Archives mensuelles : septembre 2003

Argentina: Last Day :-(

Tomorrow Tuesday I’m off back to Switzerland. Looking forward to seeing you, what about in a week on Friday (the 3rd) for an Argentine « apero » at my place?

Could those interested confirm me their venue? I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.

I’m now going to enjoy my last hours in Buenos Aires. It’ll be hard to leave this place…

Cataratas

I have just come back from the Cataratas de Iguazu, what a wonderful sight. Incredible. Really worth it.

I went to the Brazilian side, then to the Argentine, had a first shower, then saw the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat, but don’t you agree that it sounds better in Spanish?) which is absolutely breathtaking.

I took all the pictures every tourist does I guess, but I just had to. I won’t see the Swiss waterfalls in the same way anymore…

Then today I went for a walk in the jungle, saw a few strange animals but nothing abominable. The aim was another shower at a waterfall and then I hopped on my plane… Back to Buenos Aires.

WhaleWatchers

It doesn’t make you lose weight, but you do feel light in comparison with these monsters. I have been stunned and impressed today.

Yesterday I arrived for a couple of days in Puerto Madryn, and today I went into the Valdes Peninsula to observe Right Whales (in French, « baleines franches ») and Sea Elephants.

The whales are called « Right » Whales, sadly because they were the « right whale to kill », as they have so much fat that they float when dead. This did lead them close to extinction. I guess they would have enjoyed being called « Wrong Whales ».

These huge mammals are not the biggest ones, but still measure 15 metres and weigh up to 40 tons. As to more precise characteristics, their tongue weighs as much as 5 tons, and Mr. Right Whale’s testicles 500 kilogrammes each. Its brain weighs… 3 kilos.

Brought back to more human proportions, let’s say for a man weighing 80 kilos, this would mean a 10 kilo tongue, and 1 kilo per testicle. Oh yes, and a very heavy and dense brain: 6 grammes.

Does anyone you know meet at least one of these characteristics?

Concerning the Sea Elephants, I guess some males could be envious (I won’t write « too »). One male for a 70 female harem on average…

Just one problem, for THE lucky one, there are 69 other ones, either loners trying to get their share whilst the king is absent, or dead, as the male’s life expectancy cannot be compared with the female’s…

10 Days in Salta

Time flies and I’m already back in Buenos Aires. I was absolutely stunned by the landscapes, the different colours of rocks, and particularly the people.

I took too many photos, I have climbed a little, I cycled against the wind in amazing landscapes, I have been cold, I saw a sprinkle of snow, I have been hot, I have absorbed dust, I have been over 4’000 metre-passes, I had slight headaches, I did not chew coca leaves, I forgot my magic lipcare in Buenos Aires and kind of survived with anti-wrinkle Vitamine A cream until today, I am totally fed-up of unpaved roads,

I have been to a wonderful remote village so so far away, I have been I don’t know how many times to a stream at 3’500 metres high stranded in the middle of nowhere at 5 p.m. with a plastic bottle to fe-fill and coolen a hot and leaking car, a school class asked me in a Park for my opinion (in Spanish of course) about the arrival of the Argentine Spring I will unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately not see, one kid managed to give me the name of the fifth and smallest country bordering Switzerland (we visibly had something in common…),

I have eaten excellent empanadas, I have had to eat mixed cheese and jam, I have taken care not to break my bones on mountain village pavements washed by ladies in the morning when the temperature is still below freezing point, I have seen huge cemeteries for tiny mountain villages, and definitely understood that space was not an issue here, I have been explained Argentine economics, why dollarisation is not a good idea and why Ecuador will be in a mess in the next few years,

I met very nice Swiss people, I met an extraordinarily nice Argentine family (and all the relatives), I was invited at their small appartment for my first night, I was guided around for the best places to go out, I was invited again, I watched Argentina draw against Chile with a terrible reception, I was invited to the Shopping Mall, and was invited again last night for an Asado, I had great discussions, I discovered local dance styles such as Chacarera or Quartet, I did not dance any Salsa can you imagine,

I got up very early quite a few mornings, and went to bed late a few mornings too.

I shed a tear when getting back to bed early this morning, thinking of all these great moments, and didn’t sleep much. I got up early this morning to catch my flight.

To sum up, and you will have understood, I did not have much time, despite the free internet access at the nice hostel I stayed at in Salta, to sit in front of a computer and write some posts!

I guess I’ve forgotten to mention quite a few things but I’m looking forward to telling you the whole story when I get back.

By the way, I hope I’ll manage to import and distribute in Switzerland a sprinkle of this wonderful Argentine attitude, welcome and warmth I have witnessed. More invitations, less preparation, less planning, and more so many other things.

On Sunday I’m off to the Valdes Peninsula, in Northern Patagonia, to say hello to a few whales and other penguins. I’ll then be back in Buenos Aires on Thursday night.

In less than 2 weeks I’m back in Switzerland. Time flies and I’d like to find a way to stop it.

Salta la Linda

I have just arrived in Salta « the beautiful », and this city deserves its slogan. I really enjoy Buenos Aires, but it’s true that after nearly three weeks of continuous noise and frenzy, it’s a pleasure to find a little bit of calm here. This city has wonderful squares and colourful colonial buildings, and I find history much more visible.

Here, there are no tall buildings to hide the sun, the historical Cabildo has not been chopped off by large avenues on both sides like in Buenos Aires, you can wear short sleaves again, you feel back in Summer – except when the sun is gone!

Tomorrow I’m continuing my drilling into the authenticity of South America travelling towards the North for a few days.

Buenos Aires by Night

I have been lucky enough to land in Buenos Aires at dawn, therefore seeing all these lights appearing from nowhere after hours of flying over the Atlantic night.

Again, I was lucky to leave for Salta at dusk, being allowed this magical sight once more. This city is absolutely huge, and does occupy a load of land.

What is amazing is that very suddenly the city lights are interrupted, and that’s not because of some clouds, or somebody put his big head in front of the window.

That’s only because Buenos Aires has roughly 12 million inhabitants, that’s one third of all Argentines. And that leaves the rest of the country, 6 times the size of France, nearly empty.