Category: Uruguay

Where in the world is Wanderlutz?

Where in the world is Wanderlutz?

Well it’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to post an update, but with good reason(s) (biggest one being total lack of usable wi-fi for quite some time, which of course has it’s pros and cons…)

Nevertheless, since the last post, we have had a lot of new adventures, and we’re now in the Sacred Valley of Peru, having left Uruguay on November 30. Although our original trip plans called for 6 weeks in Uruguay, we soaked in a lot of the coastal culture, saw the sights, and made the decision to cut that portion of the trip short. We’re so spoiled by where we and our relatives live in the U.S. that we couldn’t see spending another month in a beach town that didn’t have great school or other program options for the kids. To be perfectly honest, we were also still somewhat traumatized by the mosquito feast enacted upon us in our sleep at our initial AirBNB…

And since leaving Argentina, arriving in Uruguay, and moving on now to Peru, we’ve made an even bigger decision which is that we will be coming home earlier than we expected, with our current plan to return to the US at the end of January. While we’re very happy with this plan now, it was not an easy decision to make. Overcoming real and imagined pressures and expectations from ourselves and others made it challenging to think that we might “come home early.” But the more we talked about it, thought about all of the amazing experiences we’ve enjoyed so far, and the fact that we’ll still have been on the road for 5 months (no small feat!) with the whole family, the easier it became to make a final decision, and it’s one we’re all (now) quite happy with.

The two biggest reasons for our early return are that 1) Vaya Adventures needs more of Jim’s time and attention, and being our full-time trip planner and Dad extraordinaire hasn’t left him with enough time to focus on the business, and 2) for everyone’s sakes, the kids need more social interaction and structure on a daily basis and because South America has an opposite academic calendar (summer vacation started here today!) we’ve been unable to find good options that fit our our plans.

So with this idea starting to form in our minds, we enjoyed the rest of our long Thanksgiving weekend on the coast of Uruguay, including a stormy lightning-filled beachside dinner in the town of Punta del Diablo (point of the devil), and visited the electricity-free hippie town of Cabo Polonio, which has a burgeoning sea lion population.

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We also visited Santa Teresa National Park, featuring a hilltop fort which was begun by the Portuguese in 1762 and finished by the Spaniards after they captured the site in 1793.


On our way back to Punta del Esta, we snuck in a visit to a closed sculpture garden of the artist Pablo Atchugarry and enjoyed another beautiful sunny afternoon and evening at the beach. The sculpture garden was reminiscent of Storm King, north of NYC, for anyone who has ever had the opportunity to visit.

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We returned to Montevideo for two days to give ourselves enough time to visit the Joaquin Torres Garcia and Jose Gurvich museums (which were closed on our first time through) prior to departing for Cusco via Lima, and ultimately to our home for the month of December in Huayoccari, Sacred Valley, Peru.

The kids are better at being good sports than they used to be, but really it’s just not their thing (yet!)

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As many of you may already know, Jim ‘borrowed’ one of Torres Garcia’s famous works for a Vaya Adventures t-shirt and it was fun to see the image in the museum, with explanatory writings, and on many tourist items throughout the city.

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Jose Gurvich studied under Torres Garcia, and was a fan of Jim’s Grandfather Howard Mitchell as demonstrated when he came backstage after one of Mitchell’s performances at the Teatro Solis in Montevideo and gave him the painting called “Tres Musicos” as a sign of his appreciation. This is not the exact painting, but this is an example of one of his paintings featuring musicians that was featured on a national stamp in Uruguay.

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After completing our museum stops, we fit in more touristing in the downtown, and of course, a few more soccer matches with the locals, playing almost until sunset.

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Everyone’s soccer moves have improved considerably, and Sean and Colin are also now proud owners of Luis Suarez jerseys to add to their growing collections: Namar Jr. (Brazil), Messi (Argentina), Di Maria (Argentina), Ronaldo (Portugal).

Our new digs in Peru are amazing (and can sleep at least 15 if anyone cares to sneak in a visit :)) and we’ve been visiting Incan ruins around the valley for most of the past two weeks. Our arrival in Peru unfortunately brought our first serious health issue- Cecelia and I contracted giardia and I also got a bacterial infection within days of our arrival-but I am very happy to report that after a few days of feeling extremely lousy, we’re both back on our feet and everyone seems to be in good shape. We received excellent medical care at a local clinic (the same used by many tour companies, including Vaya Adventures) so I can personally vouch for all future clients/visitors that they will be in excellent hands should they fall ill while visiting.

It is the wet season here in the Sacred Valley and the hills have gotten greener even since our arrival. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by crops in abundance, gorgeous valley and mountain landscapes, and long-distance views of Andean glaciers peeking from behind the closer peaks.

Our current home:

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Views from our yard:

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From the local soccer cancha (field):

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And Andean glaciers in the distance:

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This is the road from our home to the main “pista” where we can go to catch a bus or taxi for our daily excursions.

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The local Wednesday market (in downtown Urubamba, biggest town nearby), is filled with every fruit, vegetable, spice, herb, sauce, or anything else you have (or haven’t!) ever seen. On our first visit, we were astounded to pay 1 sol for a kilo of carrots (about $0.33).

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Downtown Urubamba:

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More to come on our Peru adventures underway. We love and miss everyone and are excited that we will be seeing people sooner than we expected.

XOXOXO

Tchao for now!

Road Trip: Thanksgiving Day

Road Trip: Thanksgiving Day

On Thanksgiving morning, we picked up our rental car, stowed our big suitcases and hit the road with backpacks and snacks, excited (and a little nervous) to have 4 1/2 days with no plans (other than a place to stay the first night) to fill in as we went along.

We started by driving Northeast up the coast with the goal of seeing Casa Pueblo, a hotel that was built by Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró originally as a summer house and workshop, but that now includes a museum, art gallery, cafe and hotel.

The kids were not necessarily impressed by the architecture, but the setting was gorgeous and we were able to hike down the hill right to the ocean shore, getting in our traditional Thanksgiving hike without even meaning to.

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Everywhere we’ve been in Uruguay so far, the water is incredibly clear and inviting and the beaches and waterways are very clean. Compared to the city beaches of Rio and the port town of Buenos Aires with the river you rarely see, it was such a stark contrast to drive up Uruguay’s barely populated coast. Outside of Montevideo, so much of Uruguay is wide open spaces, mostly flat, and coast, and while the vast plains seemed unwelcoming at first, the terrain grew on us very quickly.

After our mini-hike, we got back on the road and headed to Jose Ignacio (sometimes playground for the rich and famous, including U.S. celebrities) and the Estancia Vik. Jim has met representatives of the Vik properties at different trade shows he’s attended, as they have multiple properties, and this was a great opportunity for him (and us) to take them up on their longstanding invitation to visit this particular property.

The Estancia Vik is a stunning ranch on 4,000 acres one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. It is easily the fanciest place that any of us have ever (or probably will ever) stay. The unique property was conceived of by half-Norweigan half-Uruguayan billionaire Jose Vik, originally as a summer and vacation property for personal use.  It has 12 suites, each one designed by an Uruguayan artist, featuring original art conceived of for the space. The details of each room are completely unique: some walls are wood-paneled, others painted colors corresponding to the direction they face on the property (all of the bright colors to the east to correspond to the sunrise, for example). While there, we got to go horseback riding and see a polo match. Cecelia was jealous that Jim’s horse had previously been ridden by Katy Perry! Needless to say, we felt extremely spoiled to have this experience and were grateful for the opportunity to experience the stunning surroundings.

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We ventured off of the property in search of a local restaurant for “Thanksgiving” dinner and definitely had moments of parent-panic when we realized that due to it being low season and a Thursday (versus being the weekend), almost nothing in the area was open. Jim likened the feeling to being down the shore in the winter months, and it reminded me of trying to find dinner in Fairfax after 9:30PM on a weeknight when we first moved back to CA 10 years ago.

We finally found a restaurant with the help of some locals, but we were almost an hour too early for dinner (at 7:30) because true to what we’ve seen in most places, real dinner restaurants in Argentina and Uruguay, especially, do not serve dinner any earlier. Despite our best efforts, we’re not quite on the late dinner schedule yet so we made a pit stop at a local mini-mart to tide us over. Based on everything that ended up piled on the counter, I think we made the right decision to snack since we were apparently quite hungry.

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We returned to the restaurant at 8:30 (almost on the dot) and were the first guests seated. The restaurant filled pretty quickly, though, and we had a delicious dinner (though it shared absolutely no similarities with a traditional Thanksgiving meal), splurged on some decadent desserts (including muerte por chocolate, or death by chocolate) and gave thanks for each other, our adventure, and all of our friends and family back home for whom we are so grateful and who we miss a ton.

More to come from our road trip in the next post!

Tchau and Buenos Noches!