The countdown has begun…Five days until departure for Antarctica!…A landmark in Recoleta…Last photos of La Recoleta..

We took this photo from the taxi wishing we’d been able to see it at the park. This work of art is Floralis Generica is described as follows from this site:  “Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening.” It was created in 2002. The sculpture was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning. The sculpture is located in the center of a park of four acres of wooded boundaries, surrounded by paths that get closer, provide different perspectives of the monument, and be placed above a reflecting pool, which, apart from fulfilling its aesthetic function, protects it. It represents a large flower made of stainless steel with an aluminum skeleton and reinforced concrete, which looks at the sky, extending to its six petals. It weighs eighteen tons and is 23 meters high.”

With a mere five days remaining until we depart Buenos Aires to fly to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board the cruise to Antarctica, we’re busy as we can be. Not only are we wrapped up in preparing detailed posts each day, taking photos while walking through the neighborhood each day, but we’re now entrenched in the process of the upcoming confusing packing scenario.

On every other occasion, packing for our next adventure has been easy. It’s a no-brainer. We simply pack everything we own. This time, we have to sort through all of our belongings to determine what we’ll need during the 17- day cruise days and what we can leave behind, storing the balance at the Prodeo Hotel.

Highrise in Recoleta.

Yesterday, I began going through medical and other supplies contained in our third smaller checked bag, which we’re leaving here. Plus, we have the pill bag containing all types of emergency meds and over-the-counter items we may or may not need.

Sure, we could leave behind aspirin, Tylenol, cough drops, decongestants, and sinus wash, but what if we get sick and need these items, many of which may not be available on this smaller ship? 

Recoleta is a much larger neighborhood from Palermo and is home to many more modern office buildings and apartment complexes.

Instead, we’re packing some of these items since Tom caught a cold on the last cruise and used all of them.  Why pay exorbitant fees to see the doctor when in most cases, we can treat ourselves? Plus, we’ve added items appropriate for exacerbating my gastrointestinal thing, which does rear its ugly head from time to time.

Then, of course, a girl needs her cosmetic items, which means one duplicate for every item in my little black cosmetic bag. What if I lost or broke an item? I don’t use creams, lotions, and potions, so to speak, other than an organic facial wash and eye makeup remover, so there’s not much packing there.

A steeple in the park in Recoleta.

Add a razor with a new blade for each of us, our crystal deodorant, a small bag of my nail stuff, hair products, and we’ve got it covered. After spending an hour or more gathering the items we’ll need, that part of the packing is done.

Today, I’ll go through the box of cold-weather and water-resistant clothing and start packing my suitcase.  Tomorrow, we’re having the final bag of laundry done (there are no laundromats in this area) and will add whatever we need from the laundry when it’s delivered on Saturday.

There are also many historical hotels and buildings in the area.

Yesterday, we printed 21 pages of documents and vouchers that Ponant requires in paper format and more copies of my food list. I added them to the litany of health certificates and other documents we already have ready to go in a large manila envelope. 

Another task I completed yesterday was setting up “bill pay” payments in our bank account due in February. At the first of each month, we pay off all of our credit cards in total to make room for the next barrage of significant payments towards vacation homes, cruises, rental cars, and other living expenses.

Tom is quite a history buff and is particularly fascinated with older structures.

If we were to experience a poor signal aboard the ship (which we expect), preventing us from getting into our accounts, the payments could be late, a risk we can’t ever take. Entering the costs in advance, sooner than we usually do at the end of the prior month, allows us to be entirely free in thinking about this during our adventure.

Also, today, I’ll be working on sending the grandkids a little something for Valentine’s Day. We’ll already be in South Africa by February 14th, arriving on the 11th. However, some of the items we order require planning, and a two or three-day window isn’t sufficient.

A broader perspective of Evita’s family (Duarte) mausoleum.

Once we’re done posting here today, we’re off to the health food store to purchase five bottles of unsweetened coconut cream for my morning turmeric tea drink. I decided I’d given up enough things I like to eat and drink that I wasn’t willing to forgo this healthful morning concoction during the cruise.

Also, since I’ve found I feel my best when I don’t eat breakfast, only the drink, there’s an amount of nutrition in this drink that can get me through the first Zodiac boat outings in the morning. When we return midday for lunch, I’ll eat enough to hold me until the anticipated late dinners on the ship that we read are usually after 8:00 or 9:00 pm, typical European-style. Ponant is a French cruise line.

Me, in front of an old structure at La Recoleta.

We heard from past Ponant travelers to whom we spoke on Skype while in Costa Rica, most passengers dress up for dinner each night. We can accommodate this to a degree, but I don’t have evening gowns, and Tom doesn’t have a tuxedo or even a sports coat. We can’t be carrying those items with us!

Having even one such set of clothing items would be ridiculous when we’d have to wear the same outfit over and over, which in itself is preposterous. Instead, we make do with what we have, Tom with two dress shirts and dark pants and me with a few dressy tops and pants. 

A mausoleum with statues on the top, commonly found at La Recoleta.

Occasionally, we may get a few looks here and there for our “casual chic” attire, but we can’t get worked up over this. With only 200 passengers on this upcoming cruise, in no time at all, they’ll discover why we don’t have dress-up clothing and never give us another glaring look.

Last night, we headed to Diggs (ironic name, Minnesota fans?) for dinner but they were closed when they’re usually open. This has been the case for many restaurants we’ve visited, inspiring us always to have a backup plan.

Another ornate mausoleum.

The past two nights, I’ve slept at least seven hours and feel better than I have in weeks. Tom had a good night last night and is equally chipper, leaving us both prepared to tackle (no pun intended).

Also, the better we feel, the more we have done, which frees us up mentally for the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football game on Sunday night! We couldn’t be more excited about this event!

Happy day to all!

 Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2017:

A decorative item in Anne and Tom’s garden, owners of the vacation home in Huon Valley, Tasmania. They suggested we take whatever we’d like at any time, and we gladly did (in moderation, of course).  For more photos, please click here.

Tolerance and patience in the big city…

We haven’t seen it in a newsstand like this in a long time.

It’s not always sunshine and roses, although it may seem so for our occasional readers. We don’t always feel like sightseeing, traveling in taxis through all-day-long-rush-hour traffic.

Wherever we are at any given time, it is where we live. Do you feel like sightseeing in your town on hot and humid days when you know a 10-minute drive can turn into 45 minutes in near-stopped traffic?

Interesting buildings on Santa Fe St. in Palermo Soho.

The only time I recall we ever went sightseeing in our old lives in Minnesota was when visitors came to town and stayed with us, having a confident expectation of seeing the world-renowned Mall of America, the Como Zoo, or the popular Minnehaha Falls. 

Public transportation is readily available in Buenos Aires by bus and underground.

Here in Buenos Aires, we find ourselves with little interest in visiting the popular tourist attractions, waiting in long queues, or bumping into people who don’t care to cooperate in the sharing of making space on the sidewalk as we attempt to pass.

There’s a bit of pushing and shoving, which we’d rather avoid. Although most service staff in hotels, shops, and restaurants are ultra friendly and helpful, we’ve found the passing locals on the streets on a mission uninterested in idle chatter with us or certain courtesies one may find in some other parts of the world.

It took us over an hour to walk back to the neighborhood of the Prodeo Hotel.

Then again, we’ve observed only a handful of tourists in the Palermo area and certainly few in our age range. In essence, we don’t necessarily fit into this fast-paced Buenos Aires lifestyle. That’s our reality, not theirs. 

Flower vendor on the street.  The rose bouquets are ARS 120, priced at only US $6.46.

We’ve never favored big cities, primarily for these reasons. “Too much of everything” prevails; people walking while texting or talking on a phone or to a companion while bumping into passersby; horns honking; loud talking and yelling in public venues; a sense of disorder and commotion, we’d prefer to avoid.

Are we nothing but “fuddy-duddies” set in our ways?  Perhaps, yes. But, place us in the bush, waiting for an hour for a herd of elephants to clear the road, making loud noises and sharing “their lifestyle and demeanor” upon us, we’re in heaven. 

Government building.

I suppose it’s all relative. We’re all entitled to like what we like and scoff at what may not be so appealing.  Does that make us intolerant? If we’re annoyed by someone talking during the movie at a theater, make us intolerant? Are we intolerant if we’re agitated during standstill traffic on the freeway when we’re in a rush to get somewhere?

Interesting architecture.

Not necessarily. Even our dogs or cats may become impatient with us when we don’t fill their food bowl quickly enough or hand them the treat their anticipating. It’s all part of the “human and animal” condition. Impatience.  Intolerance.

No one is so “nice” they’re not impacted by the annoyances of daily life, especially in a big city. Otherwise, one might question their link to reality. Through this past over five years of world travel, we’ve found ourselves exercising a greater degree of patience and tolerance than we may have in our old lives.

Most of the historical buildings are apartments.

We never want to be the “ugly America” so much despised in certain parts of the world. There was a movie, a book, and an adult animated series with this nomenclature.  

We make a special effort to avoid complaining, whinging, or objecting negatively in situations we find uncomfortable, trying, or annoying. Even Tom, who on travel days can be “overly grumpy,” has the desire and ability to contain his frustration on such occasions.

Clown painting on the left and Statue of Liberty on the right.

Overall, we prefer to avoid situations that cause us undue stress. Isn’t that one of the reasons we left our old lives behind to find joy and contentment in the exploration and adventure of an entirely new life, in new places, befitting our objectives of nature, wildlife, and culture?

Also, there are many more modern buildings in the city.

You may say, “Isn’t culture found in big cities?” And you’d be right to a degree. But we’ve found the hustle and bustle in big cities with traffic, noise, and crowded sidewalks more about modern-day life than the essential culture of a people who, through history and generations, made their lives work without all of the modern distractions.

And so, our days and nights dwindle to our next adventure, Antarctica, where the biggest distractions will be wildlife, beauty, and nature mixed in with wild seas, inclement weather, and getting soaked on Zodiac boat rides. We can easily handle all of that!

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2017:

A  rainbow over the ocean in Penguin, Tasmania. Looking carefully, Tom spotted a second lighter rainbow to the far left, difficult to see in this photo. Be well. For photo photos, as we wound down our time in Penguin, please click here.

It’s a wonderful life but differences prevail…

Saturnalia, a Sculptural group by Italian artist Ernesto Biondi at the botanical garden.

Of course, we appreciate every day of this outrageous life of world travel and, we are reveling in our 31 nights in Buenos Aires, where culture abounds in vast and fascinating ways. 

Last night at dinner at an outdoor restaurant that had mediocre food, we couldn’t help but notice how this area of Serrano Plaza reminds us of Uptown in Minneapolis, and yet is more compact with narrower streets and at least 10 times the size…not that we’ve been to Uptown lately.

Cactus garden.

As we sat in rickety chairs at a wobbly table for four that barely fit the two of us, we giggled over the irony of our lives.  What are we doing in Palermo Soho Buenos Aires? How far removed is this from our old lives of only six years ago, when it was around January 2012 we decided to travel the world?

A bowl of peanuts in the shell was delivered to our table shortly before the Spanish-only menus arrived, and we each gasped in sheer delight over the tiny bowl of nuts.  What a treat! Somehow, we always manage to figure out everything on the menu.

I believe this is a Nopales cactus.

As I readjusted my wobbly chair, we looked at one another and smiled. We didn’t mind the rickety furniture and the tiny bowl of nuts. We were happy to be dining outdoors in this big city in this peculiar little spot with the most rudimentary accouterments. 

The fork and knife are plastic, and the paper napkins are flimsy. The salt (“sal” in Spanish) is in little packets in the rectangular holder along with tiny packets of ketchup, salsa, and mayonnaise. 

The information building is on the grounds of the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden.

Since I can’t get sour cream in many of the restaurants, I use mayonnaise on my salads, opening multiple little packets for enough to give my frequently ordered salads a bit of moisture…a cup of arugula, a bit of dry deli chicken, a few tomato slices and a few chunks of cheese, consists of my dinner most nights.

Most other items on the menu would contaminate foods I can’t have; grains, starches, and sugar.  I don’t mind. After all, it’s just food, and I’m certainly not withering away, nor am I tired of this meager fare. 

However, I am looking forward to cooking again when we arrive in South Africa, which will be in about a month.  And, without a doubt, we’ll have exceptional meals aboard the Antarctica cruise beginning in a mere 12 days, a French cruise line offering gourmet meals for the most discriminating of diners. Surely, they’ll whip up divine and suitable meals for me.

There are numerous statues of nudes at Jardin Botanica in Buenos Aires.

Thinking back to spending afternoons in the refreshing pool in Costa Rica, it seems so long ago, and yet we left only 50 days ago. There’s a pool in this hotel, but it’s partially indoors. We don’t care for indoor pools. 

Instead, we’re content with our walks in the neighborhood often during the day and again in the early evening when we search for the next new restaurant to try. We’ve only done two repeats, Diggs and Rave, where we may go yet again.  

Interesting tree trunk.

The food at Diggs is excellent along with the service, although served in plastic baskets, on paper plates, and with plastic forks. Last time, the server brought me a flat plastic plate, and I was thrilled to be able to dump my salad on the plate from the smallish paper bowl.

Rave has real plates, flatware, and linen napkins but charges all types of service fees and a fee for the tiny bowl of dry bread without butter (Tom eats it anyway), and yet, a glass of decent Malbec is only US $2.95 (ARS 55). Go figure. 

A tree with leaves changing color after red berries had fallen to the ground.

We’re not complaining. We love all these cultural differences, finding them charming and enriching and, we thought some of our readers might find these morsels interesting. 

Today, after uploading today’s post and chatting with my dear friend Chere on Skype in about an hour, we’re off for a walk and to visit the mini-mart for a few items. Once we return, we’ll continue our research for upcoming travel bookings until it’s time to make the walk to discover where we’ll dine again tonight. It’s all good.

We hope you have an interesting and enriching day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 11, 2017:

While at Gnomon Pig Farm in Penguin, we laughed to see the white band on the newly born piglets, just like their mom. There were several breeds of pigs at the farm. For more details, please click here.