South America Blog
About this blog
Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Buenos Aires, Chile, Argentina, and Patagonia. Here he shares his vast knowledge of South America and its people.
- The Papal Cumbia
- The Uruguayan Sacraments: Tango & Mate
- Taxing the Tourist: Argentina's AFIP Aims Low
- Fortress Falklands: A Book Review
- Pope Argentinus I, The Musical: Ragtime Meets Tango
- Credit Where Credit Is Undue?
- ¿Adios Hugo?
- When "No" Is A Positive
- Chile and Its "Crazies"
- The Oscars: A Post Mortem, So to Speak
- Sacrificing the Atacama? A Chilean View of Dakar
- Chilean Oscar Faceoff? "No" v. "Kon-Tiki"
- Friday Digest: Southern Cone Nuggets
- Dancing in the Mud? The Andean Aftermath
- Floods & Mud: Summer Storms Hit the Andes
San Antonio de Areco, in the Flood
For most of the past week-plus, I’ve been moving southward from Puerto Iguazú to the Argentine Pampas, through moderate to occasionally heavy rains, before finally arriving at the “gaucho capital” of San Antonio de Areco, in Buenos Aires province, on Xmas Eve. Most of the next day I spent exploring San Antonio, in the process of updating Moon Handbooks Argentina and Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires (in which the town appears as an excursion, only 113 km west of the Argentine capital). I was also writing up material from my travels since mid-November.
On Saturday the 26th I had planned to visit the devotional center of Luján and the nearby village of Carlos Keen before continuing to Buenos Aires, but the night of the 25th it began to storm, with bright-as-day lightning and louder-than-fireworks thunder, so that I even disconnected the computer to avoid any potential electrical storm damage before going to sleep.
When I awoke that morning, though, the ensuing downpour kept me from continuing to Buenos Aires, and the power had gone off in the vicinity of the central Plaza Arellano, where I was staying at the time. By the time it ceased raining, around midday, I learned that the Río Areco - which often floods in this low-lying terrain - had spilled over its banks and risen to within a block of the plaza. Matheu street, one block north, had itself become a knee-deep river channel as riverside residents hauled their belongings out of the affected area. Ruta Nacional 8, which leads west toward Mendoza, was also underwater and it was even difficult to drive east to Buenos Aires. I decided to spend another night in San Antonio, despite the apparently rising river.
I moved, however, to a handsome new two-room B&B, La Demorada, on slightly higher ground and, during the rest of the day, the river dropped slightly. Yesterday, meanwhile, westbound highways continued underwater, requiring major detours for anybody traveling toward Mendoza or Rosario, Argentina’s “second city” on the upper Río Paraná. Yesterday eastbound RN 8 to Buenos Aires dried out and I arrived in the city by early afternoon.
There is some evidence that San Antonio’s floods may not have been an exclusively natural disaster, having been exacerbated by illegal drainage canals on ranchers’ pastures. As so often in Argentina, the search for villains - or scapegoats - is underway.