We had an adventure this weekend! As you may remember, we planned this getaway to celebrate our 30th anniversary.
And because I want to milk it for all it's worth, this will be a longish post. Consider yourself warned :-)
Saturday morning we overslept. When we did wake up and realized how late it was, we jumped out of bed and raced around getting ready, throwing pajamas in the suitcase along with everything else we'd packed the night before, and actually making it out the door in less than 25 minutes. Whew!
We were able to do that because we'd planned to just stop at YPF on the way and grab breakfast. They have a special (less than $3 U.S.) that includes café con leche, toast, facturas (breakfast pastries), freshly squeezed orange juice and the requisite butter and jam. Only our jam didn't come in little sealed packets but in tiny ceramic bowls.
Then we hit the road. "Over the mountains and through the woods..." Well, there were no woods but we did go over the mountains! Up, up, up and around lots of curves with an occasional stretch of straight. I'm not good with heights and spent a good part of the trip with my eyes closed. Or peeking through barely open eyes so I could make sure we were still on the road but couldn't see anything else. Because we were up VERY HIGH. We arrived at our destination 2-1/2 hours after leaving Carlos Paz. That's a long time to keep your eyes closed.
(Okay, so I really only closed them during the top-of-the-mountain part. But I TOLD you, I'm milking this for all it's worth.)
Whitefield lies in the shadow of Champaqui, the tallest mountain in Cordoba Province. This B&B-like place is practically brand spanking new, having just opened this year. And we were their first winter visitors.
This is the nicest place I've ever been in Argentina. Maybe anywhere. Aside from the amazing scenery there are several spacious, well appointed houses that are spotlessly clean, a separate building housing the sauna, jacuzzi, massage station...and the owners have sought to make it "green" by incorporating newer energy technology into the design. Sounds ideal.
Except I may have mentioned we were their first winter visitors?
Yeah, their green design doesn't quite cut the winter weather. After spending the afternoon with a new friend we'd met over the internet due to our interest in alternative construction methods (straw bale in this case), we returned to find our house still freezing cold.
You see, Whitefield is out beyond where the natural gas lines go so their options for heating are propane (very expensive), electricity (also quite expensive) and wood (not practical for a set-up like this). They're using radiant wall heat powered by propane -- which is very expensive, remember -- so they hadn't turned it on until the day we arrived. The radiant wall heat couldn't compete with the coldness emanating from the tile floors and exterior block walls. It was muy frio!
We climbed into bed with every blanket we could find and re-watched an old favorite: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We watched it on my Macbook which doesn't have the greatest sound quality, so we'd also brought along a small radio/amplifier that came with one of Ivan's 18 volt battery tool kits. Unfortunately the battery on that died about 1/3 of the way into the movie. So I moved the computer to my lap directly in front of our faces and we tried not to cough or rustle the bed covers so we could hear the movie. I appreciated the little bit of extra warmth the computer radiated! I slept with my longjohns on underneath my flannel pajamas, a sweater over my pj top, and three pair of socks.
Needless to say, I was more than happy to head over to the main house this morning for breakfast. As soon as I walked in, I made a bee-line for this: Our gracious hosts (who had arrived on-site a short time earlier to prepare breakfast) felt terrible about our ordeal and wouldn't let us pay anything at all. We spent quite a bit of time chatting with them after we ate, and Ivan had a few suggestions on how they can deal with the situation. We assured them we'll be back. Maybe in summer :-) Besides, I really, really want to spend some time in the jacuzzi and get a massage! Plus they put on quite a nice spread for breakfast. But you know, it's really all part of my master plan to make this anniversary last all year :-)
After packing up, we decided to drive around and take lots of photos before we headed home. There are some quintessential Argentine towns in the area. Like San Javier where all the businesses cluster around the town square, with the Catholic church in a prominent position. This church was in an adjacent town and set back from the road a bit, rather than right on the square. Those huge wooden doors are a work of art. One restaurant had fired up the outdoor pit and was roasting a cabrito (goat). It was still a while until lunch time though, so we only stopped to take a photo. These are some seriously large cacti! We'd hoped to get some olive oil here, since we'd been advised that they had the best. But they're closed on Sundays. As was just about every other place. We finally did find one roadside store and bought both olive oil and a jar of olives. This is an area with lots of olive trees and they're known for their oil. Looking forward to trying it out! Not that I'm an olive oil connoisseur or anything. But we use olive oil almost exclusively; the only thing I don't use it for is baking. And the price was better than anything we've found around here.
The road over the mountain was closed for a while due to an accident (now that is why I keep my eyes closed!) so we spent a happy hour visiting Mina Clavero. But even with the delay, we were still home well before dark. It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a walk along the costanera, and found we weren't the only ones who had that idea. This is a block from our house.
We ended the day with an impromptu meal of baked potatoes slathered in butter, sour cream and cheese with a side of red pepper and carrot sticks and ranch dip (a shout out to my sister who sent the dry ranch mix!).
Maybe not the weekend we envisioned, but it was an adventure!