A Wonderful Shore Excursion; Biding our Time at Ezeiza; Can’t Get Home Without more Problems

Sunday morning we disembarked around 7:20 and left our home for two weeks behind. I’m not sure I will miss that stateroom. Saturday night I did get the certification letter about a future cruise credit, but it only showed me being in Flu Jail for one day. I called up and asked for a correction showing two days and they provided it. Unfortunately it has to be used within one year, so we’re not sure what we’ll do (the actual credit amount is unknown at this time).

We both couldn’t sleep again last night. We were not anxious or agitated, just wired. I think this is a strange side effect of the Tamiflu, which so far shows no other side effects. I am impressed with how the drug rapidly improved my condition.

After disembarkation we had a day-long excursion booked called “The Best of Buenos Aires”. It sounded like a decent way to kill most of the day and we would get to the airport with only a few hours to kill until our flight at 10:30 pm. It started out with almost the same tour we had on February 1, after we arrived. We drove through some of the nice neighborhoods, then visited Plaza De Mayo near the Pink Palace and also stopped for a brief time in La Boca (the colorful slum neighborhood). We then headed out of the city to the north, to the Mimosa Estancia near the town of Pilar. After a ninety-minute bus ride, we turned down a short dirt road in the countryside and entered a magical place. Going through to old front gate, we were greeted by nice young people dressed in traditional costumes who handed us yummy beef empanadas and glasses of wine and had us sit near the garden and main house while they performed a couple of traditional gaucho dances. The estancia, built in the 1860’s, is still in the same family although they don’t do cattle ranching anymore, but instead now share the traditions of the gauchos plus some delicious food with tourists and local visitors.

The estancia was a little bit of paradise on Earth, with lots of friendly herding dogs running around, huge shade trees, and flowers everywhere. We walked behind the main house (you can’t enter, but can look in through open doors) and came across the horse paddock. They were offering carriage rides or horseback rides (we passed on both), but we did enjoy visiting with three horses. One horse was extremely friendly and I think he liked me when I talked in a low voice to him, telling him he was “muy bonito”.

Shortly, we entered a large barn-like structure, where they had many large tables set up for lunch. There was wine and water on the table and they brought pop in pitchers and liter-sized bottles of beer (Quilmes). Then the food started – holy cow! We had potato salad and greens with tomato, a wonderful sausage (choripan), beef barbecued over live oak, then chicken and lamb. This was accompanied by delicious bread baskets! Boy am I glad my appetite is back. The beef was fantastic and reminiscent of Santa Maria BBQ in the Central Coast of California. Then the entertainment started. One young man was the center of most of this, first playing a mean guitar with his father, then doing dueling gaucho dances with another young man, then whipping around those crazy bolos. There were other folklore dances performed with two young ladies participating, and of course group dancing. It was completely enchanting.

We had a nice dessert of ice cream and berries and then everyone filed outside for the gaucho horse competition (La Lanca). Each rider uses small sticks to try and snag a ring on a string hanging from a crossbar as they ride full-tilt. It they are successful, they present the rings to a lady of choice. We enjoyed this visit to the estancia and then said goodbye to my horsey friend and headed for the bus. What we thought would be a good time waster turned out to be one of the best days of the trip.

We arrived at Ezeiza International, south of the city, about 5:30, killed time until the United counter opened at 7:00 pm, checked in and made our way through the various obstacles to the gate area. We visited the Star Alliance Club , a bit of the distance from the gate, and boarded in what can only be described as true chaos,

We got on board and we left the gate early, but it was too good to be true, given the little nuances that have popped up around this trip. When they tried to start the starboard engine, they had a problem. We sat there for a while without Information as they mysteriously moved the plane back and forth, then they told us we had either a little problem or a bigger problem. The little problem would be the start motor and its replacement, which would take a “little while”. If the engine has a more serious problem, then who knows? There aren’t spare United 767 aircraft sitting here, unlike in Houston. The problem turned out to be the start motor, but they took almost three hours for the repair, blowing our connection in Houston. We finally took off at 1:45 am. Almost immediately the annoying turbulence started up and was persistent again throughout the night. We are now finally in Houston (thank God) and are booked on an 11:23 am flight to Denver. We are in middle seats in economy plus, so we will take it! One more wish, for us to no more misadventures with this trip in the last two segments!

My good, bad and ugly list from the trip will be up soon!

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