Toward the end of of my first week of language school, another student approached me with a question (don't remember what it was) and we ended up chatting for about ten minutes—all in Spanish, somehow. That pretty much defines the time Edson Pires and I spent together—nothin' but Spanish. He was insistent on it. We became good friends quickly and spent a fair amount of time together over the following eight or nine days. And we only ever spoke in Spanish. It was difficult and frustrating at times, but we managed.
Edson is employed by TAM airlines of Brazil and lives in São Paulo. He's working towards become an airline attendant, but must have a degree of fluency in Spanish first. He plans on being at the necessary level within about three months.
A few days after we met, Edson and I went to Tigre, a popular tourist destination on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It's about 18 miles north and takes less than an hour to get there from the train station in Retiro, one of the city's barrios. As usual on a train, there are all kinds of interesting things to see out the window, both outbound and headed home, so the trip went quickly.
I hadn't had breakfast, so I was hungry. The first thing we did was look for a place to eat. As usual, the obvious and easy places to get to were for tourists and were accordingly expensive. We found a small, inconspicuous place, got a couple sandwiches, some chips, and a couple pops for a few bucks—just what we were looking for.
After that, we wanted to see the town a bit, so we began wandering around. The first thing that jumped out at us was an area with a few old planes, almost all of U.S. origin. I believe they were used by the Argentine Navy. Right next door to these planes was the Navy Museum. If you like ships, planes, war stuff, models, guns, or technology—i.e., if you're a guy—you have to go to this place. Go to Tigre if this is the only thing you do there. It's a bit expensive, but it's worth it. If my recollection serves me, the guy at the front desk pried two pesos out of our cold, dead hands. That's about 67¢. I would allow a couple hours. This place is sweet. Highly recommended.
Next, we went on a boat ride. Tigre is located on the Paraná River which empties out into the Rio de la Plata, the large river flowing between Buenos Aires and Montevideo and emptying out into the Atlantic Ocean. The boat ride was quite nice and not a bad price at 14 pesos, or less than five bucks. There's a ton of traffic on this river, both commercial and—what's the opposite of commercial? Uh, there were people in their own boats cruising around for fun. There were also folks in row boats doing what one does in a row boat—work.
If you like amusement parks, there's one here and it looks quite decent. It had a roller coaster that goes upside down, and other similarly exciting rides. We were told that an all-inclusive entry fee is fifty pesos. No bad.
Apparently, there's also an interesting fruit market, but we didn't go. We were satisfied with the few hours we spent walking around and seeing a few of the highlights. If you want to spend a full day on this trip, you should be able to hit all the high points.
That's your travel brochure for Tigre, Argentina.