This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Rollin', Rollin' on the River October 31, 2016

We had a float trip on a nearby river schedule for today, the weather forecast called for rain, it was right. Annie, our guide, had said that in Patagonia the weather changes from minute to minute and from location to location, so who knows what it would be like 45 minutes away where the raft trip started. Several people in the group cancelled out but Linda, I and six others went ahead hoping for the best.

From this smiles you can tell we made a good choice.

Near the start there was a Canyon that was basalt . Normally the hexagonal blocks of basalt are in a vertical position but here the rock had been twisted 90 degrees so that they were holorizontal, something we've never seen before.

You couldn't have asked for a better weather to take a raft trip. Remember, it was raining when we left Bariloche and as you might imagine, when we finally returned much later it was still raining. Somehow we didn't feel all that sorry for the people who elected to stay at the hotel and watch the rain rather than chance the weather.

Bird photo of the day. Our guide said they are rather rare in this area. Sorry but I can't remember, and neither can Linda, as to what they are called.

Since Linda requires special shoes for her feet she couldn't buy any waterproof footwear for the trip. Searching on Amazon she found these lightweight slip over waterproof covers that worked like a charm. Several of the ladies on the trip asked her all about them. Smart Linda.

Linda found a friend where we were eating lunch after the end of the float trip.

It is amazing how simple yet how good the food has been at the meals we've eating here in Patagonia. We are going to miss it when we finally head home.

Later in the day the entire group went on what is known as a home visit where the group is hosted by a family for several activities and a meal. The welcoming part was sharing in the experience of Mate. If you don't know what Mate is, it's a special drink made from the leaves of a tree which is extremely popular in Argentina. It's also a case were Google is your friend.

Next came a horseback ride. I think Linda looks like a real horse woman. It was about 45 minutes long and I can report thar no saddle sores were experienced, though we did experience snow. The weather was typical for Patagonia today. A little bit of everything.

The perfect end to a long day.

Short post today sorry, it was another long day and we're both tired, plus its going to be a very long day tomorrow on the bus as we head out early to drive over the Andes. We were told to expect at least 10 hours on the bus ride, plus the weather report calls for snow. We are also heading into the part of Patagonia where the Internet is very spotty at best, so again if my posts seem to cease its not that I'm not writing them it's the no internet to post them. Until later. Tired but Happy Bob.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Patigonia Up Close October 30, 2016

Having discovered that Facebook appears to use the first photo posted as the one that shows up to announce to the world what the daily blog post is about I'm going to have to discontinue the breakfast photos or at least put them back a little further. Suffice it to say that we did eat breakfast this morning and I had the worst tasting chocolate whatever it was that I've ever had in my culinary judging career. It was an anise flavored chocolate something for other, something like it cake and was it ever bad. Gosh, I can't even say something nice about it, it was so bad. And it was chocolate. Anyways the first thing we did today was to go on a chairlift, and you can probably tell we were both excited about it.

Linda is famous for her death grip on chairlifts and the start of the ride today was no exception.

Yet only moments later she was showing off big time. Brave Linda. Somehow our other she wasn't quite as excited about me bouncing up and down on the chair as I was at her with having her arms and legs lifted. Bad Bob

At the top we post for the obligatory photo.

While I took in the jaw dropping views Linda got her cat fix.

The cockpit of our bus, it reminds me of our home.

Hikes, we had hikes today, two of them. That's the reason why I'm not writing a lot. Tired Bob. If you're wondering about Linda right now, she's down in the bar enjoying a drink and dessert with the girls while I write this. Smart Linda.

I really didn't really do justice to our hikes with that photo. We had one that was on fairly flat ground which dealt primarily with the flora of the Patagonia region, from huge trees to bamboo the lives for 70 years then blooms and dies overnight, plus many other interesting plants. The second hike was up hill over rocky terrain that went on and on and on and on. My pedometer says we only walked 6.46 miles today but my body says we went it least twice that far. Altitude is a killer. Old Worn Out Bob.

I did mention flora didn't I. You can bet Linda made sure there were plenty of pictures of flora. I know which side my bread is buttered on, so unfortunately you're going to see a couple of flora pictures. Wise Old Bob.

Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

At one stop we toasted Patagonia with a really good tasting liqueur, just don't ask me what it was.

It appears that one person really like that liqueur. Guess you could call them a two fisted drinker. I'm not going to tell who in the group was that person was. And no I had my own cup. Embarrassed Bob. Okay, confession time she was really holding the cup for someone else who was taking a picture. But did have refill of her own cup after she downed her toast. And this woman had never even had a taste of alcohol before our first date over 49 years ago. If I hadn't clarified that I know absolutely that I would be a no condition to write it any more. Smart Bob.

How did I ever get so lucky?

Lunch was at a brew pub. Fabulous lamb stew and all the stout we could drink. I think I just got luckier. Maybe the pitcher and a half of stout I drank has something to do with me being tired tonight. It couldn't be that could it? Not What He Used to be Bob

Something a little different at the end of a long day. Hans Shultz gave an interesting talk on the Nazis in Argentina. He spoke from experience and has written several books on the topic. It is things like this that make an OAT tour so very special. From the guides, both the regular and city, to the special topics that are occasionally covered, we learn how it is from the local perspective, no holds barred. On our past Rick Steve's tours it always seemed that we were getting the story according to how Rick Steves wanted it told. We can see many more OAT tours in our future.

I'll finish the day with our "Bert" bird picture of the day. Bert is a friend of ours who is a birder par excellence. He identified yesterday's bird as a buff necked ibis.

We have another long day tomorrow that includes a river raff trip, horseback ride, a home visit, and several more things I can't remember what they are. Hopefully I won't be too tired to write tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

On to Patigonia, Bariloche Style October 29, 2016

It was short night but knowing it takes two to tango but only blow from an enraged grizzly to end a life, I opted to be quiet as a church mouse and let the sleeping bear enjoy every minute of sleep it could. Smart Bob.

The Buenos Aires office where this blog is written and published, at least when you know who needs her sleep. Normally I would sit in bed and dictate the blog, but knowing just how miserable my Life would become if I did that and She was awakened because of it I sat at the desk and silently index finger typed. Very Smart Bob.

On the way to the airport passed by a slum that Annie said had popped up following one of the major financial crisises that seem to plague Argentina. Whenever one occurs more poor people from distant areas of the country move to Buenos Aires in search of a better life. To put another way, it is better to almost starve in Buenos Aires than to certainly starve where they were before with absolutely no chance of ever bettering their circumstances. As is the case everywhere, people want a better life for themselves and their children. There is little immigration from outside the country, though there were two great waves in the past. The fist was right at the turn of the 20th century, the second around the time and after the two world wars. Annie pointed out that Buenos Aires has the second largest Jewish community in the hemisphere, exceeded only by NYC.

The airport we were flying out of, Buenos Aires has two major airports, is located right next to the Rio la Plata. Annie proudly informed tha it was in lyrics a 50 minute ferry ride across it at this point, but at its mouth it is 2000 km across. That one thing I will have to fact check as it seems to be more like a bay than a river from looking at the map.

Lines are the norm here and one of them almost did Linda in. At the security checkpoint we had to take off our shoes. Not belts or watches, just shoes. A number of the stylish ladies were high heeled boots and it was fun wat hang them remove then replace them where there are no chairs or benches to sit in. But I digress, back to Linda and her problem,one that entailed a full three cavity search. Before you leap to the wrong conclusion, the three cavities were the three zippered areas in her daypack, the one that has everything but the kitchen sink in it.

Before we reached the scanner, she handed me her boarding pass so she could remove her shoes. I then handed it back to her, you can probably sense where this is going, after her daypack cleared the scanner they comm e need to search it, eventually leaving everything laying around it. They never did find anything which only served to further "aggravate" Linda. Stuffing everything back inside she walked over to the place where I was putting my shoes on. That was when the you know what hit the fan. I, in all innocence asked her where her boarding pass was. She spat back, "You have it." I could sense where this was going and it was a place I wanted to. There are too many things I want to do in Life to have it end today.

She quickly looked in the two lower sections then chased down Annie to tell her it must have gotten stuck in the scanner. Annie went to talk to the security personnel. When Linda came back we had a brief discussion, then she again checked the bottom two sections. I mentioned the top section and got the glare that meant she never ever puts it in that section, opened it. Her boarding pass was right on top, so I took off to let Annie know Linda had found it. Upon my return I asked Linda if all the excitement had made her slight headache she had, go away. I was informed that it was much worse. At that point I decided leaving her and her boarding pass alone was my best option. And I thought she would be excited to find it. Woe to Bob.

Just to show that happier times prevailed and we did make it on board the flight.

View out the bus window on the way to our hotel in Bariloche. We are definitely going to enjoy Patagonia. As Annie described it, Bariloche is the Gateway to Patagonia, a place where we can ease into the Patigonia experience before heading across the Andes and going further south.

Our hotel is perched on the side of mountain overlooking the lake in the previous photo. You can guess on which side of the hotel all room is located. Sometimes you win the room lottery and sometimes you don't.

A terrible thing happened in the 1970s in Argentina. The military overthrew the government and soon thereafter began what is known as the disappeared. Young people, those primarily of college age, simply disappeared. No one knew what happened to them and no one dared ask unless they too become a disappeared. With the passage of time the truth began to come out. They were deemed a threat to the military government , so they were murdered and the bodies disposed of so that they could never be found. The total for the country is estimated to be approximately 30,000. The square in Bariloche is covered with painted on bandanas and names, some of which bare a date. These are the disappeared from this area and the date they disappeared.

Marcos Vazquez disappeared 2-12-1976.

Emmentaler cheese fondue, only pan reside was left. This area was settled by Swiss immmigrants and hence is renowned for it fondue and chocolate. Linda sure lucked out when she married me. I wonder if she chose me because I was 50% Swiss rather than because I was both good looking and very smart, plus having excellent potential? Poor Bob.

It is springtime in Patagonia. The rhododendrons are in full bloom. Along with all kinds of other plants and trees we can't identify.

Also under heading of can't identify. There are english sparrows galore, but other than that we are totally lost when it comes to the birds. That's it for the day from a land of our dreams, Patagonia.

A Long Day in Buenos Aires, Oct 28, 2016

The title does a good job of summarizing the day, as it started early and ended after midnight. There were several breaks in the action and you can be assured the sweeter side of the family used those times to refresh herself while her mate enjoyed working on the blog. Well rested and read Linda. Blurry eyed Bob.

I was not a happy boy this morning when I dished out my scrambled eggs. Note the yellow line extending from those eggs. Did you know that the writer of this blog does not like soft runny scrambled eggs. And if you didn't, you do now. It's not that I won't eat them, but I really, really prefer them firm, as in very, very firm. I guess you could say I'm the Quigley of scrambled egg eaters. I wouldn't have eaten them but there were no tomatoes to place above and below my meat and cheese so I had to make do with what was available. Dieting Bob.

One of the things that makes travel so special. Our guide was giving us an orientation talk when this teenage boy joined the group. It turned out he was going to a private high school some distance outside the city. He welcomed the opportunity to practice his English, telling us about his schooling, his hopes of attending college, which is free in Argentina, then becoming a professional. I wasn't quite sure if he meant a doctor or some other profession, but with the attitude and personality he displayed he is sure to succeed.

The one place everyone who visits Buenos Aires has on their must see list, the grave of Eva Peron. As is always the case, no person is either all good or all bad. So was it with Evita and to approximate how Bill so aptly put it, the good that (wo)men do lives after them while the evil is often interred with them. That however is not the way it is in Argentina with Eva. Good or bad, she continues to be a polarizing figure far larger than life, even many decades after her death in her early thirties.

The interior of many of the crypts in the cemetery are visible through the ironwork decoration on their front. This one had coffins and urns for ashes. As long time readers know, Linda and I have a special attachment to cemeteries. While ranking cemeteries is not something we typically do, this one would have to be up there in our top five if we did.

Another area of Buenos Aires we stopped at was called Caminito. It is an artists area that also has a lot of souvenir shops and other goodies that are sold to tourists. Linda and I looked at the area and thought it somewhat reminded us of Venice, so we started hunting for the little alley ways that lead off the business area back to where the residents live. As the photo shows we found one, and it was a special place. And no, we spent no pesos on any of the things that the shops were selling to all the tourists. With Patagonia coming up there's likely to be some more authentic things to buy.

No, this is not the famous sculpture of the four angelical maidens. It it four ladies from our group resting their weary soles. Sorry Brenda, Debra, Judy and Abby, I just couldn't pass by this photo Linda took. So if you want to blame anyone, you better blame her. Blameless Bob.

When there is only one tree in a number of blocks it can sure draw a crowd.

The police getting ready for a large demonstration put on by the bank employees. Annie explained that demonstrations occur every day in Buenos Aires and are just a normal part of life. Leading this quite large group of protesters were several men who constantly set off fireworks. It was so large it took a half an hour for it to pass by. It was being held to demand a 48% wage increase in the next year. Understand that the rate of inflation in Argentina is often between 45 and 50% per year and so their demand is not outrageous.

A tiny fraction of the demonstrators passing by.

The Tomb of Jose de San Martin the man who fought against Spanish rule and was responsible for the liberation of Argentina, Chile and Peru. He is considered to be the Argentinian equivalent of George Washington.

Some men are born to dance and others should never set foot on a dance floor. It is easy to tell the one who belonged in the latter category in our group.

What this was all about was the fact that we had a one-hour tango dance lesson this afternoon. When it comes to dancing I don't have two left feet, rather as our good friend Mark once said, I have no sense of rhythm, meaning I have basically no feet. But speaking of feet, look at the shoes on the lady instructor. Those are the kind of shoes you wear when you Tango.

My dance partner's shoes. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about her. I have my own but if I was to express them I probably wouldn't be able to write anymore. On second thought let me express them: for some reason those shoes didn't belong on a dance floor, the reason being they always found themselves under my shoes. You'd think that after all these years Linda would know enough to get out of the way when I plod around the dance floor. After we finished our lesson and dancing I overheard someone say, "Bob said he'd never danced the Tango before, and after watching him, he still hasn't." At least Linda can still walk so it wasn't all that bad, at least I think it was. Bob, the dancing disaster.

What can I say, I lied. Look at how Linda and I cut the rug out there on that dance floor, totally awesome. John Travolta eat your heart out. Dancing with the Stars, here I come. Flashing Feet Bob.

Wine may be the national drink in France but Argentina isn't far behind and in fact may actually be ahead. We are finding out that wine in restaurants is $5 a glass or ten to twelve dollars if you want a bottle. The other thing is that this section for Malbec was so big that I couldn't get back far enough to take a picture of it in this small supermarket. And my favorite wine is Malbec. Life is good.

At nine o'clock we were seated in the Esquino Carlos Gardel for a meal followed by the Tango show. This was an optional tour that we chose to go on, in fact we're going on all the optional opportunities during the tour. We had front row center seats for both the meal and the show, you couldn't ask for anything better. The meal was excellent and we were anticipating the show remembering our tango lesson and figuring that they would probably have a few moves that we didn't. Dreamer Bob.

The show was very well done and at times you felt sad at other times you left and after each dance you clapped mightily. It was one of those things that we were really glad we did. It was shortly after midnight when we walked into our hotel room making for a very long day but one that was well worth it. Tomorrow morning we leave for Patagonia, stopping first in the Argentine Patagonia, where we will be for 3 nights. The internet is not the best in Patagonia and Annie said the further south we go the worse it gets. As before I will be writing every day but there may be a long period of L post but as soon as we get internet I'll be putting them up.