11-May-2005 -- Coming from the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas we are now steaming through the Río de La Plata towards Buenos Aires. As we do not have much draft (i.e. the immersion of the ship in the water), we were allowed to take a shortcut, thus sailing outside and north of the dredged channel (Canal Punta Indio). Shortly after sunrise we passed 35S 57W. With the sun in our back we have a nice view towards the Argentine coast.
Looking to SSW we see the wooded coast of the western part of the Province of Buenos Aires. To the WSW the most prominent object is the Lighthouse of Atalaya, and, finally, towards West, we see another part of the wooded coast. Although almost at the same distance, the coast of Uruguay could not be seen at all, - probably due to the bright sunlight reflecting in the NE.
Ships of all nations do call Buenos Aires and the ports along the Río Paraná up to Rosario. Right in the picture we see the British bulk carrier "Bestore", certainly bound for a port on Río Paraná (probably San Nicolas or Rosario), and left there is the Liberian flagged container ship "Santos Express", coming from Buenos Aires and bound for Brazil.
Río de La Plata literally translated means "Silver River". It is the joint funnel of the mouths of Rivers Río Paraná and Río Uruguay. It was probably named so as the silver coming down from Bolivia has been exported and shipped from here. Another theory says that originally large quantities of silver were assumed to be in this area, as the first discoverers (Juan Díaz de Solís in 1516) were shipwrecked here and received silver jewellery from the Indios. Later expeditions were talking of the "Sierra de la Plata", a mountain that was supposed to contain large quantities of silver. Later this proved to be incorrect. Due to the high amount of loamy mud the water of the Río de La Plata is always brown and cloudy. When flying by plane over the area one can see that the ochre-coloured waters of Río Uruguay do mix with the reddish brown waters of Río Paraná.
At 6 p.m., shortly after sunset, we finally berthed at Buenos Aires, which gave me the opportunity to make a picture of a part of its skyline. Although there are Confluences closer to Buenos Aires, I think it makes no harm when I write down the few facts I fragmentarily do know about this city (which I am visiting frequently since almost 30 years):
Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza as "Puerto de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre". Later it has been destroyed by the Indios, but rebuilt in 1580 by Juan de Garay and named "Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto Santa María de los Buenos Aires". In 1776 it became the capital of the Vice-Kingdom of La Plata.
On May 25th, 1810, armed citizens chased away the Vice-King, and on July 9th, 1816 the Congress of Tucumán declared formally the independence of the "United Provinces of the Río de La Plata". In 1859 Buenos Aires joined the "Federación Argentina", which was founded in 1853.
In 1869 Buenos Aires had about 180,000 inhabitants. 1882 it was declared capital of Argentina. Already in 1890 it was the largest and most important city in Latin America with a population of about 660,000. The first subway track was opened in 1913. Owing to heavy immigration from Europe, in 1914 the population amounted already to 1.6 million, and today it is about 2.8 million, - and when we do include the metropolitan area, there are living nowadays about 12 million. So "Gran Buenos Aires" is the second largest city in South America. The population is chiefly of Spanish and Italian origin, but there are descendants of all other European and Middle East nationals as well.
An inhabitant of Buenos Aires is nicknamed "Porteño" (literally translated: a person living in a port), but one is only entitled to be a "Porteño" when BORN in Buenos Aires, too. The residence alone is not enough. Among the most important places worth to see in Buenos Aires I may recommend:
- Plaza de Mayo, where there is the residence of the President, the "Casa Rosada"
- Teatro Colón, one of the most famous opera houses in the world
- the obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio, the largest avenue in the world
- the old port area of "Puerto Madero" with the rebuilt sheds
- the old quarter "San Telmo" with its picturesque streets and the Antiques Market
- the Cemetery of Recoleta, where Evita Perón, is buried. She is still highly adored for the many good things she did for the "Descamisados" (literally "the ones without shirt", i.e. the poor people)