The pleasures of home

Today is my last day off before going back to work. I have been off since the 3rd of September, with most of my time off spent in Italy.

Travelling is great, there is no doubt about that in my mind. Here’s a favourite quote of mine:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
Mark Twain – Innocents Abroad

Just as I love travelling, I also love coming home and want to celebrate some of the pleasures.

Lunch in Chinatown
Chilling out in the garden
Seeing the Jacaranda trees in bloom
Our buddies Speedy and Jose Gonzalez

And there are more which I will write about in the future. So welcome home us!

La Morada, Montserrat, Buenos Aires – Locro and Empanadas

On this day last year I was in Buenos Aires with my beloved Andrew eating empanadas and locro. And today I found out that I may have relatives in Argentina.

A cousin who is is researching the family history along with my sister and I said that our great-grandfather Antonio Pergolini had a cousin called Camilo Pergolini. Camilo had 2 daughters, one with the married name of DiFuria, a son named Atilo who went to America and another son named Camilo who went to Argentina!

So, another trip for family research is in order! Calling all Argentine Pergolinis with Abruzzi heritage.

The year that was – 2009

Well, 2009 went off without too many personal dramas.  I was fortunate  enough to go with Andrew to South America for 5 and a half weeks. From Late march till the end of May.  We were blessed with great weather everywhere we went which made trekking around very comfortable. I reunited with a travel companion from 30 years ago, Amalia Solari Faerman and met her funny husband Gustavo and their 3 grown children in Buenos Aires.  I really loved South America and long to return to see a bit more…That trip has been heavily chronicled in earlier posts.

My work with the IPED National Editors Conference finished in October when we presented a fantastic conference here in Adelaide. Visit the site.  I wrote most of the ‘News’ section: http://www.editors-sa.org.au/?q=IPEd%20conference

On the work front we both had enough to keep us going and I made a weak attempt at reducing my hours to 9, rather than 10 days a fortnight.  It only lasted a few months and now I am back to full time.  Work is challenging due to the departure of a boss who had the technical skills to take me through this particular project I am working on. We are getting through the work, just more slowly than expected.

In the household we have enjoyed our two ginger tabby brother cats antics, especially the precocious Speedy! He and Jose are so fun to watch and at 2 years old still have heaps of kitten in them.

We are just about finished a minor renovation that opened a few rooms up, re-purposed a few and gave us a new kitchen.  There is still some painting and tiling to do and a tidy-up of the office, but these things take time.

On a literary note I read quite a few books this year including Cloud Atlas, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, The Time Traveler’s Wife,  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Dear Fatty, the Power of One and probably more…currently just about to finish A Secret History, by Donna Tartt. Not a bad year, but I have other books on the go and stacks on the bedside table and bookshelves waiting to be read.

I attempted NaNoWriMo but was not really successful! See previous posts.

Musically, we saw a few live performances, notably Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe at the Festival Centre here in Adelaide, a Joni Mitchell Tribute at the Sydney Opera House, Leonard Cohen at a winery in McLaren Vale, near Adelaide, and of course Neil Young at the Big Day Out in Adelaide. (Next year we are already looking forward to seeing Ravi Shankar at WOMADELAIDE – http://womadelaide.com.au/.)

The goals for the new year will include those post-reno tasks, more reading and writing and a commitment to getting rid of stuff.  Here’s to more free time in the new year!

Ollantaytambo, Peru – 21 May 2009

Hola Amigos!

Due to a transport strike we are stuck in Ollantaytambo Peru…but we can think of worse places to be stuck.  The scenery here is stunning and there are Inca Ruins.  And we are in a comfortable hotel with good food!  Not an empanada in sight though, sadly.

We made a mad dash via various forms of public transport (2 local buses, a collectivo – a 12 seater van with 21 people and one chicken in it – then a motorcycle taxi) to Ollantaytambo a few nights ago so that we are here when the strike ends.  We have booked tickets on the train to Machu Picchu on Thursday morning from here.

Going back to our last bulk email I think we were in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.  Since then we did an overnight bus to coastal Arica, got a good night´s sleep, then crossed the border into Peru.  Caught a bus up to Arequipa, a beautiful city in the foothills of the Andes at about 2400 meters.  There are multiple volcanoes surrounding the town.  We did an overnight trip into the Colca Canyon, second deepest in the world and deeper than the Grand Canyon.  Saw majectic Condors gliding over the canyon scavenging for food.

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On way from Arequipa to Colca Canyon – eating cactus fruit on the side of the road
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Colca Canyon, Peru
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Flight of the condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
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Road sign

After 5 days in that area we moved on to Lake Titicaca where we went out to the Uros Islands (islas flotantes – floating islands) which are build upon staggered layers of totara reeds and large clumps of totara root masses. We also went out to Tacile Island which is UNESCO heritage listed.  The way of life appears not to have changed for a very long time…

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On Lake Titicaca

Made our way to Cusco, a grand city with winding, narrow cobbled streets where the views get better the higher you climb. Happened upon a University Graduation Parade in Plaza de Armas which involved a great display of national costumes and dancing in the streets!

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Dancing in the streets
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Streets of Cusco -literally breathtaking

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Cusco is pretty high up, over 3000 meters but we are well acclimatised to the altitude now and ready for some more hiking at Machu Picchu once we finally get there tomorrow!  On our way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo we stopped in Pisac, where we had planned to spend the night, we visited our first Inca ruins…the engineering know how has really blown us away and everyone says Macchu Picchu is even more incredible.  Can´t wait!

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Pisac terraces
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Pisac terraces – see town below

As for empanadas, we did have some wood fired oven ones in Pisac.  We were looking forward to a second round but had to dash to Ollantaytambo ahead of the strike!

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Some of the best empanadas we ate were in Pisac, Sacred Valley of Peru

We will be on our way home in a week but still have some more days in Cusco then BA to go.

Cheers for now.

Lou & Roo

Mendoza Argentina – 29 April 2009

First let me apologise for my typing on a spanish keyboard with different characters and some of the letters worn off!

Greetings from Mendoza Argentina, wine country.

The vuelta de empanada continues.  We would like to say we have not had a day without an empanada but that would probably be false. However some days we have had two lots to make up for it.  By far, the best we have had was a Quatros Quesos (4 cheeses) in Puerto Iquazu!  It had delicate pastry and inside were the 4 cheeses: manchego, cream, parmesana and roquefort!  Had to be tasted to be believed.  The super-chilled Patagonian beer washed it down perfectly! And it topped off a pretty grand day of walking around the falls at Iguazu!

There have been other highlights and Andrew is attempting to photograph them before we scoff them down. Refer to our Flickr page for photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lou_roo/sets/72157619047932933/

Empanadas seem to be found in the loftiest restaurants as well as the humblest corner stores.  Most advertise that they are Artesanial indicating that they are home made on the premises by a master!

We have had other food.  With a large Italian heritage, there are pizza and pasta joints everywhere as well as the ubiquitous ´Parilla´ or charcoal grills where huge sausages and slabs of meat are cooked.

Our hostel in Buenos Aires had a live music night up on the rooftop garden on Saturday and the did 10 peso (less than $5 Aussie) Beer and Churi Pane.  Churi Pane is a Big sausage (Churi) in a crusty bread roll (Pane).  It was great value and we went back for seconds.

Sunday night we went to a more fancy Parilla with our friend Amalia and her husband Gustavo.  They introduced us to some fantastic Argentine Malbec wines.

Deserts are pretty special here too.  Flan is very popular as is ice cream called Helados here.  We have sampled a few flavours.  Another unique food is a sweet breakfast spread called dulce de leche kind of like a thick caramel spread.  Of course it is also a helados flavour and as a filling in chocolate covered cookies.

So although this is a vuelta de empanada, we are by no means restricting our diets.  And we have done other things besides eat!  We have been to the falls at Iguazu, and in BA been to the MALBA (Museo del Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) museum, seen the strange National Library, been to Evita´s mausoleum at Recoleta, seen the Botego torso sculpture and the giant flower in the park, walked the modern Puente de Mujeres at Puerto Madera strolled Calle Defensa on Sunday for the San Telmo Feria (markets), and visited La Boca briefly (it was very touristy so got a bus the hell outta there).  There are paintings from both Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera at the MALBA for my fellow fans!!  Oh and we spent a day in Colonia Uruguay, the ciudad vieja which is World Heritage listed! Very charming indeed and an hour´s ferry ride away frm BA. Photographer´s paradise!

We are hoping to do a short bike ride around the Maipu wine area tomorrow befor heading off to Santiago Chile on Thursday.

We hope this finds you all well.

Cheers for now.

Lou & Roo