Amigos y Familia en Argentina

From Santiago, we bused over an incredible mountain pass to Mendoza, Argentina.  We were ecstatic to meet our friend, Emilio the Extra-Terrestrial and his personal assistants, Owen and Sara!  Emilio journeyed from his home planet by way of New York to visit us.  Emilio was pretty excited to eat steak and drink Malbec in the famous wine region of Argentina.

Upon landing in Argentina, Emilio was pretty surprised to learn about the unofficial exchange rate for US dollars, or the “blue dollar” market.  Due to inflation woes and poor government policy, the official exchange rate is 8.5 pesos per USD, but on the street, a dollar will fetch 12 – 13.5 pesos.  Due to the instability of the peso, Argentinians exchange their peso paychecks for USD and stash them in bank deposit boxes.  Emilio made Jon and Owen do the work of exchanging our USD for pesos, which wasn’t nearly as sketchy as it sounds.

After a few too many sips of Malbec, we accompanied Emilio for a 17 hour bus ride from Mendoza to Bariloche, in the beautiful lakes district of Argentina.  We were served wine, meals, and treated to all of the recent young-adult-books-turned-movies.  Emilio loved “The Fault in Our Stars!”

We stayed outside of Bariloche, in the ski village of Cerro Cathedral.  All of us were astounded by the gorgeous views of lakes and the Andes Mountains around Bariloche.

We took a 10-hour hike to a hut called Refugio Grey, which also had incredible mountain scenery.  Emilio felt like he was on his home planet while we walked through the rocky outcroppings.  The group sustained a couple of tumbles on some of the loose rocks, but the day was a success.

The next day, Emilio navigated us along the famous Patagonia Route 40 for the “Ruta de los Siete Lagos”, a long, gorgeous drive in the seven lakes area outside of Bariloche.  On this day, suspiciously everyone in the group caught a stomach bug EXCEPT EMILIO….hmmmmm.

The bug reduced our energy, but not our spirits.   Jon and Jen took another 24 hour bus from Bariloche to Buenos Aires.  Emilio demanded to fly, so Owen and Sara were forced to accompany him.  By the time we met again in Buenos Aires, we were ready to take on everything the city had to offer:  museums, planetariums, neighborhoods, cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Emilio was enchanted by Buenos Aires (BA) right off the bat.  To start off, we loved taking him on walks through the lovely parks in BA, including an incredible rose garden.  He wanted to join in and rollerblade with the rest of BA, but he didn’t bring his protective gear.  The rest of us loved going on free walking tours of the city, including seeing the remaining palaces and learning about Argentine quirks and culture, like the high rate of plastic surgery.   The streets and neighborhoods of BA are fascinating: modern buildings juxtaposed with art-deco Parisian-style buildings and gorgeous Italian-style fountains.

As it is with everything good, our time with Emilio (and Owen and Sara) had to come to an end.   However, we were thrilled to have Jen’s parents meet us for the second half of our Buenos Aires stay.  After seven months away, it was so nice to spend quality time with family.   Bob and Marcy are fantastic, very fun with whom to meander around town and wine and dine.  With them we enjoyed our best steak dinner of the trip, the Evita and two great art museums, and a night out with drinks at a magnificent hotel.  After our time with Bob and Marcy we realized more family trips are imperative.

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