Posts Tagged ‘public transit’

(April 2009)

I’m back in Buenos Aires for a few days before heading back to Canada. The city has a population of around 3 million and a metropolitan population of approximately 13 million. This time I’m staying in the microcentre and aside from doing a bit of shopping I want to take in some green spaces. The best place in the city to find green space is Palermo.

The Buenos Aires Zoo is an 18 hectare, 45 acre, park and holds 2,500+ animals. When you enter you see a number of free-ranging birds and animals on the grounds. Two common rodents, but the first time I had encountered either, are the mara or Patagonian hare and the semi-aquatic nutria, or coypu. My camera stopped working eight days before my return but you can see images of these animals here.

I saw a couple of condors again. I realize a zoo is a place of research and education but after seeing these large birds in Colca Canyon and the High Andes this struck me as too confined a space for them. Watching the baboons also seemed a little odd. They seemed quite intelligent, although could be rather aggressive. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a zoo.

The Buenos Aires Botanical Garden is located near the zoo. It was designed by landscape architect Charles Thays and is a lovely oasis in which to retreat from the concrete. It’s also home to many abandoned cats.

Buenos Aires has a great public transit system and I took a commuter train from Retiro station to Tigre. Tigre is a town on the Paraná Delta, about 30 km from BA, and is a popular tourist and weekend spot. I took a catamaran tour along the brown delta waters. There are hundreds of islands, some have cottages or resorts, there is even a hostel, but most are not populated. Due to flooding the cottages are on stilts. The town itself is also nice to stroll through.

I’ve come to the end of my excursion in Mexico and South America. I don’t quite feel ready to leave but having spent the final five weeks trying to get around with a hamstring injury has tired me. Travelling is physically demanding and it feels like I could use a vacation!

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Today I headed over to St. Jacobs. The area north of Kitchener-Waterloo is best known for its  Mennonite population and the large Farmer’s Market. I didn’t have time for both the village and the market and opted for the village.

Grand River Transit provides bus service from Waterloo to St. Jacobs, Elmira, too! I’ve been to the market before but it was many years ago and, as the bus passed through the market district, I was surprised by just how big an attraction it is. The village, three kilometres from the market,  was also bustling.

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I arrived back in Mexico City the evening of January 2nd and stayed at the same hostel. The holiday festivities were still in progress and the streets around the Zocalo were closed to traffic. The taxi driver let me out a few blocks from the hostel and I made my way through the crowds. Lugging around my backpacks in the crowd might have felt a little intimidating if I hadn’t already been here.

I didn’t leave myself enough time to take in all the cultural attractions I missed at the beginning of my trip. That’s ok though – it isn’t necessary to see everything. I was curious about the Metro and quite excited about braving the city’s subway system. I expected it to be crowded but was really surprised at finding vendors on the train. There they are passing  through the coaches quickly shouting out their sales pitches! I couldn’t leave without visiting the Museum of Anthropology and that’s where I spent my final day. I probably should have started my trip here. The museum is huge and the collection is vast, inspiring and a fantastic introduction to Mexico’s history and culture. It’s also impossible to take it all in – it’s staggering!

Mexico made a lasting impression. The people are sweet and gentle and they work hard and long. The history, culture, landscapes and climate are also part of the captivation. The country definitely has a place in my heart and I wasn’t at all ready to leave – there’s so much more to explore. Nonetheless, it was time to say good-bye.

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