It’s 2 am and I’m wide awake after just a few hours sleep and my body is firmly convinced that it is time to be up and about. Jet lag is indeed a wonderful thing!
My flight arrived on time at 1.30 pm, local time, after travelling from Sydney to Auckland (which took 2 1/2 hours) and then a flight sector of a little over 11 hours from Auckland to here. Aerolinias Argentinus provides quite a comfortable flight, but it has some obvious differences to the airlines in our region – I noticed that the door to the flight deck was frequently open, there was less concern by the cabin crew about seats being upright for landing, there was no drinks service before the meals and the service levels were generally lower than I have generally experienced.
We flew a circle route just north of Antarctica and crossed the South American coast over Patagonia. We then followed an arc which took us north though Central Southern Argentina. I couldn’t see the Andes because of cloud, but for most of the time it was quite clear. Southern Argentina looks from the air, to be similar to our outback country. It is flat, dry and quite eroded. There were a number of dry mud flats of varying size. I found out that this area is mainly used for growing sheep, and like the outback,it has a carrying capacity of only about 1 sheep to the hectare. My geographic knowledge tells me this area is in a rain shadow – all the rain falling on the western side of the Andes the east of the Andes.
Further north, I could see a more developed network of roads with an occasional spot from which less major roads radiated like the spokes of a wheel. These were ranches and it reinforced the similarity to our outback. As we approached Buenos Aries, it became very cloudy and we lost the view. We seemed to descend for a very long time though cloud and rain. The weather for our arrival was 24 degrees raining and humid.
I am sharing a room with Patrick, a nice fellow in his sixties from Hobart. So far our group for the Patagonian section of my, trip consists of me, Patrick, an elderly English woman, Anne and our guide Romano. We have two other people joining us when we get to El Calafete, making our group five in total.
We had an initial briefing with Romano last night dinner in a very nice restaurant. The meal was as nice as I have had anywhere and the total cost for four(including wine) was only 300 pesos. This equals about $133. (2.25 pesos to the A$). The wine we had was cheap – but it was excellent. I think that I am going to enjoy the Argentinean reds!
I’m looking forward to seeing more of BA as we go, but so far it seems to have a nice feel to it. I have seen a number of impressive buildings, but there are clearly a lot of poor people here. About half the population lives below the poverty line. A primary school teacher gets paid about 900 pesos per month.
From a very superficial overview, Buenos Aries looks and feels, like the city of 12 million people that if is. My hotel is on the Main boulevard – Avenue 9th of July – and even at this time I can hear constant traffic noise. This road has 7 lanes in each direction plus a service lane on each side of 3 extra lanes.
Well, so far I’m off to a good start. I’m going to try to get back to sleep and be ready for a day tour of the city tomorrow. I’ll probably upload this blog after breakfast.