2013-11-18 -34 -58
Today's location is in a plant-covered area in the town (or city district) Presidente Derqui, near (or belonging to) the city Pilar, near Buenos Aires. It is only a few metres from the creek that is the boundary to the city José C. Paz. The Ramón Pacheco road leads from one city to the other a bit south of the hashpoint.
After a long time of working without rest, I was finally allowed do go on vacation. And I fulfilled a dream I have had for a long time, by going to the south. The very southerly south. The extreme south where not many go. After a looooong flight (14 hours) to Buenos Aires and a comparatively short flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, I boarded a cruise ship. With that ship I crossed the Drake passage (very rough waters) to finally arrive at my destination: the Antarctic! There I cruised for one week, mostly along the South Shetland Islands, but also along the continent itself, down to around -63.5° latitude where we were stopped by the ice. I got to watch wildlife (many many penguins) and icebergs, stepped on land almost every day, even camped one night and bathed for about 10 seconds. It was great, but there was a
fly Giant Petrel in the ointment: I wasn't able to reach any hashpoints, neither during the landings nor during the journeys between. The hashpoint of any one day was usually on the wrong side of the graticule and somehow the captain did not let me set a course. I had map printouts with the graticule lines and my GPS unit was running almost 24/7 (exept when the batteries were empty), I mapped the course multiple times a day. But the nearest I got to a hashpoint was about 1.5 km. So there is no need for ilpadre to create a new, 7-part globetrotter geohash icon and there will be no additional pictures in the Category:Ice and snow *sob*. Sadly the cruise had to end and we went back to Ushuaia, from where I flew to Buenos Aires for two days of sightseeing before going home.
While in South America, I got the coordinates thanks to Crox' SMS service. In the Antarctic I received them by satellite-link internet (that means $$$) because there is no cellphone service. And I have to say that geohashing west of the W30-line is really inconvenient because hash o'clock is so late. In the time zone Argentina and the Antarctic peninsula are in, UTC-3, coordinates are published at 11:30, so almost half of the day is without hashpoints and you can't plan anything. In theory I knew this, but the contrast to the luxurious situation in Europe (knowing the coordinates one day earlier) was huge.
I flew from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, about 2350-2400 km, receiving the day's coordinates at the airport. On my Buenos Aires graticule printout I could see that the spot was near the city. So after checking in at my hotel and dropping my suitcase, I used the free internet in the hotel lobby to get a close look at the hashpoint. Okay, it's out in the open and train stations are not too far away, I will go there. I had booked a hotel near the main train station (Retiro) because from there I had better access to the airport (by bus), the interesting parts of the city are not too far away and also in case of a hashpoint in the greater Buenos Aires region. Excellent. At around 16:40 I started the expedition, taking with me only my GPS unit, my older/smaller camera (the guide book warned me of thieves so I left the newer and better but larger camera at the hotel), spare batteries, the guide book and a little money. I walked to the Retiro train station, which in truth is three stations because of seperate train lines and there to the San Martín line, where I bought a ticket. The ticket to Presidente Derqui, one of the last stops and 80 minutes away, was $10.50 for both directions. But this $ means Argentine pesos, not dollars. At the current official exchange rate that is about 1.7 USD or 1.3 EUR, even less with the inofficial exchange rates because of large devaluation and the citizens not being allowed to buy foreign currency. At home I wouldn't even be allowed to board a bus for that price. The next train was scheduled 15 minutes later, so I went outside to the Torre de los Ingleses. While walking there, I heard an annoying constant siren which turned out to be a train crossing the street, without any barriers. Then I boarded my train which then rattled towards my goal. Suddenly I noticed a guy slightly behind but almost beside me, on the other side of the window! I had the seat directly in front of the train door and that guy was standing on the steps, hanging on to the side. After a while I found out that the train was so full of people that he couldn't go inside and that on the other train doors a similar phenomenon occured. Strange people, these Argentinians. There were some interesting sights to see on the ride, like an airfield and people crossing the rails. The train arrived at the "Sol Y Verde" station, one before Presidente Derqui, and I got out because that station was almost the same distance to the hashpoint than the Presidente Derqui one and I wanted to see different places. Oh my, why did I do that...? Because then the adventure really began...
After leaving the station I took a closer look at my surroundings. Oh. This was not a good neighborhood, as I could see at a glance. The houses - huts would be a better word - were small, crude, often unfinished. The people wore very simple clothes and I could not see any expensive possessions. Dirt was lying around. The food vendors' merchandise looked very suspicious. In short, I was in a bad part of the town. Slum would be too much, but it was a very poor area. And there I was, with a clean jacket and my favorite jeans, camera in the pocket, money in my wallet... I knew that I had to walk some blocks towards the south, so I just did that, hoping that nobody would start talking to me. Other people from the train were walking in the same direction and I tried to look "normal". I could see shaggy dogs, rusted and half-broken but still moving cars, dirty children. Oh my, somebody will surely steal my money, my camera and my GPS unit. As I walked on, straight ahead, the traffic of walking people around diminished as the other people went to the side streets. The streets I could see had potholes and many of them were not even tarred but just packed earth. Then the street I was on ended. I panicked for a moment, but the other people were heading for a gap between two houses a little left of me, so I followed them and found a path. Shortly after I reached an open area which I recognized from the map, crossed it and continued along the next street, which was angled a bit more to the west than the one I had taken before. The same general picture greeted me. Oh my, while robbing me they will also take my jacket and my shoes... *GASP* my watch is visible, shining like silver! I quickly put the jacket over that arm instead of the other. I just walked straight ahead and it was here that I took the first look at my GPS unit and found that I was going in the right direction. On the GPS unit I had no map at all for this part of the world, only the outline of the South American continent, so navigating was only possible in relation to the cardinal directions and to the hashpoint. After passing more crude huts, dirty streets, ugly dogs and poor people I reached the other side of that part of town. The Argentine towns I had visited so far were all built like a chessboard, which in Germany is unusual, so navigating was quite easy. I turned right and walked along the edge of the town until I came to a channel (?) crossing the street at an angle. There were some suspicious looking people there so I continued straight ahead, then took a look at the map (on my camera). I found the corresponding intersection on it and phew, I was on the correct route. It was here that I took the first picture since stepping off the train (it's the third one below, with the street depicted). When a tarred street crossed my route the next time, I turned left (= southwest) and followed that one. No big difference in my surroundings here, either. Oh my, they will not only rob me but also beat me up and hurt me... Sometimes a bus drove by, which for me was an important sign of order and civilization. A playground on a small square appeared and, because I had been walking straight ahead for some time and fearing I would get too far south of the hashpoint, I turned right (= northwest). When I came to a street sign (the first I saw) and recognized the name (Trinidad) from the map, I turned left (= southwest). But still everything around me had the same general appearance (see the "houses" picture below). Oh my, they will sell my kidneys to buy a house in a better neighborhood... But nothing bad happened and I finally reached the edge of the suburb and the main road I was looking for, the Ramón Pacheco road leading to the hashpoint. Relieved I followed that road (the second "street" picture is of the last side street) and passed the last houses. There had been garbage on the street the whole time, but now it covered everything. I walked at the side of the road for a while until I reached the small creek that marks the boundary between José C. Paz and Presidente Derqui. Hooray, I'm almost there!
Next to the creek a small trail led towards the north (and the hashpoint). Soon I took the last steps away from it, the hashpoint got nearer, then I felt something squishy under my feet. The ground here was muddy, but I didn't sink more than a centimeter and I could walk around until I was in the right location. Hooray! Hashpoint reached in a new graticule, on a new continent! Fireworks! Champagne! While taking pictures, I saw a mosquito land on my hand and quickly slapped it away. Only a few seconds later another one stung my finger and was stuck in it when I tried to slap it away, too. In such a dangerous area (I knew I would be attacked, see, I told you!) I didn't want to linger, so I finished the important stuff and went back to the road.
Having no intention at all to go back the same way, I continued along the road towards Presidente Derqui. Although I could see no houses yet, I noticed a strong contrast to the place I had been before: From the creek on the ground was much cleaner with no garbage. The train schedule (on my camera) told me that the next train would leave at 19:50, 20 minutes later. Since I didn't want to wait half an hour, I walked the 2 km as fast as possible. The town was clean and the houses and people looked normal, meaning I was in a much better neighborhood now. Oh, why did I take the other route... The distance (as the skua flies) to the hashpoint might have been the same, but with all the zigzagging along the streets it had been far longer. At 19:50 I reached the train station and, because my platform was the second one with no crossing visible, walked over to rails to get there. Then the train arrived. During the ride, a boy handed me (and everyone else as well) a note about his poor family and younger siblings, asking for "2 or 10 pesos", so I gave him 2 pesos. He also took the note back and I didn't have time to take a picture. Another guy played the guitar (with amplifier) a while later, he got 5 pesos because he was working for the money. While I was on the train it got dark outside, then I arrived at the Retiro station. My plan had been to go to the trendy district Puerto Madero for dinner because my guidebook recommended both going there in the evening and eating there, but by then I was very tired. So I went to a small restaurant I found on the way to the hotel and ate there. Afterwards I went to bed, very relieved.
Disclaimer: I apologize to the inhabitants of the Sol Y Verde district (or whatever that place was called) for the above-mentioned, very prejudiced thoughts. I know that it is not okay to judge people just because they are poor and that poor people are not by default criminals, but I had read a lot about pickpocketing and attacks in the poorer parts of Buenos Aires and I was afraid I would meet these people. Nothing bad happened to me.
In total, I walked 9 km (6 near the hashpoint and 3 between hotel and train station), in addition to the 93.3 km by train and the flight. Since there has been no successful expedition in this graticule so far (only one "Curse of Unawareness" and one "Planning"), this was a virgin expedition.
|Danatar earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement|