Chasing Huckleberry Finn

I left BSAS for a quick tour of towns along the various rivers that empty into the Delta. My adventure was spurred by the reading of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It was to be my own river tale.

In the end it did not turn out quite as planned, alas c’est la vie.

Natalie and I went to the little town of El Tigre, just north of BSAS in the Delta region. There are three attractions to El Tigre, boat trips through the meandering rivers, the fruit and handicraft market, and Parque de la Costa, the amusement park. Well, the amusement park is only open on weekends and thus the town does not exist on weekdays. The area population goes from a mere 3,000 on weekdays up to 20,000 on weekends. Quite the ever changing ebb and flow of people. Fortunately, in my opinion, we went on a Wednesday. The town was blissfully quiet. The market was practically deserted. Conditions were prime for walking along the port and riverside to see natural river banks and abandoned boats from times past. It was amazing.

The highlight of the day was the boat ride back to BSAS through the Paraná River Delta. We barely witnessed a fraction of the delta’s 21.000 sq km area. The Paraná River Delta splits into several arms before flowing into Río de la Plata, the world’s widest river at just over a mile. In the delta the “road system” is actually a sinuous string of river paths between an endless number of islands. Except the closest islands where all the weekend/summer homes and resorts are, there is no power and none have a water system. However, from source to ocean, this river system remains unpolluted. Why then, many ask, is it completely choked with sediment? Well that is due to the natural laws of geomorphology, allowing healthy amounts of water and sediment transported out to sea.

The next leg of the journey was to San Antonio de Areco. I was only going for the day but I somehow made no preparations for this tiny gaucho village. I had the name of one gaucho museum and off I went.

All I can say is that it sometimes pays off to trust in providence.

Also departing the bus at the pretty little pampas village were Anne Brown, from Florida, and Wayne, from New York. They are both into their seventies yet are Tango partners. They come to BSAS and a place in Mexico each year to dance Tango and see shows. Being wonderful and friendly people they invited me to join a visit to the Museo Las Lilas de Areco, home of a part of the collection of artwork by Florencio Molina Campos. Alive 1891 to 1959, he is considered an extraordinary 20th century painter from the pampas of Argentina, who safeguarded the gaucho culture and heritage. He has a very stylized method and keen attention to detail in his depictions of gaucho life. He started started with sketches then onto paintings in the early 20’s and quickly became widely acclaimed. I liked how the horses had these long Roman noses, huge hooves, and large bugged-out eyes. And the gauchos (essentially pampas cowboys) had these almost grotesque expressions.

Well I had a wonderful afternoon. Anne and Wayne were incredible and they just scooped me up. They even treated me to lunch in the museum cafe. My favorite part was listening to them tell me all about the history, styles of dance, musicians and more. Not to mention discussions of our lives, with them bestowing their tried and true wisdom onto me. Such a delight. The reason this day goes to providence is because the museum which initially brought my to San Antonio de Areco was closed for renovations. Had I not met them or they not swooped me under theirs wings, I would never have known about the art museum and would have had a long day to only sit by the river. Despite this being a river adventure, I was fortunate to enjoy both.

Always continuing on, my next destination was Rosario, situated along the Río Paraná waterfront. I was there two-ish days but could have stayed longer. It is a city but has a familiar feel. Everyone is friendly and, I am told, very motivated for physical activities. While there, I enjoyed a bike tour around the city and a kayak trip along the river.

What I liked the most was that Rosario is a major port city, but a decade ago the government brilliantly decided to move the port to the south of the city. Urbanization is in action converting the once blocked off riverfront into running paths, parks, and apartments. Of particular entertainment to myself is the fact that incoming businesses are keeping the giant cement silo foundations. There is a brightly painted silo that is now the art museum; there are a couple sets of silo hotels; there is a club perched at the top of some silos; and who know what else they will utilize them for.

Another thing that caught my attention was the concept stencil graffiti, predominantly of bicycles, around the city. We rode past a government building with a brightly painted old-style bike tethered to the top of a light pole. It is to represent the Disappeared from the military dictatorship. The story behind is that when the first man was taken, there was an abandoned bicycle left in the street where he was last seen. This symbolism has been used since to represent the abductions of people who were taken by the military government. Despite being under a different government regime in the present, the March of the Mothers, which took place on the Plaza de Mayo in BSAS still has a following today. Each Thursday afternoon the Madres rally at the Plaza and march for their lost sons, husbands, and brothers.

Next stop, Santa Fe for a day. No providence for this one, I simply lacked foresight. I went for a day on a Sunday. The almighty day when everything is closed. Silly me. One excitement was that each Sunday they block off the main boulevard and turn it into a pedestrian fair. Mostly things were targeted at children activities, but it was nice to mosey along the pretty street down to the river front. I also went to the mall/casino which is built onto the old shipping piers. My day ended with a book under a tree in a beautiful park where old train station buildings still stand. Lovely.

Last stop, Colón, Entre Ríos, not to be mistaken by the 10 other Colóns… In true Huck fashion, I again had no plan and just went. I knew the river is stunning at Colón (concurred after I visited), what I did not know is that it is a resort town and all accommodation (at least right now in the off season) is incredibly expensive (when compared to my hostel-level budget). I rashly decided to stay only a day (literally just over 24 hours, middle of the night to middle of the night). Thus I was unable to tour the river, but I did the next best thing and went on a terrestrial excursion. The perk was the guide, Charlie Adamson. Argentinian native Scottish man, boarding schools in England, Sean Connery voiced, and a nice combination of rambunctiousness and eccentricity. Fantastic. Plus, I got to learn all about the native agates and jasper. The day ended with a sunset view along the river while rock hunting. What more could a girl ask for? I sat in a cafe sipping hot chocolate and reading until my bus was due to leave. I must say I enjoy that supper time starts at 22:00. Cafes and restaurants are conveniently open late.

At this point I am sure you have noticed that my river adventure petered out after El Tigre and Rosario. However, I think it only fitting in correspondence to Huck’s gradual evolution in the book. His adventures begin only in the river, then little by little they are more and more on land, until finally land comes to them and they are only on land. The river representing his vagrant lifestyle away from rules and civilization and land representing all the responsibilities Huck is running away from. Well I suppose I have already run my course for vagabondism, so it is only fitting that I started off already tied closely to the land. Regardless I enjoyed myself. And in the end I headed back to BSAS to await my final days until all of this ends and I return to the US of A.

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