By John Nightingale, Ph.D., president and CEO of Vancouver Aquarium
As you may have seen from my earlier post, I am currently traveling with a group of explorers to Antarctica. As a first step in our journey, we flew into Buenos Aires (or B.A., as the locals call it) on Sunday, and have been doing a bit of exploring here before heading further south.
There seems to be two sides to everything in Buenos Aires. It is an amazing city to explore, full of history, museums, tree lined streets, and lots of great walking. At the same time, we have been warned again and again about our personal security – don’t wear jewellery or fancy watches, don’t carry cameras out in the open, and so on. No one in our group has been robbed, but others on the trips just before ours were.
There is a lot of talk about the government and the economy, but people seem happy – at least the ones I’ve spoken with. There are beautifully restored old buildings here, but many are in desperate need of repair and revitalization. The addition of new buildings to neighbourhoods and in the downtown core area seems to have gone seamlessly for the most part, and the combination of the old and new have a good feeling to it. Those enigmas are, in part, what make Buenos Aires such a fascinating place to explore.
We did the usual city tour by bus – saw lots of the neighbourhoods that make B.A. memorable – San Telmo with its massive, blocks-long Sunday flea market (with a whole square dedicated to booths selling antique any- and everything), and the more laid-back Recoleta. Boca, still a vibrant part of the port area, is a unique neighbourhood still made of colourful houses built from salvaged wood and metal from shipping and port activities over the past century. If you consider a trip to B.A., a good guide book is a must because you could literally spend weeks exploring. Doing all of that during a day-long bus tour hardly did justice to the many fascinating squares, statues, streets, buildings, museums…the list goes on and on.
And – it’s hot. Yesterday was the hottest day of Argentina’s summer so far – it hit 40 degrees Celsius. Quite a change compared to the rainy Vancouver we left on Sunday. Yesterday, we knew how hot it was because we were outdoors all day touring a unique combination of sites, including the zoo, aquarium, museum and nature park called Temaiken. Located in the northern suburbs, Temaiken is a not-for-profit education and conservation organization run as a foundation, and is a lot like the Vancouver Aquarium in its mission and goals. We were glad to get back to the air conditioning on the bus for the ride back to our hotel.
Today, we’re packing up to head to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and the “jumping off” point for the rest of our trip. Well actually, maybe the correct term is the “jumping on” point for our group to board the ship. The high temperature in Ushuaia yesterday was 8 degrees Celsius. It will be quite a contrast to go from this heat in B.A. back to “normal” – at least for those of us from B.C.
John Nightingale, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, is currently on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to Antarctica with a group of explorers. He is providing regular updates during the journey.