Tigre, in antithesis to the ferocity which its name that translates as ‘Tiger’ might suggest, is a cute little riverside town only a short train ride north of Buenos Aires. Although a treat throughout, it was a dramatic dusk in Tigre that made the visit most memorable.
Securing the last boat ride of the day, my amiga and I set sail on a tranquil yet uncharacteristically unattended Paraná Delta. Sent from above, the sunset reflected a riot of profound purples, burning oranges and everything in-between on the glistening water. Argentinian sunsets continue to be the best that I have ever seen, especially in the long summer eves as day transitions into night. These striking colours which adorned the skies over Tigre, a mesmerising twilight, proved a perfect case in point.
These were skies which, only a few hours earlier, we had fallen from. Indeed, a close second behind jaunts along the Delta as reasons to visit Tigre, is the Parque de la Costa. Otherwise an unnoteworthy theme park, its main attraction is the Vertigo Extremo. First harnessed up and then jerked into a horizontal position – as if floating – thrillseekers are hoisted 60 metres up, before freefalling towards from whence they came at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
Due to the windy conditions there were no individual freefalls that day, and so we were strapped up together and made the descent in tandem. As if the whole experience wasn’t already exhilarating enough, we were then given the video recording so that we could relive the aerial feat on demand. Something that I have done many times already, even during the brief period that has elapsed since. How composed I look, until plummeting with somewhat less equanimity just seconds later.
Back down to earth, and returning to the task in hand, we headed over to the dock in anticipation of the Paraná Delta voyage. Steamers and catamarans taxi up and down these waters at a leisurely pace, ferrying both locals to their riverside abodes and daytrippers keen to soak it all up. This was a particularly daytripper-heavy day for the boats because of the long weekend in Argentina, with Monday and Tuesday being public holidays for Carnival.
Not long into the journey we saw a tanker from bygone years ran aground, still bobbing gently in its resting place among the reeds, semi-submerged and now green with vegetation. A combination of houses daringly perched on stilts and quaint cottages set back by long, luscious lawns made for quite the spectacle. An irregular interval of huts leading to wooden platforms, doubling as both speedboat jetties and diving platforms also extended out from the water’s edges. These required at least a modicum of navigational expertise from our captain to negotiate, although nothing too taxing I don’t suppose.
After we had done the necessary at the turning point, the sky began to appear increasingly like a painting as we headed to dock. The boat’s own miniature Argentina flag fluttered proudly in the wind, its own central orb straining itself to be available for one last glimpse. Then the Parque de la Costa reappeared, in the foreground of the gold-trimmed fiery red clouds and orange/purple haze. A silhouette of the red and white metal-tower-come-beanstalk into the sky signified the vanquished Vertigo Extremo, from which we had most definitely earned our Tigre stripes.
Rich in their use of idioms as ever, the Argentinians often talk about ‘Una raya mas al tigre’. Literally translated as ‘Another stripe to the tiger’, the comparable English idiom would be ‘Another string to your bow’. It refers to a positive distinguishing feature joining other positive distinguishing features.
Many people, usually disenfranchised locals, ask me in a state of puzzlement: why Argentina? Apart from the obvious – living abroad, learning Spanish, finding Maria – another motive for the move was that this is a country of wondrous beauty. Just look at some of the sunsets here and you will see another stripe to this particular tiger. This is why Argentina.