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'18 Oct+Nov: Buenos Aires, Argentina
A few days before Uruguay and then back in November.
Also
San Antonio de Arecos

'18 Nov: The Countryside, Uruguay
Adventure by bus for two nights at an estancia, two nights in Paysandú, and two nights in Colonia de Sacramento.
'18 Oct: Montevideo, Uruguay
Two weeks of Spanish class and two weeks of fun.
'18 Oct: Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina
2 nights in Argentina
1 night in Brazil
1 night in Argentina
'18 Oct: Asuncion, Paraguay
Only four short nights.
'18 Sep: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
First stop in a big city run through the East coast of South America. Here you'll find many of Rio's greatest hits.
'16 May: Cuenca to Quito, Ecuador
From Cuenca to Quito and a week of homestay and Spanish class.
'16 May: Galapagos, Ecuador
This is going to be amazing.
'09 Feb: Antigua, Guatemala
The town center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a very cool place to visit.
'09 Mar: Lago Atitlán, Guatemala
Visiting the lake villages of San Pedro, San Marcus, Panajachel, Sololá, Santiago, and the market town of Chichicastenango.
'09 Mar: Copán Ruinas, Honduras
Another UNESCO World Heritage site (can't go wrong there), a sweet town, and another week of español.
'09 Mar: Finca El Cisne, Honduras
Worth a trip to Honduras.
'09 Mar: Flores & TIKAL, Guatemala
Isla de Flores, a veeery small place, and TIKAL, the largest Maya city yet uncovered.
'04 Oct: Patagonia
Breathtakingly gorgeous Patagonia including Punta Arenas, the Seno Otway inlet, some other places but most staggeringly breathtaking of all, Torres del Paine.
'04 Nov: Machu Picchu
As Utterly aSTOunding as they say.
'04 Nov: Amazon Jungle
Puerto Maldonado, our camp, Reserva Amazonica along the river Madre de Dios in the Zona Reservado Tambopata.




Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.

I'm packing up for the last time. In a few hours I will head to the bus station here in San Antonio de Arecos and something like 20 hours later I'll be opening my front door. Time FLIES!

November 12-13

Places are mostly closed here in San Antonio de Arecos. Even here, they're not open.

There are a ton of different maps identifying The Pampas but I've chosen this one from wiki because it suits my story. Everywhere I've been this trip except Rio has been in The Pampas which I didn't realize when I set it up.

No wonder there's a similarity in language and culture.

Remember all that rain?

I couldn't even get here to the classic bridge view at San Antonio de Arecos.

internet.

Goodness, what's this? I'd better go look...and no falling in the mud!

There were a few guys about who immediately wanted to show me the kitchen and offer me one of the breads they were frying up right at that very moment.

From what I could gather, and that would be 50% gathering and 50% guessing, they supply restaurants, shops, and sell them on the street. I'm so glad to have had a chance to taste them hot from the oil.

Parque Criollo y Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes. Pretty cool, it reminded me a little of the California Missions but it was built much later as a museum.

There are other, older buildings around the property that look even more like the missions.

There were many interesting displays, no English anywhere, and every time I could read an entire sentence I was so happy.

Fun, from in front of the museum.

This place looks appealing...

...and it was a kick. These guys where all old friends from forever who meet here every afternoon. There was great enthusiasm from the table for me to join them in a drink which, under normal circumstances, I would have jumped at the chance, but nope, not this time, I was already stuffed full of food and tired and Spanish words were not on the tip of my tongue.

This is the market that is open for a few hours in the morning and then not again until 4pm. No broccoli, which I suppose is fine because they don't grow broccoli now so why fly it from across the world.

I've seen this in many places where you go to a fruit and veg counter and tell them what you want and the clerk picks, bags, and prices the bag, which you then take up to the cashier.

Here's the market from the outside, right on the main square.

I do have a few more pictures that I won't be able to get to until I'm home. Fingers crossed!

November 11

At a café at the bus station where my intention was to get some coffee and fruit, but no. The place was quite crowded when I arrived and every single table had orders of coffee and a large pile of these rolls that you can barely see there on the counter that were replaced every ten minutes.

For less than three dollars you got a good cup of coffee and three of them, nice and crispy with big grains of sugar over the top and soft and chewy and heavy in the middle, just like I like them. Fine. It was the special and the obvious thing to do, and I did.

It wasn't raining at the moment and it was an easy walk from the bus station to the town. But wait. Where are these promised gauchos...with horses and a parade and music and dancing and food and crafts and everything.

So sorry, cancelled because of the weather!

Luck: Good luck because I could get a reservation, bad luck because it was raining, good luck because it wasn't raining, bad luck because they cancelled the festivities. SIGH!

internet.

I dropped off my things and went out for a little stroll. This is the church and you can see four people by the steps.

Clearly out-of-towners, the ladies had formed themselves here for the guys to take their picture and then...

...I asked for a picture of the guys too. Hola fellows!

I went into the church and again more with the church tile. I seem to be unusually taken with church tile this trip.

And a huge picture of the pope.

There was live gaucho music and dancing here, and food and drink too. I stood around at the very very back for a little while because it was LOUD, SO LOUD. I wasn't crazy about loud music even when I was young so this is Not one of the many ways I am showing my age.

The town is very charming and I plan to keep my patience with the weather, do some chores I have in mind, and enjoy my especially cozy accommodation.

I spent more than usual because of the scarcity of rooms and was so pleased to hook onto this one...someone must have cancelled due to the weather and maybe that someone foresaw that the festival was not to be.

What they were eating looked good so I asked where they got it - just there they said pointing to an open door.

This was past that open door and I could not say to myself oh no thanks I'm off ham and cheese. I said I'll try this one and that one and I'll take some of that amazing bread too. It was yummy.

Clouds are nice for sunsets.

November 10

The last two days have been quiet for me since it's thunder-storming like crazy and ever since my close call with sickness after the episode of several hours wet to the bone at Iguazu Falls I've been more than reluctant to go out touring in the drenching rain. I could take a taxi to a museum for example, but there wasn't any museum I longed for and hadn't yet visited.

My last meal before the rains...

...was so much fun!

And then I needed to make some plan for my last four days. Stay in Buenos Aires? See some of the countryside?

After a few lazy hours of googling around, I decided on the countryside because two hours by bus would take me to the biggest gaucho festival in Argentina and it happened to be on this weekend and there happened to be a few rooms available.

Back to Mendoza Malbec.


The waiter offered me a home-made limoncello on the house. Why yes please, thank you very much.

And the cooks too. They were closing down for the afternoon break.

I was thinking I had to take an uber to the bus station because I had failed in a couple of attempts to get my bus ticket for the journey north but I decided to go back to the hotel and try one more time, to save the round trip in the rain. Success!

November 8

Café Tortoni, and google thinks it's an "Iconic French-style cafe opened in 1858, a favorite haunt of the cultural elite with live tango."

I'll tell you for 100% true the cultural elite were nowhere to be found when I was there.

There's always a long line out front, I'd been meaning to go and today I stood in that line. We were in the line so long I ended up getting to know my line-mates pretty well. Bus loads of tourists passed the line and poured into the back rooms.

The seats were comfortable, the service was decent, but the food was definitely not why a person would stand in line. Hard to say if it was worth it because if I hadn't gone I'd still be wondering.

I've been using the subway since I got here from Uruguay. All the large old stations are decorated, decorated and very old. Tiles are missing, pipes are leaking, gunk has accumulated over the decades.

But the trains come fast and full so the system is definitely used and I haven't had any problems. I've even got a SUBTE card (Subterráneo de Buenos Aires = Subte) the first section opening in 1913.

I really like the old tile works and there are some new projects too, I just didn't happen to get off at those stations.

Considering how it looks it's surprising how well it seems to work.

Whole long tunnels look like this.

I walked all the way around this fabulous piece that is no doubt different every hour of every day as it is basically one giant reflection machine.

I clicked every few feet and this one is my favorite.

"Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower "is a synthesis of all the flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening." It was created in 2002. The sculpture was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning."

I might appear in all of them!

I had a stroll through The National Museum of Fine Arts and there were a lot of things to look at. They also were having a Turner show, loaned from the Tate. I've seen so many Turners before without a huge amount of enthusiasm, I almost didn't walk up the stairs to see these.

Fortunately I did because I got to see...

...this little guy, a nearly 10x10 image. It's about a dream of Venice and I loved it.

I was thinking of looking for a reproduction in a book or a poster but it isn't really this exact picture that I want. What I want is to go back to Venice and experience again what it was that inspired this picture.

I can't even count how many times this has happened in the last seven weeks. Just two examples: A waiter is trying to tell me they have to change my food for some reason I don't understand, but that's ok because my hair looks great. Or I'm wondering if this line will Ever move but that's ok because my hair looks great.

This is my hair on day two from a wash, just coming in after a full day out. I know, my hair looks great.

I'm also so happy I got the lighter camera. I feel like the life of my right hand has been extended by years.

November 7

Most days something is going on in the streets of Buenos Aires. Today there is an event in support of disabled services.

Someone else set up this picture and I was just standing there and took advantage of the opportunity.

There are several long walk streets and within every eight steps there's someone chanting 'cambio cambio cambio' which means they are offering to change money.

Why there are so many and how all of them can stay in business and why we have these cambio butterflies, I have not the least idea.

I walked through a lovely park on the way to...

...La Recoleta Cemetery.

"Cementerio de la Recoleta contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world's best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world."

Evita, why most people come here.

It's old in here, first established in 1732. There are some crypts from the 1700s, a good number from the 1800s, and many that are dated in the early 1900s so it's interesting to watch the evolution of styles.

Some of the old ones aren't marked but they've got mighty great doors. A lot of the glass is broken, there are plenty of broken tiles, some corners lost to the spiderwebs, you know, old.

One of the few touches of color.

Here's an aerial I got from the internet. Pretty awesome.

internet.

Look where I'm staying, that's the view from my bedroom window!

November 6

First thing, food, at a highly rated sausage place called Chori. Sausage sandwiches have a generic name, choripan, chori from chorizo and pan from bread. It was delicious, grilled crisp over an open fire, grilled onions, butter pickles which were a tasty surprise, YUM.

I took these from the internet because my hands were full and I had to hurry to the Second thing, a Street Art Tour!

internet.

A close-up of about a 4x6 inch piece of a wall-sized work.

According to the guide there was never a culture of graffiti or underground street art. In the '90s the city just said go ahead paint murals, just ask the owners, and everyone did. Also at least half of what we saw were commission pieces as are 7 of the 9 I'm showing here.

There's very little tagging over the murals either. Street art, or basically making murals, seems to be a very well behaved practice in Buenos Aires.

Like in Rio though, if you get too political the government will paint over your whole wall which I think is what takes a lot of the life out of the entire enterprise.

Hola chico.

Check out the shadow from the metal sign.

We had most of the tour walking down alleys looking at tidy murals. I liked this because the Ché image is so familiar it made me feel at home, weird, I know, and it wasn't another mural.

Speaking of feeling at home.

One of the few that integrated a part of the structure, the gas meters, into the piece. And lazer eyes. Who doesn't love lazer eyes.

Another pretty picture with her leafy hair. The camera lens reads Tourista In Buenos Aires.

The only big piece we saw, a collaboration by two artists, one who did the figure and another who did the background. I like it pretty well but I don't love it.

Another tour company runs a program in a different neighborhood so there are more pieces and maybe more big ones, I'll have to check it out.

The guide in the orange shirt did manage to make himself heard to the whole group so that's very good.

PHASE ONE OF MY BUENOS AIRES STAYS

October 10

At the Buenos Aires airport. The electricity was out at the Puerto Iguazu airport causing a great commotion for boarding passes and security but in the end all was well and we took off only 30 minutes late.

They didn't have uber in Brazil but it's easy to get in Argentina, and I did.

This is the view from my balcony! I'm staying in a $25 per night hostel with a private room and a nice bathroom as close as the bathroom in my house, although not always available to me, and this fine window.

I came for a few days to see if I would be able to stay here for more than two weeks when I come back to Buenos Aires in November.

It's really perfectly fine, the kids are fun, the bed is comfortable, the location is great. Nothing smells bad, but the internet has gone out both nights from 9:30pm until the morning. If it happens tonight I'm definitely going to have to reconsider.

Tonight I said to myself I was not going to stop looking until I find broccoli. It's meat and potatoes and pizza around here, and in Brazil, and in Paraguay, and sometimes a salad of lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes. Cheese, eggs, one thousand kinds of bread. I simply had to find some broccoli.

October 11

You know, don't cry for me Argentina, according to my uber drive, Our First Lady.

I wanted to go look at the school I was thinking of attending for a week when I come back from Uruguay. The school is on this very block and I got distracted by all the flags and the heavily armed police behind several 8' tall metal barricades.

I went up into the school which looks very nice and asked them about the demonstration. They said it happens all the time, they weren't sure of who was down there, and it's basically not dangerous except at night, you don't want to be caught in one of these at night.

We're surrounded by the Plaza de Mayo and all the major government buildings.

I was trying to be subtle which resulted in a lot of out-of-focus efforts.

Better move on.

Lazy...haven't looked it up yet.

It is a lovely city so far but also it's been grey and threatening rain and surprisingly cold.

This is the front of the Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires. It looks like a museum or a mausoleum but no, it's a church.

"The Cathedral of Buenos Aires was rebuilt several times since its humble origins in the 16th century. The present building is a mix of architectural styles, with an 18th-century nave and dome and a severe, 19th-century Neoclassical façade without towers. The interior keeps precious 18th-century statues and altarpieces, as well as abundant Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque decoration."

Half the seating is behind me. It's pretty tall but not as heavily decorated as I would expect.

The floor is cool.

The side chapels are big too, and also not so ornate.

I need to look up these buildings here on the main square, on the same plaza as the other one I didn't look up yet.

A line to get into a cafeteria. I just ate my first spicy food of the trip at a Chinese restaurant...but I surely have to get in that line before I go!

October 12

Past the statue, on the right, is a ham museum. I'm going to have to stop by there.

I was on my way to several ferry companies to figure out how I was going to get to Montevideo on Sunday. It took the morning wandering from place to place and I enjoyed it very much.

One of the ferry companies had an office in this shopping center situated in an 1889 Beaux Arts building modelled on the Le Bon Marché in Paris.

It's spring here and I was expecting a lot more of this. Maybe when I come back in November? I hope so!

I went over to the Teatro Colon for the free tour, available every fifteen minutes which turned out to cost $20 and there was nothing available for two hours so I bought a ticket for tomorrow.

Just walking down the street deciding where to go next I came upon a skateboarding event, right on the street. What's Happening? I'll have to hang around and find out.

Turns out they're making a video for Adidas to run on their youtube channel called Adidas Skateboarding.

It wasn't too hard to determine the Adidas connection since everyone was marked with the three lines.

Everyone's first question = where are you from? I answer California and nods all around and clearly cred-points accrue my way.

Then in a flash one of the guys notes that I have the exact same camera as the main videographer (he's got a way better lens and a mike attached but not one of those steady-cam holders which is surprising) and I'm IN.

Their video should be done in a month or so and I'll look it up. What a couple of cuties.

Tango! I'm definitely not going to get to it this time but when I came back after Uruguay, Yes Please!

Oh look, another demonstration and this one right exactly in front of my hotel. This group seems considerably less threatened that the first one - no phalanxes of police armed to the teeth with shields and barricades, and actually they were monitored by what looked like the traffic patrol.

Just two blocks down the street is the Congress Building and I suppose they'll be heading that way.

Notice all the puffy coats and scarves and cozy pants. I'm fine btw, I'm actually going to be using all the clothes I brought so that makes me feel good, that I'm not dragging around things for no reason.

October 13


I was confused by all the references to the 2018 Olympics so I looked it up. They had the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics here, an event that seems to have passed me by.

This being Saturday and the first sunny day since I got here the crowds were out in force and a great number lined up here for their chance at a photo.

I put this here to remind me of how the streets work at least in the central district. Except for the giant boulevards they are all one way for the cars and there are many walk streets in the updated shopping places.

These guys were doing a Team Building and Leadership course and were gathering to complete their costumes for a visit to a children's hospital.

Their organizer told me the whole story in perfect English. Remember the skateboarders? The guys running that project also spoke perfect English. Actually the only time there wasn't a perfect English speaker ready to jump in was during that first demonstration with all the police around.

Teatro Colón, per wiki: "It is considered one of the ten best opera houses in the world by National Geographic, and is acoustically considered to be amongst the five best concert venues in the world."

I thought the tour was free, but no, but while I was buying the ticket, chatting with the gal at the window, come to find she had some free tickets for a concert on Sunday morning.

So I got one and now I get to hear music there although not a grand opera or even a huge orchestra, my favorite, but rather a simple trio. That should be interesting since the hall's claim to fame is its acoustics.

The theater is very ornate. It opened in 1906 after 20 years under construction (20 years!), fell on hard times, and then was totally refurbished from 2005-2010.

I'm going to be sitting in the second tier of boxes toward the center.

On Saturday many businesses were closed, their gates were down, and we get to see their paintings.

I walked down two blocks of the musical district where every shop and restaurant had a musical theme.

Playing the guitar across two storefronts.

Another demonstration! but I'm too lazy to go downstairs. I'm standing on my balcony on the 5th floor. The really old elevator holds three people, four max if you really squish, and sometimes in the evening there can be a pretty long line to get upstairs.

October 14

This is my last day in Buenos Aires for three weeks while I visit Uruguay, and then I'm going to return to Buenos Aires for my last two weeks.

I have a reservation at the same place I've been staying. It's a large and rather gracious old building with a different hostel on every floor.

Problem: my upcoming reservation is in a room that is more expensive, has it's own bathroom, BUT...

...does not have the fabulous street view of my current room, and as I've learned, windows and views is my favorite thing in an accommodation.

I am looking for another place but nothing better has come along considering location and price.

Standing in front of the hostel. It's lovely. Notice the very large trash collection boxes on the left. Every street seems to have them, they are easy to collect, and the streets stay clean. It's a good system with one downside being that you give up parking spots.

Latin America is into politics for sure.

That's my seat at the Teatro Colón, on the rail with an excellent view of the proceedings.

See the lights at the boxes...

...here they are close-up, like large and gracious fairy lights.

Remember the Museo de Jamón? The Museum of Ham? As it turns out, it is not a museum of ham. They say their whole restaurant is a museum because it's so old.

I passed by on the way home from the concert and they were just opening, perfect for me.

I've left it here to talk about the food situation in general and now I have to get going for school. I'll finish this afternoon!

Lunch with Nina, feijoada and cachaca
Cocktail hour at the Secret Garden
Cocktail hour at iguazu in brazil
Steak in Paraguay
Grappamiel in Uruguay
Homestay fish
Surprise chicken in the pizza place
Museo de jamon
Chori
Cheese and bread san antonio
Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


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