Bariloche: Cerro Otto

With just one morning left to enjoy the town of Bariloche and its surroundings, my travel companions and I opted to visit the nearby peak known as Cerro Otto.

Cerro Otto (4610 ft./1405 m) is named for Otto Goedecke, one of the first European settlers in this area. Goedecke, originally from Germany, arrived in Bariloche in 1892 and settled on roughly 600 acres (250 hectares) at the foot of the mountain that would later bear his name. He raised numerous crops and animals on his land until his untimely death in the 1920s, when he was murdered at the hands of an apple thief. Learn more about Cerro Otto and its namesake [link in Spanish].

In 1930, Goedecke's countryman Otto Meiling made Cerro Otto his home. Meiling – a nature-lover, skiing enthusiast, and something of a hermit – lived up on the mountain, strapping on his cross-country skis in winter whenever he needed to go into town. He built both his home and a mountaineering shelter, Refugio Berghof [link in Spanish], on the slopes of Cerro Otto. The mountain played host to the first ski school in South America, where Meiling gave classes and hand manufactured skis.

We took the easy way out and ascended Cerro Otto aboard aerial cable cars made, not so surprisingly, in Austria. In just 12 minutes, we were whisked from the foot of the mountain to its summit, enjoying a wide-open view of Lago Nahuel Huapi and the city of Bariloche below.

Going My Way? [Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina] by katiemetz, on Flickr[View of Cerro Otto from the base of the mountain]

Up, Up and Away with Vince [Aerial Cable Car on Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina] by katiemetz, on Flickr[Vince, my stepdad, enjoying the aerial cable car ride]

As we stood admiring the view and trying to do it justice through the lenses of our cameras, we noticed a group busily arranging some sort of lines and parachutes. Some minutes later, as a pair leapt off the face of the mountain into the wide expanse of nothingness, we realized that they were tandem paragliders.

Preparing to Paraglide over Bariloche, Argentina [Cerro Otto] by katiemetz, on Flickr And Away They Go [Paragliding from Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina] by katiemetz, on Flickr Paragliding over Bariloche, Argentina [Cerro Otto] by katiemetz, on Flickr

Lago Nahuel Huapi from Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[Lago Nahuel Huapi from atop Cerro Otto]

Katie and Marianna on Cerro Otto with Cerro Catedral in the Background, Bariloche, Argentina by Vince Risi[Here's where my sister Marianna and I pretend to fall off the mountain (moments of silliness are important, you know). The imposing ridgeline of the mountain behind us belongs to Cerro Catedral.]

There's actually quite a bit to do up there on the mountain besides jumping off of it. Cerro Otto offers hiking trails, mountain biking, and horseback riding; cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in winter; a revolving café with 360º views of the breathtaking landscape; and even a modest art gallery. Since we were pressed for time, we didn't take advantage of any of the outdoor activities, although I did hike the trails with Daniel when I visited previously.

View from Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[Cerro Tronador (the snow-capped peak) visible in the distance]

Marianna and Vince Atop Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr

Views from Atop Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[Click here to enlarge this panoramic photo taken from Cerro Otto.]

It's a well-known fact that the mountain air makes you hungry, so we claimed a table in the revolving café to continue enjoying the view while tucking into our final meal of the trip. [Check out this cool time-lapse video taken from the revolving café.] A few spins in the café and one sandwich de milanesa later, I packed up my camera and said goodbye to Bariloche…and my family.

Aerial Cablecar on Cerro Otto, Bariloche, Argentina by katiemetz, on Flickr[Time to head back down the mountain]

View photos of my previous visit to Cerro Otto with Daniel in 2008.

Next up…the final installment: Patagonia From My Window

[Patagonia Series: Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6]
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Happy Easter! | ¡Felices Pascuas!

Happy Easter! by Sprengben, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]The rebirth and renewal of springtime so closely associated with Easter are lost on those of us in the southern hemisphere, as autumn ushers in lifeless landscapes and falling temperatures. The windswept streets of my city have slowly begun to fill with crumpled leaves in various shades of brown, a clear reminder that winter waits just around the corner.

Admittedly, graying skies and shortened days didn't previously inspire much excitement in me at Easter. But then I stumbled upon an uplifting message about Easter by Dr. Harry Melkonian of the Congregational Federation of Australia, directed especially at those of us living south of the equator:

"In the Northern Hemisphere, Easter is equated with spring – the end of winter and the return of plants and animals that have been dormant during the cold winter…  For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is the case and Easter is the harbinger of cold weather. For us Easter is not the end of physical winter but is the end of spiritual winter.

"Until the Resurrection, the world was spiritually cold, burdened with the darkness of sin and desolation. After the Resurrection, there was a spiritual light and warmth that lasts for all time. Easter is a time for new spiritual awakening and joy…

"Regardless of whether Easter arrives in cold or warm weather, for our hearts and souls, it is indeed a warm and happy time of the year..."

I found new perspective after reading Dr. Melkonian's message. Suddenly, the crunchy leaves and overcast skies didn't matter so much. He is risen!

Happy Easter to all, whatever the weather, wherever you are!

[Photo credit: Sprengben]

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Easter Recipes from Argentina

Slice of Tarta Pascualina | Savory Easter Pie by katiemetz, on Flickr Empanadas de Humita - Empanadas de Vigilia by katiemetz, on Flickr Rosca de Pascua | Easter Bread Ring by katiemetz, on Flickr Empanadas de Roquefort, Apio y Nuez | Roquefort Cheese, Celery and Walnut Empanadas - Empanadas de Vigilia by katiemetz, on Flickr

Are you searching for some culinary inspiration from Argentina for your Holy Week and Easter meals? Sample one of these Argentine recipes, and bring a taste of South America to your table.

Savory Easter Pie | Tarta Pascualina
Easter Bread Ring | Rosca de Pascua

Lenten Empanadas | Empanadas de Vigilia
Roquefort Cheese, Celery and Walnut Empanadas | Empanadas de Roquefort, Apio y Nuez
Creamy Corn Empanadas | Empanadas de Humita

Are you looking for more Argentine recipes? Click here to browse the entire Recipe File, or try out the new visual recipe index Read More......

A No-Go for a Cup of Joe

Set amidst the wide expanse of the Argentine pampa, the sleepy town of Juan N. Fernández – population 3,000 – lies just 50 miles (80 km) north of Necochea. Early this afternoon, on a blustery, chilly, autumn day, I piled into a bus with my fellow singers from the Coro Alta Mira to entertain some of the residents at an old folks' home in Fernández.

We arrived in town roughly 45 minutes before we were scheduled to perform, so we decided to grab a cup of joe at a Coffee cup by Ballistik Coffee Boy, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]nondescript coffee shop on the corner, not far from the plaza.

A small contingent from our group of 20 entered the café to investigate, with hopes of sitting down to a pleasant cup of steaming coffee to drive away the cold. The establishment's lone patron, a diminutive, quirky-looking man, sat at a table near the door, and the sound of our footsteps echoed through the otherwise empty coffee shop.

A young woman immediately approached us, and the leader of our group greeted her and stated our intention to order a round of coffees. With an unapologetic smile, the employee said, "Oh, sorry, but I just turned off the coffeemaker."

Allow me to make it clear that with our potential order of 20 cups of coffee, this small-town café stood to pull in more cash in half an hour than it probably makes in the entire day, yet the lazy server couldn't be bothered to turn the coffeemaker back on at a coffee shop.

Just an example of Argentine customer service and business savvy at its finest…

[Photo credit: Ballistik Coffee Boy]

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Finalists for Argentine Recipe Contest

Reliable Recipes by Martin Escalante, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons License]

A big thank you to those of you who took the time to send in your favorite Argentine recipes! It was difficult to narrow down the submissions to three, but I'm pleased to announce the finalists for the Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest (in no particular order):

Cecilia Maza [La Calera, Province of Córdoba, Argentina] on Twitter: @Cecilia_Maza
Recipe: Tarta de cebolla y queso (onion and cheese quickbread)

Aledys Ver [Zwolle, Netherlands] of From Argentina to the Netherlands, for Love!
Recipe: Budín de pan al caramelo (bread pudding with caramel sauce)

Norma Torres [New York, New York, USA] of Platanos, Mangoes and Me!
Recipe: Matambre (rolled stuffed flank steak)

Beginning on Tuesday, May 3rd, I will feature each of these three recipes on Seashells and Sunflowers, along with a brief description and photos. At that point, it will be up to you, the readers, to vote for your favorite Argentine recipe!

[Photo credit: Martin Escalante]

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Exploring Puerto Varas, Chile

Fresh off our epic journey from Bariloche to Puerto Varas by boat and by bus, my travel companions were in no great hurry to start the day. And so, I lay there in bed, with just a sliver of light penetrating the window's heavy drapes, listening to the hum of my stepdad's CPAP machine and my little sister's heavy breathing.

After what seemed like an eternity, the two finally began to stir, and once I had confirmed signs of life from my roommates, I excitedly flung open the curtains for my first glimpse of the mighty Osorno Volcano in full daylight, only to discover that the view to the lake was completely blotted out by a dense fog.

*          *          *          *          *

I stared out the massive plate glass window into an impenetrable wall of white as I sat in the hotel's breakfast room, trying to visualize the snow-capped volcano I had glimpsed last evening. As I lamented the lack of a view, our server provided consolation, noting that as the sun rose higher, the fog would burn off, revealing the shimmering waters of the lake and the two volcanoes along its shores.

Having filled our bellies at the breakfast buffet, we consulted with a helpful young woman at the hotel reception desk regarding our plans for the rest of the morning. Armed with a hand-drawn map, we set off on foot across town to the Puerto Varas bus station to secure seats for our trip back to Bariloche.

By the Shores of Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

The city of Puerto Varas lies on the shores of Chile's second largest lake, Lago Llanquihue, the product of glacial activity evident throughout Patagonia. We skirted the lake along a pathway for some 15 minutes, and then we hung a left and continued our hike uphill through town to the bus station.

*          *          *          *          *

With three bus fares in hand, we took our time walking back to the hotel, exploring the side streets and loosely following the trail leading to a number of Puerto Varas' historic homes built by the first German immigrants who arrived in the mid-1800s.

Settled by German-speaking peoples from Austria, Switzerland, the Alsace region of France, and Germany, Puerto Varas – and much of Southern Chile – reflects the heritage of its founders through its architecture and gastronomic offerings.

Casa Rehbein [1933] - Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr Historic Home - Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

Historic Home in Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

Take a virtual tour of the historic homes of Puerto Varas, Chile.

Hydrangea | Hortensia by katiemetz, on Flickr

We also had the opportunity to admire the Parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Sacred Heart of Jesus Church). Built between 1915 and 1918, the church is styled after the famed Marienkirche in the Black Forest region of Germany. The church sits perched on a high point overlooking the downtown area and the lake, with Volcán Osorno towering in the distance.

Parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

Parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Puerto Varas II by katiemetz, on Flickr Steeple of Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

[Parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús]

By the time we had meandered back to our hotel, the dense fog had all but disappeared, save for a thin blanket that hovered at the base of the Osorno Volcano.

Osorno Volcano, Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

The neighboring Calbuco Volcano made itself visible as well, having thrown off its cloak of mist.

Volcán Calbuco, Puerto Varas by katiemetz, on Flickr

Both Osorno and Calbuco are active volcanoes, but thankfully, the two remained quiet for the duration of our brief visit. Nonetheless, volcanic and seismic activity occurs frequently in Chile, as evidenced by the Chaitén eruption in 2008 and the 8.8 magnitude Bio-Bio earthquake that occurred just last year.

Unfortunately, our time in this picturesque city was cut short, as we had an early afternoon bus to catch for the six-hour ride from Puerto Varas back to Bariloche.

Front and Center - Volcán Osorno, outside Puerto Varas, Chile by katiemetz, on Flickr

On board the bus, the hours passed quickly, as the extraordinary scenery provided by the dense forests and towering mountains of the cordillera kept us entertained for the length of the trip.

Comin' 'Round The Mountain by katiemetz, on Flickr

And just to spice things up, there were even a few moments that got my blood pumping, what with the bus careening down winding Andean roads at speeds that felt just a bit too daring, as big rigs lumbered up the mountainside in the opposing lane.

Rocky Cliff with Trees by katiemetz, on Flickr

We stopped briefly in the town of Osorno at the bustling bus station, where my sister and I were assaulted by a gaggle of Chilean ladies trying to sell us sandwiches and some sorry-looking empanadas for the road. And of course, we were obligated to hop off the bus at the border crossing in the middle of nowhere to be uneventfully stamped out of Chile and into Argentina by stern-faced border officials.

But before we knew it, we'd returned to Bariloche, where our odyssey began just the day before.

Next up: Bariloche: Cerro Otto

[Patagonia Series: Intro 1 2 3 4 5]
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Deadline Approaching for Argentine Recipe Contest

As a reminder to anyone interested in The Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest, the deadline for contest submissions is Monday, April 11th at 12pm (Argentina time).

So, dust off your favorite Argentine recipe, and send it to katiemetz [at] hotmail [dot] com with "Argentine Recipe Contest" in the subject line. The winner will earn bragging rights and a delicious food prize from Argentina.

¡No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy! (Don't put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today.)

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Argentine Residency Through Marriage

Paperwork by luxomedia, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…permanent residency in Argentina! If you're getting married in Argentina and planning on applying for permanent residency, read on for tips, information and additional resources to navigate the lengthy bureaucratic process.

Applying for Permanent Residency in Argentina through Marriage

Locate the immigration office nearest to you and make an appointment if necessary. An appointment was not required at the location where I applied for residency (a very small office staffed by two people). Prior to the appointment, make a set of photocopies of all the documents you will submit for your personal records.

Necessary Documentation

Be prepared to present the following documents to immigration officials:

  • Passport with a valid visa stamp or prórroga de permanencia (visa extension) plus a photocopy of the entire document, including blank pages
  • Original birth certificate with an apostille prepared by the state issuing the certificate [What is an apostille?]
  • Criminal background check from your home country with an apostille [For U.S. citizens, this document must be issued by the FBI with an apostille prepared by the U.S. Department of State. Complete instructions for requesting the criminal background check from the FBI are provided on the FBI website along with additional info about the apostille procedure (#9) in the FAQ.]
  • Criminal background check from Argentine authorities [obtained at the local Registro Civil through the Registro Nacional de Reincidencia]
  • Certificado de domicilio [proof of address in Argentina, obtained at the local Registro Civil]
  • Spouse's DNI plus a photocopy of the entire document
  • Acta de matrimonio [a certified copy of the signed page from the marriage record, obtained at the local Registro Civil]
  • Four 4cm x 4cm color passport photos
  • Fee – $600 pesos


Both the birth certificate and the criminal background check from your home country (plus their respective apostilles) must be translated into Spanish by an official translator and legalized by the Colegio de Traductores Públicos.

You can locate an official translator in Argentina through the website of the Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

Processing of Permanent Residency Paperwork

It is my understanding that immigration officials normally provide a certificado de residencia precaria – a document conferring temporary residency while your permanent residency request is in process – at the end of your appointment; however, the only document I was given was a receipt for the $600 fee.

I inquired about the aforementioned document, and the immigration officer stated that the precaria wasn't necessary since he expected my residency to be processed quickly (!). He stated that if my request for permanent residency isn't granted by the end of April (total processing time of one month), then he would provide me with the precaria.

He also mentioned that there's a slim possibility that I may be called for an interview by immigration officials in Mar del Plata to ensure that I didn't enter into a sham marriage for immigration purposes.

Processing of your residency paperwork can take anywhere from a couple of months up to one year and multiple trips to the immigration office, so be patient!

The Next Step

Once you have received status as a permanent resident, you may begin the process to obtain a DNI for foreigners.

Disclaimer: What I've detailed here represents my personal experiences at the civil registry office in Necochea and immigration office at the Prefectura Naval in Quequén, Province of Buenos Aires. Given the capricious nature of Argentine bureaucracy, your experience may be different.

Additional Resources:

List of requirements to request residency based on marriage to an Argentine, as outlined by the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones [in English and Spanish]

Experiences with applying for permanent residency in Argentina from Meag at A Domestic Disturbance

The Embassy of Argentina in the United States can advise you if you're beginning the permanent residency process for Argentina while still living in the U.S.

[Photo credit: luxomedia]

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