Stuck in Paraná
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
We spent the next couple of days checking out workshops and looking for spare parts. The local VW agency spun us a line for several more days before we realized that they really had no intention of helping, and so by then we booked an appointment at a small independent garage with good facilities and e-mailed our trusty technical support team to send the necessary parts down by FedEx. In Almonte, Frank had the package in the system in less than 24 hours and it only took another 30 hours for it to reach Buenos Aires. Sounds good so far! But, as unlikely as it seems, it will require another 5 days to reach the deepest, darkest heart of the continent - well, 500 km up the freeway to Paraná!!
Meanwhile we have put in our days honing our skills in the genteel art of patience, exploring the hidden delights of the laid-back colonial capital of Entre Ríos province, and its rather more modern, but unendearing, twin sister city of Santa Fe across the river. Although the campsite is 10 km out of town, we are lucky to have the #10 bus coming right to our doorstep, on an hourly, if somewhat haphazard, timetable. Everyday we made an excursion into town - the first few days were spent elucidating the idiosyncrasies of the 'colectivo' system, as it seemed that the #10 headed for two entirely different destinations at some apparently inexplicable whim of the driver
Saturday mornings we joined the throngs promenading in their best finery around the plaza and along the pedestrian mall, and Sundays watched all the activities along the 'costanera' under the magnificent flowering jacaranda trees beside the mighty Río Paraná. This was the week of the Summit of the Americas, hosted by Argentina in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata south of Buenos Aires, and anti-Bush sentiments were suddenly in evidence everywhere. Posters covered any spare wall or pillar space, boisterous demonstrations were held in front of the 'Casa de Gobierno', and police reinforcements were brought in to prevent excessive displays of disapproval against such symbols of Uncle Sam's insidious interests as Walmart and McDonald's. We searched the local media high and low, but surprisingly (or maybe, unsurprisingly) found no mention of Paul Martin or the role of Canada on the Americas stage.
Although we grumbled and complained somewhat in the beginning about our bad luck at another enforced delay, we soon discovered that our timing was pretty good, as this was the week of the Paraná Opera Festival
Luckily, we also had our Wordsworth Classics to hand, so have been whiling away some time exploring the subtle intricacies of Fielding's 'Tom Jones' and Dickens's 'Little Dorrit'(Miss Nielsen of Fairfield Grammar would be so proud!). Sunday afternoons we have sought out a quiet spot to watch the yacht racing and recover from sleepless Saturday nights tossing and turning to the mindless and ear-shattering bass beat of the huge disco adjacent to the campsite
It has also been a time to catch up on correspondence, laundry (even Mr. Snuffles got his annual bath) and other clean-up chores. As usual we have been encouraged by supporting e-mails from friends at home, and especially this time from our Uruguayan friends. One highlight of each visit to the internet café is another short e-mail from our faithful pen-pal Diego, as he practices his English writing to us and reading our Travelpod entries. The latest suggestion by our adopted Gregorio family back in Paysandú is that maybe our van had been bewitched over Hallowe'en and now gets to decide whichever place he fancies to stop awhile. Hopefully DC3 will shortly have had his fill of sitting gazing out over the Río Paraná, and we'll be on the road again by the next full moon!