The exciting inaugural Forever Young Travel Event happened in October this year. Our group enjoyed Argentina from the tip of Iguazu Falls overlooking Brazil, to Buenos Aires’ center of government, “The Pink House.”
We all agreed that the grandeur, majesty and power of Iguazu Falls were the highlight of our trip. Despite the fact that the falls are right in the middle of a tropical rain forest and that it rained all the day we visited, we were supremely moved by the Falls’ power. We rode an open-air train (and were drenched by pouring rain—at least Donna was drenched), then walked a kilometer over a catwalk that spanned the Parana River (and were more drenched by more rain.) The catwalk hopped from small island to small island over the river until it reached the crest of “The Devil’s Throat” (Garganta del Diablo).
The water, as it gushed over the semi-circle of the falls, was golden and we felt its roar in our bones. “It looked like caramel instead of water because the water was so rich with minerals,” said Delores Sears of the spectacle as we stood, awe-struck, at the sight. Leaving the place reluctantly, we retraced our steps across the catwalk to climb down the rocky mountainside to the scene of still more falls (35 in total) where we boarded a boat. The captain of the vessel shoved the boat’s nose into one of the falls, after which everything we had with us was sopping wet. But, our spirits were high with adventure. Add to the day an open-air truck ride through the jungle, toucans in the tops of the trees, brilliant birds and an alligator-like reptile called a “Cayman.” It was magical.
When we returned to our hotel and opened the doors on our balcony, bird song greeted us. The flowers and Jacaranda trees were beautiful, for we were there in springtime.
We arrive in Buenos Aires in the afternoon and were given the Eva Peron tour, seeing a large statue, a museum, billboards and buildings covered with the image of this political icon. Our guide gave us his views of the Peronista movement, but our visit was during their presidential election, so the timing was excellent to see how Evita continues to influence her country. Gaucho Ranch
The next day we traveled north of the city to a gaucho ranch where we were greeted by Cecil, an older, mustachioed gaucho who kissed the women as we stepped off the bus. We were given empanadas (beef pastries) and a glass of juice or wine as a welcome, and then allowed to ride horses, take a carriage ride or view the ranch house, which had been made into a museum. The food was excellent barbecued steak, chicken, chorizo (sausage), salad, bread and wine (sparkling water for those of us who don’t drink). We enjoyed our lunch and the program afterward. A couple did the tango in various costumes, there was guitar playing and singing, and a bolo dance that was dangerous as well as dramatic. Once the program was finished, the handsome gauchos showed us horse-herding techniques and quick-riding games of skill.
The Pink House
During the weekend, the Argentinean Capitol, “The Pink House,” was open for tours. Our hotel was a short subway ride from this renowned building. It was painted a stuccoed pink, to join two political factions, one who used red and the other white as symbols, and the result, in a move to unify the country, was to paint their center of government pink. We toured the president’s office, as well as reception areas, meeting rooms and a garden courtyard. The whole building and the city itself had numerous European—mainly French and Italian—influences in architecture and structure.
Argentineans prefer to eat late in the evening, and so our seating at the Carlos Gardel Tango Show was at about 8:30 PM. We had our photos taken with costumed dancers when we first entered the establishment, and Spencer Ellsworth, the youngest and most “available” in our tour group (he’s in his twenties) thought it was a real kick to get a photo with a tango dancer dressed in red. The food (steak, salmon, guacamole, chocolate mousse) and service were excellent. Tango is unique to Argentina, having originated in this passionate country. The dance exhibition was athletically executed, with precision movements and amazing costumes. A live band played from above the dancers, while they told stories of romance and drama with their ballet-like movements, (with a few well placed kicks in the mix) which spanned Victorian to contemporary costuming.
We spent our free time walking the streets of Buenos Aires, crossing the largest intersection in the world (twenty lanes of traffic ). There were street vendors on Florida Street, a fun zoo where the animals eat out of your hands, and a gorgeous rose garden. We even enjoyed a meal at McDonald’s where dulce de leche (sweet caramel) is twisted into the soft ice cream in Oreo cookie cones. Delicious!
While we were visiting Argentina, a volcano erupted in Chile, scattering ash over Buenos Aires, and closing down the airport on Monday. On Tuesday night, it was our good fortune to leave Argentina only three hours later than we had hoped, and to arrive home in Denver in the afternoon of October 19th, tired, but so glad we had made time for this exhilarating Forever Young Event. Thanks to Chris, Donna, and Spencer Ellsworth, and Nick and Delores Sears for being our Forever Young traveling companions. We laughed a lot, played fun games, and enjoyed getting to know everyone a bit better. We all can’t wait until next year’s trip!