Though I like Buenos Aires a great deal as a digital nomad destination, a city of three million people begins to wear on a person after a fashion—particularly someone like me, who loves a certain amount of urban life, but who needs the great outdoors and easy access to peace, quiet, and nature. I prefer my “wild things” to come from the wild—and not from the dance club next door, from which hordes of people drunkenly stumble at 7 am when I go out for my morning run. It is for this reason that I’m thankful that the actual vacation part of my trip has finally arrived.
In a bid to escape the city and kick off my first day of “real” vacation, David and I took a ferry to Colonia del Sacramento, which is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay and only a 1-hr ferry ride from Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata. Colonia’s historic quarter (which is a UNESCO World Heritage site) is full of cobblestoned roads and crumbling fortification walls that date back to its history as an 17th century Portuguese settlement. We rented mountain bikes for this trip and after seven weeks off the saddle, it felt incredible to be on a bike again. We bumped along the cobblestone roads and wound our way through the old town, enjoying the colorful stone buildings and the scenic view of the Rio de la Plata. After thoroughly exploring the historic neighborhood, we had a leisurely lunch at an outdoor cafe overlooking the historic, tree-lined Plaza Mayor. Then, with several more hours before we needed to return the bikes, we went farther afield and found a large park with lots of dirt paths on which we could ride faster and enjoy the bikes more properly. We had a wonderful day enjoying the sun, the bikes, and the slower, lazier pace of Colonia—which was exactly what I needed after so many weeks in Buenos Aires.
In other pertinent news, Chile has declared a state of emergency and its military is patrolling the streets in several of its major cities. The situation began last week when students staged a fare-dodging protest in response to a metro fare increase. As the protests began to worsen, that decision was reversed in an effort to appease the public; however, by then the rioting had escalated to more widespread protesting against income inequality (although Chile has the strongest and most stable economy in Latin America, it also has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world). You might be wondering why I’m reporting on Chilean current events when I’m in Argentina. Well, if you’ve been with me since the beginning of this trip, you know that part of the reason I came to Argentina was to meet my Chilean friend Fernanda, who was scheduled to join us for the vacation part of my trip. During this entire ordeal, she’s kept me abreast of what’s going on in her country and has sent me numerous videos of the violent rioting and the military marching just outside her front door.
While we both hoped that the situation would calm down by the time she was scheduled to meet us, it continues to persist. At the moment that I write, 18 people are dead (depending on your source), the city is under curfew, all public transportation is suspended, and many flights are canceled. Sadly, this has meant that Fernanda can no longer join us. While I’m deeply disappointed not to see her, I just want her to be safe and for Chile to resolve this issue as quickly as possible in a way that satisfies the people.
Having said all that, tomorrow David and I fly to our first stop in our Patagonian/Ushuaia adventure by ourselves, without our friend. We will miss her every day.