What an incredible Adventure it was! Unplanned and Unmapped, it all just Unfolded... and oh so Unbelievably!
Special thanks to Air New Zealand for the royal to and fro—perfection!
Check out the mashup below xx
WHO: LD and Rowan Douglas
WHAT: PAINTING PAINTING PAINTING POLO POLO POLO! Argentine Polo Open at Palermo, semis and final, and polo all around Pilar and El Remanso at Lobos
Some wineries in Mendoza; Hiring and driving a car, Argie style; The Streets of Bs; Estancia visits; Road tripping; Shopping; Local life; Street art appreciation; Local food appreciation; More painting than I thought possible!
WHEN: November 23 - December 19 2016
WHERE: Brisbane to Buenos Aires to Pilar to San Luis to San Rafael to Lobos to Buenos Aires
HOW: We flew in absolute luxury with Air New Zealand which was beeyyyyyyonnnnnd incredible. I slept like a baby for eight hours straight in their Business Premier, it was incredible; We hired our car with Avis from Ezezia airport which was the most economical way, car hire in Argentina at Open time is astronomical! We stayed at Air BnBs in Palermo Hollywood, and at Pilar as part of an Artist in Residence stint, then were welcomed into the heart of Argentina for the remainder of the trip, which melted my heart
HIGHLIGHTS: The People. They get me those Argies. They are all heart and all soul and so full of passion and joy and so intuitive, we bounced so well off each other. They are warm and welcoming and loving, and always soooooo ready to party... I felt as if I realised where I was really from all this time!! I made so many incredible friends, it made me experience a whole new level of gratitude and appreciation.
The Horses. Caballos, evvvvverywhere! Clearly Im okay with an equine approach, and was so delighted by just sooooo many horses in Argentina. I think it made a difference that we were in the very heart of polo in Pilar, with over 500 fields in a 13km radius... which is simply mind bending! The horses were incredible though. Strong and proud and so very full of incredible, the polo ponies I was blessed to spend time with that is. There are so many different kinds of horse over there, and I mainly had the Argie polo pony to gaze upon, and so very many of them at that, but I just could not stop painting them. They are the life of where we were, and are so deeply treasured, I was just the biggest joy to represent them on rolls and rolls and rolls of rice paper.
The local life. I am such a huge huge fan of real. We were blessed to be ever so warmly welcomed to the heart of polo in Argentina, and I could not be more grateful for the honest and open and delightfully simple way it has about it. We were blessed to be surrounded by such beauty, and I did not stop painting! It was an absolute joy. I loved the local life in Pilar, but also every day we spent in amongst it all, oh so wholly off the tourist trail.
Pan y manteca... bread and butter! Speaking of butter, we can add ball in there, and I put on two dress sizes in a month!! Arrived in Arg a 10, by the time Christmas came, five days after arriving home, I was in my 14s! It was that darned ridiculously incredible bread and butter! I find bread is like a lot feeding situation for me, so stay away from it mostly, but it was just so delicious over there, and you get a basket with five different kinds no matter where you go, and the butter is delicious... and lets face it, evvvvverything's better with butter!! So I rolled (quite literally!!) with the excess body baggage, remembering its how we feel that counts, and I felt so delighted I didn't miss a single bit of that roaring simple treat!
The Food Culture. The meat, the meat, the unbelievably delicious meat! Asado is absolutely a distinctive incredible flavour and art form in Argentina. I was delighted by the simplicity of it. But beyond the mechanics and ingredients of it, its more that there is alllllllways room for more at an Argentine table. One of my favourite experiences was being welcomed to a regular Friday asado shared by the gauchos and all the guys working on the estancia, there was a forest, a pig butterflied over coals, some horses right near by, and a sweet and kind and quiet Argie fellow with a massssssive knife who honoured me with the first and finest cut of belly. It was so simple and so very wonderful, made so much more so by the gentle intonations and ripples of conversation, all kind and friendly and as one, there is no language barrier for that, it was happy and simple and oh so very beautiful. It sums up my adoration of the Argentine people we came to know and love. There is an overarching sense of simple welcome. Once you are asked to join the table, you join their hearts. It brought me almost to tears every single time, to be so welcomed and such a part of such beautiful people's worlds, well that was a joy beyond any asado or papilla, but was the extra infusion in those gatherings that made them so special.
THE VERDICT: Would I go back? In a heart beat! Especially with Air NZ. I loved our trip, I loved the people and the food and the horses and the art and the pace and the heart with which it all unfolds. It is such an incredibly vast and varied country, much like Australia, but it also has some incredible neighbours also, just over the borders, so without a single doubt I will return, and will see those I have come to hold so dear, and also new parts of this incredible country.