What’s more fun: collecting inch worms or journal writing?

We are getting settled in San Martin de los Andes, where we’ll be spending the next 5 weeks. It’s a very picturesque town on the shores of Lago Lacar, still in the lake country of Patagonia. San Martin is about 1/6 the size of Bariloche, so it is mucho mas tranquilo. It is still quite touristy, but upscale touristy vs. tacky, overdeveloped touristy. Most of the buildings in town are newish construction of glossy wood, in a uniform mountain-chic style (think Park City). There are colorful flowers – especially roses – everywhere.

We are staying in a long-term rental at Cabanas Arco Iris on the edge of town (about 8 blocks from the center). The cabana is great – a bit old school, with a very basic kitchen, but super clean and cozy.

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The best part about it is the huge grassy backyard that the five cabins share. There’s a big round table in the shade where we can eat outdoors, a few rickety playground structures that have already provided hours of entertainment,

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and of course, the highlight: a small stream that the kids can wade in. They have already ‘caught’ two caterpillars, five ladybugs, and multiple inch worms in their bug houses built of leaves and sticks.

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The open yard area facilitates meeting other guests, and we’ve chatted with several other families with small kids. Of course most of them are only staying for 3 or 4 nights, so it’s unlikely we’ll have anything more than extremely short-term acquaintances. But still, it mixes things up a bit, both for us and the girls. And since most of the tourists seem to be Argentinian, it’s a great chance to speak Spanish and learn about some of the rest of the country in the process.

Through the owners here, we have connected with a college student named Lara who will come to teach the girls Spanish and play with them for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. At this point in the trip, after 4 weeks of 24-hour-a-day-togetherness, this is extremely welcome! Lara’s first visit this morning seemed to go well, fingers crossed this continues.

All in all, I’m pleased so far with our choice of where to put down roots for 5 weeks. However, there are a few lingering matters to be sorted. The first is to find a good trail run that we can do from our cabin, as we don’t have a car. This morning we ran up around Lago Lacar, but it was basically running along the shoulder of the road…pretty views, but not ideal.

The second is to figure out how to motivate Sierra to do her schoolwork. With each passing day she is more and more grumpy about writing in her journal – a task I thought she would really enjoy, but which seems to have become a laborious chore. To anyone out there who has ever considered home schooling, all I can say is good luck – better you than me! My very limited experience thus far is making me truly appreciate the importance of a group learning setting to motivate our social Sierra and keep her engaged.

The final matter to be sorted is that of kitchen implements. If I’m going to do any more cooking in this place, we’ll need to invest in a decent frying pan and spatula, as I think we’ve burned almost everything we’ve tried to make so far. Of course the alternative is to scope out the best take-out food options…this is on my list for tomorrow 🙂

-La Portavoz

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