We seem to be in a good state of flow where our days are full but we feel sufficiently in control. Michele and I have developed a good routine of Spanish classes, tennis lessons, nights out to dinner and travel planning (and of course, for me, work). Kate’s overall happier at school and her riding has improved markedly. Jake is beginning to speak Spanish more often and seems more comfortable in school and at home.
As for our adventures, we discovered a terrific new place La Carniceria that we really loved. It’s a modern style parilla with great service. The night we were there, the New York Times had reporters there writing the “36 hours in Buenos Aires” article, but sadly it didn’t make the cut.
The big news was that Michele’s parents had planned to visit us and, due to a number of mishaps, they had to cancel their trip. We were understandably disappointed (Jake broke down and wept uncontrollably when he heard the news) but we managed to dull the pain by going Don Julio without them. Michele continued to be a warrior scheduler by booking a last second trip to Estancia Los Patos. The experience was really great and the wonderful owners made us feel right at home. No, literally, they ate every meal with us and took the kids out to play croquet. It was like renting grandparents for the weekend. Our host even gave us a little guitar serenade. A great mini-adventure.
The following Monday was Labor Day which means nothing in Argentina so the kids had school, but I had the day off. Michele and I took advantage of some alone time by taking our Spanish class, enjoying a healthy lunch (for a change) and going on a little shopping tour. My favorite shop was La Restinga which is conveniently located in an apartment buried in a residential apartment building; just another part of the experience. The next evening we had dinner (at 9:15!) with our friends the Shaws at El Burlado, a local Spanish restaurant. We think it’s cool that the Shaws send their kids to a half Spanish/ half Italian school but neither of them speak Spanish. It was a fun night and we can tell you that it’s not easy getting up after dining until midnight.
The following Saturday we took the bus to the ecological reserve in Puerto Madero where we cycled around, or more accurately Kate and Michele cycled around while Jake and I had a “bonding” experience around bicycle instruction. On Sunday, we went to Las Talas, a very simple parilla style restaurant just outside the city limits. Our host Martin told us that this restaurant began as a street vendor, but it has grown into a MASSIVE place, with about 60 picnic tables inside and a line around the block for carryout. Speaking of massive, the portions were simply outrageously large. We had some delicious sausage, matambrito, ribs and lomo; enough food for 40. Perhaps the most fun thing was our waiter (whom we forgot to photograph) who gave us a full theatric performance alongside our food, including suggesting that my mouth was stuck to the wine bottle the way a horseshoe was stuck to a horse. Fantastic banter and a great experience. Particular thanks to Martin and Lucila, his vegetarian girlfriend, for accompanying us. Also it was the first time in my life when I ate so much for lunch that I was unable to eat dinner. Quite a landmark. I did, however, wake up from my post feast nap in time to watch another heartbreaking loss by Boca to the Pope’s team, San Lorenzo, when the normally steady Betancur left an errant cross right in front of his goal in the waning minutes of the game.
A good week of school followed. We considered moving Kate up a grade, now that her Spanish is up to speed, but were dissuaded by the thoughtful folks at her school. The kids had the day off Friday and Michele took them to a cooking class at Tierra Negra where they made empandas and alfahores. Get ready friends in the States to partake in some Argentine delights. Saturday we started the day off with regular tennis and basketball and then jumped on a short one hour ferry ride to Colonia, Uruguay. We spent the day at the lovely Rio Ancho a tiny little place right outside of town. Great spot for kayaking and a sunset on the beach. We spent the next day wandering around Colonia which is a quaint little town and then headed acrross the Rio Platte back to Buenos Aires.
We then drove up to Tigre to spend Rosh Hashanah with our friends the Benzaquens, where they had invited their parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was quite a strange experience because it seemed as if my family had been magically transported to Tiger and learned to speak Spanish. The resemblance were just eerie, right down to the different role that different family members play (the talker, the quite one who makes every get along, the sweet one, the observant one).
It was a long weekend for the kids and they didn’t get home until late Sunday night. When Monday morning came, I expected a rocky morning, but, much to my delight, while the kids were a little grumpy when the alarm went off, the got dressed and went to school without much of a fuss. Ironically, that moment brought me as much pleasure as all of the travel and other experiences.