Finding Happiness In The Argentinian Summertime

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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One of the things in this world that brings me the most joy is traveling. I am lucky enough to be in Patagonia in Southern Argentina for three weeks, during this region’s beautiful summer season.

My sister, her husband and three children live here in a large stone house featuring a tower (we call it the castle!) perched high upon a hill. The views from their deck of the valley thousands of feet below and mountains all around is spectacular.

It’s been sunny and in the 70s or 80s the whole time we have been here so far. I still have one week left in this mountain paradise.

I am counting my blessings!

view from the deck

A Glorious Part of the World! 

Carrie and the kids live in San Martin de Los Andes, which is near the Chilean border and in the Andes mountains. San Martin is a small resort city of about 28,000 people nestled into a valley in this mountainous region.

I am finding happiness right now exploring Patagonia! Southern Argentina is a mountain-lover, lake and river adventure-lover’s paradise.

From the center of town, there are mountains everywhere you look. It’s a vibrant little city, with a lot of bars, cafes and restaurants.

This region is also famous for its lakes, and tomorrow we will do the region’s “seven-lake tour.” We have visited and taken boat tours across lakes already that border San Martin, as well as the river that is a short walk from the family’s house where Carrie’s husband Pablo often fishes for river trout.

Patagonia is known to be a resort paradise, and Argentinians flock here from the north this time of year. We are here in high season, so the town can be crowded in the evenings, yet it’s worth it to be with the children here during their summer break and to get to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Every day we have new little mini-adventures, going for a walk or a short or a long drive to explore the town or a lake or river, to watch the sun set over another beautiful body of water, to revel in the glorious beauty that is Patagonia.

The Argentinian Culture 

Part of what I love about traveling to another country is getting to experience and explore more of the culture. South Americans, like Europeans, tend to be more relaxed about work than American “workaholics,” and tend to focus more on time spent with friends and family.

Here, like in many European countries, the shops tend to close down around noon for a few hours, and then reopen again in the late afternoon. Eating dinner at 8 p.m. is considered early, and some restaurants don’t even open much before 8.

I’m fine with snacking and eating late, yet it’s a lifestyle choice that is challenging for my Dad. The family does our best to accommodate his desire to eat and sleep earlier.

The kids, who are seven, five and one years old, are used to eating late and going to sleep late. It’s just a different way of living.

movie star with niece and nephews

A Slower Pace of Life

The town of San Martin de Los Andes feels like stepping back in time to the 1950s. There are a few “supermarkets,” yet they are significantly smaller than we’re used to in the United States, and sometimes as when we went to one yesterday, there is nothing stocked in the produce section.

Can you imagine a U.S. supermarket having NO produce?

Grocery shopping often involves stopping at four or more places. If you eat meat, which I don’t but my family does, there is the butcher shop.

There is a dairy shop to buy cheese, yogurt, butter. There is a fruteria to buy fruit and some veggies. There is a baker to buy bread or baked goods.

You buy ice cream in an ice cream shop. Every shop has its speciality.

This may seem charming, yet in practical terms it means that a “simple” shopping trip to get groceries for dinner can take hours.

My sister says that the Argentinian lifestyle is really lacking in efficiency. For example, she had to go to six different hardware stores in order to get what her husband needed to repair their deck chairs.

Sometimes one shop will simply not have what you need, and you just have to keep trying. Shopping here can be a true exercise in patience.

Luckily I am just here for a few weeks to enjoy all the beauty and to enjoy time with family. I will definitely appreciate the conveniences of life in the United States more when I return.

Soaking In All The Beauty 

I feel so fortunate to have a schedule that allows me to take time off for travel. I am still working from here a few days a week, but much of the time I can enjoy the various adventures with the family.

I plan to enjoy every single moment that I have here over the next week! I realize that not everyone will ever have the privilege of taking a trip like this, halfway around the world.

It took 24 hours to get to Buenos Aires, including a 10-hour layover in Rio de Janeiro, and then another 2.5 hour flight to get here to Southern Argentina.

Not everyone has the time, flexibility or ability to take trips like this, and not everyone of course is lucky enough to have family in Patagonia! I will cherish this experience, and am happy to be able to share it with everyone here.

I wish for everyone the opportunity to be able to travel to far-away lands to experience what it is like to be immersed in a different culture, with a different language, and to experience the beauty of other places.

To traveling this beautiful world!