the magic of Buenos Aires

December 17th, 2010, 21:04

Current location:  squished into the backseat of a rental car, speeding through the stretching landscapes of nighttime Patagonia.  With all our camera equipment and Antarctic expedition gear smashed into the vehicle, I can’t move more than an inch in any direction, but the feeling is all too familiar. Although the landscape is, by Alaskan standards, 100% flat as far as the eye can see, there are still reflective road signs warning about even the slightest uphills and downhills.  Hahah.  On the road again!

Our past days in Buenos Aires have been absolutely lovely.  I don’t think I encountered a single unpleasant, rude, or unhappy-looking person while staying there.  Literally everyone we met seemed to radiate with genuine warmth and friendliness.  I’ve been starting every day with a long morning run, doing laps through the Botanical Gardens in the Palermo district.  Probably one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I’ve ever seen, the whole place is shaded under the canopies of ancient trees, periodically featuring roman-style statues, lily ponds and bright, thriving flowers.  To make it even more inviting, the whole park is full of sweet-natured feral cats, fed to the point of chubbiness by old ladies, that spend the days laying in the sun and sleeping curled up in the grass.  I mean a LOT of cats.  Hundreds, maybe.

Yesterday we went to the Jardin Zoologico, the zoo right next to the botanical gardens.  Although I feel sort of morally conflicted about zoos, we had a great time.  The zoo provided animal-friendly food so that you COULD feed them if you wanted to, and the whole area was filled with maras and ducks and wandering beavers that had escaped from their enclosure.  As I saw we were nearing the camel exhibit, I exclaimed that it had always been my dream to ride a camel in a desert somewhere.  Naturally, I had spoken too soon, as we approached the most tragic-looking camels of all time! Check it out! Hahaha. Clearly not what I had had in mind.

Now, Patagonia.  Not the mountainous part, no – as Devin said, “this is like the Idaho of Argentina”.  Since it’s South America, our flight was naturally delayed 2-3 hours for the 7th time in a row, and we arrived Trelew just around sunset.  Dazed and hungry, we followed a local recommendation for a place to eat dinner, and ended up at a local Argentinian truck stop.  Definitely the only truck stop I’ve ever been to that serves eggplant and gorgonzola at every table, and actually roasts their meat over a fire – yet still maintaining an extremely informal South American truck stop environment.  I don’t know if we have ever stood out as tourists quite as obviously as during that meal… the whole room burst into laughter when we left, shaking their heads at our gringo-ness.


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