Tuesday March 21, 2017

We’re sitting in Buenos Aires domestic airport, drinking expensive coffee and eating yummy pollo (chicken) empanadas (small pasties), waiting for our flight to Iguazu Falls, and reflecting on everything that’s happened since we last talked.

OH BOY! Where do we start?

Falkland Islands was where we left you, and that was followed by two easy days at sea – with the vast, empty Atlantic looking, at times, like glass. One night (can’t remember which) we celebrated our adventure-thus-far with a Midlife Madness Cocktail Party in the Explorers Lounge.

On Sunday morning, as the sun was peeping over the horizon (see photo captured by my early-rising wife), we sailed into Montevideo – the friendly capital of Uruguay (pop 1.3 million), famous for long lunches, siestas and high teas. But we didn’t have time for that sort of nonsense. Instead, we drove for two hours alongside the vast, muddy La Plata River: scene of the Battle of the River Plate – the first major naval battle of World War II, which resulted (with the help of Kiwis on the HMS Archilles) in the eventual sinking of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee (bits of which are on display ashore).

Our destination (past fields of brown-topped sorghum and rows of stately palm-trees) was a recently-declared UNESCO World Heritage Site: Colonia del Sacramento. Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, this stunning old colonial town is a photographer’s dream – featuring narrow cobblestoned streets, colourful crumbling houses, charming little doorways, on-the-pavement cafes, old retro cars, and cats sitting in windows surveying the tourists who are surveying them!

Finally, yesterday morning, we docked in the port of Buenos Aires (Argentina), having sailed a total of 4035 nautical miles – during which the Zaandam (with its passengers and crew) consumed 10,000 meals per day … 174,000 gallons of drinkable water per day … and 85 gallons of diesel per nautical mile. Phew!

With our leisurely 5-star cruise drawing to a close, we took to the streets of this vibrant city (home for 12 million in the greater Buenos Aires area) – covering Plaza de Mayo (the historical heart) … Recoleta (the sophisticated French zone, noted for its architecture, barrios and world-famous cemetery, where Evita Peron, First Lady of Argentina until her death in 1952, lies buried) … Plaza San Martin & Retiro (tracing the city’s passage from the Old South to the European influence in the 19th century) … and La Boca (one of the oldest districts, its cobblestone streets crowded with pavement artists, rambling multi-hued shopfronts, and open-air tango dancing).

PEOPLE NEWS: Two more oinking pink pigs have left the sty and waddled off with new owners:

  • Lorna took home our ‘Kick-Boxing’ Award – for trying to take out a stairwell on the ship. Unfortunately, she came off second-best, blood everywhere and needing four stitches in her leg! (She’s recovered well, by the way, and is running around again like a teenager.)
  • Raewyn earned herself our ‘Happy Valley’ Award – for her hiding her cruise ID card in her bra. After rummaging down there for it last night at dinner, she handed it to our wine steward – who had covered his eyes (not knowing where to look). He promptly dropped her card, pretending it was too-hot-to-handle. (You had to be there!)

COMING UP: We’ve just said “Adios!” (goodbye) to our floating hotel, but two more special highlights still await us: the plunging, gushing, thundering waters of Iguazu Falls … and the Lost City of the Incas high in the Peruvian Andes. So stay tuned, and don’t change channels …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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