Buenos Aires Snapshots

Buenos Aires Snapshots

  I’m back in Buenos Aires and have Internet again! Que lujo! What a luxury!   Throughout my time in Patagonia I wrote way more than I was able to post on my blog.  I’ve accumulated quite a backlog of musings. However, before I jump into posting about El Chalten, Torres del Paine, and Ushuaia (which I will do over the next couple weeks) I want to share a few quick snapshots of my first week back in the city that never sleeps!   09-04-16 Hot water poured onto waiting yerba and a mate passed from hand to hand on the picnic blanket pressed against green grass. Slice the budin with laughs in the humid dusky air of Buenos Aires transforming from summer to fall. Sweet beer and cheddar fries in Recoleta with the patio air, talks of travel, and rain hurrying us to finish that last sip. Slippery steps on wet pavement shining in the city lights as we gaze up at the old stone universities and classy new high-rises stretching up and up on all sides into the dark sky. Deep chocolate and oh-so-sweet! dulce de leche ice-cream sliding across our tongues that are busy chatting about our past, present, and future dreaming. Squished onto the hot bus between strangely young teens dressed for the clubs and serious Argentinians returning from a long day in the city. Kiss on the cheek in parting after a Buenos Aires evening out.     14-04-16 Long stepping legs made more elegant by tight-fitting elegant heels and soft leather shoes flash across the rough dance floor to disappear into pockets of...
What I will never do again…

What I will never do again…

  April 2011   “And…I’m going to ask you to not weigh yourself anymore.” My nutritionist throws out the comment nonchalantly and I cringe. So far the meal plan that helps me know that I’m getting the nutrients my underweight body needs and even the possible weight gain she’s proposed haven’t scared me that much. But, not weigh myself?! What?   The concept is unfortunately foreign to me. Leave behind my weekly self-worth measurement? Leave behind my trepidation leading up to my private Thursday morning weigh-ins when I eat less, drink less, and always pee before stepping onto the scale? Leave behind taking the dark digital numbers seared into my mind the moment the scale flashes my weight and scribbling them into my day planner for progress measurement?   I know I should not depend so much on a scale and a number. I don’t want to. However, the reality is that not knowing…the reality of stepping onto the scale backwards in the nutritionist office every week instead of stepping onto my mother’s bathroom scale naked and in secret…is terrifying. And yet, for some reason I do not understand at the time, I nod my head in agreement. “Ok, I promise. I won’t weigh myself.” ~~~~   April 2011 was the last time I weighed myself. I still find it incredible that since that afternoon five years ago I have not set foot on a scale. At first I did it because I promised my nutritionist I wouldn’t. However, now I do it for me. It’s a conscious choice. A couple years ago when my new housemate moved a...
“Mostly Vegan” in Argentina

“Mostly Vegan” in Argentina

  Being back in Argentina is reminding me that diet fluctuates.   When I travel I eat like the locals…almost.   For me food is an extremely important part of any culture. As both a lover of food and travel I want to immerse myself in the cuisine of each place I visit as fully as possible. However, as a long time vegetarian and a woman recovered from anorexia I find myself asking, how do I find a balance between staying true to my morals, staying healthy, and feeling the culture through food?   Before flying south almost a month ago I was “mostly vegan” and loving it. You’re probably asking, what the heck is “mostly vegan”?   For me becoming vegan was a gradual process. I jumped into the life of vegetarianism at the age of eight when I learned what was in a corndog and subsequently became a small outraged animal-rights activist. I have not looked back since. As I grew up, the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet added motivation to continue with my veggie lifestyle. Now, at 23, I’m a vegetarian for a mixture of those reasons as well as a grounded knowledge that I could never kill an animal and a belief that I should therefore not eat one.   I toyed with the idea of being a vegan for years. However, while living on my family’s farm with fresh eggs and goat cheese it just didn’t make sense and in college I worried about other things. Plus, I pride myself on being a good baker and vegan baking did not treat...
Crocs, Purple Socks, and Gratitude.

Crocs, Purple Socks, and Gratitude.

His smile of greeting hides pain and he stands up quickly as we approach across the windy river rocks. There is something wrong with the way he holds himself. Standing before him I look down and gasp in horror, as I comprehend his strained smile in a flash. His feet are bare and display a rainbow of colors; they are swollen, cut, bruised, visibly cold, and definitely not in shape for walking the 16 km back to the nearest civilization.   His tear-filled eyes shine with disbelieving gratitude and his grasping hugs are full of desperate relief. Turning to my best friend I discover a shining young woman unthinkingly kicking off her shoes to give to the purple-toed Spaniard: in that moment Mica is more beautiful than I have ever seen her before. In her freckled smile I see the satisfaction of standing fully—barefoot—in the raw instinctual drive of her heart to give and give and give more. In her sunshine bursting eyes I find a moment of experiential learning: things are not that important and lightness comes with giving away what little one has. In her quick Spanish words I hear the pleasure of a woman living fully in her values. And as I place my own purple wool socks into this unfortunate stranger’s hands, I feel myself join her in shining.   This solo hiker who we happened upon as we waded across the glacial waters entering the Lago Toro thinks that we are the only ones who have given. He does not know the powerful gift he has given two young women traveling through Patogonia. Back...
Lagunas Hermosas

Lagunas Hermosas

Awhile back I went on a quick solo backpacking trip outside of El Chalten to find the beauty of the lakes. I was inspired to write a bit of poetry about my skinny dipping escapade in Laguna de Las Piedras Blancas and the sunrise at Laguna de Las Tres was breath-taking. Plus, I visited Lagunas Madre (depicted above) e Hija. As they say here, “Impresionante!”   Laguna de Las Piedras Blancas Ice cold brain-freeze like too fast icecream from quick double submersion of happy naked body alive! alive! alive! in cold blue waters coming I can see the shinny white glacier with waterfall falling to mist streams and pounding cascades of water shooting out from below the ice walls crack, thu-thud, cacophonous sound falling spray of white chunk let-loose roaring ice-crystals in the air over craggy rock to water’s edge rippling out to hit white rocks and me Sun pounding down steep granite strew slopes onto shivery plucked-bird skin crazy heartbeat and no-feeling toes quick quick out of water into wind warm mountain rock waiting and smile! grin! into the joy of life every cell alive happiness of blue sky solo adventures alone in the community of mountains       Laguna de Las Tres I wake up before the sun has even thought about lighting the sky and crawl out of the tent into the dark air. As I begin my hike I take in the damp earthy smell of the mossy forest and the swoosh-woosh splashing of the river water accosting the white rocks. The steep hour-long incline stretches above me, at first marked by only one pair...
Unexpected Adventures of Cherry Jam…

Unexpected Adventures of Cherry Jam…

As the blood red cherry jam pours into the glass jar still boiling hot and wafting the most heavenly of sticky-sweet aromas into the air, I am thrown back in time two days to an unexpected adventure… I step out of the broken doorway and chills run down my spine causing the hair on the back of my neck to rise in caution. Up until this moment exploring the abandoned Patagonian ranch has been fairy-tale like. We happened upon the crumbling buildings during our “Plan B” adventure when “Plan A”s hitchhiking efforts left us miles from where we had hoped to be. We have found old wine bottles in the farmhouse, whose broken windows look out at the gorgeous valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains and green horse-spotted fields. The hand-hewn wooden frame sticks out into the cobalt blue sky as wind whistles in the ancient stone chimney and the bright sun lights the walls with wandering-wondering minds. Who lived here? How did they live? In the second house I imagine the kitchen bustling with preparation even as the paint peels off the shutters and I see a grand meal during a bitter winter in the big long room even though the floor is littered with broken things and animal bones. Pictures of happy times flash across my consciousness. However, now, after finding a skeleton hanging in the washroom I’ve stepped outside and the wind hits me full blast. There are darks clouds cumulating in the west and the sun seems less bright. Mica says that a Puma probably brought the large bones here and…I wonder if there might be...

El Chalten: The Rhythm of Days

21-02-16 Recently back from a windy run along the Rio de Las Vueltas that runs through El Chalten I’ve tucked myself into the tiny airstream trailer I am living in with some homemade hot cacao. I gaze out past the summer-green brush pressed against the windowpanes as rain pitter-patters on the tin roof. Today is a down-day. I’ve learned that there are two types of days in El Chalten: up-days and down-days. Which you receive each morning is entirely dictated by the weather. Up-days are just that: UP! On days when the sun shines and the wind dies down the inhabitants and visitors of El Chalten gain elevation as quickly as possible. Climbers race for the pitches they’ve been mapping out for days. Hikers slip into the extensive trail system to trek, see the views, and experience Patagonia at its finest. Backpackers set out on days- to weeks-long adventures through the forests, into the valleys, and across the ice fields. Given that few people live in or come to the National Trekking Capital of Argentina without a strong motivation to be in outdoors, on up-days the town is noticeably emptier. Everyone is up out of bed, up in excitement levels…up into the mountains! On down-days the town is waiting. When the high winds and the rain clouds pour over the passes making climbing, backpacking, and hiking unpleasant—if not down right dangerous—the streets of El Chalten become a collection of cozy nooks. The hostels are full of story swapping, adventure planning, and sharing mate. The cafés and bars bubble with people socializing from the far reaches of the earth. All...
More Snapshots: Argentinian Adventures!

More Snapshots: Argentinian Adventures!

As my brain becomes a mix of Spanish and English I feel my writing becoming more cluttered. Still, I’m battling perfectionism and if I don’t post you won’t hear from me at all…so here are some more snapshots of my time in El Chalten!   02-18-16 Aventura del Refugio Rio del Diablo I wonder if my legs, flashing through the bright brown and varied green hues of the forest in shinning black leggings, look as determined as I feel. I know what is coming up ahead but I do not slow my driven pace along the easily lost animal-track trail. When I reach the rushing stream I do not stop to take off my hiking boots as I did yesterday; they are already sopping wet, squelching with each motivated step, and, really, how much colder can my feet get after four hours of walking through snow, rain, and dewy bushes? When I reach the other side with feet numb to a new level I scramble up the bank and shed my backpack. I want to find the cookies I have promised myself for reaching the half way point of our return journey from a backpacking trip to El Refugio Del Diablo but my fingers are too frozen to open the four latches between myself and my energy source. Behind me I hear a squeak and turn to see Mica, my Argentinian best friend and adventure buddy, trip and fall to her knees in the middle of the freezing water. I can tell she is trying to muster the motivation and energy to stand up again. But, why? We are...
Shapshots: Bienvenidos a El Chalten

Shapshots: Bienvenidos a El Chalten

I’ve been writing in snapshots of shining moments recently. Here are a few from my first day in El Chalten, Argentina. 15-02-16 Laughter ripples off the welcoming faces around me as rapid Argentinian Spanish is batted around the table in jokes and gestures. Although I’ve been sitting in the same small winery for four hours—first at the wooden bar and then at a table full of locals—, I can not get enough of the cozy atmosphere bubbling with joy and authentic friendship. Mica has welcomed me to Patagonian the Argentinian way: good food, beer, and people smiling together until after 1:00am.   The wind slaps my face, hard. The gusts of Patagonian air full of dry dirt are so strong that I almost topple over. Although my legs shout to run more and more after so many hours in buses and on planes, I stop and turn my back to the wind. Facing the Rio de Las Vueltas (River of Turns) bustling down the valley and along the winding road, I gasp. The vicious wind on the water has kicked the waves into a fine spray that flashes through the biting air and light to form…a rainbow! Transient. Unexpected. Hugging the slapping water. The small arcoirisis shimmers brilliantly and then is gone. Amazed at the formation of such beauty from the brutal gusts I turn back onto the road, pick up my pace once more, and grin into the...
El Glacier Perito Moreno

El Glacier Perito Moreno

14-02-16 We round a bend in the twisting mountain road along the soft turquoise Lago Argentina and it appears: El Glacier Perito Moreno, a vast expanse of white filling the space between the majestic mountain peaks down to the water of the lake. It is the first glacier I have ever seen and it takes my breath away. Enormous! Vast! Expansive! In the early morning light it appears to extend as far as the eye can see, seeping between the mountains. I thought that the top of the huge mass of ice would be relatively flat, perhaps providing the possibility of trekking across the surface. However, above the face the ice looks like stiff whipped cream spiked in sharp spires and slabs. It is a labyrinth of frozen waves sparkling in the sunlight. The sheer face of the glacier is made up of a textured array of white and blue hues. The deepest ice glows with a dark cobalt blue and looks like blow glass. One piece floats in the lake at the base of the glacier like a glob of strange frozen blue lava full of rounded edges and pockets. There are holes or caves in the ice that emit a magical soft electric-blue glow. Parts of the glacier show streaks of dirt while the majority shines a blinding pristine white. I stare and stare, appreciating each unique angle of the glacier as I walk. It is equally beautiful from above, below, and on either side. Periodically my gawking is rewarded by a chuck of the face breaking lose to fall in a spray of white crystals and...