One of the pleasant things that is making this semester seemingly fly by is the coming and going of a variety of folks from 'back home.' I think that what I will do is edit and update this post as each of our visitors make their way to BsAs. Our first guest of the spring semester was Doug Miller, a first cousin of Rhonda's on her mother's side. Doug lives in Maine, so the warm weather was a welcome respite from winter in the northeast. We had a delightful time, and it was great for me [and Rhonda too I believe] to spend time with Doug and to learn to know him much better. Doug visited the Estancia Los Patos [see our earlier post regarding our visit to Los Patos - and for the Miller relatives - ask Doug about his driver, Victor!!], toured the city, and joined us for great meals and a bit of shopping. The three of us also took a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, traveling by buquebus across the Rio del Plata. Travel time is about three hours, and the boat carries several hundred passengers plus many autos. We explored the beaches, walkways, feria and restaurants, and had a very relaxing long weekend. I believe that Doug thoroughly enjoyed life at the Casa, and being able to get to know some of the students. Toward the end of Doug's time in BsAs, another of Rhonda's first cousins, Rich Miller arrived from Chicago. However, Rich's focus for his time here was tango - lessons during the day and dancing all night! Rather than staying at the Casa, Rich lived in a hotel close to many of the dance clubs and all of the activities associated with the annual Tango Festival. We were able to see where he was staying, and he visited us in Belgrano, of course with his tango shoes in hand. Several blocks from the Casa, down 11 de Septiembre is parque Barrancas de Belgrano with a large gazebo. And, on every Saturday and Sunday night, there is a milonga in the gazebo. While the music played through the sound system, Rich explained many of the details of the tango, the music, and the rituals of the dance partners before, during and after each song. It was great to have such a knowledgable commentator.
Our next guests were Douglas, Nick and Silas! We were anxious to hear about how Silas made the trek from Boulder to Argentina and to see how he would react to all of the folks speaking a language that would not make much sense to a 3-year-old. First, he is a very good traveler, and second, he did not seem a bit fazed by the language. He quickly got right into the swing of things with Sponge Bob and other cartoon characters speaking Spanish. And he even managed a gracias or two by the time they were ready to head back home. He enjoyed chatting with Mommy on Skype, and got excited to go home when he heard that there might be a new toy awaiting him! [I earlier mentioned Jaime's pregnancy - they are expecting their second child early in May, and thus she could not make the trip] We did many of our usual activities, and we were also able to take care of Silas while Nick spent some time studying for the final portion of the Colorado Bar Examination. Although Silas is a real trouper, Nick got a lot of exercise carrying Silas since we walk a lot and ride the subte - Silas even fell asleep once while we were all riding the subte! In addition to our regular restaurants, sights and activities, Douglas, Nick and I made a trip to the Puerto Madero Casino. I had heard students talking about it, but had never been there, so when the boys said that they would like to see it - off we went. The casino is actually on two boats, and they have the ususal machines and tables. We mainly watched, and since I did not know anything about roulette, Douglas explained it to me. Then, to demonstrate, he put his bet on 27 [his birthday day], and the ball landed on 27!!! Pretty good payoff, so he put some of it back on 27. And again, the ball landed on 27. He figured that twice was enough good luck, and we went to have a sandwich :-)
Our next visitors were Randy and Leslie Kunkel from Colorado Springs, who were making a trip to Argentina part of their "extended honeymoon" having recently been married! I have known Randy since the time of our turning 50 [last year??] and becoming members of the Grand Masters old guys running group :-) Leslie and Randy arrived toward the end of our week-long spring academic field trip to El Calafate [details to come], and thus were welcomed to the Casa by Alejandro and some of the Pepperdine staff. And even though we arrived at Jorge Newberry airport quite late, Alejandro, Randy and Leslie were there to greet us. We did many of our "standard" activities - eating at Maru and other great places, riding the buses and subte, visits to Recoleta, wandering the neighborhood, shopping at Coto, Saturday night basketball at the LDS church, and of course, experiencing helado. Randy and Leslie really enjoyed interacting with the students, and a real highlight was Randy's presentation at convocation. Much of Randy's vocational career has been the qualitative and quantitative study of human performance and achievement in all facets of life, from business to athletics to academics to relationships, and he generously offered to give a mini-seminar on the characteristics of high achievers who sustain excellence. His presentation was very well-received by the students, so much so that I must say it was the most attentive that I have ever seen them at convocation. Afterward, many of the students wanted to chat and to have their names added to Randy's list for his e-newsletters. It was great to be able to spend some time together, and I do believe that they thoroughly enjoyed their time in BsAs - they might be back some day.
As Randy and Leslie were preparing to leave Buenos Aires, Steve Heller, a first-cousin on the Aschliman side of my family, arrived with former spouse Marilyn and their three twenty-something daughters Larissa, Brigitte and Aimee, all from Indianapolis. They spent a couple of days at Iguazu Falls before returning to BsAs for the remainder of their visit. They had done a lot of homework regarding the things that they wanted to see and places they wanted to go, so I showed them the bus stop, the subte station and the main roads, and they were off and running. After a city tour, they made it to the city center, Recoleta, Palermo, San Telmo, and Boca. They experienced shopping at Coto and having helado at Persico. We enjoyed numerous fine meals, and tried to make sure that Steve fufilled one of his goals - to have a nice steak each day! Steve also visited my classes one day, and as some of you would know, he had his camera with him. So, Aschliman family, don't be surprised if there are a few pictures in the next family newsletter. Hopefully one of the pictures will be of Steve and his tango partner in Boca! The girls got a taste of the Argentine night life on their last night in BsAs. Along with a group of Pepperdine students, they left the Casa at around midnight. However, the first stop was not a club, but rather a restaurant close to the Casa. Why, you might ask? Most clubs do not get rolling pretty well until 2 or later. So, at about 6 in the morning, I was heading out to the airport to meet Kay and Anna at about the same time the girls were returning to the Casa :-) Needless to say, they spent a portion of their final hours in BsAs sleeping soundly.
As mentioned above, as the Hellers were on their way out, my sister and her daughter, Kay and Anna Montgomery were on their way in from Los Angeles. Kay and Anna enjoyed many of our standard BsAs excursions and restaurants - city tour, Belgrano, Recoleta, Coto, Maru, el centro, el parque, Florida, Persico for helado, and Forest Gump, as well as a meal at Palacio de Papas Fritas and an "interesting" evening of tango dance and music. I will defer to them to tell you the details :-) Kay and I also took the train to Tigre, and we explored the feria, had a nice lunch, and took a one hour boat ride on the Tigre delta - a very interesting look at life on the river delta. Kay and Anna joined the Pepperdine group for our usual Tuesday night dinner, and Anna met some of the students who were planning on going out to some clubs. Suffice it to say that Anna quickly became immersed in the BsAs night life, enjoying clubs that open at 2:00 am. I do believe that they both very much enjoyed the city, the culture and people, and of course, the shopping. Kay and Anna's visit overlapped one day with the visit of another of my cousins and his family, and together we enjoyed breakfast at Maru, and outing to Recoleta, and a great dinner of assorted cuts of beef at Kansas - an Argentine version of a US restaurant, i.e. they have honey mustard salad dressing!!
As alluded to above, Mark, Patty, Kate, Anna and Sam Aschliman arrived the day before Kay and Anna departed. Their oldest daughter Beth did not make this trip - she went to Spain instead! Again, many of the 'standard' activities were enjoyed by the Aschlimans as well as a couple of new ones. On a Wednesday, the family planned an excursion out to the country to visit an estancia. And it happened to be the only day during their visit that it rained - and rained really hard. So, when they arrived at the ranch, the road was so flooded that they decided not to try and enter, but rather chose to visit a nearby small town. In the end, it was a fine days outing. They were also here for the end-of-semester convo sushi dinner at the Casa. The guest speaker was Anthony Wayne, the relatively new US Ambassador to Argentina. Suffice it to say that the unanimous decision was that the Ambassador's presentation paled in the brilliance of Randy's convo presentation!! However, the sushi and stir-fry were great. Another interesting tidbit was the family's visit to the local milonga-tango that happens every Saturday and Sunday night at the Glorieta Gazebo. As we all were lined around the edge of the gazebo, watching the folks dance, a young Argentine gentleman swooshed in and asked Kate to tango. Gamely, she joined in, and made about one complete circuit of the dance floor before parting ways. At the Casa, Sam and Anna took advantage of computers that do not monitor their on-line time; computers and Pizza Bum - what more could one ask for? One small-world tidbit: Mark and the family are from Wisconsin and have a lake home on Lake Geneva. At the Casa, the family met many of the students, and one of them also has a lake home on Lake Geneva - on the same street!! The Aschlimans, like many visitors to Buenos Aires, were quite surprised with the 'european' nature of the city and the people - but remember - it is the Paris of South America!
And finally, here is a Buenos Aires Reflection by Anna Montgomery:
Mom and I arrived in Buenos Aires the morning that Steve Heller and his family were packing up and saying goodbye. I could tell by their sentiments that it was hard for them to leave. The week unraveled and mom and I understood completely how you would become attached to that beautiful city. The air was cool and humid, the city was green and plush, and the people were beautiful and friendly. We were surprised by the European feel of the city, and most taken by the comparisons we made to Los Angeles. Being that it is slightly larger than Los Angeles, the hustle bustle of the city had a different feeling to it- more relaxed. You didn't hear horns honking, people shouting, or see anyone rushing, even. As we made friends with natives and started enjoying the night life, we realized that time is a completely different entity there. Siesta's are a very real thing... a work day might be followed by a nap, and then a 10pm dinner, then maybe even a nightclub until wee hours of the morning (for the youngsters), where another nap is squeezed in before work or class. There is not a hurry to do anything, time does not equal money, etc. I was most taken by this as I stood in a 30 minute grocery store line and never saw one person itching with impatience. We enjoyed all that Doug had told about in his blogs... Asado's (BBQs), the bakery across the street from his casa (most amazing pastries and quiches), a gorgeous cemetery where Evita is buried, filled with incredible mausoleums and great hovering statues of angels, the downtown shopping where you can find everything from fine leather items to boutiques reminiscent of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and my favorite, the Recoleta Market which was a huge park near the town center filled with artist vendors and yummy fresh meats, cheese and cakes for snacking. Mom and I caught some Tango, and she and Doug took a day trip to El Tigre which is a town on the Delta where they went on a boat trip. Near the end of our week Mark Aschliman arrived with his crew and it all began again for Doug. What a host. He was gracious and never tired of showing us around, and the word from the Pepperdine students is that they absolutely adore Rhonda and him. More than one girl told me she cried when Rhonda left. Well done, uncle. Thank you for a truly wonderful vacation and life altering exposure to a part of the world I always wanted to see. I'm sure mom, Steve and Mark's family would all agree- we left a little part of our hearts in Buenos Aires.