TOP TEN RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT MY TRIP TO
ANTARCTICA, ARGENTINA AND URUGUAY
10. After wearing what I wore to work on Thursday all the way to Ushaia (the world's southernmost
city), I found myself preparing to go to Antarctica without my luggage. (Thanks, United.) So I
threw my jacket and tie in my carry-on bag and bought some "layers" at the men's store in
Ushaia. As a result, I think I'm the first person ever to have packed a Brooks Brothers blazer
to travel to Antarctica. (So I guess it's true: You can wear them anywhere.)
9. If the Argentine Air Force wants to maintain its monopoly on the "I-just-want-to-say-I've-been-to-
Antarctica" tourism market, it might consider offering information about its trips and the
briefings you get along the way and at the base in other languages besides Spanish.
8. Although Antarctica is an "internationalized zone" belonging to no country, don't be surprised
when Argentina stakes a claim to some part of it. Every reference to where I went was
"Antartida Argentina", and Marambio, is, after all, an air force base, not a civilian research
7. Opus wasn't kidding when he said that penguins are among Nature's smellier animals.
6. Although Marambio (Antarctica), Tiera del Fuego and Buenos Aires are all theoretically in
Argentina, they might have been different countries. Buenos Aires, especially, feels
disconnected from the rest of the nation.
5. Is Argentina more corrupt than other places? You'll never hear me say so. When I had been
there a full day, I got a call from the remise (hired car) service that took me from the airport to
the hotel in Buenos Aires. They had found my wallet on the floor of the cab (I hadn't even
missed it) and told me I could come get it. When I got to the office, my passport, credit cards
and cash were all still in it. Would that have happened in Cincinnati or New Orleans?
4. I think this is the first time I've ever been somewhere it paid to be an American. The favorable
exchange rate meant that a night at a five-star hotel (think The Palace in Cincinnati) was $101
per night; dinner at the restaurant with "the best chef in Argentina"--including two bottles of wine
was about $100--for three people; and a cab ride from one end of town to the other cost less
3. Buenos Aires does not aspire to be New York or Miami; it wants to be Paris--or at least Madrid.
The people of Buenos Aires (portenos) are focused on Europe, not North America. Case in
point, I went to anti-globalization rally on Calle Florida at which protesters vandalized not only
Citibank, but also HSBC (Hong Kong), BBV (Bilbao), and the National Bank of Ecuador.
2. Tango is depressing. And it's not just me who thinks so. Writer Martinez Estrada called it "a
dance of pessimism, of everyone's sorrow: a dance of the never-changing enormous plains
and of a subjugated race that crisscrosses them without end and without destiny, and in the
eternity of a forever-repeating present." Nice.
1. If you're planning to travel with someone, arrange to go with Sally and Darryl. Sally will
painstakingly research the destination and make sure that you make it to the best sights, best
restaurants and best things to do. Darryl will find the good buys. (I went with him to buy
sandals one day, and he ended up with a Burberry suit--for less than $200.)