Last blog post was incomplete due to first time user syndrome and limited wifi in Igauzu Falls. Actual post was from Igauzu but now in Bariloche. So to finish that thought....PEOPLE: They are people-centric in that they genuinely as part of their culture have time/take time to catch up with each other. As we have discovered there is no such thing as a drive-thru coffee or a short dinner. These times are not rushed and full of conversation. You have to flag down a waiter/waitress after 2+ hour meals to get the bill - you are never rushed to clear a table. The slow food movement is the accepted norm in Argentina. The people have been very friendly and helpful - often times without inquiry. Generally it seems Americans are well liked, and it is not necessary to wear a Canadian patch on your backpack!
DULCE DE LECHE: For all intensive purposes this was invented in Argentina and qualifies as an official food group within the country. Needless to say the ladies in the family have caught on quickly. It is served in some form alone or as an ingredient at every meal in various combinations. The official cookie is called alfajores and of course is basically a dulce de leche sandwich.
DAILY SCHEDULE: The biggest adjustment has been how late the meals occur. Generally breakfast is nominal at best (coffee, pastry or toast), lunch is 2-3 hours later than ours and dinner doesn't usually start until 10 pm or later. A few nights ago we were just finishing dinner around midnight and there was a line waiting for tables. The kids have adjusted well to staying up late, but not as well to sleeping in...a work in progress.
POLITICS/ETC: We haven't watched the news or delved into this in any way, but just from some locals comments and our own observations there appears to be a high level of uncertainty at the moment coupled with what was already a developing nation status. We have directly observed two strikes and are told that there has been rampant inflation since the president died earlier this year. The election next year is something that most are looking forward to as a potential source for leadership and stability.
Now back to what we have been up to...
November 23rd- ....continued...went to dinner at a highly recommended restaurant in the Palermo Soho neighborhood we were staying in called La Cabrera. Hands down one of the all timer restaurant experiences. Fortunately we had a reservation thanks to advice from our hotel. There are two La Cabreras a 1/2 block apart and they both had long waits from when the doors opened at 8:30 until we departed around 11:15 pm. The decor was fun with kitchen utensils decorating light fixtures, plates signed on the walls, great art, hanging and moving hot air balloons from the ceiling, and much more. Waiters were dressed with special hats and did not seem to be assigned to a particular table as we had at least three throughout the evening. They placed some small gadget on the table which appeared to be a waiter call button, but our experiment as such did not work so the gadget remains somewhat of a mystery. Thatcher was especially happy with the sword (aka oversized steak knife) that sat atop the silver cow plate when we sat down. The food was incredible. Everyone learned they liked empanadas (like a small meat pie), and the steak was out of this world. We only ordered two portions of steak
(served on large wood platters) which easily served our crew, and Lance wasn't able to leave a scrap of heaven so he filled the reserve tank.
November 24th - Spent the morning exploring more of Palermo Soho neighborhood. Unlike the US, but much like Europe, the shops are generally single purpose (ie. bakery, butcher, fruit/vegetables). We found a great bakery and of course explored some more Dulce de leche combinations and grabbed some lunch for the airport pre-flight wait. Their sandwiches are generally served dry (no mayo, mustard, etc.) with 2-3 ingredients. The cabs are generally subcompact so we had to take two to the airport for ourmflight to Igauzu Falls. Kendall provides a concise summary of the rest of the day, "we went to the airport to board our plane, but we found out they were on strike so we had to wait 8 hours before they canceled our flight. I felt tired and frustrated but soon we got to a hotel. It was a very stressing day!!!!". The two main domestic airlines are government owned and we found out notorious for inconsistency - we just got a taste of Argentina! Thanks to Carey working some magic they booked us on the other airlines flight the next day to Igauzu. We stayed in the center of town in a hotel that the airlines put us up in that ended up having paper thin walls - needless to say we didn't get a full nights rest but got a full audio experience. Sidebar- Argentina has lots of stray dogs and cats- Kendall has decided she wants to live in Bariloche to take in the stray dogs and Skylar is not far behind. Nonna you would be proud! Dinner at the required restaurant next to the hotel was not the best but we were able to catch one of the few first division soccer games on TV being played while we are in Argentina. It was fun to watch and the kids observed how soccer is engrained as a passion at a young age as they showed a 6-8 year old boy crying as his team lost in the last 10 minutes. Not a day we wanted to repeat!