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I didn’t realise when I signed up with friends to do this 135km hike from
Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin that it would be such a challenge.
We first bought a book which divided the trek into about 7days with walks of
between 14-25kms.
There was really only a couple of notes about the difficulty of certain
sections, however together with the pelting rain and strong winds for a
few of the days made it tough going. It also was unseasonally cold. We were
in wet weather gear most of the time. I personally would have preferred to do the track later but the others said it would be too hot so I went with the flow.
Maurice the masseur did a good job of rubbing my calves and knees before
and after the walk which helped enormously resulting in no aching muscles.
I did manage to rub a big blister on my heel where I have no nerve or feeling however
with “fixomoll” hiker’s wool and blister bandaids I had no pain or further damage.
A lot of the track was very narrow or littered with rocks or quite a lot of
soft sand walking on the beach which when walking into a headwind was
very challenging.
We had to cross several creeks and the Margaret River so it was off with
socks and boots to traverse them.
The easiest day was the walk through the beautiful Boronup forest with it’s
majestic and tall karri and marri trees. Even then there were a couple of
steep hill climbs. MY lung capacity is not great so I usually had to pause
for a few seconds mid hill.
Maurice ferried the three of us between sections. We decided to stay 2days
at the Yallingup Caravan park, 6days at Margaret River and two days near Augusta.
The coastal views and the various rock formations were spectacular. Our two friends had to return a rented motorhome but they wanted to get to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin so we three did the section m skippy rock to the Leeuwin lighthouse on their last day. They missed one section of track which was the hardest. Luckily Simon,a friend decided to come down from his holiday house in Yallingup and join me for the missed section. We managed 25kms that day with a 7km soft sand beach hike and we missed the turn off from the beach up to the high ground and I managed to get my boots and socks thoroughly drenched and we had to clamber up some steep rocks or rather Simon hauled me up them.
Dear Maurice had a gin and tonic for Simon and a prosecco waiting for me when we finally came through the bush to the parking area.
I only saw the back for a snake in the bushes further away from where I was and Simon and I saw a small snake cross ahead of us on a sandy wide path. The only other wildlife that we saw was as small bungara (lizard) who just stopped and stared at us and a large kangaroo at the side of the 4WD track. The many and varied wildflowers were out in bloom and the scenery was spectacular for much of the track near the coast and in the forest.
The whole Cape to Cape track has not been maintained too well with leaning steps and uprooted ones and missing signs in places to show the way to the track from the beach.
Next year a government body will take over the maintenance of the whole track with some shelters and toiles (we were told this by a ranger) so that it will be a lot better.
All in all it was a great experience but much tougher than I thought it would be especially with the inclement weather on many days.

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It was a novelty going on a flight overseas. We left Perth on the 10th September 2021 fora week’s more warmth on the Cocos islands which belong to Australia. We could buy duty
free as well which was a bonus.
The flight goes via Learmonth in the north west to refuel and then another three hours to the Cocos which are mid way between Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
The main island where tourists stay is West island which has approximately 170 inhabitants and not a lot of infrastructure. It is your tropical island paradise. You can get a good coffee on the Big Barge which was brought onshore and transformed into a small gift shop and
coffee shop.
The other island inhabited by Malays is Home island which houses about 600 inhabitants and was the base of the Clunies Ross family who ruled over the island for centuries.
Only one Clunies Ross now lives on west Island but has nothing to do with the running of the island. That is up to the Commonwealth government now.
West island is only 10degrees above sea level so I hope that it doesn’t disappear into the sea in the foreseeable future!
The other 25 odd islands are not inhabited but you can visit them on a large ferry or when doing the motorised canoe safari. The water is absolutely clear and a very pleasant temperature and the outiside temperature is a pleasant 30-32degress with a sometimes strong breeze which is very welcome.
The yatch club had no boats anchored at all and you can play golf across the runway and surrounds hen there are no flights. There are only two a week and you can hear them when they are landing.
It is a very relaxed place with a few possibilities for dining out and the Cocos club where they serve meals a few times a week as well as drinks.
We swam at various beaches and took the ferry over the Direction (uninhabited) island which just has hundreds of timy hermit crabs and palm trees and crystal clear water. We spent the day there.
The motorised canoe safari was a lot of fun. We landed at several different islands where we were served bubbly and snacks and Maurice won the crab race.
We were also given snorkels and masks and could float around a small island seeing turtles and a variety of beautifully coloured tropical fish.
We went with friends and we shared a lovely two bedroom house listening to the crashing waves every night. We could sit on our balcony and watch the ocean and we took our cocktails down and sat under a large tree every night to watch the waves and the turtles popping their heads up every so often.
We hired a car as it was a bit far to travel to the best beach on West Island.
One enterprising inhabitant produces all sorts of coconut products and he has the only outdoor restaurant and a small cafe right at the airport which was within spitting istance
of our accommodation.
On a Wedmesday night we could take the ferry for $5 return to Home island for a scrumptious Malay smorgasbord after another swim at a beautiful beach.
It is so laid back a place that on departure you can check baggage in at the little airport counter then you can go and enjoy yourself away from the airport. we could stay in our accommodation until we heard the plane land and then check out!
It was one of our most relaxing breaks and we would love to go back in a few years time.

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We travelled to Lake Argyle from Kununurra on the 16th of July for two weeks.
The drive of about an hour and a quarter yielded the most spectacular scenery
of the Carboyd ranges with it’s interesting rock formations.

The Caravan park was full and thank goodness we had a booking. Many who didn’t
have a booking had to wait outside (some from 6am) and there were sometimes 40
caravans/motorhomes and camper trailers waiting to get a spot at the park.
The borders of Queensland, Western Australia,New South Wales and Victoris had
all been locked down so we decided to forgo our trip to the Northern Territory
in case we were held up at the border coming back and if we had to isolate for
three weeks on re-entry. The best laid plans of mice and men!
We enjoyed many hikes (well our friend Ken who was here and myself as Maurice
would only walk on the bitumen roads because of the fractured bone in his foot.
We did go on a sunset boat cruise on Lake Argyle which is spectacular and covers
about 750sq kms in the dry season from March to October and over 1000kms in the
wet season from October to March. The dam which divides the Ord river from Lake Argyle
is also very impressive and was completed in 1971.

The Argyle Lake has many species of fish and the non dangerous fresh water crocodiles
while the Ord river side has salt water crocodiles, so no swimming there!
We booked a couple of events. One was a morning tea featuring local bush tucker food,
Lovely passionfruit muffins, lime cheesecaskes, chia seed Anzac biscuits, creamed honey
and wild hibiscus jam. It was all delicious and washed down with fresh orange or grapefruit
juice and specially infused tea and coffee. Josh the tour leader also showed our small group
the many medicinal plants and edible plants in the area.

We also went on the Camp Oven dinner which was under the stars where we could see the Lake
on one side and the sunset over the hills on the other. A very special evening which everyone

We had another friend Nibha arriving for a couple of days on the 26th July. Other than drinks
with friends we spent the rest of the time relaxing and reading and I tried out my new acquisition,
a drone which was a lot of fun. I am still to master it completely but can at least get it up in
the air successfully and take some photos and videos.
I did a lot of hiking every day up and down the hills, some was relatively easy and some exhausting
with good lifts.

We both went to yoga on the grass at 7am overlooking the lake which was a lovely start to the day.
I followed with a bit of a swim in the cool pool.
Our helicopter trip on the 28th which dropped us at a secret location to have a picnic and a swim was the highlight of our trip. The landscape is spectacular and I had a refreshing swim in the waterhole below the waterfall which runs all year round.

We moved back to Kununurra for about a week on the 30th July after a thoroughly wonderful
warm 31-34degrees and blue skies every day in Lake Argyle.

We happened upon a Rodeo taking place about 5km out of Kununurra and it was a new experience for me, never having attended one before. The crowd was very agreeable and we had about 5hours before the music started and made our way back to the Caravan Park which is much quieter with fewer children now!

After cancelling our proposed trip to the Northern Territory {covid related} we decided to make our way back
to Perth along the coast again.
We had been watching the weather in Perth and the south west and were very glad to be away from all the rain
and storms for the 3months over winter. We are looking forward to our week’s trip on the 3rd September to the Cocos Keeling islands half way between Indonesia and Sri Lanka. They come under Australia and one of the only safe places to go in this Covid year.

After a final swim at Cable beach we headed further north to spend the night at
Fitroy Crossing where a section of the caravan parking was set aside for those in isolation after travelling
from the Northern Territory. We were being ultra cautious so we didn’t venture to the facilities and used those
in the van only.
We are lucky here in western Australia that all we have to do is keep to social distancing rules and ping on the app outside shops so that we can be traced if there is an outbreak of Covid.
Before we left Fitzroy we drove 20kms to Geike Gorge or Danggu in the local language and did an hour’s boat trip up and down the gorge which was very interesting and a very peaceful environment especially when the boat’s engine was turned off so that we could just hear the sounds of nature. There were a few species of birds on the banks and swallows making their nests under the rocks. The change in colour of the rocks delineates where the water rises to in the wet season which reaches a considerable height. They have over 38 species of fish in the gorge both salt and freshwater types. The most unusual is the long toothed sawfish of which we saw none. There are small fresh water crocodiles which are not dangerous to humans as they cannot open their jaws like the very large saltwater variety.
We had practically no traffic from Broome to Fitroy crossing and none from there until near Doon Doon station where an old man in his caravan went very slowly and held up 2 large road trains and us who were following.
The landscape on the way from Warnum to Doon Doon changed from being long straight stretches with very little on the horizon to undulating and winding roads which were much more interesting.
The roadhouse at Doon Doon station is in the middle of nowhere so the stars were bright and beautiful at night with no lights to detract from them.
It was only a short drive, an hour and a half to the town of Wyndham. The caravan park was also divided in to those who were in isolation and others. It was a lovely peaceful, leafy park with an enormous Boab tree at the far end of the park.
We visited the Afghan cemetery off the main road and made our way up a steep road to the Five Rivers lookout which
was a spectacular place. I managed to get my drone up in the air for a short video which showed the vast amount of water in the five rivers converging around Wyndham.
We had to try the barramundi with lemon pepper pie which was delicious but passed on the crocodile pie. The cafe assistant said crocodile tasted like a mixture of meat and fish so it didn’t sound very appetising.
We only stayed one night in Wyndham as the following day was my birthday and we wanted to celebrate in some style. Unfortunately the only hotel in Wyndham had closed so we left the next morning for the short one hour drive first to “hidden valley’ very close to Kununurra for a bit of a hike up to two lookouts one over the town and around the interesting rock formations. After visiting the ‘Hootchery’ to sample their gin we went into Kununurra had an excellent fresh fish and chip lunch at the old pumphouse now a very nice restaurant overlooking the Ord River and we then checked into our Kimberleyland Caravan Park which was bursting at the seams with lots of children on school holidays. Thankfully they will be back at school next week.
Craig Maurice’s son and his wife Yuko sent us a voucher for a meal at the Kimberley Grand resort hotel and I had the best steak that I have had for years and Maurice had excellent fresh fish again.
The weather has been perfect for us 32-37degrees and sunshine with coolish nights, good for sleeping. We are spending a week here before moving slightly east to Lake Argyle


We left in our campervan on the 1st June for Dongara about 4hours north of Perth to meet up and have lunch with Ann a friend before staying for a few days with friends Adrian and Roslyn on their farm between Dongara and Geraldton.
It was getting colder in Perth and we wanted to head north for some warmth.

Our original plans of travelling dirt roads to Mt Augustus, the largest rock in the world were thwarted because heavy unseasonal rain which made the roads impassable. We camped at the Murchison Oasis where there was an unusual sight in the days that we were there of a large round disc carried by a helicopter which we were told was an airborne geophysical metal detector flown around the surrounding countryside. It was there that we were advised to make haste and take “Butcher’s Track” a 150km dirt road to the North West Coastal highway before more rain fell.
We were the only vehicle on the road and saw 2kangaroos, 2emus and a few sheep cross the track.
One car and caravan had been stranded and both were bogged for a week and the works manager was going to take a troupe out get them out of the mud. There were many many roadworks along the highway with improvements to widen the roads. It only held us up for a short time.

We could stay at the roadhouse of Wooramel before heading on to Carnarvon where we had more time and caught up with other friends who happened to be there, Maurice’s sister and brother in law and their friends and local friends.
The days there were sunny but with very strong icy winds which made outdoors very uncomfortable.
We progressed on to the 80mile beach, a beautiful stretch of coastline with amazing so called spring tides where the water disappeared for kilometres before coming back to shore.

This year unfortunately was to be very unusual weather wise. Our first month we spent in long trousers and
jumpers and it was only towards the end of June even 2000kms north that we could lose the jumpers and jeans.
The morning was cool and overcast with a few spots of rain on the 28th June, unheard of in Broome.
On our way north we stopped in the coastal towns of Geraldton, Carnarvon and Quobba station right on the ocean before we moved inland to Bullara station. We enjoyed the station stays more even though the facilities were not as numerous but the tranquility of the stations was very relaxing.

The normally brown landscape was much greener with many varieties and colours of grasses.
We spent one night in the city of Karatha which has grown exponentially since Maurice lived there in the 70’s. It rained all day and we made our way to Point Samson another small coastal town with the best Fish and Chips. In the 70’s and 80’s people travelled from many hundreds of kilometers away for their renowned Fish and Chips.
We were holed up in the van all day so made time to go the restaurant for lunch.

The poor wildflowers don’t know what to do and have started flowering months earlier than their normal blooming time. There were hundereds of caravans, 4wds, campervans and camper trailers all over the state with many from over east escaping their possible lockdowns. We have been luckier than most states and countries with avoiding covid cases and lengthy lockdowns in Western Australia.
One man we met had lost everything – house, cars and caravan in Townsville, Queensland last year when the river broke it’s bank. Another couple of people had vehicle problems which entailed sending parts of entire vehicles to Perth which was a very costly exercise. A lot of people with 4wd vehicles want to take the Gibb River road or the Tanami track which are very rough dirt roads with a lot of obstacles and that is where a lot of problems occur. A friend was travelling the Gibb river road and the vehicle ended up with a twisted chassis, could not be driven and ended up having to be trucked thousands of kilometres back to Perth.

On arrival in Broome it was extremely busy with every number of caravan, campervans and camper trailers in the town. All the Caravan Parks and every accommodation was at capacity. The normal town population of around 15,000 people swells to about 50,000 during the dry season from May to October. The weather then changes to the wet season where temperatures can reach 40 degrees with 80 percent humidity. A lot of locals go south during the wet season. We had a relaxing time walking to Cable Beach, seeing the beautiful sunsets and doing the Horizontal falls tour with Go Horizontal an amazing experience with excellent staff. The flight took 1 1/2hours followed by a boat trip for about 4hours travelling to the amazing falls and back again. It has been quite overcast and coolish in the mornings but the clouds lift mid morning and the sun comes out and the temperatures have increased to 27-30degrees which is very pleasant. Every other year it has just been hot and dry without the changes during the day.

Apart from tourism being the main thrust in Broome, Pearls are the next big thing with several large businesses having pearl farms nearby and many upmarket shops in town selling pearls. The largest pearl was found a few weeks ago and was valued at $155,000. We said that if anyone wore that pearl, no one would believe that it was real!

Cable Beach is iconic with it’s vast flat coastline and vast tides with beautiful turquoise water where one can actually swim during the dry season. Towards the wet the deadly Box jellyfish migrate here and the beach is closed when they appear. Tomorrow 2nd July we move to another Caravan Park in Broome for our last four days here as our present one was already fully booked months ago when we booked it.
(the pictures are shown in reverse – fighting with the programme to do a slideshow)

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We had beautiful views of Patagonia coming into El Calafate with the aqua’Lago Argentino’ and surrounding mountains.
The town was very orderly and neat with many souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. There were many well fed looking
street dogs lying wherever they liked and none of the shop owners or tourists seemed to mind their presence.

we were looking forward to our 5hour trek on the ‘Perito Moreno’ glacier but that was cancelled at the last minute when they closed all the National Parks and anything that was state run. We ventured in to what looked like a small museum with replicas of dinosaurs but it opened into several more rooms which showcased the history of the area and which had a lot of information on the indigenous groups of the region.

All Patagonia the group who were to take us to the glacier suggested a private 4wd tour to the ‘Lago Argentino’ and dinner in a cave which was a great idea. Six of us (two Brazilians from near Perinopolis, a Chinese girl from Frankfurt and an Englishman) went in a 4wd and enjoyed the views of the lake and the mountains. Our guide then showed us the thousands of years old cave paintings which were fairly faded but still recognisable. One woman owned the land on which they were found and allowed the tour groups to view the paintings and allowed the tour operators to set up basic facilities and the dinner set up in the cave. We then ate a delicious stew served in individual round bread loaves and with Malbec from the Mendoza region.

We had to wait on the bus at the bus station the next morning to hear if we could enter Chile and with luck the full bus was on its way by about 0830am to Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia.
The bus went quite slowly (40-60kms) on the good roads because there were many guanaco (smaller than llamas) on both sides of the road. The last few kms to the border was rather bumpy on an unsealed road. We all alighted and lined up at the Argentinian border where our passports were stamped quickly and we were off again. The Chilean border control was much more lengthy with all luggage taken off the bus and a lovely labrador sniffer dog put to work. One back pack was singled out. We were lined up and had to wait about twenty minutes before they started stamping our passports and then we lined up and had our hand luggage xrayed then back on the bus.

There were no more animals all the way to Puerto Natales and the speed limit in Chile increased to 100kms hour for the four hour trip. Most of the houses in Puerto Natale were in poor condition, a few had been renovated and there were many hostels all over town. As we entered our accommodation at Pire Mapu B and B the owners told us that they had had advice that we had to leave the country by Wednesday the 18th March. This was in two days time. We could not get a flight until the 20th and whatever we tried we could not get any device to accept our credit cards. Maurice came to the rescue by contacting the Chilean embassy and Dfat the departments of foreign affairs in Australia who confirmed we could leave the country after the 18th March if we could get a flight out of Santiago. My trusty friend Suzanne a travel agent managed to get us a flight on the 22st March. I then spent 3-4hours cancelling all our hotels and tours of northern Chile and Peru.

We already had a flight booked to Santiago on the 21st as we had been going to fly to Santiago and then on to the Atacama desert so we just would forgo the last bit. It was a stressful afternoon but once sorted we were relieved.
We were to undertake our 22km hike to Torre del Paine but this also was cancelled as well as other tours to the National park. we wandered around town and there were again many well fed street dogs lounging anywhere they liked. We killed the time by sitting in a bar with a couple of cocktails and then had a great king crab meal at a restaurant. It was getting colder as we went south. There were a few souvenir and knitwear shops open so we entered them and walked around town for something to do. We were surprised to find the black necked swans which we didn’t realise existed. They are native to South America.

The bus the following day down to Punta Arenas was a very comfortable one and the three hour journey went quickly. We dozed as it was quite boring scenery for much of the journey and then it started raining so we could see nothing. In Punta Arenas we caught a taxi around the corner to our digs as it was still raining.
We had again booked to go to Tierra del Fuego and to see the Emperor penguins but that also had been cancelled so we again walked around town having a coffee at one of the small bakeries that was open and we had a dog accompany us all over town and to our accommodation. We had another great crab meal at ‘La Marmita’ around the corner as well as great cocktails.

I went to the supermarket across the road to buy some fruit and water and they were only letting in the old and handicapped people and carers. The rest of us waited outside for about half an hour and then once the last lot had left we could go in and shop. I only needed some water and fruit as we had bought a stock of empanadas to have in case the restaurant closed.
We managed through Nini, a lovely lady at our accommodation ‘Innata Patagonia’ to book a private tour along the coast which didn’t venture into the closed national parks. Our last day looked very stormy but it cleared while we were travelling to the Faro San Isidro which is the last lighthouse on the mainland of South America.
From the carpark we walked about 3hours and would have made it to the lighthouse but there was a stream to cross and it was just a bit too wide and we didn’t want to fall into the icy water so we turned back which still gave us a good walk on the loose stones on the coastline. The wind in places was very strong so we chose a dry log and stone on which to have the empanadas that we brought with us. There was a very cute, playful puppy which belonged to the fisherman on holiday from Santiago. He caught two large fish.
We also stopped at a memorial to a Mr Pringle who commanded HMS Beagle on its first voyage of exploration in the south Atlantic. After two years in command of the Beagle, depressed by the harsh winter conditions of the Strait of Magellan, he committed suicide. He was a British cartographer.

There were many water birds along the coast and we saw a little woodpecker. We also saw a large sea lion. Rodgrigo drove us the hour and a half back to Punta Arenas where everything bar the supermarket was closed. We therefore bought some rolls for lunch the following day and ate the other empanadas that we had bought the day before.

Unlike the Argentinian food which I found very bland, the chileans usually provided a hot sauce with a meal.
We were unwinding on our last night in our room and I went to check in for our flight to Santiago when we had a notification that the 930am flight the next day was cancelled. This was a shock. We had to find an alternative flight so as to connect to our flight from Santiago to Sydney. We had had 5weeks of our 10week planned South American trip but we had to cancel the rest because of the Corona virus. The Latam site was not working and no one was answering the phone to make an alternative booking.
We decided to go to the airport straight away and try our luck with a 2am flight. Nini was very helpful and found us a driver and within ten minutes we were packed and ready to go. We got to the airport about 1130pm.

We then found out that all the other Latam flights were full and overbooked. The Latam system seemed antiquated and most of the staff were under a lot of stress from the volume of passengers that they had to shift.
So many countries were closing their borders and the majority of the travellers did not want to get stranded in Chile.
We were told that the 2am flight was overbooked but they would put us on standby for a later flight. That flight came and went and there were still 32 passengers on standby.
Suzanne our trusty travel agent friend in Perth managed to book a later flight but when we went to get our boarding passes the Latam staff said that we were not showing in their system for the flight and were rebooked for a flight which did not connect with our Australian flight.
Back to Suzanne who kindly spent a lot of time tryng to organise a flight for us. We ended up paying for a new flight and were given boarding passes and told to come back before the 10pm flight. We had been up all day and night and were getting rather weary standing in line for most of the day.
One bit of light relief was seeing two grey foxes chasing each other across the car park in front of the airport.
We finally got away at 2145 on a full flight to Santiago. There we caught a taxi to the “City express hotel” which was only 5minutes from the airport and we managed about 4hours sleep before heading back to the airport to check in for our 1335 flight.
My bookclub friend Jan and her boyfriend were on the same flight after having to buy a business class fare from Bogota to Santiago.
The 14 hour flight in the last Qantas 747 to operate on its last flight was smooth and went relatively quickly.
Amazingly we had no health checks in Sydney and Gay was collected by her husband Robert. Gay was staying at home in Sydney and Robert went to their holiday apartment in Kiama on the coast. I went to the domestic terminal for the four hour flight to Perth. Maurice picked me up and we went home. Maurice to spend two weeks living in our campervan and me in self isolation in the house with Barney the cat. We were very relieved to finally reach home with so many flights being cancelled all over the world but were disappointed at not being able to have our last five weeks in South America.

I really enjoyed our five weeks spent in South America and was just glad that we had managed to see the Carneval in Rio, the interesting cities of Salvador, Brasilia and the small town of Pirenopolis and then of course the wonderful Iguazu Falls.
Buenos Aires was also a fascinating city with so much history and our day trip to Colonia in Uruguay was a lovely quaint town.
Patagonia was dramatically different from the northern areas and we were just sorry all our activities in that area were cancelled.
We hope to go back one day.

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Our hotel in Buenos Aires was Boca by Design and was dedicated to their Boca Junior football team. The doors of all the rooms were painted with a player’s picture. It was very different and all the decorations in the hotel were in the clubs blue and yellow colours.

We did a three hour walking tour with William of anglo saxon ancestry. He was born in Buenos Aires and gave us a good insight into the history of Buenos Aires. We had to keep up with him as he talked as he walked a lot of the time. We did a lot of walking – about 15kms during the tour and afterwards. The city is well laid out with a lot in a grid system with many beautiful old mansions of the very wealthy Argentinians who made their money from cattle and grain export. Some mansions have been sold and taken over by the army or navy and others are now hotels but the wealth in the city was incredible.
The ‘Teatro Colon’ opera house had been a former railway station and was due to be demolished until 46very wealthy Argentinian families got together to save and restore the building. The families have seats for life! Nearby is a large Jewish synagogue which was the second largest in the world.
There are many monuments and statues dotted all over the city and a very good pedestrian area which stretches over many streets. The history of Buenos Aires from the British and Spanish years and the battles between some of the South American countries such as Paraguay and Peru and also against the Spanish is fascinating and I knew little of it before coming here. There is a bell tower built by the British which has been renamed a Spanish one and directly opposite in a large park is the memorial to the fallen from the Falkland (Malvinas) war which is guarded around the clock.

There is a very soviet looking building built by a Mr Kavanagh, an Irishman. It has a very interesting history.
An extremely wealthy Buenos Aires catholic matriarch (she had seven sons and five daughters) asked her son to buy a plot of land in front of a church that she had built so that she could view the church from her mansion quite a distance away. Apparently the son was a gambler with an Irish girlfriend Corin Kavanagh and he spent the money which should have procured the land. His mother was not keen on his girlfriend who was protestant.
Corin’s family then purchased the land and erected the large apartment block which is directly in front of the church and as a further snub, Corin had a large penthouse apartment facing Mrs Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena’s mansion.

There is an obelisk in the centre of the city and a building depicting Eva Peron’s face, smiling on one side of the building and with a serious face on the other side.

We were warned again not to walk around the side streets late at night and to keep to the main streets and we didn’t have any problems. The shops are open until 9pm and there were many people out and about so we didn’t feel at all unsafe and there were a lot of police in pairs dotted around the place. In the pedestrian area there is an empty Harrods store which has been empty for over 40years. It was the only other Harrods shop operating other than the one in London. The hours and days for the museums were peculiar. Some opened at 1200 till 2000. One closed at 1330 and some were closed on Monday, others on Tuesday.

Our guide gave us a lot of information about the buildings in the city and the history of each building. There were only four of us on the free walking tour including a couple from New Zealand. We walked from the ‘Retiro’ suburb to the ‘Recoleta’ where we stopped near the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. The cemetery is like a museum with so many fancy crypts for the elite of the city. Some look like banks with marble facades. The Franciscan church next to it is the oldest church in Buenos Aires and dated back to the 1700’s.

There are many parks in the city and beautiful “Ceibo’ trees with unusual red flowers which are the national flower of Argentina.

On the 10th March we decided on the hop on hop off bus and we combined this with long walks between a few of the stops. We missed the planetarium which opened at 5pm but found the ‘Rosedal’ Rose gardens where most of the roses were in bloom. There were a lot of geese living in the lake surrounding the beautiful garden.
Buenos Aires has many wide Boulevards and some of them have more than six lane of traffic.
The Ecopark or zoo which we could walk through was a disappointment with a lot of unkempt areas and much of it was under renovation.
Following on from the Ecopark was the Botanical garden which was also unremarkable apart from a lily pond and a quirky statue of pan and other characters.

It poured with rain all day on the 11th March but we managed to walk to catch the hop on bus again which took us to the modern art museum. That was also under restoration but the one floor that was open had some interesting surrealist art by Remedios Varo from Mexico.

I wanted to experience a good Argentinian steak and the day was conducive to a long indoor lunch so we caught a taxi to “Don Juan” where we were given a glass of champagne under an awning while we waited for a table. The road was like a river by this time. We thoroughly enjoyed our steaks and salads and I opted for an Aperol Spritz.

It was still pouring by the time we left so we caught another taxi to the museum which had been a palatial home of the Errazuriz family. The place was only built by 1910 and was one of the most opulent and decorative we had seen. One of the very upmarket malls in the city still had the remains of the cattle and horse market structures which had been well maintained as memory of days gone by. We also had coffee in a cafe dedicated to Juan Fangio and racing car drivers who used to gather there many years ago. We found that a lot of the men were well dressed and a lot wearing jackets.

We had booked to go on a tour of the ‘Teatro Colon’ on the 12th March but when we arrived at the opera house we were told due to the Corona virus all tours were cancelled and we would get a refund.
Instead we took a taxi to a modern art museum which descended a couple of storeys underground.
The historical museum which we visited next was extremely interesting with a lot of ancient indigenous items and pictures depicting military battles especially those headed by General ‘San Martin’an Argentinian hero.
The display of his swords was guarded by a soldier and he was relieved from standing ram rod straight after 2hours by another soldier. It was all very intriguing. It was hot in the museum with no air conditioning so the soldier in full uniform had a fan trained on him while he stood duty.

The tango show that we had booked had not been cancelled but did not start until 2215. The old theatre in which it took place was already quite full of patrons who were having dinner. We opted for show only but were given a front row table and the entrance ticket gave us a couple of empanadas and beer/wine or soft drinks.
It was a lively performance by a troupe of tango dancers and a couple of very energetic gauchos beating drums and cracking whips.

A young couple we spoke to recommended if we wanted a quiet day to take the fast ferry to Uruguay and visit Colonia del Sacramento which was an hour and 15minutes away from Buenos Aires. We took the later ferry at 1230. We completed immigration formalities and spend a lovely afternoon/evening in the quaint town with cobbled streets and vintage cars. We climbed the lighthouse to get a good view of the surrounding area.
The very wide river of ‘Rio de la Plata’ was very brown all the way.

There were many artesenal shops and no shortage of cafes and restaurants in the town which seemed to be a weekend or holiday destination. After an early dinner overlooking the water we departed at 2015 back to Buenos Aires with many hundreds of people on the newish (2016) Colonia Express.
We could pay with either Uruguayan pesos or Argentinian pesos in Colonia but the Uruguayan peso is worth much more than it’s poor Argentinian neighbour’s peso.

We departed interesting Buenos Aires after five days on Latam again to fly the 3hours down to El Calafate in Patagonia.
The Latam crew were the laziest I have ever encountered with no service at all. We had to use the call button to get a glass of water. Their reasoning was to limit their encounter with people due to the Corona virus!

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We landed in Foz de Iguazu on the Brazilian side of the falls. We were staying on the Argentinian side at the Secret Garden which had been recommended to us. We had to clear passport control first in Brazil and then in Argentina. Our small Accommodation had four rooms and a nice garden, a resident Jack Russell named Roxy and a very helpful and pleasant manager Edoardo. He had been a research geneticist for ten years studying various mosquitos. Dengue fever is prevalent in Iguazu so we were keen to learn about it. He gave us a lot of tips about how and when to go to the falls and other things to do.
They provided a nice meal for us which we had booked the day before by what’s app.
The Secret Garden also gave us a complimentary Capirinha cocktails every night and a good breakfast in the mornings.

We started the next day on the Brazilian side with the “Parque Aves” or bird park which was worth seeing with such birds as Toucans, Macaws, Flamingoes and bright red Ibis. The helicopter office and helipad was opposite so we wandered over to find out about a flight. We were lucky to get one quickly and were given a spectacular view of both sides of the falls during the AUD140 ten minute flight. It was worth every penny.

The ticket office for the park which was a bit further along was already busy with tourists but the transition from there to the park was effortless and we were taken by bus and could choose which part of the walkway to follow. We chose the length of the walkway and although crowded at the various viewing platforms the crowds moved along smoothly. There were kiosks and toilets and places to sit along the way so people could stop at various spots. Entrance was about AUD25.
We had been warned not to touch or feed the Qualti or Coati (pronounced quachi) which were very cute tan or black animals with striped tails. They just wandered about the national park but were quite bothersome if you had any food with you.

The amount of water and noise coming from the waterfalls was incredible. People were on the whole polite and waited for their photo opportunities of which there were many. We caught the bus back to the ticket office and waited for our driver Hugo who we booked for the next day to visit the Argentinian side of the falls.

An American couple from Minnesota Maryanne a journalist and her husband Brian an environmental engineer were an interesting couple and we went out to dinner to a restaurant they had tried before and had a nice meal with them. They left the next day and we went off to the Agentinian Falls which took about half an hour.

We were going to take a boat ride which travelled to near the falls however the water was at too low a level for the larger boats on the Argentinian side to operate so after buying our park tickets and we went and got the free tickets for the train to take us to the “Garganta do Diablo” or Devil’s throat at the start of the falls. The small train took about twenty minutes and then about another twenty minutes walk along a very well constructed metal walkway took us out to the viewing platform over the start of the falls. It was a spectacular sight with a lot of spray. We got a bit wet but it was hot and humid so it was quite pleasant.

The train took us to another stop on the way back. We bought a salad and ate it in a caged area with tables and seats presumably to be free of the Coatis or any other wild animal of which we saw none but which were found in the national park.
We continued onto two more trails doing about ten kilometres in total. There were also many viewing platforms along the way. The walkways were well constructed for wheelchair access with ramps as well as stairs for the fitter of us.
I expected to see more wild animals on our walks around two other trails but we only saw a couple of spiderwebs with small spiders and black and yellow birds in a few places other than the cute Coati of which there were many in certain places. Mainly where there was food to be found. They have sharp teeth and can carry rabies so most people kept their distance but a few foolhardy people were patting them and feeding them. We spent a good seven hours there and made the most of all the viewing areas.

A new guest was Olaf a German who lived in Berlin and worked for a Swiss airline out of Zurich – Edelweiss. He too was pleasant so we went with him to the same restaurant as the previous night. The manager greeted us like old friends and we had another nice meal.

Hugo our driver recommended for us to visit a semi-precious stones mine called Wanda after a Polish princess and we were very glad he did. It was about half and hour’s drive and we had a guide show us into the caves where they mine the stones and large crystals. The 32hectares was bought by a family to use for farming but they discovered the stones and they have only mined about four of the hectares so far and it should deep producing for the next hundred years at least. There are ten miners who work from 7am until 12noon every day. There are seven polishers and fifteen people working as tourist guides. It was fascinating to learn how the stones were formed over millions of years and see some in the basalt rock as they were formed. They sometimes encounter water that has been stored for that time within the basalt rocks but which is still clear and fresh. The semi precious stones include amethyst, quartz and agates.

We drove back to the airport on the Argentinian side and flew to Buenos Aires which was only a couple of hours.
I have always wanted to see the Falls from when I was a teenager so it was a wonderful experience for me. Gay enjoyed it too.

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The Uber from the airport on the 1st March to our hotel took us via many ‘Blocos’ or block housing apartments typical of Brasilia city. These blocos form a large square and are open at the base so that anyone can walk through one bloco to the next and they all used to have a newsagent at the corner of the bloco. Everything looked very clean and orderly.
Brasilia became the third capital of Brasil after Rio de Janeiro and Salvador because the president thought it should be in the centre of the country.

Brasilia is shaped like an aeroplane as a homage to Corbusier who was enchanted by aeroplanes and it was created in 1960. The man made lake is enormous and there is a smaller lake in one of their many large parks. The city is filled with green areas and parks.
We discovered that our ‘Camelo’ 3hour Bike tour was just around the corner from our Melia Brasil 21 hotel found in The SHS hotel sector in Quadro 6. It was an adventuresome ride (sans helmets) crossing major and minor roads and through the large park where Duda our guide showed us a couple of native bee hives in a couple of trees. She is an architecture student and enthusiastically showed us the impressive buildings and monuments in the centre of the city. Brasilia is famous for its particular shaped structures and they were an interesting mix from the Don Bosco church and the JK Memorial to the Art Gallery and Congress buildings. The most peculiar was the tall structure which is a pigeon house which was erected for the then presidents wife who requested it. There are pigeons everywhere but not in great numbers.

We covered quite a considerable amount of one side of the city by bike. The architecture was very varied and interesting and showcased Niemeyer and other architects individual works.

From ‘Get your local guides’ we chose Alberto who took us for the day from Brasilia and into the countryside and past the old Spanish frontier. The Corumba waterfall was beautiful and although we could have swum at it’s base we didn’t. The walk to the waterfall and back took about 2hours at a leisurely pace.

We passed many VW Combis which are very popular, given the number used in Brasil for excurions by tour companies as well as transporting goods.

From Corumba we went on the Perinopolis in the Pireneus region (supposedly like the Pyrennes) but not as high. The town is Unesco heritage listed as is the Federal city of Brasilia. The earth in Brasilia was very red like found in the north of Western Australia however it was more a clay consistency. I was not expecting that colour there.

Pirenopolis which sounded more Greek to me but had nothing to do with Greece was a quaint town with many comical looking humans with large colourful masks with horns. These depicted the black people who were not supposed to take part in Carneval many years ago. Instead they made these masks so that they could join in and not be identified. Alberto brought us to an excellent local restaurant where the buffet was excellent with a huge variety of foods to try. The day trip was very worthwhile and it was in great contrast to the city of Brasilia. No new buildings were allowed in the Unesco heritage city so several outer suburbs of high rise buildings were created as satellite towns.

On the 4th march we revisited some of the monuments,museums and galleries on foot and caught a taxi down to the enormous lake where we ate lunch and returned to the Melia Brasil 21 hotel in the business district. we left Brasilia the following morning on the 5th March for the 2hour flight down to Iguazu falls.

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Our transfer in Salvador de Bahia did not arrive so after downloading Uber we ordered one which took us from the airport through a wonderful avenue of bamboo and through the modern part of town which was rather spread out with some high rise buildings and modern metro stations.

We stayed in the lovely heritage Bahiacafe hotel in a main square in the old town owned by a Belgian. Apparently all the hotels in the area were owned by foreigners. Carneval in Salvador is quite different from Carneval in Rio with a street parade and numerous stages with music which were being dismantled the day after we arrived. There were military police on nearly every corner with large guns so we felt very safe with them all nearby. We were advised where we could walk safely and where not to venture so we followed these recommendations. There are over 20,000 police in Salvador. There is a great divide of rich and poor in the state of Bahia as in many other parts of the world but it seems more evident here with young men lying around or just walking around the different areas in the city.

Salvador is an 80% black community with strong African traditions and was the first capital of Brazil. The views of the Atlantic and the many islands was magnificent from up high in the old town. The architecture was a mixture of the more simple Portuguese style as found in Lisbon and many other French and Italian more ornately designed buildings. Many had been beautifully restored and were quite colourful and many others were in a sad state of disrepair. The old town where we stayed was the place to be seen many years ago but sadly it has deteriorated generally. The council is trying to beautify the area again as it is a main tourist hub. It is safe to stay on the main streets and in the squares but we were advised not to stray into certain areas. Everyone suggested that a taxi or Uber was the best option to get around.

The three hour walking tour was a historical one given by a middle aged woman lawyer who was half Brazilian of African descent and half Japanese. She was knowledgeable and gave us the history of Salvador and its many monuments. The old town was quite touristy with many souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. A main feature was a lift which took us down to the lower town and not far away a funicular to do the same. They both only cost AUD 7cents for a one way trip. The foreshore was not accessible as a major renovation of the grounds in front of the market was underway. In the lower town was the ‘Mercato Modelo’ which had been a food market but which was now a large souvenir market.

We were recommended to go to the new Carneval museum. We were most impressed by it. It was a modern building consisting of several areas; a reading room with views over the bay, two rooms with costumes and 18 different video presentations showing us the Carneval in Salvador from it’s origins in the European Carnevals, the different kinds of music played and the evolving Carneval music of today. A section of Salvador’s Carneval was influenced by many including Gandhi, Bob Marley and the North American Indian tribes and they had thousands of followers.

We made it up to the rooftop terrace at the ‘Casa do Amarelindo’ for sunset and enjoyed a Caipirinha and a Mojito and a cool breeze. It had been hot and humid since we arrived in Salvador. The evenings were balmy and it was very comfortable to sit outside for drinks and dinner. We tried a local dish the following night which consisted of fish in a sauce and a a very thick side dish which consisted of manioc cassava flour. It sat like a brick in our stomachs so after two tries we decided against any more. We found one cafe where we adapted our coffee order so that it was near to how we normally have it. The cafe staff were very accommodating.

After much conflicting advice about a red Salvador tourist bus similar to a hop on hop off, we decided to take it around the city and environs of Salvador. It cost us 70Reals and turned out to be a four hour trip stopping in two places. The first at a museum for “Irma Dulce” a catholic nun who was beatified for for work with the poor similar to Mother Teresa. Her image could be found on everything from keyrings to fridge magnets and bags. The second stop was at Salvadors most famous church Bonfin and its fence was covered with strips of material and which signify an offering so that wishes may be granted. We paid extra for an audio guide which only turned out to be a few English explanations given over speakers on the bus which wasn’t very successful.
We moved on to the business area of the city and then the more affluent high rise areas next to smaller favelas. The earth went from a red colour to the white sand dunes near the ocean. We followed along the beaches back to the Mercato Modelo or large souvenir market where we alighted and made our way to the second floor of the old market to see the sunset which was not great because of too much cloud on the horizon.

We had a free day on the 29th February so we wandered around the shops of Pelourinho and visited a few of the museums and some of the many churches in the area. The ‘Misericordia museum’ was an especially beautiful building which was originally a hospital and a section had very opulent rooms for it’s benefactors overlooking the ocean from all sides. We also visited the museum of ‘Jorge Amado’ a celebrated author and poet.
It was slightly cooler than the previous days and rained lightly for much of the day. We had another local fish meal.

We left at 9am on a private tour with Nelson an Afro Brazilian descended from African Benin. He spoke many languages and was a very interesting tour guide. He was a teacher of an Angolan language as well as English and was writing a book of his ancestry. We went to the outside of a famous Bloco or community centre and walked to a ‘Vodun Zo’ which was in the form of an African village with separate small buildings housing various deities pertaining to that particular ‘Vodun Zo’ There were many tortoises in the grounds as well as some chickens. ‘Condomble’is an Afro Brazilian religious tradition which was a creolization of traditional beliefs brought from West and central Africa by slaves and was started in Salvador. It absorbed elements of Roman catholisism and indigenous American traditions. Practitioners of Candomble believe in a supreme creator called “Oludumare” served by lesser deities called Orishas. These control the destiny of the practitioner and serve as a protector. It does not include the duality of good and evil and each person is required to fulfill their destiny to the fullest, whatever it might be.

We visited a lake on which several sculptures of ‘orishas’ were found and after a good coffee at Mariposa cafe we left for half hour trip to the airport in an Uber for our flight to Brasilia which only took a couple of hours. I enjoyed the mixture of architecture and cultures in Salvador and the vibrant feel to the city.

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