17.07.2009 - 21.07.2009 10 °F
enjoy the photos courtesy of our buddy Regina
Plaza de Mayo
Sara and Mike
17.07.2009 - 21.07.2009 10 °F
enjoy the photos courtesy of our buddy Regina
Plaza de Mayo
Sara and Mike
17.07.2009 - 21.07.2009
BA...miles traveled 669.
As we left Iguazu, a dense fog settled in over the forest. When we arrived at the airport, they told us the airport was closed because of the fog. The flight that was meant to take us to Buenos Aires had to return there. Luckily, the delay only turned out to be a couple of hours. We landed at the Aeroparque, practically in the center of the city, around four o’clock. We encountered a garrulous taxi driver who showed us ½, and explained an additional 1/4 of the landmarks of the city on the way to our hostel in San Telmo. It was a little disconcerting when we arrived at our hostel that none of the owners/workers were there. A fellow traveler let us in and we awaited someone to confirm our room. The owner, a very young man, arrived. Ironically, the room was not ready because Sara made the reservation mistakenly for the FOLLOWING day. Lucky for us, the room was already available. The house was small (only 5 rooms for rent) and very nice. High ceilings, wood floor, marble staircase, and highly decorated façade are typical of the neighborhood.
That night, we left to have pizza at one of the local joints. The pizza was even more delicious than we hoped, and we returned to the hostel with high hopes for Buenos Aires. Highlights of our initial time in Buenos Aires were a visit to the Plaza de Mayo where the “Casa Rosada” of the President is. We were very surprised that we could walk almost up to the gates of the President’s residence, who is currently Cristina Kirchner. A great deal of the architecture of the government buildings is done in the elaborate colonial style. Statues adorn the roofline and the windows and doors are often massive and beautiful. We visited the cemetery of the aristocratic part of town where Evita Peron is buried. ( Turns out her body has traveled to across the ocean and through several countries before coming to rest again in Argentina via the actions of various coup governments.) Her monument was moving, but paled in comparison to the grandiosity of some of the other monuments in the barrio Recoleta “City of the Dead.” We also visited the antique fair of San Telmo held each Sunday. There was live music and Tango exhibitions, as well as, a great abundance of antiques and local folk art (a Sara favorite!)
We also visited the theater district and attended a play “Marat-Sade” at the theater of San Martin. The play explored the psychological implications of pre and post French Revolution thought. After, we had dinner at the famous Chiquilin Parilla, recommended by our taxi driver. We also attempted to contact my second cousin Elena several times throughout these days without success.
The words are few, but Buenos Aires in these first days left a great impression. Pics to come in the next blog!
11.07.2009 - 13.07.2009 60 °F
Corrientes, miles traveled……448.
Followed by San Ignacio Missions, miles traveled……326.
From Salta, we took the 4 hour bus trek to Corrieintes, the Hotel Gran Turismo. This was just an overnight stay before heading to the missions. We stayed in a historic hotel on the Parana River front. Our room’s vintage décor reminded me of being at my Grandma’s house back in the day. The comforters on our beds, the curtains, floors, and light fixtures all took me back (Regina said the same!). We walked along the boardwalk at night, where locals were out selling their goods. The restaurants had restricted hours and were closed until 8:30 due to the H1N1 virus. We wasted time walking and chatting until we could get a bite at the restaurant in our hotel.
Regina commented that she was waiting for Grace Kelly to show up while we ate. The historic restaurant was such that it felt like we had stepped back in time to the 1930s. It had high wooden cathedral ceilings. The wood was dark and polished with age. The men who came to eat were dressed in suits and the women attired in dresses or formal pant suits and sweaters with their hair in stylish up- dos. During dinner, several young women celebrating their 15 years came to have their pictures taken and be videotaped greeting their family and friends at different spots within the hotel. You can imagine in our traveling clothes we did not make the most stylish impression on our hosts.
That night we slept beautifully. We woke up, showered, and bid farewell to the stylish Grand Turismo. We caught an afternoon bus to make the next leg of our journey to San Ignacio Mission. The bus was nothing fancy, but we steadily made our way stopping briefly in several small towns. All the while it was growing slightly warmer and the vegetation increased in density.
We finally, arrived at san Ignacio as dusk was falling. We walked the half a mile to where our “reservation” was. When we arrived they said… “we don’t hold reservations past the afternoon.” So we wandered off to find another hostel. The receptionist gave us another suggestion for way we might find a room and we headed that way. When we found the second hostel, which had plenty of room and appeared more tranquil than our initial choice, we settled in.
We spent the next day and half visiting town and touring the missions. The first night I bought the “Mission” dvd because we thought it would be interesting to watch while visiting the missions. Sadly, the dvd did not work. I exchanged it for another which also did not work. Finally, we tried to rent it from itunes which also did not work. So, apparently, watching the dvd at San Ignacio mission was not meant to be!!
The mission ruins were beautiful, but it was more amazing the “utopian vision” that was realized there. By all accounts they were incredible examples of Jesuit evangelization that respected indigenous culture and protected the indigenous from many of the harmful effects of initial colonial contact…for a time. The power of the missions was seen as a threat to royal power and their economic and social egalitarianism was too far ahead of its time, and they were destroyed amid international power struggles. Later the next day we boarded our bus, which would take us to Iguazu Falls.
07.07.2009 - 10.07.2009 68 °F
Salta, Argentina. Miles traveled……597.
We left the road behind, and flew from La Paz to Salta, Argentina with a layover in Santa Cruz. It was a luxury to fly in lieu of bouncing along the winding highways. Arriving into Salta, the land reminded us much of the mid-west, farms, flat land and large trees. We arrived in Salta and found our way to the Hotel Condor Pass, our home for the next few days.
We loved Salta. It was quite bigger than we thought it would be. It had a large central square, surrounded by cafes and restaurants. It also had many pedestrian streets, a personal favorite of mine, because there were lots of people walking around, shops, and street vendors on practically every corner selling cotton candy, hot nuts, and popcorn! It was a sweet smelling town! As many of you may know, Argentina is also known for its wine and meat. We ate the traditional parrillada, which is basically a dish that is shared made up of chicken, pork, beef, and sausage…..including all the favs, kidneys, intestines, and heart. Mike also tried the drink the local, Fernet (which is essentially Vermouth and Coke). Let's just say, he had a difficult time with it!
High lights in Salta include a live music and gaucho dance show and a gondola trip. Our first night out, we went to local restaurant, Casa de Guimes, where we enjoyed some traditional music and dance. While we tried our first local Argentine wines, Mike joined in the dance show. He was swooped up by the dancer on stage, who then gave him a poncho to wear, and led him around stomping his feet and waving his arms. Mike had a blast and Regina and I had a blast watching him! He represented the U.S. well.
The next day, we took a lovely gondola trip up the side of the prominent hill overlooking the city. Once on top, there was a beautiful park with man-made waterfalls, flowers, and walkways. It was a really peaceful place, that is, until Insecto tried to take down a Gondola of fellow tourists!
Salta has been one of our favorite places to date.
04.07.2009 - 07.07.2009 65 °F
La Paz, Bolivia. Miles traveled……..133.
From Puno, we took the early bus to La Paz. The trip took us 9 hours, which included a border crossing and a boat trip across Lake Titicaca. At Copacabana, we delivered the message from our waiter in Puno and had lunch by the lake. Surprisingly the Bolivian side is more developed for tourism than the Peruvian side.
Since there is no bridge over the lake, there was one group of boats ferrying the busses, trucks, and cars over and another group ferrying the people over. The ferries for vehicles and people were both powered by a lone outboard motor, and many of the vehicle ferries had a young man or two bailing water. The human cargo on the other hand was loaded into a more sturdy looking boat, but we were packed in, probably 25-30 of us per boat. The young indigenous kids that were forced to sit near Mike were a little afraid of him, so they promptly moved closer to their mothers!! They wore their traditional dress of bowler hats and bright colored dresses. Once on the other side, we waited for our bus to catch up with us on the other side and boarded once again toward the capitol city.
We spent just 3 days there and really used our stay as a resting point of sorts. We stayed in a “nice” hotel and rested from all the travelling. It’s surprising how sitting on our rumps for hours on end can really tire one out! We have covered much ground in little time. So, in La Paz, we stuck close to the city to avoid any more traveling for a spell. Instead, we visited a couple museums, enjoyed wifi connection, watched a movie, “Che, Part Two”, and took in the magnificent view of the moon rising over the mountains of the city from a high-rise restaurant. We sipped on our new favorite drink, Chuflay and ate ice cream. So, we basically lived some high life, while in Bolivia.
We enjoyed good and cheap food. We ate for like $2 each, which was good for the budget. We also bought Mike a third pair of pants off the street, because two pair was just not cutting it. Our impressions of Bolivia are limited on what we could see from the highway and walking around La Paz. We wished we had more time and energy to experience more of the history and culture, however, our itinerary pushed us on to Argentina.