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Monday, 19 May 2014

Postcard from Buenos Aires

We are ensconced in the grandeur of a truly grand hotel, and outside, the streets are full of honking cars, and the odd bang. It must be either politics or the religion of the area, which is futbol.  I think the red-and-whites (Rio Plata) won.

Some things remain the same, all over the world.

Like the inefficiencies of bureaucracies.  Lan Chile had us all lined up at gate 17 in Santiago, and USians, Canadians and Australians had to have a piece of paper. A woman demanded that everybody report to gate 13 with their bits of paper, and everybody went to the gate 17 desk to expostulate.

We just walked through, showed the ticket person our bit of paper, and got on the plane.  It worked!

Later, I watched a slack-jawed official run all the luggage through an X-ray machine "for security" who then wandered off, ignoring the screen as the things went through.  Today, I saw the sign above right, and decided that this was the department in charge of making mistakes, but being a bureaucracy, it probably makes them very slowly.

Or maybe it's the set for a Spanish-language remake of Fawlty Towers, where Manuel is a comic Englishman who speaks bizarre Spanish, and don't mention the war relates of the Malvinas War?

Maybe I got it all wrong, because we saw what the tiger meant when we went out today to look out at part of the optimistically named Rio de la Plata (River of Silver), which had no silver, but did get hundreds of islands, mad of mud from the Parana River, which some Year 6 teacher thought we should be able to place on a map. I recall the Parana, but preferred the Araguaya, which had a brilliant vowels to consonants ratio, but no matter: I cannot draw a map of either of them today.

The Parana-mud delta is hundreds of islands in a shape that looks a bit like a tiger's head, which may explain why it is called the Tigre Delta, or it may be the jaguars that used to live there.  Now it's full of real estate developers, moving in on the holiday shacks there.

We took our binoculars for the birds, but aside from pigeons, we saw only a bunch of all-black cormorants, against the sun, so no shot.

Back in town we saw some grand figs that were tricky to shoot, so these were the best I could do.  They may be Australian: I have seen a lot of river redgums (Eucalyptus maculata) and a few Tasmanian bluegums (Eucalyptus globulus) today, as well as a number of she-oaks (Casuarina or Australian pine to Americans, Allocasuarina to pedants).

Buenos Aires means "good air", but presumably the gums were planted to reduce the chances of malaria.  I think I have blogged about that before.  Yes: you can read about it at this link, and also at this link.

Anyhow, here are the figs, or at least, their roots, which are the best part:

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