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  • Day28

    Day 26 - Tigre and the Delta

    January 23, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After waiting until the shops opened to change money, we taxied to the train station and caught a commuter train to Tigre. The train is modern, air conditioned, and efficient. On the way out and back, street (train?) musicians played for tips and individual vendors sold a variety of small things. (Remember that everyone is squeezed by the tight economy.) The hour train ride took us through numerous suburbs, some looking upscale with good-sized, single-family dwellings and shabby apartment buildings.

    Tigre (tiger) is a river port some 20 miles northeast of BA. From the description of it as the jump off place for the people that live in and ply the Parana River delta, we expected a rustic, rural town. It was anything but! We found a high-rise suburb with bustling traffic and many tourists (including from Brazil). Tigre is a weekend getaway for Portenos (as BA residents are known). The Parana River drains large parts of Brazil, Paraguay, and Uraguay and turns into the Rio de la Plata here. The delta is a 14,000 square-mile expanse of canals, tributaries, and river that the guidebook compares to the Mekong Delta. It is populated by people making a living from it and with weekend and summer cabin Portenos. The city is packed with rowing and regatta clubs along the banks and boasts one of the largest amusement parks in Latin America.

    We took an hour and a half catamaran cruise up one of the slow moving rivers. The tourist catamaran provided a recorded narrative of what we passed in Spanish, English, and Portuguese (remember the observation from Chile that Brazilians make up the second largest tourist group). The river carries a heavy sediment load that turns the water brown (and nourishes the delta). The banks of the channels are lined with small (sometimes not so small) cabins and houses, many built on stilts to avoid high water. The locals get around by boat and there are personal motorboats, water taxis, and water buses (long, agile 50-passenger launches that stop when people hail them). Each house has a dock with its river number (like a street number but everything moves by the channels since there are no roads). There are campgrounds and cabin rentals to be had. Many of the places are well-manicured with beautiful lawns and gardens; some are run-down or abandoned. There's a market boat that brings a supermarket to the waterways and people tie up to it, shop, and motor home. There are several smaller grocery stores where people shop right from their boats. The locals use row boats, motorboats, or swim to get around. There are some exclusive resorts hidden among the maze of waterways and you can make a vacation of it. The city hosts a naval museum, a fine arts museum (in a spectacular, ornate building on the water), and the Mate Museum. Mate, I told you, is the ubiquitous national herb drink. Unfortunately, the Mate Museum only functions on weekends.

    Back in the Tigre, we ate at the former Italian Yacht Club and walked around before catching the train back. It was an unexpectedly delightful change from the big-city feel of BA.
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