Sunday, April 29, 2007

Festival Internaciónal de Ushuaia

The 3rd International Classical Music Festival en Del Fin Del Mundo, and what a delight it has been. The 3 concerts I attended were glorious and the setting magnificent. The crowning achievement of the Festival was the presence of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra with it's director, an Argentinian, who brought the audience to their feet at every performance. It was also wonderful to see the people of Ushuaia in another light, many in the best gear and "beautiful", although the concerts weren't cheap and out of range for many. There were free concerts for Fueguinos, which were packed out. I had a lesson on all aspects of Classical music on a return taxi ride. My taxista gave me a complete rundown on composers, orchestras and musicians in a 15 minute journey home. Not sure my Spanish was really up to it, but it didn't matter.
Combined with the 1st Bienal, a Contemporary Art Festival,(click on the photo to check the Bienal set) the town has been pretty lively for the last few weeks. All culminates tonight with a fireworks spectacular, weather permitting! It's been snowing out there.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Good Airline Story

This one amazed me, and after having a go at Aerolineas, just have to add this one. This time with TAME, an Ecuadorian airline.
One the trip from Quito to the Galapagos, a trip of several hours ish!, after the flurry of providing the in-flight refreshment, the staff asked a passenger to press the call button. Turned out to be a very tall American jazz pianist sitting just in front of me. Several minutes later all the flight attendants came up from the rear of the plane with - believe it or not- a birthday cake, with which they duly presented him and then sang Happy Birthday. He was in total shock, as were the majority of the passengers and had no idea just how it all happened as he was travelling solo. I can't imagine just where they produced the cake from - they did cut it, I think, but as far as I know no-one had any. But it certainly was a personal touch!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Out in the Cold

Odd One Out
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
Those that have read Perrocide in Ushuaia and my emails, will wonder at this post, but I actually feel very sorry for this guy. All morning it has rained and intermittently snowed - so it's not very warm out there. Three dogs live in this backyard???? and the other two are occupying the only places of shelter, one kennel and the shed. Neither will let this guy anywhere near them and he has wandered hopelessly back and forth trying to get in. He is actually not all that steady on his feet, I don't know if it's the weight of the sodden coat or he's not well and much as these animals drive me crazy, I hate to see an animal suffer. This one is only a follower of the top dog, who is the one occupying the shed - naturally. May have to talk to the owner again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bienal Ushuaia 2007

Bienal Ushuaia 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
This is art; the recorded message inside the car wasn't playing very well, so I am not sure just what it explained, but I am sure there is an explanation. Ushuaia is having it's first Bienal, a Contemporary Art Festival and there are some fascinating works of art which I have been enjoying. Won't say I understand them all, maybe it's a language thing? But then contemporary art has never really been my thing. Check out some of the other works of art, just click on the picture.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Ambush

The Ambush
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
I saw it coming, as the newcomer strutted into the middle of the road and the challengers came from all sides. Unfortunately I was a little slow with the camera and only got the 2 shots as the attack came and went and they all headed in my direction. I forgot about the photos and headed for safety, but it was all over except for the licking of the wounds and the crowing or barking of the victors`

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Casa del Lago

Galápagos March 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
If you are looking for something different, and the Galápagos Islands are certainly that, then a stay at Casa del Lago will complete the experience. Such a change from hotels, Elena and Enrique provide a quirky, comfortable place from which to enjoy Puerto Ayora. They have constructed their home, the Cafe Cultural and 2 apartments from re-cycled materials providing a charming refuge. My apartment had it's own terrace overlooking the garden, and the other apartment had access to a lovely garden setting. All types of materials have been used in the construction giving it a charm all of it's own.
As hosts they are most accommodating and Elena's experience as a travel guide, and her wonderful English ensure a her guests information and assistance to enjoy this amazing paradise.
They are also talented musicians and organise many cultural and musical events for Puerto Ayora. The Cafe has great vegetarian food and the best home made ice cream and the only REAL coffee I found on the island. If you can't stay there, at least visit for the coffee and ice-cream and the welcome.
For more photos just click on the photo.
You can find them at:

Ripped Off In Quito

Quito March 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
A beautiful old city, bustling with people, life and constant activity and unfortunately the ever present thieves. Not that this isn't true of just about every city in the world, it's just that I have never been the recipient before! Been a couple of attempts, but this was the only successful one and my lovely new camera, capable of those underwater shots in the Galapagos went to the local market for re-sale. The frustrating thing about it all, is that the 1GB card had lots of great shots after a very busy morning people watching, and I guess some one local was tourist watching waiting for just the right moment. As I raised the camera for another shot it was snatched from my hands and both the guy and camera disappeared off down the street, right past the lovely young policeman that I reported it to. He could even describe the thief and tell me he had something in his hand!
Later in the day I wandered around the local market - floors and floors of goods of questionable origin and it makes you wonder what one does with a camera, phone, computer etc that comes box less, without instructions, charger, cables etc, etc. I didn't see my camera, a bit early for that , but I am sure it was there within hours if not days. I wonder if I would have bought it back? Now what do I do with all the cables, spare battery, chargers etc etc? as you have probably noticed, absolutely none of them are interchangeable, even within the same brand and it seems criminal to throw them into yet more landfill. Maybe I should have sold them at the market.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

La Lucha No Termino The Falklands/Malvinas

Ushuaia Autumn 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
It is fact that this forlorn archipelago was the last of the great discoveries in the West to be settled by Europeans, although it is uncertain who first saw the islands. The French colonized them, but the Spanish asserted territorial proximity rights from mainland south America. The British were there after the French moved out and the Argentinians did have a garrison there which the British displaced in 1833 and that was that as far as the Brits were concerned. The islanders consider themselves British to the core even though the Argentines have continued to claim the rights to the Islands since the Brtish moved in. "Las Malvinas fueron, son y serán Argentinas"- the Malvinas were, are and will be Argentinian is the catch cry that all Argentinians are raised with and that nationalism, pride and honour are still very strong in the claim and as the posters that appeared all over town proclaim - "la lucha no termino" -the struggle has not finished.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Joys of Aerolineas Argentinas

Airline travel can provide a test of patience and involve long waits, but I think that Aerolineas Argentina must hold the record for flight delays, strikes and challenges in general . After returning to Ushuaia with Aerolineas I remember why I choose to fly with other airlines whenever it is possible!
The trip started in Quito, when LAN informed me there was no way my luggage could be sent through to Buenos Aires and would go to Santiago, from where I would have to collect it and recheck it. Fair enough, except that one’s luggage is outside, through immigration and I am inside in the Transit area. To exit and collect it means immigration, a reciprocal tax of $56 and an exit tax of $16 – not an option! Easy they say, go to the Aerolineas counter and get them to collect the luggage, except there is no Aerolineas desk and in the early hours of the morning it’s not easy to find anyone to help. Bless the lovely young lady in the Diners Club lounge, she spent some time on the telephone chasing down the luggage through Aerolineas. I wasn’t the only one, there was a couple from Guatemala with the same challenge. Finally, about 30 minutes before the flight departure we were handed our boarding passes with, we hoped, appropriate luggage collection tags. We were all very pleased to see our luggage on the carousel in Buenos Aires.
That was followed by an expensive Remis journey across Buenos Aires to the Domestic Terminal for the scheduled departure of my flight to Ushuaia. Might as well have walked! 8 hours later the flight departed Buenos Aires with a plane full of rather disgruntled travellers. All the flights on Saturday afternoon displayed the red Demorado – delayed notice, on the board and during the course of the day several were cancelled with no explanation. Several flights scheduled for later than mine departed for Ushuaia and still no explanation. Finally when we boarded they told us that seating was free – as the plane had been changed, which, as you can imagine caused even more problems as it was literally a case of first on best seats! I was lucky I was on early, after being squashed onto the bus last and so amongst the first off – so I had a front seat with all that lovely leg room. But couples were separated and there were lots of unhappy people.
We arrived in Uhuaia at 2.30 am, my luggage was almost last off and so I had a long wait for a taxi – in the cold, and after Galapagos it was cold! Finally made it back to my flat at 3.30 after 2 nights with little sleep.
Don’t think I will travel Aerolineas again in a hurry! I have to return to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas, but think I will ditch the flight to Santiago to connect for the return to Oz and buy a single with LAN – they are much more reliable!

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Dance of the Boobies

Galápagos March 2007
Originally uploaded by agypsy.
What a wonderful spectacle and so very comical, with the large blue feet being an integral part of the performance. The feet are lifted one at a time in a solemn ritualised dance and resemble a clown with those extra large shoes. The pair then “skypoint”, which involves pointing their tails and beaks upwards and half opening their wings and honking or whistling. Honking for the female and whistling for the male. The whole performance can continue for quite a while and is wonderful to watch..
Watching them fishing is yet another fantastic spectacle. They cruise quite high above the sea and often commence their dive from as high as 10 – 15 metres. As they dive to accelerate they fold their wings and hit the water like an arrow or a kamikaze pilot