Stanley Stories – Ian & Gwenyth Simth’s Sout Americal Sojourn
(Gwen & Ian recently returned to Stanley after 8 weeks away and Ian has kindly provided The Nine Mile News with his impressions)
Our world is becoming more global every day. As is the case with so many families, we too have a son and his family living and working overseas. Our trip to South America was made necessary if we were to spend the Christmas/ New year season with our two grandchildren and their parents. Some 26 hours flying at 650 mph at 30,000 plus feet took us from Melbourne to Sao Paulo in Brazil via Dubai.
After living for a couple of months with Vaughan and Tina and the boys in their apartment on the 23rd floor of one of the hundreds of multi-storey condominiums that provide housing for many of the 20 million or so people that live in the sprawling city of Sao Paulo, we realise more than ever how lucky we are to live in Australia. Living in Stanley is like living in another galaxy!
Security is a constant concern in Sao Paulo. General Motors provide an armour-plated car for Vaughan to drive to and from work. Every house or group of houses or, in their case, group of multi-storey residential towers, is surrounded by a high wall topped with razor or electrified wire. Whenever we went out or returned home we had to pass through a locked exit/entry, manned 24 hours a day.
We have experienced some pretty challenging traffic situations in cities like Shanghai, Rome, Naples or Paris but the traffic in Sao Paulo is way beyond the infrastructure’s ability to cope and I guess this is to be expected when you have more than the total population of Australia living in one city.
However, regardless of these challenges, we had a once in a life-time trip, visiting Ecuador, Argentina, Peru and Brazil. An 8 day cruise visiting the Galapagos Islands would have to be the highlight. The Galapagos are an isolated group of volcanic islands (13 big islands, 6 small ones and 40 even smaller ones, many not even having names).
The animal life found on this unique ecosystem of oceanic volcanic islands is incredible: iguanas (both sea and land), sea lions, penguins, seals, turtles, giant tortoises, crabs, lizards, a multitude of birds from albatrosses to blue-footed boobies and a huge range of finches that were the key inspiration to Charles Darwin in postulating his origin of species theory, and all of them seemed to welcome us as tourists visiting their spectacular and unique island homes.
Another memorable trip was our visit to the spectacular Iguazu Falls, situated on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Being over 3 kilometres wide and 80 metres high, these falls are higher than Victoria Falls and wider than Niagara Falls and more spectacular than both. We travelled into Argentina to view these falls from the western side as well as from the Brazilian side. The highlight of this excursion, particularly from the boys’ view, was a flight out over the falls in a helicopter and a thrillingly scary boat ride right up to the base of the falls which thoroughly drenched all of us!