20140218-204339.jpg

A few images from Rapa Nui

As happens on our longer trips we have fallen behind in blog­ging. For that, you can blame Rapa Nui itself, thanks to ample sum­mer­time sun, tons to see and do, and often frus­trat­ingly slow inter­net con­nec­tions on the island. Also, you can blame us, because who wants to blog in a place like this?

We leave this place tomor­row, which is a shame. Although we are looking forward to getting home, we’ll be sad to say goodbye to one of the most remote inhab­ited places on Earth.

This place has many names: Easter Island (to the English-speaking world), Isla de Pascua (to Chile–which claims own­er­ship), and Rapa Nui (to the culture that has called it home for about 1000 years). Whatever you call it, it’s magical. Our visit coin­cided with the annual island culture fest­ival, Tapati, although we only caught the last few days of this two week event. So in addi­tion to vis­it­ing archae­olo­gical sites in our rental car, swim­ming, snorkel­ing, and hiking, we also caught the annual Tapati parade and several musical performances–as well as one of the best fire­works dis­plays we’ve seen.

A week here was exactly what we needed, and a perfect ending to our month in Argentina and Chile–once we got used to everything hap­pen­ing on island time.

Anyway, we’ll be catch­ing up the blog once we’re home. There are several things we haven’t shared yet, includ­ing more of Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, and more from the island. Though trav­el­ing with just an iPad has been a pleas­ure, it has been less than ideal for both image editing and blog­ging, and I will also be putting a post together on this topic for pho­to­graph­ers con­sid­er­ing trav­el­ing as light as we did. We’ll be able to do our images much better justice once we are back to a proper work­sta­tion. So for now, enjoy a few shots from Easter Island.

Despite the highs of our trip, we are both looking forward to return­ing to home and work, refreshed and ready to kick some ass. We’ll see many of you soon!

Cheers,
Chris

P.s. — We learned of the passing a long­time Grande Prairie pho­to­grapher as well as the birth of our friends’ baby, both in the last 24 hours. The wheel of life spins and spins. Go hug your loved ones.

20140219-101933.jpg

20140219-132243.jpg

20140219-132412.jpg

20140219-132537.jpg

20140219-132648.jpg

20140219-132746.jpg

20140219-132902.jpg

20140219-133011.jpg

20140219-133034.jpg

20140215-132833.jpg

Faces of Mercado San Telmo

Laura and I had a nice time wan­der­ing Buenos Aires’ San Telmo barrio on our first day in BA. Every Sunday San Telmo hosts a very popular open air market with antiques, trinkets, and souven­irs galore.

The Sunday street market of San Telmo, Buenos Aires.

The Sunday street market of San Telmo, Buenos Aires.

There is also a per­man­ent market just off Defensa. Wandering through it, Laura sug­ges­ted we ask some of the vendors if we could grab quick por­traits, so we spent about 30 minutes asking people if we could take their pic­tures via our bad Spanish.

Peudo tomar una photo?”

About 60% said yes. There are a few candids in the mix too.

So, here are some of Laura’s images from our mini project. Mine are down further.

20140215-150524.jpg20140215-150531.jpg20140215-150517.jpg20140215-150537.jpg20140215-150510.jpg20140215-150502.jpg20140215-150456.jpg20140215-150448.jpg20140215-150424.jpg

Here are some of Chris’ images:

20140215-115803.jpg20140215-115716.jpg20140215-115735.jpg20140215-131957.jpg20140215-132126.jpg20140215-132245.jpg20140215-132357.jpg
20140215-145529.jpg

And a few more from outside.

20140215-153016.jpg20140215-153023.jpg20140215-153029.jpg

image

Termal Cacheuta

We splurged and spent a day at the spa outside of Mendoza. Highlights included mud baths, pools of several tem­per­at­ures, a giant buffet lunch (includ­ing tons of asado — Argentine bar­be­cue), and a won­der­ful swim in the nearby river canyon. This kind of thing is super popular with Argentines, as evid­enced by the busload of vaca­tion­ing locals we spent the day with, and the throngs who come out on their own to enjoy bbqs and picnics all up and down the river bank. It was pretty great. Here are a few images.

20140212-093714.jpg

20140212-093755.jpg

20140212-093819.jpg

20140212-093842.jpg

20140212-093912.jpg

20140212-093950.jpg

20140212-094052.jpg

image

Mendoza Winery Tour by Bicycle

I fan­tas­ize about riding a cute bicycle with a basket, while wearing a dress and my hair per­fectly blowing in the wind. Add to this fantasy the idea of riding along the many rows of grapes belong­ing to a vine­yard and grace­fully jumping off my bicycle at the doors of the vine­yard to sample their wines, and the dream is com­plete. The world is a won­der­ful place when it enables your fantas­ies to come true.

image

In the small town of Maipu, 30-minutes from Mendoza, Argentina you can rent a bike and ride among the vine­yards from winery to winery tasting wines along the way. A bike costs 50 pesos (~$8.00 CAN) for the day, you just have to be back to the shop by 7:00 pm or earlier. Most of the vine­yards close between 4:00 — 6:00 pm, so this isn’t dif­fi­cult. What was dif­fi­cult, and not part of my fantasy, was the 40 degree desert sun and the giant semi trucks passing when the bike path dis­ap­peared and the road had no shoulder. While the traffic wasn’t ideal, when there was a gap in the traffic, I still loved the feeling of riding my bike down the long road with giant trees on either side that met each other in the middle. I conquered the heat by wearing a hat, sun­screen, sleeves to protect my shoulders and just embra­cing the sweat.

Most of these images are from Chris camera: Fuji x100s. He edited the images in this post using Snapseed, a much better iPad app than the one he's been using for the last few posts: Photogene.

Most of these images are from Chris camera: Fuji x100s. He edited the images in this post using Snapseed, a much better iPad app than the one he’s been using for the last few posts: Photogene.

Be warned, the maps the bike rental shops give you are not to scale, so while it may appear the dif­fer­ent vine­yards, museum, brewery and olive oil factory are sep­ar­ated by even lengths of city blocks, they are not. What the lady said was 5 km, was def­in­itely more... or at least the desert sun made it feel so.

Each bike shop offers a map of the area. While the shops are competitive on price, each offers bikes of varying quality. Also, only some offer helmets. Shop around.

Each bike shop offers a map of the area. While the shops are com­pet­it­ive on price, each offers bikes of varying quality. Also, only some offer helmets. Shop around.

Chris read on another traveller’s blog that the best idea was to bike the fur­thest dis­tance at the begin­ning and then work your way back to the bike rental place. This seemed like an excel­lent piece of advice espe­cially since each time you get on your bicycle to ride along­side the semis you are more and more inebriated.

image

We started our journey late in the day, around 1:15pm and reached our first vine­yard, Familia Di Tommaso, around 2:00pm. We were starving for lunch upon arrival, and very sweaty, making the wooden chairs and tables in the shade facing the rows of grapes look even more appealing.

image

The next English tour started at 3:00 so we ordered the Chef’s daily special, rabbit with salad paired with one of the vineyard’s Malbecs for 140 pesos (around $20 CAN). This was my first time eating rabbit and it was tender and deli­cious, even though I found it’s tiny bones slightly annoy­ing to eat around. Ha, ha. Chris and I couldn’t help but think of our dear friend Christine Campbell who has a pet rabbit she’s taken all over the world with her: France, Italy, Spain, England, etc. We ima­gined her being slightly mor­ti­fied as we ate a rel­at­ive of her beloved pet.

Mmmmm... Rabbit!

Mmmmm... Rabbit!

Being the lushes we are, we ordered a cool, refresh­ing glass of white to enjoy while we waited for our meal.

Our first Argentine wine, and one of our favourite grape varietals: Torrentes.

Our first Argentine wine, and one of our favour­ites: Torrentes.

Of course the food and GIANT glass of malbec arrived only moments after being served our white. Now we REALLY looked like lushes. The vine­yard was very accom­mod­at­ing though. The server put our wine aside and said we could eat our desert and finish our wine after the tour!

The tasting of four wines and a short tour of the his­toric vats took about 45-minutes. This winery is a his­toric site dating back to the 1830’s, so they no longer use the vats and cellar for their main pro­duc­tion. However the barrels lining the walls were full of aging wine. We sat on them in the cellar while our tour guide explained the pro­duc­tion. There was some­thing exhil­ar­at­ing about sitting on a full barrel of wine.

image

Bottles aging in the old vats of  the Famila di Tommaso bodega (winery).

Bottles aging in the old vats of the Famila di Tommaso bodega (winery).

The blissfully cool basement of the bodega. Our guide told us staff like to take siestas down here.

The bliss­fully cool base­ment of the bodega. Our guide told us staff like to take siestas down here.

After the tour we fin­ished our wine and desert and were back on the road by 4:30. The next vine­yard we planned on seeing closed at 6:00 but our plans were altered when a group of five tour­ists stopped us for dir­ec­tions. We told them to follow us because their des­tin­a­tion was the dir­ec­tion we were going. When we reached it, we decided to stick with them. We found ourselves at the Tempus Alba winery. They didn’t offer guided tours and the tasting was not inform­at­ive or inter­act­ive. You chose your wines, they poured them in glasses and gave them to you. I wouldn’t recomend this winery, unless all you care about is trying wines and decid­ing for your­self if you like it or not. The wines were tasty though.

The industrial-scale vats at Tempus Alba.

The industrial-scale vats at Tempus Alba.

Chris and shared five dif­fer­ent samples of wine and enjoyed con­ver­sa­tion with the other tour­ists, includ­ing a nice couple from England, a couple from New Zealand and an American lady. Leaving the vine­yard at 5:30 pm, there was no time for another vine­yard so we cycled back to Mr. Hugo’s rental shop with the Brits where we met up with other tour­ists we had met along the way. Our vine­yard touring came to an end as we sat around a table swap­ping stories and sharing laughs with fellow travellers.

Drinking buddies.

Drinking buddies.

This colourful fellow lives in the Courtyard at Mr. Hugo's Bike Rental.

This col­our­ful fellow lives in the Courtyard at Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental.

image

image

20140207-200517.jpg

¡Tango!

You do not choose Tango. Tango chooses... me.
– Chris Beauchamp

My wife Laura is an amazing dancer.

She’s grown up in dance classes. Jazz. Ballet. Ballroom. Belly dance. Hip hop. She’s done it all. On stage, even. Musical theatre? Dance clubs? No sweat.

Think you can lead? She’ll follow, easily. Hell, she’ll lead. She even took a Capoeira class when we lived in Calgary.

The woman can move.

Which makes it all the more amazing she married me, a spastic fool of the highest order. Sure, I might have some spirit when the mood strikes just right, or when the beer is cheap, or when the doors are closed and the blinds are pulled tight. But what I don’t have, at all, is rhythm, grace, coordination...

And while that hasn’t always stopped me from giving it my all on the dance floors of the world, it has fre­quently stopped me from looking cool, or sexy, or, you know... human.

Seriously, I’m a ter­rible dancer.

So when we chose to visit Argentina, the birthplace–scratch that–the very soul of Tango, you better believe she wanted to get out there and see (and do..) some dancing.

And I wanted to go to bed early.

Or hand-wash my underwear.

Or maybe throw myself from the hostel’s rooftop bar.

Anything other than subject myself to the abject humi­li­ation of public dance, espe­cially of the highly-ritualized, gender-role-defined, high-art form that is ¡Tango!

Side note: you really need to say this word out loud, enthu­si­ast­ic­ally, in your best bad Spanish accent–and relish it. Go ahead, I’ll wait...

“¡Tango!”)

Feels good right?

Anyway, when she bought us two tickets to a Tango show (Complejo Tango, booked through our hostel at 640 Argentinian pesos each–about $70 CDN), I smiled enthu­si­ast­ic­ally, nodded like a good husband, and died a little on the inside.

Oh well, I thought, she puts up with my interests all the time. I can survive one night so she can enjoy some sort of Tango exper­i­ence. I’m sure she’ll get to do some dancing with a Tango pro of some sort. Show off her skills...

Little did I know the uni­verse had other plans for us. Twisted, sad­istic, hil­ari­ous plans. Plans which included a sur­pris­ingly public and enjoy­able ¡Tango! exper­i­ence for me, the spastic sub-humanoid non-dancer, while Laura was releg­ated to mostly spec­tator status.

The tickets included pickup from the hostel, an hour of touristy dance class, a three-course dinner, drinks, and a Tango show to round the evening out.

When we arrived onsite, the large air-conditioned tourist coach dis­gorged us and we filed into a second floor room that looked like a lot of dance studios. There were nervous titters and awkward laughs from the 40+ group as the instructor Alejandro split us up into men and women to teach us a few extremely basic steps. It was a relief to know I wasn’t the only one feeling like a gym-class reject, but Alejandro kept the mood light and funny, teach­ing us three basic moves over the course of an hour, and inter­spers­ing things with three or four mini dance ses­sions, where he would call out for us to change partners.

Each lesson was punc­tu­ated with a short public demon­stra­tion, where Alejandro would ran­domly pick one or two guys to show the whole class what we had learned, with the stip­u­la­tion that we had to choose a partner we didn’t know. A natural per­former, Laura would relish an oppor­tun­ity like that, and I’m sure she was one of the only people in the room think­ing “pick me, pick me.” But of course, for the third and final demo, it was I that found myself stand­ing in front of the class, forced to show off the com­plete set of steps we had learned, cul­min­at­ing in the silly “Tango picture” pose Alejandro taught us for the final flourish.

And of course, Alejandro encour­aged every­one in the room to get their cameras ready for the big moment.

Panicked, but with an air of false con­fid­ence char­ac­ter­istic of good Tango stu­dents, I selec­ted the first partner I could find that I hadn’t already danced with: a sweet older American lady on holiday with her husband. I few decades of age dif­fer­ence and a few feet of height dif­fer­ence don’t mean any­thing to the true Tangoist.

As I held up my hand to invite her to dance, I saw panic in her eyes as she whispered at me “don’t do it, don’t do it,” but if fate was forcing me into this pos­i­tion, I cer­tainly wasn’t going to let her off the hook. Besides, there were 40 sets of eyes on me now, and to be rejec­ted in my moment of Tango glory would be too embar­rass­ing, so I reas­sured her that she would do fine, and we took to the floor.

20140207-200901.jpg

I wish I could say my blood ran hot with the passion of the dance, but I was really as ungainly as ever, focused more on count­ing out the steps than feeling the flow of Latin love. Either way, our per­form­ance went fine, and the room burst into applause and flash pops as we ended with our silly Tango faces turned to the audience.

20140207-201107.jpg

The irony con­tin­ued, as the class fin­ished with one final mini dance session. Seeing my chance, I grabbed Laura and we had one shot at putting it all together. Although I again suc­ceeded in the steps and form as taught, Laura, dance genius that she is, messed up the very last bit of the dance. Proof of my com­plete Tango superi­or­ity? Probably...

I had sur­vived public Tango, and I felt con­fid­ent my per­form­ance had earned me a nice dinner and a fare share of wine, not to mention several jokes about my Tango superi­or­ity. I think every­one in the room was glad the embar­rass­ing part was over and we were ready to move next door into the per­form­ance space.

A tasty dinner was served, and although the wine left some­thing to be desired, it didn’t stop us from choking down a few glasses and really enjoy­ing ourselves once the show began. The per­form­ance took us through a century of Tango history, with three couples swap­ping part­ners and cos­tumes in a dizzy­ing array of dance styles down through the decades. The dancers used the whole room during the per­form­ance, includ­ing bal­conies, stairs, the bar, and the main aisles. A great male singer and a live band on the balcony (violin, accor­dion, piano and cello) set the mood. The show alone was worth the price of admis­sion, and the skill was impress­ive all round.

20140207-201914.jpg

Tango purists turn up their noses at these types of tourist shows, and it’s a far cry from the actual Tango on display in milon­gas (Tango halls) through­out Buenos Aires, but that doesn’t make the acro­bat­ics, light show and fancy foot­work any less impress­ive. Our teacher, Alejandro, was in the cast, and the ladies in the room were unafraid to give him the biggest cat­calls and applause.

Dinner eaten, wine con­sumed, I felt smuggly proud that I had sur­vived dance class unscathed and was safely in the audi­ence where I belonged. I should have known my ordeal wasn’t over. Of course they were going to grab some audi­ence members and make them dance during the show. Of course it would happen to me...

20140207-201516.jpg

twice.

20140207-201534.jpg

Luckily, the pro­fes­sional female dancers know how to make a putz look good, subtly taking the lead, step­ping deftly in and around my stupid feet.remembering at least one part of my train­ing, I made my best Tango face as Laura snapped a cell phone pic. As I sat down from the first dance, sinking low into my chair, Laura had time to reas­sure me that the woman made me look like I knew what I was doing, before I felt a tap on my shoulder from the other side and was whisked back up and into the flow of Tango.

You’d think I would be getting the hang of things by this point, but my feet were even more dis­join­tedly unco­ordin­ated the second time around. Thankfully, it was short-lived and after another quick snap­shot, I was finally free of Tango for the evening.

The show ended with an impress­ive climax of twirls, leg kicks, flips and spins, and though Laura didn’t get a chance to show off her stuff, we were both giddy on the ride home, laugh­ing our asses off at the irony that Tango had chosen me.

And though I’m still a ter­rible, ter­rible dancer, it hasn’t stopped me from declar­ing my Tango superi­or­ity every chance I get. It’s nice in any rela­tion­ship when one evening out can spawn a whole new legacy of inside-jokes and giggle fits.

The best part of the whole thing might just be the 40 digital cameras–each with a photo of me, my ridicu­lous Tango face and my sep­tua­gen­arian dance partner–that are even now trav­el­ing home to every corner of the globe, forever immor­tal­iz­ing my Tango legacy.

If you make your way to this part of the world, do your­self a favour and go see a Tango show. You might dis­cover that Tango chooses you too...

20140207-202032.jpg

Chris and Laura take on the world.