A dream

19 Jan

How do you feel when a dream accomplishes? You’ve dreamt it over and over and at once you are there. Setting foot on the deck of the wooden boat. Gazing upon the horizon.

How do you feel when it’s all there? All the things that you like, that you look for, all there for you. Step by step you start discovering what they organized for you. And it is just perfect.

Oh, this feeling when you know that the moment is precious and that you are actually able to enjoy fully. Not thinking of the past. Not even about the future.

A…

…perfect cruise…

…on the Nile.

Luxor to Aswan, Egypt, 10th to 15th January 2011.

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A New Year’s Eve

3 Jan

What is it that makes the hearts beat so fast on a New Year’s eve?…

As far as we can remember, the expectations for the most special night of the year are always very high. Where to go? With whom would we like to spend it? Where is the best, the biggest, the most impressive party? The one where we will be sure to pay an appropriate tribute to this year ending… The best way to begin this year coming…

Year after year, we get to know ourselves better.

And we reduce the ritual of passing to a new year to the essential. To the simple things.

To enjoying the creative cooking talent of a friend. Getting acquainted with the menu over a cup of coffee. And then set to the kitchen for a few hours of meditative “cooking together”.

To go out for a walk and let the winter magic inspire you.

Until the sun goes to sleep for the last time in this year.

To just enjoy being together , conscious of all we have, and of all we don’t have. And to feel a sparkling happiness thinking of the things to come in 2011.

To remember our childish side and play games together. To laugh, and shout, and smile. And at midnight kiss each other with very shiny eyes…

Happy New Year to all of you!

To the glaciars

2 Jan

One of my final exams at the University was on glaciers in the Andes. Since then I wanted to see them live.

We took a plane to El Calafate, then a normal bus and now we were standing on a boat looking at this a few hundred meters long and 60m high wall of blue ice.

The lake had this special green of ice waters and it was silent. Only sometimes the ice was cracking. Suddenly there was a very loud crack and a peace of ice collapsed into the lake.

After the ship, we walked on the balconies that were built to watch the glacier in its full size. In the clean and fresh air they stood, listening to the silence, the ice cracking and once in a while we witnessed how some ice collapsed.

In 1939 some ice blocked the lake. Farms were under water. The government sent in some planes to throw bombs on the ice. The effect was nothing. Humans had to wait a few more weeks until the water made its way trough the ice naturally.

Imagining that this glacier moves only a few hundred meters a year you feel how small humans really are.

The happiness of the traveller

21 Dec

It is somewhere in Patagonia, but it’s a Welsh village.

Yes, a Welsh village.

Oh, you might notice quite easily… Maybe the rosy cheeks of the girls, or the broad shoulders of the men… Something proud in their look, a strength they haven’t lost over centuries of keeping Celtic secrets and traditions.

You might stop in for a cup of tea. A well-kept custom, a symbol of hospitality. The moment to take time for each other. And to enjoy long talks and also some silences.

You could get surprised how easily time goes by at this time of the afternoon. Sipping the tea, gazing over the flower garden.

We had ours at Plas y Coed, the oldest tea house in the village of Gaiman. Anna was a wonderful host. It was first her grandmother who opened the place, and Anna kept her grandmother’s recipes for the cakes. She also teaches Welsh in primary schools in the morning.

On the walls, family pictures tell stories of courageous farmers who left their land for the promise of freedom. Freedom to keep their Celtic roots, to speak the Welsh language. Far away from the English government. More than hundred years ago.

It took them 11 years to get the first crop of weat. Without the help of the Tehuelche Indians, the Welsh farmers would not have survived in this extreme land that is Patagonia. So far away and so different to the rainy green hills of Wales. Today, still, everyone is somehow engaged in the agricultural business.

Driving through the village, you would have a glimpse at their daily life. It is a good one, simple, satisfying. With a wit of fun to it sometimes…

You might find shelter at one of the guest houses. We stayed at the house of Diego and Brenda (Gwesty Tywi).

There are many things you can talk about with Diego. Always accompanied by his cup of Maté, he will tell you about the Welsh colonies in Patagonia, about Argentina today, and about how life is so different here compared to Buenos Aires.

But then if you ask him about his red Citroen 2 CV…. Oh, well, then it is another story. You might get lucky and he will show you all the original details of his 1975 model, and he might even take you for a crazy ride in the early evening, in the peaceful neighborhood and you will feel the magic of the moment.

The enchantment went on as we set off to visit the little Welsh museum, which tells the story of the Welsh settlement. There we met Tegai. In a very pure English she tells us all the stories. Her grandfather was one of the three first men to arrive in Patagonia from Wales, in the 1880’s.

She stands there in the museum, her back very straight, her hair very white, her eyes very blue and very young… Nobody actually really knows her age. I believe she stopped having one many years ago. I am not very sure if she is an elegant old lady, or if she is an angel. I do not dare to ask her for a photograph. So, you will have to imagine her. After leaving the museum, I feel very touched by this encounter.

In the evening, we look for some food. Tegai and Anna recommend us a strange little place, with two tables only. We almost don’t dare getting in, so simple and run down it looks. But the Argentinian woman in the kitchen has golden hands and cooks for us the best meal we’ve had since arrival in Argentina… Delicious. Beyond words. Mythical.

Happiness. It is for these moments that it was worse to travel.

Impressions of Patagonian

19 Dec

Home of the sea wolves colony, Peninsula Valdes.

Flowers are rare in Patagonia.

Solitary sea elephants couple.

Sea elephants at low tide.

Thomas at Estancia la Elvira.

Patagonian sky.

Magic colours at the end of the afternoon.

Sunset over the bay.

Sunset a few minutes later.

Population: 900 people and 18000 penguins.

16 Dec

If you leave Trelew on the Route 3 going south (most of the time straight) you will reach a petrol station. Here you can go on for another 170km (most of the time straight) or you turn, as we did, left, and drive further 70km (almost straight, there are some hills in the way) until you reach the coast. There you will find the small village of Camarones founded 1905. 200km north and 200km south along the coast there is nothing. And this village only exists because of a fishing port, some beaches for the 3 months summer season and especially because of penguins.

If you leave the village and you follow the coast on a dirt road for about 25km you will find a National park with one of the biggest penguin colonies of Patagonia. About 9000 penguin couples come here every year for the 6 months breading seasons. As we arrived at the end of the day we were lucky and had them all for us alone.

We were amazed how human penguins are and especially how human their non verbal communication is. It feels so easy to understand them and their feelings. And it is amazing how curious the penguins were. Living in a national park they had no bad experiences with humans and do trust them fully.

The village of Camarones is famous as it is the home town of the former President Peron. There is the usual museum on the family. Appart from this, there is not much in the village except a lot of space, a lot of wind and some old houses. But all of this gives it a special charm and we did enjoy the village a lot. One of them was the house of a German carpenter named Vogel who came here 1905 and was famous for his work. His nickname was “Mister Dick” (the fat one).

The only hotel in town was run by a couple that left their corporate career and the big cities to take over the hotel from there parents. The wife turned from a lawyer to a cook and we were very happy about this change of career as we had one of the best dinners in Argentina so far. Sometimes you have to go to the end of the world to find good seafood*.

* The recipe of our favourite dish there will be soon available on The Moving Cookbook 🙂

The beauty of Peninsula Valdès

13 Dec

For the whale watching, we stayed on a Peninsula along the Patagonian coast called “Peninsula Valdès”. The few little hotels available on the Peninsula (not more than 3 or 4) are mainly in the small town of Pyramides, which happened to be a very nice surprise to us…

We didn’t expect much, all excited we were about soon being able to see whales. However, Pyramides is an experience for itself. Previously a tiny sleepy fisherman village, young people from the “alternative” scene in Buenos Aires started building up the place some 15 years ago, giving it gradually a laid-back, hippy, nature-loving touch.

Now it is a lovely town where you forget about time and any other kind of worries. Wooden houses with interesting design and flashy colours form a nest around the shiny waters of the bay.

Peninsula Valdès is not only exciting because of the presence of whales. Renting a car to drive around, we spent our days from one animal-watching to the other, amazed by the diversity of fauna and by how close we could be to all kinds of wild animals.

Sea lions enjoying the sun…

Sea elephants waiting for the high tide…

Group of Ñandus (kind of Lama)…

In this town of 250 inhabitants, everyone knows each other and I would guess the average age is around 35. After the animal-watching activities of the day, everyone – tourists and “locals” – sits to a well-deserved drink and seafood plate in one of the cosy inns of the village. Needless to say how satisfied we felt at the end of the day…