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Argentine resort Cerro-Castor: in the hands of the owner

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"Excuse me, are not you Gaston?" – "No, no, you! Gaston – he is such a brown-eyed, small-sized, with a walkie-talkie and in orange ski boots."

A man at a table in a cafe where we agreed to meet with the owner of the Argentine resort of Cerro Castor and whom I took for Gaston Beguu, once again described me to him in detail and was already going to call Mr. Begu on the mobile so that he himself found me. The owner of this most southern resort on the planet, located on Tierra del Fuego, in the face or personally know almost all the regulars of this place. Gaston is the star of Argentine mountain skiing, left, if I may say so, in 1996 for rest and engaged in what logically followed from her career. Widely rolling around the world, a native of Ushuaia Gaston took up the arrangement of a ski resort at home.

In 1998, Begu took up the project of his father, who had just knocked out a piece of Tierra del Fuego 30 km from Ushuaia to the most modern and young ski resort in Argentina. Ten years later, having successfully celebrated the first big anniversary of his offspring, Gaston is still in it.Not that small, but really small, frail in appearance, a cheeky brunette, more like a Frenchman, and a habit of dressing outside of working hours, Gaston plows his land like a huge, hardworking peasant. From morning till night. Meeting at 6.45 am on the base, we spent the whole working day together, having sat down to dinner at his house with his family at eleven o'clock in the evening. His wife Michelle, who also works in the resort, says that this is a normal working day for Gaston over the past few years.

At seven in the morning, he usually manually repairs the base on the snowmobile: the tracks at the lodges located at the lower station of the ski lift, the pullout, the children's playground and 10 kilometers of cross-country skiing tracks. At all about all about an hour. Then Gaston opens the main building, which houses a ski school, a ticket office, a cafe and a rental. A short meeting with the patrol service, several calls to the squadrons, cable men, instructors, and at 10 o'clock he makes a circle on all the routes on skis – to make sure that everything is in order.

At noon – a meeting with international team coaches who train in Serra-Castor all the European summer – from June to September.The Swiss, the Austrians, the French, the Italians, the Americans, the Slovaks – who does not exist here! Teams replace each other constantly and sometimes have instead of lunch at half-past two, urgently call a squad of rattrapers and smooth out a part of the slope closed for training, broken by the morning by these "horses" skiers.

At 14.30, if everything goes on as usual and there is no paperwork in the office, Gaston at his pleasure or with the inspection again goes round all the routes of the resort. In any case, by 4.30 pm he is in the office until the end of the resort. Usually lifts are open until 18.00. At 17.30 the directors of all departments gather and, together with the manager, listen to the report of the ski patrol covering the tracks, about their condition: it is necessary to plan the work of the rocketers in the evening and at night, to estimate what is broken up to where to include guns and which slopes only slightly to smooth. All these valuable instructions the chief personally brings to the employees of the resort, and then he himself goes with the one and then another machine to process the tracks. Exceptions Monday or Wednesday – these days at eight pm Gaston should be at the office in the city (Ushuaia) – sign checks and payment papers for daily resort needs and ongoing design work.As he still has enough for dinner late with his family, and sometimes noisy friends who are buzzing until late at night is unknown.

Gaston's wife Michelle, like all his relatives, is proud of his spouse and seems to support him in everything. "Yes, that's how it is every day, and it's even steeper," she says. "From June to early August, Gaston, among other things, controls the work of snow cannons himself, and this can drag on all night, so he sleeps sometimes for 2-3 hours, and at seven again ironing the base. "

Approximately one and a half to two months before the end of the season, another headache is added – a get-together on the occasion of the end of winter. Organizer and chief ideologist – again Gaston Begu. This calm and sober head, as Michelle says, does not let go even in the summer. The owner of a couple of times a week bypassing their possessions or riding a bicycle, looking for a suitable place for a new route, restaurant or ski lift. A perfectionist by nature, he can throw all this for three things, Michelle winks. For the sake of Nicole's daughter, who often rolls himself on the ski tracks or takes with him to the ratka to prepare a slope, his employees who need help, and guests who need attention. Thank you, Gaston!

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8.5 thousand dollars for 25 days

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In Russia, no more than a dozen agencies offer tours to Argentina. Domestic tourists are little interested in this country. Most often they buy expensive combined tours to Argentina and neighboring Uruguay, Chile or Brazil.

As a rule, individual tours are sold to Argentina. The cost of the tour in Buenos Aires in low season starts from $ 1,5 thousand (with a flight). In winter, when in Argentina – fine weather, the cost increases almost twofold. Flight is carried out on flights of Western airlines – domestic to Argentina do not fly. The minimum cost of the air ticket is $ 1 thousand. The planes land at the airport of Buenos Aires.

Tourists can choose from several excursions: a city tour ($ 20-90 depending on the size of the group), the Fernandez Blanco Museum (the Museum of Colonial Art), a cruise ($ 35-130) along the channels of the Parana River, on which the capital of the country is located, on the market of San Telmo, where antiques are presented. The most curious excursions are the "Fiesta Gaucho" and "Tango show." Tourists get acquainted with life, cuisine, customs and music of gaucho – Argentine cowboys, watch an entertaining performance in which the best dancers take part.

In the capital, tourists prefer to spend a few days.Fans of passive relaxation go to the resort of Mar del Plata, located 400 km south of Buenos Aires, on the Atlantic coast. I must say that the tourist infrastructure in this area is poorly developed, so the hotels here are not very high (3-4 *). The beaches stretched for 47 km. The Argentines themselves prefer to spend the summer (our winter) at the resort of Miramar, 137 km south of Mar del Plata, or in Uruguay, in the resort of Punta del Este, which can be reached by ferry from the Argentine capital in three hours. The class of hotels there is higher.

In Argentina, there are both sea and ski resorts. It is worth noting Bariloche, located on the shore of Lake Nahuel-Huapi. Argentines Bariloche called South American Switzerland because of the similarity of landscape, architecture and the production of quality chocolate. Here hunting and fishing are allowed. You can play golf and ski from the Cathedral Mountain, which is equipped with a cable car.

On the border of Argentina with Brazil and Paraguay is the famous national park "Iguazu". The park is considered one of the modern wonders of the world – 275 waterfalls, spewing tons of water. It has preserved thousands of species of exotic birds,butterflies and unique tropical vegetation.

Travel agencies offer an interesting route, which includes three neighboring countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Chile. During this 25-day trip (cost – $ 8.5 thousand), you can visit the capitals of three states, get acquainted with the life of local tribes, go underground in the mines where copper is extracted, admire the magnificent view of the Strait of Magellan in the Tierra del Fuego region, swim in the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. For $ 4.3 thousand, flights are organized to the island of Navarino, the extreme point of the American continent, to Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Strangely enough, there is a demand for this expensive tour in Russia.

By European standards, Argentina is an expensive country not only for Russians, but also for German and Japanese travelers. Lunch in an Argentine restaurant costs $ 15-20, a tip of 5-10% of the bill is required. A night in a 3 * hotel costs $ 90-120 per person. To get on the bus from the airport to Buenos Aires (30 km) you need to pay $ 10. A minute of telephone conversation with Russia – from $ 6. When flying out of the country, an airport fee is charged – $ 13. Consular fee for issuing a visa is $ 29-31.

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Duel in Buenos Aires

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As the emergence of Buenos Aires, difficult to understand. How on the 35th degree of south latitude and 58th west longitude – the complete antipode of Europe! – rose luxury city of Paris, Madrid, Barcelona? With wide boulevards, one of which, Avenida on July 9, is even the widest in the world: up to 140 meters. With the fashionable, incoming to the world elite opera theater Colon on this highway. With a lot of monuments and monumental Art Nouveau buildings.

And … with the most monotonous of all me famous cities of the street crowd: white. In this remark, the iot of racism is only an objective observation with bitterness. No wonder I lived for 17 years in the most colorful city of the planet – New York. Bitterness – because the monochrome Buenos Aires was not only due to the fact that slaves from Africa did not come here (unlike neighboring Brazil), but also because European settlers destroyed the indigenous Indian population.

Here came adventurous people – from Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Ukraine. In North America, they went to the West, and here they conducted the Conquista del Desierto – "Conquest of the Desert": the merciless conquest of the local prairie – pampas. Famous gauchos – cowboys of pampas in trousers with sockets under the name of a bomb – created their own special folklore.But it did not become worldwide, like the genre of North American cowboys – Western. But the same determination, recklessness, readiness for the battle were imprinted in the dance. In the Argentine tango.

Jorge Luis Borges wrote: "A love duel in the basis of tango sees every other thing – a street fight. Meanwhile, they are both just different forms or manifestations of a single impulse. "

And the truth is: at the end of the XIX century, when there was tango, most of the population of Buenos Aires were men – emigrants from Europe. A young woman had the opportunity to choose from twenty applicants. Men's couples often danced.

And when life came back to normal, the duel was transformed into a love affair. It's fascinating to follow the dramaturgy of this supererotic dance: it's really a battle.

In Buenos Aires, there are many places where tango is danced. You can go to the expensive, with a treat and show, a club in the San Telmo area. There, a couple of steps from the beautiful Russian church on the corner of Brasil and Defens streets dozens of such evening clubs. You can go out in the afternoon to the charming Alvear Square in the Recoletta area and see how a couple of professionals are spinning in front of the snow-white Jesuit church of La Pilar.The same pairs excite the soul in even more colorful scenery – in the port area of ​​La Boca, where the streets are set in childishly colorful houses. There you can sit in the wicker chair of the coastal cafe, order a marvelous local wine (especially good varieties of Malbec vine) and watch the tango against the backdrop of ships and the boundless, like the sea, La Plata.

But it is best to find, by consulting the guide, somewhere in the Palermo area the local dance floor. Fans of tango are drawn to the open circular pavilion at twilight. Women sit down on the steps, shift sandals or sneakers to plastic bags, changing shoes into high-heeled shoes – the only suitable for tango shoes. When you look at the selflessness of dancers at the age of fourteen to eighty years, you hear this weary melody, this elastic rhythm, you see geometrically calculated movements, you understand how cold calculation is able to combine with frenzied passion, something becomes clear: how and why such a city.

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At will, in the Pampas!

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Do you want to feel like a real Argentine gaucho and with a giggle to race on a hot horse for the same real Argentine pampas? In this there is nothing impossible. From the beginning of April, the owners of the Huechahue ranch, located in the picturesque foothills of the Andes, organize horseback riding along the mountainous plateau of northern Patagonia. You can get to the ranch in three hours by car, from the city of San Martín. And before the San Martin from Buenos Aires, regular flights of Argentine airlines.

Owners of Huechahue offer their guests it is horseback riding is not accidental. In the Argentine part of northern Patagonia, roads lead only to rare farms and ranches. You do not walk very much on foot – distances are too great. And anyway, what kind of gaucho drives the pampas by car? After all, you will not feel any will or pampas. In addition, the reserve Lanin National Park, where the newly-arrived gauchos will go, are not allowed on cars. Even the huntsmen are moving around the reserve only on horseback. By the way, except for the huntsmen, there are no other people there. But all sorts of exotic animals present abundance.Tourists will see very rare birds – ibises, eagles and South American condors.

But before jumping along the alpine meadows past lakes and beech forests, it is necessary to spend three days on the ranch. In a four-day transition to the wild and uninhabited areas of Patagonia without preparation can not be sent. In addition, it is necessary to undergo mountain acclimatization, and then out of you it's not that gaucho, but a simple collective farm shepherd will not work. The experience of riding is desirable, but not necessary. A horse will be picked up to you, like a harness, saddles, bridles. For three days, you can properly train in horse riding on the vast ranch grounds. There, although about 900 cows of the Hereford breed are grazed, but there is enough space for everyone.

And here comes the long-awaited moment – travelers are loaded into cars, and horses in – special vans. At the same time, no more than four riders participate in the hike, plus a guide on his horse, and therefore will not be closely. The sixth horse performs the role of a mule – it is loaded with tents, provisions, gas tiles and other ammunition. Landed in the village of Lago-Lolog, tourists immediately rushed to the very will – in the Pampas. That is, go on a trip to the reserve Lanin National Park. It is necessary to spend the night in tents.To strongly not get tired, in the saddle the riders will spend no more than six hours a day. The rest of the time is dedicated to sleeping, eating and admiring the mountain patches of Patagonia, covered with eternal snow.

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