Week 9 - Tigre, Buenos Aires and Ushuaia - Argentina
A day by day account of the first week in our 2022 travels through South America, Mexico, USA and Canada.
SOUTH AMERICA IS OFFERING SO MUCH EVERYDAY THAT I AM GOING TO HAVE TO TRY AND RESTRICT THE AMOUNT WE WRITE. WE WANT TO EXPLAIN AS MUCH AS WE CAN BUT WE CAN'T KEEP UP. HOPEFULLY A PICTURE REALLY DOES SPEAK A THOUSAND WORDS.
Here is our Together into the Unknown, Ushuaia Youtube video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zQcxMCPzGk
Thursday 31st March 2022
What an amazing day. Another day when we were exposed to people and places that we did not know existed. A network of rivers, islands and beautiful boats and cottages to the North of Buenos Aires in San Fernando and Tigre.
Spent the day Painting the house in which we are sleeping and Megan painting the decking as boats constantly sailed past down the river. Beautiful sunshine and occasional coffee breaks to stand back and just admire we were and what we were doing.
Now that we had agreed to spend more time in South America, we knew where we wanted to go next, so we did some searching and comparing of flights. We booked quite low-cost flights to Ushuaia and back from Ushuaia, and also to Mendoza for Monday 11th April.
We also solved our cash dilema. It was going to be impossible to obtain physical cash but in a remarkable aligning of the stars, Cato (our host) needed an online course purchasing for his girlfriend, but the only way it could be done was PayPal. The course was $525 (US) but they did not have PayPal. Therefore we payed it for them and they gave us Argentinian Peso's (at Blue Dollar rate) which was great for us, effectively doubling our money. Look it up.
Friday 1st April 2022
The morning started with Megan teaching online for an hour, while I cleaned the apartment, separated our bags for the Ushuaia trip, as we were departing from Cato's place this morning. As we loved this place in Tigre so much, and did not feel like we had have enough time enjoying and exploring this amazing and unique place, we asked Cato if it was ok that we returned for a few days when we returned. He was so accomodating, that he also agreed to leave our big bags there for the weekend so that we could travel light down to Ushuaia. Due to canceling a rush to the Bright Eyes gig in San Fransisco, we were afforded decisions like this, to extend somewhere when it took our fancy. It also worked out that it was actually cheaper to fly back to Buenos Aires and then on to Mendoza, than it was to fly directly there from Ushuaia. After breakfast, sorting or bags and cleaning up the apartment for the weekend's guests, we departed. The whole family got in the boat; Cato, Laura (his girlfriend), Mia and Tao (the kids). Along with me Megan and Pedro (who was flying to Ushuaia a day earlier than us. When we got to the mainland, we transfered into Cato's van and headed to a rock climbing gym to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes with them. unfortunately it was closed until 3. So we went for Steak sandwiches and pizza's at a beautiful Argentine restaurant before exploring this historic town centre and heading to the train station.
We got to Buenos Aires and as we only had our small bags, we took the opportunity to wander around the centre before deciding on a hotel. Megan wanted to visit Casa Rosada on Plaza de Mayo. For those who do not know, it is a government house and office of the president, where Eva Peron gave her most famous (and last) speech, to the people of Argentina. Casa Rosada translates as Pink House, named for obvoius reasons.
As the sun went down, we looked for a hotel and ended up in Hotel Avenida which is only a stones throw from the Pink House. We checked in, dropped our bags, got a quick shower and headed back out for food. Before we looked for a place, we headed to the tourist police station, to pay back the 2,200 pesos that they had loaned us the week before. We made our way to an area called San Telmo, which is a place that we had been recommended by a artist that we had chatted to in Brazil. She told that it was quite a young and trendy place with good restaurants and bars, it was our only real recommendation so we thought why not try it. Quite a lot of places around that area offer conbination deals of beers and street food, especially mexican foods such as taco's and quessadillas. We both got a Roja (red) beer and chicken quessadillas. We only had a couple of beers as we are watching our money and also have to be up early in the morning. We walked back to the hotel, watched an episode of one of our favourite youtube channels 'That Chapter' and went to sleep.
Saturday 2nd April 2022
Our flight was at 10am so we woke up at 7am and got a taxi to airport at half past, we were charged $2,500 pesos (about 10 British pounds, using the blue dollar conversion). Thanks in some part to the fact that this was a domestic flight, we were in the deaprture lounge, enjoying a sandwich and a coffee about 10 minutes after entering the airport. We took that time saved to work on our different projects on our laptops. We then flew with Aerolineas Argentinas from EZE airport in Buenos Aires to USH airport in Ushuaia. We landed at about 13:30 and braced ourselves for the famously cold environmanet that we were going to be exposed to as we left the airport. Although it is Autumn here in Argentina and we landed in the southern-most city on the planet (across the ocean from the Antarctic) we were pleasantly surprised by how mild it felt. We were panicing a little as we knew that we were very short on warm clothes and were hoping that we were not going to freeze or have to buy too many items to make up for this. The airport was 3.6 Km from the place that we were staying, 'La Casa del Mono' and since we were in a such an amazing scenic place, we decided to take the 45 minute walk. This took about an hour and a half for us after we had stopped to take in so many views and take photos. The afternoon today was pretty overcast, and so, we were not entirely away of what was hiding behing the clouds and the fog until we had been in the hotel for a couple of hours, sorted our things and our plans and returned back out. We left the hostel around 5pm and as soon as we opened the door, we both took a massive gasp. The earlier fog had lifted and scenery that we have never ever seen in person or imagined before, surrounded us.
Went wander around the streets trying to take inas much scenery as we could before the sun went down. We actually had this place that we are staying in recommended to us by our Spanish friend Pedro, whom we had met at the WorkAway in Tigre, as he had checked in here yesterday and said that all was fine. We exchanged messages with him to see where he was and he was at the Western Union in the Carrefour supermarket, trying to obtain some cash from his Spanish bank account. We caught up with him but he was had a potentially long wait for his money to be transferred, so we headed into town for a drink, with the agreement that Pedro would join us when he had sorted his money situation. We found a small Irish bar (as we do everywhere) called 'Dublin Irish Bar' and settled in for a drink. We enjoyed the music, had a pint of Roja beer and then got back in touch with Pedro. His money was still not with The Western Union yet, so we made mede our way back to Carrefour. We shopped for something to eat for tea and a couple of bottles of wine. We then made our way home, ate and chatted with him over a couple of bottles of wine. We agreed to meet downstairs early for breakfast and head out on a long hike and then made our way to bed.
Sunday 3rd April 2022
Today was a day that we will remember for the rest of our lives. We hiked up to a place called Glacier Martial which is about 8Km from the centre. As I said above, I hope the pictures can speak for themselves. But we felt feelings that we have never felt before. It was a type of landscape that we had never ever encountered, and it was so surreal. In the thick of snowy mountain, glorious sunshine, views down into Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel through a beautiful mist of snow. Just unreal. An amazing walk up, amazing walk down. I can't actually find enough superlaytives, but it is something that we will never forget. We spent the evening just enjoying the feeling that it had left us with, relaxed with a feeling of reaL accomplishment. We had travelled to what was known as 'The End of The World' and it had really made us feel like that. You are totally aware that you are really looking out into a part of the worl that has nothing beyond the horizon. A real feeling of travel and discovery. Although it has a massive amount of tourists each year, we really felt like we had seen something incredibly unique, once in a lifetime and something that made any sacrifices on persuing this journey worth it and then some. If you ever get to this side of the world, its a must. There is not much more to write for today as it would feel trivial to reduce it to a step by step diary entry, but it will be written inside of us forever, personal and always there for a recourse of inspiration and energy if and when we need it.
Monday 4th April 2022
One of the most highly recommended things to do down here is to take a boat tour out into The Beagle Channel, where you are promised penguins and sealions; the lighthouse at the end of the world and untouched islands. We went down to 'the tourist pier' where there is an area of small huts, all offering tours on their respective boats. Wer went to one who offered us a small, more personalised boat experience but no reduction for buying two tickets at once, her price was 5,600 pesos each. We then went to anbother to compare deals. The second one, although a bigger boat, to be shared with more people was a better deal on price, with free hot drinks. Her normal price was 5,200 pesos, but said that we could have it for 4,000 per person as we were buying two, we accepted. Unfortunately, as it was early April, there were not going to be any penguins around, as they leave around the end of Frebruary but the trip was still amazing. Heading out into this channel of water between Argentina and Chile, you get to look back upon the mountains of Ushuaia and froward to the southern mountains of Chile, Seeing Patagonia and the end of the world in all its glory. We hopped from island to tiny island, first sealions, then exotic birds and then 'the lighthouse at the end of the world'. We found out at this stage, that it is not actually the southern-most lighthouse, as the real one is a over 200 Km further south, yet this once has become famous due to its proximity to Ushuaia. We then took a walk on a small deserted island and then came back to the city.
Tuesday 5th April 2022
Today we both had classes in the morning, so following breakfast and coffee , we spent a cople of hours with our only students in seperate rooms. Me in the kitchen of the shared house, and Megan in our room. Our flight was sheduled at 19:20 and with having to be there early for check-in, and the fact that we wanted to walk there as we had walked into the city, we put 17:00 as the time we wopuld need to leave.
We walked into the city at dinner time and rented a couple of bikes at 1,800 pesos (about 12 pound) each for 4 hours. We cycled east along the shore for an hour or so and found a little decking area around the bay which we could relax on and look back across the sea at the city. We got some videos with the Osmo, and sent the drone up to get some ariel shots of this place of such natural beauty. We then cycled back, dropped off our bikes and began our walk to the airport. We stopped off at a small eatery to get two 'super panchos' which are very long hot-dogs, on which we got hot sause and salsa. The walk to the airport, although very cold, was again worth it for the vies and the feelings. We landed in Buenos Aires at 10:50 and went back to Hotel Avenida. As it was so late, we wanted to be able to just grab some food before bed, so we called in at Subway, got a salad and a sandwhich and then watched TV, ate and went to bed.
Wednesday 6th April 2022
We woke up at the Hotel Avenida, 2 minutes from Plaza de Mayo and ‘The Pink House’. As Cato was dropping his kids off at school, and the only transport to his house was by boat, we had to set off early to be there at the time that he would be ready to head back, which was 09:30 am. We left the hotel at 07:45, got the tube to Retiro (the main train station) and then a 50 minute train from there to Tigre. He was finishing up a meeting in a Cafe there, so we took a walk around and treated ourselves to a Churrasquito (a steak fillet sandwich) with Salsa Picante (hot sauce). As we were watching the money, we took the risky decision to share one, without knowing the size, but when it arrived it was massive, so it paid off on this occasion. Cato finished his meeting, drove us in his car to the port and in his boat back to his house and our cottage. We arrived back at about midday and Cato set is off with a few tasks to earn our nights board and groceries. The decking that Megan stained last week, needed a third coat and the garden of the cottage needed clearing of massive amounts of leaves and chopped up trees and branches. We worked until about 4, only stopping for instant noodles, that we had left last week. We then relaxed on the steps of the decking with our feet in the river, it felt better for having done some work prior. Megan made Omelettes for tea, and following our action packed break in Ushuaia, we laid on the bed in the living room, watching YouTube on the laptop, and feel deeply asleep at about 9pm. We did not stir once until the morning!