Monday Dec 19 2011,
Hola que tal?
Bright and warm this morning in Colonia. Not a cloud in the sky. Last night Orion was on the horizon as we headed up to our room at the hostel. At breakfast we shared a table with two guys who were bicycling about. These mid thirty year old guys, Luke and James, had met at a marathon near Mendoza, Argentina. They decided to bike together in Argentina and Uruguay.
James was originally from Atlanta, Georgia but had been living in San Paulo Brazil for ten years. He no longer had an Atlanta accent; it had become Brazilianized. Luke was from Belgium and spoke unaccented English. I had met Luke Sunday PM as he was trying to peel a potato with a broken peeler. “Just wash the skin.” They had finished an easy 30 km ride. Today they were off to Montevideo for the holiday. “Visiting with some guys we met at the marathon in Mendoza.” After that they would go their separate ways. James back to work and Luke to continue his 4 month travel.
An older lady from Seward, Alaska joined us. Turns out she was originally from Peabody Massachusetts and had been in Seward for 25 years. Now she was a safety officer at a fish plant. Two months unemployed in winter so she travels. She was biking a bit and then would join a friend for a Holland America cruise from Buenas Aires to the Antarctica waters for a week or so. They do not land as the ship is much too big and there are a thousand people onboard. We will land a dozen times and carry about 120 passengers on our cruise out of Ushuaia.
We booked ferry on the less expensive Colonia Express. It was definitely a second class boat compared to Buquebus and it docked in the old port further away from our hostel neighborhood. Even with the taxi ride to the hostel, the cost was about $30 less than Buquebus. And we got to see parts of the city that we would not have seen, the gritty dock area.
Back to the VS Hostel in Buenas Aires we went.
After checking in we went searching for a “trifascio” that really would connect our North American electrical plug to a South American outlet. Success for 15 pesos at the local hardware store. Later we saw them for more money in the street vendor market beside the Pacifico Galeria shopping mall where the cajero automatico (ATM) is.
There is a massive artificial, purple lit, Christmas tree in the mall that everyone poses in front of. But other than that decoration, “Felices Fiestas” decor is low key. According to the “Free Tour” guide, it is not a big holiday. Epiphany is bigger but it is also not a big in your face commercial shop-out as in USA. Christmas is church on 24th and family dinner on 25th.
We did a lot of walking again in a some different places with the three hour “Free Tour”. She “appreciates tips” for her wage. The three dozen extraneos appreciated her educating us about Portaneos, as citizens of Buenas Aires are known. They have three busy ports. The mo$t valuable cargo is soy beans and it’s products. “Quickest return on investment.” Much of the wealth of the country is generated in agriculture.
In the early 1900s, ships carried beef to Europe and returned empty or with European immigrants or building materials. The country was Europeanized. The wealthy port of the city, Recoleta, looks Parisian.
But now, no ostentatious displays of wealth since it is generated by agriculture which can have good and bad years. Displayed wealth is an invitation for a mugging. Much of the extra cash is used to purchase safe US dollars and it is held in safe cash. Recall military and financials turbulence of the 1980s when their economy crashed.
“Travel light and wear a smile.” Jack Holmes