Invitados (Guests!)

After mucking around in the swamps, we were happy to return to Buenos Aires.  We fell back into our normal routine without much of a hiccup.  My good friend Steve Polsky surprised me with a visit as he had to dash into town for a business trip.  We met up at La Brigada for a typical Argentine meat feast.  His business partner,Gabriel ,told me stories about being sent to boarding school in the US from his home in Venezuela when he was only 8 and unable to speak a word of English.  Lends a new perspective to what we consider difficult.  After dinner we had a quick trip to be the ugliest bar in the entire city of Buenos Aires before calling it a night.

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Good times!

Unfortunately our meal at La Brigada didn’t stay with my long as I came down with a nasty stomach bug that flattened me for a couple of days.  This caused me to miss my scheduled fishing trip with Mateo and his friends, which I was viewing as my final exam in Spanish.  On the positive side, it gave me an opportunity to rest up for our visit from our dear friends Aileen Lee and Jason Stinson (the Stinlees) and their kids Lexi, Livie and Cowboy.

My kids were so excited when they arrived!    It is generally difficult  making friends in a new place, and  doing so in a new language and with big cultural differences has been particularly tough.  Our kids have done a great job, but to have some friends from California was a real treat.

Perhaps too much of a treat

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Things got a bit weird

We were similarly thrilled to have our dear friends visiting us.  While we’ve made many new amigos during our adventure, it’s a unique pleasure to enjoy the well-worn comfort of an old friendship. Of course, we had many things to show our guests and the first day included a walk through the wonders of the Recoleta cemetery, a pleasant bit of downtime in the Alvear Plaza in Recoleta and feasting on empanadas and wine poured from a penguin at San Juanino.

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The following day, November 22, was a historic day for Argentina as Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina ending 12 years of Peronist rule.  This has created much hope in Argentina as Macri is a strong pro-business candidate.  We hope that he will be able to help create a more just and fair government for all Argentinians and that he can help this great country reach its full potential.

Meanwhile, the Wangs and Stinlees spent the day waltzing through the San Telmo Market, lunching at Cantina Cafe San Juan and then feasting at Sotto Vocce.  Interestingly, it is unlawful to serve alcohol on election day in Argentina so we had a wine-less lunch.  Thankfully the polls closed in time for our dinner.  On Monday evening, the grownups went out for a fun night of the drum band La Bomba de Tiempo followed by dinner (at 10:30!) at  Floreria Atlantico while the kids had a sleepover. At the beginning of the show, the ladies were nice enough to go on a mission to get for their not-so-better halves beers.  As Jason enjoyed the music, we reflected on the fact that we were watching music while these two amazing people were actually fetching us beers.  Who’s got it better than us?  Nobody.

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Grownups night out

The next two days we covered much ground in the city, including a bit of shopping in Palermo Soho, my first time in the Japanese gardens (which I can see out of the window of the apartment), an alleged tour of Avenida de Mayo, and an extraordinarily long walk to old school pizzeria Cafe Immortales .  The Stinlees got to experience the joy of an Argentine protest firsthand and had to walk about 2 miles back to their hotel because the streets were closed.  We  then wrapped up the Buenos Aires part of the trip with a visit to our favorite spot Crizia, where we finally determined that sitting at the bar with Juan the Barman is the key to that place.

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The Thinkers with Congress in the background

After so much urban activity, it was time to enjoy some of the great outdoors, so headed off to Patagonia.  After my two prior failed attempts to fly to Bariloche, it was nice to finally arrive at the promised land.  We travelled on Thanksgiving and substituted the traditional turkey meal with a big Argentine asado.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

We flew to San Carlos de Bariloche and took the famous Ruta de Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route) to San Martin de Los Andes. I believe it is the most scenic drive I’ve ever been on in my life, winding its way through a myriad of beautiful blue lakes that were literally shimmering on the surface.

 

We stayed at the Tipiluke Lodge in San Martin de Los Andes and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.  The owners were incredibly welcoming and every detail of the place was excellent: great food, beautiful rooms, fantastic facility.  Most importantly, however, is the incredible location.  The lodge is just a few short minutes from many excellent fishing spots, all of which are private, as well great hunting, horseback and hiking.

The fishing was spectacular, but what really made it so was the sheer beauty of the place.

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View from above
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Tipiluke

We also had some beautiful horse rides in Tipiluke.  Cowboy Stinson got to be a real cowboy and everyone else enjoyed the incredible beauty of the region.

One particularly great thing about the lodge is that it is so conveniently located, that we were able to have a full morning, come back for a nice lunch and then enjoy a long afternoon/evening out of doors.

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Roughing it in Patagonia

An amazing part of our journey.   On the way home, we  bumped into Wences Casares in the airport.   Before we moved to Argentina, he was the only Argentine person that we knew. He has helped us with our journey in many ways, including being one of the most enthusiastic supporters our our plan, which incidentally pales in comparison to the journey his family made when they sailed around the world.

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With El Gaucho, Wences.

We feel so fortunate that our friends the Stinlees  would travel to the end of the world (literally) to take part in our journey. It was our great pleasure to share with them all the we have uncovered and we are looking forward to spending more time with them, albeit in the comfort of our backyards in Palo Alto.

With November coming to a close we can now see the harbor where ship will dock at the end of the voyage.  We are excited for our final few weeks as Porteños and already nostalgic for what we are leaving behind.

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