Where are we?

Seems we are left with no choice but to return to Canada

Well like a lot of other people we've had to run back to Canada because the government told us we have to otherwise we could be locked out until Sept?!?!  Hey I like travelling in Vanna but that would be stretching it!! 

Ok can't find any masks here to wear on the plane, so I can make 2 masks out of 1 bra - what do you think?? LOL!!!!

Driving north of BA we come across a couple of very high bridges to allow container ships to pass along on the river

River quite high with the rain of only last night and today

Next bridge also has the train track going up and over. Quite a climb for a train

And the track continues in another direction
Before we heard that from out kids we were quite prepared to just stay in Argentina out in the country away from groups of germ infested people! LOL!!! On Saturday we parked near a gas station with showers and washers (no dryers). So decided to do a few loads of laundry, by then it had stopped raining so was able to put a line up outside between the fencing and Vanna. But didn't take long before it started to rain again, so moved as much as we could inside the van and hung it up. I know CRAZY!! We did it once while we were on our European trip, so nothing new LOL!! Anyways, Sunday still cloudy and threatening rain, but have time to put the clothes outside for awhile. By the afternoon most of the clothes were dry, only 2 towels were still damp so hung them up again in Vanna. After that we decided to get out for awhile drive to the next town about 45km away and get some food to stock up. 

As you can see it's pretty windy so helped dry the clothes quickly

But then the rain started and some weren't dry yet :(
First time we've spent $175 on groceries!! We did notice that the shelves were getting a little bare and this is a big store and the lineup for the checkouts went all the way across the front of the store and then down an aisle to the back of the store- similar to Costco lineups but double!! This was a first! Plus couldn't find any hand sanitizer- all sold out. Luckily we do have 3 small containers in the van. Also noticed that they had a sign up at the till stating people over 65 could come in to shop between 7-8am every morning, no others allowed. Guess we could have come in tomorrow, but who knows what would have been left. 

We then head back to our spot relax and watch a movie when our kids start texting us telling us the borders were going to be closed for months!! Well oh course I'm ticked because how can the govt decide to shut down borders to Canadians until Sept!! I feel more safe staying here then having to get onto a plane and definitely catch the virus! No problem staying here until the end of May when I figured things would be back to normal. Also since the gov't has given notice for all Canadians to return, our travel insurance would be useless if needed for anything to do with the virus and not sure about other coverage.

So now we have to find a place to park Vanna because there is no way to get it shipped out before all the airports here are also closed and we still wouldn't get out. So we have to try to get across the border to Uruguay where they allow a foreign car to be parked for a maximum of one year. Gives us lots of time to get back and continue our travels. But not sure the border won't be closed by tomorrow (Monday) since we've heard talk they could close tonight at midnight. I find us a place that we can leave Vanna for the next year if need be - its 440Kms away - a full day driving. I then check into flights and the fastest way back to Canada is to fly into Vancouver. Which is good because we can stay with our daughter in Abbotsford for self quarantine. But I don't want to book it since we don't know if we can cross the border. It's now midnight so we call it a day and will drive to the border in the morning.

Monday morning, first nice sunny day since Friday. Since I know I won't have any internet once we cross the border I don't want to wait until we get to a public wifi place to try and book our flight using my credit card. So I find a flight that leaves on Wed from Montevideo at 1:15AM and gets in Vancouver 8:30PM Wed with stops in Panama and LA, so I book it. I've read the fine print and it says I may be able to get full refund if booking cancelled before 10:30PM tonight (doesn't tell me what time zone though!!) but I decide to spend another $105C for cancellation insurance since the flight comes to just over $1800 oneway for both of us. Once that is booked -which took 2 tries because all of a sudden my credit card is declined! So I have to go thru the process again with another credit card! You know how I am right now if you really know me LOL!!! Finally, got it booked, then when I get the confirmation emailed I see my middle name is not on the ticket! So I try to phone, run out of minutes on my phone, try chat online - I'm #99 in the queue - probably higher but counter doesn't go over 99 LOL!! So then send a email of our confirmation to my daughter and ask if she can contact Cheapoair and add my middle name. Not sure how that got missed since I signed into my account and it was showing at one time. Once that is done I get dressed, get the van ready to move and we head to the border - it's now 9:30 

We heard that we will loose probably most of the food we bought yesterday when going thru customs. But nothing else we can do. We get to the border and it's really screwed up, construction, detour. We drive up to the first booth window, thinking this would be where we get stamped out of Argentina, but no it's where we get stamped IN to Uruguay! Next stop we thought was where we turn in our temp import permit for Vanna, no the old broad and I mean old slow broad (75 at least) is picking away at the keyboard with 2 fingers completing a temp import permit for Uruguay!! Now I start walking around with our TIP from Argentina asking where to have this cancelled. One of the Uruguay custom guys shows me where to go - I go there and another guy takes it. Doesn't seem to stamp it or file it. Hope it gets cancelled otherwise we won't be getting back into Argentina next time, since it will show our van is still in Argentina!! Geez this is driving me crazy! Then I ask where we get our passports stamped out of Argentina, oh we don't need to do that, just need stamp to get into Uruguay. Ok, that's happened before going into Chile. By the time I've done my running around Dwayne is still waiting for the new TIP - now she's having problems printing off the permit, but shortly after I get there the printer works with the help of a couple of girls that showed up. Next stop is customs, but they just stamp our little checkoff paper and tell us to go. Didn't even LOOK into the van! So no food lost, at least I can give it away when we park the van since it's also a campground, so someone can use the food. 

We now have about 3.5hrs to drive to get to the campsite, which is 60km from Montevideo airport. Good thing the campground has a shuttle to the airport. About 15 mins after crossing the border we get to our first tool booth - crap!! We haven't been able to get to an ATM first to get Uruguay pesos out! But this country is civilized, as Dwayne says, because they give options to pay in Uruguay peso, Argentina peso even Brazil reales! Nice, so we pay in AP and off we go with a smile.

Another 30kms we get to an ATM and take out money, and stop at a gas station with wifi. I first text the campground to let him know we got across the border and on our way. Then get a message from our daughter that we can't stay at their house because her husband still has to go to work, so we can't self quarantine there! WHAT?? So it looks like we have to rent a car at the airport, she is going to book us a Bnb once we have actually arrived in the US, for the 14 day quarantine period. That's not cheap! Another option was given to us by our granddaughter in Kelowna, saying she would move out to a friend's place and we could use her apartment for the 14 days, but that's a long drive from Van at probably 10PM before we get out of the airport. 

So it's back onto the highway. Oh yes, Uruguay is a really pretty country 😀 Nice rolling hills with lots of trees and grazing land with cattle. Plus we see cornfields and I think soybean fields. It's a bean but the field is HUGE so must be cut with machinery, which they have lots of here. Lots of farm equipment dealerships. 

Finally arrive at the campground at 6pm. What a day!! Now to start cleaning, getting rid of food and get packed. At least we have most of tomorrow to do all that. There are about 8 other units parked here - all from Germany since this place is run by a German family. Not sure if they are staying here or waiting to park and fly out. They all drive those big fancy expensive units! 

So guess this will be the last blog from this trip until we continue at at a later date :) 

Crossing the river from Argentina to Uruguay 

Wow very wide river!

First views of Uruguay - very pretty country so far

HUGE fields of beans


Across the highway from the beans are cornfields for as far as you see!
Here's a strange setup of one of the units here - camper and boat for probably going down rivers and staying in it 

Only a few left, others have been put into storage already

Buenos Aires and Recoleta Cemetery closed!

Well we've now felt how the corona virus has affected us because the pub crawl I wanted to book has been cancelled until further notice😩 Later we find more closures.
The old warehouses on the west side of the canal that have all been refurbished 
This is a crossing made for people that walk and text, everyone has to walk thru the metal maze before crossing the train tracks LOL!!!
We walk towards Plaza de Mayo around 10 to take the subway to Recoleta Cemetery. But first we go into the Metropolitan Church that we missed yesterday. It is beautiful inside. 
Metropolitan Church with the dome at the back and 12 columns in the front
Front door handle - beautiful carved doors
The main nave
With frescoes on the ceiling
One of the side chapels - the statue of Christ was carved in 1671 by a Portuguese sculptor. Oldest statue in the cathedral

The relief work above the stained glass window

Closeup of the frescoes

Another side chapel

Looking up at the dome

National bank of Argentina which looks towards Casa Rosada

Pirámide de Mayo, dated May 25, 1810 sits in the middle of the plaza where the 2 parks were joined
Once we get down to the subway we buy our plastic reusable card and then add money to it to keep us going for a couple of days of using the subways and buses 😀  Then get on the green-line subway and after a few stops we get off and transfer over to the yellow-line. Then another couple of stops and we get off and are now just 2 blocks away from the cemetery. 

But before we go there we stop for a coffee/orange juice and medialunas (small croissants) a typical Argentinian snack.  Then we walk to the cementary only to find that once we got there the 
entrance was locked with a note on the window stating due to the Coronavirus the cemetery would stay closed until further notice. Now that I can't figure out! Families plus tourist go in there to walk around no different then malls, restaurants etc etc.  I was really looking forward to see this cemetery since this is where Eva Peròn is buried - not that I know a lot about her other then she was loved and hated by the Argentina people, plus most of the graves are very unique.  The cemetery began back in 1822 and now covers 14 acres.  One of the top 10 cemeteries in the world with lots of interesting stories of people that are buried there.  Statues at the graves of some of the people who have died - not important people, just what families here do I guess.  But I guess we won't see it on this trip. Seems the only people that were allowed in were those who had already paid to see it as part of their tour of the city. This must be the first day the cemetery has been closed.  I was able to get a picture of a small portion of the cemetery by going to the mall next door and getting out on a balcony on the 4th floor!
This building was built for the Engineering Faculty of the university by a local architect to be the only neogothic building that is not a church-started in 1912 and finally completed in 1950 due to many delays
Entrance to the cemetery with closed notices on the door

I was able to get a shot of a small part of the cemetery under one of the gates- it would have been so interesting to walk thru

From the 4th floor of the mall- WOW!! and this is just a small corner of the cemetery 

Entrance to the mall has a nice waterfall going down the middle of the up and down escalators
Basilica San Francisco under renovations - opened in 1754

Here you can rent bikes or scooters to get from A to B - but I tried to register for the bikes but only Argentinians can register :( 

Our quick lunch - empanadas with ham, cheese and red peppers 
You don't want to lean on this thorny tree!

Once we started walking back to the subway I got a message from Fernando (RV guy) that he had someone that might be able to fix the fridge. So I texted Alberto and he said to bring the van over.  So we quickly got back on the subway, stopped for a couple of empanadas for lunch and were back at Vanna in an hour. Then we got things put away and headed over to see him- it's only 13kms away but because of all the traffic it took us over an hour to get there!! Once there Alberto looked at the fridge. Did some testing but for him to fix it we would have to leave it with him for 3 weeks. Well we can't do that. He did adjust the flame a little and this might help get the liquid past the freezer and into the fridge part. He tried his best but would need time. Guess he is pretty busy with propane fridges that people have to use further south in the Patagonia where there is no power.  After being there for over an hour we asked what the bill was and he said no charge! Since he couldn't really fix it he couldn't charge us. Even though we used up his time he said that was no problem. Then he wanted to take a picture of us and himself with Vanna and then he took a few pictures of the outside and inside of Vanna. He also wanted our name so I gave him one of our cards. He asked that I email him along our trip - maybe I'll just email him with the blogsite address and he can follow along. Alberto speaks some English but uses google translate a lot he says :) He gave me a copy of an article that was printed in the newspaper back in 1970 about his father fixing a propane fridge for an American who was driving from Alaska to Ushuaia! To bad it's in Spanish but I get the gist of it. He's pretty proud of that article, his dad is now 92 and has had dementia for a long time.  So we shook hands (geez gotta stop doing that!) and said goodbye. 

Alberto - holding a level as a reminder that Vanna must be level for the fridge to work properly - which Dwayne always does anyways 😁
Since our afternoon was taken up trying to get the fridge working, we'll be busy for the next couple of days sightseeing. 

Well.....this morning, we woke up to a dark cloudy rainy day with a little thunder thrown in!  I checked online to find out what else to see here and there was a notice on each site that all museums are closed, all tours, concerts, shows are cancelled, sports events will continue but without an audience, and the Hipódromo is closed - which I found out is the horse racetrack.  So not sure what we can do, probably shouldn't even be going on the subways - this sucks!! 

So we've decided to leave BA (once the rain stops) and get back on the road again and come back on our return trip to Chile after Brazil. We may have to stay away from large cities for awhile.

Buenos Aires and time to Tango!!

Not for us, I'd need to buy special shoes, special dress etc etc! LOL!!!  But we sure hope to see others dance the tango 💃

We didn't make into Buenos Aires until Thursday late morning, a lot of driving from Ushuaia to here!  As we drive into the outskirts of the city after leaving the freeway we have a lot of people smiling and waving to us. Should be a nice city to stay in I think 😊  Of course the drive into the centre is busy busy!! It's been quite awhile since we've been in a city with approximately 14 million people!!! YIKES!!  Even see a cart pulled by a horse, just like we've seen in Honduras, a guy collecting metal etc. 

One of the places we stayed at near a creek on the way, had these huge eucalyptus trees that were hollow at the bottom and people had campfires in them. Think it was the fires that hollowed out the trees more!

But the trees are still growing

It was a nice quiet place for the night after a night of barking dogs the night before!

Yup think we are now in the Pampas area of Argentina!

Where there is smoke there will be an impromptu restaurant setup for the day on the corner. This was in the outskirts of BA, the guy was grilling up beef, chicken and sausages 😋
We eventually go back onto the tollway to get into downtown quicker because there is suppose to be an RV supply store we want to get to before it closes for the afternoon.  Once on the tollway it's 4 lanes wide each way and when we get to the first toll booth there are 17 LANES!! No lineup going into BA but there is going out and even with all those lanes, there is still a lineup. 

Toll booths
We go to where the RV store is suppose to be located, someone made a comment on IOverlander back in Jan 2020 that they were there, but we could not find it!  Nothing in the area. I tried to contact the own by phone and was able to get thru with text message, which is better since he doesn't speak English.  I told him we need our fridge fixed since only the freezer is working. I'm still waiting for an answer. Maybe he text me back tomorrow. 

We find a spot to park about 2 km from the main plaza. It's just 1pm so we have the afternoon to see some parts of BA today. We get to Plaza de Mayo which has Casa Rosada at one end - Pink House of the presidential offices only. This has the balcony that Juan and Evita Perón addressed the people in the late 1940's and early 1950's. It became a government house in 1882. There are lots of interesting buildings in this area.  Plaza de Mayo at one time was 2 different plazas with a building between that was eventually demolished and a large oval park was built. It's larger than most of the main central park we've seen so far. It also created many streets leading away from the park, making it interesting. 

Near where we are parked, lots of building going on

Lots of parks on the walk towards the centre

When crossing this street you really need to hustle because you have to cross 3 lanes for traffic, 2 lanes for buses, then another 2 lanes for traffic!

2 lanes of buses go up and down the centre of the main street

Casa Rosada

Plaza de Mayo 
Looking back at Casa Rosada across Plaza de Mayo with Píramide de Mayo in the centre bringing the 2 parks together - also being the centre where lots of demonstrations happen

Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral facing the plaza - with the columns. No bell towers. Completed in 1863. There is a dome but when we walked by this building I thought the church was behind this building so missed it in the picture. But we will be back there today because the interior is something to see
Then we walked up Florida Avenue which is a pedway only, so nice to be able to walk and look into the stores without having to worry about cars. Also no big potholes to step into 😊  We walk to Galerias Pacifico which is a shopping centre that opened in 1992 with 150 stores in a building that was built in 1891 and originally an office building.  Inside the main entrance are frescos on the ceiling, quite impressive.  The stores are all high end so we didn't stay long. We continued walking along the pedway then headed back to Vanna because we now walked 4kms and we still have to get back! 

Paintings on the ceiling in the Galerias Pacifico

Exterior of Galerias Pacifico

Another cool old building now used for retail on the main floor

Santa Catalina de Siena Church - 1745

Found these concrete recliners in the park for a rest :) 

HSBC tower

We walk back along the canal - known as Puerto Madero, that was built in 1897 to accommodate large ships that had to moor out in the river because it was shallow and prevented docking nearby so barges had to be used to unload the ships.  Once this new port was built it was used for only about 10 years before it became obsolete because the ships were getting bigger. So it was updated a few times but some areas became rundown. Then in the early 1990s the government started to revitalizing the area and changed the warehouses to upscale restaurants on the main floor and trendy offices and residential lofts on the 2nd and 3rd stories. The opposite side of the canal is built up with high-rises and also shops and restaurants on the main floor.  This is a really nice area to walk around.  Also very close to the old centre of BA.

Crossing Puerto Madero with the new buildings on the east 
Marina for mostly sailboats - you can still see the cranes that were used to off load ships when they use to come thru here

Parrots up in the ropes of an old ship permanently moored in the canal

More in the trees

This ship Frigate Presidente Sarmiento is now a museum

Walking bridge over the canal named Puenta de la Mujer (bridge of the woman) named that because lots of street on the newer side have women's names. It also turns on the middle pylon to allow large boats thru, as do all the bridges that cross this canal

By the time we get back we've walked 8.5kms! We stopped at the local grocery store on our way back to pick up few things for dinner.  We're both pretty beat!  It's a lot more humid here then we're use to but not so bad that we're sweating! Just right :) 

Tomorrow we'll head back into the old area and probably take a subway out a little further to check things out. Lots to see here!!