Spending a couple of months seeing some of the diversity of Chile and Argentina was eye-opening. Highlights were the wine country in Mendoza, hot/humid/wet Iguazu Falls and cosmopolitan Santiago. Wrapping the adventure up by seeing Argentina was incredible. (We lost most of what had written during that period. Snippets from our journal follow.)
We are currently in Ushuaia, Argentina - half-way through our cruise around the southern tip of South America. The scenery is stunning here and it seems like everything we see is the “souther-most” something or another. We are happy to have this rare opportunity to pop in a short blog entry.
We feel very fortunate to be here, as this cruise got off to a rough start. Just a day into our journey our cruise ship collided with a container barge in the channel outside of Montevideo, Uruguay. It was a frightening experience; there we were suddenly stopped out at sea. Worse yet, communication regarding the situation was sparse. After being reassured that the damage was minimal, passengers were astounded to find that it was actually fairly severe. You can imagine how freaked out many of the passengers were to see a hole big enough to drive a car through. After everyone realized that we were going to be safe - and that the ship wasn’t going to sink - passengers fear turned to anger. We were concerned (and still are) that there might be a mutiny!
So, after sitting in the channel for a day (the coast guard had to dredge out the cars and containers that had fallen off of the barge) we were able to sail back into the port of Montevideo where we sat for over 2 days whilst the ship was repaired. People continue to be all wound up, but we are moving forward and having a great time. We’re grateful that we didn’t end up like the ship that recently sunk near Antarctica.
We are very excited to sail amongst the Chilean Fjords and on up to Santiago, Chile over the next few days. We are hopeful that the scenery will be the most dramatic part of the remainder of this voyage.
Being in an environment where everything is new pretty much each day, we’re having a hard time getting in sync with the fact that a new year is about to begin. Similarly - because we have enough novel things going on these days - we’ve made the decision to hunker down at home for New Year’s Eve rather than going out and about to see what’s happening. Balance.
That’s not an easy decision to make in Buenos Aires; the charm and allure of the city are like gravity, pulling you out of your home to be a part of it. Luckily, we’ve had a really easy time getting comfortable with life here. Our neighborhood, in particular, is the perfect playground for us. The heavily tree-lined streets are ideal for meandering and exploring the quirky restaurants and shops. Just a few blocks away begins a network of parks, lakes, and gardens that extends for miles and miles; there’s no better place to exercise. More than any one specific thing, though, the cadence of the city is very inviting and comfortable - add to that the fact that the locals have a disarmingly nice way about them.
We’ve spent a lot of time running around over the last few days - randomly checking out all sorts of things and making progress as we mark things off the good ol’ to-do list. We continue to get ourselves into maddening situations, but even that is fun because it’s all part of having the most organic experience possible. Just last night we were waiting in line at what (because of the huge line!) appeared to be a must-experience venue. After over an hour of waiting and congratulating ourselves for apparently stumbling upon the hottest place in BA, we embarrassingly learned that the line was for a concert. We were standing in line with ticket-holding people waiting for a concert. Dummies! We can laugh now…
Anyhow, we’ll keep on enjoying tackling as much as we can, while also relying on revisiting places that have already made our “favorites” list. It continues to be blazingly hot, so every day is peppered with stops for cold drinks and ice cream (although we don’t need to use heat as an excuse to be eating ice cream!). We’re happy to have tonight to slow things down a bit - that’s something we haven’t been too good at since we’ve been away from Seattle. We’re also excited to take a slice of time to reflect on 2007 and dream about 2008.
Time to close this entry. We’re going to head out for a run before picking up everything we need from the grocery store and then collecting the cheesecake that we ordered yesterday. Our movies are all ready to go once we get back.
Cheers to a terrific 2007! Wishing you a year ahead filled with boundless peace!
We’re trying to save ourselves from the heat. We were out running around all day and are yet to really cool down - it’s a sizzling week here. It’s currently mid-evening, and we’re trying to just chill out in the apartment before taking off for tango class/practice a bit later. The main problem is that the low tonight in near 80. Not a horrible problem to have, but do we really want to be dancing in this? Enough about the weather.
The picture that you see with this entry comes from the insanely popular chunk of the La Boca neighborhood called La Caminito. La Boca, all-in-all, is both a bit dodgy and quite interesting, especially because most of it is not at all spruced up. Originally developed as a shipyard and trade center, La Boca is also known as one of the first hot-spots for tango. Pretty cool. Unfortunately, the small area of La Caminito is the only section that you hear much about, and it doesn’t hold much charm (other than providing a number of colorfully painted buildings for fun photos). Sadly, tourists buy into the “for your safety” marketing and mindlessly file straight off to La Caminito, missing the essence of La Boca. We originally fell for it too but are also happy that we dug a little deeper in order to see the more authentic parts of the neighborhood. Speaking of the power of marketing and doing what we’re “told” without thinking.....
We watched a very interesting movie on New Year’s Eve during our marathon video evening. Have you seen No End in Sight? Although it left us angry and a bit depressed (on NYE no less!), we’re sure glad that we did. We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into, but by the end of the movie we had a ton of questions about what’s gone on in Iraq (and Washington DC). For the most part, the movie takes a close look at what was happening around the time that “mission accomplished” was declared. What we were being told and led to believe doesn’t match up with reality. It’s troubling to think of the arrogance and effort that is employed in order to keep people from thinking critically. We consider this movie to be elucidating election year information as we try to use our heads in determining who can best lead us out of this and other messes.
BACK HOME IN SEATTLE
We’ve been back from South America for a little while and are still trying to get back in the groove. How long can it take? People have said that it’s reverse culture shock. We’re not quite sure what that means, but it sounds about right given that we’re trying to grapple with some new perspectives we’ve returned home with. Things like: everything seeming so orderly and clean in our country, Seattle feeling SO quiet and still (that’s what living in Buenos Aires does for you!), good Mexican food being REALLY tough to find in most countries. The list of realizations - big and small - goes on and on.
This readjustment period also has something to do with - having been in the southern hemisphere - essentially skipping Winter. From what we’re told, this was quite the winter to skip-out on here in the Pacific Northwest. Our internal clocks must be trying to figure out what’s going on without the abysmally cold runs and cross-country skiing trips.
So, we’re still settling back in - catching up on everything that’s been on hold since September, labeling pictures, recollecting favorite memories etc. etc. One thing is indisputable. Seattle is a great place to be back to. We love it here and have been talking a lot about how fortunate we are to be able to call Seattle our home-base. On this very day three years ago we moved up here from Portland. Seems like yesterday.