Most people are willing to pay more to be amused than to be educated.”
– Robert C. Savage, Author
Tigre – I won’t go into the trials and tribulations of getting Henry and his niece awake, dressed, and ready to go, then actually out the door, and on our way to Tigre (leaving at 1:30 p.m. instead of our planned 10 a.m.). Nor to the no-show of his sister and her son, my godson, who were to join us, but didn’t. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t in the best of moods for heading to an amusement park. This, of course, assumes that heading to an amusement park with a couple of children in tow would have amused me to begin with. In some ways, perhaps it’s better there was just one teen along… However, I think it was really just that I was a bit peckish. Henry could tell I wasn’t happy by this point in the day, and wisely on his part decided to invest a little capital in improving the experience – rather than slogging our way via bus and train for an hour and a half plus, he hailed a cab and negotiated a fare, and we found ourselves deposited in front of the Parque de la Costa amusement park in just about half an hour. We also immediately headed for lunch.
With a bit of questionable, but filling nutrition in me, in the form of a platter of rabas, deep-fried squid rings – Henry’s new favorite appetizer since our Mar del Plata trip, and a massive suprema a la napolitana – an entire chicken breast rather than just one side, deluged in enough oniony tomato sauce to handle a kilo of spaghetti – I was actually ready to face an amusement park. I’m not fond of them you see. People are constantly trying to get me to go on roller-coasters, or, as they’re called here, montañas rusas. I simply don’t enjoy them much. I’ve been on plenty, it’s not a fear factor sort of thing, I just don’t get the big adrenaline rush that other folks seem to get from them – a fleeting moment here and there and it’s gone. But, I’ll gamely go along, and now and again there will be one that’s interesting (I like those hollowed out log ones where you end up drenched…).
Ferris wheels are, on the other hand, tough for me. There, is the fear factor. I’m not at all good with heights. I have a tendency to clutch on to anything that seems stationary and pretty much not look out at the scenery, though I did manage to snap a photo or two before we were all the way at the top. Thankfully, from my point of view, Parque de la Costa’s Ferris Wheel takes you on just one full round of the wheel and then you’re off again – it’s pretty much stop and start every 15 seconds or so, as they unload and load three gondolas at a time. No full turns of the wheel that I’m used to having to face as it goes around and around a couple of times before starting the refill process. Perhaps it’s just that the park was so packed with people waiting.
And that’s my biggest gripe about amusement parks. The waits. The main roller coasters (extra charge for each) had waits of as much as two hours in line. In fact, though I would have enjoyed the log flume ride I mentioned, neither Henry nor I were willing to stand in a line that said “120 minutes from this point” (though the niece did so while we wandered and did other things, and it was actually almost 2½ hours). Parque de la Costa also has some odd financial and identification processes. First, I wasn’t at all happy when the young lady at the main ticket booth refused to give us the posted Tuesday and Wednesday discount, stating flat out “you’re foreigners, we only give that to our people” and charged us the regular full price – it wasn’t only us, it was happening all around us, and there was nothing that I could see posted about a different price for foreigners… but that’s becoming more and more common here, people without a national identity card are simply charged more for services, tickets, etc… I’ll have mine soon it looks like, but it still sucks. Not that it was a big difference, 5 pesos apiece, but still… Argentina really has a lot to learn about tourism. Then, inside, quite a few of the rides or exhibits require you to register to get on them – providing your identity card number or passport number, full name, and date of birth – all of which goes into a computer that tracks where you’ve been. I suppose you could make it all up, they never asked to see identification… oh, and officially, and disappointingly, they don’t allow men to take their shirts off in the park… though by later in the day with the heat and humidity the park police had given up enforcing it… so a bit of eye candy for those so inclined to look.
I did really enjoy the river boat ride (extra charge of course) – it was a large catamaran that headed out into the Delta and toured us around a section of it for about half an hour. There was no commentary on the tour, just a ride – very odd from my perspective. There’s quite a bit to see, and one of these days I have to go take a real, full tour with someone who knows the delta well. The water taxis were in full swing, unlike on my last trip up to Tigre, and were speeding around, dropping off and picking up people at any and every dock along the waterway. There are an awful lot of homes for sale, which surprised me, though I don’t know why it should. Back in the park, and the weather getting steamingly hot, it was nice to see that the park has smartly setup cooling stations throughout, blue plastic tunnels that spray you with a fine mist of cool water as you walk through – very refreshing! Which was a good thing, because on the flip side, though the park is open until around 9 p.m., every refreshment stand but one had closed up by sometime between 5 and 6… more waiting in line of course.
All in all, an amusing day, and I guess that’s what amusement parks are about, yes?
Tomorrow, back to the world of food, and the making of watermelon pickles… I know you can’t wait!