Life Through My Eyes

Life Through My Eyes

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

El Calafate

We were greeted by our guide Martin at the El Calafate airport, and chauffeured to our hotel Kosten AikeUnfortunately we wont be staying in El Calafate for long, as it is more of a hub destination before launching off on various destination hikes around El Chalten and Perito Moreno Glacier.  We took advantage of the time we had, walked around the main strip and headed down to Laguna Nimez to take in the views of the Lago Argentino.  Keith and I were immediately drawn to a massive jungle gym with great teeter-totters. We played around on it for about 5 minutes before all of a sudden my ass came off the seat and I found myself doing a ninja warrior move, wrapping my legs around the teeter-tater and holding on for dear life, before falling 5 feet to the ground.  Thank goodness I didn’t break anything, not even my spirit.  I couldn’t stop laughing about the incident.  I have a few bruises and a sore hand to remind me to take it a bit easier!  I have a feeling there is a reason they don’t make jungle gyms in the states like that anymore.  I would guarantee I am not the first person to have an accident. 

We met up with the rest of our crew for a mini orientation before heading to dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Tomorrow we set out for El Chalten.



Hotel we stayed at

Toasting Arrival 
Our Room

Keith having fun
Me partaking on this dangerous activity! 



Thanks for reading, 


JenniferMarie


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Latin American Paris

It is said that Buenos Aires is the Latin American Paris.  I can see why.  It looks a lot like Europe, but with an edgy Latin American twist, and a futbol fan here and there.... ok, maybe everywhere.

Keith and I were fortunate enough to spend 3 full days in this beautiful city.  We opted to forgo the bus, train, and car options so that we could mix it up with the locals on foot and bike.  This allowed us to conquer Lonely Planets Buenos Aires Top 10,  and burn off some Argentinian food!

Taken in front of the large BA that sits in front of the Obelisco between the busy lanes of 9th of July Ave, the largest avenue in the world.  The Obelisco was dedicated in 1936, the 400th anniversary of Spanish settlement, and symbolizes Buenos Aires much as the Eiffel Tower represents Pairs.

Day 1: Stretching the Legs
The first day we were a little on the tired side.  We arrived to Argentina around 8:30am (3:30am PST) after about 14 hours of travel.  I was in such a daze leaving the airport that I wasn’t paying attention and some dude ran over my bright red 120L Patagonia bag while I was holding it.  I have some sweet tire marks on it now!  I suppose that’s one way to get your hiking clothes pressed. Despite the incident we made it to our hotel,  Casa Calma .  The room wasn’t quite ready yet, so we took advantage of the central location and hit the town. 

The Convento de San Francisco in Lima Peru was on of my favorite sites.  I figured since I happen to have an infatuation with skeletons, I’d enjoy Buenos Aires #1 tour recommendation,  the Cementerio de La Recoleta.  Picture a cemetery, that’s not it!  Cementerio de La Recoleta is more of a miniature city full of elaborate mausoleums.  This is where the most elite are buried, paying about 30 thousand a year in taxes alone. Ironically this is also the home of Eva Peron's final resting place. I say final because she wasn’t originally buried there, and she was no friend to the elite.  Eva was first lady, and a major advocate to the poor (and hated by the rich).  She fought for public education and health until she tragically died of ovarian cancer at the young age of 33.  I only wish we could have a first lady like that in the US!  I  imagine she is rolling in her grave at the thought of being buried amongst the elitist. 

Cementerio de La Recoleta



Day 2: Bike Tour
The best way to get oriented to a city, as well as learn a bit of history, is to partake in a city walking or biking tour.  Keith and I booked a full city excursion through Bike Buenos Aires.  The 7-hour tour took us on a full city adventure to see all the major sites.  Small world, yes, one of the guides was actually born and raised in San Jose.  How is it that he became a BA resident?  Well, it is the Latin American Paris after all.  It turns out he set out to travel, met a lady, and the rest is history!  The world became even smaller when a fellow SF resident and Apple employee was part of our 11 person tour. Ha

As soon as we were given bikes, we went cruising around to all the top sites.

Keith Bike Paco
My Bike Ofek
The Group!



We didn’t get to see a game, but we were able to see the Boca Juniors oddly shaped yellow and blue stadium.  It turns out not everyone wanted to sell their land to build the giant infrastructure, so they improvised with the half built Ikea looking structure. ha.  The sweetish IKEA colored structure was no accident.  The team had decided to adopt the colors of the next ship that sailed into the port, Sweden it was, and the colors were born! 

El Caminito is La Boca’s most famous street of colorful houses.  This was the place many poor immigrant men called home, or at least rented a bed between the long working shifts. The city is built of many scraps found on ships, and later a local artist convinced the residents to paint their homes bright colors in an attempt to give the town a facelift.

We had the opportunity to indulge in a local staple, Fernet.  Fernet is made up of 70% Coke and 30% Fernet.  Quite yummy.

Just in case you want to try!

Puerto Madero was once a landfill with construction rubbish left over from Eduardo Madero's failed port project.  The area was later cleaned up, and is now the home of the Reserva Ecolgica Costanera Sur as well as international investment.  The area now resembles that of the Financial District in SF, and financially out of reach for any local to live.  

We enjoyed riding along the stretch of nature preserve before stopping on the promenade for a tasty food truck Bondiola Completos (pork with ham and egg) lunch!

 Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman) is the barrios signature monument, represents a couple dancing the tango.

Plaza de Mayo is the political, social and symbolic center of Buenos Aires.  It is surrounded by the Casa Rosada (the pink house) where the presidents office resides, as well as the cities main cathedral where Pope Francis use to hold mass.

Plaza San Martin is where the cities obligatory equestrian statue of Jose de San Martin resides.  He is not only known for liberation of Argentina, but also Peru.  Keith and I can now say we’ve seen multiple Plaza de Mayos and Plaza San Martins.  Many public figures are controversial, but San Martin is indeed loved by all. 
Since biking is tiring work, we took to another Argentine favorite, Mate.  If Argentines get upset about anything, it’s the way foreigners make and drink their Mate. We were lucky enough to have someone teach us the correct methods of partaking the drink! Mate tastes a bit like tea, and is known to warm you up and keep you caffeinated throughout the day.  No no, not like coffee.  Coffee quickly perks you up, and lets you down just as fast.  Mate gradually energized you, maintains, and gradually brings you back down. 
Keiths Mate

If you’re looking for someone on a Sunday, they are likely at the San Telmo street fair. Here you can find household goods, antiques, arts and souvenirs.  The street fair actually began as a way of trade amongst neighbors during economic hardship. This part of town was once the home of the cities richest, until a yellow fever epidemic left them seeking higher ground and leaving everything behind.  The new tenants took advantage of the abandoned housing and the furniture.

Biking and walking San Telmo were fun, but it was time to get some Dinner!  We headed to El Federal.  I may or may not have accidentally ordered an entire bottle of wine.  Luckily Keith helped me finish it off. 
The currency kills me every time! 


Day 3:  Biking Palmero 
We enjoyed biking BA so much that we asked to take out the hotel Bamboo Bikes.  We cruised all around Palermo and the beautiful Parque 3 de Febrero.  The park looks a bit like Golden Gate Park with its sweeping green spaces, small lakes with paddleboats, gazebos and a rose garden.  It is said that Charles Thays, a French botanist and landscape architect, used London’s Hyde Park and Paris’ Bois de Boulogne as inspiration.  I haven’t been to either, so GGP is all I have to compare it to.  I will say that Parque 3 de Febrero trumps GGP in that it has a Velodrome!

My sweet ride

Dynamic Duo


The Floralis Genérica is a gargantuan solar powered flower sculpture located in the center of Plaza Naciones Unidas. It is one of those marvels, like The Bean in Chicago, that you just have grab a selfie next to.

Museo De Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, or for short, MALBA.  You may not be able to get through a name this long, but unlike the name and the MOMA back home, this is an art museum that can be tackled in a day.  It contains some of the best works by classic and contemporary Argentine artists.  With so many artists confronting social issues in their works, it is impossible not to gaze at the MALBA walls without acknowledging the need to advocate for change.

Despite being a beef capital, I was able to get an amazing veggie sandwich and fruit smoothie at the museum café, Ninina.

Tix! 

My Man, A Bike & A Museum

Evening 3 Tango
A visit to BA isn’t complete without experiencing a Tango or two.  This sensual dance can be seen on the streets, as well as at the most elite theaters.  The streets were actually the first to embrace the Tango back in the 1800’s when large amounts of immigrant men were arriving from Europe in search of work. Women were scarce, so the men danced together while they waited for their paramours to become available.  It wasn’t until much later when the elite embraced the Tango.

Keith and I were fortunate enough to see Rojo Tango on the intimate stage of the Faenas cabaret room.  The blood red curtains and candlelight set the tone of the show while the audience is brought back to Tangos cabaret roots before being catapulted into the globally influenced wonder Tango is today. 

We had a wonderful 3 days in the lovely Buenos Aires.  Tomorrow we are off to El Calafate to meet our Patagonia trecking mates!  Bye Bye BA! 




Thank you for reading, 

JenniferMarie





Buenos Aires really is the South American Paris








Friday, October 21, 2016

Like Titicaca Adventure

We set off on our Lake Titicaca adventure, and climbed aboard Boat Inka. 

Boat Inka - The one with the green roof is our boat! 
Uros floating islands was our first stop. We were greeted by the locals upon arrival, and enjoyed learning about the history and engineering behind the islands existence.  When the Spanish arrived to Puno, the native people escaped the land to floating reeds for protection. They constructed these islands and large romantic boats out of totora reeds. We were able to ride in one of the boats and get another passport stamp. 

 Peeled Totora Reed is edible   
The long Totora Reed with Totora House and Uru People
A local collecting Totora Reed
Inside a Home
Aboard a Reed Boat
Local Uru Women
Romantic Boat with Puma Heads (Titicaca means Grey Puma)
Keith claiming a home
We then set off on a 3 hour boat ride to Amantani island. When we arrived we were welcomed by our host family, Artimio and Marisol. They showed us our accommodations and fed us a lovely lunch. We enjoyed looking through Marisols handicrafts. I purchased an awesome llama ornament from her.  We decided to walk off our lunch and hike up to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachatata (Father Earth). Custom has it to walk around each site counterclockwise and make a wish or three, never two. You can't stay on Antamani island without attending a fiesta. After dinner Marisol and Artimio dressed us in some traditional outfits for the occasion. We had a wonderful time!

Catching some high altitude sun rays on the roof of the boat
We were impressed by the Kitchen
Our room
A local Restaurant 
How do we look?!
Scott is ready to Party! 
Top of Pachatata
Plaza
Sleepy Keith
We said goodbye to our hosts, boarded Boat Inka and headed to Taquile Island. There we did a little hiking, yes I know we hike every day, and learned a little about the culture. We watched a demonstration on how soap was made, and learned about the differences in attire worn amongst individuals. The single men wear a red and white cap adjusted to the right. If he has a girlfriend it is turned to the left. Once married a man will wear a red cap and a Coca sack, resembles a purse, on his hip. I told Keith he could switch out his ring for a purse. Ha. The women wear Pom Pom balls in their hair. If they are single they are large, if married they are small. I figure If scrunchies found a place in the 80's, these Pom Pom balls could catch on in the US any day. 


A goodbye picture with Artimio

Scott at the peak of the hike
A married man (red hat) making soap
Keith couldn't get enough soup
Trout on a fish plate! 
We had a wonderful time on the islands of Lake Titicaca. Unfortunately all vacations must come to an end. We made the 3 hour boat trip back to Puno where we spent our last night in Peru. Homeward bound tonight.  We will all be returning to the USA a different people than we left it. It's impossible to experience all we did and not be changed. Thank you to our hosts and guides for making this such a memorable and heart changing trip.

Goodbye Lake Titicaca



Thanks for reading, 

JenniferMarie



I'll be writing about our 4 days on the Inca trail when I get home. Keep a look out!