Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

83 Places, 5 Continents, 10 Months

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Less than 24 hours after our plane from Heathrow landed in Los Angeles, the four of us walked into a Noah’s Bagels on Sunset Boulevard for an early lunch. Our sense of time and place were thoroughly out of whack from jet lag and from the strangeness of waking up in Southern California, drinking Peet’s Coffee and tuning into the Disney Channel as though we’d never been away.

As we stood ordering bagels, we suddenly remembered we had eaten lunch at the same Noah’s on the day before we flew to Buenos Aires in early October. “I feels like we were just here,” Colly said, and I agreed while my chest hiccuped with anxiety.

It felt as though all those months abroad — which had stretched so elastically and netted so much in a single week, so that on the first of every month I’d express disbelief at how much we had experienced — had snapped back and condensed into a blip to make mental space for the task of reorganizing our lives and getting ready to move back into the house.

Checking out of a hotel in Marlow, England, on our last morning before flying back to California.

I’m feeling profoundly mixed emotions upon our return and need to think more about the transition before trying to write much about it. I got weepy on our last night in Marlow, a lovely town outside of London, as we checked out of a hotel a final time and toasted our trip; then, I got teary with joy as we approached my hometown of Ojai last weekend for a reunion. I also am in the process of thinking through the next phase of this blog, so stay tuned and thanks to all of you who’ve read it regularly!

In the meantime, I’m publishing the following list as proof and as a reminder to myself that we really went to all of these places. We called this our “sleepover list” and had fun updating it as we traveled. Most are linked to previous blog posts if we wrote about that destination. Three places are listed twice since we visited there twice, so the number of places totals 83, but the bottom line is that we moved and unpacked 86 times!

The Sleepover List: August 15, 2009 – June 15, 2010: (more…)

Warming Up to Mendoza

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The kids were troopers as we waited for a cab that never came and then walked back carrying the groceries.

The kids were troopers as we waited for a cab that never came and then walked a long way back carrying the groceries.

My first impressions generally hold true, but it turns out I got off on the wrong foot while getting to know Chacras de Coria, the town where we spent the past eight days. A week ago, Morgan and I briefly considered leaving here early; now, on our last day, we don’t want to depart.

This suburb of Mendoza has been described as “tranquil” and a “gourmet ghetto” of restaurants, but our introduction to the town goes down as one of our more stressful days of travel. (more…)

Guts and Gauchos in Mendoza

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Getting a glimpse of gaucho life on a ranch near Mendoza, Argentina.

Getting a glimpse of gaucho life on a ranch near Mendoza, Argentina.

“Well, that’s something your children aren’t likely to see in school,” a chipper young woman from the UK said in a typically understated British way. She was referring to a dozen or so desiccated, grayish-black pairs of horse testicles that were the size of plums and hanging on barbed wire by a weathered corral used for castrating young studs.

The gaucho Orlando, whose horse had a type of hand-crafted bridle and saddle I'd never seen before.

The gaucho Orlando, whose horse had a type of hand-crafted bridle and saddle I'd never seen before.

We were at a ramshackle ranch about 40 minutes outside of Mendoza. I had traces of amniotic fluid from a newborn goat on my hands, flecks of spit from a llama on my shoulders, and dirt and manure all over my shoes. Dust, kicked up by a wind storm that had turned the sky brown above these drought-parched hills of Argentina’s wine country, coated my nose and hair.

“They saw a lot of things for the first time today,” I said, picturing Colly and Kyle studying a gaucho named Orlando, who wore flaps of cowhide on his legs and tucked an 18-inch blade into his waistband, and whose dirt-crusted little finger won’t bend because a puma tore its tendon. (more…)

A Mountain Marathon in Patagonia That’s Way Above Average

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This week’s post is by Morgan, who’s recounting his experience running the Salomon K42 Adventure Marathon in Villa La Angostura, Argentina. We were so inspired by last week’s event that we both wrote race reports (mine’s on my running blog). Morgan said half-jokingly, “This may be the only thing I ever write, so if you want me to contribute to the blog, you better run this!” I hope this is the first of more posts from him to come. – Sarah

Sarah and I in the crowd waiting for the start of the 42k Salomon Marathon

Sarah and me in the crowd waiting for the start of the K42 Salomon Adventure Marathon.

I’ve now been running just over half my life.  Well, that’s if you count as running the two laps I would jog around Curtis Park in Sacramento with my sweet, now deceased Labrador in the early 1990s.  Although my running has increased from this early start, I can honestly say that I’ve never contemplated writing a race report. It seems somewhat absurd, given my running abilities, to subject others to stories of how many power gels I consumed along the race course or what my mile splits were. However, I realized while running the Salomon K42 Adventure Marathon in Patagonia, there’s a first time for everthing and I should write about why this race was so great, and since I haven’t written a blog post yet, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.

To give away the ending, I did not win the race, which was done by some guy who never runs mountains and did this insane course is 3:07.  But I am happy to say that I was just about average.  Before this race began, in a fit of inner geek escaping out, I took last year’s race results, imported them to Excel and determined the average finish time of all runners together was about 5:15.  Therefore, I am close to average — not really the stuff of a great race report.

But as you can probably tell, my placing in this race had nothing to do with why I wanted to make this my first race report, and first blog post.  What made this race great was that I enjoyed it more than any other marathon I have ever done.  (more…)

Gnome, Sweet Gnome In Villa La Angostura

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Arriving at our cabaña, we discovered that "los gnomos" are part of its, er, charm.

Arriving at our cabaña, we discovered that "los gnomos" are part of its charm.

Our arrival to Villa La Angostura, about an hour north of Bariloche, set the tone for a wacky week. Driving the windy road on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi thrilled us with views of snow-capped Patagonian peaks but made poor Kyle throw up all over himself in the car. When we eventually reached our cabaña complex, called Guardianes del Bayo, we probably looked as bad as we smelled because an icy rain and wind left us bedraggled and shivering.

The living room decor includes antlers and this little gnome.

The living room decor includes antlers and this little gnome.

As we unloaded our belongings and cleaned up the mess, my eyes took in a babbling brook that cut through a well-kept lawn and a cluster of wood cabins, flowing past a play structure and under several arched footbridges. Then my ears caught a tune from long ago that was piped in from speakers somewhere — The Carpenters’ “Top of the World.” Karen Carpenter’s saccharine voice singing “I’m on the top of the world, lookin’ down on creation …” floated through the breeze and became a tape loop in my brain.

Then I began to notice pointy red hats on little bearded figurines inside and outside our cabaña. And then the sign with our cabaña’s name: Los Gnomos.

With a mix of shock and awe — uh-oh and oh, wow! — we realized we had booked ourselves into some kind of fairy-tale lodge where everything seems a little bit off. (more…)

Branching Out on Lago Nahuel Huapi

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Lago Nahuel Huapi, in the Andes foothills near Bariloche, as seen from our cabaña.

Lago Nahuel Huapi, in the Andes foothills near Bariloche, as seen from our cabaña (click to enlarge).

Lake Nahuel Huapi spreads and branches out in all directions around this pocket of the Andes foothills of Patagonia, and its water has mesmerized us since we arrived a couple of weeks ago. Its surface changes almost hourly with the weather, from a glassy reflection to white-capped waves. It even harbors its own Nessie-like legend, and the kids are fascinated by the idea that maybe, just maybe, a plesiosaur-like creature whom locals call Nahuelito is lurking in the waters just off our cabaña’s deck. (more…)

When It Rains…

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Morgan and I spent a lot of time last week doing travel research and making reservations while the stormy weather kept us mostly inside.

Morgan and I spent a lot of time last week doing travel research and making reservations while the stormy weather kept us mostly inside.

Before Morgan and I left in mid-August, we talked a lot about how there will be times when traveling gets tough, when we feel fatigued and worried about the myriad consequences of uprooting for a year, and when we second-guess our choices. We knew we’d feel homesick not just for home per se, but for friends and familiar routines, and we might feel pangs of regret. That’s why we added the “no regrets” phrase to our tagline — not because we’re blithely traipsing off in the world with nothing weighing us down but our backpacks, but rather because we knew from the start that doubt might haunt us, just as first-time home buyers flirt with buyers’ remorse when the repairs pile up and bills come due. “No regrets” is shorthand for “no turning back, so let’s make this work, and in the long run we’ll look back and be so glad we did it.” Or in Spanish, vale la pena. It’s what we say to each other and to ourselves to bolster confidence and commitment, because what we’re doing takes an occasional pep talk.

Last week was one of those weeks. (more…)

Welcome to Patagonia, Where Paradise Packs a Punch

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Going from Buenos Aires to the Patagonia lake district near Bariloche, which we did earlier this week, is a bit like leaving Los Angeles and landing near Tahoe — times ten. Everything seems exaggerated here: the countless mountain peaks appear more dramatic and in-your-face than even the Rockies, and their snowy caps seem whiter and thicker. The lakes (literally all over the map) curve around every bend, dotted with islands, and the water enlarges the landscape with its reflections. The grass looks greener and the waterfowl is weirder.

Our first view from the hotel by Lago Nahuel Huapi, near Bariloche. We were struck dumb as we took in the view (which extended in all directions beyond this IPhone snapshot); all we could say was, "Wow."

Our first view from the hotel by Lago Nahuel Huapi. We were struck dumb as we took in the view (which extended in all directions beyond this IPhone snapshot); all we could say was, "Wow."

(more…)

Running Around Buenos Aires

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Just a brief note to say I posted a story on my running blog about Morgan and me running the Buenos Aires Marathon last Sunday — check it out if you’d like to see additional Buenos Aires scenes and read about our experience running as tourists.

Also, I uploaded a batch of snapshots from our first week here to the flickr photostream (not including the pics already published on the blogs). If you’d like to view this slide show below, simply click the “play” button on it — but if you also want to see the captions that go with it, do the following:

  • click play
  • move the cursor to the bottom right-hand corner of slide show screen and push the button that takes it to full-screen mode
  • move the cursor to the upper right-hand corner and click “show info” to see the captions
  • go to “options” in the upper right-hand corner and click “slow” so it scrolls through the photos slowly enough to read the captions (or scroll manually through the pics by moving the cursor over the thumbnails along the bottom of the screen).

Sorry it’s so complicated! One of these days we’ll put our rudimentary multimedia skills to use to make a nice audio slideshow in a better interface, but until then, I hope you enjoy this.

Buenos Dias Buenos Aires

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

We are really here, living abroad in an apartment in a foreign-speaking country. It’s the morning of our third day, and I’m still getting used to the concept that this is not a vacation, this is not a transition in preparation for something else — this is it! Eight weeks after we left home, ten months after we committed to this outlandish odyssey, twenty-five years to the day after Morgan first reached out to touch my hand and pull me close, this trip felt as though it started for real when we left California on Monday morning and arrived in Buenos Aires nearly 24 hours later. (more…)