Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires


June 1, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

My high school classmate, Barbara Nadler, publishes a bi-monthly eNewsletter that contains our classmates’ special announcements and recent activities.

Barbara was aware of my travels in South America, so in a recent edition of the newsletter she included this brief review of my month-long trip:

“In May, Jan Polatschek traveled in Uruguay and Argentina.  He visited his cousins in Montevideo, drove with them to the trendy resort of Punta del Este, took a bus to the charming Spanish colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento, rode the ferry on the Río de la Plata, drove across the plains of Patagonia, took a cruise on the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego, climbed a glacier in El Calafate, explored the geological formations in the Humahuaca Region, discovered two synagogues in Salta, ogled at the Iguazu Falls, and made a pilgrimage to Moisés Ville.  In Buenos Aires, Jan slept!”

Barbara was quite correct.  At my hotel in Buenos Aires, in between watching television reruns of CSI: Miami, Law & Order and House, I slept.   All day.

The next day I looked at the calendar. (I know you might not believe this, but it is quite common for travelers like me, in the midst of our journey, to not know the current date or even the day of the week.)  The calendar said May 31.

May 31 is my mother’s birthday.   Ruth Polatschek would have been 100 years old.

I have mentioned this to you before, but it is worth repeating:  my mother’s advice to her young son was always, “Jan, get out of the house!”

So, to honor my mother’s memory and to acknowledge her wisdom, I dragged my tired ass out of bed and set out to see Buenos Aires.


The Plains Of Patagonia



República Argentina

May 10, 2012

My Dear Readers,

No one other than Charles Darwin had his own thoughts about Patagonia:

“I see that the plains of Patagonia pass frequently before my eyes; nevertheless everybody says that they are the poorest and least useful.  Why is it then that these arid deserts have remained imprinted in my mind?”<--break->

I have no idea if Darwin ever answered his own question.

Ushuaia: Tierra del Fuego


Tierra del Fuego




Dear Friends,

Here’s the short version of my latest story from Argentina:

I met Susanna on my flight to Ushuaia.

At the airport, I suggested she ride with me and Javier to the guest house.  She agreed.

Javier, the owner, made her a good offer for a room.

Susanna and I were travel buddies for four days.

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Beagle Channel


Tierra del Fuego


May 14, 2012

Dear Friends,

After I posted my first letter and photos from Ushuaia, I received these two comments:

“Why do you spend more than one day in Ushuaia?”  Wrote one friend.

“This is a place I don’t need to visit, thank you.”   Wrote another friend.

Everyone is entitled to her opinion and reaction.   Perhaps my new photos will have a positive effect?

Argentina. Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

El Calafate



May 16, 2012

My Dear Family and Friends,

From my perch on a boulder in the middle of this glorious outdoor refrigerator-icebox, I tread along the rocky shoreline of the frigid water nearby.  I stare at the thick plateau of advancing ice.  I gaze at the black and white mountains beyond.  Under three layers of clothing, I sit here alone.   Once again, alone…. 

….Thanks to Diego Linares….

Colorful Salta

Dear Friends,

Years ago, at the Aventura Mall near Miami, a retail store manager greeted me in Spanish, “Hola. ¿Cómo está señor?”  “Why do you assume I speak Spanish?” I asked her.  She responded, “You look like un Colombiano!”

In 2003, in Hanoi, I traveled with Sushma and Paawan from Mumbai.  They admitted to me later that at first they guessed I was from India.

Last December, when I was in Cairo, the hotel staff addressed me in Arabic.

Recently, in a retail shop in Miami, once again, the sales lady spoke to me in Spanish.   This is just the latest example of a common occurrence.

What’s going on?  Do I present “international” facial features? Some “trans-national” coloring? A “global” carriage? Posture? Bearing?

What’s in my blood?