Issue 41

March 2012






Home. Cover Page. Chairman's Address. Committee and Membership. South American Trio. Open Meetings. Around Harrogate. Modern Technology. Poem. News of the Groups. General Information. Story Time. Tailpiece.

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South American Trio

BRAZIL (from brasil wood), URUGUAY (from the Indian for “River of Birds”), and ARGENTINA (from argentum, the Latin name for silver)

Early 16th century explorers came to what they mistakenly thought was the mouth of a river, named what was to become a mega city of 11,000,000, after January and the saint of the day, Rio de Janiero so São Sebastião.

Fast forward to January this year as my plane descended to land, the blackness of the sea in late evening was set against a necklace of lights spreading miles inland and into the distance along the many bays beyond. With arms outstretched the statue of Christ the Redeemer, 100 feet tall, atop of Corcovado or Hunchback Mountain, 2,340 feet, has welcomed all since 1931.

Next morning from my 20th floor hotel room I made the most of the view, from the sea to just one of the famous beaches and the ever welcome sight of palm trees as my visit would be a very brief. The coach ride along the seafront took in some of the luxury apartments and hotels with the cathedral just seen among the higher buildings.

At 11am, I joined the other passengers to board the Azamara cruise ship to later that day start the journey to Buenos Aires, with four ports of call along the way.

The first two were small historical, picturesque Brazilian towns.

PARATI, where the past is always present in the all cobbled streets and low colonial houses, the front rooms of some are now shops for selling the colourful native arts and crafts.

ILHABELA, was a site for the slave trade, and bygone visitors were pirates and smugglers. UNESCO declared it a national monument in 1966.

Both towns have beautiful churches and share a background of jungle and mountains.

After two days at sea we arrived in PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay’s top ultra modern holiday resort.

Most people know of three things of Uruguay,

They won the first football World Cup,

The sinking of the German battleship the Graf Spee,

Fray Bentos tinned corned beef, but what about, a town and department called Treinta y Tres, 33?

Tiny beside its giant neighbours, Uruguay has an area of 68,000 square miles, compared with England and Wales at 58,000, and has 400 miles of unspoiled beaches.

There is plenty of room, therefore, for the 3.5 million people and the cattle and sheep that outnumber them several times each.

By the way, in Fray Bentos, the meat-processing factory has closed, but the town of 26,000 people now has an industrial heritage museum, a paper pulp mill and the international river bridge to Argentina.

While in Punta Del Este we visited a modern art gallery set in acres of parkland and the house of artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, all white and reminding me of Gaudi’s style without and Picasso’s within.

Another explorer was right when he in effect said, “I see a hill”, as MONTEVIDEO, with half the people of Uruguay, does have a hill just a few hundred feet high. It’s a laid-back and friendly city with a fine natural harbour.

In BUENOS AIRES, the temperature was high but with a good breeze, the air was good for the sightseeing tour to the Plaza de Mayo with its tall palm trees, flowers, the Casa Rosada where Eva Peron and her husband addressed the crowds, the Cathedral, and other historical buildings. The tour continued to the La Boca district, full of very bright colourful houses where dockyard workers from Europe used what materials they could find including left over paint.

The last day included a Tango Show, it takes two but there were twenty dancers with music from accordions, piano and violins.

The ride down the Avenido de Julio claimed to be the world’s widest, completed a perfect holiday.

Derek Evans