hut them climb back in and honk as they drive away. Others just honk in passing. At first we thought they were acknowledging us.
Anna and Eduardo pass a tiny cup of Mate back and forth. Almost like a ritual, he signals, she pours hot water on the leaves, hands it over and he sips. After a couple of deep draws on the metal spoon/straw he relinquishes and Anna takes her turn. They have been together so long that they can communicate without saying a word. The Mate rite is just one little example. They’re a wonderful example of how long term love should be.
Our next stop is at the largest manufacturer of Mate and Tea in Argentina. The place is amazing and a tribute to success of an industry and the devotion of Argentineans to their Mate. It reminds us of a winery tour. You start with a film of the Company history that also features the farming of the tree, harvest of the branches and crush of leaves. The room was full, the crowd reverent. Applause fills the room as we exit to take the tour of the processing. The large crowd began the walk, we talked about the hour they will spend and the time it will take to get to Obera. Knowing that we still have another 2 hours driving, we chose not to tour.
Once in the darkened streets of Obera the Hotel hunt began. Another moment when we are fortunate to have Spanish-speaking Eduardo along. He pulled up at several places, hopped out, ran in then returned with the bad news. Everyplace seems to be fully booked. As a final attempt he checked with the Tourist Office. They called a Hotel back near the highway and confirmed two rooms.
The rooms were small, damp and cold. The Bell Person explained how the heat worked and we were soon basking. Anna came to our door at 8:00 PM to tell us that Eduardo isn’t feeling well and they will order room service. We went to the restaurant and had a pretty good meal. We talked about the trip to Mocona Falls, another 6-8 hours in the car, and a night at San Vicente then another dirt road drive to the falls. The afternoon there then the drive back and another night at San Vicente. The vote was 2-0 for not going. As much as we love being with these two, it is just too much driving. We will catch a bus and dead head for Iguazu in the morning.
Some English language drama subtitled in Spanish and Spanish news that only had meaning in some of the pictures for us, then off to sleep. A long, hard driven day.
July 16, 2004
Obera to Posadas
The drapes were still pulled tight in Eduardo and Anna’s window. Not knowing how he is feeling we went on to breakfast, alone. Another continental affair capped off with Café Fuerte. (Strong Coffee) The young guy at the desk was kind enough to call the bus station. He learned that the direct bus to Iguazu had already gone. The next local bus to Posadas would leave at 10:45 AM.
We packed up then knocked on their door. Anna answered, they were still in their jammies. We told them of our changed plan, they began to insist that they get up and take us to the Bus Station. By now Eduardo was hacking and coughing. We thanked them for the kindness but told them we would much rather they rest, a Taxi will be fast and cheap. So it was that we kissed cheeks, shook hands and parted, promising to see each other in Buenos Aires upon our return. Another story of strangers who in just 4 days have become fast friends. Awe parting, you sweet sorrow you.
The bus station is small and crowded. I hovered on a bench inside and guarded our possessions while Cat sought info and tickets. The place is crawling with young boys carrying small amounts of candy or other trinkets for sale. They troll the rows of people, talking up their goods, laughing, and convincing in the language that I’m only able to catch every 5th or 6th word. A very sad looking fellow, perhaps retarded at birth, maybe brain dead from drugs, stood staring at us. Snot dripped from his nose. The index finger and the one adjacent on his right hand had deep blackened cigarette burns on them. He spoke not a word just stood with his scorched fingered hand extended toward my face.
This, like all stations, is full of stories, people coming, people going and some, like this guy, stuck in a rut of dependency. Our bus was late, Cat, nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, checked with every driver of every arrival. Finally it was our turn. The strange fellow stood in our path, snot dripping and hand extended. We worked around him and up, into our seats, glad to leave this hubbub behind.
It really was a local bus. Old and rickety, it stopped at every dinky village and often just to pick up people walking along the road. By the time we arrived in Posadas we knew it was too late to go on to Iguazu. Another town full of Winter Holiday revelers, we found the Hotels were full, here too. Julio Cesar is rated 4-star, the room is simple the price high. We’re tired, this is our 4th day on the road. The young girl found a vacancy for tonight but when we asked about another day, a day of rest, she said, “No, no rooms”. Then after studying her pencil scratchings she said we could stay but would have to change rooms tomorrow.
Lunch in a small café down the street. I’d begun to feel queasy on the bus and my nose has now started to drip down my lip like the fellow at the bus station. I retired to the room to catch some rest and CNN news. Cat braved the cold and wind and walked to the market area Tourist Office. She wants info on San Ignacio, a nearby town with some famous Jesuit Ruins and Iguazu Falls. If we can stay over we may take a side trip to San Ignacio.
A relaxing afternoon and I felt a little better. Dinner down, the restaurant is a walkup from the lobby and fairly non-descript but the food was quite good.
News of The Day
The big news of the day form back home, Martha Stewart was sentenced to 5 months in prison and 5 months of house arrest. We can see her redecorating the entire prison system, designing colorful uniforms for the inmates and writing a successful book about the entire ordeal. Locally, there were protests in Buenos Aires large enough to make International news. Unemployed workers stormed the Legislature building lashing out at the lack of jobs and unemployment payments. The Police retaliated with water cannon. We hope they get the situation resolved before we get back there.
July 17, 2004
An Extra Day in Posadas
Our cute and friendly desk clerk has shuffled enough papers to allow us another day here and, in the same room. Included breakfast was very good, even had eggs and bacon.
I hovered over our computer and arranged our photos while Cat took out the laundry and called Hotels in Iguazu. The cloths will be back clean and dry by 5:00 PM, the Hotel situation is a little tougher. The Hotel Cataratas that had one room for tomorrow night, only. Cat booked it. The only other rooms she found were at the Sheraton, a grand place adjacent to the Falls. The “No View” rooms start at $190 US per night. That made the $100 Cataratas rate seem palatable. Well, it is a huge destination resort and this is Winter Holiday season.
An afternoon walk around the square, past the obligatory imposing Church and down the street to a Casino. It’s typical of these type places except that the gaming, other than Slot Machines, was limited to a couple of card games. Since there are few places open we chose to lunch here. It was a mistake, the music and mayhem were too loud and the food was second rate. We were seated next to a table of birthday partiers, one of which was the star of the evening show. We recognized him from the posters and a constant stream of fans, mostly women, that passed and shook his handsome hand.
Back at the Hotel, we enjoyed some rest then a glass of wine late in the afternoon. Since dinner had been quite good last night we made our way down to the lobby then up the stair for another. Sorry, the bar there was open but they don’t serve dinner on Saturday Night? We figured that, other than holiday weeks, this is a Business Hotel and it’s probably, usually vacant on the weekends?
The waiter suggested a place, the only place according to him. We followed his explicit direction and napkin map to Parilla and found great meat and veggies. The place was packed, maybe it was the only place in town?
More International Argentinean News
The Car Rally we saw advertised in Cordoba made CNN Sport. Speaking of Sport, Lance won today’s stage of the Tour. He is now in second place overall and favored to win his 6th straight.
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Posadas to Iguazu
Breakfast, then a brisk walk. Our exercise program this morning is a long walk around Posadas. At first the Rio Parana was a disappointment, houses and scrub brush lined the shore and we weren’t able to walk along the bank. Further along, we did find the river. A couple of statues but the most interesting relic of days gone by was a boat. Before construction of a bridge they took rail freight across the river on boats. One of them rests in retirement here. You can see how they would push the cars aboard on tracks. We’ve never seen this, before.
Ultimately we had to hasten our step, our bus departs at 12:00 Noon. No time to get acquainted with the locals, we rode the Taxi right up to the platform and boarded with little time to spare. It’s turned cold and windy again. We watched the changing landscape and weather from our bus window. After 5 hours and dozens of stops we finally arrived at the Iguazu Station. Cold and almost dark we chose to Taxi to Hotel Cataratas. (Catarata is the Spanish word for Falls.)
The place is a destination resort in it’s self. Big pool with waterfall and all the trimmings. They were in a quandary at the front desk. Somehow they’ve overbooked. Cat reminded them that she had called and confirmed our room. The girl said, “You will like your room, it is grand”. They put us in a huge 3-room suite and would make no promises about a place for tomorrow.
Yes the price, $100 US, is high but this is the most opulent room we’ve stayed in. A TV in the living room, a big screen TV in the massive bedroom, even a TV above the huge, party sized, oval Jacuzzi tub in the bath. With all the TVs you’d think they’d have CNN or BBC? No!
Dinner at 8:00. No sense trying to go out for dinner, we partook of the Buffet. It turns out to be as big and generous as our room. Giant selection of really great food.
We did find an English language movie with Spanish subtitles. We both started watching, we both snoozed off only to wake up later and turn off.
Sunday, July 19, 2004
Cataratas de Iguazu
On the way down from our wonderful room to the wonderful, included breakfast buffet, we stopped at the front desk. Bad news, no cancellations, no rooms. The girl could promise nothing but suggested that we talk with the Reservations Manager, Claudio. He was expected in soon so we went on to breakfast.
On the way out we caught Claudio. He shuffled his papers and studied his computer screen then said, “I will call you in 1 ½ hours”. Not knowing whether we were going to have to move, we packed and prepared. The call came, good news they have a room for us. Staff appeared and helped shuffle our bags just a few doors down the hallway. The room is a standard with street view. Nothing as grand, nothing as imposing as last nights.
The falls are 20 kilometers northeast of town. A bus runs about every half hour and will stop for passengers right in front of the Hotel. One little damper on spirits, it’s raining. The scheduled bus left us standing, soaking up raindrops for 15 minutes. Catherine, a girl from Belgium sat across from us, I struck up a conversation. She’s been traveling alone for 9 months. She’d been living and working in London for a couple of years before catching the travel bug. She quit her job, packed up and has seen a lot of this wonderful world.
The three of us got through the gate, bought our tickets then boarded another even more decrepit looking bus. The road to the falls was just two muddy tracks. We slipped and slid through it, to a spot where we had to get out onto rocks piled up in the mud. We grabbed some food at the counter then began to walk the first pathways together. This place is fantastic. Unlike some places where you are removed from the attraction, here you are part of it. The trails wind through wet jungle then extend out on metal grating, above the roaring falls. Catherine took a pic of us then one with us then disappeared. This trail to the lower falls extends right out and almost into the main cascade of thundering water.
Completing the loop they have strategically located food and toilets near the little train station. Yes, it takes a train ride on a little train to get to the upper falls. We thought they meant another set of falls. Wrong, same Falls but the catwalk pathway there is poised above the roaring precipice. I don’t do well with heights and the movement and roar of the water added to that uneasiness. However, it was get over it time, this is a moment not to be missed. The final exhilaration comes in the form of a roaring cloud of spray after a 1 kilometer walk over the top of the river to a place they call Garganta del Diablo. (Throat of the Devil) The brochure calls it the most powerful waterfall experience and the culmination to any visit. What a fantastic way to witness and feel attuned to Mother Nature as she flexes her mighty muscles! We only hope that our photos and video will bring some feeling of the size and strength of this wonderful phenomenon to those who read our journal. Words alone won’t do it!
Mother Nature even let up a little on the rain. The bumpy bus ride back into town left us in the center. An Internet Café caught our eye. We caught up on mail and met a Mother/Daughter pair, A J and Adriana. They’re from Hollister, California but Adriana has been working for a non-profit in Bolivia for the past 2 years. In another “Small World” moment, A J told us that her son, Guy, works with Adventure Cycling. If you’re considering a bicycle tour, you must get to know Adventure Cycling. They have mapped several US crossings and their web site is loaded with stories and links to all sorts of cycling adventures including ours. (
We left them in the midst of their messages and went looking for dinner. A short walk down the dark damp street convinced us that the huge buffet at our own Hotel Cataratas was a great value.
As we gorged a guy walked up and said, “Let me guess, you’re Pat and you are Cat”. He, Geert and his wife, Petra are from Holland. They have lived in Aruba for the past 4 years. They have 2 daughters, Helene and Bnete. Their son Gebirt was born in Aruba. Perta is a Judge. Aruba was a Dutch Colony. Holland still provides security forces and the legal system. Geert says that they take vacations like this one 2 or 3 times a year just to cool down. He said, “Every day the ocean temperature is 95 degrees, the land temperature is 95 and the air temperature is 95”. That sounded pretty good to us after this cool and rainy day.
What a wonderful day this has been.
July 20, 2004
Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
Our last day, for a while in Argentina and it’s a bright and sunny one. Well the plan is to go to the Brazilian side of the falls so our last day here will be our first in Brazil, too. The Dutch family from Aruba was out front waiting for their bus. I got a family photo as they stood in the sun. Even in their desire to escape the heat they were enjoying this day of sun.
We had another great breakfast buffet then were off for our own bus. Not like theirs, we waited and waited for the local bus then gave up and took a Taxi to the Terminal Omnibus. There we caught a clunky older model bus to Brazil. At the Argentinean border we had to debus and get our Passports stamped. Then we waited and waited, again. An interesting aside, a Soldier was embossing the license plate numbers of cars passing through onto the windows. One of the guys there told us that it is theft prevention. Looks like a great idea, the thief would have to replace all the glass in the car before re-selling and that would cost a pretty Peso!
Once back on the bus we rolled right through the Brazilian border. No Visa required if you are returning on the same day. Most of the others dropped off at the turn off to the Falls. We rode on into the city, Foz do Iguazu. Our objectives were to find an English/Portuguese Dictionary and buy bus tickets to get us from here on into Brazil.
We might have missed the Local Bus Terminal, we asked and a fellow next to us pointed out the window, we were just passing it. Off and across the street, they did have a very useful Tourist Office. So, instead of having to ride out to the Omnibus Terminal we learned that we could buy tickets at a nearby Travel Agency. And the girls there also recommended a Book Store that would have the Dictionary.
It was a short walk to both and gave us the opportunity to explore the streets of Foz. The ticket was easy, the gal spoke English. It seems good that we took time today as the bus was nearly full. The dictionary took a little more doing. They did get “Dictionario” and pulled several off the shelves before we got the English connection passed through the language barrier.
So, all set, we walked back to the local bus station. You pay as you enter the station area. We got through that with the help of a couple of local guys. Then they also had us just follow them as they were on the same bus. They got off before we reached the Falls but let us know, through handshakes and gestures, how happy they were that they could help.
Our bus wheeled into a modern looking building, the National Park Center. Ticketed, we waited in line then boarded a great looking open deck double decker bus. The little village where they drop you is just a food and tourist keepsake stop. The trails are not as extensive or lengthy as those on the Argentinean side but you’re soon treated to a huge sweeping view of the entire falls basin.
Peering Down the Devil’s Throat
The difference is simple, over there you are a part of the action, down in the roaring water. Here you’re above it all, most of the time. It is panoramic beyond description. Again we hope our photos and videos help bring the feeling back to us for years to come. At one point there is a perpetual rainbow at least at this time of day on sunny days. The falls there are almost as powerful as it gets. Of course there is that “Throat” thing on this side, too. They’ve constructed a steel walkway right out there so that you can look down toward the Devil’s Tonsils. We went part way but turned back when the spray began to get thick. We didn’t need to feel the Devils saliva in our faces, again.
Starving, I fell into the long line waiting for the bus out. Cat stood in another line trying to get food. It was all very frustrating. For her, the counter was disorganized and the crowd pushy. For me, the line moved at a snails pace and I was standing basking at first them baking in the hot sun. I reached the front of the line then had to let 3 buses pass, waiting for Cat. Finally when she walked up, the Park Ranger questioned her cutting into the line. I got a picture of him with her. The burgers were cold and tasteless, the fries, too.
Back at Park Central, we stood in another line and boarded the next bus to Foz. They dropped us at the crossroads near the Brazilian border crossing. We walked toward the border Immigration Offices and tried to hail a bus, to no avail. It is about 1 kilometer from the crossroads. We walked it and walked up near the line of cars at the crossing booths. A young gal was waiting there, too and worrying. She asked the time in sign language then worried even more. Something about needing to be in Iguazu by 6:00 PM. Two buses packed to the rafters rolled past. The drivers hunched their shoulders and raised their hands as though powerless to take on any more bodies in the sardine can bus.
Finally the gal began asking cars passing if they would take her. She caught a ride with a couple of guys. They didn’t have room for us. We began using her technique and soon a young girl stopped and invited us in. The Argentinean Border Patrol gave her a moment of grief, looked at our Passports then waived us through. She drove us right to the Center of town. I tried to give her 10 Pesos but she refused. Smiling she got the point across that she works for a Bank on the Brazilian side and was coming home from work, anyway. She dropped us, Cat ran up to the window and I snapped a picture then she drove off into the thick traffic without giving us here name. We called her Angel!
We checked into Internet then took the bus back out to Hotel Cataratas. It was the 5 course Buffet again, of course. We did meet another couple, Kent and Joyce, from Fresno, California. He’s a Doctor and she’s a Dietician. As we stood talking after dinner, A J and Adriana walked up. I said, “Hollister California, meet Fresno California.” They exchanged niceties then talked medical facilities. Seems that A J is a nurse in Hollister. They knew lots of connecting people and things, small world again, eh?
I am developing good sinus and upper respiratory infections. Cat is doubling over with pain as her Diverticulosis seems to be reoccurring with a vengeance. What a medical mess we are. A Doctor and Nurse nearby from our home turf and we feel pretty bad. Hey they’re on vacation and we don’t feel all that bad.
We sat in bed and reflected on our day. A sunny day, a fantastic day at the Falls, a frustrating day with food and buses then another happenchance meeting with a fantastic person, a real Angel. Life is GOOD!
What a terrific experience Argentina has been. We’re in sunshine and warmth at this writing. Our next journal pages will take us through eastern Brazil where we’ll spend 2 glorious weeks of R&R in Rio. That in its self will make good reading however, our objective is to be in Ushuaia and ready to roll by or before September 1, 2004. Sure it’ll still be cold and friends foretell of winds like we’ve never seen before but we gotta get goin’. Time. Tide and The Creditors wait for no man!