Saturday, March 15, 2008


This landmark Cathedral is in the heart of old Mazatlan   

Building the new condos

The iron workers work high above the ground building the next condos, Costa Bonita Marina   

Dale and the Shrimp Lady

We bought fresh shrimp from this feisty lady, what a great supper.  Ask Gail for the recipe.

Surf's UP in Mazatlan


Mazatlan Adios

     In the morning of March 16, Gail will fly back to Wenatchee while Dale heads to the other side of the world: India.  We have had a memorable time in this sun filled spot.  We have been visiting Mexico for 23 years, (Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Cabo, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Acapulco, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro and Guanajuato) and many of the best memories were here with our kids in Mazatlan.  This was our longest stay, 31 days. It never rained one time.  We did all the old things, recapturing sweet times.  But we also saw many new places, like the rehabilitated stone buildings surrounding Plaza Machado and the new condo towers all along the beach.  We hiked 4 miles in the sand to the Playa Bruja (Witch's Beach) and went shopping at a Sam's Club and a Mega that are nicer than any grocery store in Wenatchee.  All the exercise, swimming and hiking for hours every day, have been good.  We feel better physically than in many years.  And despite the old jokes about Montezuma's revenge, neither of us has been sick once in Mexico.  In fact, the only time we were sick since Christmas was the two weeks in February between South America and Mexico while back in Wenatchee.  We had to go home to catch a cold.

     Dale has written some book reviews, they are opinionated and so he does not want to post them on line now.  But if anyone wants to see how he really feels about the books he has been reading, send a request to and he might just send them to you. He spent a lot of time on line researching the real estate market in Mexico and the fruit opportunities here.  He also has learned a lot about India in preparation for that trip.  And we have been captivated by the political primary season and the abrupt resignation of Eliot Spitzer.  Hubris or humility, what a choice and what a lesson. 

     Gail has planned the next year of music at the church.  She has also been on line every day, communicating with choir members and musicians.  It is amazing how much work you can do on line these days.  It makes us want to rearrange our lives so we can spend the winters in the southern latitudes. Today for our last day we hiked all the way to Los Sabalos, on the beach. Then we watched a wedding from our balcony.   A  Mexican wedding and right now they are dancing on the beach to the live band.  Life goes on here.  We will fly away tomorrow.  But we will be back. Adios amigos hasta la vista.

Monday, February 25, 2008


The sunsets at La Marina in Mazatlan are world class.

our beach is changing

The daily beach walk is part of the fun at Mazatlan! We are seeing a lot of development in our neighborhood.

Gail's favorite palapa

This is Gail's special spot to read, sun and listen to music. A private palapa, on the beach,  what could be better?

La Marina side view

We love the  south and side view from room #703 where we stay at La Marina. The ocean view is in front of our building and we DO see world class sunsets from our deck , but the side view of the yachts is not bad either!

La Marina, Mazatlan, Mexico

What great family memories in this sunkist place

Welcome to the Las Labradas Museum

A good explanation of the carved stones at Las Labradas

Poster at the Museum


Gail and the seabirds

A pristine beach 50 Kilometers north of Mazatlan

Petroglyphs: ancient carved rocks

Thousands of years ago native people carved symbols into the rocks along this beach. 

Mexico 2008.1

Mexico 2008
On Valentine's Day 2008 we flew to Mazatlan to begin a time of rest and reflection.
As we pulled in to La Marina we were met by Mary Ann Corning, our next door neighbor from Wenatchee. She and Jack had been down here for two weeks and they made a reservation for us at the special Valentine dinner at the hotel. It was a very memorable evening and we had some great times with them during the next week.
One day we drove three hours north to Dimas and the petroglyph museum at Las Labrades, where we walked miles along the unspoiled beaches. We saw thousands of sea birds, crabs, and a fascinating recreated village of the pre-Columbian native people who carved the artistic/religious motifs in hundreds of rocks that are still out in the open, washed twice daily by the tides. It is amazing that no government agency has removed these rocks for protection. This is a priceless monument to the human heritage yet the stones are simply resting on the beach for all to see, touch and photograph. We were the only people there and as there is only one small sign, it is not surprising. This is not in any guidebook and there is no clearly marked exit. If you want to find it, travel 50 kilometers north of Mazatlan on the new Autopiste. At a turnaround near the 50 K road marker ,exit the freeway by turning left and drive about 7 K down a dirt road that winds by a village, under a railroad track and dead ends at the beach. The museum is well worth the trip. Hope you enjoy the attached photos.
Later in the week we spent several hours with Luis, the owner of the beach just south of the museum. He has owned the property for many years, but has not had the time or money to develop it. Since it is about 3 miles of pristine beachfront, Jack is convinced it could be a world class destination resort. It is also the subject of a title dispute. The local natives claim ownership under the "Ejido" laws form the 1930's. Until the title question is resolved in court, nothing will happen here. However, someday, we expect to see a fantastic resort. The model for this may be a resort owned by Luis at San Blas, a tiny town in the jungle three hours south of Mazatlan. There, surrounded by the ocean and dozens of natural mango swamps and waterways, an old fishing village welcomes ecotourists for bird watching and fishing trips.
Fishing in the Sea of Cortez may be the best in the world. Jack and Dale went out one day and caught over 30 fish. Among the catch were three huge Groupers, one weighed 25 lbs. Also they caught Conejos (rabbit fish) Trigger fish and Rock Cod. Gail cooked four of the Conejos and we had a great dinner. (Her recipe included crushed cashews and sweet red peppers, you should ask her for it.) We took plenty of photos of the fishing day, including proof of all the fish, but they are on our other camera and we will have to download the photos when we get home.
The food is as good as ever. And we enjoyed it for three days with Kyle and Ann, who flew down on President's Weekend for an all too brief mini vacation. Go to Ann's blog to see some great photos of the places we walked and the seafood.

Mazatlan 2008

Now that all the friends and family have gone home, we spend at least three hours a day walking the beach and the rest of the time reading and writing. Gail has been transposing music for the church choir. Dale is writing some essays on various topics and researching his upcoming trip to India. This is a very sweet place to contemplate the next chapter in our lives.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Map of South America Trip

South America Itinerary
1/29/08 - Santiago, Chile
1/27/08 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
1/24/08 - Montevideo, Uruguay
1/19/08 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
1/19/08 - General Roca, Argentina **CANCELLED DUE TO STRIKE**
1/17/08 - San Rafael, Argentina
1/14/08 - Tunuyan, Argentina
1/12/08 - Mendoza, Argentina
1/11/08 - Santa Cruz, Argentina
1/7/08 - Curico, Chile
1/4/08 - Santiago, Chile

View Larger Map

A great night for theatre!

Steppin' out on the town to spend our last night  in Buenos Aires. We will attend a broadway style tango show at the Senor Tango venue.

Senor Tango theatre

Our Senor Tango theatre experience was full of fun. The orchestra had strings, piano, guitar and accordian. Great musicians, singers and the dancers were world class.

Curtain call

The dancers were absolutely fantastic. No pictures allowed but I managed to sneak this one during the curtain call.

Senor Tango Ambiance

  Waiters and vendors add to the theatre experience by their costumes.

Day 26

Day 26  January 29, 2008


     Senior Tango is a big Broadway like show of singing, dancing and glitzy routines. We loved it.  There are many tango shows to choose from, all cost about the same.  We chose the one that sounded like a big production and it was.  From the opening number when an Indian rode in on a painted horse until the finale with the entire audience singing "Don't Cry for me Argentina," it was loud and sassy and fun.

     At first Dale was uneasy.  This would just be a show for tourists, not at all authentic.  But he was surprised to see the entire crowd, over 500 people, singing along with the songs in Spanish.  We found three other Americans, young people from NYC who work in Mergers and Acquisitions for a big bank who are trying to buy out a local financial services firm. They had a night off their "Due Diligence" work and wanted to see a show.  They had been here two weeks working around the clock.  The local Portenos told them this was the best show.  We were lucky to get tickets as the show sells out every night.

     The host was also the owner and he had a great voice.  He would get the crowd going and ask them to sing along and the place shook with their enthusiasm. It was very loud. But the dancers, oh, the dancers.  They were all beautiful, 10 couples in a variety of costumes, danced for two hours.  Slow and fast, acrobatic and sensual.  It was far better than Dancing with the Stars…and no commercials. Sadly, no cameras allowed.

     As the final number began, about 12:15 am, and the excellent orchestra broke into the strains of "Don't Cry for me Argentina" from Evita, the people had tears in their eyes.  They stood and applauded and cheered as the entire cast came on the revolving stage and a huge Argentinean flag fell from the ceiling.  As streamers and confetti drifted in the air, the love of the people for Eva Peron was again on display. She was their Princess Diana, a beautiful woman who died in the prime of life.  They love her and miss her as though she died yesterday. This is a passionate country.  Their music and love of life is inspiring.  We could not have chosen a better way to end the trip.

Monday, January 28, 2008

angry art


Angry Art

Our morning visit to the Musero de Arte Latinoamerican contained disturbing images.

rain in Buenos Aires

Our morning walk was interrupted by rain, so we took a taxi on our return from the museum. Umbrellas were required when walking around the city today.

counterfeit pesos

We evidently tried to pass off counterfeit pesos today when paying for lunch.....who knew?

Jacaranda tree in bloom

Our beautiful walk in the park on a rainy day in Buenos Aires

Day 25

Day 25  January 28, 2008


     Good art can make you think.  Bad art can make you angry.

     It was rainy this morning, our first day of rain the entire trip. The flowers were blooming on the jacaranda trees in the Plaza San Martin.  We decided to go to the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano. Housed in a modern three story building in the Recoleta neighborhood, it contains a permanent collection with some famous works by Diego Rivera, Frieda Khalo and Covarubia.  We enjoyed them and some impressionistic works by other artists.  There were some mechanical moving pieces that made us laugh.  A metal sculpture of six rings that would stretch and bend and move when you pushed a button.  Dale said: "I really think the conveyor belts in the new Unifrutti warehouse in Chile was a much finer work of art."

     Then we walked into a room with an model of an American Air Force jet at least twelve feet long, hanging vertically on the jet was a bloody crucified Christ.  The caption was:  The Christian Western World.  We chuckled at how obviously anti-American the artist was and how hamhanded and foolish was his art attack. The Soviet's had an entire school of art – Socialist Realism- devoted to attacks on America.

    But our laughter turned to anger when we went up to the top floor and saw the exhibition of Oscar Bony.  He was obsessed with death and had a series of thirty very large black and white photos of people being shot in various settings. The artist shot them first with his camera and then, after they were framed and behind glass, shot them again with a 9mm police gun. This is sick art, it was entitled the Suicide Series.  As we turned the corner to see the final, major piece of his oeuvre, it was a ten foot by six foot photograph of the 9/11 airplane crashing into the World Trade Center.  His title for the photograph was Osama Bin Laden 2001 and under the title he wrote:  "Fair is foul and foul is fair" quoting Shakespeare in Macbeth, scene 1.  Now we are not expert Shakespeare scholars and I want to read the play to get the context.  But if he means that somehow America deserved the attack, then he really made us mad.

     It is so typical for a socialist country to have a museum funded by tax payer dollars and the rich, "limousine liberals" who fund their pseudoart and use it to criticize America and all things capitalist.  We walked out of the museum fuming and hailed a taxi to the La Biela Cafe for a quick lunch.  The taxi driver refused to take the bill I handed him, saying it was "falso."  I found another bill that he accepted, and we went in to lunch.  After lunch I handed the waiter the first bill and he too said it was counterfeit.  I put two 50 peso bills side by side and they are identical except for the "feel" or the "texture" of the bill.  The waiter took me up to the head cashier and then three other waiters crowded around.  They all held the bill up to the light and stroked it, pronouncing it "bien hecho, muy bien hecho."  Well made, perhaps, but it was counterfeit. They wanted to know where I got it, but I have no idea having been given change by many people.  So we will bring it home for a souvenir, and will include a photo in the blog.  Can you tell which one is counterfeit?  Bad art and bad counterfeiting can make you angry.  Better to just ignore the idiots and move on.  Tonight we go to the big Tango show.

The sandy beach of Montevideo

Imagine living in a city with over a million people right on the beach. The citizens of Montevideo have a very nice life style.

Beach Hand Ball

Warming up for the next competitive Beach Hand Ball match. Teams had uniforms and there were spectator stands and mate cups everywhere.

A single Mate guy

A man ponders life with his friend....his cup of Mate.

Mate beauties

Mate even on the beach in the hot sun.


Sylvia Ana, our transportation from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay and back.

Ligure - our favorite restaurant

We dined on King crab with Parmesan and Trout with almond sauce in our favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires which was delicioso

Day 24

Day 24  January 27, 2008   


     There is an old saying "you can never go home again…"  It is sort of a sad expression that life goes on, people and places change, and one can never rediscover lost youth.  We  take a different approach. We return to Paris and Mazatlan, enjoying both the changes and the memories.  So in this trip we went back to several places to see if they were as good as we thought the first time, or perhaps even better the second time. 

     OK, so we were wrong about the beaches in Uruguay. In an earlier blog we said they were rocky and not nearly as nice as Hawaii.  This morning we walked a different direction and discovered miles of beautiful white sand beaches.  They were full of people playing, sunning and drinking mate.  We came upon a group of people playing Beach Hand Ball, and the action was fast.  It was fun to watch and try to capture the action in a photo with sand flying and the ball going into the net for a goal. Gail struck up a conversation with a man from NYC who was home to deal with a family emergency.  He loves his homeland, but is glad he can live and work in America.

     The photo of the day is the man sitting on the bulkhead of the beach and drinking his mate. We learned that sharing your mate is a token of good manners, fraternity and peace. People all sip out of the same straw and pass the cup around. We were offered the drink on several occasions and managed a polite "no thank you".  Mate is supposed to be good for your health. Since when is sharing germs good for one's health? Gail tried to catch several people in candid poses with their mate cups and then we had to catch a taxi to head to the dock and board the boat.

     We took a slow boat ride back to Buenos Aires and are now peacefully settled back in the Plaza Marriott. The hotel is as good as last time. Gail had fun spending our remaining pesos from Uruguay in the duty free shops on the Buquebus. While we enjoyed our time in Uruguay, we were excited to see the skyscrapers of Buenos Aires. Our hotel is in a great neighborhood in a fantastic city. Now what to do?  We read the newspapers and see that Obama trounced Hillary.  That is good.  We watched the weather channel and see that it is still freezing everywhere north of California.  I guess we will have to go out and enjoy the 85 degree evening.

       It is easy to develop a passion for fine dining as we are surrounded with sophisticated cuisine options everywhere we turn. We returned to the Ligure as we had the best meals of the trip there.  We were not disappointed, the second time was even better. We are still having a great time in this cosmopolitan city and are not ready to come back to the cold.  And we have not been sick even one day.  This is a great place to travel. And, yes, we do plan to come back again.


Saturday, January 26, 2008


Mate not Starbucks!

Mate is a tea-like beverage that is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets from a tree. People walk around with a theromos of hot water and a mate cup full of mate leaves so they can sip it all day long. No Starbucks in this town! 

mate is everywhere

Mate cups are for sale by many street vendors.

Plaza Independencia

A statue of Gen. Jose Gervasio Arrigas, father of Uruguay and hero of its independent movement stands in the center of Plaza Independencia

daily catch on the ramblas

Do you believe we have been eating some of these critters? Uruguay has an outstanding  range of mariscos (seafood)

a popular parrillada

Dinner at La Perdiz restaurant in Montevideo, Uruguay near the Sheraton hotel

Day 22

Day 22  January 25, 2008   


     Mate is the favorite drink of Uruguay; it is an herbal tea and many people here drink it all day long.  Walking the streets we see men and women carrying their thermos of hot water and a mug with a straw.  The mug is full of leaves and stems and each time they drink the mug they refill it with their hot water.  It looks very awkward seeing them carrying this around tucked under their elbow.  But most of the people we have talked to love it and say they could not survive without their mate.  One local called mate his "friend".


     Today we walked over five miles, from the hotel all along the Ramblas, or beachfront up to the old part of town. Fishermen were selling their morning catch right from the dock.  It was warm and sunny so we stopped a couple times to sit on a bench on the beach and watch all the people playing football, or jogging, or volleyball.  Most of the people had a thermos with them and we took a lot of photos of the mate nation.


     As we wind down this tremendous trip we have been thinking about what we have learned.  We have met dozens of very fine and generous people. The landscape is varied and rich.  The architecture is European of the 19th century, but also includes some fine modern structures like the Telephone Company Building in Montevideo, the City Hall, the Radisson and Sheraton Hotels.  They have less work stoppages here than in Argentina.  The people seem to be mostly of the middle class and there is less extreme wealth than in Argentina and not much visible poverty.  The taxes are high, a 22% VAT here and a 21% VAT in Argentina.  The governments are Socialist or Populist. In fact both Argentina and Chile have women presidents.  Everyone asks us if Hillary will be our next president.  Most of the small business people are either content or resolved to make the best of the situation.  They are hard working and hopeful.  They have planted some beautiful orchards and vineyards and are outward looking, planning to grow an export driven economy. The worlds financial markets have been on a roller coaster this entire month so the daily news provided us a lot of serious economic issues to discuss with the locals.


     Last night Rodolfo and Claudia took us to La Perdiz, a local restaurant, for an evening of good food and talking about the fruit business.  We hope to be able to return the favor to them in Wenatchee.  In fact there have been many people in South America who would like to come to visit America and we have invited quite a few to come see our beautiful part of the world.  We expect some of them to come north for a visit.


     The carnival grandstands are being set up all over town and the festivities will grow in size and passion over the next two weeks before Lent begins.  In the main plaza, where the permanent giant statues of the nation's heroes stand guard over the Uruguayan heritage, we saw workmen setting up booths for the judges to sit and watch the giant inflatable floats and dancers and  listen to the bands play.  Everyone seems quite happy now.  This is a joyous time of the year.  The crops are being harvested.  Fresh fruits and berries, salads and vegetables, fish and meat are in abundance.  The people are a rather homogeneous mixture of Spanish, Italian and some Germans.  They celebrate their native cultures and are also proud to be part of this small and peaceful nation.  Tomorrow we get back on the boat and return to Buenos Aires for our last two days.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Champagne made at Santa Rosa

A 40 year employee grabs the bottom of each bottle, giving it a small shake, an abrupt back and forth twist, and while slightly increasing the tilt, drops it back in the rack. This action recurs every one to three days over a period of several weeks. He was FAST!!!

Bartlett pears at El Indio warehouse

Dale discusses pear size and shape with Juan and Roldolfo

super high density pear planting

Juan Fernando Corbone is an Ingeniero Agrenomo who shows us root stock to be budded to bartlett Pears.

Pink Lady crop in Uruguay

Rodolfo Fitipaldo is excited about the Pink Lady crop he will pick in late April.

a young gaucho herding cows

We were caught behind a traffic jam of milk cows in Uruguay while viewing orchards today.

Day 22

Day 22  January 25, 2008


    There are many family owned fruit companies in Uruguay and today we enjoyed visiting some of the great ones.  Our host, Rodolfo Fitipaldo, began by driving us to the Santa Rosa winery. This family owned firm began in 1898 and is the premier producer of sparkling wine in the country.  Last year they produced over 300,000 bottles by the "Champagne method" and many more of tannat, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.  The cousin of Rodolfo, Juan Pablo Fitipaldo, is the winemaker and he gave us a great tour.  He introduced us to Daniel Mutio, one of the owners.  He told us about the cost of shipping a container of wine to Florida ($4,000 and it contains 15,000 bottles of wine.)  Daniel showed us the large subterranean cave where they were about to entertain a large crowd from one of the huge cruise ships that sail to Antarctica.  This tourist business has been a boon to many local wineries.  As we left the tour buses arrived and the cruise passengers enjoyed a feast of roasted meat, wine and tango dancing.

      As we drove on Rodolfo told us about his hobby, racing horses.  His favorite horse, Berli Babe, is racing on Sunday at Punta del Este.  Last night Carneval began with wild parades and concerts.  The big horse race is part of the celebration.

     Next we went to an orchard and met Juan Fernando Corbone, an Ingeniero Agrenomo who advises growers and warehouses on horticultural practices.  With him we walked through several pear and apple orchards.  They are in the middle of Royal Gala and Bartlett pear harvest so we met some pickers, tractor drivers and took great photos.  We visited the Indio packing shed that Fitipaldo owns and watched them packing Galas for Italy and pears for Brazil. The office staff showed us how they do the paperwork for international sales.  On the wall they had a Washington Apple Commission poster showing all the major apple varieties and a big red WAC logo.  It seemed odd to see them here in Uruguay, but shows the worldwide reach of our brand and logo.

     At about 2pm we went to Bodega Bouza, a fantastic boutique winery, to enjoy lunch and walk around the vineyard. Rodolfo ordered for everyone and we each had a huge steak in Tannat wine sauce.  After lunch we visited other orchards to see the very tight planting of new Bartlett and Abate Fetel pears.  The trees are one-half meter apart.  This will result in 9000 trees per hectare.  It looks too close to me, but they believe it will yield 60 tons to the hectare within 5 years.  We took some great photos of Pink Lady apples and Galas.  Their big problem is scab as they had seven days of rain in the spring and could not get on top of the disease.  The Red Delicious have poor shape as there is little temperature difference between the day and night here.  The climate is much warmer than home; palm trees and lemon trees are as common as apple and pears.  But on the way home, Gail finally did see a heard of cows being driven by "gouchos" down the middle of the dirt road.  Sadly they were milk cows in Uruguay and not the beef cattle of the Pampas she has been looking for.  Still, it was a great day.  Very generous people and successful family businesses.



flamenco dance at the Sheraton

Carnival is a chance to leave one's worries behind and dance into the future. Last night we saw flamenco dances rather than tango.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Patio dining

Our waitress serves us on the patio in this seafood restaurant which was made from an abandoned boat.

Paella and Tannet wine

Lunch at El Viejo y el Mar which resembles an old fishing club

Atlantic ocean view

Atlantic ocean from the Sheraton Hotel in Montevideo

Sun bathing on the rocks

The beach in Montevideo is NOT Hawaii - no sand in sight. I think we will use the pool.

Day 21

Day 21  January 24, 2008   


     The ocean runs brown as the silt from the great basin of South America pours into the Atlantic.  As our ship pulled away from Buenos Aires harbor the water was a dark brown, flowing from the Rio de la Plata.  The original European settlers in the 1500's called the river the "Plata" as it is the Spanish word for silver.  But the water does not really look silver, it just looks muddy and dirty to us. 

     The ship was named the Sylvia Ana and she was big and new, like a Washington State Ferry. We entered a room with about 40 comfortable leather seats and six tables and chairs.  The steward came up and offered us a cappuccino, croissants and newspapers.  We only had about 20 people in that cabin, it was a nice place to ride across the ocean.

     We arrived in three hours, a smooth and pleasant ocean voyage.   After clearing customs we took a cab to the Sheraton Montevideo.  It is a new hotel, according to the guidebooks the best in the city.  From our room on the 23rd floor we can see the entire city and a great view of the ocean.  We took a walk around the neighborhood and went to El Viejo y la Mar, a blatant rip off of the name of Ernest Hemingway's prize winning book that every American high school student is required to read.  (I wonder how many of those students can actually recall any important theme from the novel?)  The menu has two photos of Hemingway and a quotation from the book in English.  The Old Man and the Sea is built right on the beach and the bar is the reconstructed hull of an old fishing boat.  It is actually very well done and the food was great.  We tried the Paella, saffron rice and seafood. The people here have a very pronounced accent; some words easy and some difficult to understand.  For "pollo" or chicken, they say "pojo." In fact any word with a double "ll" becomes a "j." I asked for "payeya" for lunch and the waitress replied, you mean "payeja."   For good bye "chow,chow."  A regular Coke is "commun" and a Diet Coke is "coca lite."

      One of our reasons for coming to this country was to investigate the Tannat grape, the mysterious wine grape from the Cahors region of Southwest France.  This grape is grown in only two places on earth:  Southwest France and Uruguay.  According to the Harvard Medical School study released last year, these grapes are the healthiest on earth, full of antioxidant powers even greater than the blueberry.  Sadly the grape has not been a winner on taste, seeming harsh and tannic to the modern taste.  During the middle ages it was reputed to be a strong and vital wine that was very popular in Europe.  We tried a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Tannat.  It was fine, but not our favorite.  Will there be a huge market in the US for a "healthy" wine?  Probably not unless it also tastes great. 

    After a pleasant lunch we walked along the shoreline.  Most of the beach here is rocky but that did not stop dozens of local folks from sun bathing on rocks or swimming.  The guidebooks says there are great beaches about 30 minutes east of the city.  There are 3 million people who live in this country and nearly half of them live in the capital.  It looks modern and clean, but not nearly as prosperous as Buenos Aires.  Tomorrow we go touring orchards and vineyards with Rodolfo Fitipaldo. The two guys yesterday laughed when I told them we were going to meet Fitipaldo as they said he not only does not speak English, but he doesn't even speak their kind of Spanish.  Hope we can communicate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

more tango

The street tango dancers are very entertaining and fun to watch

shoe shine

Shining shoes in BA

typical cafe greeting

Cafe life is everywhere in BA and the Portenos (locales) are so friendly!

Day 20

     Gail came to Argentina with some preconceptions. She knew that Argentina is currently one of the best travel bargains in the world because the dollar hasn't declined against the Argentinian peso. She expected to see lots of fruit trees and to taste good wine in Mendoza. But what Gail has not seen yet is a herd of cattle.  Maybe most Argentineans don't know what a cow looks like? Half of all Argentineans live in the city of Buenos Aires, with the rest of them living in Mendoza or elsewhere. But Gail is learning an important lesson in geography. Most of the cows live in the Pampas, a vast and sparsly inhabited region east of the capital.  We have seen plenty of beef served on a plate. Per capita beef consumption in Argentina is the highest in the world - and nearly double that of the U.S. The men we meet say they eat meat every day. But one wonders if these people have ever met a cow? I guess she expected them to be everywhere. They are everywhere, in pieces on a plate.                                                                       

     The street scenes in the city are fascinating. Today we stopped to watch more tango dancers, window shopped and shared a delicious fruit infused gelatti. Dale got his shoes shined near our hotel and they look great!  People hang out in the numerous cafes that appear on every other corner of the city in the various neighborhoods. We see locals who sit with a $2 coffee in hand somehow resting in the middle of this often traffic-clogged, horn-honking, passionate city. The cafĂ© culture is strong which is yet another reason this city reminds us of Paris.

     Today the newspaper had three articles that were of interest:  1.  Major hail storm hits Mendoza last night, over 1200 Hectares of fruit and vines severely damaged.  2.  A labor strike hits all the Bartlett pear growing regions of Rio Negro and Neuquen.  For the past seven days no one would pick, the roads were blocked to prevent any pears from reaching packing houses. This is the reason we could not go to Neuquen, we might have seen stuck in a road block by angry pickers ten hours away from an airport.  Twenty percent of the pear crop will not make it to market as it is overripe on the trees. 3.  An Irish investment group has purchased 2500 hectares of farmland as it is a bargain compared to land in Ireland.

     We had lunch and a business meeting with Andres Panizza of Mono Azul, the fourth largest fruit packer in Argentina, and Chimo Alama, from Valencia, Spain a fruit salesman from Saborjuice.  They are planning their sales of pears and apples to the European market and agreed to give us a briefing.  It was invaluable.  These are smart, sophisticated fruit salesmen and Dale took a lot of notes for future use. One of the interesting facts is that five companies in Argentina control 80% of the fruit.  Can anyone spell "oligopoly?"  Yet the workers go on strike every year the day before harvest of Bartlett pears begins.  The employers had to promise a big payraise, from $20 per day to $22 per day.  Still sounds like a bargain to me.  Meanwhile we had a beautiful lunch at a Spanish restaurant selected by Chimo.  He comes here regularly on fruit buying trips and since he is from Spain he wanted us to taste some really great Spanish dishes:  Scallops in Parmesan cheese sauce, calamari, trout in capers and sole with clam sauce.

     Tomorrow we take the boat to Montevideo, Uruguay for our third country in three weeks.    







Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the camera reappears

Gail's lost camera reappears

a cute little girl

A musically challenged accordian playing cute little girl!


A beautiful profiterole - a family favorite.

Sorrento del Puerto

We enjoyed a table on the patio with an impressive view of the water and old port.