Tuesday Feb 1, 2011

Oh boy! We’ve only been a South America for 36 hours – but it feels like we’ve been here a week already!

Our 11-hour flight from Auckland to Santiago (Chile) – backwards through the time-zones – was uneventful. Sleep eluded many of our campers, but I (John) managed to get a nice, long, uninterrupted 15 minutes (yawn)! We sat around for 3 hours in Santiago Airport, then took off again over the snow-capped Andes to Buenos Aires (Argentina) on the opposite coast – arriving just an hour after we left Auckland, still on the same day! (Go figure …)

Our Midlife Madness Welcome Dinner last night – at the Cabana Las Silas Restaurant – introduced us to Angus steaks the size of houses. And some of our group (who shall remain nameless) ordered more of the same again tonight – at the La Esquina De Carlos Gardel, where we were treated to a 1950s-style tango show and banquet.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself …

We spent today falling in love with Buenos Aires (population: a mere 13 million), its wide, shady boulevards lined with palatial mansions, boutiques and animated cafes. Our city tour included the Plaza de Mayo (centre of the city’s political and historical life) and the sculpture-packed Recoleta Cemetery (where Eva “Evita” Peron is buried) – with a Spanish-flavoured lunch-stop in the colourful, arty La Boca District, where sensuous sounds of the tango filled the air.

It’s well after midnight now, and we’ve just arrived back at our hotel after that tango show I mentioned earlier. How good was it? Well, let’s just say FABULOUS, WORLD-CLASS and TOTALLY WOW! Which isn’t surprising, I guess, given that right here on these streets is where the tango was originally born.

PEOPLE NEWS: Some early Midlife Madness Awards have been earned by the following (who are all required to wear silly rubber noses for the next 24 hours as punishment) …

  • Edgar received the ‘Got My Bum But Not My Bum-Bag’ Award – for leaving his money-belt behind in the Marlborough Lounge at Auckland Airport. (Don’t worry: it found its way back to Edgar before we went airborne.)
  • Barbara was nominated for the ‘She’d Lose Her Head If It Wasn’t Screwed On’ Award – for getting permanently separated from her passport at Buenos Aires Airport. (Barbara and the writer spent the morning in numerous taxis, various Spanish-speaking police stations, and the New Zealand Embassy sorting it out. And guess who the ever-so-helpful young lady at the Embassy turned out to be? Angela – John Cooney’s long-lost second cousin! No kidding! You could’ve knocked John over with a feather …)
  • Renton & Irene were granted the ‘Sleeping Beauties’ Award – for failing to emerge from their beds and bedrooms until 10:10 this morning (10 minutes after the group was due to go sightseeing).
  • And Peter takes home the ‘How Come No One Looks Familiar?’ Award – for blissfully clambering aboard the wrong bus after tonight’s show. (To be fair, it was late – and the buses all looked the same. Okay, they were different colours. But they were all big. And they all had wheels …)

TOMORROW: We fly north, to the rainforest mountains of Argentina and Brazil, where we plan to get up-close-and-wet with the world-famous, jaw-dropping Iguazu Falls … so don’t change channels!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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