From Pucon a quick hop across the border lands you in Neuquen province Argentina, and we were headed for the capital, funnily enough, named Neuquen.
We were to stay with Daniel and Gisela and help then with their English, so we didn’t know what to expect and frankly we had both assumed that they would be very good indeed and we wouldn’t get to practice our Spanish much. As it happens they weren’t bad at all, but preferred speaking in English only in “lessons” so it was a very Spanish week! They were very patient with us and I loved being so immersed in the language, certainly this was the least English environment we had been in ever.
Daniel and Gisela are THE NICEST PEOPLE we could have hoped to stay with (they are so nice that they merited what I believe to be my first use of capitals!). They made us feel so at home and were so friendly and warm that when they said we could stay longer I really wished we had more time.
This is us on the balcony of their beautiful apartment overlooking the river. So I should now mention Sofia, my favourite dog in all of Argentina. That’s her, there on the right, refusing to look at the camera. She is such a cool dog, face of a chiuaua, body of a terrier, and equally fond of belly rubs and running in sprinklers. When I said I was going to sneak her into my back pack I was only half joking.
So, our ten days here passed really quickly, too quickly, what can I tell you…. It was hot. Consistently over 30. And my leg finally healed enough to stop going to the doctor. Nearly every day we took Sofi for a walk along the river, we explored the city a bit- there’s a really nice craft market at the weekend and lots of musicians and dancers perform around the central part of town in the summer. We went kayaking for free thanks to the neighbouring town’s tourism event. We watched Daniel perform at a classical concert and at a gig in town- he plays cello and guitar and it was really fantastic to go and hear him play. He also started teaching egg how to play guitar, which he really enjoyed. So much so that I considered getting him a guitar for Christmas but we really can’t carry one. I think he may take it up at home though.
I enjoyed watching a bit of Argentinian TV and seeing how much I had progressed in understanding since the last time I had access to foreign channels. A little bit. Also did some more gf baking- polenta chocolate brownies, lemon sponge and a creme Catalan, my first custard.
Speaking of gluten free, Gisela and Daniel were the first couple who really got what being coeliac meant, and I was so grateful to feel safe with their delicious food and not have to explain everything a hundred times. It really made me feel normal as we didn’t really talk about it at all. And we had some very good food here, the highlight probably being the mountain lamb we had cooked on a grill in the park after our kayaking adventure.
Incidentally, egg and I did not enjoy sharing a kayak, it seems we would have much preferred racing than cooperating. (Photo thanks to the Cipolletti tourism people).
We also went on a trip to a nearby lake which amazed both egg and I by being so massive, both easily agreeing it was the biggest we have seen. This amused and surprised our hosts, and now we are in Bariloche I can see why. Never the less it was very relaxing way to pass an afternoon and an excellent mate drinking spot.
When we left we gave them a hat with a flower that I had adjusted for Gisela, and they gave us our own mate, which is now amongst our most treasured possessions. We drink from it, and think back on our amazing week.
Oh, and this turtle can flyyyyyyyy…….,