It Takes Two to Tango
My wife and I had always wanted to visit South America, and at the top of our list was Macchu Pichu and Lake Titicaca. We hadn’t heard about the Iguazú Falls or the Hand on the beach of Punta del Este and Ushuaïa was, for us, the end of the World only seen in documentaries and made popular in France by Nicolas Hulot, a French Television presenter.
Some of our destinations retained a dream-like almost unreal quality as I thought they would always be memories of images and sounds from television programmes rather than my own personal souvenirs.
I was very excited to finally have the chance to visit these places and experience them with my own eyes and ears.
Our South American voyage started in Lima and while in Peru we flew to Cusco and visited Macchu Pichu. Nothing could have prepared me for my first glimpse, after the short but tiring trek up the mountain. Tiring because any movement takes more out of you at 10,000 feet.
Reality met the romanced discovery I’d imagined, and the images that I’d seen in magazines and in films corresponded precisely to what I got. It’s quite amazing and I really felt like pinching myself just to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.
The rest of that day was, of course, an anticlimax. How can you just go on with your day when you’ve seen something like that?
The images will stay permanently engraved in my souvenirs.
After Peru, we flew to Santiago de Chile and boarded our cruise ship in Valparaiso and sailed for Puerto Mont and Punta Arenas before arriving at Ushuaïa our first Argentinian Port
Arriving in the port of Ushuaïa, the air was so crisp and the sky so blue, I could have sliced it all up and put it into a box marked ‘End of the World’ . As it happens it’s so far South that there really is a destination called ‘The End of the World’ but I’ll write about that in another story.
From Ushuaïa we navigated further south to Cape Horn, where it was so stormy that I was obliged to hold of the handrails while taking photos of Cape Horn itself and the wind and waves battered the ship with such an intensity that although we came right up to it our Captain wisely decided not to circumnavigate it.
I mention this because I have a certificate that states that I have circumnavigated Cape Horn but now you know that that is not strictly true.
From Cape Horn, the ship rounded the Southern tip of South America crossing into the South Atlantic Ocean and headed towards the Falkland Islands, Puerto Madryn and a day in the port of Montevideo and the chance of a visit to Punta del Este where I saw the famous hand on the beach.
Then, finally we disembarked the ship in Buenos Aires and spent the night before travelling the next day to Iguazú to spend a few days visiting the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the Iguazú falls.
I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this visit. Whereas Macchu Pichu is iconic for its architecture, culture and history, Iguazú is an assault of nature on all your senses at once. The sheer size of the waterfall and the power and roar of the water as it plunges over the sides defy your imagination.
So after Iguazú, the flight back to Buenos Aires gave me the opportunity of reflecting on the sights I’d seen because two days later I was due to fly back home to the UK.
In my mind, the journey was almost over.
Thankfully this was far from being true.
On the last night of our voyage, we attended a Tango Show. I didn’t really have high expectations. I’ve never really been keen on the tango as a dance. I prefer the quickstep, the foxtrot and the waltz . Although I enjoy the skill of the dancers it is a little too postured for my liking.
The restaurant and theatre were tastefully decorated, the waiters were charming and the service was danced to perfection. Almost before we had started we were already finishing the dessert and a few glasses of wine later I was feeling much merrier.
The house lights dimmed, and the curtains opened. There was a five-piece orchestra high up over the stage that started playing and then the dancers entered.
They were remarkable. Beautifully precise rhythmic dance steps, with Argentinian attitude, postures and abrupt pauses. The female dancers wore colourful costumes and the male dancers were slicked back, elegant and macho.
As the Tango originated in Buenos Aires; what better place to appreciate it.
It was a wonderful climax to our voyage and I was disappointed when the curtains closed after the last encore. Although they dance night after night, each dance was fresh and lively.
In conclusion, it takes more than two to tango. The couple dancing the tango and an audience to appreciate them.
They won me over. Now I love the tango.
This is the seventh part of a series of travel tales.
8. The Bali Run