Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nearing The Eclipse

 Today we took the bus to San Juan, a little more than a two hour ride in asupwr comfortable bus with reclining seats and foot rests through what looked like the cowboy movie West.
[i was starting to. Get the hang of blogging on my iPad but my logitech slim combo keyboard stopped working and the on-screen keyboard just can’t cut it. So things are formatted a bit funny. I can’t see much of the screen.  I can’t scroll.]

There were no taxis waiting at the bus stop. ( thanks Brock) said it was a 6.2 mile walk. It also said it wasn’t programmed f.or transit here. But then a couple cabs s howed up. Sergio had no idea where it was and called  someone while I showed him my phone map. I might be tempted to say it’s in the middle of nowhere, but having lived in rural Thailand, i know that everywhere is somewhere. And that proved true. Though the cab driver was worried about leaving us there until he was sure someone was there to help us.  Carlos took us in, and in our limited Spanish and English we communicated.

He asked if we wanted to eat - it was about 2pm - and when we said yes he drove us to a charming little place nearby where a couple of three generation families were having dinner.

It felt so cozy and the food was delicious.  And all these people were somebodies living somewhere,

We walked back the long way, well, longer than how we came.

Some pics

Mendoza and San Juan are both on the Eastern edge of The Andes, which tend to block the ocean moisture, hence the desert landscape.   We,ve been watching the clouds every day and they’ve tended to stay above the mountains. But they did wander further east the day we took the tour up to the snow.

This morning it was cloudy in Mendoza, but sort of thinned out as we came north.  Today at prime eclipse time it was in and out of the clouds, mostly out.  Let’s hope that by Tuesday the clouds stay on the Chile side of the Andes.

And the reason we’re out here . .   There are very few times that starting a sentence with “the reason . . .”  So let’s start it over.  We’re way out of town like this because this area is in the path of totality.  It will be longer further north.

[And i forgot mention a 4.2 jolt while i was working on the post. No biggie but we did feel it. ]

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hotel Bohemia, Mendoza, Argentina

The travel agent in Buenos Aires put us into this hotel.  We lucked out.  It’s an old family house in what our driver from the airport called  a good residential neighborhood.  The owner (I’m assuming he’s the owner), Alberto, is the kind of person who seems to make everyone feel like they are his special friend.  That first night he showed us that he was cutting the seeds out of grapes before
making grape jelly.  He was also making orange marmalade for the guests’ breakfast.  He also bakes the breads and croissants.

Here, you can see the grapes, the grapes that have already been pitted, and the pits.  We spread it on our breakfast bread the next morning.

And below is the dining room where each of the ten rooms has a designated table.

I’m putting up this post because it’s relatively short and I need to go to bed.  But also because this is a great little hotel with incredible service for each guest.  But that still leaves the winery tour yesterday (two wineries and an olive oil ‘factory’), the birding in Iguazu, and today’s trip into the Andes where we went back to December in Anchorage (translation:  it snowed.)  

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Murals In Iguazù, Hummingbird Tongue, Tres Fronteras, Marta Schwartz

We flew to Mendoza yesterday.  More on this wine country city later.  Here are some more shots from  Iguazú.

The first is at a hummingbird ‘park’.  It’s really the backyard of an Iguazú family and has been operating for 40 years.  There are lots of feeders and birds besides hummingbirds show up.  We went there at the end of our birdwatching Tuesday morning.  More on this later, but I wanted to share this  picture that has the hummingbird’s tongue.

At first.I thought it was the sugar water coming out, but Fernando said it was the tong ue.

The local indigenous people are the Guarani.  I can’t find anything in English on Guarani in Iguazú so here is something in Spanish (use Google  Translate if you need to).  I’m not sure how sensitive this account is, so read with cutural alerts turned on.

This says (very loosely)  it’s a community for growing small gardens for women who want to be entrepreneurial.

   This sign, I’m told, is an advertising for ca rds and tarot readings and other ‘black magic’ to help find jobs, mates, and anything you need.  

My wife noted that she hadn’t seen any statues of women and then I saw this bust of Dr. Marta Teodora Schwartz, “the angel of the forest.”    Again, it’s in Spanish, but I don’t have time to get a translation for you.  Google translate is very easy to use, just cut and paste, and it’s really pretty good translations.

And here’s a church nearby named after Señora [I’ll add this in when I get more time].

And at this point you can see Brazil across the river to the right, Paraguay across the other river to the left, and a bit of Argentina from where I’m taking the picture - Tres Fronteras. 

And one last mural.  I have no idea what it means.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

In Addition To The Water . . .

Showed pictures mostly of water going down hill yesterday and the day before at Iguazú.  So now let’s look at some other distractions.


Those critters begging at the table are coatimundi   They’ve become a pest in the park.  My wife saw jump on the table and swipe an ice  cream from a woman eating at a table like this.

 There are lots of signs telling people not to feed the coatis.  Like the one below that warns about both monkeys and coatis.    In the middle of the sign is a picture of puncture holes on someone’s hand.    Yet despite the warning, people crowd around the sign to  get pictures of the capuchin monkeys, sitting on the sign.  And below on the left a woman with kids is feeding the monkeys bread.



More later.  [Here are a couple more.]


Monday, June 24, 2019

Iguazu From The Other Side - Never Saw So Much Crashing Water

Yesterday’s visit to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu set of waterfalls, left me wondering how the Argentine side could possibly match it.

Well, today I found out.  As our guide yesterday said, both sides are different.  From the Brazil side you have a better overall panorama of the the 2.7-kilometre-long (1.7 mi) long wall of waterfalls and you see them more or less from below.  But the Argentine side has a lot more trail (we walked about 3 kilometers yesterday, and today on the Argentine side, about 9), and you see a lot of the waterfalls close up, from above and below.  Small waterfalls here, would be big attractions all by themselves elsewhere.  Here they are just one more jaw-drop in an incredible day of far off and close up views of water thundering down vertical walls from great heights. 

The spray at points is strong enough to create a booming business in plastic raincoats and cell phone holders.  

Sorting through all the pictures I took and resizing them for posting is proving too time consuming on my iPad than I can manage.  Maybe I’ll put more up later when I’ve got my Macbook.  I’ll just put up a few picture here today.  

But I’ll also point out that the falling water, well crashing water might be more accurate, is just the most obvious and wondrous sight here.  But then there are the animals - mammals, birds, insects - and the flora.  And the people coming to see all this.  Mostly I heard Spanish and Portuguese.  Relatively little English or other languages.  So here are a few attempts to convey this massive water movement.       

I’d also add that both the Brazilians and Argentines have done a  spectacular job of constructing trails that allow visitors to get up really close from different angles.

Above is looking down from the top of Galante de Diablo - the biggest of the falls, and the one you see closest from below on the Brazilian side.  

And here I am on top, right in the middle of things.  This is where people (who had them) wore their raincoats.  As you can see, my camera filter was all wet.  The no ise is constant.

And then getting back a bit so you can see how massive this all is.

And below is part of the miles of metal boardwalk that take you so close to the water.  The cloud is just mist rising up from one of the many falls.

I mentioned above how ‘small’ falls here would be a big deal elsewhere.  I got that notion looking at the two falls on the lower left.  They’re actually pretty big.  But next to the massive fall to their right, they’re nothing.  But they are each stunning.

But let’s pull back a little more and put it into perspective.  (The really big one is San Martin Falto - falls)

And you just kept being hit with views like this all day long.  Enough.  We’re going birding tomorrow morning early.

Iguazu! Amazing Waterfall Experience

We’re in northeast Argentina, where it borders with Paraguay and Brazil.  In fact yesterday we went to the Brazilian national park to see the incredible Iguazu waterfall from there.  (Fortunately for us, the requirement for US citizens to have visas to enter Brazil ended June 17 this year, otherwise we wouldn’t have had time to get one.)

There’s little I can say about this experience.  It was amazing.  The power of the falls is amazing.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  Actually, they are pretty bad.  I took so many and it’s hard to find the best using the iPad tools that I’ve figured out so far.  When I get back to my old computer I might replace these.


For all the years that I’ve joked about there being an elevator at the end of a hike, well this time there was.

Today we view the falls from the Argentine side.

A little more from Wikipedia:

The area surrounding Iguazu Falls was inhabited 10,000 years ago by the hunter-gatherers of the Eldoradense culture. They were displaced around 1000 C.E. by the Guaraní, who brought new agricultural technologies, and were displaced in turn by the  Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores in the sixteenth century.
The first European to discover the Falls was the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541, after whom one of the falls on the Argentine side is named. Jesuit missions followed in 1609.
A Brazilian army officer, Edmundo de Barros, proposed the creation of a national park near the Falls in 1897. As the Falls form a part of the border between Brazil and Argentina, once those boundaries were clearly defined, two separate national parks were established, one in each nation. Iguazú National Park in Argentina was established in 1934 and Iguaçu National Park of Brazil was established in 1939.
The great power of the Falls was not utilized until the construction of the huge Itaipu Dam, built jointly by Paraguay and Brazil, which was completed in 1991. The dam, touted as a masterpiece of technology, is one of the largest in the world, providing nearly forty percent of the power to Brazil and Argentina. 
The map comes from Lonely Planet  and You can see Iguazu in the upper right hand corner of Argentina.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Recoleta Open Market

The cemetery is a major destination in Buenos Aires, but while we had passed it, we hadn’t had time to go in.  An added bonus of going yesterday was the Recoleta weekend outdoor market around it on Saturday.  Here are a few pictures to give a sense of it.  Basically it was decorative arts - lots of jewelry, leather work, clothing, paintings, and other odds and ends.


There was even a bit of tango in front of the entrance to the cemetery.   The paintings weren’t my style.  A lot of pictures of Argentine themes and then stuff like this.


 Mate (pronounced MA-te) is an Argentine tea.  You stick a lot of leaves into the cup and keep refilling it with hot water and drink the tea through a metal straw.  This man is selling mate. Cups and straws.

Drinking mate is highly ritualised, its conventions and procedures are fixed and never broken. Gringos stirring the tea with the bombilla will, for example, be met with Argentineans diving to recover the mate. It is just one faux pas among many”. [From The Real Argentina ]

This woman below had beautiful painted boxes and other small items.

I couldn’t figure out how to take a good picture of all the booths that make up the market.  So this picture is here just to give you a vague sense.  In parts there are booths on both sides.  This was when we first got there and more vendors kept showing up.