The Río de la Plata is intriguing. It’s the widest river estuary in the world according to the New World Encyclopedia. After seeing it, I don’t doubt this. The two water-view pictures on this blog show it.
Despite its impressive numbers, it ranks only 8th for water discharge among world rivers. #1 is, of course, the amazing Amazon. What surprised me about the list of discharging rivers was the fact that 5 of the top 10 were in South America. Between the Amazon and the Río de la Plata on the list were the Orinoco, the Madeira, and the Negro. The Madeira and the Negro both flow into the Amazon. There are at least 5 Negro Rivers in South America, 2 are in Argentina.
On maps that mix English and Spanish, the Río de la Plata is often also called the River Plate. If the map uses only English, Silver River might be an appropriate name. The word plate has often been used as a synonym for silver in the English language from the 12th century on.
Colonia del Sacramento, where we celebrated Ruth’s birthday on December 28, is about 70 miles southeast of where the River Plate begins. Being 30 miles across, it is already quite wide where the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers meet. It is muddy and contains no salt all the way to Montevideo. At least I was told this on a walking tour of Colonia del Sacramento by a guide who would know. Satellite images tend to confirm this. The Río de la Plata is 137 miles wide when it joins the salty Atlantic Ocean.
On Ruth’s birthday we sat in a restaurant, the terrific La Bodeguita, enjoying the sunset over the Plate. The glow of Buenos Aires was to the right of the setting sun. The tall buildings of this huge city can be seen from the restaurant’s terrace on a clear day and from Colonia’s lighthouse. While drinking a mojito, Ruth kept thanking me for bringing her here.
Juan Diaz de Solís made it further up the river than Ruth and me. He was the Spaniard who discovered this river for Europe in 1516. He made it to the confluence of the Paraná and the Uruguay. On an expedition away for his boat he and his party were attacked by natives. Only one person survived, a cabin boy who was 14. The expedition ended with Solís’ death and the survivors headed back to Spain.