Argentina - February 1996
Nearly every trip I have ever been on has had a little surprise I wasn't
expecting; something that is NOT mentioned in the itinerary; something that is
so special, that, had I known, I would have gone out of my way to find a trip
that included it on the schedule. It could be an art object, a structure, a
natural formation, a special meal, but in Argentina, it was Ushuaia, pronounced
ooo-SHWI-ya, a cute little town, located near Tierra del Fuego, near the
southern most tip of South America. But first, let me get us there.
We left Washington, D.C. at 3:15 p.m. on Friday afternoon, just ahead of another
big snow storm that was arriving that evening, which is something you struggle
with when planning big deal vacations in the middle of winter. In Miami we
boarded an Aeroline Argentina plane and were an hour and a half taking off. It
was one of those flying cattle cars called a 747 where there are about 80 people
per six bathrooms, and, of course, our flight was crowded. I remember those good
old days when I loved to fly.
Saturday morning, in Buenos Aires, we met our charming tour guide, one Charles
Driskell, an American, who would be with us for the entire trip. We were only 14
of us on this 17 day tour of Argentina, Chile and Peru. This trip, billed as
Patagonia's Great Frontiers, is usually not a trip taken by first timers, so we
were all seasoned travelers, which means that people were always on time and
very seldom late for breakfast or getting on the bus.
We checked into the lovely Sheraton Buenos Aires and I got a one and a half hour
nap before meeting our tour group at 2:00 p.m. for the obligatory city bus tour.
Buenos Aires is a lovely, modern, expensive looking city, not unlike the cities
of Europe. We saw the parks, statues, the opera house, the largest Jewish
Synogog of the city, the pink State house and an enormous 200 year old rubber
tree. At the Plaza de Mayo Square people had gathered to protest 513 people
being laid off somewhere. We saw "The Obelisk", which looks like the
Washington Monument, only it's smaller.
And then we arrived at the incredible cemetery, where the mausoleum of Eva Peron
is located. I could have used up an entire roll of film here. In that section of
the cemetery, each tomb (almost) is like an art object in itself. They are like
small ornate buildings, many large enough to walk upright in, and some actually
have a down stairs section, as entire families have their own family crypt. The
sculptures that adorn them are just beautiful. Of course, we were taken through
the more wealthy section, I'm sure, but it was well worth the time and not to be
Back at the hotel, I had a salmon dinner in my room, as we had what is called a
"free" night, where we are free to have dinner anywhere in the city we
want, or in our room, if we choose. I have discovered, after being with a tour
group all day, I like some down time to myself and often take this opportunity
to be alone. My room overlooked the harbor and it was so peaceful, watching the
ships docking as I ate.