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It’s the usual mixture of sadness and relief when I get to the last Diary page. Sad, because the trip is now really over, I have no further excuse for the daily session of escapism. Relief, because I can relax a bit now that the pressure to produce daily reports has gone.

For me, the day was nice and relaxed – Guillermo had invited us to a BBQ at his home and to meet his family and some friends. Sylvia and Guillermo had put on some great hospitality and young Xavier entertained us by showing that even at his young age, he was a better footballer than the Brits, while the Americans watched. And better than the Dutch? Of course not 🙂 I believe I can speak for all the trippers when I say that we had made some great friends in Argentina. Do let us know when you next visit England!

All too soon the time had come for the Americans to leave for the Airport and the flight home and not too long afterwards, for the remaining Europeans and Woody to return to the hotel. We said thanks you and goodbye to Emilio and also asked Guillermo pass on our very best wishes and thanks to Diego Gurvich, who could only guide us on the first part of the trip.

Looking back, it was good to have some days to relax before being thrown back into work on arrival in the UK. I was able to catch up with some world news on CNN – I had not missed anything, but it was good to make sure in case of unpleasant surprises later. I have no TV at home, but tend to use it as ‘moving wallpaper and back ground noise’ at Angie’s.

I copied all the original images on to 6 CDs, then started the task of editing the remainder – reduce size to XGA screen resolution (the same as my digital projector), create header slides for each day and each stop in PowerPoint, reject substandard images (I keep everything on the ‘Originals CDs’ – you never know if they contain something that is essential to settle an argument later, even if the picture is not up to scratch for talks.), rename all the images so that their file names are Sxxx_yyy, where xxx is the stop number and yyy the sequential number of the images at that stop; move all the GPS images to a separate folder, move all Hotel shots to the Hotel folder etc.

On Monday 31 October, Anne, Woody and I took a taxi into the centre of Cordoba and enjoyed quite a few hours of sightseeing, photographing cathedrals, universities, government buildings and anything else that attracted out attention. There were some really impressive buildings in a wide range of architectural styles. Woody spotted a replica of a bright red English telephone box and wanted to pose in it. As we got closer, Anne and I could regrettably confirm that it was an impressively accurate replica of the real thing: it had been vandalised and used as a toilet, just as so many of the ones found back home.

Bryan, Paul Shipsides and Ian had been to visit the local Zoo, while Cliff had stayed in the hotel to get over the final stages of Clifftonnaires Disease (or was it to chat up the ladies in room service?). Paul is the horticulturist at Chester Zoo in England, so it was back to work in a sense.

Tuesday 1 November, for me was finishing off the image editing tasks that I had set myself, mixed with walks to the local shopping mall to use up some more pesos on essentials and souvenirs.

Wednesday 2 November, and we had until midday to pack and leave the room. I discarded the jeans worn for three weeks in the field, torn and ripped by Acacia, bromeliads and cacti and the surplus T shirts brought from the UK, now dirty and replaced with various Argentine tourist T shirts with artisan motifs. To my surprise, everything fitted – just – and was within our weight allowance.

Guillermo met us for the trip to the Airport. None of us like long goodbyes, and anyway, it was more like Hasta la Vista, Guillermo, and thanks for looking after us so well on an excellent trip.

When I started these Diaries, I asked web-masters / moderators to let me know if they objected to some publicity for these trips. No responses were received, so if any of you feel inspired to check things out for yourself, rather than take my word for it, check out

http://www.cactusexpeditions.com.ar/

for details of future trips. Guillermo will be happy to consider special customised trip requests providing that you have sufficient numbers in your party. Don’t forget to request the extra wine tasting sessions – they are a great way to wind down for dinner and good fun.

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