|Happy, Beautiful, and Intelligent|
|Great shopping at Florida Street|
We had a very good Saturday before leaving for Buenos Aires. A delightful group of a dozen or so school girls started talking to Brenda and me as we were about to step on the jetty to return to the boat. The next thing I knew we were treated to a wall bright young faces practicing their very good English on us and asking about Australia. The occasion was the birthday of one of the girls and Brenda and I wished her a happy birthday. As we walked back to the boat I expressed regret that I had not had my camera with me to take what would have been a great photo.
However, thirty minutes later they were back and we had another pleasant exchange, with them on the jetty and us on the boat. Brenda and I congratulated them on their good English and encouraged them to keep learning it. I told them that they were all happy, beautiful, and intelligent.
Then just after 4 PM Fabricio and Vanina, the young couple that had made our adventure to San Martin and Bariloche so much better, visited us. Unfortunately Silva was unable to make it because she was working. Brenda and I were very glad to see them and we very much appreciated the effort that they must have gone to, given their busy working lives. We gave them a tour of the boat (Brenda explained the galley, I talked about the rest, but spared them both a discourse on the engine.) then sat down for the inevitable lively chat over cool drinks and a heap of “facturas” (delicious pastry) that they had brought. Inevitably it came time to say Goodbye and we lost the battle to get Fabricio and Vanina to take the rest of the fractura with them. (But it certainly didn't go to waste: Brenda and I enjoyed them during our bus trip to Buenos Aires.)
I'm sure that I speak for Brenda when I say that Fabricio and Vanina are very, very special people and we wish them the best for the future. They have a standing invitation to my home if they ever visit Western Australia.
Sunday morning was very busy, but we managed to finish our packing and tidy the boat before catching a cab for the bus station at about 9 AM. In only 5 hours we were in Buenos Aires and checked into the hotel with several hours of daylight left. The manager seemed surprised and pleased to see me again and extended his hand across the counter. He must value repeat business because during our 3-day stay he was especially attentive and friendly. Brenda and I settled in and had dinner at one of the nearby establishments.
The first order of business on Monday was an appointment at the Brazilian Consulate at 9.30 A.M. At Mar del Plata I had done my preparatory homework well, using the Internet. The consulate would not consider an application without an appointment and I had made one for the 15-minute slot starting at 9.30 AM. There was also an on-line form that could be filled in to save time. I did this and received a reference number to present at the counter. In the form I stated that I hoped to visit Brazil for 6 months, and was not able to give an address in Brazil where I would be staying.
The personal application went well until the woman asked me for an address in Brazil. I told her that I didn't have one. She replied that I must provide one. I told her again that I didn't have one and she started to walk away saying that in that case I couldn't get a visa. “But I live on my boat!” I exclaimed in desperation. She grumbled something along the lines of 'How was I supposed to know that?' then recorded the name of my boat. She was not interested in the boat's registration documents. She then told me to soon pay what was about $45 to a certain bank and return the following day at noon. The $45 was a pleasant surprise because I had been expecting to pay closer to $250. We found the bank, I paid the money, then we left for the train station.
Brenda had liked the idea of taking the Tren de la Costa to San Fernando, given the glowing report that I had given of both the train and the San Fernando area. Relying of both my memory and my earlier notes we caught the Tigre train and got off at Olives then walked the 1 kilometer or so to the Tren de la Costa station. Soon we were on the charming train then got off at the Marina Nueva station then found Arcos Street and were soon in front of North Sails. I decided against going in and saying “hello” to Martin - the man who had been very generous with his time in giving me a tour of the facility during my prior visit - wishing to avoid disturbing him during his work. Brenda and I then had a look at a marina from the distance (not allowed through the gates) then had a good lunch at a cafe next to North Sails.
We were then given directions to the town center and soon I found three good boat shops very close to each other. At Baron's I purchased a Brazilian courtesy flag and a tube of Sikaflex 291 adhesive sealant. They had no 3M products and with Sikaflex they had 291 instead of the stronger 292 that I would have preferred, but I took what I could get. The sealant is for some deck fitting that I hope to fix on the deck next week. I had no luck at Baron's or anywhere else finding a hand pump suitable for diesel fuel, but Baron's pointed me to where I might find diesel fuel additive. I was forwarded to two other businesses before I found the additive that I wanted, so now I am prepared for taking on more diesel fuel for the boat.
On Tuesday at noon I learned that I had been granted a tourist visa for Brazil and was very pleased with its generosity. It allows me a maximum of 90 days per visit, and a maximum of 180 days per year. The interesting thing is that the arrangement does not specify a time limit, so I assume that in theory I would be able to visit Brazil every year until my current Australian passport expires in 2017. The visa is exactly what I need for my plans. I will be able to make entry into Brazil in June, fly off to the USA in Aug or Sep, then make entry back into Brazil in Oct or Nov, with 90 days in which to clear out of the country for my passage to Cape Town.
While I was at the consulate getting my passport and visa Brenda was shopping for leather goods. Her “problem” would have been the huge number of shops selling all sorts of leather goods. I walked from the consulate to “Galeria Jardin” on Florida Street, which contains two levels of probably over 50 shops covering the entire range of PC and communication technology. It is as good a center for this sort of equipment as I've seen anywhere. With little trouble I satisfied my modest needs: a “Logitech” brand mouse (made in China, but hopefully to the name brand standard), and a 3 meter USB extension cable. I needed the mouse because the new mouse that I complained about in Feb or Mar as being too cheap in price and construction had died after about 3 months of use.
On the way from the consulate to the hotel I had stumbled on the “Palacio San Martin”, and elegant building well worth a visit. At twilight Brenda and I managed to find it and another equally imposing building. Both buildings offer daily tours in English but unfortunately for Brenda and I it was too late. You can do only so much in 2 days.
After a very nice dinner at an interesting place we left for the airport at 11 PM on Tuesday night. We arrived 3 hours before the scheduled departure time as instructed, and Brenda had no trouble checking in her bag and getting her boarding pass. We then had coffee and a long conversation until Brenda decided that she had better move to the departure lounge at 1.30 AM. Goodbyes are never easy but there is always Cape Town to look forward to. I managed to find a cab and was back at the hotel at 2 AM. I telephoned Brenda's son Stephen to let him know that Brenda was safely on her way and soon he had control of my netbook with “TeamViewer” to find out why the machine was taking close to 5 minutes to boot up. After I took a snapshop of the system Stephen pruned all sorts of software that was coming up at boot time. After he finished his work I rebooted and found that the startup time had been cut by about 75%. Early in the day I had performed scans with “Panda” and “Malaware” and overnight I ran a very thorough antivirus scan that Stephen recommended higly. I am pleased to say that none of the scans reported any problems, not even minor ones.
The bus ride to Mar del Plata was uneventful and very pleasant because there were few passengers. We left a bright and sunny Buenos Aires and arrived at a cloudy and drizzly MdP at nightfall. The boat was in good order when I arrived, increasing my confidence in the security of this marina. There was no wine on board but fortunately there was a one liter bottle of Heineken in the refrigerator which helped take the edge off the re-entry to a solo sailing life.