Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
43Trip End Jan 06, 2011
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Argentina has had a marred political history, with 4 dictators, the last of which was ousted in the mid 1980s. BA is a very politically charged city, with us seeing numerous protests while we were there for our 3 days
The political history of this country is an interesting, with much suffering. People are proud of their heritage and fight for their rights still - more than most countries that I have been to. The tango arose out of this past - from the diversity of the people living there, who were poor and had brought their various cultures to the country. So - what do you do when you are in BA - go to a tango show of course
We also managed to squeeze in a bike tour of the city - which took us to the richest suburb (Puerto Madero) of old warehouses converted on the river - and to the coloured houses and streets of La Boca which was developed when a mix of Italians and Spanish immigrated and could not afford to live in a single house. They opted to live in large houses, which could house up to 10 families with10 people per room. Due to their poverty, the only thing they could do to brighten their houses up was to paint the scrap metal they found with multi colours. The houses remain today - and some of them have been converted to shops and restaurants, and is obviously a major tourist attraction. On the bicycle we stopped at the Silver River, which is the widest river in the world - spanning 50km in width at one point between Argentina and Uruguay. It is also probably one of the most polluted rivers in the world - with the BA council happily pouring raw sewerage into the river, as well as a lot of other waste. Every few years, the government vows to clean the river up, but the money is (apparently) pocketed by corrupt officials and this scheme never takes off.
Most of southern South America maintains the tradition of siesta
A few days in BA was all I needed and I was keen to leave the big city and move onto more rural and cultural places. A new group joined us - and Sharyn left us to head off to Iguazu Falls before heading home to Australia. Overall BA is great city with much culture, but I am finding I am enjoying the smaller towns than the larger cities these days... and so it was off to Uruguay for a couple of days.
Our first stop off the ferry/border crossing from Argentina to Uruguay on the Silver River was a little town called Colonia which has been heritage listed by UNESCO. It is cute and the old city is tree lined and is best seen by golf cart!
A short stay and lunch and we moved on to Montevideo which is the capital of Uruguay. Out for dinner that night proved to be more than just dinner, heading out to some of the local pubs to capture of the local live music and some real fiesta action on the street. It was great fun with dancing and a lot of good laughs.
Suffice to say, the next day was a little slow in the start after chatting to some locals until the wee hours of the morning. I managed to get a haircut for a total sum of AU$7 and then headed to the local soccer game where the two local team Penaron (yellow and black) and Riverplace (red and white) were playing
We arrived in San Ignacio by overnight bus at 5am. It was meant to arrive at 3am but due to some complications arrived late. Our transfer from the bus station had left, and Shauna trotted off to the hotel to wake the owners and get us a lift to the hotel. After walking for about 1km, we arrived at the hotel, all ready for a nap. Marilyn opened her bag and found that some of things were gone. After knocking on everyone's doors, we found that we had all been robbed on the bus. Everyone's big rucksacks that we put down below in the bus (all of which had locks on) had somehow been broken into and menial things taken - like toiletries bags, chargers, hair clippers etc. We have figured that they got into our zips somehow. Craig saw a ute drive off in the middle of the night at one of the stops on the side of the road and we are guessing someone was down there helping themselves for most of the night. Oh well - the joys of travel hey. It is a story in the very least.
So moving right along, the main attraction in San Ignacio is the Jesuit Ruins. The Jesuits were Spanish settlers who became too friendly with the local Indians and set up communities that were moving towards communism. The Spanish Monarchy eventually had the Jesuits ousted from the country due to the communistic uprisings and the fast development of communes. We visited the ruins, which were interesting and in a very peaceful part of the town. They were destroyed over the years, mainly by wars in the region.
After the ruins, we thought we would head to the local resort where we could use the pool and get some food. On arrival we found the main resort pool was closed for maintenance, so we swam in the kiddies pool instead and sat on the beach of the Paraguay River that acts as the border between Uruguay and Paraguay. It was a great afternoon, with the remoteness and the scenery reminding me of Zambia, not to mention the amazing sunset we witnessed.