Last update – 13:06
With the first light of day, Juan La Bianca shows his smile from inside the boat and says: “Welcome”. Together with Natalia Cecotti, his partner, and their two little daughters, Malena (6) and Regina (4), they have been moored since last Friday aboard the sailboat “Torroba” (Victory 34) at the Marinas Puerto Santa Fe club. to the city by the Paraná River after spending several nights in the landscape of the islands. They come traveling upriver from Rosario, where they have their permanent mooring at the Club de Velas. And they decided to reach “the city of Garay” driven by the wind, away from the hustle and bustle and crowded movie theaters. They want to enjoy a different winter vacation. They live a dream. One more.
The La Bianca family always chooses this type of adventure as the first alternative. Several years ago Juan rowed to Rio de Janeiro, they have sailed aboard the Torroba to the coasts of Uruguay and Brazil, and they always want to go for more. Even when they are on land, in the routine of the city, busy with their work, they have their minds set on a new journey. Thus was born this idea of sailing to Santa Fe during the winter holidays.
Navigators. The La Bianca set sail this Tuesday for the Santa Fe Islands National Park, near Diamante. They still have several days left to enjoy on board. Credit: Mauricio Garin.
Bow to Santa Fe
“We began planning this journey when the Paraná River began to rise,” says Natalia, as she prepares some toast for her daughters’ breakfast. The family on board will soon set sail again. But first they take a few minutes to talk with El Litoral. “It’s just that more than a year passed without us being able to navigate, down the drain,” mentions this woman who teaches canoeing in Rosario. “The vacations just coincided with the rise of the river and with the fact that we had finished making repairs to the boat in the baradero (on land). So we said: Let’s sail again!”.
“It had been a year and a half since we were on board,” says Juan. “The only one who got on was me, who was going to work on the arrangements. Our pulse trembled. Anxiety ate us. Think that the ship is our second home. We spend the weekends on board, on the island, in the club or wherever we are. And we hadn’t sailed it for all that time. It’s terrible. The girls would go to the club, see the dry hull of the boat from below, touch it and say: ‘Hello, little boat.’ Every week they asked us: ‘Let’s pamper the boat’. One day we got on board and Male told me: ‘Dad, do you remember when we had the fruit hanging’. We were all nostalgic, bad. The precise term is saudade. We missed the life on board”.
Now the one who interrupts is Natalia, to add: “What happened to us is what this offers. A space to share and be present. Not like other winter vacations in which there is entertainment of another type. Here we are all four together all the time in a small space, where there are no distractions, or Wi-Fi. A family time that is different. The girls spent five days without looking at cartoons and they didn’t even know.” And Juan points out: “But they saw a river wolf at dawn, a capybara, they caught a pomfret for the first time in their lives.”
On board. The Torroba has wood, wood and more wood inside; which gives it charm and warmth to inhabit it. Credit: Mauricio Garin
The ship, the home
Was that what Natalia dreamed of the day she surprised Juan? They were still dating and had bought a piece of land in Granadero Baigorria, in Gran Rosario, to build their home. Then they began to collect the money to build the house. But she, in complicity with Juan’s friends, decided to allocate that money to the purchase of the sailboat, and she surprised him with the news. So “Torroba” was her first home.
-This voyage lasts two weeks on board. How is the supply prepared so that nothing is missing?
-It is an exercise that we already have naturalized. We are kayakers. Since we were young we always thought about what to take to the island. And on the ship we already know where to stow everything. There is no need for us to consult. We have had the boat for 12 years and we always travel. Now the needs of the girls are added. We brought board games, puzzles, fibrones to draw, the Canticuénticos CD and books to read. They each prepared their little backpack -says Natalia. To come to the city where “The monster of the lagoon” (Canticuénticos) lives.
The boat has two rabbit hutches (beds) at the stern. Each one has a curtain and is Malena and Regina’s bedroom. Towards the bow, the kitchen opens to port and the navigation table to starboard, to then pass into a common space with two other rabbit hutches on each side and a folding table in the middle: the ship’s living room, where you can also can sleep. Then they have the bathroom and a closet; and in the bow, the double cabin. Inside, the wood shines. And it has heating. Everything is beautiful inside the “Torroba”, the ship that bears that name in homage to another dreamer, Alberto Torroba, who is called “El loco”. A man from the Pampas who more than 30 years ago sailed the Pacific Ocean towards Polynesia in a 4.50 m sailing canoe. oriented by the stars, on a spiritual journey that transformed him forever. Nothing is a casuality.
-On the journey to Santa Fe, what did you see?
-The good and bad? Juan asks. The good thing was to reconnect with our river, our place.
-That’s the bad part. When you write this fix it, in short we are doing shit -says Juan-. We are demanding much more from it than the ecosystem allows. You burn them…
Natalia intervenes and lists: “The burning, the ports, the indiscriminate fishing, the garbage, the dredging, the fluvial traffic… Honestly, there were times when I got inside here (the interview is inside the Torroba) because I was very what I saw was sadness. That is the other side of this trip”. The navigator woman knows it well. She is a canoeing instructor and she prepares people to see all this, and to make them aware so that when they go out into the river they do not throw waste and take care of the environment.
take care of the islands
“Beyond all this, the Paraná islands still offer us a lot. We got into streams, spent the night on the island, descended and walked sand banks, we found a lot of life and nature, capybaras, birds, wolves; you keep pulling a cane and you take out, the river is generous. The abundance is still there. But the onslaught of man is tremendous,” says Juan.
“We have been in the river for many years and we have noticed the changes,” says Natalia. “We see the impact that the ecosystem is having.” It is sad to see how birds make their nests with plastic waste, the same plastics that scientists found in the guts of fish in microparticles, the same ones that appear floating or embedded in muddy shores.
-You are about to set sail for a new destination, how does the journey continue?
-Now we are going to navigate to the km buoy. 500 from the Paraná river. When we came, we anchored in the area on the side of the Santa Fe Islands National Park. Now we want to do it on the Entre Ríos shore. It is a beautiful place, the Paraná las Cañas or Paranacito, each one calls it in a different way. It’s another world in there. The size of the willows, ceibos and timbó cannot be seen anywhere else. It is a protected area.
Throughout the conversation with the parents, little Malena and Regina participate attentively, comment and listen, while enjoying some toast with jam.
-Do you want to tell me something, Malena and Regina? What did you enjoy most about the trip?
-I really liked being in Santa Fe. Because it has many beautiful and new things to discover -summarizes Malena-. And her 4-year-old little sister says in her own way: I like being in Santa Fe, because mom’s cousins are there.
It is Tuesday and the morning has a radiant sun that clears the winter cold. The family casts off the moorings, grateful for the courtesy of the Marinas club, and sets sail for a new destination. They leave behind their trail of memories that will never be forgotten. “The river passes/carries/something leaves us/and something goes away”, says the lyrics of the song “La isla” (Chacho Müller). A different vacation is going away, aboard the Torroba, to the wind through the Paraná.
-The winter holidays will soon come to an end. What will be the next voyage?
-There is the concept, which is to spend a lot of time on board. Then we will see what landscape we insert -says Natalia-. If we manage to insert the one that we already lived once, which is Angra Dos Reis (Brazil), it will be excellent. But if it ends up being Uruguay or the Argentine coast, it’s perfect. Because the purpose is to share, and it is now. Tomorrow is going to be late.