Day 161: January 23, 2008 Comodoro Rivadavia

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2008

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 161: January 23, 2008 Comodoro Rivadavia

Once again, it was a hot day in Comodoro. The locals tell me that it is unusual to have so many hot days in a row. After breakfast, I went to the internet locutorio. It was stifling in there. I uploaded my blog and a few fotos; checked my email and my accounts; and did some research on the strata around here. As I suspected/already knew, little is known about the true age of these rocks. Estimates range from Eocene to Miocene and the most concise is upper Oligocene to lower Miocene, an age range of about 10 million years. To my eye, based on more than 20 years of working in Tertiary strata, they are Miocene and I would venture to say middle Miocene, based solely on their appearance. I have little doubt that the work that we do here, providing we get good results, will overturn the common wisdom regarding these strata, regardless of what their true age turns out to be.

The problem is that the current chronologies are all based on what paleontologists think the ages of the fossils in the strata should be. Fossil correlations work very well but if their ages are not calibrated with an isotopic age, they are merely sound correlations floating somewhere in the temporal dimension. Our work here should calibrate the strata to the temporal dimension. My guess is that the oil companies have already discovered the true age but have not yet allowed it to be published. I can't wait to get started. It's been nice to take a week off but I am anxious to get going again.

After I left the internet place, I walked around looking for a place to buy a Buenos Aires newspaper but had no luck in finding one. Twice, I stumbled on the uneven sidewalk. Argentine sidewalks are notoriously user-unfriendly. I often refer to them as four-wheel drive sidewalks. Each property owner appears to be responsible for the sidewalk that fronts the property. The fashion is to cover the concrete with nice tile, usually, but not always, grooved, to provide a modicum of traction on the smooth tile surface. It looks nice but when it is wet, it is more akin to a skating rink than to a sidewalk. Even when it is dry, only the bravest or most foolish tread upon them with leather soles. Some Argentine women must be blessed with supernatural balance because I have seen them walking on these things in high heels, adroitly placing their feet so that the stiletto heels do not get caught in the grooves. They look very natural as they walk; I don't know how they do it.

When new piping, wiring, or a driveway is added to the building, the sidewalk is ripped up so that it can be installed. This often leaves large piles of excavated dirt on the sidewalk and/or open trenches, of varying depths, crossing it. Frequently, it goes unrepaired for months or years or only the concrete is replaced, leaving a 1 cm drop where the tile was, perfect for catching the toe of a shoe. On slopes, since each entrance is at a different level, an attempt is made to follow the angle of the slope and the error is corrected at each property line with a step, which may vary between 1-30 cm in height, depending upon the trigonometric acumen of the contractor. Not surprisingly, wheelchairs are extremely uncommon sights. I've found that walking on these things during the day is challenging, requiring almost complete concentration. I don't know how many times I've walked by something I was looking for because I was concentrating so hard on not falling down, not tto mention the hundreds of times I've stumbled. At night walking on the sidewalks is treacherous; I prefer to walk in the road.

I returned to the hotel and watched a couple of movies as I studied some vocabulary. Reading the Spanish subtitles provides a bounty of words that are new to me or that I am familiar with but don't commonly use.

I wrote yesterday's blog entry and returned to the locutorio around 8:00 to upload it. Before I finished, a fog rolled in off of the gulf, cooling the air refreshingly. For dinner, I stopped at he nearby pizzería and picked up 5 roquefort and onion empanadas, and took them back to the hotel. They were excellent.

I watched another movie and fell asleep, waking up at 2:00. When I went into the bathroom, I was surprised to find the floor covered with water but draining out the floor drain. The toilet tank was leaking as the water continued running because the tank couldn't fill. It looked like a deteriorated gasket to me. Too tired to deal with it then, I went to bed, falling asleep to the white noise of running water.
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