Sunday, January 22, 2012

About two years ago, Winnie and I began to think about the continents that we had not set foot upon, Asia (Southeast), Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.  We easily decided that the answer would most certainly have to be:  Antarctica.  Hands down.

Why?  Well, it's been said that there are two types of people in the world.  Those who ask "Why?" and those who say "Why the hell not?"  (Guess which group that I'm drawn to?)  And besides, we rationalized, Antarctica was the place most likely to dramatically change in the future... and probably not for the better.  Of course there were other reasons, too, like personal challenge, to photograph the scenery and wildlife, and because relatively few tourists have been there.  By "relatively", I mean how many tourists have been to Disneyland versus the number of tourists who have been to... oh, I donno... maybe hiking across the (currently active) volcanic caldera on Deception Island, Antarctica in 50kt winds?

Bottom line, ADVENTURE.

It's not easy to get from Portland, Oregon to the Antarctic Circle at 66.33.44. south of the equator.  It's a long way.  But it doesn't necessarily have to be painful.  We ponied up for round trip chairs in Business First class from PDX to Buenos Aires, thence scheduling coach travel from BA to Ushuaia, Argentina, after a day of rest.  Problem is, that when we got to BA, we didn't rest that much.

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has two airports, domestico, and internacional.  Both are equally inefficient.  They run on an Argentine schedule.  Casual.  If you ever venture there, you'll need to set your watch back a few years and try to run on that schedule too.  If you're instructed to show up an hour early for a domestico flight or two hours prior to an internacional departure... add at least two extra hours to each of those rather optimistic plans.  It'll keep you sane.  We added an extra three extra hours por internacional.  Kept us, well, you know.

The ride from the aeropuerto to the Claridge Hotel had me pondering life there.  On one side of the road were modern high-rise luxury apartments filled with well-to-do people who earned plenty of money and dressed well.  On the other side of the road was a shanty town made of concrete block buildings from one to three stories high.  Most had glass in the windows.  Many did not.  Laundry swayed gently in the soft, but oppressively warm and humid breeze, from make-shift lines strung across practically every other balcony.  There are no washer/dryers in this barrio.  Many of the balconies did not even have guard rails or other barriers at their edges... their concrete floors just extended from the wall out into mid-air, and stopped there, with a junk filled roof or the dirty street below.  It appeared that 2 X 6's had been placed between some of the buildings second or third floors for passage.  I imagined the people who lived there to be mostly hard-working, earning very few pesos, and with far too many children to support.  In the distance, I could see the spires of two magnificent cathedrals.  The gap between the haves and have nots here is immense. Wider than the Rio Uruguay's delta.

Claridge Hotel
The Claridge Hotel, Buenos Aires  is a great little hotel in the middle of a huge concrete jungle.  By South American standards, I'd have to classify the neighborhood as "good".  It has a great old bar inside, dark, wood with many coats of varnish, and many more coats of wax..  It's quiet, has a nice respectable clientele.  Nobody speaks English.  I decided that it would be a great place to find a nice quiet corner, stake a claim on it, set up the recording device and laptop.  Sit and write for a few weeks. Have the single-malt sent out on a conveyor belt at the appropriate tempo.  

Vinos Argentinos

It has a super convenient next door neighbor, Vinos Argentinos.  They specialize in Argentine malbecs.  And they do it really well, at buen precios.  Winnie, I think that they're gonna miss us when we're gone.

Sex Point
Across the street from the Claridge and the Vinos is the ubiquitous Argentine Sex Shop.

We weren't in a tenderloin district, at all.  Seems that Argentinians just like sex.

And sex shops, apparently.

Next, we're going to have a brief visit to a cemetery.  One that is as  interesting as Paris' Pere Lachaise (Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas, Jim Morrison), or New Orleans' St. Louis #1 (Easy Rider).  There is but one grave that drew me to Recoleta Cemetery.  That of Eva Peron.    But as it turned out, the trek through this beautiful cemetery to the Duarte-Peron crypt was the best part.



  1. Great story! I still can't believe we did all of that!

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