I knew the Paraná Delta existed because I’ve seen the boats heading there from Tigre, but they may as well have been sailing into another country for all I could picture of the network of islands, rivers and wetlands. Ana, our guide, traces the upcoming route on a map and explains we will see a tiny segment of the area, which expands for a total of over 5,000 square miles. On the map the tributaries of the Delta spread out from Tigre like the veins on a leaf. Look closely and it seems you could spot twin-headed serpents staking out the smallest winding creeks and mythical creatures with the heads of lions lying in wait for unsuspecting boats. The Delta is another Argentina; one that is neither well-known nor particularly well-visited, save for the routes of the main tourist craft. Our journey into the unknown begins with a bright and breezy early boat from Tigre River Station. Boarding, we tell them we’re going to “lo del suizo” (the Swiss place). Around 40 minutes later after passing the schools, shops, petrol stations and churches of the first stage of the Delta, we hop off at the home of Delta Unplugged.
A multitude of companies offer private tours of the Delta by boat but Delta Unplugged sounds interesting. Owned and operated by Ana, an Argentine tourism expert and Ralph,a Swiss chef, Delta Unplugged provides a tranquil day’s excursion along with tasty food. Clambering onto the jetty we are greeted by the family including baby Octavio, who is immediately intrigued by the sight of my baby (who is wondering what is going on, having woken up from a nap to find himself surrounded by water). After a breakfast of homemade breads with dulce de leche, aubergine jam and honey we set off in their wooden boat to explore the waterways.
(Photos courtesy of myself and also Ana from Delta Unplugged)
Taking the stream less traveled at the start of the tour.
Still, peaceful waters of the Delta.
Some of the residents of the first stage of the Parana Delta.
Bird-spotting at lunchtime from the Delta Unplugged boat.
And more wildlife – turtles, this time.
Lunch is an impressive spread with cheeses, meats, empanadas, tarts, dips, vegetables, chicken and beef, all rustled up by Ralph on the boat itself.
I didn’t see any two-headed serpents on the boat trip and the only mythical creatures were the supernaturally persistent mosquitoes, but I did get a glimpse of another world. A swift water taxi ride back to Tigre and we’re back on dry land, but rocked by invisible waves for hours afterwards.
As a Brit I am honour-bound to talk about the weather at any given opportunity. Which is why this blog probably has more posts about the weather than anything else. Before I moved to Argentina I had no idea what winter weather was like in Buenos Aires. All I knew was winter arrived at the opposite end of the year and didn’t coincide with Christmas anymore.
Winter – roughly July to September in Argentina – is difficult to pin down. If you’re coming to Buenos Aires in winter do you pack a full-length coat, scarf and hat? Or a t-shirt and sandals? Pack them all and you won’t go wrong.
Chau frio, llega el calorcito
Monday, for example, the temperature was below freezing in the morning and didn’t rise much above 10 degrees during the day. Yesterday was blue-sky bright but still with low temperatures and a fair amount of wind. The heater was on all day and extra blankets on the bed. Today, however, the day started cold but 24 degrees are expected this afternoon. It’s going to be 25 or 26 degrees until Monday. Turn off the heater, turn on the fans. Change baby from winter clothes to shorts.
Here’s what you need to know about winter in Buenos Aires:
What’s the weather like?
- The temperature in August has an average low of 8 degrees C and an average high of 18 degrees C. But we’ve already seen lows of 1 and highs of 25, so don’t pay attention to the averages.
- Days are normally sunny with blue skies.
- It’s hardly ever so cold during the day that you feel uncomfortable.
- Heavy rain and thunderstorms are not uncommon in the winter. As in the summer, they usually arrive at night after a few days of warm weather.
- It’s weird walking past palm trees in a coat and scarf.
Winter weather isn’t simply described as cold by the weather forecasters; this is an ola polar (polar wave) and the news media talks about it near-constantly. If it ever snowed in Buenos Aires there wouldn’t be any other news for a week.
While the British are rightly credited for an obsession with the weather it seems Argentines – in the media, at least – could give them a run for their money.
I don’t often spend time considering the merits of flags but today it is appropriate (in fact, it would be rude not to). Consider the striking sky blue and white bands of the Argentinean flag. In my opinion the Argentinean flag is one of the most attractive of all the flags currently fluttering above official buildings all over the world, so I’m pleased it has its own day of celebration each year. I’m also extremely happy because this day of celebration allows us to take a little break midweek. Every June 20th is Flag Day which makes June 20th a public holiday (one of a massive 17 days this year – Argentina has a healthy respect for the public holiday.)
Argentina’s flag was first raised in 1812. Día de la Bandera Nacional is celebrated on June 20th in commemoration of the flag’s creator, General Manuel Belgrano, who died on June 20th, 1820.
No one really knows why General Manual Belgrano chose the colours he did. And when my family visited they weren’t sure why some Argentinean flags had a sun in the centre and others didn’t. I couldn’t give a satisfactory answer so I looked it up. Apparently, the two versions of the flag are equally valid but the flag with the sun is called the Official Ceremonial Flag and must always be above the sunless flag (the Ornamental Flag) if they are both flown together.