LA PAZ (Province Entre Rios) 30 44 S - 59 38 W
757 Kms from Buenos Aires
Hola chicos (Hi guys), We arrived in La Paz for the first time during Spring Festival, now 6 months later we are here for the Autumn equinox. Last time we anchored off the Municipal beach as the water level was so low that we could not get near the town wharf, now however we are tied up with 9m under the keel!
The river is at its highest level in 9 years; a combination of heavy rains in Bolivia, Brasil and the usual summer rains over Argentina, has brought this about. The river has spread into the surrounding country-side, which is very flat, causing problems for those living alongside. Some houses have had to be abandoned, others have their boats tied up outside the front door.
We visited Arroyo Aguara again, a small side river where we found the river banks completely submerged and the only indication that they are there is the line of trees. Five months ago the gauchos (cowboys) rounded up the cattle every evening, the birds twittered about their day and the frogs started up their chorus. Now it seems strangely quiet in this water landscape. Usually cattle are left unattended on the many islands for several seasons; plenty to eat and drink, no fences and no predators. Now, however as we passed we could see groups huddled together on any bit of high ground, while others foraged up to their shoulders in water, desperately eating anything they could find.
Here in La Paz we have seen several cattle-ships leaving loaded with bales of alfalfa and returning fully loaded with cattle. Apparently they will be taken to nearby pastures. Some looked quite pitiful with bones sticking out, the healthiest looking are the calves presumably still suckling (using snorkels?). These specially built ships with very shallow draft and several ramps can go almost anywhere. The ramps become gangways onto the wharf where another trailor gangway is placed leading into the waiting trucks. One cow who had to be helped to her feet had the tiniest calf at her side, perhaps her reluctance to get up was due to exhaustion after giving birth, the gauchos kept them separate and loaded them last. Its obviously stressful for the animals but at least they are now safe on dry land, others have not been so lucky.
We met a young couple Jorge & Constanza (23 & 21) who are touring all the nastional Parks in Argentina on a reclining tandem tricycle plus 2-wheel luggage trailer. What an interesting and enthusiastic pair (and fit). Guess that we are all camping travellers we really got along, despite some language difficulties. As their unusual cycle was parked alongside Dalkiri we drew quite a passing audience between us. There are lots of bicycles in this flat area and the local kids followed them where ever they went. They also helped Jess refine his mate making skills. (Should explain that mate is a herbal tea, prepared in a gourd, drunk through a metal straw and handed from person to person. Everyone drinks mate in Argentina, its a national addition - worse than football.)
We enjoyed seeing the river with someone else at the wheel from onboard the sight-seeing catamaran ´Guarani´. Later Jess joined Carlos, its owner, at the local Rotary evening where he talked about our trip and answered questions about South Africa. They are very curious about Black people as there are almost none in Argentina.
We were also interviewed by a TV crew who produce travel programes; they happened to be visiting the Tourist office at the same time as us. However as its on satellite and in Spanish, guess we wont see it.
Oh yes, one last snippet: although this is a small town there is a local yacht and owners Winny & Linda lived in South Africa for awhile - small world?