Tag Archives: Argentina

It’s a South of America Thing

I’m not going to pretend that I know everything about South America. Having only been to Argentina, I know I have only scratched the surface. Although I only experienced Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, it left me with a strong idea of the place and a desire to go back and explore more of the country.

I remember dog walkers, steak and potatoes and the Obelisk on Avenida 9 Julio in Buenos Aires. Drinks that were too strong, underwear that was too skimpy and streets that were too long. Real cowboys, dancing the tango, the colour of La Boca and visiting Evita’s grave.

Iguazu Falls were the widest, reddest and most naturally beautiful waterfalls I had ever seen. You can’t help but be impressed.

There are many more places I must return to see in South America. The the wildlife of Patagonia, the beaches of Brazil and the national parks of Chile. Manchu Picchu of course, the legendary Amazon and Angel Falls in Venuzuela. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Galápagos Islands in Equador and the Cartagena coast in Columbia.

Now, Mexico, I feel I know a bit more about. I have explored ruins in the jungle, on the desert plain and by the beach. I’ve swum in a cenote, eaten a cactus salad and swung on a swing in a bar.

I’ve seen lots of main plaza’s with cathedral, government palace and town hall. I’ve experienced the heat of the day, the cold of the buses and the feel of a freshly made tortilla. I’ve seen protestors, markets and a Luche Libre wresting show in one of the biggest cities in the world.

I’ve climbed forts, snorkelled next to 500 sunken statues and been amazed by how blue water can be. I’ve sampled the local mescal as well as traditional arts and crafts. I’ve learned what real guacamole and fish tacos taste like.

I want to go back to see the beaches of Jalisco, the waterfalls in Chiapas and the rock formations of the Marieta Islands. I would love to return to Oaxaca, the island of women and the ruins of Teotihuacán. I know I saw a lot, but there is always more to see.

And we never did make it to Guatemala, Belize or Costa Rica….

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011, Argentina, 2005, Buenos Aires, 2005

Argentina, 2005

My friend Phil and I visited La Boca with its well-known colourful buildings and statues. Both tango dancers and tourists were out and about in the Caminito.

We wandered off the main drag and were told to get out in Spanish. Too busy taking photos and not knowing the language, I didn’t know what was going on. Fortunately Phil’s Spanish was good enough to realise that we were in a dangerous area and needed to vacate.

Walking along the Malecon in the Riachuelo port area, we saw Puente Nicolas Avellaneda and then visited the bright blue and yellow La Bombanera Stadium. Phil went back to watch a football game one night, but we were advised that it was too dangerous for women to attend.

As an alternative, we went to see Don Quichotte at the Teatro Colon and to a tango dancing lesson at Bar Sur which was lots of fun and felt very Argentinian!

Over breakfast at the hostel in Buenos Aires, I met Catherine from Washington DC. She was working in South America and was here on a short break to explore a different area of the country. I liked her independent travel attitude and we quickly made plans for some day trips.

We visited Evita’s grave at the famous Cemeterio de la Recoleta- a bit of a pilgrimage for locals and toursist alike. We were joined by an Australian couple on another day trip to the Feria des Mataderos for a great day out.

The Feria had real cowboys called gauchos and people were roasting meat on open grills. The square was filled with dancers in traditional brightly coloured costumes with a few llamas looking on. While there, we also went to the interesting Museo Crillo de Los Corrales.

My short time in South America was drawing to an end. So I decided that even if I had to go by myself, a trip to Iguazu Falls could not be missed. I opted for the quicker, but more expensive plane trip over the 13 hour overnight bus trip and stayed in the only hostel in town.

The next day, after a jeep ride through the Yacaratia trail where a guide explained the plant and animal wildlife of the forest, I got to the falls and was in awe. They were a reddish muddy colour from the natural stones in the area and so vast that I now understood why I could make them out from the plane on the way in.

I took a boat trip on the rapids of Rio Iguazu Superior and under San Martin waterfall which was amazing and went on the walkway over the top of the falls to  Devil’s Throat Canyon. Truly spectacular.

There was no denying the natural beauty of the Parc Nacional Iguazu, but there was also a Sheraton in the park and a casino in town. I hoped that the place would not become a victim of commercialisation and jeopardise this wonder of the world.

Related posts: Buenos Aires, 2005

Buenos Aires, 2005

South America was high on my list of places I wanted to go, so when my friend Phil said he was headed on an extended journey in that area, I leapt at the chance to meet him in Buenos Aires.

By the time I arrived, Phil had already spent some time in Central America where he had met a local Buenos Aires girl who he had fallen for. This meant that I had a somewhat distracted travel partner, but also one with some insider knowledge.

My bags had been lost in Los Angeles airport somewhere on the way, so I was given $50 to buy essentials and we spent most of my first day searching for an underwear shop that sold something other than g-strings.

The trusty Lonely Planet stated that if you are vegetarian to not come to Buenos Aires and it was right. All you can get to eat in most restaurants was steak and potatoes. I was also introduced to the city’s very strong drinks on my first night- after only two drinks, Phil and his lady had to send me back to the hostel in a cab where I was told off for having the TV on too loud in the common room after hours.

The Obelisk on Avenida 9 Julio at Plaza de la Republica remains one of the most enduring images from my stay in Buenos Aires. We were staying a couple of blocks away from this- the widest street I had ever seen- and I passed it most days on my sight-seeing adventures.

As a dog lover, I also loved all the paseaperros or dog walkers that were everywhere in the city. I was constantly snapping pictures of them on street corners and in parks- some of them with more than 10 dogs at a time on the leash.

Buenos Aires is a city of plaza’s and fascinating buildings. In our local area were Plaza Lavelle, the Templo de la Congregacion Israelita, the Asociacion Cristiana Feminina de Buenos Aires and the huge orange Palacio de Aguas Corrientes. Nearby, the richer area could be found along Avenida Alvear to the Plaza Intendente.

Other notable squares were the huge Plaza de Mayo with the red Casa Rosada, the Palacio del Congreso where the Monumento a Los dos Congresos looked like a wedding cake with a green roof and the nearby Confiteria del Molino was easy to spot; and the Plaza Libertador General San Martin with the cute Petit Paris café and Huge Faculty of Law Building nearby.

We visted the Museo Nacional de Belles Artes to see my favorite Degas paintings and saw the bizarre Biblioteca Nacional on the way back. We went inside Museo Mitre- the house of past president Bartolomé Mitre- that had a pretty courtyard with his statue in it. I liked the lovely Palermo Park with its large lake, Rosedal and Planetario Galileo Galilei.

Related posts: New Zealand, 2004, Europe, 2003, Vietnam, 2003