Tuesday, November 6, 2007
We made it!
Sorry for the delay in updates but we have had sporadic connection issues with our wireless system..... and we have been very busy! Lets bring you up to date shall we......
We arrived at the hotel just before midnight after a 6 hour, 450 km drive from Buenos Aires. Although it was rush hour (and after a short 10 minute detour when we got off track slightly) we managed to hit Hwy 9 north to Rosario and on to Hwy 11 to Santa Fe. The drive up was uneventful other than a stop for fuel and the numerous toll booths along the way. The topography is much like Alberta in summer, flat with lots of green fields and the highway is populated with many hundreds of heavy transport trucks... like the I-5 in Washington State only more trucks. Tourists are easily recognized as they are the only one's using turn signals for lane changes :-)
We awoke about 9 a.m. local and after showering etc, we headed down for breakfast in the hotel and a short walk around the area. A general plan was made to have the guys start assembling planes and the gals to get some pesos and.. well go shopping! The place closes down between noon and 4 p.m. for siesta so this helps save me some money:-) I was pretty bagged from the travel so I opted to not fly today.. just get prepped and ready for practice Wednesday.
Mark and I got the planes put together and then we followed Chad's lead and headed to the store and then on to Parana (to the east) to check out the practice field. After stopping for supplies (chairs, cooler, water etc.) at the local Walmart. We continued the drive out and easily found the practice site. We met up with D-7 's Adrian Wong and the rest of the Hong Kong contingent. The Chilean team was also there practicing.
Adrian mentioned several teams having both shipment and transportation issues. USA had planes stuck in customs for two days.. others with packages still in customs!.. and I am told it apparently took the South African team 12 hours to get from Buenos Aires to Santa Fe... ouch!
We stayed for a half hour or so to watch some flying then headed back to the hotel to prepare the van for transporting the planes. Once assembled the planes take up almost all the van's interior.... this one's anyway! Much work was needed.
Driving here is not, shall we say as "controlled" as in North America... it's more like a race to the finish line. Some are determined to win and other are just happy to finish the race! Every style of vehicle is here... new BMW's to 1950's relic's sporting original paint on their crushed fenders. Pedestrians have no rights and the four way stops..well any stops for that matter, have yet to find there way into the mindset of the locals. There are Stop signs but those appear to be "for display only" :-) As much as the driving seams like semi-organized chaos to us, we have not observed any accidents to speak off.
We had grabbed some cardboard boxes and tape at Walmart and Mark and I started to dream up some stands for the two planes to fit into. After about an hour & a half we had the van prepped and ready. Mark had a local reporter stop and take some pictures and a short interview. We hope to see his mug on the front page tomorrow morning!
We "accidentally" crashed the organized meal for the competitors after being told this is where dinner was served (?). We were all so hungry we put up little resistance and settled with the organizers after we finished the nice buffet... so no "free" meal :-).
After dinner we met up with Harry & Rosemary Ells and Brian & Chad Northeast in another dinning area. We had a short visit and got caught up on our adventures to date. We'll met for breakfast in the a.m. to organize our practice day.
In bed early as we try and catch up on lost sleep we suffered in the past few days. Mark has some additional pictures he will post once he gets up. Please ignore his comments on my tumble into the fountain... it never happened! Ok.. well maybe my hand might have gotten a little wet.... no 2-1/2 gainer though :-)