November 2, 2018
(Later in the day)
We got a remise (a hired car) rather than a taxi to take us to our hotel, Vacances San Telmo, and the ride took about 30 minutes. The traffic in Buenos Aires was quite unbelievable. We were driving along a road with about eleven lanes of traffic, all of them full. And if you wanted to turn left you had to be in the right-hand pair of lanes. Fortunately our driver had a little device which told him exactly what lane to go in and which way to turn.
We were a bit dubious about the accommodation when we got there, but our names were on the list so we settled into our room. Not knowing where our leaders Tom and Linda were was a bit disconcerting, and we had lots of laundry to do, but not knowing if we would be in the same room for the three nights we decided to wait to find out. Finally they arrived and shortly thereafter Karen arrived too. Her allocated room was larger and it was also upstairs. But she had injured her knee just the other day and was happy to not have to climb stairs. So we took the upstairs room and got busy with the laundry.
The other tour participant, Richard, was staying at another hotel so he came over to ours before dinner time. After a while we walked a short distance to a nearby restaurant. Rosemary had “cordero” which we translated as “lamb”, but it was more like “mutton”. It was mostly bone and the meat was very tough. But we had a good time during dinner.
November 3, 2018
We all met at 8 am for breakfast, which was the usual: bread, jam, meats, and some fruit. It was actually quite a good spread compared to some places. After breakfast we took a couple of taxis over to the Costanera Sur reserve, a vast wetland between the city and the river. We would be birding there for a few hours.
The day was very lovely, not too hot and with blue skies. There were a lot of birds in the reserve and we saw a lot of them and a lot for our list. Who would have expected Tiger-Herons on the edge of a major city? We spent about three hours walking the long main path with all the joggers and at the far end the group split up. We and Karen walked up to the Galerias Pacifico mall to have some lunch.
Karen was going to change some money at the cambio there, but she didn’t have her passport so she couldn’t do that. And anyway they didn’t take US bills below $50 and there was a huge line-up. Then we walked over to a local camera shop to see if we could buy a new Canon body for Rosemary’s camera, which had been damaged a couple of days ago in Los Cardones national park. It wasn’t a very good camera shop so all they could offer was a new Canon Rebel T6 complete with lens. And the price was a lot more than we would have paid at home, probably twice as much. But we decided to spend the money. At least it meant peace of mind for the rest of the trip.
Back at the hotel there was bad news. Richard had been robbed! They had played the old “a pigeon pooped on you” game and snatched his backpack when he took it off. He lost his passport and wallet along with other valuables. Not a good way to start the trip! Tom was very upset.
We had photocopied a walking tour of San Telmo from the Lonely Planet Buenos Aires book, and it was close to where we were staying so the two of us set out to do that. There were old buildings from a hundred years ago and old markets with a lot of “collectible” stuff which sort of looked like trash. And also there were shops which sold nothing but dulce de leche! There were two or three of them and we came very close to actually buying some. But anyway the buildings were interesting to look at and getting out to explore a small part of the city was good.
When we got back our driver and assistant guide Dylan had arrived. He went off with Richard to the police station to report the theft and to get a police report for the people at the embassy. The rest of us ordered dinner and had our daily post-birding meeting. We got our bird checklist booklet and checked off all the birds we had seen this morning. 72 species in total—not bad for a morning.
The meals at the hotel restaurant were good, with only five options to choose from. Paul had fish and Rosemary had beef. After dinner we chatted for a while and then retired to our room to catch up on journal writing.