Friday, December 2, 2011

Sienna's waiting to board the boat while we wait it out in Buenos Aires

After leaving Iguazu, all we could think about was driving through Entre Rios, and the police checks so we timed it that we would passed the province late at night. This time we didn't get stopped because all the police where just sitting around and sleeping. Our destination was Tigre a small town outside of Buenos Aires and we originally wanted to stay here and just transit into the city. It didn't work out that way we couldn't find a decent place to stay in town but we did end up staying 4 days in and around Tigre. During those for days we took transit into BA, found an apartment and also made contact with the shipping company. Shipping company was Capricorn representing K-line and they charge $1000 for RO/RO to Jacksonville Florida, service takes about 30 days and only 1 boat a month. That same day we also found an apartment in Recoleta, (off craigslist) a nice neighborhood of BA $650 a month parking was separate extra $75 for 2 weeks because we put the Sienna at port to wait for the boat.

Buenos Aires is a very cosmopolitan city that still holds on to its old world charm, with its architecture, unique neighborhoods and green spaces. After visited its many tourist sites and walking its old streets I can see why so many visitors call it the Paris of South America. We have been is BA for over a month now and still or Sienna has not left the port, K-line agent telling us there is a delay with the ships. So it looks like we will leave Argentina before the van leaves.

Our Sienna down south has run its course and we ready to return home. There has been so many wonderful places, great foods tried and encountered great people so it would near impossible to pick one over another so I won't. Visitors can read our blog or visit the places and decide for yourself. I know everyone's experience will differ from ours and that's what so exciting about exploring the unknown. I hope my blog will give some insight on the places but most importantly get them excited to travel.

Recolate converted theater into a bookstore 
best ice cream in Buenos Aries 
where the wealthy Argentina's are buried Recoleta cemetery ( include Eva Peron, Evita final resting place)  

one of the most expensive sites holds a Nobel prize winner
ghost of Rufina a wealthy young girl that was buried alive and to this day she still roams the grounds
modern art museum of Buenos Aires

made from recycled air plane wings
meet up at Ariel home 30 minutes outside of Buenos Aires for a typical Argentinean BBQ 

Sunday, at San Telmo market is interesting place to spend the day (tango, asado, mate tea and loads of antiques) 

November 22, 2011 left at Zarata port heading for USA.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Road to Iguazu falls, 4500 kilometers in a week and corrupt cops in Entre Rios

From Argentina's deep south to the top north as this week we've put on over 4500km. Most of the driving has been on ruta 3 along the coast then we detoured around the capital and joined ruta 12. Now we have heard stories of bad police in Argentina, but I never expected to encounter it ourselves because we have been traveling over 3 months in the country and only had good experience. That all changed when we entered the province of Entre Rios, on a stretch of a 200km's multilane hwy. We got stopped 3 times, the first time they told me I was speeding (I probably was speeding because speed signs changes from 130km to 80 at the merging lanes) but they weren't overly concern about that, it was the bikes on the back that they called an "infraction". The first guy in the motorhome office was using google translate to explain to me that I would have to pay $200 usd, now!. After going back and forth he finally gave up and told me to go to the next room and the next guy I guess was the final negotiator. He explained calmly our infraction with pictures and told us we had an option to pay $200 at the banks or $100 here and now. Again I told him we don't have that much money, than he asked "how much can you pay?" and Jieun opens her wallet and says "7 pesos" he smiled and told us good bye.

second stop that held us up for over a half hour and its corrupt captain behind desk
lieutenant that didn't like us taking pictures and told us to pay in US dollars  
After that experience were both kinda shocked it happen, now watching my speed at the merging lanes we get stopped again. This time they mention nothing about the bikes and asked to see our fire extinguisher, when we showed him he took it to show his captain and the captain immediately told his lieutenant to take pictures and give us ticket. The reason for the ticket was our extinguisher didn't have a dial indicator and we would again have to pay $200 usd at the bank or just them directly $100 on the spot. We went on back and forth until I told him to just give me the ticket for $200 usd. He was reluctant to fill out the ticket and told his captain but captain keep on pushing him to try to get money from us. Finally we told him we have to leave and give us the ticket please. He fills out the ticket but the amount shows only 125 pesos. So from $200 usd to $100 usd and finally 125 pesos, we left thinking this place is crazy. Third times a charm a woman officer stops us and tells us its an infraction to have bikes on the back, she takes our information into the office this time a real station and the captain comes out and tells us to get some red flags and tie them up to the bike rack, now thats nice a warning and some advice. Finally we exit Entre Rios and the only thing were thinking is we have to drive on this road again.

saying goodbye to our trusty bikes hope he gets as much travel as we did 
In Puerto Iguazu and we decided to try and eliminate our stress of Entre Rios and gave our bikes away to a young shoeless boy that was working at a supermarket parking lot watching cars. He had a smile from side to side and then told us about his poor older brother that works on farm so we just gave both bikes in hopes he and his family will get good use from them. With that out of the way our minds are back on visiting Iguazu Falls. It boarders on 3 countries Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina and has just recently became a new 7 natural wonder of the world. We headed to the falls early next morning with 2 bike travelers we meet at our campsite. Ariel an Argentinean and Andrei from Romania. The cost of the park is $100 pesos and $25 for parking. It was a really hot and sunny day so seeing the falls was ideal because your on top of the falls and the spray just soaks you and cools you off. Water was kinda of muddy from the eroding land, the falls are a huge U shape water fall with lots of small falls on the sides with viewing trails around. For an extra $120 peso we took a boat ride into the falls it was crazy exciting and the tour calls it the "shower" because thats what it feels like you had after.   

too much mist that eventually stopped our waterproof camera
Andrei and Ariel 2 bicycle from different parts of the world and meeting here

no pot of gold but a great boat ride at the end

2 sisters water fall
our camera failed after this shot, but started up again when it counted in the falls

don't ask, looks like I saw the ghost from the movie Ring
After 2 days in Iguazu, we have come to the conclusion its too difficult to sell our Sienna and will now ship our  van to Florida and drive back home. We have already contacted a shipping line and will meet with them when we get to Buenos Aires. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Up the Atlantic coast and checking out the sea life

roadrunner infront of us for a good 200 meter at about 20kph
look closely you can see 15 penguins 

We are making our way up north to see the waterfalls of Iguazu, but first we had to re-enter Chile, and while there, we decide to check out Chile's most southern city of Punta Arenas. We had read somewhere online  of people buying foreign cars here because its a tax free zone, but no luck. We spent the night, checked out the town main square and market that served up cheap, great seafood. Next morning we left early to check out a penguin reserve about 1.5hr north of town don't even remember the name, its was kinda hard to find because they didn't have proper signs. Half of the way is gravel and about 10km's before the park there's a booth that charged us $3 EACH for parking??? When we arrived at the park we asked the office with the advice from the parking collector, "how many penguins are there?" 15 on the beach she replied. Ok, we wanted to see them up close at the cost of $30 for both. When we got to the beach sure enough 15 cute tuxedos,  but it was   way too far away to see them up close. We did manage to see 2 walk by the fence to get some pictures. 

gang of penguins, you scared yet
happy feet 3 coming soon
Next day we visited Punta Tombo, because Ji, wasn't satisfied with penguins we saw in Chile. Punta Tombo  penguin reserve is about 200km's south of Puerto Madryn and is one of the largest and most important Magellanic penguin colonies. It cost us only $8 each to enter, no parking fee and this place was full of these little cuties. It was early November so the females are nesting keeping their eggs warm and safe, so they weren't too active but the males were walking back and forth from the ocean to meet their mates. Plus here you can get up close, but they cautiously walk by you. It was a great experience and yet another reason for us why Argentina is better than Chile. Later that day we arrived in Madryn, hoping to get lucky and see some whales off the Peninsula Valdes. At the park entrance we were shocked to see the fee of $18 He told us to head to the beach just north of Madryn on the dirt road and you can see the whales off the coast. It was a nice feeling to have a local tell us about this place and help us save some money for once. We decide to cook dinner on the cliff side with a panoramic views of Puerto Madryn and the ocean always keeping an eye out for a whale. When we finished eating the sun was setting and still nothing in site. We headed down the coast alittle more and stopped when we saw another RV parked and searched again and then we saw it, a mother teaching her young to swim. Amazing day overall,  tomorrow we back on the long road for Iguazu.  

yes, its far but we were lucky enough to see these amazing creatures