My Mom and Dad invited me and my siblings and spouses to go on a shooting trip with them to Uruguay. The trip was organized by Frontiers Travels (www.frontierstravel.com) which had organized several of Dad's other hunts. My wife wasn't able to go and we had three children in school, but she encouraged me to go. This is a rundown on the trip with linked photographs. Or you may just want to view the photographs in the thumbnail directory (no maps or descriptions).
Wednesday, 1 March 2006
After driving from Lexington or London, KY and parking in long-term parking, we left Cincinnati at 4:45 pm for Atlanta. After arriving in Atlanta, we boarded Delta fight #101 to Buenos Aires.
The flight on a 767 was supposed to be almost 10 hours. Onboard, they showed the latest Harry Potter movie (#4). Steve and Annie sat in the two seats on the window side on the left side of the plane, Sarah and Darryl sat behind them. I sat across the aisle from them in the center row of seats. They were sitting either a little in front or a little back of my row (the rows were staggered). The center row had three seats, the middle one in my row was unoccupied, but the seat on the right was occupied by a lady who lived in Atlanta. She was originally from Bogota, Columbia and was going to a family reunion in Buenos Aires. She had siblings in Germany, Washington DC and other areas (Buenos Aires, I presume) and her parents lived in Bogota. They were all to meet in Argentina.
After the movie was over, I went to sleep a bit. We were over Cartagena, Columbia when I fell asleep.
Thursday, 2 March 2006
At about midnight or 12:30 in the morning the captain turned on the lights and announced that there was a change of plans. He said that they had to shut down one engine because of loss of oil pressure, but that we could fly on one engine. He said that we would double back to Bogota, Columbia to land. We landed about 1:30 AM in Bogota, but were not allowed off the plane till 5:30 AM. Bogota didn’t have a Delta station and they had to negotiate with the Columbian government and the airport authorities and Delta to figure out what to do. They decided that they couldn’t repair the engine easily and Delta would have to fly another plane and crew down from Atlanta. They said that we would go to a hotel for a few hours to rest. We had to go through a long process at Columbian security and customs (mostly waiting in line). We were given transit cards. We then took a chartered bus to the hotel (Intercontinental Hotel Tequendama, www.inter-tequendama.com.co) which took about 45 minutes. Then we all formed up into another long line to register at the hotel. That took about an hour. We were given a voucher for breakfast and one for lunch at the hotel restaurant. I went to my room and took pictures of the view (mountains and city buildings), then went down to have breakfast with the rest of my family at about 8 or 8:30 in the morning.
After breakfast, I went to my room and slept for a couple of hours. At noon, we were supposed to check at the desk about our return to the airport. Several of us went out for a quick lunch near the hotel. Darryl came and told us that we had to hurry to catch the bus back to the airport. We loaded onto the bus which only took about ½ hour to return (traffic was not as bad). At the airport, we went through security again, but had to wait there till we took off, about 7 PM. We had a long wait on the plane before we could take off. The Columbian lady, after talking to the Spanish-speaking crew, told me that the engine had failed on the original flight over the Amazon and that the captain had requested that we make an emergency landing in Venezuela, but that the Chavez government wouldn’t let us land. We had to go to Bogota in the mountains, instead. Anyway, we watched the “Family Stone” and “Zorro #2.” It was a long flight.
Friday, 3 March 2006
We arrived in Buenos Aires a little after 2:00 AM. After another long process for customs and security, we met Anna Marie Bruno and her driver and they took us to the Claridge Hotel (www.claridge.com.ar). We checked in about 4:00 AM. We were to meet in the lobby at 9:30 AM to go to the ferry docks. We slept briefly and then had breakfast at the hotel. It was raining very hard. We got on the bus and went to the ferry dock, it was a “Buquebus” ferry.
It rained all day and was very blustery. I couldn’t see much out the window. The trip was a little over one hour to Colonia, Uruguay. I had an Argentine beer, most everyone else slept. When we landed at the dock at Colonia, we went through Uruguayan security and customs. We had three shotguns, so it required a number of officials. Gonzalo “Toto,” with Frontiers, had talked with most of the officials and smoothed the way.
We got to Colonia about noon (Colonia time is about one hour different from Buenos Aires). We got on the small bus with Pepe, our driver with Toto in the lead in another vehicle.
We went to a very nice restaurant in Colonia (El Mesón de la Plaza, Vasconcellos) and spent about 1.5 hours there. I had lamb with mushrooms, Annie had cod with light butter, Steve and Darryl had thin-sliced sirloin, Mom had cheese and ham, Sarah had dried ham and melon.
After lunch, the drive took us around the Barrio Histórico of Colonia (Colonia del Sacramento) for a brief tour and photos.
view to the next restaurant up the street
one of the old buildings in the area, anyone know which one?
view down a tree-lined street
pink house, does anybody know what this house is?
pink house again
convent ruins and lighthouse sign
the ruins and lighthouse, Convento de San Francisco
street with shops, Spanish-style cobbled street (water drains along the sides of the street)
tourist center, near gate
Then we headed for Carmelo and the estancia. We drove for about an hour and arrived at the El Faro estancia [www.elfarodecarmelo.com] about 5 PM. What a beautiful house, Posada Camacho (I believe it was called). The ladies served us a very nice antipasto platter (local cheeses, sausages, hams, olives, etc) and there were several bottles of local wine (Narbona). We picked our bedrooms and got ready for dinner. We met Mariella and Gustavo, our guide and driver for the week. The shooters, Steve, Darryl and Dad would get up early the next day for red-breasted pigeon shooting and the rest of us would leave at 11 AM to go on a winery tour.
For dinner, we left at 8 PM and went to the Narbona winery restaurant (Finca Narbona). We say their cheese storage area and retail area for wines. We all ordered homemade pasta dishes, their specialty. I had past disks with ham and cheese covered with an excellent tomato sauce. Annie had fettuccine with tomato sauce; Sarah had fettuccine with olive oil and their own parmesan cheese.
Sarah and Darryl with one of the many Narbona antique trucks
greeter at the Narbona restaurant, wine shop
our cooks, homemade pasta dishes were the specialty
After dinner, the drive took us back to the house. We had more wine and most went to bed. Steve and Darryl had cigars in the greenhouse. I joined them and scraped wine labels for souvenirs (no cigar). Then we all retired.
Saturday, 4 March 2006
I heard the shooters get up about 6:00 AM. I slept till about 8 or 9 and got up to take a shower. I use Mom and Dad’s shower. We had a very nice light breakfast in the living room, fruit cocktail with excellent homemade yogurt, toast and very good coffee with hot cream.
After breakfast, Annie and I walked around taking pictures of our Posado Camacho house.
right-rear corner of the house; Mom and Dad had the room on the right-side of the view and Sarah and Darryl had the left side with the sunroom.
swing and grape arbor at rear of house
right-side of house, note Sarah's sunroom
At 11, Mariella and Gustavo picked us up and we drove to the Cerro de San Juan winery (www.loscerrosdesanjuan.com.uy). We had a very nice tour and took lots of photos. This is the oldest winery in Uruguay. After the tour, we went to the winery store and enjoyed a very nice lunch of sausages, local cheeses, local bread, olives, spreads, etc. and 3 bottles of wine, the Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Tannat. The Tannat was unfamiliar to me, but I was very surprised by the new flavors and aroma (we should encourage other wineries to grow this grape). We ended up by buying a bunch of bottles.
aerial photograph of the estate showing where each grape varietal was grown
Mariella and the vineyard guide pointing out areas
processing equipment and old cask
landscape next to vineyard
historical landmark; this part of the winery is the oldest in Uruguay
one of the storage areas for bottled wine; each hallway had one kind of wine
stone fence on vineyard grounds
vineyard tour guide explaining the wine types
part of the vineyards and lake
V-shaped method of growing grape vines, designed to get more sun to the grapes
Gustavo "Gus" and Mariella, our driver and guide; they were great
We had a relaxing drive back to the estancia. After that, Mom took a nap. I shot some pool and then Sarah, Annie and I went to the pool. They laid out in the sun and I composed the diary for the last several days. Later the shooters, Dad, Steve and Darryl, met us at the swimming pool clubhouse.
That night we were driven by pickup truck to the Clubhouse where they had a barbecue for us. They cooked beef short ribs and beef sausage. After that we went down to the swimming pool area near hour house and shot pool.
our pickup truck ride; another nice old truck
Sunday, 5 March 2006
The hunters left early as usual and the rest of us got up about 9 or 9:30. Breakfast was fruit cocktail, yogurt, toast, marmalade and crispy squares of toasted pastry. Then we had a tour of the Four Seasons hotel (www.fourseasons.com/carmelo). I have never seen anything so extravagant. The theme was southeastern Asian and there was a lot of Indonesian, Thai, etc. art work. The hand carved Balinese-style door took over a year to make and was inlaid with semi-precious stones and shells.
Then we went to Carmelo and toured the town (www.ciudadcarmelo.com). We first went to the church and church museum (www.ciudadcarmelo.com/museodelcarmen). We played the antique player organ and after the museum tour, walked out to the old square (plaza) of the town.
church and museum next to Plaza Artigas
antique player pipe organ; it works!
Then we went to the Irurtia winery (www.irurtia.com.uy). This one was large with a lot of new technology. We took lots of photos, as usual. We sampled some wine and grappa.
large bottle near the front of the Irurtia winery
two large hoppers where grapes are dumped from the wagons
large vats for grape juice
grape skins (foreground) and other waste piles; skins will be used to make grappa.
V-shaped vineyard plantings; roses at ends to help detect insect pests (they attack roses before grapes)
our vineyard guide showing us the bottling and boxing part of the business
antique car, door on left made from old wine barrels
After the tour, we went back to the Narbona estate and had another barbecue (asado). The grape pickers had just finished from the morning harvest and everyone was in a good mood. Steve and Darryl saw a gaucho knife and they decided that they wanted one like it.
the owner's family enjoying lunch
After that, we went back to the house and the non-hunters got on a diesel boat for a tour of the Rio de la Platte up to Punta Gorda. I took pictures.
exiting the Arroyo Viboras (River of Vipers) and entering the Rio de la Plata (right background)
looking aft from front of boat
heading upstream, to the right is the eastern bank of the Rio
it got hot, so we sat in the shade on the way back
they shouldn't have let me have the helm
fishermen at the rapids at the Arroyo Viboras, next to the old mill house, I took this as I was walking back to our house; thety were fishing for a freshwater dorado
Then in the evening, we were taken to the Four Seasons where we dined in the Siam Room. Sarah had minestrone soup, pasta with shrimp and pesto sauce. I had scallop ceviche with mango sauce and then a main course (I forgot what it was). Sarah and others got two kinds of chocolate dessert.
Sarah and Darryl at our table
Then we went back to the house. Steve, Darryl and I watched a Mexican western that was funny. We couldn’t understand it, but it was entertaining.
Monday, 6 March 2006
We got up and had the usual breakfast. Steve and Dad shot in the early morning.
office building and marina near our house; I took this while waiting for the others
At late morning, all of us except for Dad went to Colonia. Mariella gave us a tour of Colonia. Darryl bought a gaucho knife at an antique shop. We ate again at El Mesón de la Plaza and retrieved Dad’s credit card that we had left from our previous visit. We bought ferry tickets for the next day. After lunch, we walked around and bought souvenirs. We also visited a bull-fight ring that was built in the first half of the 20th century. On the drive back, we stopped at 3 stores to look for a knife for Steve (we didn’t find one that he wanted).
little cafe next to tourist center in the Barrio Histórico of Colonia
overlooking the remains of the Bastion
Portuguese-style cobbled street (rain-water drains down the middle); closest houses are Portuguese style (thick walls, small windows)
another Portuguese-style cobbled street
ruins of the Convento de San Francisco and the much newer faro (lighthouse)
museum with cannons in the front
street with shops, Mariella, our guide
natural history garden; skeleton of large baleen whale, model of giant ground sloth, sabre-toothed cat and glyptodon.
Darryl and vintage car, souvenir and cafe area
When we got back to the estancia, we walked down by the swimming pool.
pool table at swimming pool clubhouse
picnic area at clubhouse
tree with red-breasted pigeons; in front of clubhouse
old millhouse across River of Vipers
During the afternoon, Dad shot 19 boxes of shell and retrieved 245 pigeons (probably 10% more were killed but not retrieved).
The staff fixed another excellent barbecue at the pool clubhouse. After the dinner, some of us shot pool and then we all retired.
our asado in the clubhouse; the grill on the left is for burning wood and making coals, the grill on the right is for cooking, coals are raked into or out of the area under the grill to control the heat
our cook, Luis
last remnants of sunset
Tuesday, 7 March 2006
We all had breakfast together. Steve and Toto went to Carmelo and bought Steve a knife. Annie and I walked around an took pictures of the local chapel.
little chapel built as a memorial to two people
altar with two vases with Pampas grass, made to look like two doves, probably representing the two loved ones
view of old millhouse
water hyacinth along the River of Vipers
cheese, sausage and ice cream shop at the marina
fishermen at rapids of River of Vipers
At 12:30, we all went to the pizza bakery at the marina and had four types of pizza cooked over a wood-burning oven.
putting toppings on the pizza
putting pizza into wood-burning oven
view of the house from the marina
After we packed, we got on the van and drove to Colonia again and bought some more souvenirs. I bought an amethyst specimen; amethyst is the official mineral of Uruguay. We then went to the Ferry and checked the guns. We then got our boarding passes and went through customs and immigration. We were worried when we didn’t see the shooters for awhile, but they finally came aboard the ferry. When we got to Buenos Aires, the officials were upset because we didn’t have the proper papers for the guns. Then we got on the bus and drove to the airport, where we spent a very long time getting the luggage checked, getting our new tickets and our boarding passes, then paying our departure taxes, then going through the long security lines, then customs and immigration. Finally, we got on the plane to Atlanta.
Wednesday, 8 March 2006
After changing planes in Atlanta, we flew to Cincinnati. It was raining and much cooler than in Uruguay (different season). The bus dropped us off at long-term parking and then we all drove to our homes. I drove with Darryl and Sarah. I was very glad to see my family when I got home in the afternoon.