And so we find ourselves wrapping up the journey. Kate and Jake completed their year of school and were promoted to their next grades. It is impossible to say how proud of them we are. There were times where it seemed so daunting, moving to a new school, understanding a new language, addressing the different culture, but they kept at coming back each day and they made it. It seems that the lesson there is just to keep showing up and anything is possible.
Kate and Jake each had separate “actos” which are graduation ceremonies where the awards are handed out and the children are officially promoted to the next grade. As an absurdly competitive person, it was wonderful attending such an event knowing for certain that my children wouldn’t win any awards but that advancing to the next grade was good enough. Perhaps an attitude I should have more often.
Michele and I had an amazing experience buying art from Miguel Biazzi. We had set up a last day together date to visit some art galleries and have a little lunch for two. I had seen a painting in San Telmo with my brother but hadn’t gotten around to stopping by with Michele. When we came by Biazzi’s studio, the painting that I wanted was sadly sold. Fortunately, his enterprising wife convinced us that there were many other opportunities to own his work and sold us not one, but two of his paintings. We discovered that the artist is entirely self taught and had grown up in a small town in the north of the country before moving to Buenos Aires. His wife also informed us that he disliked any and all commercial aspects of art. After further discussion, the artist himself was summoned from his workshop. We told him about our journey to Argentina and how thankful we were to have the opportunity to purchase these beautiful reminders of our trip. He was literally moved to tears and proceeded to inscribe a note to us on the back of our new purchases and paint us a small thank you gift. An incredibly moving experience that once again shows that to really get to enjoy a place, one needs to be open to the surprises that the place has to offer.
We then lunched at the wonderful Aramburu Bis (which we wish we would have discovered earlier). Definitely on our recommended list. Later that week I managed to I accomplished my long standing goal of having lunch at Kentucky Pizza, one of the big pizza chains in Palermo. It was delicious!
That week we also had the last of our family “see you later” dinners at the home of Sebastian Sanson-Lopez and his far more lovely wife Julia. They were the first people to invite us to their home in Argentina and it was fitting to have our last dinner with them. Over the course of the year, Sebas was alway available to help with any question, big or small and to have the type of long and interesting conversations that really enable a person to get to know about a new place. They are simply wonderful people and we are forever grateful that they made time in their busy lives for us.
Before departing, Michele and I had one last dragon to slay and that was Jose Ignacio Ferrero, the Uruguayan beach town. We had visited previously when a volcanic eruption caused us to have to cancel our plans to visit Bariloche at the last second. Unfortunately, the town was totally deserted and with cold beaches and closed shops and restaurants, there really wasn’t much to do. We left early and took a two night credit at the hotel. So, despite the fact that it was our final weekend before our guests arrived, we took off for Uruguay for a beach weekend. Like many other things at this point in the journey, something that had been mediocre became spectacular. The weather was amazing and we had a terrific time riding horses, body surfing and, of course, enjoying the amazing scene in Jose Ignacio.
In a sense, our time at Jose Ignacio is a metaphor for lots of things we encountered in Argentina: we tried something we thought would be fun and interesting, we didn’t get it quite right so we tried it again the right way and it was terrific. A great lesson for many things.
After the kids finished school, we had just two days to pack up our apartment before our friends from Palo Alto arrived. It was a bit of a frenzy but we got it done. When the Rellers and Levine’s descended on Palo Alto with their 5 kids, we had to take the logistics to a new level. By this time, however, touring Buenos Aires was old hat for us (although incredibly fun). We took them to all of our favorite spots including Recoleta Cemetery, San Telmo Market, Tres de Febrero Parque and La Boca. Naturally we also hit our favorite restaurants including, Don Julio, Sotto Voce, San Juanino, El Cuartito, Casa Cavia and Olivetti. On Sunday I managed to pull off a hat trick, sneaking off after dinner to meet Mark Taber for a couple of drinks and then finding Deena and Bill for a nightcap at midnight. We were certainly going pedal to the metal.
On our last night in Buenos Aires, we celebrated by visiting my favorite event, La Bomba de Tiempo at the Konex center. Naturally it was a big hit with the Levine’s and Reller’s and we had a great evening dancing away to the Latin drum rhythms. A few of my local friends were good enough to join me for my final night in Buenos Aires so while the Palo Alto crew left early to grab dinner at a fancy restaurant down town, I headed out with Martin, Chespi, Lucilla, Emi and Martin to a run down Peruvian joint in the middle of nowhere. The place had the best ceviche I’d had in South America and, more importantly, I was super touched that these folks would make the effort to see me off on my last night.
In the middle of the night, as I was swaying along with the crowd to the music, surrounded by friends both new and old, I felt as if I were standing atop a mountain. We had taken on this challenge of Buenos Aires and truly thrived. Sometimes I consider whether this is just much ado about nothing. After all, it’s not like we rose from poverty to become successful or overcame some type of tragedy. We are wealthy ex-pats who chose to live abroad, what’s the big deal? But on the other hand, that’s really just the point. We didn’t have to do what we did. We chose to because we thought that finding new challenges and overcoming them is what makes life so rich and fulfilling. That night, swaying to the beating drums, there was no doubt in my mind that it had.