Easter in Argentina

Dyeing Easter Eggs

As part of our cultural immersion, Pablo thought it would be good for us to visit a number of different churches in town over our stay to get an idea of the different worship styles. Our favorite was the one we visited on Easter Sunday. We walked in to a room clearly divided right down the middle. To the right, the congregation, to the left, the worship band… it was close to half and half, with the edge going to the band. But no this wasn’t a tiny church with a keyboard and guitar, we’re in South America after all. The band consisted of no less than 5 accordion players (ranging in age form 12-60), at least 5 tambourine players, 6-10 traditional guitar players, about 6 people playing a banjo-mandolin hybrid… oh, and then one little boy with a set of bongos. The service was full of music to say the least… like a super-powered mariachi band. And it turns out that the little old lady taking notes at the front table wasn’t there for “minutes” or to take prayer requests, she is where you sign up to sing. Kinda like a open mic night, you sign up there to sign/play/read the following Sunday… Rick’s request to sing Freebird was unanimously declined.

Our favorite activity of the day was teaching Guille and Nathan how to dye Easter Eggs and explaining how they symbolize Jesus’ empty tomb and the new life that comes as a result of His rising from the dead. This was a first for all of us to dye eggs from “scratch” i.e. on or own without any help from a kit. We went the professional way, we hollowed out the eggs by poking holes in the ends and blowing out the white and the yolk, as opposed to the hardboiled route. We discovered Liz is much better at this than Rick (for the record, Rick authored this paragraph. Can’t wait for the comments). The results speak for themselves… clearly, somos artistos.

Apparently no Easter trip to Argentina is complete without a visit from Ratón Pérez, he is the Argentine equivalent of the Easter Bunny Tooth Fairy. Yep the Tooth Fairy here is a rodent, a rat to be more specific. This worked out fairly well as most ofRaton Perez what Rick knows how to say in Spanish is about animals (gato this, ratón that, monos get back). None the less he was a constant source of conversation and almost like another member of the family. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that we got to enjoy the company of Raton Perez’s friends during our stay. Rick made big claims to Guille and Pablo about his trapping prowess… convinced them to provide some of Guille’s jewelry wire for him to make snares… it’s been two weeks, we still have two empty rat snares. Rick says he just intimidated them. Which is weird because I swear I can hear them mocking him from the ceiling above our bed. This was one of Guille’s and my, many, “inside jokes.”

Life in Argentina


We have been staying with Pablo’s family for the last month in San Martin, and it’s been an amazing experience. We have our own room in the house, but we spend most of our time in the family area with Pablo, his wife Guille, their son Nathan (10), daughter Trinidad (6mo) and Abuelo (the grandfather). It’s been a full cultural immersion, with some comical fails along the way – we’re grateful that the Carli’s have been very gracious with us!


It has been really fun getting to know REAL life in Argentina, not just the tourist or traveler version and getting to know a town… and be known in a town. Now that we’ve been here a while we know people when we walk down the street, people stop us to talk to us, we have our favorite places to eat (Almacen de Flores and La Creperia) and the waitresses ask us about how our anniversary was and if we’ve tried their favorite hang out they recommended to us yet.We even know the names of a couple of dogs in town and they greet us, Carlita the border collie is our favorite.

P1140603Pablo and Guille have been so great about showing us the wonderful area they live in. The last two weekends we have visited beautiful lakes. First it was Lago Melquina.P1140394We packed a picnic lunch and, of course, three thermoses of hot water, the yerba and our mate – you can never go without mate! The mate starts in the car on the way to your destination, who ever rides shotgun has to be the Cebador (person who serves mate for everyone)… and basically it’s doesn’t stop until, well, ever. We got to be the heroes because we had our camping stove and pot and could heat more water up, right there where we picnicked.

P1140381We stopped at the lake first to take in the views, then walked a little ways up a gorgeous river. We lounged all day, taking turns with the fly fishing rod. Rick caught two little trout that day. My accomplishment for the day was saving Trini (the baby) from a gigantic pig that wondered over from the farm next to us. We played in the water, caught crawfish and swapped stories in a friendly soup of Spanish and English.

TroutThe next day we went to Playa Bonita at Lake Lolog, the best beach around! It’s sandy and stays shallow for at least 200 yards out, perfect for playing in. We finally discovered something we could tell Argentines that proved the value of existence for futbol Americano (football, vs. futbol which is soccer) to them… You have futbol Americano, so you have something you can play in the water at the beach. It’s really hard to play futbol in even a few inches of water, and impossible in a foot or so.

P1140365P1140427We’ve visited almost all of the 7 lakes in the region. We’ve come across some very interesting camping recommendations, which Rick tested out.

Gato testMy big adventure was attempting to feed jello to a 6 month old baby who absolutely did not want to eat, while riding in a car over a rocky 4×4 gravel road. The cup of jello was empty by the end of it… but I’m not sure any of it actually got eaten.


The Carli’s have treated us to delicious asado, and taught us how to cook a proper asado. Rick is convinced we need an asado pit in our backyard someday.

P1140588Since we were going to be in the same place for more than 24 hours, Rick thought it would be a good opportunity to get some real Spanish lessons in. So we got an “intensive” Spanish tutor for 2 hours a day for a week. It kinda backfired on him though as I learned much quicker than he did (taking advanced Spanish all through high school and paying attention probably helps). This resulted in Guille and I telling each other jokes in Spanish constantly… occasionally at Rick and Pablo’s expense. They took it in good stride though. (This paragraph was written by Rick in my “voice”, he needs practice understanding 1st person, 3rd person, tenses, etc.).

[accordion clicktoclose=true]

[accordion-item title=”Click here to view a translation of this paragraph by Rick”]Nosotros vivamos allí para vente–cuatro horas. Yo sabo es bueno oportunidad para clases Español verdad. Entonces, nosotros compramos un tutor para dos horas un dia de semana. Es abajo enfuego en mi cabeza. Ella empezar mas major, Ella recuerdo esquela atras. Ella y Guille es los chistosas buenas… TODO EL DIA. Yo es bueno coreado. Cuidado para monos bravos; muy peligros.
(feel free to compare that to Google Translate).[/accordion-item]


Maybe it’s the feeling of getting to know somewhere, or having a little taste of family and friends, or maybe it’s just hitting the six month mark, but we have both been homesick the last couple of weeks, despite being in such a beautiful place.


We Got a Gig!

We’ve gone a little radio silent here lately. And I can’t blame a lack of internet this time, we’ve just been busy working.

As of mid-March, for the first time in the last six months, we actually knew where we were we going to be FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS!! I realize that probably doesn’t sound as shocking to you, but for us it’s insane! The first stop has been San Martin, doing volunteer work with a bible school…


and the second stop will be Tumunan Lodge in Chile. We will be working there in exchange for room and board! It’s our first Workaway job. It’s located in the Andes, has fly fishing, horseback riding and it’s own little vineyard. We aren’t sure what all we’ll be doing, but it could be anything from general lodge cleaning, cooking, garden tending, to helping in the vineyard, to helping guide guests on fishing trips. The owner was also excited that we have marketing and graphic design backgrounds, so probably a little of that thrown in too. They have a couple horses on property which they say I can ride in my free time! Oh, and did I mention they do wine tours of the Colchagua Valley? We start on April 15, so more to come. Here’s the website if you want to check it out: http://www.tumunanlodge.com/

Anyway, since mid-March we have been here in San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina. We are volunteering with a Christian ministry here started by a friend of Rick’s, Pablo. Rick met Pablo about ten years ago; Pablo was the translator for a 10 week mission trip Rick went on to La Plata, outside of Buenos Aires.

P1140414 Pablo saw a huge need in this area of Argentina for people to be able to understand and apply the bible to their lives in a transformational way. Traditionally here the only way people hear the bible is through a sermon on Sunday at church. This area, and Patagonia as a whole, is very cut off from the outside world – mostly due to the government. Importing anything is crazy expensive, sending any kind of package here means you have to pay 50% of its value in import fees (we speak from experience on that – long story!), and outside information or goods are not taken kindly to. So there is just not any resource for people to know how to read the bible, or how it can transform their life.

P1140546 So Pablo started a bible school here, and we learned earlier this year that it has been struggling to get attendance and really take off. Pablo asked if we were in Argentina if we would like to come help – sort of a consulting job, see what the situation is, what improvements might help, give some marketing advice and redesign the website and materials. So that’s what we’ve been working on for the last few weeks. Rick has designed an incredible website that will really draw people in and engage them! We were able to share with Pablo a lot of the successes we’ve seen with equipping classes at Watermark.

And as we studied the situation, we came to the conclusion that Pablo needed a new target audience, and we got leadership to agree on that!! (ok, marketing nerdiness – but that’s HUGE!). The leadership has even asked that we rethink all of the courses for the year – all new topics – and I’m taking the lead on that! It’s very exciting. So we have developed a whole new marketing strategy, course content, radio ads, Facebook content and strategy, rebranded everything, including the website, logo, flyers, everything!


Pablo and his family have been incredible and generous, they invited us to share their home while we are here. We have laughed and learned so much getting to spend this time with them… so much so that it deserves it’s own post….


8 Favorite Moments of Bolson & Bariloche

  1. Teaching Cards Against Humanity to new Argentine friends in the middle of nowhere
    We were in the middle of a four-day trek outside of Bariloche and one of the Refugios had Cards Against Humanity. A group of local Argentines asked if we knew how to play and would teach them, so of course we obliged. The funniest part was having to define so many of the cards, things I never really wanted to have to explain to anyone. But we all laughed for hours!P1140168
  2. Attempting to trout fish in Cajon de Azul
    We didn’t catch anything, but it was such a beautiful place. It was a good thing that Refugio Cajon de Azul had a lamb dinner for us! It was the most beautiful refugio we went to, I could have stayed there for three or four days.Cajon de Azul Collage
  3. Surviving the Haupi Nahuel Traverse
    Our most technical and mentally exhausting hike to date. It involved rock climbing 50m up a narrow rock shoot on the side of a mountain with a 1,000ft drop below us (probably shoulda had a harness and rope) and 4 hours of ridgeline rock scrambling, followed by 3 more hours of tough hiking.P1140260 P1140296
  4. Experiencing a real asado
    We stayed in a small guesthouse owned by a sweet family who immediately took us in. After a lot of trekking, and then camping our first night we went to “the locals’ butcher” picked up half of a lamb and learned how you make the perfect asado on your parilla.Asado Collage
  5. The hippie market of El Bolson
    We just hung out there for hours. Great people watching, good artenseal beer, organic produce. I also scored some feather earrings. El Bolson is Boulder, CO’s long lost twin sister.Bolson Collaga
  6. Sunrise at Refugio Frey
    The granite peaks in the background turned bright pink and orange and the lake reflected it beautifully.P1140172
  7. Stopping to pick wild blackberries
    In the middle of our search for a hostel in El Bolson we came across a huge patch of wild blackberries and just stopped for 30 minutes to pick them and eat all we could. They were so sweet, I think I ate a couple of pints there on the side of the road.
  8. Staying in The Penthouse with a view over Bariloche
    Best view from a hostel room we’ve ever hadPenthouse



El Chaltén: Day 2 Piedras Blancas

Lago Hija, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina We woke-up to the most vivid rainbow we’ve ever seen just outside our camp. I mean we could see each individual part of ROY G BIV – Hello, elementary school science! And it was a complete arch with a second one right in from of the Fitz Roy Mastiff that was obscured by clouds. It was so bright and so close I really wanted to go find the start of it. We walked a few 100 meters towards it and it always seemed like it was just a few 100 more. So we gave up the hunt for the pot of gold that would have extended our trip substantially. No leprechaun related upgrades for us… yet!

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

One of the many lessons we’ve learned while camping is that oatmeal is an extremely versatile food. You can make it taste like just about anything. My new favorite breakfast recipe is for Orange Danish Rolls… Make oatmeal as usual then add a 1/5 packet of Sprim (Tang) and a little bit of powdered milk. It tastes just like orange Danish rolls; though the texture is a bit different.

Oatmeal, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

After a hearty breakfast it was time for us getting down to business, so we put on our business socks for a little bouldering at Piedras Blancas. Piedras Blancas is a glacier and lake with a huge boulder field between it and the river about an hour down river from Campamento Poincenot. We climbed around on a couple of the boulders and had a lot of fun. After scoring some awesome views of the glacier and the lake we made our way back to Poincenot to pack up camp and move to Campamento de Agostini.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

With the wind starting to pick up a bit (as the climbers had predicted) we made our way past Lago Madre and Lago Hija past more stunning views of the mastiff. At the southern shore of Lago Hija we found the coolest little beach with tiny flat and rounded smooth pebbles. We took off our packs and sat down on the beach and it as so comfortable in the sunshine and the wind blowing on our faces. We ended up just sitting and talking there for over an hour. Liz said it might be one of her favorite places we had been on the trip. It was an unforgettable hour. I couldn’t get over the rocks.

Lago Hija, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina Lago Hija, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

By the time we made it to Campamento Agostini the wind was in full force and we could see the clouds building. We looked at the sky and made the call…

Yep. We bailed.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

It was a hard decision, unless you looked at the sky, and if the climbers weather prediction held out, which it looked like it would, it would be nasty tomorrow… and the next day… and the next… for the foreseeable future. With no hopes of beautiful vista views and no desire to spend a soggy night in the tent, we made our way back into town. Again, that’s one of the nice things about El Chaltén, you’re almost always within walking distance of town. We found a campsite in town and made a new friend who settled in for the night with us. (Liz’s note: WTH?! Rick is becoming a cat person!!! I do not approve. Ruger does not approve!!! ….and the cat not only kept us up ALL night, but peed on my shoes the next morning. Not. A. Fan.)

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

El Chaltén: Day 1 Fitz Roy

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

We, surprisingly, had a plan when we arrived in El Chaltén and we were ready to execute. Liz loved the efficiency. We were planning to spend 4 days and 3 nights camping at the foot of the Fitz Roy towers. We knew from our conversations with climbers at Erratic Rock, that had recently come for Chaltén, that our weather window was quickly closing but we thought we could squeeze this little trek in before the weather totally turns to … well… something that would need this shovel.

Poop Shovel - Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

With the sun sheading its first rays of light on the tops of the mountains we made our way to the trailhead at the edge of town under clear blue skies. One of the things that makes El Chaltén “Argentinas Trekking Capital,” is the trails all, basically, starts in town and everything, conceivably, could be done as day hikes. We were climbing up hill in no time; after grabbing a couple of empanadas on the way out-of-town of course. The climbers report promised, “Friday will be perfect.” So far so good.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

It wasn’t long before I found a place I thought we could turn into a home. Liz insisted the tree wasn’t big enough for the two of us, so we kept moving. Inspired by the towering peaks in front of us we made our way closer and closer to camp.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, ArgentinaFitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Shortly we came across a trail sign and we new we were in the right place, Campamento de Agostini. I’m starting to think there may be a reason I feel so at home in Patagonia. Padre Alberto María de Agostini was a missionary and explorer in Patagonia in the early 20th century. There is a bunch of stuff name after him down here and I saw a picture of him in a book at Pingo Salvaje… Now I’m sure of it, we must be related.  Padre Alberto María de Agostini on the left, my dad on the right.

Agostini vs Agostin

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

We made it to Campamento Poincenot around lunchtime, so we set up camp and ate a quick lunch then made our way on to the mirador for the Fitz Roy and Lagos de los Tres in the early afternoon. We had wanted to climb the peak right next to it but found out we had to register with the guardaparque to legally climb it, so, maybe another day. With that plan out the window, we had the rest of the afternoon to play around on the boulders around the mirador and just enjoy the views.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

We were graced by a fly over from 3 condors that seemingly came out of nowhere. I barely got a picture of them as they flew right over our heads. They are HUGE up close.

Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Back at camp we still had a while before it was dark so I worked on “Camp Improvements” while Liz cook an amazing dinner. Camp improvements loosely translated to me building little walls and wind blocks with rocks and logs.

We at dinner and watched the clouds form over Fitz Roy from our camp and settled in for the night.

Stay tuned for the next part of our Fitz Roy adventure…