Tom Tom reckons the trip from San Francisco to Buenos Aires should take six hours. I’m sure someone somewhere has probably done it in that, but assuming that Tom Tom aren’t actually calculating for you to break the law, they must therefore be working on a base-line assumption that you will do the speed limit all the way, never be held up by a single traffic light, roundabout, traffic jam, road-work, or the Rosario ring-road; that you will never stop to buy fuel, eat, drink or go to the toilet; and that you definitely won’t be travelling with small children. Needless to say, we did it in nine and a half. That’s fine; now we know for next time. Tom Tom Argentina is very much a Beta product in relation to the version we know from the UK, still incorporating glitches such as randomly routing you off the motorway in order to spin you round a roundabout and back onto the motorway a few metres along from where you just left it. However, it did successfully manage to take us to all our destinations, and it definitely earned its place in the team when it came to the confusing maze that is Buenos Aires; the rest of the team comprising the driver, the passenger poring over a map saying “ignore Tom Tom he doesn’t mean that…”, and the child in the back shouting “more biscuit”.
Arriving without a concrete plan, or anywhere to stay, meant that we hopped between three different hotels; the Hotel Morón (emphasis on the second syllable if you’re English!) over-priced, badly in need of someone to love it, grudging breakfast grudgingly served by grudging staff, wouldn’t be going there again in a hurry; the Hotel Dos Mundos an old favourite of ours, if you’re ever in Buenos Aires stay here, for the same price as the suburbs, right in the heart of Downtown BA, it has no frills, bells, whistles, nor pretensions about the peeling paint, breakfast isn’t included but there are four cafes (and a Chinese) within metres of the door, and the staff are gruff but willing; and some other hotel whose name I can’t remember in San Nicolas on the way back. This was probably the nicest; decor, general repair, self-service breakfast included and free car parking. The main downside was that San Nicolas itself is filled with mosquitos, which probably isn’t entirely the hotel’s fault, and the ceiling fan did keep most of them out of the room at least.
Amazingly we achieved everything we hoped to in BA, aided in no small part by having the car thus enabling us to side-step those tortuous BA A to B experiences of “bus to train to tube to bus and then walk the last ten blocks”. We caught up with old friends who we hadn’t seen since Joni was newly born; cue much apologising for our rubbishness at keeping in touch for the last three years. We sat in the dining room of a genius who is designing a huge range of computer aided gizmos for people with a variety of disabilities, and came away with some ideas to try for a couple of kids at the special school here. We meandered randomly around an un-sign-posted university campus before stumbling across the department that we were looking for, where the guy was very friendly and helpful although the email correspondence following our meeting appears to have thrown a few new barriers across the path to progress. We met the family of someone who Martin is working towards a computer-based project with, where Joni enjoyed discovering the toy-car collection of their resident six-year old. We took Joni to a plaza, to a park, and to see the boats on the water at Tigre in the Buenos Aires delta. And we’ve started gathering a list of jobs and activities for our next trip, which will probably be soon after B2F is born, when we’ll plan a visit to the embassy to deal with birth certificates and relevant paperwork.