As we take off from sunny Santiago over the snow covered Andes, the captain tells us to fasten our seatbelts and I am reminded of, and quickly try to forget, those films where the plane crashes and the passengers end up eating each other (or was that the Himalayas?).
Anyhow I arrived in Argentina safely and surprisingly feeling fresh – LAN airlines were pretty good I must say. Buenos Aires was bathed in sunshine and alongside the main highway, everwhere there was a patch of green, families were having picnics, lovers entwined and kids kicking footballs. I had not expected the city to be so green, or for there to be so many lush trees – until the massive thunderstorm last night that is and then it all became clear!
This morning I was impressed at the eco friendly automatic switching off of the bathroom lights in my hotel room – until I realised that there was no electricity at all! “Its the weather” the waitress said – but I did note that the lights were on at the plush hotel across the street. Ah. Thats what comes of booking a cheap hotel at the wrong end of Avenida Montevideo!! The metro was also out today. When I asked why I was told it could be the weather, a strike or just BA being tempramental. As a result there were a lot of stressed people running about in the rain and a shortage of taxis. When I did find a taxi I soon realised that everything I had read about Argentinean taxi drivers is true – they are totally loco!
Buenos Aires is a city of contrasts – beautiful architecture and clean(ish) tourist areas rub shoulders with crumbling buildings and pavements, rubbish and graffitti. “English get out of the Falklands” was a common graffitti theme. The people are helpful and friendly on the whole though which is great, especially when you are on your own.
Av del Libertador reminded me a bit of Hyde Park corner and the streets around contained plush boutiques and cigar houses oozing wealth and sophistication. However just a few streets away, the homeless with their obligatory shopping trolleys were huddled in shop doorways out of the rain. There is a lot to see in Buenos Aires, even in the rain and I wish I had a little more time to spend here. Hopefully the jacaranda trees will be fully in bloom when I stop here on the way home.
As it is, this evening I will go in search of the “blue dollar” (a decent, if not official exchange rate), a hot meal and some atmosphere. I will try not to think about the long, long bus jurney to Anatuya tomorrow or what will await me when I get there.
Anyway, for now, hasta luego!