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  • Writer's pictureMartijn

Preparing for the New Year

Today is the last day of 2020, so naturally, I think about my main wish for 2021 which is to TRAVEL and see everyone again. As our departure date is getting closer, I am more and more in travel mood but we are still here, in Buenos Aires. So instead of starting the real travel journal, I will recall a few previous trips, as a practice for those to come and an escape for you: you are probably changing your end of year habits in some way or another, most likely not traveling and maybe even under curfew.

More specifically, I will revive two previous New Year's excursions: to the Aconcagua mountain (December 31st 2018) and the Refugio Frey in Bariloche (December 31 2016).

I'm not sure you know this about me but I am not a big fan of end of year celebrations, I would rather be hiding somewhere on a desert island or on a mountain... such as the Aconcagua which, with its 6962 meters, is the highest of the Americas. Many people make excursions to the top which apparently are not very difficult from a technical point of view but they do require several weeks because you need to take breaks to let your body get used to the decreasing levels of oxygen as you climb. Quite a few travel very far to reach the Aconcagua's peak and never make it, either because their body does not acclimate well, or because the weather does not allow a safe climb. The Aconcagua was on Alex' bucket list but we are not sooo ambitious and too impatient to spend 5 days in every base camp waiting for our bodies to adjust, so we "only" did a 3 day trek to about 4000 meters altitude where there is a beautiful view of the mountain's South side. Apparently my Dutch genes did not really enjoy the elevation because at the highest point I started to feel faint and had to drink liters of water to get my thickened blood running again. Nevertheless, it was a great experience, complete with 2 night in tents below 0 degrees with toilets with frozen water pipes outside.

The Aconcagua seen from our starting point

Ready for the night!

The second night we slept a little better because the guide had shared a simple secret: to fill our water bottles with hot water and place it in your sleeping bags. The locals call these bottles "mariditos" (little husbands):)

Braving the cold was worth it:

and so was the whole trek as you can see.

After that we got to know the city of Mendoza and its vineyards, wine cellars and even beekeepers.

The ascension we did two years earlier, to the Frey Lodge, at the foot of the Frey spire in the Cathedral mountains, was also quite a challenge. Not so much because of the elevation (only 1700m) but because we started out on December 31st 2016 with hot weather and reached the shelter 6 hours later under snow and hail (in the middle of summer). The accommodation was a little warmer than that of the Aconcagua: we slept in a dorm with 40 other guests who had all come from different places to welcome the New Year on this mountain. The actual celebration was lots of fun, there was a special menu served directly in pots and pans and many climbers had brought champagne for the midnight count-down. Everyone was so tired that around 12.30am the dorm was dark and silent, except for a few brave partyers who went on in the snow :)

The next morning, the sun was shining again as we walked back down to Bariloche.

This evening, New Years eve 2020, we will be at home with friends and make a culinary trip to Mexico by eating tacos, although they are actually "fusion" since the meat will be cooked on an Argentine grill.

I am really looking forward to 2021 with its vaccines and travel plans, but 2020 has offered us a nice ending - in the scope of things of course-: Tobias has finished high school with honors, Alex will be starting his sabbatical year tomorrow, Carmen is decorating her new apartment in Buenos Aires, Sophie has bought a 300 year old house to renovate in Mayenne, Nina is taking a much deserved break from work and preparing an exciting year of wwoofing, my second book (No siempre puede ser caviar) has been published in Spanish and the first one (10 little theories about Argentines) now exists in English. All this is the caviar of 2020!

But I do still miss spending time with you very much, which illustrates that precisely it cannot always be caviar.

Happy 2021 to all and I hope to see you soon!

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