Saturday January 15th –
Rising at 3:30 AM, the two hour trip from Bonita Springs across alligator alley finds us arriving at Miami International Airport in time for our 13 hour flight to Buenos Aires (BA). Although difficult to find someone at MIA that spoke English, that is not a problem as we arrive in BA --- “welcome” says the passport control agent. Many in Argentina are proud that they speak English. Hmm!
Hotel Check-inAfter a non-eventful hotel check-in, its time to go to one of my favorite BA charascarias -- enjoyed a small filet accompanied by a bottle of Alamos malbec. Pop that cholestoral pill because this was only the start of two weeks of hedonistic consumption of beef and wine. Fiera San Telmo and Porto Madiera
Sunday means the fair at San Telmo. One of the oldest sections of BA, San Telmo hosts a weekly event featuring antiques, street vendors and entertainers, including tango dancers, mimes, and puppeteers that capture your interest while you shop for unique treasures from the trip. Have lunch with friends at one of the many second floor eateries. Dinner at Marcello’s in Porto Madiera that evening --- this was the second finest Italian dinner that I have ever had (sorry Ricardo(our waiter), but our family Ravioli are a bit superior -- ask Kate how good they are), but I must admit, your recommendation of a Rutini malbec was a keeper.
Monday January 17th –
Shop til you drop!
There is probably nothing more amusing than watching a group of male travelers with 8 business hours to find a few special gifts. Unless they have a plan! Then it is an art form. Aided by our model and fashionista Betty Breedlove, we finished in less than five hours.
Then off to the Tango show -- the dancers and singers were amazing. Their hair slicked back with 10w40 vaseline, the male dancers tossed the women like weightless dolls. With impeccable timing, it was easy to see that this was an event that must been seen live -- an Argentine cultural treasure.
Tuesday Jan 18th through Friday Jan 21st -
Dave’ sTravel rule # 1 -- Never trust the airline and always check your departure time
Dave’s Travel rule #2 --- Arrive early
We almost missed our flight!
Saturday Jan 22nd
11:00 AM -- Time to leave for Challhuaquen and the next fishing stop. Fin del mundo -- at the end of the earth - literally to one of the final settlements before the end of the South American continent.
Our driver, Ricardo shows up on time with a brand new van and a greeting --- good morning he says! English! Oh yes, it is important that we learn for our visitors.
About two hours into the trip Recardo inquires if we would like to stop for lunch --- needless to say that we have not eaten enough on the trip so far --- so yes. We stop in Bolam, Argentina in the middle of the Andes -- a small hippyish town with a street fair in progress. We have a wonderful lunch --- a little Argentine beef, a little Altos las Hormigas malbec followed by local raspberries with cream, and it is time to visit the fair.
Did I mention that they have outstanding food and wine in Argentina? If you are keeping tabs, I will summarize the best wines of the trip later.
As we depart Bolam, Ricardo asks did you like the raspberries? --- why yes. Then we will stop at my uncle’s farm and get a few baskets to eat on the journey. Is life good or what?
Challhuaquen - fishing place in the native language
Sunday January 23th through Wednesday Jan 26th
After the four hour drive ----
It was like meeting old friends. Guillermo, our head guide, was joined by Pablo, his assistant, and others from the lodge who greeted us with friendly handshakes, bear hugs and words of recognition and remembrance. Dave Breedlove and I had been her three years ago.
Guillermo points to his Keenes (fly fishing shoes) that I gave him on our last visit and smiles to show that he remembered us.
After a quick tour of the facility for the newbies and an introduction to our rooms, we adjourn to the lounge for a greeting beverage of champaign with cassis. The staff is introduced --- our Chef Hermann, hostess Veronica, and manager Gustavo.
We then enjoyed four days and five nights of the greatest fly fishing, world class meals and bottomless glasses of Argentine malbec imaginable. The fish were bigger and stronger than I remembered, the weather was summer-like and the meals were unforgettable. Nightly, Hermann, would announce the evening’s dinner offering with a big smile in his best Spanglish before service began --- we understood; then after dinner he would come bursting through the swinging service door like a bull with two thumbs up inquiring, OK? The best!
Each catch took 20 to 30 minutes to land. Big, tricky, and strong, unlike anything we have caught elsewhere. Guillermo and Pablo took us to the best fishing holes on the river. And to my delight, the flies that I had tied worked like a charm! On the last day I caught 13 fish on one of my lures --- that was exciting.
We hated to leave.