So it's getting cold and the air conditioners are off as you settle in for a cold winter, but it doesn't have to be the end of sunny adventures. There are tons of amazing destinations that you will fall in love with this October. With beautiful weather and for even better prices than you may have realized, here's to planning your next vacation!
On this day, the International Day of the Disappeared, I want to share my story. I was taken to the infamous Campo de Mayo. I knew then this meant torture and death. Compared to some, my time at Campo de Mayo was relatively short, four weeks -- that felt like four centuries. The next day the torture began and with it the test of my resilience. Again, memories are a maelstrom of images, sounds and smells: interrogation sessions, my head submerged in water or sewage, rats running amongst exhausted and tortured bodies, injections of "truth" serum, nights of rape.
There are no black players on Argentina's roster. Actually, there are hardly any black people left in Argentina period. In colonial times, the proportion of Africans hovered around 50 per cent in half of Argentina's provinces. General José de San Martín, the revolutionary who lead the charge to gain independence from Spanish rule, estimated that there were 400,000 Afro-Argentines who could be recruited to his armies. Black men made up 65 per cent of his troops.
Any time of year is a good time to discuss poverty but the subject has obvious resonance at Christmas. Thus, unsurprisingly, Pope Francis recently wrote about the necessity of compassion for those on the margins. However, the Pope's letter also took capitalism in general to task -- troubling because the relationship between wealth creation and the alleviation of (some) poverty is often misunderstood. The Pontiff's critique will not necessarily correct this confusion. The Pope's letter is a broad-brush critique but thoughtful readers should pause, ponder and then object.
Last week, the 19th anniversary of the 1994 AMIA bombing went almost unnoticed outside of Argentina. Perhaps the AMIA bombing fails to motivate the world to call for justice because it is mistakenly viewed as an act of terror against the Jewish community. In fact, many of the victims were not Jewish.
This edition of Vatican Idol -- brought to you at a cost of many millions by nearly every media outlet in the world -- is, thank the lord, finally over. Much sound (hymns, sermons and endless journalistic platitudes), no visible fury, and in the end, no significance except the name of the next chief executive officer of this exclusive and dysfunctional men's club.
Argentina has been pursued through the commercial courts in New York for over a decade by the vulture funds which bought its effectively defaulted debt and rejected what they considered insufficient offers of replacement bonds. The most interesting prospect opened up by this controversy is the possibility that Argentina, as is the practice of its current president, tells the Americans to stuff their rulings and attempts to engage financial markets in Europe and the Far East. The Argentine economy minister has accused the Americans of "legal colonialism," and, for once, that thoroughly disreputable government has a point.
Perched on the abyss, I was about to drop into a black hole ringed by surging white water. There was no turning back now. Paddle hard. Be aggressive. Follow my guide's line. As an avid sea kayaker I was eager to try white water for the first time. And where better than in the foothills of the Andes? I knew white water was a whole different skill set, but I was confident some of my sea kayaking knowledge would cross over. Turns out I was a little over-confident...
I had already been enjoying the relaxed pace of rural Patagonia for a couple weeks and I'd decided to settle down in El Chalten, the trekking capital of Argentina, for a week. We set out for Cerro Fitz Roy base camp, a 26 kilometre round trip. This granite spear peaks at 3,375 metres and attracts hardcore climbers from the world over. From here the real work began.
With each step my crampons dug into the surface of the glacier with a satisfying crunch. The cold wind off the ice made this Argentinian summer feel like a winter's day in Newfoundland. I'm walking on Perito Moreno glacier, deep in rural Patagonia. Back on the boat I sipped on a Jameson over glacier ice. This is as far south as my journey in Argentina will take me.
I exited the subway system back onto the sunny streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was walking through the street vendors that line the way to the bus station when a spray of liquid hit me from behind. I remembered a warning about the pick pocketing distractions that I might encounter -- I quickly realized I was in the middle of one of them. With that realization I took off zig zagging through the crowds...
Punta Tumbo is home to over half a million Magellanic penguins. The path for us humans, although marked and restricted, goes straight through the penguin's breeding ground. This means you're surrounded by thousands of knee-high penguins waddling from their dens to the sea and then back again. Hugo warned us not to let them get too close though, as they were known for nipping nosey tourists.
Villa 31 is not included on the map of Buenos Aires. It does not receive basic municipal services such as sanitation, water, public transportation or street lights. Are the villas of Buenos Aires home to inescapable cycles of poverty, or are they the means by which immigrants and migrants gain a foothold in the city to someday create a better life for themselves and their families?
Today's discerning shopper looks for a unique shopping experience, a space that offers something more than the crème de la crème of fashion and design. And Buenos Aires-based concept store Pehache delivers just that. It's a multi-designer boutique, gallery and café in one that invites you in to browse every nook and cranny and makes you feel at home.
On top of the generalized global interest about Argentina's move to nationalize its largest energy company YPF, the majority owner of which had been the Spanish energy company Repsol, there is a special local twist as the Mexican President Felipe Calderón has been particularly critical of Argentina's move calling it "very regrettable."