Armed with a home base in the nation's capital, courtesy of fine friends, the Lopez family. We decided to face some small facts, we we're getting a little chubby. Lucky for us there was a little gym around the corner, good spots to sun, and a great board walk stretching the coast. Unfortunately, we fell in love with Mercado Del Puerta, the Disney Land of meats. And we were regularly urged to eat and eat. Even if it happened to be intestines still filled with the cows food. Needless to say, our get-back-in-shape-efforts we're a wash.
Heading up the coast to Punta del Este — Uruguay's luxury beach scene — we came to a realisation, we just don't run in the right circles. The harbour was bobbing with a collection of yachts and sailboats that make every other harbour we've been to seem like a tub full of rubber duckies.
Later we cruised to Punta Del Diablo at the northern edge of the country. This was the moment we needed before Carnaval in Rio. A place right on the beach, tranquilo vibe, great surf, and lots of tasty chow straight from the sea. We only wished we could have stayed longer.
We made our city escape by way of high speed ferry across the Rio de la Plata. And as soon as we crossed the border we immediately relaxed. The historic Colonia de Sacremento welcomed us with cobblestone streets, old world architecture and Uruguyian style hospitality. Could we be any more tranquilo?
What do you do when you reunite with a couple of new friends you spent three days with way back in Colombia? You crash in their living room for a month. We figured since Cam and Summer shared their tiny van with a second rescue dog that they picked up in Peru, they would barely notice us.
We were wrong. We whooped it up for the holidays. Got crafty making stockings, painting balls, finding the perfect gift. Crooning Happy Birthday in the world's best operatic acoustics, the Teatro Colon. Slurping Margaitas in Palmero Viejo, turning the apartment into a games room, our very special hats, and strangely enough Pilates.
Travelling South America by road will teach you many surprising things. Like, it's a big freaking continent. We finally arrived in Ushuaia — the southern tip — after too many bus hours to count. It was a striking city. Surrounded by jagged peaks and filled with hokey penguin carvings that were obviously left over from the 80's. Not content to simply turn around, we set off to hop a last-minute cruise to Antarctica. Unfortunately one of the ships broke down, spilling passengers over to other ships. It left squat for availability and killed the chances of a real deal. Optimists, we decided the incident was equal to making a small pile of cash and treated ourselves to a fancy dinner before day cruising to a penguin colony. With a responsible limit of 20 people on the island at a time, the penguins were undisturbed. Singing to the heavens, cleaning nests for picky mates, beak slap fighting for the honour of having to clean said nests for their future mates. Waddling, waddling, feeding tiny chicks, and an assortment of x-rated activities. Ahhh penguins.
Patagonia isn't just an area to go for a pleasant stroll. It's a land of epic weather. Winds strong enough to lift a 100 kilo dude right off his feet. Rain that could soak a seal to the core. And a razor thin ozone layer that welcomes the burning sun. The resulting land and mountain scape is a strange beauty.
Our preparations began long before we arrived. Collecting provisions in Mendoza we knew would be impossible to find in the tiny launch town of Puerto Natales. Included was about 60 dollars worth of vacuum sealed sausage, the only supply that was deemed unfit to cross the Chilean border. We quickly guzzled a salami each to the apparent delight of the line up in front of border security. The outcome was a couple of queasy bellies on a bumpy bus. Small victories.
DAY ONE: Jeff had one heavy pack.
DAY TWO: Things are getting pretty.
DAY THREE: Baby river ducks – highlight of the day.
DAY FOUR: A long day was joyously broken up, or made even longer, with an hour of fast sledding by a glacier.
We spent American Thanksgiving marveling at the crackle and thunder of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Southern Patagonia. Laced with massive ribbons of bright blue ice it crept forward undetectably until gloriously huge chunks broke off and canonballed into the lake below. Almost as impressive was the high pitched glee from the Japanese tourists with every momentous event.
Leaving the desert and crossing the Andes, we made our way to coast of Chile. We were in love. In love with each other, in love with the city, in love with love, et cetera. It wasn´t our fault, that´s just what the city does to you. Every corner you turn in Valparaiso is beautiful. Keeping your camera in your pocket, impossible. A land of quirky historic buildings, all painted a different enchanting colour, art on every wall, music in the air, a brilliant twinkle in the night. No wonder Chile´s most famous artist, poet Pablo Neruda, created a home there. Now a museum, it's one of the most uplifting we've ever experienced. With one grand lesson learned, you can always make life more fun.
Throw your next party with these classic Chilean recipes we cooked up. Don't forget the pisco sours.
Argentina´s perfect weather makes for perfect wine. And since we do try to immerse ourselves in a country´s culture, the only responsible thing to do was open our mouths. First up, the sun-kissed village of Cafayate. And although we tasted some ridiculously good Malbecs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Tannats, the local white wine varietal of choice is the Torrontes. It did not disappoint.
Next we traveled 1,000 kilometers south to the beautiful province of Mendoza which produces two-thirds of the country´s vino. We were in heaven. Delicious Malbecs starting at five dollars a bottle - you have got to be kidding me! Not to mention some really special Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrahs. So we rented a few bikes and rode straight to the source tasting at Carinae, Familia Di Tomaso, Vina El Cerno, Tempus Alba and possibly some other ones. Salud.