Sunday, May 30, 2010

Catching Up: December

OK, so I'm still six months behind on this whole catch-up thing and there are so many more things I want to get to! so I am going to have a bit less commentary for the remaining months and let the photos do the talking whenever possible.

December was another very busy month at work, the end of the year is always re ocupado for us. But more exciting than that was that Brad came in from Amsterdam for an extended visit. Though we failed to take in a movie together, Belu and I took him to all the hotspots we could. We made it to Guido's, visited Josh and Julia selling their home-baked goods on the street in San Telmo, walked the ecological preserve, forced Brad to try Fernet (went poorly) and medialunas (went very well), and even found time to use the tennis court here.
I think Brad liked these facturas even more than his bigote.

Belu and I hosted our first Christmas dinner, and it came off without a hitch. Vitel toné, matambre de pollo, ensalada rusa, two other types of salads, an a cake that was basically a gigantic almendrado filled our bellies. We followed that a week later with a New Years Eve party. It is an Argentine tradition to light fireworks at midnight at both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Living on the 35th floor, we got an amazing view of the spectacle. There's no government-sponsored display, but with everyone all over town lighting their fuegos artificiales, it looked like the whole city was exploding for an entire hour. Unfortunately, the photos don't remotely do it justice. I'm just saying that you should try and come to visit us next year like Brad did. I've never seen anything like it.
Did I mention that it's summer in December here?

The day after Christmas, Natalia arrived and we immediately scooted off to Mendoza, the city at the heart of Argentine wine country. Here's what happened. Click on any photo to embiggen.

Brad, mustache free, at the reservoir in Parque San Martin in Mendoza city.

A gigantic monument to General San Martin atop the park named after him.

The view from said top of said park.

We took a bus tour up into the Andes mountains. This was the first stop. Truly amazing view, and like I said, the photos simply don't do it justice.

It seems like it could be Colorado at first glance, no? But then the mountains are the wrong shape. These are of course the Andes (mine!).

Brad and Natalia on top of the world. Note that Natalia and I had our cameras strapped to us pretty much the whole time. Looking through the photos it is very hard to find one of either of us without them. Just be thankful that I'm only showing a handful of the shots taken. Between us over two weeks we took around 2000 shots.

I mean, look at this view!. And we were just getting started.

In the background, you can see Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas. (It's the snow-capped one on the left.) You can also see other people in our tour group, but I think the camera frightened the tour guide a bit, so I can't complain.

This was as high as we went, very close to the Chilean border. Catching breath up there was extremely difficult, even for Brad who is in better shape than anyone I know. Is it me or does the sky seem closer?

Note the little stone shelter all by its lonesome up there. Behind where I took this picture, there was a little tiny group of buildings, but they weren't quite so lonesome because there were a few of them.

Puente del Inca. A natural wonder. The rocks get their color due to an underground spring.

There was once a spa housed under the natural bridge. Visitors would arrive by train, walk across the bridge and stay in a lodge/hotel on the other side of the river. It was in operation from 1917 until 1965 when heavy snow caused the collapse of the roof of a chapel on the site.

If only this were a river of chocolate milk (like it looks), I never would have left!

A whole lot of wine in those barrels.

Brad got his turn holding the cameras, too. I can't remember what cracked him up here, but I promise it was something hilarious.

In the Bonfanti tasting room

The tour guide at Bonfanti. One of the most boring, information-laden tours of my life. Seriously, this guy went on forever and ever. Worse, the Brazilian couple (not pictured) that asked inane questions like, "How many glasses of wine should you have with dinner?" At the end, we only got two feeble tastes. But we later figured out how to manage this stuff better. More in a second...

Brad atop his friend, Pancho, a horse lacking the desire to listen to Brad's directions.

Brad, Natalia, and I ready to head back to HQ. We opted for the four-hour cabalgata instead of two hours, and it paid off in that it was just us, the tour guide, two crazy dogs, and the mountains. Note, the concierge at our hotel called it "horsing."

"Ayyyyy." (No, that's not my hat, but I want one.)

The view from Bodega Septima's terrace, where we ate lunch on our last day. Lunch that included all-the-wine-you-care-to-drink. Both wine and food were excellent, and it was a relaxing and beautiful location to enjoy the afternoon. From there we went to Ruca Malen, from which remembering details are somewhat for obvious reasons.

All in all a fantastic trip for the three of us. Unfortunately, Belu didn't have enough vacation time to join in the fun. So all translation duties were left to me. On the phone one night, I mentioned that I was surprised how much Spanish I already knew. I told her (in Spanish), "I don't know exactly when someone is supposed to declare victory on such things, but I think I'm ready to say that I'm fluent." Belu kindly responded, "OK, but we don't really say it like that." So maybe I was jumping the gun. Fortunately, in January we traveled again and got to bring Belu with us. Y'all come back soon for the details (and many photos) on the next edition of "Catching Up."

Other writing from December:
Top 50 Albums #39: Hot Water Music - Caution
Top 50 Albums #38: The National - Boxer


Lahill said...

I am sending this to Brad's parents and I know that the explosion will be so loud that their neighbors will surely call 911. Great story!
El Viejo

Kozy said...

Such great memories! Thanks for capturing in all in 1 amazing post. Natalia and I were just reading it together and reminiscing.

And the mustache pic will definitely come in handy next November :-)

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