travel

No Tengo La Tango

TalampayaHaving just returned from Northwest Argentina, I am just now reflecting on what I have learned in two weeks. So, in no particular order, I offer the following thoughts.

The people:
Kind; generally well behaved, except when in charge of any vehicle; fond of food (and lots of it); like to say good morning, good afternoon and good evening at every opportunity, plus a great many other apparently related thoughts, none of which I came to understand; highly stratified by class, with the Talampaya2middle class feeling squeezed by the “great collapse” and subsequent currency devaluation; did I mention they like to eat?

Tips for getting around:
Rules of the road:  If two cars more or less arrive at an intersection at the same time, the one on the right ostensible has the right of way, but the reality is the one with the most moxie or least concern for his/her life will out. If three or four cars arrive at an intersection, who is to say which car is on the right, so a version of bumper cars (generally without the bumps) occurs.  Important: talampaya4Pedestrians never have the right of way. 

Taxi Drivers:
Get in a cab and beware your foolish heart, you are in for a massive adrenalin rush.

Sensuality, sex, and the like:
Particularly in Buenos Aires, the women and men dress very fashionably, and the women are, for lack of a better word, sensual.  Scientists have done tests and determined that the larger cities (e.g., Buenos Aires and Salta) reek of hormones, particularly in the evening. Then why are so many people out on the streets valle fertilinstead of in bed with one another? This is a mystery that we can only hope to answer some time in the future.  One practical explanation, that could also explain the chaotic traffic is what is actually happening is that everyone is racing home to get into the sack.

Vignettes:
It is hard not to eat big meals here. I limited myself to an appetizer portion of bruchetta.  I felt so proud that I celebrated with a two scoop gelato.

My hiking shoes were so dust laden after trekking around for a week and a half. I decided to get them cleaned by a shoe shine boy. I explained, in my best pantomime, talampaya3that I did not want them polished, just brushed.  The end result is that, if I can bend over far enough, I can see my reflection in them.

The effort of restaurants and hotels to provide English explanations of various items is commendable, although not always illuminating. For example, Mondungo is a simple tripe stew. The English interpretation is just a bit off putting for the fastidious (i.e., “veal guts”). That didn't stop me from eating it, of course.

Another factoid, there is no obvious way to operate most room heaters. They seem to have two speeds, off and on. On is about 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Off is, well, cold, very cold.

Finally, while traveling is great, it takes a lot of energy as you age, particularly when you pretend that walking up two feet high steps at 4,200 meters is a piece of cake. Also, there are the regular reminders of home, children, grandchildren, other family members and friends that quietly tug at you until you say, enough, I have to get home. 

Bruce Harrison likes to travel anywhere that he can hike and take pictures of everything that does not move and some things that do. You can view his photography at A/Image.

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