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South America - Logging It

 

This trip was very close to not happening.  I originally had planned to go to Argentina and the surrounding countries for two weeks. Unfortunately, just before I was to leave I started to have excruciating intestinal pain.  For some reason unbeknown to doctors to this day, I had a block in my small intestine.  After 3 days in the hospital and a stomach pump threaded through my nose, the black went away and I was released.  Doctors don't know what caused it and gave me no advice as to how to keep it from happening again.  Against sanity and better judgment, I decided to try and salvage the trip.

 

Day 1, 6/30

Left for airport.  Flew Phoenix to LAX to Houston.  Took red eye to Buenos Aires and arrived the next morning at 10:20 AM.

 

Day 2, 7/1

Before we depart the plane we are all given masks to wear at the airport.  The bird flu is in full force and peopleís paranoia of dying from the latest 21st century black plague is in a higher level force.
 

My best scared I'm going to catch the bird flu face

Sebastian has reserved a cab for us.  The driver takes us to Palermo.  Buenos Aires is broken into barrios.  Palermo is the one we stay at.  Itís close to restaurants and museums.  Sebastian had picked out our hotel for us at the Hotel Cristobal Colon.  It was walking distance to lots of stuff.  We walk our surroundings first.  We are hungry and find small restaurant down the street.  They have great coffee and pastries.

 

Hotel Cristobo Colon

 

 

Amy wants to see the Evita museum so we take a cab that way.  It seems like somewhat of a makeshift museum.  It opened in 2002.  I suspect it was thrown together to profit on the Madonna movie.

Next we go to the Malba Museum.  This was a nice art museum that opened in 2001.  The most noteworthy part was these interesting benches.  We kept getting yelled at not to take pictures.

We went to another museum that had a blacksmith section that Amy was interested in. 

We had a nice meal that night and went to bed early.

 

Nice chair

 

Day 3, 7/4

We woke up early and went to the same restaurant around the corner for breakfast. 

We head down to the government buildings near the Rio de Plata. 

We see an old Argentine naval ship called the Fragata A.R.A Presidente Sarmiento.  The ship was originally built for the Argentine naval academy. "The ARA Presidente Sarmiento made thirty seven annual training cruises including six circumnavigations of the globe. The ship was retired as a seagoing vessel in 1938, but continued to serve as a stationary training ship until 1961. She is now maintained in her original 1898 appearance as a museum ship near the center of Buenos Aires. This ship was named for Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the seventh President of Argentina.", Wikipedia

 

Rio de Plata

 

Fragata A.R.A Presidente Sarmiento

 

Best gun firing pose on the Sarmiento

 

Next up is Case de Rosado and the rest of the government district.

Washington D.C. has the White House, Buenos Aires has the Pink House.

Casa De Rosado

 

Congress

 

Customs House

 

Courthouse

 

We end the day of sight seeing at La Recoleta Cemetery.  This is a famous cemetery located in the Recoleta neighborhood. It contains the graves of Eva Perůn, Raķl AlfonsŪn, and several presidents of Argentina.  This is place is eeire.  Some of the tombs were dilapidated and the coffins were cracked open.

La Recoleta Cemetery

 

Cracked Coffin

 

Day 4, 7/4

We decided to try going to La Boca.  This is the place this lesbian looking couple mentioned when were at the museum with the weird chair.  We got a taxi to take us there.  We were driving for at least 20 minutes and the scene changed so much so that I was having second thoughts.  We were in the middle of the Buenos Aires ghetto.  However, our driver pulled up to this small corridor of colorful buildings with lots of people milling about.  It looked safe enough so we hit it.  This place is littered with crayon box colored buildings and signs.  There are vendors lined through the middle of the street as well.  La Boca is the big place for street tango.  The restaurants look very similar to the Belgian restaurants that lined the streets in Brussels except these places have the tango dancers.  Most everyone sits outside watches the show then the show starts to include the audience.  They picked both Amy and I to join them on stage.  I guess I can claim to have performed my first tango of sorts.

 

La Boca

 

 

After several hours we took a cab to the San Telmo Barrio.  This part of town was known for their antique shops.  Amy wanted to check those out.  This barrio is an improvement in social classes from La Boca.  The streets are cobble stoned with colonial buildings and a town square.  We visited with one shop owner for a while.  The prices were a bit high but a nice stop to make.

 

San Telmo

 

Our next stop was downtown.  There is a somewhat upscale shopping corridor with street acts. One guy was playing this giant harp.  It was nice.  I never saw a street act with a harp let alone one that could play it nicely.

We went for dinner down by the regional airport by the water.  This is a pretty nice spot.  We had an exceptional dinner with the best service Iíve had in years.  The wait staff was incredibly attentive.  We took some pictures with them after dinner. 

That night we went to check out a casino.  It wasnít too impressive.  There were a few Black Jack tables and a handful of machines.  I wouldnít call it elaborate in any fashion.  We stayed about an hour.

Afterwards we went to a club nearby around 11:00.  It was a small narrow place but pretty quiet.  It was nice; it had a bunch of blue neon lights strung about with a lot of booths.  It felt as though they were going for the futuristic look.  We were thinking of leaving but stayed a while.  It started to get busy around 1:00 AM.  This is where I first learn the Argentine club practices.  In essence, itís not really a party until 2:00 AM.  We have to cut it a bit short because we are flying to Cordoba early the next morning. 

 

Day 5, 7/5

5:00 AM.  Ugh, Iím so tired and hung over.  I donít know how on earth Iím going to make it to the airport by 6:00.  Somehow we gather our things and hunt down a cab and make our flight. 

We arrive in Cordoba around 8.  Sebastian is there to pick us up.  We go for breakfast.  We pass a car wrapped around a pole on the way.  It was one of the late night party goers.  We get to the restaurant and the club people had just left.  I want eggs for breakfast but no one in this country does this for some reason.  Itís a dinner food.  But I want eggs.  Iím getting a little burned out eating pastries for breakfast.  They make me an omelet.  Iím happy.

We head towards Sebastianís part of town.  I notice things are quite a bit different here than they are in Buenos Aires.  Cordoba is the 2nd largest city in Argentina but it is a distant 2nd.  It feels pretty small.  All the streets we drive on are surface streets.  We stop off to pick up his mother in law.  She is going to watch the grand children while we go to a German Village with him and his wife.  We get to his gated community.  This is an understatement.  This community has 20 foot barbed wire fences surrounding it equipped with guard lookout towers armed with guns.  The private roads here are exactly that.  They are barley as wide as your vehicle and meander through tree lined streets.  I wonder how many people hit those trees.  There are no stop signs and no painted stripes.  The houses are all very nice including Sebastianís.  We meet Sebastianís wife Paola and hang out with his kids for a short time before heading off.

It takes us a couple hours to get to the German Village.  Lo and behold it looks German and there are Germans there.  Fun yet surprising place to hang out in Argentina.

 

Talking to Sebastian at the German Village

 

We take a nap when we get back.  Tonight we are borrowing Sebastianís SUV to go to a club.  The club doesnít open until 1:00 AM.  Again, itís pretty quiet until 2:00 AM.  Now itís a zoo.  We stay Ďtil 4:00.  There still is a line 50 people deep trying to enter.

 

Day 6, 7/6

We go to downtown Cordoba.  We see Sebastianís place of work.  Itís a bit run down.  There are a lot of empty buildings and some trash on the streets.  We did find a really nice church that we stopped at.  It is called Parroquia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus de los Capuchinos.  I have since learned that the missing spire was purposeful.  It is to symbolize human imperfection. 

 

Parroquia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus de los Capuchinos

 

Gas Station and Mini-Mart.  These people are hanging out inside watching a soccer game.

 

Getting an espresso and a danish with Sebastian at the same mini-mart

 

He wants to take us to some nature preserve outside of town.  Weíre game.  Unfortunately he gets lost and he starts running out of gas.  We find something that looks relatively interesting along the roadside, get out, and hike for a while.  The landscape is not all that different from some of the parts of northern Arizona.  There is a lot of rock and tundra.  We see some carcasses lying around so there is definitely wildlife somewhere.  After about an hour of hiking in this ravine, we head back to his place. 

 

BFE with no gas

 

BFE at sunset with no gas

 

Day 7, 7/7

We wake up late the next morning and almost miss our flight back to Buenos Aires.  We were hoping to go to Uruguay for the day.  Sebastian advises against it.  He doesnít think we will have enough time to make it to our flight back to Phoenix that night.  We decide to risk it.  We get to the docks and book a trip for Colonia.  When we arrive, people are lining up to take bus tours.  I take one look at this and tell Amy, ďForget it.  I donít want to be one of the sheep.  Letís keep walking and see what else there is.Ē  A hundred yards later we see a line of taxi cabs with nobody waiting to use their services.  We meet one we like, Sebastian, and we negotiate a day tour for $80.  What a good choice this was.  We see so much in the Seven hours we are there.  Colonia was originally a Portuguese colony but the Spanish fought them for their land.  In the end, the Spanish won out.  We see the old fort, an original stone paved street, a bull fighting museum, some ancient whaleís skeleton, an old abandoned train, and the Uruguayan coast with Argentina in the distance.  We had our best meal of the trip.  The deserts looked so good that Amy said she wanted to try all of them and they let us.  We were stuffed at the end.  We almost missed our ferry back to Buenoa Aires we were having such a good time with Sebastian the cab driver.  He raced to the docks to get us there in time. 

Portuguese fort with Argentina in the backdrop

Hanging with the other Sebastian

 

Original Portuguese Stone Road

 

Really good desserts

   

 

We relaxed on the ferry ride back.  I watched the Roddick-Federer Wimbledon final.  Amy shopped in the duty-free store.  We were still pressed for time when we got back.  We found a taxi and told him when our flight was.  He drove like a bat out of hell to get us there.  He was on the median at times.  We made it with time to spare.

 

Hopped on our flight and said farewell to South America.