BROKENMUSES IN ARGENTINA AND URUGUAY
28 February 2006 – Buenos Aires
I met the local maniac: an old lady who looked like a witch, wearing a long dark skirt together with a black blouse. She had a doll with her which she kept holding closely to her chest. First I thought she was an ordinary grandmother whose grandchild just disappeared and who is now looking for it in growing panic – therefore clutching the doll. But no: no grandchild around but the woman was talking intensively to the doll. The persecution mania that I immediately diagnosed came true in the very next second because I was now following her with my camera lens. Whenever I tried to be one step ahead she changed to the other side of the street. To follow her over busy five lane streets was not always easy. In the end I managed to take a picture whereby I am not quite sure whether I kept the momentum. March 1 – Buenos Aires – Recoleta
I visited two cemeteries, both of them are picturesque, necropolis would perhaps be the best description. Pomp, plaster stones in between, little house next to little houses. There are no graves and gravestones, only tombs and crypts in enormous scales. And a lot of cats. A mysterious man outside a crypt encouraged me to go into that crypt, to descend down to the basement. Curiously I did so and encountered three other people down there. The weird atmosphere was somehow distorted by one of the three, a lady who started to talk to me in very fast Spanish asking me to join a newly founded church. I looked up to see whether the door to the outside world was still open, put all my coins into the offertory box next to the lady, handed her back the information brochures she had just handed me over and fled the place.
2 March 2006 – Buenos Aires – La Boca
La Boca, the old harbor area, is beautiful but very touristy. The houses there are small and out of corrugated metal which is colorfully painted. Tango in the air and a couple dressed up for tango (and a picture with every tourist) on every corner. In essence there is only the choice between the self-made tango singer and Sinatra’s “strangers in the night” in the occasional break.
3 March 2006 – Buenos Aires
After 4 days in Buenos Aires I think I have seen the most interesting places. Originally I wanted to come here because of a quarter called “Palermo Viejo”. A newspaper article I’ve read said that there are many artists working in the backyards of garages and other workshops whereby the mechanics and artists would share their tools. After walking through the quarter for almost a day I found many garages but no “combined” ones. Perhaps they are just too hidden 🙂 What a pity – but anyway that part of the city is most interesting!
5 March 2006 – Montevideo
Montevideo is very interesting, different than Buenos Aires. It is somehow nicely shabby. Apart from that Montevideo is the exact opposite to Brussels: there is no street lighting whatsoever. Therefore at nighttime the city has a sinister and venturesome atmosphere. Even people on park benches seem to be ominous and are potentially dark and illustrious figures. During the day things chance of course: a nice, quiet city.
On the huge Sunday flea market I think I took some really good pictures. Old rusty license plates, pocket watches, a grill made out of an old barrel. The grill was heated by a burning bed post!
6 March 2006 – Montevideo – Ushuaia
Today I flew from Montevideo over Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. A long and exhausing journey. I think I have never experienced such a turbulent flight! But to speak with my grandmother: “as far as I know, all of them have touched down again (in one form or another)!”
7 March 2006- Ushuaia
Ushuaia is marketed as the “end of the world”. Besides that there are penguins everywhere. Penguins as window mannequins, a penguin as memorial in front of the south most post office of the world, penguins as jewellery and penguins to wrap the jewellery.
8 March 2006 – Ushuaia
The fire land national park is impressive. There are marvelous lakes and different views on the Beagle Channel. In Ushuaia I saw both of the museums, the Museo del Fin del Mundo – which contains everything from the discovery of the area up to modern times including everything on the collapsed expeditions and sunk ships – and the Museo Maritmo, which is hosted in the old local prison.
Ushuaia can be compared to Australia. It is much smaller but in building a large prison there around 1880 they tried to bring people to the area. The inmates were all felons, whereby even the assistant to the director used to be a convicted murderer. It remained somehow unclear to me how he could have gotten that job, but anyway.
The most interesting story was that one of the inmates was said to be very dangerous. At the time his doctors said that his dangerous attitude and behavior results from the weird shape of his ears. He remained the same after a plastic surgery and died in the prison with postoperative jug ears…
9 March 2006 – El Calafate
The Pertito Moreno glacier in the Todos las Glaciares national park was the most impressive natural spectacle I’ve ever seen. This huge glacier changes colors depending on the light and the amount of clouds. I cannot describe the feeling standing there listening to a cracking glacier where every now and then a huge piece of ice breaks apart, falls splashily into the water underneath. I could have spend hour after hour sitting there and watching the scenery!
El Calafate ist a friendly village alongside the main road leading through. The pervasive penguin is matched here by the occasional sheep. Partly the sheep (the plush ones) are wearing earmuffs.
10 March 2006 – El Calafate – Los Glaciares
The color shades of the glaciers in the Los Glaciares national park http://www.losglaciares.com/ are overwhelming. The ice is dark, nearly black, then again blue, light blue, whitish blue and icebergs in all colors drift along the turquoise water of the lake Lago Argentino.
I made boat tour leading me to all glaciers of the park. On board an Argentinean lady started talking to me and asked me to remember the following: “we are all the architects of our own destiny”. Irrespective thereof she was of the opinion – and nothing could stop her from believing – that I must have been on the recent U2 concert in Buenos Aires. She was convinced I had been there because she thinks U2 are (generally) right because they are for peace, therefore I was also right and as a consequence also for peace. Besides all of that her favorite song was “what a wonderful world”. I recognized that we had left the U2 topic but could not even comment back, because we were asked to take our seats again and prepare for landing.
11 March 2006 – El Calafate – Perito Moreno Gletscher for the second time
This glacier is absolutely fascinating. I had to come here again. The Perito Moreno Glacier forms the natural border between the two arms of the Argentinean lake (Lago Argentino). Only every so often the water level of the southern arm of the lake gets much higher than the other arms level, creating tremendous pressure. This enormous pressure forces the ice into a cave shape and finally ends up in a spectacular rupture event. I got to see the cave (the rupture happened on March 13, so two days after I had left) which was amazing. It had all shades of blue and every now and then big ice bricks where falling right from the ceiling of the cave into the water underneath.
12 March 2006 – Oh it is Sunday? Must be Buenos Aires…
Taxi driver in El Calafate are quit different from those in Buenos Aires. Where those in Calafate fit the landscape, drive calmly and quietly, their cars are decorated with little smelly magic trees. In the branches of these trees you may most likely find a rosary. Unsnarling the two items keeps drivers from driving properly. In comparison with drivers from Buenos Aires that is rather harmless. A particular one had to hold a pince-nez in front of his glasses in order to read the most important road signs properly… Apart from that he was very obliging, he even stopped courageously in the middle the highway (!) so that I could take a picture of a hawker standing on the emergency lane selling globes. He even had the nerve to feel sorry for me that the light just wasn’t right.
13 March 2006 – Salta
Salta is really beautiful. Full of colonial buildings, a huge square in the city center framed by lovely coffee shops there are just so many small details that make it worth staying there (for instance the caramel peanuts that are sold on every corner).
14 March 2006 – Salta
The only day where already in the early morning everything seemed to go exactly wrong turned out to be bone of the most impressive ones. There were breathtaking views of north-west Argentina’s countryside, 7 or more colored mountains, cactus fields that seemed to come directly from a Lucky Luke comic, salt deserts, sheep with pink and red dots and so much more. From 4200m the 6000m mountains with snow covers on their tops seemed just an arm length away. And then of course there is this endless width of the landscape as such.
From Salta we drove all the way through the rain forest up to Purnamarca and further to the Salinas Grandes. These amazing salt fields create the optical illusion of being a huge lake. The way led us over the “puna”, a plateau that sometimes reaches heights of up to 4.200 meters.
What led me to Salta was a train running across the Anden mountains called “treno a las nubes”, the train that goes up to the clouds. I knew that the train is out of service at the moment but I definitely wanted to see the marvelous construction. When we arrived there at the end of the private tour and just waked along the train tracks on one of the most remarkable ferry bridges a train was coming. Due to road reconstructions they used the train for transportation purposes. But given the fact that it actually does not run at the time I just thought that that was more than pure coincidence!
15 March 2006 – Iguazú
Visit to the amazing Iguazú falls and the national park on the Argentinean side of the falls. Huge butterflies in blue, yellow and red helped me to oversee the “beware of snakes” signs, that were put alongside the trail every so often. The occasional crocodile also caught my attention that was otherwise just amazed by nature’s beauty. Having seen the panoramic view of the falls and the so called “devil’s gorge” reward you for a 9 hours walk through moistly 43 degrees centigrade.
16 March 2006 – Last Tango in Buenos Aires
Last Tango in Buenos Aires – starring Margit Brandl (in Italy a shopkeeper even called me Margit Brando a few years ago). My last half day in Buenos Aires was brought me close to “stress”: massage, buying Tango shoes, getting dressed up and heading for one of the most typical Tango schools where only locals meet. Unfortunately, the Buenos Arians use to go out very late at night, so for the 8 – 10 p.m. dance class only some 10 pairs were there – in a place that was suited for hundreds. I managed to learn some basic steps but was much more fascinated by watching people. A reincarnation of Salvador Dali in his early eighties danced with a 20 year old – both dressed most elegantly and performing an adorable dance.
18 March 2006 – Vienna
In Vienna again.