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ARGENTINA  23/9 - 8/10 2003  


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 Diary      Sights      Cacti

 From Diary 2, we head even higher up.
10.4. It has been raining during the night, and everything is fresh this morning. The mountain tops have got a powder of snow, it's not quite summer yet. Great discussion over breakfast. Willy has run out of money, since there was someone who bailed out (her mother died). He had expected to get money from her (funny enough only half of what I have given), and now he wants us to pay for the last night ourselves. Then we get the money, when we return to Buenos Aires. I do not see the problem, but some of the others will not pay anymore. I would have no problem with us splitting her part, but if Willy wants to reimburse, he may as well.

We stop at a completely vertical rock wall, where some cacti are sitting up under the upper overhang. Stop 8.1. I manage to crawl up to one and make a photo. A little further down, we stop again, here is among other things a Hoya. Then it goes down through the beautiful rainforest again. Here are countless motifs, I try to settle for the best, but it is difficult, when you are tossed around in the bus, through the countless hairpin turns. Then we are back down in the agricultural land and I blink with my eyes (an hour or so). Waking up with migraines, still in agricultural land.
See a sign: Hausa Pampa, it looks very much like Danish agricultural land.

We start driving uphill and there is scrub forest. A giant toad crosses the despicable path of death. Otherwise, I only see small birds and some single birds of prey. Many places along the roads, we have driven, there are small altars. They are sacrificed by them: Water. Hundreds of half-full, two-liter soda bottles are located around a beer can large altar. In most places, it looks like a trash pile. These are Catholic altars. A little weirdness: One of the cacti we have seen is called: Parodia maassii.

We get up to a plateau where there are only bushes, mixed with cacti and opuntias. The tops of the mountains around us are shrouded in clouds, and look enchanted. Some of the opuntias have orange flowers. Some plants are completely covered; really nice. They are taller than the surrounding bushes, entirely tree-shaped, with a stem up to three meters high. I spot a fantastic looking Chorisia speciosa that is over one meter in diameter and the trunk is just under two meters high. Here are many different thin pillar cacti that are huge trees. Here are some Jatrophas, just my style.

Suddenly we are out of the area. Asking if we should not stop today: No! At first I thought it was tomorrow we were going to drive all day. Maybe the plans are redone this morning? Pretty sour, these were some really nice and big plants that I can only see here. Buenos Aires is only 1120 kilometers away. I had also come up with an idea for a little souvenir for myself: a big cactus thorn. I also hoped we stopped at some Chorisia, so I could get some wild seeds from this fat tree that will fit perfectly into my collection. For a long time, we drive among green bushes and wooded grass, along a very wide, and completely flat valley. You can only glimpse the most distant mountains. Then, suddenly an olive orchard pops up.

We stop at one of the few gas stations. I have to drop 15 kroner for a freshly smothered half flute with ham and cheese, a cup of cafe con leche, two liters of water and a packet of biscuits. Very reasonable! We must have come down into the lowlands again (just blinked). The temperature is up to 30 degrees and the humidity is high. The driver puts on a movie; some American action movie. There are Spanish subtitles, but the sound is too low for me to follow. We now drive in an almost gold desert, with many meters between the grass totts. The spaces are filled with water! Looks wildly wrong, but the place probably got this year's rain last night. I just blink again and then two and a half hours have passed, and we swing into a gas station again.

We stop once more to get shots and photos of an Opuntia with flowers. I manage to wring a big thorn of it, as my Argentina souvenirs. The horizon gets dark with heavy rain clouds, and a little later comes the first wind tears. The rainy season has come, we have been lucky. The sholder of the road is filled with very low flowers in all colors.
The little rain and haze lasts until seven, where we hit the hotel. We could easily have stopped a few times during the day - bummer! Next door to the hotel is an internet cafe. Here are 20 12-15 year old boys and players. It's noisy! The keyboard is worn down so you can't see what's been on the keys and, like everywhere else, the keyboard and driver aren't exactly the same. @ only available at Alt + 64, but only when you know it. After about half an hour, I have read and sent an email to Rikke, and reduced my hearing by 20 dB.

We meet to eat. First we head to a butcher to buy something for each one of us. Then we go to the Farmacias to call. They have drugstores, materialist stuff, toddler stuff, ice cream and cold drinks. I have proved right, the mood has been a bit depressing today; we are only three who go out and eat together. I'm sorry, I think otherwise it's gone pretty well, but I can't be sure. I get one of their delicious burgers, the other two get steak with either salad or ferrets, a beer two water and two coffees for a total of 45 kroner, which I, big in the battle, give. Besides, I will miss the delicious, strong coffee.Then I check the internet cafe again; the kids are gone. Get some emails (why do people ask me where near Kolding you can buy Strongbow?), as well as clean up the ones that have come in the last 14 days (delete, delete ...). It seems completely wrong to be back in the room without fainting with fatigue. Could it be the four hours of sleep I got on the bus today helps? Begins to make a list of what to do when I get home. Just making the list seems obscure! Finds just four more blankets, as here's better light than the last room. They still look small and hungry, don't they like me at all?

 10.5. Starts the day I ended yesterday: Removes the ticks. Now they have bitten and clawed a little, but they have not swelled. Maybe it's not a tick at all? After breakfast I pay for the hotel room: 75 kroner. If I don't get them back, I'll probably survive. Incidentally, agree to come out to Willy to see his plant collection tomorrow.
We are 750 miles from Buenos Aires, in the Cordoba area; pure pampas: Cornfields as far as the eye can see. The barley have seeds, the corn still dead stumps. The sun was just up this morning, but disappeared quickly. After a quick cup of morning coffee, the driver puts on a movie and I close my eyes. Don't miss much; The landscape and the cities are of not Danish, but rather close. At least get some relaxation these days. And yet; there is a real wildlife in the short-cut grass sholders. Guinea pigs, various pigeons, magpies, topped birds, small birds, falcons, hens monks parrots, butterflies, hawks, waders, plowers, quails, blackbirds, starlings, sparrows, flycatchers and many others I just can't name. In most electrical poles, some football-sized, igloo-shaped bird nests are made of mud. At first, I thought it was ants' nest, but everyone has the same opening. On some stretches, there is not a pole without at least one nest.Some car models here are just a lot of. An old Jeep-like one, with V-shaped front, Fiat 600 (the small egg-shaped), Mercedes trucks 1311 and 1513 and Ford Falcon, 40 years old.

Have nothing else to do, so here's a little status: I've had significantly more luggage on this trip, than I usually do. I haven't spent more than I usually have, except for socks. I had come to understand that it was an international trip, it was a little tricky. I thought there were two drivers, but never mind. I thought we should have visited more private collections than one. It also puzzeled on me that the prices were so low. Hot food for twelve kroner, at a restaurant that could look like one in Denmark, seems crazy! I hadn't figured the trip had been so intense. There has not been much wasted time. I had figured we had visited more varied climates. It's not much we've been in the rainforest. I had expected to talk to someone during those 14 days. Not that they're not nice, but with the exception of Willy, they can't share a word with me. Willy has had plenty of guidance as a guide to the others, he has really worked hard. The trip has been incredibly carefully planned. I did not expect Argentina's larger cities to be so modern, nor that there were such vast unenhabitated areas. I'm glad I didn't expect to see all of Argentina in three weeks. I hadn't figured it was a "shopping trip" at all, I thought we should just photograph. It has been pretty shocking to see just how the cacti have been dug up. Also how there have been old holes and discarded plants that have just been lying and floating. Oddly, I haven't seen a single pedal locum until the last two gas stations. Not that I've missed them ... All gas station toilets are BYO (bring your own paper).

Status past; back to the present. It is probably a killing tour this day. The landscape is totally similar; looks like flat Danish agriculture. The mileage signs are provocatively similar, not many kilometers are counted down. On long stretches along the road, a shallow channel with an incredible amount of bird life runs in. There is a bird of prey every 10-15 meters walking, wheeling, groaning, cow herding, large white herons, ducks, cormorants, black ibiser (?), A single stork, and a sea of ​​other wetland birds. We stop at a gas station where there is a small stall next to it. They have nets with oranges, cooked things, oils and honey as well as rose plants. There are an incredible number of such stalls here, 150 kilometers outside Buenos Aires. The oranges cost a krone - the kilo! Hey, I forgot; not a single one of us smokes. Of course, it reduces the number of smoking breaks, but is very nice.

There is significantly more traffic to Buenos Aires than out. Of course, it is Sunday, but it seems strange. A little past seven, we are suddenly at my hotel, I say goodbye and jump off. Nice clothes on, and looked out to find an open internet cafe. It's Sunday, but some of the shops are open. The shoe polishers have just gone home, otherwise I could use one. Sipping a hamburger and a coffee at a small cafe. Seems to be nine o'clock early to go home, and I'm lucky enough to find a quiet and fast internet cafe. Spends a few hours catching up with newsgroups. One has struggled through a long discussion I started. Another settles a dispute by referring to one of my pages, and in a third one is annoyed that he did not see my photo first, so he had not spent half a year finding a name for a plant. The town has become quieter, so I head home to wash a shirt for the return trip. The receptionist remembers my room number. Lucky; I had forgotten.

10.6. Day of relaxation: Try to change my departure from Madrid, so that I do not have six hours there. Buy a plant that I saw yesterday under the name Ombu. It is a Phytolacca dioica (Phylolaccaceae), which is the only high growth on the pampa and has a thick stem, in which it holds water. It is precisely what makes it a caudiciform, so it should be included in my collection, (you learn a lot of a visit to the internet). Then I saw some nice shoes at a reasonable price, in a business that had closed. There, I'll just pass by again. Rikke wrote, I should see the balcony Elvita kept her famous speech from. It must be in the middle of town? Then I just remember I made an appointment with Willy at eleven to see his collection. This afternoon ...

And then the real world: There are no flights with Iberia Air in the six hours to Copenhagen. Elvita kept her speech a little out of the center, but I can get out there with a couple of Metro's and a walk. The florist is open, he has actually had it for so long, that he has sold the beautiful Ombu, so I have to settle for a slightly smaller pen that is a little more expensive: 60 Kr. The shoe store is not open yet, so I grab a cup of coffee, which I burn my tongue on wildly, for a moment's inattention. Otherwise it works very well. By the way, seems to be one of the expensive cups of coffee. I am in a really nice pastry, with countless really nice and delicious looking cakes. I enjoyed a cafe con leche, and in addition to that, I get a glass of juice, a small jug of water and a plate of cookies. Of course, napkins, sugar and sweetener as well as a new ash tray will be put on the table. It seems pretty overwhelming, when you just have a cup of coffee. It nevertheless costs no more than 5.50 Kr.
Then, the shoe store have openend. Of course, they do not have the shoes of my size, so it will be the restoring of the old ones. Finds a shueshiner. He starts by pulling off his knit sweater. Then plastic pieces come down to protect the socks. The shoes are brushed clean of dust, and cleaned with some scratchy liquid. Then they are dyed and allowed to draw before being plastered for the first time. Then comes clear polish cream, which is first polished with brush, then a silk cloth. My otherwise so hardened shoes (almost suede look) look new! May then give  4.50 Kr for this quarter's treatment.

I'm just off the Metro, which after ten stops brings me out near Willy. Then I just have to walk eight blocks and find his house number. Coming four minutes late, but what. His collection is on the roof. Here is a large terrace with eight covered benches and some open. Willy makes many seedlings that he sells and swaps away, but there is also a large collection of really nice plants.
Some I recognize, others are really exciting and for me; totally unknown. He talks a little about the different variations within some of the species and how he tries to make them look like the wild ones as much as possible. It's been a cold winter, so he has buds in some he hasn't had in bloom before. They are only just beginning to bloom, but there are some really nice ones in between.

A few hours have passed and I will be back to the Metro again. Just checked if he also thinks the balcony is far away. No, it is right in the center. Glad I didn't go out where the two receptionists said. Might as well drive in there now, that I'm in the Metro. Have make a photo of that building before, but what; the day has to be spend with something. A few quick photos of the pink mansion, between the buses. One of the cathedral, which looks like a Greek temple, and then into a park. Willy told me that the ombu are used as park trees. When I see it now, I remember it interested me in the botanical garden. Here are also beautiful flowers in the Chorisia. A gardener yells a bit at me as I walk across the lawn, but ends up giving me a horseshoe, so I can get up and take a close-up of the flower.

It's about two, and I've been waiting for lunch. Finds a small cozy snackbar a little outside the center, in the old neighborhood. I do a walk a big around the old town, and pretty much avoids the antique shops. Forgot to make a photo of the store where I bought the Ficus and find it again (to my own great surprise). A trip to the internet cafe, for once, but Rikke has not failed me yet, nor does she this time. Returns to the more modern center, and falls in with a pastery. 300 grams of really sticky chocolate-caramel cake and a cup of hot coffee is just what I needed. There are about 150 seats, 15 waiters and an unknown number of bakers in the kitchen. I can see six, but there are probably more. With 18 customers in the room, I initially thought I had hit a shift, but everyone keep working here. And then of course, there are the bosses in civil. I can't remember it's happened before, but I'll have to leave before I finish the cake!

On the way home, I find seeds of Ombu and Chorisia. I make photos of both, but it is only when I sit and arrange the seeds of the Chorisia, that I think I should have had the Ombu as well. It's not too late, a little trip down the middle of the giant street, and it's done. Here are some small, completely green parakeets, which I do not immediately remember seeing before. Trying to make a photo, but in the light of the sky, it does not tend to be a hit.
Doesn't make much sense so I cleanse the very fruity seeds from the Ombu. It takes significantly more time than I expected, but I got the time. I've become a bit long-haired, so I might as well cut myself. Then I can pack, it fills for some reason more and more, and the only thing I have acquired, is filling under a liter. Wonder what the other is?

The stupid ticks have gnawed at me. It looks like big mosquito bites, claws of hives and fluids when itching gets itchy. Hope they haven't laid eggs in me. There are some flies in the north where we were, which are doing that, but probably only later in the year.
Then it's time for dinner. Finding a really nice restaurant, and ordering something I have no clue about what is. Turns out, the waiter speaks English, but why ruin a culinary surprise. I get, as so many times before: A large slice, uncommonly tender, cow with ferrets. As I said it is a nice restaurant, so is a quarter lettuce leaf and a thin slice of tomato on the plate.
I am mentally ready to go home, and there is nothing left to see in Buenos Aires. Of course it could be fun to experience southern Argentina, but I can catch that with Chile one day (in 2013). Probably before I learn Spanish. Sitting in the restaurant messing around with the list of cacti we have seen. Of course, I have six more hours in Madrid plus 15 hours of flight. Past an internet cafe, and then home and head to bed.

10.7. Willy has come to mind about the money he owes me for the hotel last night. Of course that's good enough, but should he do it at half past eight at night ?! He wants to get bye the hotel with them, I say he can keep them. And then I'm awake. Wrap the last, not completely dry seeds, and hope they do not mould over the next day and a half. Have been allowed to wait to pay the hotel bill until I left. Then I could use the last cash, and Visa for the rest. When I leave for coffee at the airport, there is now no more than 50 kroner anyway.

I must be at the airport 12.35, it takes 40 minutes to get out there, the bus goes half way. 11am may be fine, but what should I do until then? Take a walk down the harbour, but it the wind is harsh and it's just a big industrial port. Turns around, and bumps into a really nice Ombu. Don't have the camera, so I have to go home and get it.
Asked in a newsgroup on the net whether they would consider the Ombu for Fat-Plant. A sometimes arrogant gentleman replied, he had seen one, and it was definitely not; it is just an ordinary tree. He is not quite right, because it does not exceed 15 meters of height, and that is the definition limit for trees. Furthermore, they get a very wide stem, which makes them just caudiciforms. Now I found a tree that is five to seven meters in diameter on the ground, and less than ten meters high. Then he can try to talk himself out of it!

Checker mails; there is one from the publisher who will provide a copy of the book and 50 English pounds for my photo. I really hope I have a 300 dpi resolution of that photo. A last cup of good coffee, and a little cake, then it's time to head out to the airport. I take a special airport bus, may cost the same as a taxi, but I feel more secure, I end up the right place.

Buenos Aires is a very big and vibrant metropolis, really modern compared to where it is located, but it is also cozy, relaxed and yet functional. Definitely one of the better ones I've been to.
The trip to the airport obviously takes longer than promised, but I'm there on time. The queue is long and there is no seating. Runs fairly quickly, but then the problems starts. A guy in a suit has gone and scolded me, now it turns out he is a costum / security officer. I'm allowed to come out in a small office with five of his colleagues. Where have I been, what have I been doing, have I travel alone, what is my profession, how long have I been here and where did I stay? In fact, I can only remember one city, and that's Salta. Wrong choice. One repeats it at least ten times. I am visited twice, my suitcase is shattered in every detail. The movies are out of the box - everything! Well, well, except for the rooled-up fleece jacket, which I've wrapped around the plants. Not that I think it had done anything, but that's exactly how I told Willy the customs would do. I just figured it first happened in Denmark.

Most have come on board, as I come to the gate. I really can't understand what people are so busy with. I find a toilet and exchange the last coins for a note I can hang up on the wall at Elmer's Pub. I managed to get a seat with good legroom (two meters is good?), But the luggage space is lacking. If you distribute it all around, then I just have to remember and find it in Madrid. We first fly over Uruguay, which looks pretty fertile here and now. Lots of farming with fun straight zigzag roads and many rivers.
Next to me sits a Dutch couple. Well, he's a head taller than me. She thinks they have forgotten something, and is becoming more and more hysterical as she splits their two enormous handbags. She clearly lacks a Y chromosome. It evolves and she throws things around. She ends up sitting completely still, in the midst of a huge pile of junk, looking completely silent in the air. They must have been in more than one country, to find so much useless tourist junk. A stewardess comes and says they have to clean it up and he do it. She must really have some hidden qualities! Then he has stuffed it all in his bags, he gets a decent, very loud moan for 20 minutes. It's probably one of the most embarrassing episodes I've witnessed in a long time. If she was my girlfriend, she would not come on the next trip, whether it was with the trash. Or thought a detox as soon as we got home...

Down in Uruguay there are dams that create some fun lakes. They look a bit like hammer sharks. Then the view is covered with lamb clouds, and I only have the continued argument from the Dutch to entertain me with. It has smelled of food for an hour now, and I am so ready! After another half, it pops up.
  After Rio de Janeiro, the clouds open up again and there is a fantastic view of the mountains that were once covered with primeval forest. Now you can clearly see the huge cleared areas. Incredibly hilly area, with far between small villages.

8/10. We have now flown for three hours, and the girl next to me is still red-hot, exploding at regular intervals. I really feel sorry for boyfriend, trying to get her down to earth. After four hours, she finds something in her little bag, and I mistakenly think I'm getting some peace, and tug myself to sleep. A quarter of an hour later, she and her boyfriend go wild; they fight for fun, and her saw-like saw voice easily penetrates my earplugs. She races round the seat, hitting me incessantly with her hair, arms, blanket and boots. Later, they are basically in the middle of a sexual intercourse. I wished all drug addicts to hell!

I get the list of cacti I've seen in Argentina done; it turned into 85 different species, that I would have liked to have photographed too. At least I've made 450 digital photos and 240 ordinary ones. It'll be a hell to name them! There are quite a few Jews on the plane, and for the first time, I see them getting special airfare. Pink packing, with the text; The Kosher World. The contents are, if possible, more boring than the normal flight food. Finally we are in Madrid. The stewardess who has had the fight with the two drug addicts looks tired. I tell her, I have six hours for the next flight. She says; it is hard. I say; it could be worse. She has a hard time believing that. I say; six hours in this flight, and she breaks into a laugh.

Mega queue for passport control if you are not an EU citizen. I quickly reach the bus that will take me to terminal D-E. They then start driving in half an hour ... People are pretty well packed, so I grab the office chair behind the unmanned desk. End up walking over to the terminal. Then I just have five hours to go ... Well, I can always drink coffee and eat cake! Time is really a relative term. Right now it doesn't actually pass, but when I get home, and must have done a lot of things in too short a time, it flies. Sitting and preparing as much as possible for the Revo, we have to see if I can transfer it somehow without too much machine code going into it. Reads proofreading on the diary - a spell checker would have been nice to have, but then half an hour went by.

Must fly to Denmark along with a high school class, and then incidentally from terminal C, it now turns out. One teacher annoys me boundless and then he sits right behind me. Decline students because they first came when boarding began and so on. He is too old to deal with young people. As he then sits and uses my backrest as a boxing ball, to emphasize his words, I will have to put him in place. As high and at least as downcast as he himself has been. Did not hear him the rest of the trip, a little sorry, otherwise I had a few good one in the sleeve. Bored me, can't sleep, is a little unwell, belly rumbling - I WANT HOME! And the clock just doesn't move. Finally in Kastrup, lightning fast throughout the building and in Rikke's arms.
Flight ticket: 5700, Round trip: 4200, Miscellaneous 2100 = DKK 12,000; all worth the money!

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