Archive for the ‘photos’ Category
Buenos Aires, August 2012
Back in the US of A for a few weeks, just in time to take part in a beloved July 4 tradition: eating crabs.
The Estrugamou was commissioned in 1924 by Alejandro Estrugamou, an Argentine landowner and descendant from a French Basque family. It was finished in 1929. Learn more at Gateway to South America.
I spent the weekend in what is often considered the southernmost town in the world: Ushuaia, Argentina (Antarctica is not habitable enough). Bound by mountains to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south, Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego Province. Since the 1970s, the Argentine government has lured people to move to this wind blown, sub-polar town with tax incentives and higher than average wages. Now, it’s a young and growing tourist destination (pop. 50,000+). I met a lot of folks who seemed to be checking something off a bucket list, and/or coming or going from an excursion through Patagonia or to Antarctica. Who am I kidding, the reason I went down there was to get a $2 “Fin del Mundo” stamp in my passport. Nah, actually, the main reason I flew 3.5 hours south was to meet up with my old friend Andrew Duncan, after his trip through Antarctica. Tell us how you feel about that, Duncan.
Duncan being a lunatic daredevil and all (he went swimming in Antarctica), he decided to take us on a wild trek through the hills of Ushuaia. Somehow we ended up in a deforested zone filled with propane tanks and rabid dogs, including an angry pit bull that had to be fended off with a rock. I’m pretty sure no tourist had ever been there before. Luckily, a rainbow peeked its way through the clouds shortly thereafter, providing a moment of respite.
The next day, we awoke early (to snow! in summer!) to go on a trek and canoe trip in Tierra del Fuego National Park, which I would highly recommend. (Plug for these guys.) The landscape – austral, quiet, foggy, harsh – was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Really amazing.
Sigh. What a fun experience. I think I’ll sit in the window and contemplate the mountains …
I spent the last few days outside of Buenos Aires, in an Argentina that felt to be of a different world entirely. The campo. From La Paz to Lavalle, I dwelled among cows, their caretakers and others studying and preserving this remarkably biodiverse landscape. I ate my weight in meat and washed it down with a mate straw, without the comforts of English or vegetables. In many stretches along the flat grasslands, the cows were so far away that they became tiny black dots along the plain.
Yesterday, I rode in a car with a conservationist and a nature photographer, both patient with my Spanish. Maria Elena snapped photos of such things as burrowing owls, ostriches, large rabbits and black-bellied ducks. Gustavo, the driver, was an endless trove of knowledge about the grasses native to this endangered habitat and ways to save them.
I think I understood Gustavo’s love for this place in a single moment, as we drove towards the farmhouse where, hours later, 15 of us would have an asado of one’s dreams. For a few moments, we rolled the windows down and listened as the grasses blew in the breeze, the clouds like cotton balls above. Dozens of cows stared at us from both sides. Perhaps sensing my quiet marvel, Gustavo turned to me from the driver’s seat and said, with a grin, “Esto es Argentina.” This is Argentina.
Last night I celebrated my first-ever Thanksgiving out of the states. Certainly I was missing my family. But I was so lucky to share a beautiful evening and delicious food with a table full of new friends, both Argentine and American. Thank you to Jueves a La Mesa for such a special night in San Telmo.