Heading Home for the Holidays!

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tigre is a quiet sleepy little town on the edge of the Delta de Paraná about thirty km north-west of Buenos Aires. Sleepy during the week that is, but on weekends it is rudely awoken by thousands of city-weary porteños who pour out of the metropolis to find some cleaner air and greener pastures. It is certainly greener as its location on the very edge of the myriad of islands, waterways and channels that comprise the Delta provides a lush environment for growing almost anything, and the climate is perennially spring-like. Only the colour of the water leaves something to be desired - a delicate shade of muddy-brown coffee is perhaps the most fitting description. The town's streets and canals are lined with restaurants, bars and artesania stands of all descriptions, and the piers are bustling with all manner of pleasure boats and launches ready to take you for an hour or two's exploration of the Delta, or even on a day trip across to Uruguay. Nestled further back among the trees in beautiful garden settings are many stately homes, courtly cottages and imposing rowing clubs that speak of earlier and rather more genteel days.

As we travelled from Córdoba over the past week across the great agricultural heartland of the Argentinean pampa surrounding Buenos Aires, we dreaded arriving in the huge capital city (with a population of some thirteen million at last count) and having to make final arrangements for storing the van and preparing for our trip home. Coming from many months of splendid solitude in Patagonia and the isolated southern regions of Argentina and Chile, it is quite a shock to the system to find ourselves back in the noise, pollution and congestion of modern civilization. We moderated the impact somewhat by spending time in the fine French Renaissance city of Rosario - where we arrived in the midst of flag day parades and ceremonies - and in the placid little gaucho centre of San Antonio de Areco. However, as we got into the grubby industrial towns and crowded suburbs to the west of the city our hearts were sinking. What a pleasant surprise therefore, to suddenly find ourselves in this riverside retreat of Tigre, only a fifty minute commuter train ride from downtown Buenos Aires and with all the facilities we needed.

We booked into the beautiful old-world 'Casona La Ruchi B&B' in an elegant 1893 mansion, replete with period furniture, fifteen foot-high ceilings, and balconies overlooking the palm trees in the garden. Jorge and Dora Escauriza are the gracious hosts in this lodging, and look after their guests with friendly and warm-hearted hospitality. It is the first place we've stayed that the Maple Leaf has been raised in our honour! We interspersed our chores with boat trips out into the Delta, walks around the parks and dinners at cute canal-side restaurants. A really pleasant way to finish off this phase of our trip.

So now we are heading home for the holidays - for a much needed break from this arduous journey!! (yes, we can hear you all smirking out there!) Tonight we are hopping on a plane for New York, and by tomorrow evening will be arriving back in Ottawa. For probably the first time in our lives we are a tad homesick - maybe because of the emotional stress since Mike's death - and we are so much looking forward to visiting with family and friends. Besides Sharon's appointment with the eye surgeon, we also have a trip planned to the UK for a family wedding, as well as a quick hop over to Switzerland to see our friends Adrian and Tanja (and you too, of course, Helen!), and a reunion in Nova Scotia with Margie and Lissie. First though, we're hoping to be able to spend a little time helping out Gerry & George - the new owners of 'The Herb Garden'. They will again be hosting the Ottawa Valley MidSummer HerbFest near Almonte - a special 10th anniversary edition based on a global herbal village theme (see their website www.herbgarden.on.ca for full details). We're expecting to see a lot of you there on Sunday July 24th!
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