Saturday March 20th, 2004 – A friend of ours, Lisa Walters, had emailed us previously about coming to visit us. I have known Lisa over 10 years, she came to work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center www.parc.com where I was working and started as our group’s administrative assistant. She met Doug Walters who was a coworker of mine, fell in love and they got married. We have kept in touch with them as they moved to Sacramento, California, in order to have a home with a yard and space to raise their two children, Aaron who was born in 1996 and Katie Lou who was born in 1998. Ron would keep them apprised of our coming and goings through his lengthy, worded and tiny printed postcards (if you’ve ever received a postcard from Ron you know what I’m talking about), Ron can cram more information on a postcard then anyone I’ve ever seen. He claims this gets the most “bang for his buck” on buying postcards and postage.
Lisa had written us and asked about visiting, she kept using the word “I” instead of “we” in her email, when I asked her about this she said that both her and Doug couldn’t afford to take a vacation at the same time, and she really needed a vacation, so she was leaving him home with the kids. “OK, by us!” we stated, although disappointed we wouldn’t see Doug on this trip. Lisa then asked if her sister could join her on the trip, “More the merrier”, I told her, “Besides we need a 4th to play cards and have Gin and Torros!” I told her I would tell her what that meant once she got here.
I picked Lisa and Marni up at the airport even though they said they could surely find transportation on their own to our apartment. I happened to mention this to the driver as we drove out to the airport, and he decided to wait for us to take us back.
I greeted them, looking surprising well after the long and grueling flight, Lisa said I looked great, which I thought was nice after having stayed up half the night cleaning the house preparing for their visit.
We drove back to the apartment as I pointed out certain sites along the way and caught up on our lives. I had met Marni only once several years ago at Aaron’s first or second birthday party.
The first day you arrive in Buenos Aires you are usually pretty wiped out from the long over night flight and time change, so I just took them on a short walk to the cemetery area that has artisan booths setup every weekend to do some leg stretching and checking out the local crafts and stuff. That night I made my stinky pasta mushroom dish, they have these wonderfully strong and pungent dried mushrooms here that I love and I have this great recipe for using them with pasta.
Before dinner I told Lisa and Marni about our nightly routine of playing cards and having Gin and Torros before we make dinner. There is a carbonated grapefruit citrus drink here called “Pomelo de los Torros” that goes great with Gin, very refreshing! Both Lisa and Marni don’t care for gin, so I told them I could make them “Vodka and Torros!” They gave the drink 2 thumbs up!
Sunday March 21st, 2004 – We headed to Plaza Dorrego for the weekly antiques fair on Sunday. This is always fun to schlep around looking at antiques and then take in a nice lunch with a tango show.
Ron, Lisa, Marni
Some political graffiti we saw as we walked around town.
Monday March 22nd, 2004 – Ron had a doctor’s appointment so I took the girls on a city tour so they could get a feel for how the city is laid out. This included a trip to La Boca which is a touristy area, however, it is located in the center of a very poor neighborhood.
We took a taxi there but on the way back we took a city bus. We had to walk several blocks through the neighborhood which I had never been through and I was a little worried. I asked Marni for her digital camera and put it in my pocket out of sight, in general Buenos Aires is a very safe city, but that camera could probably feed a family of 4 for months. Luckily we got onto the bus with no mishaps.
That night we invited Nick Cheeseman and his wife Florencia over for dinner. Nick works at Crown Relocations that we used when we originally moved to Buenos Aires to ship our things to Argentina. Nick is a very nice and friendly guy and we have become friends. He met Florencia, fell in love, got married and have started their family with two beautiful girls. Lisa was happy to get her “kid” fix, since she was missing her family. Florencia brought a wonderful traditional Argentine dessert and we had a wonderful time.
Tuesday March 23rd, 2004 – Took Lisa and Marni to Tigre. This involved taking a regular city train, and then transferring to a renovated “Tren de la Costa” which runs along the Rio de la Plata river. We stopped at San Isidro to check out some more artisan things and had a nice lunch and then proceeded on to Tigre. There is a “Mercado de Frutas” in Tigre that has many many booths of artisan things, however, since it was almost our fall it was only open on weekends. This was slightly disappointing but we still took a 1 hour boat trip along the delta.
That night we did a tango dinner show at “Al Viejo Almacen”. When visiting Buenos Aires you just have to do a tango show! YOU JUST HAVE TO!!!
Wednesday March 24th, 2004 – I took the girls to see the Recoleta Cemetary and Evita’s tomb. The cemetery is really a unique place with amazing crypts, some of them as big as a small chapel.
Our friend Gustavo called and said that it was his birthday that night and could we come over and share some empanadas and celebrate with him. This is one of the things I love about Argentines, they don’t really plan something extravagantly or make a big deal about things, they just call up and invite you over. The whole point is to get together with friends and share some food and wine, it doesn’t have to be planned out weeks in advance. I told Gustavo that we had friends visiting and I asked if I could bring them with us, “Of course you can!”, he said.
We got to Gustavo’s apartment and there was plenty of empanadas and wine to feed everyone. Of course we toasted with champagne and sang happy birthday.
Marni, Alberto, Lisa, Ron, Pedro, Gustavo, Luis
Ron, Gustavo, Pedro, Pete Alberto, Marni, Lisa, Ron
Alberto and Lisa
Lisa and Marni had asked about having “mate”, the traditional Argentine herbal tea, and I kept telling them “Of course I’ll show you how to drink mate!” but had never gotten around to it. Alberto loves mate and he wanted to have some which was a great way for Lisa and Marni to try it.
This impromptu dinner with our friends, I think, turned out to be the highlight of their trip.
Thursday March 25th, 2004 – Russell invited us over to his apartment to have some wine and then go out to a nice restaurant. The girls loved the view from his apartment overlooking the city’s zoo.
Russell and Mz Kitty
Gonzalo and Lisa
Friday March 26th, 2004 – Their trip came to a quick end. Marni had to return because of some obligations with her attending university. We had a really great time with them. The return trip to the USA always leaves about 10:30 pm so we had time for one more game of cards and “Vodka and Torro” before they left.