a diverse collection of travel photos and firsthand experiences while venturing across the globe. each destination has welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles, making us feel right at home. from argentina to utah - and thousands of miles in between - these are our visual memories of 'home'...just as we never imagined.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010 World Cup Draw!

Got soccer? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the 2010 World Cup Draw is scheduled for December 4th - this Friday!!!

Live from Cape Town, South Africa (12:00 noon EST) all 8 groups of next summer's tournament will be decided. Will Argentina find itself in the Group of Death once again? Will England and Argentina meet in the opening round? Who will score the first goal - Messi, Tevez, Aguero? Stay tuned for updates...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2010 CHOICE Expeditions!

Friends -

This past weekend, CHOICE Humanitarian celebrated its 2009 Fundraising Gala in Salt Lake City, Utah. With 700 supporters in attendance, the event was an absolute success and 100% of all donations received will be used to fund projects and critical needs throughout regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

As the new Expedition Director at CHOICE Humanitarian, I am proud to organize multiple humanitarian trips across the globe for 2010.

Expedition participants will experience an unforgettable inter-cultural exchange as we venture into stunning landscapes and gracious communities across Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Kenya, and Nepal. Our life-changing expeditions combine the thrills of adventure with the rewards of service.

Your participation in such an expedition represents an essential step in furthering the vision of self-sustainable development among impoverished villages residents. Participants work hand-in-hand with motivated villagers on several important projects: schoolhouses, health clinics, water systems, pit latrines, etc.

Since 1982, we have utilized village-identified projects to empower communities and increase leadership within.
CHOICE focuses on long-term sustainable development and not short-term relief and rescue. Our villages learn to become self-developing communities through adherence to the CHOICE Model, a proven approach to eliminating impoverished conditions and creating long-term opportunities.

We have just printed CHOICE EXPEDITIONS brochures. Please contact me if you would like to receive these brochures in the mail.

Join CHOICE as we build people, not just projects!

a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wine & Tango in the News!

In January of 1888, the National Geographic Society was formed in Washington DC. Ever since, National Geographic has become a standard in journalistic excellence when promoting cultural wonders and geographic marvels. This month, NG Traveler has named Mendoza as one of its 50 Places of a Lifetime! In celebration of fine wine, luxurious wineries, staggering mountains, high-end cuisine, and deluxe hotels, National Geographic has selected Mendoza as one of just 5 such sites in South America.

As of September 2009, tango will now be considered an essential element of the world's cultural heritage. Following approval from the United Nations, this provocative dance of southern South America has earned the official UNESCO seal of approval. While the birthplace of tango is still disputed between Argentina and Uruguay - in part due to the undetermined birthplace of legend Carlos Gardel - both nations came together last month in a mutual sentiment of gratitude and excitement. Now popular with mainstream television audiences, el tango has flourished in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo since the late 1800s...fusing bodies across milonga dance floors through sensual movements and sultry music. Travelers can witness this dance for themselves while strolling the Florida Street shopping district or perusing the famous cobblestone corners of El Caminito.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa, considered the "Voice of Latin America", has died in Buenos Aires at the age of 74. Born in San Miguel de Tucumán - where we first met in 2002 - Sosa was known for her estilo folclórico...and admired for her opposition to the military regime that overthrew the government of Argentina in 1976. A previous post regarding her powerful music and background can be found HERE.

Tania: Before I was married, I imagined this song as a lullaby for my future son. I would sing "Duerme Negrito" - Sleep Little Dark One - as I would rock him to sleep each night. I imagined him with dark skin and lots of dark hair...but Dallin is the complete opposite! While Dallin's actual lullabies are a vast selection of songs that we love, this was our song before he was born. I learned this song when I was around 14...and I planned to use it as a way to share my love of Mercedes Sosa with my children. I'm so sad that she is gone, but I know her legacy and music will live in my life forever. I hope to keep both her memory and music in the lives of our kids!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pride of Argentina...

It is not often that a triumphant athlete carries the pride and joy of an entire nation upon his shoulders. Following Juan Martín del Potro's astonishing win over Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final, the pride of Argentina was rekindled to the fullest...with celebrations, smiles, and tears splashing local newspapers and television broadcasts across the nation. For a country that has struggled with multiple political and economic challenges, del Potro must feel a righteous sense of pride as he has lifted the heads and hearts of millions back home in Argentina...in Buenos Aires...in the small town of Tandil. Por lo tanto, felicitamos no solo a Juan Martín del Potro, pero también a todo el pueblo argentino.

Keep watching until the end to hear del Potro speak in Spanish and dedicate the triumph to his coaches, his friends, and the people of Argentina.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IA Travel - New Pages & Information!

Amigos/ Clients/ and Casual Blog Readers:

We have added four additional pages to the website of Imagine Argentina Travel: Cuisine, Culture, Art, and Service. It is our hope that these latest additions will further promote the wonders of Argentina as we attempt to better capture our love and passion for travel, traditions, and people. Please feel free to click on the images below to learn more!

In addition to providing customized travel itineraries across Argentina and Chile, we are now hoping to organize small-scale group trips across the region. Un fuerte abrazo para todos!

Monday, August 17, 2009

17 de Agosto: Día de San Martín

Considered the George Washington of southern South America, General José Francisco de San Martín was the chief figure in liberating Argentina, Chile, and Perú from Spanish control. Born in Argentina in 1778, San Martín led a life of military greatness before relinquishing his authority to Simón Bolívar - who would continue the further liberation of northern and central South America. Named "El Padre de la Patria" (Father of the Fatherland), San Martín relocated to Europe in his later years and died on August 17, 1850.

His greatest act of courage was the Crossing of the Andes between 1816-1817, in which San Martín led a faithful Army of the Andes from Mendoza to Chile - crossing over the rugged and dangerous peaks of the Andes Mountains. Following this ordeal, San Martín and his soldiers won the decisive Battles of Chacabuco and Maipú.

For those who have visited Argentina, you should be familiar with General San Martín. He graces the majority of the nation's central plazas - riding upon his horse and often pointing towards the west. Most cities in Argentina claim a San Martín Park, San Martín Avenue, or San Martín Plaza.

Tania and I have been fortunate to visit such landmarks from north to south during the past decade. From Parque San Martín in Salta to the great Museo de San Martín in Mendoza; from the tomb of San Martín in Buenos Aires to the quaint village square of San Martín de los Andes in Patagonia. Here are just a few photos that represent this national hero and his victorious life:

Monumento a San Martín: Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires

Cerro de la Gloria: Parque San Martín, Mendoza

Monumento a San Martín: Córdoba Capital

Manzano Histórico: Tunuyán, Mendoza

Parque San Martín: Mendoza

Plaza San Martín: Buenos Aires

Plaza San Martín: San Martín de los Andes, Neuquen

Tumba de San Martín: National Cathedral, Buenos Aires

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Potrerillos: Blanco & Negro

So, I came across these images in our photo collection. While we might not ever post each photo taken abroad, we sure would like to! I think there are some photographs that simply capture a unique scene at a specific moment in time...an image and moment that might not ever be repeated. I seek landscapes and places...while Tania prefers people and faces.

This is Potrerillos, a quaint village in the Andean foothills just outside Mendoza...driving towards Chile. As the water level rose during the winter months of 2008, the barren trees appeared to float across the river's surface. Just an incredible sight...and the right moment for our NIKON d50 SLR camera.

I was once a dedicated artist, working in illustration and graphic design. While I no longer use pens and pencils, I find myself evolving into a digital camera artist. Basically, God paints the canvas before us...then we simply frame it with the click of a button. Easy enough, right? Such images are also available on our website: Imagine Argentina Travel.

Now, I'm no Ansel Adams...but I figure these shots are good enough for now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Do We Miss Most?

This has been a long post in the making...

Since returning home to Utah last month, we have been overwhelmed with those comforts that now surround us once again: peanut butter, ranch dressing, fruit smoothies, reliable customer service, and coupons. At the same time, we profoundly miss Argentina...its lifestyle...its traditions...its people.

We arrived to Mendoza in Feb 2008 with professional and personal goals. However, we were soon plagued with challenges first underestimated before leaving the United States. Overwhelming at times, such trials were alleviated with the help and support of true friends...who were mere acquaintances to begin with. This is something I admire of the Argentine culture - we're in this together, so let us help one another. While some of our professional goals were not met, we did exceed our expectations regarding those eternal memories soon to be formed with friends and family members.

Now back home, we have been asked several questions regarding our international experience. Yes, it was hard. Yes, we loved it. Yes, it was difficult to leave. Yes, we would recommend it to others!

We have been asked about our furniture in Mendoza - what did you do with it all? Having purchased new appliances, electronics, tables, dishes, and mattresses in 2008, we simply did what we felt was right - we gave it all away to loved ones without thinking twice. The more you give, the more you receive...in order to continue giving.

Tania and I were fortunate to serve in the youth programs of our local LDS congregation. Between the two of us, we hiked the Andean foothills, baked oatmeal cookies, taught football (not soccer), explored the zoo, made scrapbook cards, and taught classes...all among the young men and women of Godoy Cruz, Mendoza. As a counselor in the bishopric, I later continued such efforts while also learning and meeting the needs of older members. No matter the economic differences or challenges among us, we each deserve a chance - or multiple chances - to develop our talents and become self-reliant...often with the assistance and encouragement of others.

As we prepared to depart from Mendoza that warm Tuesday afternoon in May, Tania and I stood in the airport terminal with our 8 oversized suitcases, 1 stroller, 1 kennel, 1 child, 1 dog, and 2 heavy hearts. However, there beside us were several members of our congregation - the same ones who sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" just two days prior in our church services. Warm embraces, encouraging smiles, and streaming tears defined those last few moments...and then we were gone.

When times get tough, some of us can pack up our bags and go somewhere else. Others are required to face and overcome such tough times. When new ideas and ambitions enter our hearts, some of us can embark on new adventures. Others are required to dream...and nothing more. This happens worldwide. Throughout our lives, I hope we all can provide opportunities to those that dream...and to those in drastic need.

Above and beyond the mouth-watering steak, I feel the greatest aspect of our trip was time with friends and family. It was an honor to celebrate holidays and birthday dinners together at last...despite the blazing sun on Christmas morning! Tania and I - plus Dallin - share a profound love and respect for those individuals that looked out for us in Argentina. I especially feel a great deal of admiration towards Tania's parents...two humble Chileans that have embraced me since 2002. Gracias a todos ustedes.

So, what other things do we miss about Argentina? To begin, here are a few photos of our arrival at the first hotel in Feb 2008...followed with bits and pieces of our lives abroad:

We miss Sol y Luna: Dallin's pre-school where he attended each morning three blocks from home. Tania took him each morning...I picked him up at noon. His teachers were wonderful and the 2008 graduation show was spectacular!! The theater even had hired paparazzi to take pictures of all the costumes!

We miss Beltrán y Tucumán: The corner address of our new apartment in Bombal Sur of Godoy Cruz. We had everything right within our reach - baker, butcher, barber, etc. We even had our own vegetable stand, pizza parlor, and bootleg video store right next door. We will forever miss the repeated phrase of "la esquina de Beltrán y Tucumán" each time we climbed inside a taxi.

We miss colectivo 8-104: We did not have a car. And when taxis were too expensive, we took the green and yellow bus that stopped right in front of our apartment...the 8-104. The bus took us from home, to the main plaza, to the bus terminal, and back. Several different drivers had this route, and each one decorated the inside of their bus with colors of Boca, colors of River, decals of Jesus, or disco mirrors. We miss the teenagers blasting their cumbia music for all to hear...while the grandmothers held their groceries tight until their stop.

We miss Carrefour: Our local market was just four blocks down the road. We walked there at least three times a week (protests pending) to purchase drinkable yogurt, powdered milk, Nestum (infant cereal), fideos, salsa, and of course...Baggio Pronto (the greatest fruit juice created by man). The manager knew Dallin...the cashiers knew Tania...and the butcher knew us all :)

We miss las plazas: The central squares that united all neighborhoods, towns, and downtown districts. Each plaza carried a unique characteristic: flowing fountains, or towering statues, or soaring palm trees, or elegant lamp posts, or handicraft markets. From up-and-coming breakdancers to jewelry-wielding hippies, each plaza offered unique insight into local culture.

We miss...that last picture: Without a care in the world, couples tossed themselves on the ground...or on benches...or on the sidewalk...just to express their everlasting love...or fulfill a burning desire in the moment. We call this PDA (public display of affection) here in Utah...and it's not as common.

We miss our obispado: Our loving bishopric devoted to the congregation of Godoy Cruz Centro. While smiling and laughing at times...we also knew when to be stern :)

We miss mate: The national steaming drink of hot water and herbs that accompanied each social gathering...even in the boiling summer months. Beyond the drink itself, we miss the moments and memories it created.

We miss el cielo: The blue Argentine sky that often turned into a brilliant horizon of billowing clouds of purples and oranges. We have yet to see such patterns here in the United States...but we were privileged with such views from our apartment's terrace.

Dallin misses las novias: Those wonderful girls that cared for Dallin throughout our trip...especially Mili (his first love).

We miss el invierno: The cool winter months of Mendoza. Dry leaves covered the ground, white snow covered the mountains, and little Dallin was wearing his coat.

We miss el verano: The hot summer months of Mendoza...when clothing was optional...for Dallin.

We miss las protestas: In a way, protests are comforting. They remind you that you're not the only one having a hard time! I admire the courage and resilience that such protesters demonstrated on a weekly basis. However, some protests were just poor excuses to cause chaos...while most protests ended with few results. Aside from the awful traffic jams and bus detours, we applaud those that protested in the name of security, basic rights, and teacher compensation.

We miss road trips: While we do have a car here in Utah, we enjoyed the road trips across Argentina on bus. We reserved our favorite seats - arriba, adelante - and admired the views, the weather, and the fellow passengers. We miss the maleteros asking for spare change. We miss the movie selection...from the mid-1980s. We miss the food...sometimes. We miss jumping off at each stop to explore each bus terminal for 5 minutes. We miss the famous rule of "No Solid Waste in the Restroom". What we don't miss? The passengers who ignored that rule.

We miss the construction workers - not the construction: While the thunderous noises of jackhammers and drills woke us up each morning...and each siesta...we must acknowledge the solid work ethic of the construction workers next door. These men worked long hours for minimal pay...all to return home and care for their wives and children.

We miss los caballos: The sound of horses trotting down our street...as anxious drivers honked their horns from behind. At least three times a day, these kids would gather all the cardboard boxes outside our apartment building...then move along to the next neighborhood.

We miss the greatest steak and ice-cream on earth: Period. From fine restaurants to backyard gatherings...from aged grills to firm box springs...these people know how to barbecue!!! As for the ice-cream...we recommend the White Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Granizado.

We miss the bidet: Enough said.

Our time in Mendoza taught us to place more value on experiences and relationships rather than material items or possessions. We learned that "home" is wherever we are as a family - no matter the neighborhood, the nation, or the continent. We learned to live with little...rather than live in abundance. We love our son. He impressed us. Dallin lived every moment to the fullest - greeting each stranger along the way - without ever realizing he was on an "international" trip. We love our dog. No matter the challenges ahead, she was there to lick your feet - and face - at the end of the day. In 2007, we had some choices to make. We could have purchased a home. We could have pursued a career. Instead, we purchased plane tickets and pursued a dream. We fulfilled a goal that we always had in mind...to return to Argentina once more. We did it. We loved it. And we're sure to to do it again.

Above all else: Gracias a Diego, Gabriela, Carla, Jair, Milagros, Lucho, Betina, Laura, Javier, Cindy, Gabriel, Sara, Ronald, Karen, Leandro, José, Carla, Augustín, Araceli, Aldin, Alondra, y todos los miembros del Barrio Godoy Cruz Centro. Nos enseñaron un montón sobre la vida...y por eso les queremos tanto.