We traveled to my motherland for the very special occasion of my younger brother’s wedding. We lucked out in finding a good deal on LAN airlines, which took us all the way from Los Angeles to Mendoza, with a pit stop in Lima (Peru) and a plane change in Santiago of Chile.
On Thursday April 5th, at the humble Mendoza airport, my parents were waiting for us. We had a schedule to follow, so after many hugs and kisses, we were headed out to Hotel Uspallata, up in the Andes. This is where the wedding was taking place on Saturday, and where we would stay until Sunday.
It was wonderful to head up into the imposing Andes. I wanted to stop everywhere to take pictures, but I decided to instead relax and take in the view without a viewfinder in the way.
I just went to the Cal-Neva and put 2 bets in for this World Cup. One betting that Argentina will beat Nigeria on the opening game, and the other for Argentina winning the entire thing.
I had no idea what betting in a sports-book would be like… and I still don’t. I just talked to the attendant, told her I wanted to be for Argentina to win the thing and tomorrow’s game, and that was it. She took my money ($5 on each bet), and gave me two tickets.
All I have to do is go back and claim my prize when it’s all over. Yeah.
I’m waking up at 6am tomorrow to watch the game against Nigeria. I don’t think Kelly understands how watching soccer games is rooted in my culture , but hopefully she won’t be too surprised or annoyed when she wakes up after me to find me in the living room in a situation not too different from this:
After a rather uneventful series of flights, we landed in Mendoza. We walked off the plane (using airstairs) and into the airport, where a small welcoming party patienly awaited for us.
Fresh off the plane, and only a few hours later, my dad prepared a monumental asado to usher us into Argentina. Not only that, but we were joined by both my parents, both brothers and their girlfriends, my grandparents and my aunt. It was quite the committee, and even though I expected it, I think it took Kelly by surprise.
That was only a preview of what the next two weeks would be: an incomparable gastronomical journey, where we ingested food in both great quantity and quality. We had a little bit of everything, but I can’t miss the chance to mention some of my (and now Kelly’s!) favorites: milanesas, empanadas, alfajores and lots of delicious wine.
We visited a lot of people and places, and my mom had planned things for most days, which kept us plenty busy. I’m pretty sure Kelly met 90% of the family, all the way up to my grandmother’s sisters.
It was also gratifying to be able to show Kelly where I grew up. I showed her the schools I went to (and the one that inspired my tattoo), the streets I played in, the buses that I rode around and the places where I used to go.
There were a few memorable events that took place, which I will just itemize for brevity’s sake:
We spent 4 days in a small apartment in downtown Mendoza. The place was very cold, but having to heat it up with precarious gas heaters was only a fraction of the weirdness.
It was located right above a parking garage, which got unbearably loud as the business day started at 6am. Car alarms, traffic and people being loud woke us up, and would only let us be half-asleep until we gave up and got up half tired, and full cranky.
On the first night in Mendoza, and in the apartment, Kelly was woken up at 2 in the morning by a very peculiar sound. There was someone driving down the street, with his music on full blast. Apparently, the car stopped at a red light. And the song that he was having all of the city listen to at this time of night was no other than Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise.
When she told me this the next day, the song was stuck in my head for at least two entire days. Thankfully, we found it hilarious.
We visited a couple of the finest wineries in Mendoza: Fournier and Salentein. We learned about the wine-making process, we sampled lots of delicious wines, and had a wonderful time with the family.
On Saturday night, Kelly was brushing her teeth when a hose under the sink busted. Water was spraying everywhere, and the only solution was to shut off the main water line. This meant that we couldn’t flush the toilet or shower.
On Sunday morning, we woke up and packed our stuff, and moved to a very nice hotel for the rest of our stay. Life was much better 6 stories away from downtown traffic, and with much better heating. As an added bonus, we also had internet access and my iPhone came in very handy to catch up and keep in touch with home.
Hanging out with some of my old friends was just like time had never passed. We met, we talked, we had fun and we said goodbye in a “I’ll see you tomorrow” kind of vibe.
We spent the last 3 days in the country in Buenos Aires. The weather was perfect for walking around, and we did a lot of that: from the Congress to San Telmo (the Tango district), with stops at the Obelisk and the Pink House. We saw lots of things, and chose to walk because it’s better to be able to hear and breathe a city than to see it pass you by if you chose to ride a taxi from one destination to the other. And it’s also a lot nicer to walk when you have someone’s hand to hold in yours.
One of the reasons why we went to Buenos Aires was to check out a soccer game. And that we did. We stood in a long line, with lots of shady characters, and bought tickets from the nicest scalper in the world. Some teenage punk tried to spit at Kelly as we walked past the security line, and we didn’t really know if we were in the right line… but it all worked out, and we made it inside Boca Juniors‘ stadium. Despite Boca losing the match, we had a great time soaking in the fans’ passion, the songs, the fireworks and the entire experience. We even had a choripán from a street vendor on the way out!
We also spent a day walking around the more centric part of Buenos Aires, and we walked up and down Florida Avenue. We had lunch at my favorite restaurant, Los Inmortales. Oh, and I got a Rhodochrosite ring for Kelly, to mark the occasion of our unforgettable trip to my motherland.
And that’s that. Well, not really. There’s a lot to it, but I can’t do it justice without writing something akin to an essay. I can sum it all up by saying that it’s always great to see my family and friends, to be home and eat the stuff I grew up eating. But it’s even better to be able to do it in company of the love of my life.
You’ve arrived at my blog, but I’m unfortunately not here at the moment. I am with Kelly and probably my family. We’re probably doing something really fun, getting ready to have some fun, or sleeping it all off.
We will not be back until June 24th. If you need something, please leave a message after the tone, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Yesterday, Kelly and I reserved our plane tickets to go to my hometown, Mendoza. We will be arriving on June 10th, and we’ll stay in Argentina for a whole two weeks. I’m already way excited about it!
The plans include seeing the family, showing Kelly around the places where I grew up, and eating a lot of delicious food. Of course we’ll do a few touristy things, which most definitely will involve several wine-tastings in many of Mendoza’s awesome wineries.
Our flight back will leave from Buenos Aires on June 23rd. We are planning on heading over to the Paris of South America a few days early, and spend time walking around and checking things out.
I’ve started to teach Kelly some localized Spanish. She already refers to Argentines as boludos. I think it’s a step in the right direction.