Return from Argentina

We’re back home from Argentina. The return trip was a long one: 24 hours from Mendoza to Latham, via Santiago De Chile, Miami, O’Hare and good ol’ Albany International. It was worth every minute that it took to get there and get back. Click here for a quick photo essay of our time there.

As you can see from the photos, Argentina is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, in every sense of that word. We spent four days in Buenos Aires exploring from our hotel base in the Recoleta neighborhood. Each barrio in Buenos Aires has its own character and special attractions, and the best part of being there is just sort of walking into the neighborhoods and trying to figure out exactly what they are. It is a cosmopolitan city, a world-class center with beautiful architecture and more style and pizzaz than just about any place else we’ve been.

We then spent three days in Mendoza, being hosted by the extraordinarily wonderful family of our friend, Nicolas, a native Mendocino. arg31.jpgThe first night there, we joined about 30 members of his extended family for a traditional Argentine asado, which I guess can only be translated as “barbecue,” although it is a completely different order of magnitude than anything that you would do with hamburgers and hotdogs on your backyard gas grill here in the United States. The cuts, quality and preparation of the meat were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The asado (grill) itself was a masterpiece of domestic functionality, a tremendous outdoor kitchen area, around which the party congregated and celebrated. Nic was the only truly bilingual person around the table, but it didn’t matter: his family were as generous and warm as anyone could be, and I felt truly blessed to have the chance to break bread with them.

Nic’s grandmother took us into her home for our time in Mendoza, serving us wonderful meal after wonderful meal, and being the most kind and patient hostess imaginable. I very much enjoyed watching the news with her in the morning (being the earliest riser among our traveling party), trying to make sense of the ongoing national farmers’ strike, and the government’s reactions thereto, with me not having quite enough Spanish to get into the deeper concepts behind the strike, nor Abuela having enough English to explain them to me. It didn’t matter. The company did.

Nic’s uncles and cousins went well beyond the call of duty to see that we had the chance to explore the Mendoza province, and we spent a day in wine country visiting the Bodega Salentein, and then took an excursion up into the Andes mountains, which thrilled me, since Aconcagua (highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere) was on my all-time short list of things to see and experience. (That’s it behind us in the photo). Rarely have we been able to pack so much into such a relatively short vacation time, and again, we are so grateful to Nicolas’ family for making that possible.

I hope I have the chance to return to Argentina, since we only saw a relatively small belt of the country, despite our expansive day travels, and I know that there are just as many wonders to be experienced in the North and South of this lovely nation. If you have the chance to go there, take it. If you can go with terrific friends and traveling companions, as we did (thank you, Nicolas, thank you, Allison, thank you, Kenna), then it will make it even better still.

What a trip.

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