Patagonia Pride

Beautiful & Approachable El Chalten

Beautiful & Approachable El Chalten

The Argentinian Patagonia has stood out as one of our favorite places in this wide and wonderful world. It’s hard to communicate the vastness of the space here where the horizon seems endless. Perhaps it’s the miles and miles of scrubland that make the imagery of Cerro Fitzroy and the Perito Moreno Glacier so shockingly beautiful to the eye. Perhaps it was the geographic commonality to our home state of Washington…where vast desert turns green at the Cascade mountain range and lakes and alpine forests flourish.

Fitz Roy Hike = Heaven

Fitz Roy Hike = Heaven

The wildlife here stunned us…charming penguins and dolphins, graceful rheas and cuarnacos, tough condors, stock still flamingos, rhythmic red headed woodpeckers and on and on. Even animals common to us, such as horses, look more romantic being ridden by a gaucho in this wind swept land.

Laguna Torre Hike

Laguna Torre Hike

The chaos of Buenos Aires is so far away…the people here seem more rugged, low key and creative in the way that small town enterprise (or lack thereof) forces you to be. We have never in our trip heard more American accents…we are surrounded by baby boomers wearing North Face and Patagonia on REI tours. On a particularly windy and rainy day in El Chalten, we hunker down in the warmth of our hostel and I watch gray hairs with packs bigger than mine headed out to tackle a 12km trek…they are a tough generation!

El Chalten Scenes

El Chalten Scenes

By the time we leave El Chalten and El Calafate, we’ve trekked to Fitzroy and Torres, witnessed glaciers calving, and watched icebergs float by. We’ve been close to the end of the continent and are grateful we ended up spending two weeks here. And I know we’ll be back.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

Sleep
With the high numbers of young backpackers and older gringos, Europeans and Japanese that flock to this area, there are plenty of lodging options at all levels. In El Chalten, we stayed at a hostel with private bathrooms, El Alamo. Quirky as always with pillowcases smaller than the pillows and doors that don’t quite close, for the price of $50/nt and friendly hosts, it did us fine. In El Calafate, we stayed at Las Avutardas Hosteria. Roughly $70/nt for a small apartment. While the lodging wasn’t anything special, the owner was very helpful and took us to Perito Moreno for the same price as a big bus tour…it was nice to set our own schedule.

Eat
We rewarded the kids with a trip to the Waffleria after a long hike…we had savory, they had sweet and we all raved about our meal. The most popular La Tapera had wonderfully friendly service and a warm atmosphere but the food was so so. We discovered La Vinerea on our last evening in El Chalten, with a wide selection of beers and wines and good eats. We experienced little good food in El Calafate but found the Chopen Cerverceria, which was a block from our lodging, to be better than the TA reviews gave it credit for.

Do
This is a no brainer. Stay four nights in El Chalten…this gives you two days of hiking and one rest day. Weather is unpredictable so it also allows time to see the beautiful Fitzroy on a clear day. The Laguna Tres hike is the tougher of the two, so do it first, rest a day, then do the Laguna Torres. Stunning. Stay three nights in El Calafate. Hire a private car to take you to Perito Moreno and spend hours meandering the wood walkways listening do and watching the glacier move. We found the boat ride to Perito Moreno a dud…it was expensive, packed and all about photo ops with a professional photographer on board…not our thing. Spend an afternoon at the Glacierarium and visit the ice bar. We didn’t and the kids keep reminding me of that daily.

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Argentina: The Quirky Bits

When we arrived on January 22, we had little plan in place beyond our first two weeks in Buenos Aires…it wouldn’t be until March 30 that we would leave the country. What amazing natural diversity from north to south and east to west.  Like any other country, Argentina has its quirks but there’s reason we spent a quarter of our trip in this gorgeous country.

The New (& Improved?) Mullet

In Bariloche, I noticed a preponderance of young men with short hair on the side, long hair top and back. I’ve learned that there are attractive versions of this do and…not so much. Tried to convince Sean to take on the look and bring it back to the states. He’s not biting.

Mate, Dulce de Leche & Vino

The preponderance of products in an Argentinian supermarket fall into three categories: Mate, Dulce de Leche & Vino. More on the national drink below, Mate…its aisle is akin to the coffee aisle in the states. The Dulce de Leche surprises me though, how many types of Dulce de Leche does one really need? While I am a caramel lover and dulce is not so far removed, I could not get used to it as a spread for toast at breakfast. But vino, that I get. The Malbec that the country is famous for and the high altitude Torrontes deserve as many aisles as possible.

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Mate

The Argentinians are onto something here. It’s common to encounter family or friends strolling through a park, sitting in the plaza, hanging out front their workplace…with a large hot water thermos and a mate cup and straw. This ritual is a way to slow down life and appreciate family and friends. The cup is shared with one person taking lead on refilling it with hot water and mate tea as needed. A perfectly beautiful way to appreciate life.

The Greenley-Jones-Sullivan Family Partaking in Maté

The Greenley-Jones-Sullivan Family Partaking in Maté

Blue Market Money

With the Argentinian financial crisis, the peso continues to be devalued. The official governments exchange rate to the dollar is roughly 3-4 pesos lower than what one can get in the blue market, which is for all purposes a black market. Before arriving here, I questioned meeting a “friend of a friend” to change money, however you pay 1/3 more if you don’t. Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are on the official rate, so it becomes a cash system. ATMs are a joke…not only do you get the official rate, but you can only take out roughly US$100 at a time at the cost of $10 in transaction fees…you can however do this 3x a day for $30 in transaction fees. Ouch.

And as tourists, we may feel a bit cheated if we’re not using pesos purchased on the blue market, but think about being an Argentinian! The cost of goods is constantly raising while your paycheck stays the same. People who are in the position to do so purchase dollars as investments. Others spend every peso they make because why put it in the bank? A very tough situation.

Gaucho Gill

It wasn’t long after our arrival to Argentina that I noticed small red altars housing a diminutive cowboy along many a country road. I soon learned that this was Gaucho Gil. There seem to be multiple stories on his life and purpose but he is best described as the saint of the roads. His story in a nutshell: he was the Argentinian Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When caught by the local police to be killed, he gave the prophecy that the police captain’s young son would die if Gaucho Gil was not properly buried. (There are many versions of this…in some the son dies, in others he does not.)  The bottomline is Gaucho’s prophecy came true and he is referred to as a saint today. We saw these alters from north to south, with offerings of coins, cigarettes, sodas (partially drunken) among other items.

Gaucho Gill

Gaucho Gill

Siesta

We are generally late to start the day…getting the kids out the door each morning and being reliant on public transportation puts us almost anywhere late morning. Siesta starts at 1PM and lasts until 5ish. We continually found ourselves with a to do list in hand and the stores closed. Expats tell me that once you get used to the closures, you actually appreciate the downtime. We tried to live as locals, but time and time again we found ourselves proclaiming “Aii, Argentina!”

Futbol

It goes without saying the importance of futbol in the Argentinian culture. We appreciated witnessing the passion. Our only complaint was the constant chorus of “Goooooooooooooooal!” during evening sports highlights.

We Missed a Real Argentinian Futbol Match but We Did Enjoy Seeing our Seahawks Win the Superbowl from Buenos Aires!

We Missed a Real Argentinian Futbol Match but We Did Enjoy Seeing a Different Kind of Football…our Seahawks Win the Superbowl from Buenos Aires!

 

Reaching High in Nahuel Huapi National Park

Bariloche hooked us with the number of scenic hikes it offered. The diverse Nahuel Huapi National Park is its doorstep and oh boy did we partake.

Our first trek was to the top of Cerro Campanario…a dusty steep path underneath a chairlift that takes less limber travelers swiftly to the top. The kids tend to both complain that they have to climb their way up while others are being transported and then bluster incredulously at the top, “why are those people getting a treat? They didn’t climb up!” Oh, the early creation of hiking snobs…

View from Cerro Campanario

View from Cerro Campanario

Campanario was fun but easy and too much in the tourist path (perhaps it was the multitude of tour buses at the entrance?) but it gave us a taste of the beautiful views to be had…islands, lakes, mountains…mind blowing beauty.  So next, we decided to try our hand at Cerro Lopez, a 12km trek, the goal of which was the Refugio Lopez. Refugios are as they sound…refuge from the elements. The Lakes Region has a wonderful network of refugios so that you can hike from locale to locale without camping equipment and end your hike with a glass of Malbec…so civilized.

The Hike to Lopez Refugio

The Hike to Lopez Refugio

One thing Bariloche has in spades is dust…each day we come home, whether hiking or not, it covers our shoes, socks and shins. The trail to Lopez provided dust by the fistful, billowing out with each step to greet the person next in line. The trail is not well marked and we were fortunate to have Sean’s keen directional sense to lead us correctly up. When we at last reached the refugio, we were rewarded with stunning views and sweeping condors. At one point, Kyle and I sat taking in the view and two condors flew right in front of us…my mouth was agape…my camera in hand but no ability to respond, I was so astounded by their size.

After Lopez, we were ready for a multi day trek and consulted the ever helpful Club Andino for an itinerary. And thus we found ourselves one early morning taking a minibus to Pampa Linda to commence our three day trek. Pampa Linda sits at the base of Mount Tronador two hours south of Bariloche. A popular hike is up to the Otto Meiling refugio, which sits dramatically at the edge of the Castaño Overa glacier. It’s common to cross the glacier to the Rocca refugio, then hike into a valley to Lago Frias, where you can ferry and bus it back to Bariloche.

Hike to Rocca Refugio

Hike to Rocca Refugio

We were hitting Otto Meiling in reverse, a 14km hike to Paso de Las Nubes to stay at the Roca refugio, then crossing the glacier with a guide to the Otto Meiling refugio, and down along the Otto hike the last day. The hike up follows a river and Patagonian trees, bamboo and rocks surround the path. A warm pine aroma and the sun shining down accompanied every step. This was the first hike in a long time with full packs and the last push was brutal…both amazed at what my body is capable of and shaming myself to be stronger. At the top we were rewarded with the view of a lush valley, 15+ waterfalls cascading down the rock around us, and condors playing above the cliffs. The hostel itself is new and spacious with an inviting common area and, as it was nearing the end of the season, we were lucky to have a room of bunk beds to ourselves.

Rocca Refugio at Paso de Las Nubes

Rocca Refugio at Paso de Las Nubes

It was at this lovely contemplative place that I realized we were peso-poor. Here’s the thing about pesos…the common bill is $100 (roughly equivalent to US$12), so US$200 feels like an enormous amount of money when converted to pesos. But all things in Argentina are expensive and the money quickly goes. I meekly returned the sleeping bags we rented to the hostel manager…we couldn’t afford them if we were to eat after our long hike! No Malbec that night!

The next morning we met our guide for our first glacier crossing. We started with a two hour hike up to the glacier with our refugio getting smaller and smaller behind us.  Just as we were about to gear up, we noticed a juvenile condor perched just 10 feet away!

The glacier crossing seemed to be a beginners trek…hard to know what deep crevasses we missed by an inch but from a novice’s view point, it seemed an easy trek. The views were beautiful and I tried to capture photos while also ensuring I didn’t step in a crevasse.

Our Glacier Trek

Our Glacier Trek

We crossed quickly and removed the crampons, ropes, etc to finish the hike to Otto Meiling. The popular refugio owes to its setting…dramatically sitting at the glacier edge with layers of mountain peaks in all other directions. If the wind wasn’t blowing so hard, you’d sit on a rock peak admiring the views. But the cold quickly forces you inside the refugio, a small, cozy place. Sleeping quarters are simply one big room…you grab a mattress, find a space and hope that there aren’t too many snorers in the place that night (there were!).

The refugio graciously let us settle with them post hike so we were able to end our day with a bottle of Malbec and filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms…heaven.  The accommodations may be simple but the food is gourmet!

Despite the sleeping arrangement, we were lucky to share the space with only eight other hikers. The capacity is for 40 and I’ve heard they’ll pack in more…that’s a lot of post-hiking-stinky bodies in a small space.

Otto Meiling Refugio

Otto Meiling Refugio

The hike down the next morning was uneventful…not as gorgeous as the path we took up. We were thrilled to reach the bottom and lay in the grass of Pampa Linda awaiting the bus back to Bariloche.

I highly recommend this hike…it makes my list of top ten experiences on this trip.

Lastly, an easy day trip is Cerro Catedral. You take a gondola and then chairlift up and then hike the last 30-45 minutes to a spectacular lookout. On one side you see Bariloche and the lakes, on the other peaks that look like they’d be on Mars and an enticing mountain valley. From here you can hike to refugio Frey.  For us, this was an easy day trip, one benefit of which was that the 3G of my Argentinian cellphone plan purchased weeks earlier in Buenos Aires finally kicked in on my iPhone! It’d been stubbornly absent since purchase.  Perhaps all I needed was to get a little bit higher to a satellite that day to nudge it on.

Cerro Catedral

Cerro Catedral

Bound for Bariloche

Our arrival in Bariloche started off with a hitch. But first, our second overnight bus ride.

From Puerto Madryn, we caught a 14-hr Don Otto bus to Bariloche in the lakes district. I had booked the kids the front seats on top and was envious of their view and in fear for their safety. The service and product was an improvement from our Andesmar experience…except now the late night entertainment was the A-Team movie. (Never thought my 12 year old son would be quoting Murdock and the Face to me!)

Best seats on the bus? Entering El Bolson valley.

Best seats on the bus? Entering El Bolson valley.

We were awoken at 6AM by a national guard soldier standing beside me with a gun yelling for everyone to get out their documents. In Rachel paranoid fashion, I had wrapped my backpack straps around my legs so it could not be taken while I slept and now struggled, half asleep and startled to find our passports.

All well though and we continued as we watched another stunning sunrise. Kyle and I grinned at each other as the mountains grew bigger, the trees grew greener and lakes appeared…coming from Seattle this felt like home. We were headed to Bariloche for a week, we would end up staying a month.

I had booked a small apartment for a week on Airbnb. I found a pay phone at the bus station and called the rental agent, who sounded genuinely confused to hear from me.  We quickly realized we were expecting each other on different dates and, darn it, he was correct. Don’t you hate that?

Bariloche Scenes

Bariloche Scenes

As I scrambled on the phone, I thought of my tired, cranky family waiting for me with the backpacks and how I was going to tell them we actually didn’t have a place to sleep after an overnight bus ride. Whoops!

Ashley though is a property manager extraordinaire and he told me to take a taxi to the Holly Cafe, get breakfast for the family, log into the free wifi and wait for his recommendations of hotels with availability. Many travelers simply arrive without reservations and walk from location to location seeking the best room for the best price. This is not my family. Maybe Kyle and I could work up the courage for more serendipitous moments on our own but with two kids in tow, I like knowing where we will rest our heads.

Holly Cafe is at the waterfront south edge of the town center and we enjoyed a rare excellent cup of coffee while taking in the incredible views. Light blue sunny skies reflecting down on smooth darker blue water surrounded by mountains which evolve from grey slate to tree covered green as your eye scans from north to south. Stunning.

Llao Llao

Llao Llao

We spent the night at Alun apartment-hotel, definitely out of our budget but it was walking distance from our next abode, both about 6kms along the main drag Bustillo. In retrospect, we should have gone for a cheap abode in the center so we could visit the tourist information center and the holy grail of all trekking info, Andino. Oh well.

The next day we checked into our apartment for the next week…it was a tiny affair with a marvelous view conveniently located above a restaurant, vegetable/fruit store, meat store and general store. What else do you need?

Bariloche has a downtown that travel guides refer to as the “Switzerland of the Andes.” It’s nothing of the sort. There are amazing views, an abundance of chocolate shops, and yes, 1-2 St. Barnard dogs in the town square ready for photo ops, but that’s it. It’s a hodge podge of tourist shops, kioskos, and ridiculously expensive outdoor wear shops. BUT, when you get out of the center….when you situate yourself close to the Llao Llao peninsula, that’s when you see the beauty of Bariloche…it’s in the seemingly endless mountains, lakes and islands.

Hmm, I think we'll stay.

Hmm, I think we’ll stay.

Our intention had been to head north to San Martin de Los Andes to hunker down for a few weeks but all it took was one long hike in Bariloche to decide to rent a home for an additional three weeks and hunker down.

Passport Virgin

I am pleased to introduce another guest blogger this week…my wicked stepmother, Maggie.  She and my father recently joined us for two weeks in Argentina…a significant leap of faith on their part, for which I am very grateful.  Maggie, or Mémère as my babies call her, has been a joy and rock in our family and I am ever thanking the stars for my wonderful luck in step-parents (Papa Phil is pretty fab too!).  Here Mémère reflects on her own experience traveling to Argentina:

Buenos Aires Scenes

Buenos Aires Scenes

“My parents taught me many things: the importance of family, humor and resiliency, independence and hard work.  Did I say family? Travel was not something my family did.  Family vacations were not in the cards and we never took one.  Well, one summer I did go to New Bedford for a week to stay with my godparents.  That was it.  Home was on Cape Cod, my world was small, and I never knew what a bagel was till I went to college.

Fast forward several decades and now my own children are teaching me things. At the encouragement of our daughter Rachel, my husband and I recently left the comfort and familiarity of Cape Cod to meet Rachel and her family in South America.

Photos captured by Mémère during a grandmother-granddaughter photo class

Photos captured by Mémère during a grandmother-granddaughter photo class in San Telmo

When I first met Rachel she was eleven years old and she and 13 year old Aaron were a package deal, a bonus, that came along with her dad Bruce.  Now, the Greenleys are their own wonderful package in my life and bravely experiencing varying levels of togetherness as they travel round the world.

At 62 this was my first passport.  My first trip to a place where I didn’t speak the language, know the culture, the history, the currency, how to order in a restaurant.  So many firsts.  I loved it.

I chastised myself.  Why hadn’t I learned Spanish!  Read up more on Buenos Aires!  Planned on staying longer!  As I look back through the 600 plus photographs I took I realize this was just a taste.  There is so much to see.  So much I don’t know about. I never missed bagels till I ate my first and now they are a staple. Where should we go next?

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

I found I was comfortable in Argentina and Uruguay.  People seemed the same. They came in various sizes and shapes.  Some were friendly and helpful.  Some were not.  My grandchildren were tall and lean and let me hug them.  Well, one hugged me alot and the other tolerated a couple of hugs.  We won’t name names.

This trip was about the things my parents taught me…family and humor and the reward for hard work.  And it was about the things my children are teaching me. Life is damn good.

Photos taken by Julia during a grandmother-granddaughter photo class in San Telmo

Julia’s photos from her class with her Mémère

Penguin Love in Puerto Madryn

I am a sucker for penguins. Truly, is there anyone who doesn’t love a penguin? Their shuffling walk endears them to me. Their ability to stand stark still, as in deep meditation, awes me. And their ability to transform their inland awkward amble to such grace in the water, puts a grin on my face.

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We arrived in Puerto Madryn via our first overnight bus. (I’d heard for months about this first class bus experience…beds and food akin to a ticket in the front of the plane. Lets just say Argentina cross country bus travel has been widely exaggerated.) Hi Patagonia, the hostel we were bunking down in, was a quick five minute taxi ride away.

In guidebooks, Puerto Madryn is described as a non-descript town whose only purpose is to serve as the jumping off point to Peninsula Valdez and all the wildlife that comes with it. We liked it much more than planned. First off, it wasn’t Buenos Aires. Ok, that’s mean. Buenos Aires has so much to offer but two weeks in a large city was too much for us, so a small, approachable town suited us just fine. Plus it had the four S’s: sun, surf, sidewalks (!), and seafood.

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As a family, apartments give us space and flexibility but the beauty of a hostel (besides the clear price differential) is the ability to get advice and book tours easily. That can be invaluable and was true of Hi Patagonia. We booked all of our tours through the hostel and that allowed us time to relax vs researching.

We chose a day tour that included seeing dolphins, penguins & sea lions. First up was a boat trip to play with the commorson dolphins, seemingly the love child of a dolphin and a panda. Not sure that there’s greater joy than dolphins playing alongside one’s boat. Oh yes, penguins. Punta Tumbo was our next stop, penguin central. Here Argentina hosts the largest Magellanic penguin population in South America. Seeing that many penguins, in their natural habitat, was positively overwhelming. I believe I grinned from ear to ear the entire time.

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The following day, our theme was sea lions. The boys went kayaking with the mighty animals while the girls went snorkeling with them. The boys won. Leaving three hours earlier, they caught the sea lions still in a playful mode and came back shining bright from their experience. Julia and I, however, essentially took a boot camp class in the ocean. We were told to swim back and forth kicking like mad to create interest from the sea lions to come play with us. Either my boys already wore them out or they didn’t like what they saw because we had little interaction. Instead our guide, nicknamed Gringo, hollered at us nonstop in a Juan Pablo accent, “Girls, girls, quickly swim to me, kick those legs, girls, girls, now come this way, quickly, girls, girls, hurry.”

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In the end we did not visit what this area is most famous for, Peninsula Valdez. Another full day in a minibus before an overnight bus to Bariloche did not appeal. If it had been whale season, we would have made it happen but alas no whales in February.

As we neared the end of our penguin visit, a sophisticated penguin walked down the boardwalk behind us. We stepped off the boardwalk to give him space to pass and as he got the the end, he took a moment, looked around, and then bent down and with stiff determination…jumped off the boardwalk. And I fell in love.

With the penguin and with Puerto Madryn.

Tres Generaciones

I’m pleased to introduce my father, Papa Bruce, who is our guest blogger this week.  His writing is accompanied with pictures taken by my stepmother and the kids’ mémère, Maggie:

The first half of my life I lived in the Bay Area where a winter vacation meant a ski week at Tahoe. Now, as a Cape Codder, a winter vacation means Florida or the Caribbean. I’m pushing 70, writing from un estancia en Uruguay, mi primo winter vacation: Go big or go home.

La Casa de Los Limoneros, Colonia del Sacramento

La Casa de Los Limoneros, Colonia del Sacramento

Maggie & I are creatures of habit, a summer week in  Vermont, weekends in Maine and frequent trips to the Northwest for my work and visits with three of our four “kids” and all four grandchildren. Joining Rachel, Kyle and the kids for two weeks of their round the world odyssey has pulled us wonderfully out of our comfort zone.

We’ve sandwiched this remote, idyllic estancia–a birders paradise–between apartment stays in the slowly gentrifying Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, a metro area of over thirteen million.

The massive city, a combination of southern Europe and southern Latin America, is a frenetic yet relaxed conglomeration of graffiti-tagged neighborhoods. Cabbies set speed records and are routinely passed by wrong lane mopeds and small motorcycles: Previously I only witnessed this while watching Bourne Identity on my 47″ Sony.

Food tour with Jorge, Palermo Viejo scenes, the photo tog at work in Cementerio de la Recoleta

Food tour with Jorge Jordana, Palermo Viejo scenes, the photo tog at work in Cementerio de la Recoleta

Sean and Julia, twelve in five days, both drink it in and look forward to the familiarity of home. All six of us are iPad connected, Sean’s apparently growing out of his left hand.

Times change: Embarrassing to admit but my previous passport had a picture of three–me, six year old Aaron and four year old Rach, off to Greece for seven weeks to visit Fulbright friends. We were disconnected from family, friends and home the entire time. Could I do that again?

The Embrace of Argentina

Leaving cold Germany for warm Buenos Aires was bittersweet. It meant the last leg of our eight month rtw trip.

The kids happily left the winter coats that no longer reached their wrists in the airport…Julia’s discretely hanging from the hook in a restroom stall and Sean’s wrapped in a blanket and shoved under his seat on the plane. Their dollar-store winter boots sat abandoned in the Munich hotel room we departed from that morning.

And with good reason. Buenos Aires, in the height of its summer, was a sauna.

After a 14-hour flight, we made our way to a lovely Palermo loft apartment that we would be sharing with my father and wicked (ly loved) stepmother who were joining us for two weeks in the Paris of South America.

South America seemed an appropriate place to spend our final three months…it blended the grit, vibrancy and laissez faire attitude of SE Asia with the customs, architecture and conveniences of Europe. Of course, it was a unique experience unto its own but it carried a balance of where we’d been. And we liked that.

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In each new local there’s an arrival dance we do to ensure comfort…how will we brew coffee? Where is the nearest grocery? What is soy milk called in Spanish? What is the tipping policy? Exchange rate? Laundromat? On a vacation, one generally researches prior to stepping off the plane. But on an rtw, the longer we travel, the more relaxed our attitude is to figure out the details upon landing.

I had once been fluent in Spanish, having lived a year of my youth in Mexico, and hoped it would quickly resurface from my subconscious and make the dance less clumsy.

Our favorite images of Buenos Aires thus far:

  • Sean and Julia, too giddy to sleep, at the impending arrival of their grandparents.
  • Our first ride on a Buenos Aires bus…the retro style made me feel like I had finally made it to Cuba.
  • The funky street art of San Telmo and the pulsing creative energy it inspires.

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  • Witnessing the evidence of the 30,000+ young desaparecidos — a reminder of what happens when power = control at any cost.

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  • Our wonderful tour with Jonathan Evans of Local Tours…standing in the Plaza de Mayo where mothers and grandmothers march weekly in white handkerchiefs in remembrance and protest of the lost children and grandchildren.
  • My first taste of a parrilla and empanada in the streets of Buenos Aires.

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  • Our multi-generational bike ride through the ecologia reserve, an enormous expanse of biodiversity set along the might-as-well-be-an-ocean Rio Plata.
  • The daily discoveries of hidden delights in the form of cafes and small retail shops of unique wares down quaint cobblestone alleyways in Palermo Viejo.
  • Our first sips of maté as a family as we passed the single cup of tea around.

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And the promise of sun, good food and laughter with family for many days to come.