A long drive, with of course the extra 80km shortfall from yesterday, and the last 70km on a dirt drive barely big enough for Ithaca. We did manage to scrape one post which did some minor damage to the truck corner trim but we think it was the camels straw from the repeated thumps that particular corner had received. When we finally arrived at the Estancia the accommodation was in shared rooms – ours had a double bed and 3 singles so sharing with Kirsten, Jeanne and Francois. Lovely and comfortable the only issue being the incredibly noisy toilet door making it impossible to make a quiet trip to the loo in the night!
Our dinner that evening, was barbecued beef ribs from the farm, absolutely melt in the mouth and cooked to perfection. Accompanied by a bottle of local Malbec – for us carnivores it’s good to be back in Argentina!The next day was Karen’s birthday which was greeted by balloons on the door but as we were in a shared room we thought it best we postpone our normal birthday celebrations for another time………..
Congratulations over breakfast from the entire group and a gift of chocolate & wine from Tony and Geoff. Jeanne wanted to do some washing and the advice was to go to the river so Karen joined her and had a fun time doing so. Suggestions that she shouldn’t be doing washing on her birthday let alone in the river and that perhaps I should do it were given short shrift.
Later that day Karen and I wandered back down to the river, a truly lovely spot, a pleasant couple of hours scrambling over the rocks and playing grown up “pooh sticks” with 2m tree trunks caught in the rocks. Back for lunch, another pasta / tomato non-starter for me but a convivial gathering nonetheless. Dinner a much more satisfying beef casserole accompanied by the bottle of Syrah from Geoff & Tony. Kirsten had found some gluten free cookies in lieu of a cake. All in all a great day for Karen apart from not being able to pick up the messages from the family as we are in a very remote spot without wi-fi.
After breakfast, the next day, we had another pleasant walk around the farm and down to the river, meeting up with Tony & Vanessa who had also spent the morning scrambling over rocks too. Karen had horse riding booked for the afternoon along with Francois & Lisa and accompanied by Daniel, the gaucho, a very pleasant 2 hour ride around the farm in the sunshine. A number of the group anticipating overfull bags home donated their ferry hammocks to the staff at the Estancia which were very welcome.
When the horse riders were back we played Perudo – a great dice bluff game which is helped by drinking in fact is very similar to an old drinking game of my knowledge called spoof. Appearing at a family gathering near you soon. Dinner was barbecued steak, excellent quality and beautifully prepared followed by homemade tiramisu & fruit salad for Karen. It was a very relaxing few days enabling us to recharge our batteries after a very debilitating week of being ill.
Next morning we were all ready for the 500km drive to Rosario after our few days of R&R. It was slow going until we hit the tarmac at around 10.45, and a pleasure to be back in a land of well stocked and clean service stations. Rosario is the birth place of Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary and Lionel Messi – world footballer of the year since 2010 and now alleged tax dodger. We stayed at the municipal campsite as it was getting dark. Kirsten and I made a beer run – kindly getting a lift from one of the staff to an ATM and a taxi back from the supermarket with copious amounts of beer, wine and nibbles for our last night camping. Greeted with loud cheers from the thirsty crowd who promptly set to in demolishing the newly acquired stock and a fine job they did too. Dinner was an excellent chicken curry followed by toasted marshmallows around the fire.
It was an early start, after a welcome porridge breakfast, and a final inventory and clean of the tents as we packed them up for the last time. Then a relatively easy 250km run to Buenos Aries and back to the Bohemia hotel. We settled the bar with most of the group en-route, after 6 months it was around $220 in profit which we gave back to people based on the amount they had spent. We were joint highest spenders as a couple, Ken easily the highest individual spend.
Of course being the end of the trip we had to unload everything from the truck – thankfully being Sunday we were able to park outside the hotel for an hour or so before it was moved to a truck park – this included both our main bags, tripod, camera case, laptop and associated cables, our hammocks and other souvenirs. We had packed a collapsible bag in our luggage as we are allowed a generous 32kg luggage in 2 bags each with our TAM flights. Their policy of 23kg out and 32kg on the return journey made a great deal of sense for tourists. A brutal clearout of worn out t- and unwanted bits such a extra tent blanket meant we were comfortably under the weight limit with only 3 bags to check in, Karen taking the laptop and myself the camera as carry on luggage.
As it was Sunday there is a major craft / antiques street market close to the hotel so we went for a mooch with Colin and Jane, after coffees we went our separate ways as we wanted to do some shopping including a mate cup and supplies of mate for Michael. That just left us to concentrate on our final group dinner and a terrific night it was too at the excellent “Gran Parilla Del Plato” restaurant otherwise known by the group as Butchers Shop as it is in a former butcher shop. Complete with tiled walls and meat hanging racks, however also great food, wine and service.
A fun night topped off with a glass of bubbly courtesy of the restaurant, we had asked for separate bills for basically 3 tables, what we got was the bill randomly split into three, this took some sorting but eventually we got there thanks to the maths skills of the relatively sober Lisa. Stressed by the effort involved we then found Lisa & Heather in the Gibraltar pub, next door to the hotel, ordering chocolate brownies and cake at well past mid-night. After more chatting and general hilarity we finally got to bed well after 2 am. A great last night.
There were emotional goodbyes next morning as a couple of the group were leaving for the airport and home – Mikkel heading for work the day after he lands in Denmark – and then the rest of the group leaving for their Uruguay extension. Having seen them off we had a few jobs to do including checking in for our flights the following day. A shock to see our connecting flight had been changed to 6am meaning a 15 hour stopover in Sao Paulo waiting for our transatlantic flight. No thanks, so we decided to go the TAM offices and were rewarded with a no quibble change to a 7pm flight meaning a mere 1 hour stopover in Sao Paulo and then on to London. Result.
Karen and I had a good 2 hour walk to the TAM office, lunch in an excellent Italian bistro and then a wander around the Floralis Genérica – a famous huge flower sculpture. Then the bus back to the hotel where we had an example of the friendly locals, as we had insufficient change a stranger paid our fare and made sure we got off at the right stop.
The changed flight meant we effectively had an extra day in Buenos Aries and after saying goodbye to Terry, Leslie, Jeanne and Neale who were leaving for the airport at 10am for their 1pm flights, we had another walk around the city and then a final lazy lunch. We treated ourselves to a fantastic steak, red wine and champagne ice cream lunch at the Butchers Restaurant before leaving for the airport – slightly squiffy! It was a great farewell to Argentina and South America.
Arrived at the airport at 4.29pm checked in and bags gone by 4.37pm fastest check in ever, irritatingly I left my “I love boobies” Galapagos cap in the taxi but hopefully Tony can retrieve it. I bought some skull candy headphones for the flight home, uneventful flights, brilliant welcome home from Steph and Graham – banners, hugs and kisses and that’s it we are done.
I will think about a final word.
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