Welcome to our ‘Mostly ARGENTINA’ itinerary for 2018. We are about to embark on a cultural immersion into the history, language, art, literature and Latin lifestyle of ARGENTINA, with a splash of Chile!
Friday 2 March: We arrive in Santiago midday, check into the Orly Hotel and head out for lunch in one of Bellavista’s colourful and buzzy restaurants. Depending on time and our energy levels, we may browse the shops or visit La Chascona, the house of the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.
If you aren’t familiar with Pablo Neruda’s life-story and poetry, the following links are informative and entertaining: enjoy…
Saturday 3 March: breakfast at the Orly Hotel, followed by a private, guided tour of the Bella Artes Museo, Santiago’s Fine Arts’ Museum. Rest of the day exploring Santiago,
dinner tonight at Aqui Esta Coco, one of Santiago’s most famous seafood restaurants:
Sunday 4 March: Luxury coach travel across the Andes Mountains, leaving around 9.30am, arriving Mendoza mid-late afternoon and check into our hotel: American Executive Hotel
A short history lesson:
The Crossing of the Andes (Spanish: Cruce de los Andes) was one of the most important feats in the Argentine and Chilean wars of independence, in which a combined army of Argentine soldiers and Chilean exiles invaded Chile leading to Chile’s liberation from Spanish rule. The crossing of the Andes was a major step in the strategy devised by José de San Martín to defeat the royalist forces at their stronghold of Lima, Viceroyalty of Perú, and secure the Spanish American independence movements.
Setting out from Mendoza – then part of the Province of Cuyo– in January 1817, their goal was to enter royalist-held Chile without being noticed, through unexpected paths, so as to attack the royalist forces by surprise. The ultimate objective was the liberation of Chile from Spanish rule with Argentine forces. Led by José de San Martín, the crossing took 21 days. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_of_the_Andes
This is an entertaining re-imagining of Jose de San Martin’s address to his soldiers in February 1817: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l3iUT5yfnw&feature=youtu.be
OUR CROSSING: will be much more comfortable! It will take around five hours, could be longer, depending on our processing at the Chilean/Argentine border. It might be advisable to take a book or pack of cards in case we are delayed. We will be provided with refreshments along the way.
Monday 5 March: visit mountain ranch, 90 minutes from Mendoza, for optional hike and classic asado lunch. Does anyone have any special dietary requirements?
Mendoza – wine mecca of Argentina http://www.estancialaalejandra.com.ar/eng/
Tuesday 6 March: a wine tour of the Valle de Uco that includes the Killka art gallery and sculpture garden at the Salentien Bodega: http://www.bodegasalentein.com/en/terroir
Wednesday 7 March: morning flight to Cordoba in central Argentina. But before we land in Cordoba, let’s make a brief literary detour for anyone interested in joining our
Mostly ARGENTINA Book Club:
Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American writer, best known for her first book, ‘The House of the Spirits’. She is a cousin of the former President of Chile, deposed and murdered by Pinochet in 1973. She fled Chile in the aftermath of the coup, still has family there and returns frequently. ‘My Invented Country’ is an easy, informative read, sad at ties, very funny at others. You might consider it for in-flight reading, if you don’t have time between now and when we leave. If you don’t have time for either, here is a video link that I enjoyed very much: https://vimeo.com/127215056
This Guardian review is another shortcut: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/nov/01/isabelallende.highereducation
Isabel Allende has already published two memoirs, or three if you count the novel that traced her family history, The House of the Spirits (1982). All were triggered by personal crises. The novel, her first, was an epistle to her dying grandfather in Santiago, written from exile in Venezuela after the 1973 Chilean coup. Her memoir Paula (1994) was another confiding letter prompted by a separation; this time from her daughter, who lay in a year-long coma before she died at the age of 28. Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses formed an emotional sequel: the return to life after grief.
My Invented Country had a twin spur. Settled in the San Francisco Bay area since 1987, Allende found that the terrorist attack of September 11, which coincided with the 28th anniversary of the Chilean coup, made her reappraise her national allegiances. At the same time her grandson, watching her fretting over her wrinkles in the mirror, reassured her she would live “at least three more years”. Her resulting introspection gave rise to a book that is largely about herself in relation to her remembered Chile, which she has visited often since 1988 but has not lived in for almost 30 years.
It was not only exile, however, or subsequent marriage to an American, that obliged Allende to “invent” Chile. Born in 1942 in Peru, the daughter of a Chilean diplomat, she was four before she saw her country. After her father abandoned the family, she acquired a stepfather who was also a diplomat, and Allende spent much of her childhood abroad, in Bolivia, then Lebanon. Her real love of Chile grew in her teens, when civil war in Beirut in 1958 – a crisis also involving US intervention – meant that she was sent back to Chile to live with her maternal grandparents.
“My grandfather was like God: infallible, omniscient, omnipotent,” she writes. He took her on his travels up and down the elongated country with what its great poet, Pablo Neruda, termed its “longitudinal essences”.
Allende, whose maternal family was of Basque origin, writes that she inherited some French and Indian blood through her father. As a small child, she had her black hair dyed blond with bay rum. In a society based on a rigid hierarchy that was partly racial – the more indigenous the blood, the lower the class – she became aware of the despised Mapuche, the “people of the earth”, and Aymaras, “children of the sun”. With characteristic sharpness she describes the phenomenon of “situating”, where, on first meeting, Chileans place each other in the class hierarchy by accent and appearance. Not only for its long democratic tradition before 1973 was Chile known as the “England of Latin America”.
Dispelling the mistaken view of Latin America as one culture, Allende contrasts the veiled machismo of Chile with the open braggadocio of Mexico; Chileans’ austere drabness with the sexual openness she found liberating in Venezuela. Yet she contradicts herself constantly, first describing Chileans’ distinctive sense of humour, then their total lack of humour. These inconsistencies have proved no obstacle to enjoyment of the book in Chile, where the Spanish original is a bestseller.
Allende’s most compelling observations are always the most personal. The debate in staunchly Catholic Chile over the ban on divorce is best revealed through her mother’s experience. Allende’s grandfather had the clout to get his abandoned daughter’s first marriage annulled. But her new lover, also separated from his wife, did not. She never married the man Allende has known for a lifetime as her stepfather.
Of the second fateful Tuesday, September 11 in her life, Allende writes: “We can’t be neutral in moments of crisis.” If in 1973 she lost a country, in 2001 she feels she gained one: “My heart is not divided; it has merely grown larger.”
And now for Borges!
Jorge Luis Borges is Argentina’s most famous literary identity; he has been hailed by some as the greatest writer of the 20th century, in any language. His most favoured art form is the short story and I propose we read a few prior to arriving in Argentina, a couple while we are there, and spend some time chatting about Borges and his work over coffee and Malbec. For those who aren’t familiar with Borges, the following story is an excellent place to begin, one of his best. I recommend starting with 1. the New Yorker fiction podcast because it includes some helpful discussion between the reader and presenter, then, 2. read the text, which is a translation; for despite being fluent in English from a very early age and translating many other writers’ works from English into Spanish, Borges only ever composed in his native language.
- New Yorker podcast
- Gospel According to Mark
- The South, short story
- Blue Tigers, short story
- Interesting reading about Borges’ writing
- Shakespeare’s Memory podcast
Wednesday 7 March: we arrive in Cordoba, check into our hotel: NH Hotel Cordoba .
Later this afternoon we will take a 2-hour walking tour through central Cordoba – exact time to be confirmed, depending on the heat of the day. Hopefully, we will fit in a siesta before dinner and some late night music!
Thursday 8 March: breakfast followed by an optional walking tour of the Jesuit Block, including Cathedral, with Ana, our Spanish teacher. Check out hotel, depart Cordoba 12.30 by bus on ‘the road less travelled’ to Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, our rural retreat for the next few days. En route, we stop for traditional Argentine asado lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake, arriving at our cabanas late afternoon.
Our accommodation in Santa Rosa is local ‘cabana’ style: simple, comfortable, ‘rustic’. There are no tourist hotels in Santa Rosa, this is genuinely ‘off the beaten track’, we are in the Argentine heartland!
Friday 9 and Saturday 10 March: we explore the countryside and rural life style of the beautiful Calamuchita Valley, it’s lakes, mountains, local craft and produce and it’s warm and charming hospitality.
Sunday 11 March: this morning we return to Cordoba by coach to meet our afternoon flight to Buenos Aires! After checking into the Dazzler Recoleta,we will head out to explore the neighbourhood. This short video is a good introduction: https://www.gringoinbuenosaires.com/neighborhood-guides/recoleta/
Monday 12 March: This morning we begin with a half day guided bus tour of the city highlights and visit the magnificent Teatro Colon, BA’s world renowned Opera House; this afternoon Judith will take anyone interested to MALBA, the Museum of Latin America Art; tonight, 8.00pm, we attend a one hour authentic tango performance. Optional, independent dinner, afterwards at local restaurant.
Tuesday 13 March: Morning guided tour of Recoleta Cemetery; Judith will accompany anyone interested to Bella Artes, The Fine Arts Museum, free English tour a 1.00pm; visit Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore for browsing and coffee; independent dinner tonight.
Wednesday 14 March: Day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, across the river in Uruguay. Joe’s Journey is great introduction to Colonia!:
This evening ‘Farewell Argentina Dinner’ at local restaurant in Recoleta neighbourhood.
Thursday 15 March: Free day in Buenos Aires or optional day trip to Tigre Delta. Judith will take anyone interested to a wonderful contemporary art gallery in La Boca and then a walk through San Telmo’s antique shops and ice cream parlours. This evening there is an orchestral concert at Teatro Colon, if anyone is interested, or jazz at a local night club, if we have the stamina!
While we are in Buenos Aires, there is a very exciting, and surprising, exhibition at Proa in La Boca by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Weiwei will be coming to Australia soon for the launch of his documentary about refugees, called, ‘Human Flow’: Human Flow trailer It will be interesting to think about Weiwei’s art alongside our discussions about the writings of Isabel Allende and Jorge Luis Borges. You might like to read the following:
Friday 16 March: Iguazu Falls or HOME! Depart Buenos Aires 11.00; arrive Iguazu Falls 12.50 (flying time: 1hr 50mins). We are met from our flight and taken on a guided walking tour of the Argentine side of the Falls. Later we will be transferred across the border to the Belmond Das Cataratas Hotel, located inside the Brazil National Park, where we stay for two wonderful nights.
Saturday 17 March: This morning we are taken on a guided walking tour of the Brazilian side of the Falls. We will then be driven to the Iguazu River to board a powerful inflated boat for a spectacular ride towards the base of the falls. We are advised to carry phones and cameras in sealed plastic bags, and expect to get very wet ourselves! Insect repellent is also strongly advised. We might consider taking a change of clothes.
Sunday 18 March: Iguazu Falls / Buenos Aires / Santiago. Depart Iguazu Falls 13.30 Arrive Buenos Aires 15.25 Depart Buenos Aries 18.10 Arrive Santiago 20.40 We are met and transferred to the Orly Hotel.
Monday 19 March: free day in Santiago
Tuesday 20 March: Transfer to airport. Depart 13,35
Wednesday 21 March: Arrive Sydney 17.45