Argentina, Buenos Aires, delta, family travel, Parana River, river, Tigre, Weekly Photo Challenge
We had covered Argentina from top to bottom, starting way up north at Iguazú Falls and winging it south almost to the tip of the continent to Patagonia. Bracketing those extremes were two stays in Buenos Aires, and this last one, for a few days before we finally flew home, was all about relaxation and absorbing all that we’d seen.
We settled into our bohemian little neighborhood, Palermo Soho, and planned very little for the sultry days and nights we had remaining. We ambled slowly through the narrow streets, licking ice cream cones, drinking wine, and popping into shops and markets at our whim. We photographed the doors and the vibrant street art, napped at the pool, and then ate and drank some more.
For one last outing, we roused ourselves to meet up with a business colleague who wanted to show us the town of Tigre and the Paraná Delta of waterways and islands that surrounds it. The area is a huge tangle of rivers and land covering over 5000 square miles, one of the biggest deltas in the world and one of the few that do not empty into an ocean. Here, the milky, muddy Paraná River splits into innumerable smaller channels and forms an ever-changing pattern of sediment-built, tree-covered islands.
We glide along in our gleaming, polished wood boat, brushed occasionally by willow branches and slipping in and out of sunlight. There are occasional signs that the delta was once both more and less than it is now. Belle époque-style buildings grace the shores closer to Tigre itself, and there are glimpses of larger houses hiding behind some of the modest, multi-colored cottages on stilts that line the shore.
As we chug lazily toward the Rio de la Plata, the river that divides Argentina and Uruguay, the little spits of land become more remote, and we can almost imagine the days when jaguars roamed here, giving their name (tigres) to the area. Tree branches cast their flickering shadows on the water, and the deeper we go off the main streams, the more we feel we’re on a Heart of Darkness kind of journey. All of us are lost in our own thoughts, staring dreamily at the languid water, as we work our way farther into the mysterious estuary and become more and more removed from the frenetic pace of modern life.
As we leave the tour boat channels, we crack one lazy eye open to watch local families spread laundry and other belongings in yards and on docks, and see lithe, sun-kissed children leap like dancers from launch to moorings. Mail boats, water taxis, and grocery dinghies ply these unhurried canals, and rudimentary cafes hide among the foliage; we would never find them without our native friend.
Around a bend in the river, we part the leaves of some overhanging trees and pull up to a weathered dock. We clamber out of the boat, climb the stairs, and are greeted by a man in shorts and little else. Our host knows the ropes and orders quickly for us: a bucketful of icy beers and a couple of margarita pizzas, which arrive with a mound of the freshest, greenest basil I’ve ever seen piled on top.
Sated and groggier than we were when we stopped, we pile back into the launch and begin the hour-long ride back to the marina. As we bob and skim back through the waterways, we awake from our floating dream and reenter the world of bigger boats, river commerce, tourists, and finally, roads and cars. Our lazy day in Tigre and the Delta is our final memory of Argentina and a great way to finish off the otherwise bustling city of Buenos Aires.