Corned beef

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Jun 14, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, June 1, 2006

Liebig was a village built by the English, who opened a massive meat-packing factory here, and if you were alive at any time between the 20s and the 70s, then the chances are you've eaten a can of corned beef that started its life in this very place. I found it bizarre to keep coming across traces of the English in this country where they really had no business (they also built the railways here), but then reflected that it was only a historical equivalent of the American influence that you can find anywhere in the world today (but instead of railways and meat factories, we get 'movies' and Coca Cola). Give it another century or so and the world will probably be Indo-Chinese (or, if you prefer, we can say Sino-Indian).

Though a corned beef and ketchup sandwich on cheap white bread was perhaps my favourite student meal, the giant can of the stuff in the town square was not the best thing in Liebig - that accolade goes to the astonishing Butterfly museum. An 81 year old, one-legged, wheelchair-bound old man personally showed me around his massive collection of amazing butterflies and moths of every colour, pattern, size and shape you can imagine, some metallic, some glow-in-the-dark, and all beaufitul, from every corner of the world, as well as a scary cabinet full of the world's largest (think fist-sized) beetles. Unfortunately photos were not allowed, due to the flash causing fading, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

After that the man showed me round an adjacent room containing his collection of stones - and each stone told a story - and I was to hear the story of each stone, until I could actually feel my beard growing longer. But I shouldn't joke - these too were amazing, plain and ugly on the outside but sliced apart by nature to reveal astonishingly formed insides of vivid colours and patterns. Shaking revealed that some had water or another stone trapped within. It just goes to show what you can find if you bother to stop and look! The old geezer also had some dino fossils and petrified tree trunks (he wasn't a frightening man so it must have been my beard), a snake in formaldehyde and some dried pirhanas.

There was another museum next door, which didn't contain anything of interest, except another good-natured wheelchair bound old man who I entered into conversation with. Meanwhile, his wife brought me a slice of cake and a cup of coca-cola, and upon leaving I felt duty bound to purchase a jar of their home-made jam, at which point as a gift they gave me a box of home-made alfajores and a packet of speciality crisps, so I gave them twice the asking price of the jam. If I was feeling cycnical I'd call this a cunning ploy, but I'm not, so I'm going to call it reciprocal generosity instead.

I continued my journey from Leibig towards Uruguay but getting over the border before dark began to look unlikely, and indeed, I was forced to spend another night in the Colon of two days previously. This, you shall see, proved to be a bad move.
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