19 July 2007

Why, why?

So why did I go? Why, indeed, does one go on vacation to places outside the main touristic routes, especially when one hasn't exhausted, or even scraped past the surface of, the treasure of worthy touristic riches of a country like Argentina?

I went to Posadas due to a simple economic fact: I can't afford hotels. I mean, I could afford a passable hotel, and even a good hotel for a few days, but it would cost me money I'd rather spend on something else, like staying more days or suddenly deciding to take a bus and leave for another place. Priorities, priorities! Posadas had a hostel, or at least something that my Hostelling International map/chart of Argentina showed as a hostel, though it was more like a storehouse for cheap tourists (you check in and get assigned a place to put your stuff and, at night, your body). Anyway, it was a fine place except for the shower, which was never hot enough, and then they have a good excuse for that, with Posadas being in a subtropical climate zone and all.

I went to Encarnación because it was close to Posadas and I wanted to see another country. It didn't disappoint me. It was quick and cheap to come and go, and there were nice surprises, and the customs bureaucracy was not that bad.


Now why, why Oberá? Why going 100 km almost literally into the forest and land on a pension where the bed was older than me and you had to yank a chain after you went to the bathroom? Maybe because of that, precisely: because I've had enough of the big city and the complicated stuff and things that look just as home. Maybe because I got a recommendation from a friend, and I had a good feeling about it (the place indeed had good vibes). Or just because. You'd have to visit Oberá, if you can, and walk your shoes off along those hill chains they call avenues, and talk to the people, to understand why such an impulse trip paid off so much. I don't have the ability to convey why Oberá was so beautiful to me, why on my first day there I sent an SMS to my friend in Rosario to thank him for telling me to go to Oberá, and why I haven't stopped singing its praises in front of everyone I know and boring them all with pictures and stories about Oberá.

When the lady in the clothing shop asked me why, she was at first under the impression I was some kind of man-with-a-mission specimen. "Are you here for the shorts?", she inquired (meaning not clothes, but the international festival of short independent films being held in Oberá, by coincidence, at the time). "No", I said, "I'm here just to look around." "You told me you were a journalist, right?" I laughed. "Nothing of the sort. I'm a photographer... well, I just walk over here and there and take pictures." I hope she wasn't disappointed. I'm inclined to believe she wasn't. Only two days later, when I told her I was leaving in the afternoon, she said: "Oooh, but you can't leave! What a pity, now that we've started to care for you!"


  1. I remember having a conversation with a couple of Spanish-speaking friends from the US and a BsAs taxi driver about what the word for “flush” was en castellano. They’d only ever heard "tirar de la cadena", and wondered what you’d say if there wasn’t a chain … The taxi driver was amused since he realized that he’d always used that expression too, even if there was only a button to push.

    I can’t argue with the notion of spending 2 pesos to visit another country. Have you been to other countries, or was Paraguay the first?

    When asked by the lady in the clothing store about your purpose, you should have used you tagline of having vague pretensions of being a documentalista who’s dangerous when let loose with a camera :-) By her final comment, it seems that the obereños were keeping a close eye on you. Now if you only understood German (or was it Polish?), you might have gleaned what they were saying about you.


  2. I've been to Uruguay, though only in the same way I was in Paraguay — I was in Colón, Entre Ríos, and crossed the Uruguay River to Paysandú, for the day.


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