About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Into Argentina, and on towards Patagonia

First, sorry for the 3 weeks that the Bravo team has seemed to "go dark".  We've been on the move the entire time, exploring northern and Patagonian Argentina, and now Patagonian Chile.  Too much to put in one post, but we'll see how far we get!

We headed out of Bolivia for the Argentinian border by bus, over an amazing dirt and gravel road through southern Bolivia.  After the typical stop in the middle of the road to fix a flat tire, we continued on, through tiny villages, as the bus did its best to negotiate the endless switchbacks.  (One was too tight, so the driver simply skipped it altogether, opting to go overland until rejoining the road further down the hill!!!  That got our attention...) 

Here a few more photos from the bus as we headed out of Bolivia.....

Army guys fight boredom at a military checkpoint in the desert.
The bus took us to the border at Villazon.  We had to walk across the border into Argentina, and find another bus to take us to Mendoza, about a 24 hour bus ride.  Rolling hour after hour across the Argentinian plains, it became clear just how BIG this place is, especially traveling north/south.  Too bad the flights are so expensive, as the road kind of reminded us of driving across the plains of the U.S.  Seems to go on for ever, and except for lots of cattle, there was not a lot to see after the sun came up as the bus droned on.  Finally the road entered the Argentinian wine country, and we were in the midst of huge vineyards, which were much of our view all the way to Mendoza.

It was interesting to note the cultural shift as we crossed from Bolivia to Argentina.  We had become accustomed to travel in the developing countries of South America...heavily influenced by their indigenous peoples, the cultures of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia melded the arts and traditional lifestyles of the native folks with the European influence of the Spanish settlers.  Some areas were more one or the other, but all seemed a blend of the two.  As we got into Argentina, though, there was a distinct change.  For here there is little if any remnant of the native cultures in evidence.  The atmosphere feels immediately more European.  From the border onward, the farms and ranches were huge (and fenced), no longer subsistence but more corporate farming.  Cars are newer, and prices in shops, hotels, and restaurants reflect the thriving economy of the country compared to its northern counterparts.  The difference was stark, and the harsh reality of the hit on our cruising budget was a bit tough to swallow!!!

Typical Mendoza street scene
We spent a couple of days exploring Mendoza, a pretty, quiet small city in the heart of the Argentinian wine country.  Like towns in wine growing regions everywhere, Mendoza has many fine restaurants, and like all of Argentina, beef is king!!!  We enjoyed!!!!  There are also lots of opportunities for outdoor activities outside of Mendoza.  Lots of great mountaineering, mountain biking, and trekking all around in the high Andes.

But it was quickly time to move on, as we needed to reach Buenos Aires to meet up with Seattle friends David and Diana, who were flying down for three weeks of Patagonian adventures.  So we saddled up another bus, and went to the big city.  And Buenos Aires really is BIG.  With over 13 million people in the metropolitan area, the city is second only to Sao Paolo in South America.  The architecture is distinctively European, and with all of the expensive shops, boutiques, and restaurants, one could easily have been in one of the great cities of Europe. 

We spent a couple of fun days with D&D exploring Buenos Aires. 

In the evenings we hit some great Argentinian restaurants together with Buenos Aires friends Maria and Ingrid, confirming once again that beef rules, baby, in Argentina, as well as great, inexpensive red wine.  A real treat!!

In any form, meat is part of the spirit of B.A.  Tough to be a vegetarian here.

(though this nasty hot dog sign might get you thinking about it!!!)
Casa Rosada, head of Argentinean government, behind protest banners in the Plaza de Mayo, place of some of the largest demonstrations in the country's history.  Juan and Eva Peron famously addressed the huge crowds from the balconies.

There is a saying in Argentina that it costs much more to die here than it does to live.  Given how pricey we were finding it to live in Buenos Aires, we had to go see what you get for your peso when you die here. So we paid a visit to the cemetery in the upscale Rigoletto neighborhood. 

The cemetery is like a miniature city within the city, with elaborate tombs and graves lining the narrow streets.  Home to many of Buenos Aires' deceased politicians, generals, celebrities, and various other rogues, scoundrels and movers and shakers, the cemetery gives a glimpse at how these very wealthy porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) lived, and how they are remembered. 

Halloween party, anyone??

Angel with an attitude!!

Eva (Duarte) Peron's tomb obviously was the big draw, with a constant flow of crowds wanting to see, touch, and lay flowers on her grave as they paid their respects.  A bit of a circus, really. 

If anyone is interested, the site next door to Evita's is available.  Bring a wad of cash and your imagination, its ready to move in!!!  (Operators are standing by....)

Cindi and Diana.....ace navigators!!
 After a relaxing morning strolling among the dearly departed, it was time to pep things up with a trip to the artsy San Telmo neighborhood.  Once a gritty port area, the place now sports many upscale bars and restaurants, tango clubs, and naturally, tourists. 

David gets his groove on´at sidewalk cafe tango class
Also a pro soccer (football) stadium, where a protest over ticket prices, availability, or whatever, was in full play.  Truth is, we didn't have a clue what was going on, but with smoke bombs, fireworks, M-80's, how can you lose???   Good fun!!!

Finally, after an essential lesson in the proper use of a mate cup, it was time to say good bye to Maria, Ingrid, and the great city of Buenos Aires, and hop a plane down to El Calafate, for our entry into Patagonia.  Home to endless glaciers, peaks, penguins, and countless shipwrecks, Patagonia is truly a magical place (and a photographer's paradise).....stay tuned.....

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