“Don’t cry for me, Argentina” but this morning Buenos Aires wept buckets. The forecast was for an occasional shower but between waiting at the ship’s muster point and setting off on a trip which involved quite a lot of walking around BA, the heavens had opened. Where were the rain jackets, the umbrellas and wet weather gear… why, back in the cabins?!!
It became more and more farcical and laughing was all you could do. We got off the bus during a slight lull in the deluge at the cemetery to ‘visit’ Eva Peron.
However, by the time we had paid our respects, marvelled at a cemetery with nothing but extravagant mausoleums and made a dive into the shelter of the entrance, we were in the middle of a tropical storm of monumental proportions. The path became a river and steps down to the road provided a cascading waterfall. Hilarious. Outside stood a young man selling umbrellas. He named his price, I named mine. He went lower and so did I, but in the end $3 bought me some shelter and I was fractionally less of a drowned rat after the 100 yard dash to the coach.
We got off the bus again to look at the artists’ area with the brightly coloured shops and houses. I got as far as a coffee shop and enjoyed the strongest espresso coffee I have ever drunk anywhere. Hours later, I am still flying! It certainly helped with the tango.
This is such a beautiful city with fabulous buildings, monuments and parks and I would have loved to soak it up, as opposed to getting a real soaking. I did have to peer hard through the rain drenched windows to see anything.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a sense of the ridiculous and whilst being in awe of the driver as he negotiated the by now flooded avenues, I found myself laughing at the sight of a tiny rowing boat coming towards us being washed quickly from a side street. It was a young boy having fun. At about the same point, a woman had taken off her shoes, hitched up her dress and was wading thigh deep along the pavement. The water must have been over the axles of our coach but the driver kept on going and we made it to a less flooded area.
Then it was time for a few of us who had booked a tango demonstration and private lessons to get to grips (!) with our allocated partners. “The tango is very sexy… relax, give me your body and I will make it sing”. Blimey!! What fun though. I am not going to go into detail here… ask me when I am home… I am still laughing (and blushing)!!! If you have ever watched ‘Benidorm’, think about Mateo, the Spanish barman, making you wrap your leg around him as he gets up close and very personal.
And what do you think had happened by the time we left the dance floor and were just a short ride to the ship? The sun had come out and was cracking the pavements. A look to the heavens, “Thanks, Pal, you got me this time”. It was different (very), the Argentinian tango was a new experience (hmmm!) and what’s a bit of rain to a northern lass?!
The rough seas of yesterday were all forgotten as we came face to face this morning with this very small South American country. Uruguay is the size of England and Wales and apparently the total population of the country is only 3m – but half of the people live in Montevideo. Montevideo means “I see a mountain” but I had to chuckle because the highest hill in the country is only about 400m high! The country is famous for…football and the tour guide could list every single player exported to play for other countries. Impressive. Amongst the facts and figures coming our way were all the usual historical and geographical ones and, of course, like much of South America, the country has been fought over and conquered numerous times. I laughed when I heard that the English also came and conquered in the 16th century but only stayed one year. However, we left a legacy… newspapers!
The traffic pouring into Montevideo was chaotic and, in the circumstances, it was probably a wise move to opt for a tour to the very upper class Punto del Este, which turned out to be 85 miles away. I confess to having the horrors when it was announced we would go to two museums along the way but they turned out to be the highlight of the tour for me.
They were actually art galleries and were exhibiting some of the most wonderful pieces of modern art I have seen. You were encouraged to explore and get up close, take photographs, etc. Not quite like ours then!!
There were statues by Salvador Dali held in a private collection and works of art from both the famous and the not so famous. One of the collections was in a beautiful, white, quirky building high up on the cliffs, with quiet terraces to drink in the natural beauty as well as that created and collected. The other “museum” was one of the now quite well known Ralli Museums and that was also truly fabulous. Alright, I wouldn’t want to hang the paintings at home but they were incredible. Various parts of various anatomies seem to appear in strange places.
Punta del Este is a beautiful beach resort where the country’s rich and famous have summer homes/holiday apartments. There is an active move to “sell” the benefits of Uruguay to Europeans and North Americans as it is currently reasonably priced, has a stable government and is expected to boom. Allegedly… a high percentage of all who visit Uruguay take a tour on a bus. 20% return to take a holiday in a hotel or rent an apartment. 80% of that last group will buy a house here. I can see the potential… a beautiful climate (today was 29C), lovely houses/apartments, great beaches which are nowhere near as crowded as in Brazil, rather interestingly attractive gauchos who ride their horses across the Pampas and through the lush green countryside. But… no direct flights from the UK and a very long way for a summer break. A great day out but doubt I will come back.
The return to the ship proved a little tricky. Members of the group wanted to buy fridge magnets (!) and instead of arriving back at 5, it was 5.30. That was the time the ship was due to leave… our Captain will not be happy! Thank heavens for organised tours when the ship is guaranteed not to leave without you. On the other hand, Buenos Aires is not far away.