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Barbara Dempsey’s Iguassu Falls Adventure

Barbara Dempsey

 

 

We were on the bus in Buenos Aires when I had occasion to sit next to the tour guide who joined us at the Buenos Aires airport on our arrival from Iguassu Falls. (this was no accident…I always try and sit near the front because I’m one of those people who believe if you are able to shoot lots of photos out the front window of the bus, that one or two of them will turn out ok.) The guide was Lucas, 25 years old, a native of the city, and he was trying to do the impossible—show us everything in the short ride to and from the restaurant where we would only have an hour or more to eat. The airlines in Argentina are impossibly late. We spent much of our day trying to get to Buenos Aires. As it turned out, we did see quite a few sites on the way to the restaurant, which turned out to have quite good food, even though you would have thought they were serving an Army.

I wondered aloud if Lucas ever had been to the United  States?  He had tried, he said, a few years earlier, but he was unable to get a visa approved by the Argentine government. Was the government afraid of a ‘brain drain?’ His response: few young people are able to get a visa because they stay in the United States instead of returning home so they are not granted permission to travel there. He was hopeful, though, that someday he would be able to visit.

While I have not felt unsafe on this trip, things like this remind me of how lucky I am to live in America.

–Barbara Dempsey

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Barb Cook’s Iguassu Falls Adventure

 

There were 52 individuals of many nationalities and walks of life on our adventure into the Iguassu Falls National Parks in Brazil and Argentina.  It was a very memorable journey off the ship into the interior to see one of the outstanding wonders of the world – the widest water falls, but actually, it is a series of 275 different falls.

The views we saw, the experiences we shared, the knowledge we acquired, the friends we made, and the physical challenges from heat and humidity (over 100 degrees F. with 95% humidity) are all memories worth keeping and sharing.

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The meals were all excellent and lots of us ate more than we probably should have, but we just had “to taste” the delicious dishes and specialty items that were offered even if we did not know what they were.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Rio de Jainero

 

Rio de Jainero

The cities we visited (Rio de Janerio, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay) ranged in population from one to eight million people, had tall skyscrapers and sandy beaches, with evidence of both prosperity and poverty perched on the edge of mountains and/or hugging the sea. Renovation was evident, but so were homeless people sleeping on the streets.

 

Rio de Jainero

The icing on the cake for me was a visit to a working ranch in the countryside outside Montevideo. When the bus arrived at Estancia Renacimiento, a mounted senorita and gauchos met us. Wagon, carriage and horseback rides were offered and lots of pictures were taken as we toured the ranch. A rain-filled irrigation pond was their only source of water.  They live in a 10 year-old home, originally build by a couple as a honeymoon getaway. For the last 35 years this couple has raised sheep, cattle, turkeys, geese, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa hay.  They have fifty horses, operate a small hotel and offer farm tours and facilities for weddings, reunions and other social events.

After four days, three airline flights, two hotel stays, several bus rides, and too many customs checks, we were glad to return to the ship to get some rest.  But one last surprise awaited us. As our bus pulled up to the gangway, there stood a line of uniformed, white-gloved waiters, complete with glasses of champagne, to welcome us back on board.  A perfect ending to a wonderful adventure.

Welcome Home the Cunard Way

 

 

A Visit to the SOS Children’s Village

It was a last minute decision for our day in Montevideo, Uruguay.  The ship distributed a flyer offering an opportunity to go to the SOS Children’s Village and interact with the kids living there.  So MJ and Carolyn signed up. (The 2 Barbaras were off seeing Iguassu Falls, and they will write their story on our next blog.)

As we traveled to the Village, the Sponsorship Director showed us the area from which the children came.  Carolyn’s reaction was that the word “hovel” was too kind of a word to use in describing these “dwellings.”  By contrast, the SOS Children’s Village brick homes were situated in a park like environment with lots of flowers, specimen trees, and plenty of space for play ground equipment.


As soon as we reached our destination, a few kids greeted us.  More joined us as we walked from house to house, and then it seemed like all the kids came out to meet us.  The word had spread that there was chocolate to be had.  The ship’s larder seemingly had been emptied of night time chocolate squares.

Normally the Village has 85 children residing in 14 different houses, but since it is summer here, a number of children (or families) were on holiday away from the Village.

These displaced children are not available for adoption but have been withdrawn from their birth families for a wide range of reasons, including physical abuse, alcoholism, drugs, or terminal illness of a parent.  In some cases the birth mother brings the child or children to the Village because she cannot take care of them. In the Village, siblings are always kept together within a housing unit.

The SOS concept seems to be a unique one that focuses on “building families” in each housing unit.  Each of the 14 houses has a woman who becomes the “Mother” of the 8 to 10 children in that unit.  Each unit is autonomous with the Mother shouldering all the daily responsibilities that would be normal in any family, i.e., shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and most importantly, raising the children.  She manages the budget, decides what items are purchased, and even the religion of the family.


All the kids seemed healthy, happy, active, and so very loving with each other and with us.  We communicated with the kids as best we could.  Some of them spoke a smattering of English, and we are getting better and better at sign language.

The concept of family and particularly their implementation of it was very engaging.  So obvious was the supportive atmosphere that we sensed in the Director, the Mothers, as well as between and among the children.

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What a marvelous afternoon!  When we returned to the ship, MJ asked the following question of a group traveling up on the elevator: “How did everyone like the Children’s Village?”  One Brit responded with, “It certainly was better than going to see some lumpy ole mountain.”  We couldn’t have agreed more!!