Grateful

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." – Frederick Koenig

On this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful…

Vintage Thanksgiving Day Postcard by riptheskull, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]» for my partner Daniel, who gives me unconditional love and supports me in all my endeavors.
» for a loving and supportive network of family and friends, both in the United States and here in Argentina.
» for my good health.
» for the roof over my head and food on the table.
» to be doing work that I enjoy.
» to have hope for the future and exciting plans on the horizon.
» for the opportunity to make music with Coro Alta Mira.
» for the natural beauty that surrounds me, especially the ocean.
» for the opportunity to meet so many special people through the medium of blogging.
» for the chance to expand my perspective on life through travel and living in another culture.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family, wherever you call home. May your hearts be full and your blessings many.


Past reflections on Thanksgiving

2009 Let's Talk Turkey (or Lack Thereof)
2008 Thankful

[Image credit: riptheskull]

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Holiday Recipes Featured on Hispanic Kitchen

With the holidays just around the corner, most foodies' thoughts turn to meal planning for the many family get-togethers and parties that typically take place at this time of year. If you're looking to put an Argentine twist on the festivities this season, I've got two new holiday recipes from Argentina featured on the Latin food website Hispanic Kitchen: arrollado primavera and clericot.

Pionono or Arrollado Primavera by katiemetz on Flickr

Here's a snippet of my post on arrollado primavera:

Arrollado primavera – made with a thin, lightly sweetened sponge cake typically known as a "pionono" in Argentina – is filled with ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, roasted red peppers and mayonnaise and rolled up jelly roll-style. As a dish that incorporates ingredients that go down a bit easier in the heat and humidity of late December, pionono or arrollado primavera is frequently found on holiday tables in Argentina.

Read more about arrollado primavera, and get the recipe here.

Clericot by katiemetz on Flickr

And here's a snippet of my post on clericot:

Clericot was popularized in Argentina and Uruguay by the British (read more about the British influence in Argentina). Originally known as “claret cup,” this summertime drink featured claret (red) wine, sugar, lemon juice and carbonated water…. These days, the Argentine version of clericot generally contains white wine instead of red. Similar to white sangria, a basic clericot features chunks of in-season fruits, a nice white wine, and a touch of sugar.

Read up on clericot, and click here for the recipe.

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Free E-book: Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level

I am pleased and excited to share the release of a free e-book, Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level [click the link to view/download the PDF].

E-book: Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level

Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level, compiled by Steven Roll of the blog Travelojos, contains 29 brief personal essays about life and travel in Mexico, Central and South America. Steven notes, "The idea behind the e-book is to offer a platform from which bloggers in this niche can demonstrate what makes them and Latin America so special."

Each story provides a colorful and unique glimpse into some aspect of Latin American culture, with contributors detailing experiences from Mexico to Argentina, and just about everywhere in between. A slew of talented travel writers collaborated on this effort, including my blog buddy Eileen Smith from Bearshapedsphere.

My contribution to Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level, entitled "Drink" (found on p. 23), discusses the importance of mate in Argentine culture. The essays "La Vida" by Cathy Brown and "Buses" by Vicky Baker touch on Argentina as well.

So, get your best armchair-traveler mojo workin', and sneak a peek at life south of the border. Download your free copy of Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level now.

A big thank you goes out to Steven Roll for inviting me to participate in this project!

Update: Thanks to Margaret Snook at Cachando Chile for compiling a list with links to all the bloggers and travel writers who participated in the e-book.

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Amigos

Katie, Tony and Chris by katiemetz

While I was back in Philadelphia visiting my family and friends, I seized the opportunity to meet up with Chris, a new blog buddy who just so happens to live near my old house. She, her husband Tony, a native Argentine, and their three children are planning to move to Patagonia sometime in the near future, and they invited me over for dinner to chat a bit about Argentina and expat life.

Chris and Tony proved to be every bit the gracious hosts, and I really enjoyed getting to know them! With all the Spanish, good food, wine, and laughter, for a few hours, tucked away in a suburb of Philadelphia, I felt like I was in Argentina again. Their company made for a truly delightful evening, and it's gratifying to be able to turn virtual friends into real-life ones.

Chris very kindly wrote a glowing commentary on me, my blog and my Spanish skills over at her corner of the blogosphere, In Patagonia, so go check out what she has to say about yours truly. She also provides independent confirmation that I'm not a psychopath, just in case you were wondering.

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The Beaches of Necochea and Quequén

Necochea Sketches by Matt Jones [used with permission of the artist]

With summer right around the corner, Necochea's 40 miles (64 km) of beaches will soon be teeming with umbrella-wielding, mate-drinking, sun-worshipping tourists and residents alike. The area is graced with some of Argentina's most ample beaches, in some spots up to almost 1,000 feet (300 m) wide. The following beaches constitute the most popular spots for enjoying the sun and surf in both Necochea and neighboring Quequén.

Las Grutas [photos]

Removed from the hub of tourist activity in the downtown area, Las Grutas lies about six miles (10 km) south of the heart of Necochea. The many small caves that dot the cliffs along the shoreline in this area gave rise to its name, since Las Grutas means "The Grottoes." Poking around the rocky alcoves provides good entertainment, and friends and families often huddle inside the caves to drink mate.

Downtown beaches [photo]

Necochea's downtown beaches boast fine sand, easy access and plenty of services for beachgoers. Beach clubs known as balnearios line this stretch of sand that borders Avenida 2. These clubs offer a variety of services including umbrella and cabana rentals, restaurants, snack bars, volleyball courts, etc. While the downtown beaches provide the most  in the way of amenities, they are also the most crowded (though nowhere near as packed as the beaches in Mar del Plata, for example).

Playa de los Patos [photos]

This stretch of beach located in Necochea, adjacent to the Escollera Sur, offers easy access to the jetty for those who would rather go fishing than work on their tans. Visitors can also check out the sea lion colony that makes its home on the other side of the jetty. Though still somewhat centrally-located, this beach never gets too crowded, but it doesn't offer much in the way of services.

Monte Pasuvio/La Hélice [photos]

Popular with surfers and sunbathers, this stretch of beach in Quequén gets my vote as the best spot in the area to catch some rays and play in the frothy waves of the Atlantic. Plop down on a towel or in a chair on the broad, sandy beach, and watch the surfers ride the waves against the backdrop of the jetties and the port. Monte Pasuvio features a couple of small beach clubs that offer umbrella and cabana rentals and a bite to eat.

This beach received its name from the wreckage of the Italian steamship Monte Pasuvio, which shipwrecked in the midst of a terrible storm on April 1, 1924. The ship's propeller and a portion of the hull remain visible amid the breaking waves.

Bahía de los Vientos [photos]

The rusted-out, hulking remains of the Pesuarsa II, a mysterious-looking ship that lies stranded on the coast, easily lay claim to the most recognizable symbol of Bahía de los Vientos. The rocky beaches and cliffs in this area don't exactly lend themselves to sunbathing and swimming, but you're sure to find plenty of tourists snapping photos, examining the wreckage of the former fishing vessel, and hunting for shells and pebbles.

Costa Bonita [photos]

Just six miles (10 km) north of Quequén, you'll find yourself in the aptly named Costa Bonita ["Pretty Coast"]. This spot lies a bit further off the beaten path, so even in high season it maintains a sense of tranquility. The desert-like dunes make for some fun exploration, and beachcombers are sure to find something interesting on this pebble-filled beach. The balcony at Hostería Costa Bonita, one of the few places to stay in the Quequén area, provides a sweeping view of the beaches and Necochea in the distance.

Click here for a map of Necochea and Quequén showing points of interest.

[Illustration courtesy of Matt Jones]

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The All New Necochea Webcam

iSight by Shaylor on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]Last year I discovered not one, but two webcams broadcasting live images of Necochea. Sadly, both cameras were taken offline just a few months later.

However, the other day I found out there's a new 24/7 webcam in Necochea with its eye trained on the downtown beaches and Avenida 2, the street that hugs the coast. Things are looking rather quiet at the moment, but as the summer heats up, the beaches will be teeming with activity.

Check out the new Necochea webcam courtesy of Clima Necochea.

[Photo credit: Shaylor]

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Dulce de Leche in a Crock Pot

Dulce de leche by roboppy on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]Friends and lovers of dulce de leche, rejoice! I came across yet another way to prepare the oh-so-delicious and calorie-laden caramel spread for which Argentina is so famous.

Just dust off that crock pot you've got hiding in the back of your pantry, fill it with water, and plop in a few cans of sweetened condensed milk. Set your slow cooker on low, and start daydreaming about ways to use up that dulce de leche. Click on the link for more detailed instructions from the blog Cupcake Project for making dulce de leche in a crockpot.

While I have chronicled the traditional stovetop method, the crock pot method seems like a foolproof way to get your dulce de leche fix. Unfortunately, it takes eight hours to work its magic, so it's not suitable for emergency cravings or last-minute desserts.

I don't own a slow cooker, so I can't personally attest to the results; however, judging from the comments I've seen on other blogs, it looks as though you can't go wrong with this method. If you try making dulce de leche in your crock pot, let me know how it works out!

[Photo credit: roboppy]

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Bariloche: Cascada Los Alerces and Cerro Tronador

Day three of our adventures in Bariloche required a very early wake-up call, as our tour to Cerro Tronador was scheduled to leave not long after sunrise. In the feeble light of predawn, we trudged our way to the pick-up point about a mile (uphill) from our cabin.

Our efforts were soon rewarded when we paused at our first stop to drink in the view of Lago Los Moscos, with the sun hanging low in the sky and the morning fog still hovering over the lake's waters.

Early Sun over Lago Los Moscos by katiemetz on Flickr

Lago Los Moscos by katiemetz on Flickr

Marianna at Lago Los Moscos by katiemetz on Flickr[My sister managed to look rather awake in this photo.]

We continued onward to Cascada los Alerces, a small but powerful waterfall set among a lush wood containing old-growth cypress trees. An otherworldly feeling permeated the fog-shrouded forest, and I heard very few sounds apart from our footsteps as we ambled along the wooden boardwalk and the rush of the vibrant blue-green Río Manso coursing past at our left, just beyond the trees.

Misty Forest [Cascada los Alerces] by katiemetz on Flickr

Cascada Los Alerces by katiemetz on Flickr

After admiring the waterfall and the haunting beauty of the forest, we headed back to the site's parking area at the entrance to Cascada los Alerces, where a tiny rustic café run by a spry 94-year-old serves up tortas fritas and hot chocolate to visitors. The warm tortas fritas and the café's roaring fireplace helped drive away the chill. Before piling back into the van, we stopped to fuss over the resident cat and giggle at the hen scratching away in the café's flower garden.

As we made our way to Cerro Tronador, we stopped at El Balcón (The Balcony) overlook to take in views of Lago Mascardi and Isla Corazón. By the time we arrived here, the morning fog had burned off and the nip in the air had mostly disappeared.

View of Lago Mascardi by katiemetz on Flickr

Pristine Waters [Bariloche, Argentina] by katiemetz on Flickr

Further down the road, we also took a few minutes to admire Cerro Tronador from afar, because you begin to lose perspective of the mountain as you get closer. At 11,453 feet (3491 m) tall, Cerro Tronador claims the title of tallest mountain in this region of the Andes. It has three peaks: the Chilean, the Argentine, and the International, the tallest one in the middle.

Cerro Tronador by katiemetz on Flickr

We headed onward to the base of Cerro Tronador to visit this dormant volcano and home to seven glaciers.

Cerro Tronador and the Black Glacier by katiemetz on Flickr

While most of Cerro Tronador's glaciers sit atop the mountain, the Ventisquero Negro or Black Glacier is located at its base. The Black Glacier, which is actually more of a chocolate brown, is simply a normal glacier that has accumulated dirt and small pieces of rock.

Dirty Ice from the Black Glacier by katiemetz on Flickr[Large chunks of ice that have broken off from the Black Glacier]

Listening for "Thunder" at Cerro Tronador by katiemetz on Flickr[Here we are listening for "thunder" after a small avalanche.]

Tronador means "Thunderer," a name that refers to the frequent rumbling sounds that emanate from the mountain as ice and snow fall away from the glaciers. In this video, you can see and hear a pair of small avalanches and then an enormous one that's truly impressive.

Vince at Cerro Tronador by katiemetz on Flickr[My stepdad Vince doing the shutterbug thing.]

After our visit to the Black Glacier, we hopped back in the van for a brief ride to a rest area and small restaurant a short hike  from a waterfall called Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). After refueling with a hearty lentil stew and sandwiches de milanesa, we ascended a rocky path to get a better view of the water pouring down from Cerro Tronador. The waterfall and additional glacial melt from Tronador feed this small stream, Arroyo Blanco.

Arroyo Blanco and Garganta del Diablo [Bariloche] by katiemetz on Flickr[Arroyo Blanco with Garganta del Diablo in the background]

At the conclusion of the tour, we doubled back on our previous route for the two-hour return trip to Bariloche, and it's possible that someone might have taken a snooze in the van on the way back to the cabin…

Next up: The Lakes Crossing: Bariloche to Puerto Varas

[Patagonia Series: Intro 1 2 3]
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