Category Archives: Argentina

Chau South America, next stop Africa!

After an amazing three weeks in Patagonia, we ended our South America tour back where we started, Buenos Aires. We easily could spend months traveling in South America – el Chalten, Tierra del Fuego, Chile’s lake district, the Atacama desert, Peru, Bolivia…our travel list wish grew with each amazing travel story we heard. But our plans were set and it was back to BA for a few days before moving on to the next continent.

We rented a great apartment in Palermo on airbnb.com — it was our first time using the site and we could not have been happier (especially after six nights sharing 8-person bunk bed rooms in Patagonia, renting our own apartment felt like a palace!). If you need am affordable place to stay in BA, apartment rental via airbnb or vrbo is the way to go as hotels, like everything else here, have become extremely expensive.

We had a jam-packed agenda in BA which included doing laundry for the first time since Jan 1, taking a free private pilates class (Dan had no way out when I learned the first class was free, and our instructor Frederico thinks he is a promising pilates student), and getting hair cuts.

The state of my hair was out.of.control.

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Hard to have a conversation through this


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Patagonia rat's nest

So Dan and I went to the local Peluqueria where Daniel gave us both haircuts in about 25 minutes.
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I’m pretty sure this is the exact length my hairdresser in SF says never to do (in between long and short) but given the language barrier and my limited hair-related vocabulary, I was happy to get out without a mullet, the most popular hair style in BA.

In between haircuts and the extreme heat (it is about 90 degrees here), we took in some sights and tango.
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And cooked a few meals, including Dan’s famous huevos for breakfast.

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The best part of BA was reconnecting with my friend, Jackie. We had studied abroad together in BA eight years ago. Everyone in our program had big plans to move back to BA after college graduation, but Jackie is the only one who really did –and she’s been living here ever since. We had a great dinner with her and her boyfriend, Juan.

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After working on some amazing animal projects in Argentina (like reintroducing giant anteaters and jaguars to their natural habitat in Corrientes!), Jackie is moving back to the US this summer to start veterinary school at UC Davis. Woohoo! And coincidentally her parents live a few blocks away from us in Russian Hill, so we hope to see lots of her back in CA.

All right, we are off to enjoy our final lomo dinner in Argentina. Tomorrow we take a redeye to Cape Town and are excited to explore a new city and meet more travelers. If you have any Cape Town recommendations, we’d love to hear! Leave a comment or send us an email.

Until Africa….

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Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier

We took a seven hour bus ride across the border from Puerto Natales, Chile to Calafate, Argentina so that we could fly direct to Buenos Aires from there.

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Despite a minor snag at the border where I was almost sent hitch-hiking back across the dead zone into Chile by an ornery bloodless Argentine customs official, we made it.

We spent two nights in Calafate so that we’d have a full day to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. Sadly, it is one of only three in Patagonia that is not retracting.

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While Calafate itself leaves a little to be desired — expensive, touristy, all about the glacier, and doesn’t seem to have much culture — the glacier tour was actually quite amazing.

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The Perito Moreno Glacier averages about 240 ft in height and spans nearly 100 spare miles. It’s like a massive ice sheet with a looming flat face as you approach it by boat. Given that it’s the middle of summer, we witnessed a bunch of “calving,” where huge chunks of ice crash into the lake below with a thunderous roar. Pretty cool to witness.

We also did the mini trek on the glacier, crampons and all, which was impressive though touristy.

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We stayed in a small hostel called Ave de los Lagos, which had some cleanliness issues but the owners (Fabi and Daniel) were super nice. It was really more of a homestay. They had two little boys: Tomas (8), who asked me to play soccer with him every 10 minutes (which I did, happily); and Queremias (3), an adorable little terror who occasionally sprinted around the hostel naked holding nothing but a bucket, and who can already ride a two-wheeler at age three.

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We shared our tiny room with Berni and Trini, two 21-year-old Chilean girls traveling together. Super nice, as was Luigi, the single Italian guy staying there as well.

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We also witnessed the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen — like a vibrant orange tornado holding perfectly still on the horizon. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself:

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An interesting two days in Calafate with a few very memorable highlights.

Trevelin

We made it to Trevelin, a 2.5 hour flight south of Buenos Aires. We are exhausted and fighting the urge to take a 2 hour nap. Dan passed out in the hotel lobby after giving me strict instructions to wake him up in 18 minutes. Wish me luck!

Lomo

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Dan enjoys a proper porteno meal in Palermo – ensalada, lomo, y papas fritas.

Right before this photo we were caught in an absolute monsoon. The streets were flooded but we both realized we have never been so prepared for rain in our lives. Rain jackets, waterproof shoes, quick dry pants…we passed the rain test big time.

Dinner with Los Arnaudo

We had a wonderful dinner with my host family last night, our first night in Buenos Aires. Ignacio and Adriana are amazing hosts. We realized it had been 7 years since I had lived with them. I can’t believe how much time has passed.

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They asked me how Buenos Aires seemed ‘en este epoca,’ and I had to ask, ‘is it more expensive??’

‘Es carisimo!!!!!’

I remembered that a coffee in 2005 was 3 pesos. When Dan and I ordered a coffee for 16 pesos yesterday I was convinced it was a tourist scam (even though we were the only tourists in the cafe). Today a sandwich is 50 pesos. The exchange rate has changed (now about 5 pesos to the dollar, instead of 3) but Ignacio explained that Argentina is experiencing 30% inflation, making life in the capital ‘carisimo.’

Adriana said one day she’ll buy a bottle of water for 10 pesos, the next day the same place will charge 12 pesos. Es un quilombo!!

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(above Adriana and I look at her wedding photos)

We had a great dinner of carne, ensalada, patatas, remolacha (meat, salad, potatoes, beets) and chatted about all of their host students (two per year for the past ~15 years) – two of whom have worked at Google with me. Small world!

The one thing Adriana and Ignacio requested we bring them from the US? Maple syrup! After a Canadian friend made them pancakes during a visit, they adopted a Sunday morning pancake routine, but maple syrup is nowhere to be found in Buenos Aires. Dulce de leche is everywhere, but maple syrup no existe.

Thank you to Los Arnaudo for a wonderful first night in Buenos Aires! Sadly we missed their daughters, Sofia and Emilia, who are on summer vacations, but this means we’ll have to make another trip back soon.

Buenos Aires day 1

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Super-size me…Dan’s first Argentine cafe.

I’m still learning to post from my phone and sometimes the photos are not included, so hope this works. We are sitting in a cafe now enjoying a hot but breezy summer day.

Yesterday we walked all over the city. Dan took most of the photos but I snapped a few, too.

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Does he fit in with the locals or what?!

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We ended our first day with dinner at my host family’s house and didn’t finish until midnight. More photos and stories in the next post.

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After a long travel day and late dinner we slept until…11:30am! We just finished a leisurely lunch at 3:30pm so despite the quick-dry clothing and cameras around our necks, we are doing very well adopting the south american lifestyle.

Chau!!!