Tuesday, 4 March 2014


26th Feb - 1st Mar 2014

Cattle class with Air Europa from Gatwick via Madrid to Buenos Aires ( without wheelchair ) was as good, or bad, as expected. Just be warned, Madrid Barajos airport is entirely awful. We arrived there at about 9.00pm, local time, for a 2 hour turn-round. I totally failed to blag my way into the VIP lounge because there were no people around to distract the guardians on the door and my plea to be let in to meet an 'important' friend fell on deaf ears. The departures concourse features an enormous duty-free shop, a McDonald's at one end and a Starbuck's cafe at the other. No bar or civilised restaurant. It was a tedious wait with a miserable cup of coffee. Anyway, after a 13 hour flight ( against the wind? ) scrunched up in a totally full tourist class cabin ( the business class had precisely 3 occupants ), we arrived at BA at 9.15am.

Due to a packed social programme involving much entertainment and alcohol I managed to write bugger all in BA. On reaching Jujue and Purmamarca up in the north-west thereafter the internet connection has proved unworkable. Hoping for better luck on getting down to Salta.

Now in Salta and internet restored. 

First off, The Wedding Festivities in BA. It was an epic and debauched four day hooley of utterly magnificent proportions. Enormous generosity coupled with extraordinary logistic and administrative expertise was displayed by our hosts to ensure we all, and there was a lot of us, had a marvellous time despite one's state of inebriation. For those unfamiliar with the occasion, this was a wedding between the son of an ex-army friend of mine and the beautiful daughter of an Argentinian, or is it Argentine, lawyer. 

The entertainments consisted as following: 
Day 1. Dinner for 30 in a smart Buenos Aires restaurant followed by a Tango session at a 'milonga', a tango venue. Those who dared to dance, I certainly didn't, suitably embarrassed themselves but probably amused the locals. Some of the smarter stayed late ( as voyeurs ) when spectacular 'professional' displays were laid on. It was quickly apparent that social life in Argentina starts when most in our part of the world are going to bed.
Day 2. Bus and boat journey to an island for a sumptuous lunch/BBQ preceded by dangerous cocktails, on the Parana River. I never did work out where it was. I think on a tributary of the river Plate somewhere to the northwest of BA, but who cares.
Day 3. The Wedding itself in a cathedral or convent ( Convento de Santa Catalina ) in central BA. Great service which ran on amusing and somewhat informal lines. There was a small orchestra and good old fashioned ( British ) hymns. We were told that it is traditional for the bride to arrive about 30 mins late. We were seated for an hour before she made her appearance! Great opportunity for much chat amongst many mates whom I hadn't seen for a long time; two of whom had crossed the Andes from Chile on horseback and mule to get there. Most of the service, which only lasted about half-an-hour, was conducted standing up. I suspect our valiant saddle-sore Andes crossers appreciated that. This was followed by a champagne reception in the cathedral garden. Unlike most British receptions, the flow of champagne increased as the day wore on. There were four of us left standing at the end with seemingly endless trays of champagne still to be drunk. I claimed the honour of being the last person to leave. I might have regretted it later.
Following this was another sumptuous dinner and dance at a palatial venue, the Sans Souci, in San Isidro. Buses were laid on to get us there. Again, I really can't remember where it is/was. Orientation during this series of bacchanalian feasts was difficult. Suffice to say that after copious pre-dinner drinks and hors d'ouevres in the gardens we sat down to a delicious dinner, plus speeches, followed by 'dancing'. By this stage I really wasn't interested in, or capable of, dancing. Many were. I believe this party went on until 6.00am with lots of carnival style amusement which, by force of circumstance, I missed.
Day 4. After a morning touring the town most of us met up at the Buenos Aires Polo Ground. They take their polo seriously here and the ground was immaculately manicured with large spectator stands. The two matches we watched were not in the Premier League, but they still had 7 and 8 goal handicapped players in action. They were good and swiped the ball with amazing power and accuracy. Reminded me of the days when our Regimental players swiped at the ball, normally missed it and frequently fell off in the process.
And it wasn't over yet! The bride's father hosted a farewell drinks party at his house later that day. Quite an incredible celebration and test of stamina. It has set the bar rather high for any future events I fear. Also, fortunately, and after some very dismal rainy weather previously, we were blessed with sun and blue skies throughout.

I will add words to this later but in the meanwhile here is a sequence of rather poor, due to a shaky hand, photos of the various events. I won't mention any names. You either know them or you don't. Those with a 15/19H background might recognise a few, despite one having not shaved for a few weeks ( there was a reason for it I was told ).

Above and right: Gathering at the river port at San Isidro prior to the boat trip up the river Parana to the island BBQ lunch.
Left: This is only day 2 and it is apparent that the festivities are already taking their toll.

The party boarded two long river-boats for the 1.5 hour trip upstream. I suppose their must have been about150 of us altogether. I didn't count.

It looked as if the banks of the Parana were popular locations for weekend and holiday homes. We passed several rather opulent examples.

Left: The beach on the BBQ island. Despite being encouraged to bring swimmies and towel I didn't see anyone going for a swim. Too much food and drink for any of that nonsense.
Right and below: Enormous sets of BBQs with a vast array of various meats ( esp. beef for which the Argentines are famous ) and, out of shot, a bar serving copious quantities of two kinds of local cocktail to, and this is an understatement, kick proceedings off. They were remarkably potent and would probably be outlawed on 'elf 'n' safety grounds in YouKay. Can't remember what they were called, indeed after just drinking one (large) one I'm surprised  I can remember much at all. 

Left: Another part of the impressive BBQ arrangement.

This was a rather posh 'sit-down' BBQ where we were served delicious food and copious quantities of wine by a most efficient team of camareros, and camareras.

Only been here a couple of days and my intended resolution not to eat and drink too much has already been shot to hell.

The groom in relaxed pre-wedding mode.
More 'revellers'. The father of the groom centre. He features quite a lot in these photos, and why not! Possibly by coincidence, today was also his birthday.
The chap in the dashing green shorts is none other than the redoubtable gent who had the unfortunate incident with the Zimbabwean elephant. The story features previously somewhere on my 'On Safari' in Zambia ramblings if you are interested.
Fortunately no elephants here and even more fortunately he didn't choose to do a re-enactment.
The sister of the groom, on the right.
Left: The father of the groom delivering an impassioned address after just managing to blow out the candles on his cake. There were only two of them and he still needed a bit of help. I'm surprised there wasn't an explosion.

Left: For 15/19H viewers, it was great to see this beautiful and amusing lady again.

Left: The father of the bride (left) in earnest conversation with the father of the groom. Perhaps they were discussing the bill.

The journey back to port at San Isidro (right) took considerably less time than going out. I suppose we were travelling downstream. We arrived back at dusk and there were no reports of anyone missing or falling overboard en-route.

The wedding service the next day. This gent had flown out from England with his top hat. I was curious to know how he had got it out undamaged. I learnt a useful travel tip here. He had carried it hand-baggage, in it's box, and had packed inside it all the little things, like plug adaptors, electrical goods, socks etc. that he might otherwise have lost. A  top hat is therefore a useful storage item. Must remember to bring mine next time.

This chap, with the stripy tie, together with the half hidden grey haired old geyser, centre rear, had crossed the Andes into Chile and back again on horse and mule to arrive the day before the wedding. They had, apparently, followed in the footsteps of General San Martin. An extraordinarily dangerous and stamina sapping trip I should imagine. They were carrying their 'saddle-sores' remarkably stoically.
I hope we shall read more of their adventure.

Left: Various characters in the standing-room only section.
Right: The bride with her father.
Left: At the altar. There were several amusing little speeches given by friends of the bride and groom giving lots of 'useful' advice on being married. The vows read out by the bride and groom were made up by themselves and provided a refreshing, and rather more explicit, alternative to the formal versions.
Right: Bride and Groom. He had smartened himself up a bit since the day before and didn't even look hung-over.
Left: The mother of the groom.

The party that evening was a fantastic affair in, and around, the Sans Souci palace.
It started off with a vast array of drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the flood-lit gardens.

...followed by a gargantuan feast in two full dining rooms, plus the speeches of course.

There followed much dancing which started off with some gentle music but swiftly descended into what I believe is called 'head banging' stuff which was extremely loud and fuelled by more copious and lethal cocktails.
I chickened out at 3.00am when the first bus left to return us to our hotel but the show went on until about 6.00am. Later entertainment featured a carnival theme and an extravagant breakfast amid dry ice smoke, I gather.

Right and below: Several of the survivors met up again the next day to watch polo at the magnificent Buenos Aires polo grounds. I'm not sure how this venue compares with Smith's Lawn but I imagine, looking at the immaculately manicured pitches, large stands and refreshment facilities here, it is superior.

Left: The father of the groom used to play polo and was also an umpire, so he knows the rules. Not sure what his handicap was. Probably, like the rest of us, a lack of cash.

Although not matches in the Premier League that day, we witnessed some very skilful action with up to 7 and 8 goal handicapped players.

After the polo there was another drinks party at the bride's parents' house out at San Isidro.

I can honestly say that I have never imagined, let alone attended, such an amazing series of wedding celebrations. It was all so efficiently organised and even the most inebriated managed to get from one place to the next on time due to transport being laid on. I do hope our incredibly generous and welcoming hosts make a full recovery, both physical and financial, in due course.

Right: A pre-wedding assembly of some of the principle characters (less bride and groom).

As explained earlier, for various reasons, this blog is going to take a long time to catch up. My constitution has taken a bit of a battering.
Next on the agenda is a review on wanderings around Buenos Aires.
Avante avante!!


  1. I gather you went missing for 12 hrs? Those are the bits I want to know about.
    Who are you travelling with? Bugsie? Wow!

  2. I can't remember going missing! Can't remember quite a lot actually. Was travelling with Bugsy & Co, but now Solo in Salta. It was a really mega piss-up. You would have been impressed, and undoubtedly pissed. Bugsy & Co. in great form.

  3. I can't remember going missing! Can't remember quite a lot actually. Was travelling with Bugsy & Co, but now Solo in Salta. It was a really mega piss-up. You would have been impressed, and undoubtedly pissed. Bugsy & Co. in great form.