26 December 2009

Christmas in the Andes

Between Mendoza and Aconcagua lies the tiny, tree-shaded town of Uspallata. Their singular claim to fame? Scenes from Seven Years in Tibet were filmed here. Our cabana manager even has a picture of him with Brad Pitt.

We didn't come here to find relics of the famous actor though. We wanted to find some tranquility, enjoy family time together, and go hiking! We're halfway through our stay here and we've been able to accomplish all three.

On Christmas morning we played card games and ate a heart breakfast of 10-grain cereal, bananas, almonds, and cinnamon. We hiked 12 miles to Cerro de Siete Colores (Peak of Seven Colors). It was blazing hot and there was no shade, but the invigorating hike satisfied all of us. We returned to appetizers of apples and cheese and wine. Dinner was Lentil Dal and salad. Dessert was a Tennessen family special recipe. It contains peanut butter, chocolate and maple. All you really have to know is that it was delicious and I ate as much as everybody else combined. You are not surprised.

Today our hiking ambitions are smaller, and delayed by a nice cafe with chocolate, free wifi, and air conditioning. The tables fit together nicely so we can play more card games too. Tomorrow we'll rent some bikes and bike towards the Andes to a pre-colombian Incan site.

I think we're all very happy with our decision to hit the countrside for Christmas. It's quiet, non-touristy and good for hiking. The air is fresh and the sun is shining every day. We stocked up on good wine before coming here.

Last year, K. and I spent Christmas skiing the best December snow that either of us have seen in Tahoe. Light, fluffy and too early for most skiers. This year, we're in a hot, desert town in Argentina. We're at 2,000 meters and looking up at the Andes (5000-6900 meters).

(Instead of reindeer, Santa rides a psychedelic triceratops in South America)

Marilyn taking respite in rare shade, enjoying an Argentinian candy bar.

One of the many fascinating mountains on our hike to Cerro de Siete colores.

Our friend Steve, taking in the dramatic views of the colored valleys below.

Christmas Dinner. In Mendoza we hosted my friend Piero from Italy. In Uspallata, we adopted Steve for Christmas. He's a solo traveler spending half a year down here and has been a great addition to our holiday celebration.


  1. Did Kathy make it out of DC?

  2. Leti - My mom was not able to join us. She tore a tendon in her leg two days before her flight. She had to cancel the ticket, go in for surgery, and is on crutches for quite a while.