Radio Amateurs onboard Dalkiri, drinking mate.
"This is how" said Roberto in Spanish, demonstrating how to enjoy the last crumbs of the delicious pastry alfajor, a local specialty of Santa Fe. We were sitting amongst new friends, members of the the Radio Club of Santa Fe enjoying the typical Argentina entertainment asado (BBQ). This is so much part of life that the fireplace is included in any building where people get together. In the club building the kitchen/asada area opens into a large room which doubles as entertainment and lecture room. All the members gathered around us had attended courses here, on completion of which they are issued with caps displaying their new call-signs. Leading off this main area are bathrooms, committee room and cabinets displaying the history and achievements of the club.
Radio Club Santa Fe - asado (BBQ) inside club building.
Climbing the spiral staircase one arrives at surely one of the most unusual Ham shacks around - originally a water tower where the old steam locomotives stopped to refill! The various antennas (3 mono band yagis, 10,20,40m; 70cm and 2m) are mounted above the top of the concrete water tank, leading through to the rotator and antenna switching system on the top floor, then down to the operating area on the floor below, all inside
the old tank.
Most of our lunch companions accompanied us back to see our maritime-Mobile shack (onboard Dalkiri) to partake of another popular pastime the drinking of mate tea. Thanks to Mario (LU1JCJ) who almost a year earlier had demonstrated how to prepare this national drink, together with the cup and bombilla (straw) presented by Pablo (LU1JEK), South African hospitality was shared with the Santafesinas.
Radio Club Santa Fe building, ex- railway water tower
How had Amateur Radio brought us here? In August 2006 during Lighthouses on the Air
we had a QSO with LU1JCJ Mario, in English. He had been astonished to hear a MM station with a strong signal only 20kms away from his QTH. An eyeball later that same day resulted in the intricacies of preparing mate being shared and explained.
As we continued our journey up the Rio Parana we kept in contact changing from 2m repeater at Diamante, Entre Rios, 146.610 Mhz to 40m further north in Argentina, to 20m in Paraguay. On our return downstream while moored at the river port of Parana we used the 2m repeater 146.745 Mhz, maintained by the Entre Rios Radio Club (ERRC). LU1JEK Pablo and LU1JRW Pochito came aboad with a present of the traditional mate cup and bombilla to celebrate this QSO. When we sailed across the river to the city of Santa Fe 15 kms away we could no longer 'hit' the Parana repeater and changed to 145.480 Mhz. Thats when LU7FWV Jaun-Jose invited us to the Radio Club Santa Fe and lunch (above).
Costanero (esplanade) City Santa Fe, province Santa Fe, Argentina
We have been royally entertained by various members of the club who have genberously opened their hearts and homes to us while ensuring that we have seen the sights of both the city and surrounding areas.
The letter following the number in the Argentina call sign (LU1) indicates the province, eg. A/E - Buenos Aires, F - Santa Fe, I - Misiones, J - Entre Rios, L - Corrientes ( provinces we have travelled through). Spanish is the language of Argentina but English is widely learnt at school and understood. Several Eco-links are in operation so we hope that South African Amateurs will soon be making contacts with the friendly operators of Argentina on one the many modes available.
Muchisimo gracias, um abrazo todas.
88 & 73 ZS6YE Heather (Eda) & ZS6YOT Jess
PS: We met Luis LU1ILB a guide to the world famous Iguazu Falls on our recent visit to this magnificent site. He gave himself away on the tour bus, when mike in hand he finished a question with 'QSL?'.