During the ten days centered more or less around Hallowe’en, I (in the company of my Google colleagues) visited four countries in South America. This is not the way to do it. But still, fun was had. Here are a few superficial yes-I-was-there photographs.
Amazonia · Flights from Canada to Brazil are overnighters; long overnighters. I got some sleep, and when I woke up the plane’s map read-out claimed that we were more or less at the equator and over the Amazon. I don’t really expect I’ll have many chances in this lifetime to photograph it, so I’m going to run one picture even if it’s full of glare and airplane-window artifacts.
São Paulo · Pronounced “San Paulo” with a funny soft “n”, it has well over 10 million (!) inhabitants. I was there for only 36 hours and have no observations of any import, except that the general visual fabric reminded me somewhat of my youth all those years ago in Beirut, Lebanon. The food isn’t like anywhere else and I’d like to spend more time exploring it.
This is a famous bridge, shot from my hotel-room window.
Uruguay, and the Rio de la Plata · I spent two nights there attending RubyConf Uruguay, which was a blast; my heartfelt thanks to Rabble and the gang for organizing it and inviting me.
Unfortunately my visit was not only too short but was disrupted both by Bad Plane Stuff (I arrived in Montevideo after 3AM) and my digestive-tract’s micro-organisms having gone to war against the Southern-hemisphere invaders. Or maybe the other way round.
So I’m short of both photographs and memories. Except an observation that the taxi-drivers of Montevideo are a load of scummy banditos.
Unfortunately there was a hell of a wind and the ocean oops river looked like this:
So the direct ferry was canceled and I took the alternate route, a bus for a couple of hours down to Colonia, then a much shorter ferry-ride across to Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires · I didn’t actually see it. Both the conference venue and the Google office were in Puerto Madero, which is no more typical of the city than the blocks around Vancouver’s convention center are of my hometown. But it sure is pretty.
Those cranes, I think, are mostly ornamental now. Make that very ornamental. No, that’s not HDR, that’s what they really look like when they’re lit up at night.
I did get into town just once, to take in the show at La Ventana Tangueria. It’s a couple of hours long and sprinkled with tangos but has lots of other different kinds of music and dance too, thank goodness. The performers were polished and precise and passionate and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
I sure wish I’d found the time to get out and actually see Buenos Aires.
Andes · You can no more fly over the Andes than the Amazon without taking pictures, so here you go:
Santiago · I actually managed to see some of the place, taking lots of trips on the subway, visiting a couple of universities and a government ministry and even taking a random walk.
It felt way less foreign than the other places on this trip; seems to have stronger links to the rest of the world than other parts of the continent. Santiago is not terribly beautiful nor is it ugly, and it seems to work pretty well.
I asked the hotel where a good place was for a walk and was sent to Barrio Bellavista, “where the hippies are”. It was officially Bohemian, with official signs on the street corners saying so; which were appropriately faded and tattered.
Just behind it was Cerro San Cristóbal, a small steep green mountain with a funicular to the top, where there’s a religious establishment.
The day was horribly smoggy and misty so the view, while impressive, wasn’t actually that appealing. Here are a couple of gardeners working on the roses with some view in the background; one is tossing a blossom to the other.
My way back down through town led me past the Faculty of Law, where this gentleman was waiting on the steps.
For some reason, wherever I went in Santiago, there were dogs, medium-sized, in all colors and shapes; and all asleep. I don’t think there was anything metaphorical about it, though.