Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome to Buenos Aires!

Welcome to Argentina! Upon reaching the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires our guides greeted us with welcome signs. A majority of our group flew together and caught a bus to the Hotel Claridge. The Johnson's flew in a few hours later and finally arrived at the hotel after dealing with one broken down cab, three different cab drivers, and cab fair of $100 (normally a $58 dollar trip). This was more excitement than they would have liked, so they were grateful to join the rest of the group. We all enjoyed a few hours of free time to clean up and take a siesta (nap) before heading out to starting exploring the city.
Our tour guides welcome us to Argentina.
Although serious looking in this photo, they were very friendly.

As we set out many of us soon forgot how wonderful the showers felt as the extreme heat drenched us one more time. Argentina's temperatures have soared recently reaching 37 plus degrees C (106 degrees F) today. I just heard on the local news that this is the worst heat wave in 40 years and it has lasted 13 days. Overall, we are enjoying this 100 degree difference, but we are looking forward to a forecast of a bit lower temps in the days to come.

As a group we walked through a major shopping area along Florida street and found our way to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. This Roman Catholic Cathedral displays an extraordinary amount of  intricate detail capturing the attention of many in our group. This church has been rebuilt many times since its origin in the 16th century. One thing that caught my attention in the cathedral was the Mausoleum of General San Martin. The following excerpt from Wikipedia explains this area of the Cathedral well and why a soldier stands guard.

"In 1880, the remains of General José de San Martín were brought from France and placed in a mausoleum, reachable from the right aisle of the church. The mausoleum was specially designed by French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, with marble of various colors. The black sarcophagus is guarded by three life-size female figures that represent Argentina, Chile and Peru, three of the regions freed by the General. The mausoleum also has the remains of Generals Juan Gregorio de las Heras and Tomás Guido, as well as those of the Unknown Soldier of the Independence." 
Mausoleum of General San Martin.

Cathedral detail.

More cathedral detail.

I have always been drawn to mosaic so the floor of the cathedral caught my eye. I thought
of these vines being an extension of my feet and how we can bring beauty to the world by
the way in which we walk among others.
Catching a cab from the official Buenos Aires cab service can be quite a time
consuming activity. This line was well over a block long.
Decisions! Decisions! Pat and Dawn Scheier decide which wine to try this evening.
Our group split up for the rest of the day exploring the city center, the water front, shopping areas, wine shops, and eventually seeking a place for an evening meal. Typically the evening meal in Argentina starts after 8 p.m. and goes well into the evening. It just so happened that a majority of our group ended up at the restaurant El Establo. We had no idea we were in for such a treat at this establishment. Not only did we eat some of the most outstanding beef and chicken we had ever tasted (Dan shared this was the best beef he had eaten in all his trips to Argentina.), but our waiter treated us to lemon liquor and also champagne, both unexpected surprises.   

With full bellies and smiles on our faces we anticipate what tomorrow's guided city tour will bring. 
Francis proved himself to be an outstanding waiter at the El Establo Restaurant.
This delicious beef came in a 750 g size, which Francis carved up right at the table.
We graciously thanked Francis as he treated our table to champagne. As we left Francis shook our hands,
gave hugs, and said farewell to the women with a customary kiss on the cheek.

Rea Jean and I in front of our home away from home for the next few nights.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Packing Day...

Today is packing day for 32 SDARL alumni and spouses!! Tomorrow we set out on a journey to Argentina and Chile. Over the next few weeks we will be visiting many agricultural sites as well as taking part in the local culture and enjoying much warmer weather. I, Rachel Mehlhaf, invite you to visit this blog often as I share daily updates on our adventure.

Dan Gee during his site inspection visit to Argentina earlier this year.
Jorge, the fellow on the right, will serve as one of our tour guides.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Approximately 30 SDARL alumni and spouses will depart for Argentina and Chile Dec. 29 - Jan. 14. Please check back here often for daily summaries and photographs from the group.