Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Tippy Family does South America

Wow. The Tippy Family had a blast in Paraguay and Argentina. I don’t even know where to begin but I guess it would be best from the beginning.

On June 21st my parents arrived to Asuncion, Paraguay. I found them at the airport with a checked bag and a carry on bag for each one, plus a large duffle bag full of goodies for me!! With that being said a local bus was out of the picture, even though it could have been very fun and interesting. We took 2 taxis because the driver told us it would be safer that way, instead of putting the four of us with luggage in one taxi. ( it didn’t make much sense but whatever.) The first night we relaxed in the hotel and went to dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I know they came here to try the local foods, but while in the capital I was taking full advantage of it and eating foods I rarely get to eat. On the way to dinner we passed by a San Juan festival at the mall, where they were making all of the local foods and much more. I didn’t want them to try all the foods yet because I knew that when we got to my house they would go to a San Juan festival.

The next day we walked around down town a little then went to the boat dock. My dad has been waiting to ride on a boat on the Rio Paraguaya for about 6 months. Therefore we got on a little boat that the driver had to crank start and went over to a little island called, Chacoi. My dad had the biggest smile on his face the entire time. There wasn’t much to see on the island so we just walked around a little bit then got on the next boat that came to go back to Asuncion. When arriving to the dock in Asucion there was “Tippy” biscotti truck on the ramp waiting to load food onto a boat. The driver of the boat knew our last name and said TIPPY! We told him we were the owners. For lunch we ate at Lido Bar and had fish soup, chipa guazu, chicken empanadas, and milenesa napolitana yumm soo good!!! Then I decided to introduce them to the national past time or drink of Paraguay, terere. It was a lovely day and so we sat in the park, and rented a terere equipo. Luckily they didn’t get sick! For dinner, I took advantage again, and we ate Sushi. It was a very fancy, and over priced place, but well worth it. ( In my eyes).

Lots more shopping was done, hammocks bought and much more. Therefore a box needed to be shipped home. After shipping we were low on time to get to the bar where we wanted to watch the USA world cup soccer game so we went to the food court at the mall and watched the game while eating asado. That night we ran into another San Juan festival in the plaza. We ended up staying and watching a Torin. It’s a Paraguayans version of a bullfight, drunk men messing around with steers.

We had to leave really early the next morning in order to get to my host families house in Paso de Oro in time for the Paraguay world cup game. To get to her house from down town consists of 2 pretty long city bus rides. We were going to do it, but the guy at the hotel suggested taking a taxi. An agreed price of 120 mil was set but after an hour and 3 kilometers more of a crazy sand road he charged us 150, but it was well worth not stressing on the city bueses. We watched the game at Tita’s house with Tita’s daughter, Analia, Lucy, and David’s sisters Sonia and Yessica. We although were the only ones with Paraguayans jerseys. We had a lovely stay at Tita’s house, even though my family speaks no Spanish and Tita and Ramon speak no English. Tita and Ramon never actually thought that my family would actually stay at their house, they were very honored and happy! Another taxi was taken from Tita’s house to the highway to catch the bus to Villarrica. Luckily there were 4 seats to sit for the ride.

We got to Villarrica and while my mom and brother watched the stuff, my dad and I ran to the bank, and to the grocery store to stock up on food for the few days we would be at my house. From Villarricac another Taxi was taken to San Salvador where David and the cats were anxiously waiting for us. There wasn’t much time for chit chat because we had to shower and get ready for the San Juan festival that my town was putting on the night we arrived. We got to the train station where the festival was and the party was just getting started. Kids were playing with pelota tata ( fire soccer balls) while my host dad ( Dj Ricardo) played the music. All of the women, and even some men were cooking (frying) all of the traditional foods. We ate, drank, and danced. Watched the people dance in a line, and the train car almost burn down. But thanks to the mayor with his one small cup and a little puddle the fire was put out. At one point the women told me to sit down to take a picture of me cooking beju ( its like a pancake). After they wanted my dad to sit and get his picture also. Well little did they know how much skill my dad has. I told him to flip the beju, he did it, and the crowed went wild. An American man flipping a traditional food was amazing to them.

In San Salvador we spent a lot of time at my house relaxing. Well washing clothes by hand. Not very relaxing but my family got to integrate into my daily life. We walked around meeting the people of San Salvador. And seriously the same questions were asked by EVERY person. The first being, What do they think of Paraguay? Do they like it here? Also saying how I looked like my mom and my brother my dad. Do they like David? What do they think about where you live? Are they happy here? Of course they couldn’t respond so I got to answer the questions.

The last day in town we went fishing with my friend Nancy and her boyfriend Oscar. With our little bamboo fishing polls and worms we didn’t do so bad. We sat out at the pond for about 5 hours and caught enough fish to make fish soup that night. Nancy and Oscar came to make the soup, it was delicious. Cook onions, tomatoes, and garlic in oil. Then add your fish with skin and bones. Add milk let it boil. Then add cheese. And some oregano. Try it!

We took the bus to Ciudad del Este during a Paraguayan world cup game. Right when we got to the terminal it was time to watch the penalty kicks to determine the winner. Thank goodness Paraguay won! Then all of us (5) david came too, got in a taxi in the crazy crowded streets and went to the port to get on the ferry. At the port you can see Brazil to the left and Argentina to the right. We took the ferry right in the middle of the two countries on the Rio Parana, leaving Paraguay behind. We arrived in Puerto Iguazu and went straight to the hostel. The next day we went to the Iguazu Falls. They are so remarkable that words can not describe them. One fun thing we did was get into a boat that took us right underneath the waterfalls. It was like splash mountain times one thousand. We were completely soaked down to our underwear, well everyone except my mom because she had rain pants and a rain coat. At another point in the park you walk for about a mile over an enormous river that takes you to the Garganta del Diablo, the devil’s throat, and then you are literally on top of the falls, breathtaking! The waterfalls are one place that I suggest if anyone ever goes to South America, they have to stop by and see them!

Our next stop was a place called Colonia Carlos Pellegrini to see one of the biggest wet lands in the world called Esteros Ibera. Well it´s not the easiest place to get to. From Puerto Iguazu we went to San Ignacio Misiones on a night bus where the driver dropped us off on the side of the road at 2 am, and then we walked about 10 blocks to our hostel. That next morning we went to see the Missions. That afternoon we took another bus to Posadas, a large town in Argentina which is just across the river from Encarnacion, Paraguay. We spent the afternoon walking along the board walk and in the centro. Our hostel was called Vuelva el pez, Return the fish, and we hung out there drinking beer and playing uno. The next morning at 8 am two trucks came to the hostel to pick us up and take us to Esteros Ibera. It was a 4 hour drive and 180 km of the drive was on a dirt road. Thank goodness it hadn´t rained in awhile because they said the drive takes 8 hours because of the muddy roads. We stayed at a very lovely place called Ypa Sapukai. The owner spoke English so my jaw got a break from being translator. The first day we arrived we went on a boat ride into the wetlands where we saw jakare (little alligator type animals), carpinchos ( the largest rodent), deer, thousands of varieties of birds; including cranes, hawks, storks, the red headed black bird or the black butted red bird as my dad would say, and many more. We even saw baby jakare, a baby boa constrictor and monkeys. We took 3 boat rides, 2 in the day and 1 at night. One of the days we spent in the campo (country). We spent the entire day on horseback in the middle of what felt like nowhere, but we would come upon houses where the women would serve us mate, and little snacks, show us their handicrafts and then we´d be on our way. Mom and Patrick´s horses were a little slow, while David and I had fun galloping on ours. While on the ride we saw lots of Rias, it’s a large bird like an emu. At the end of the ride we arrived at estancia of the owners of the hotel where we were staying. They have a very nice meal set up for us. Asado, wine, salad, and bread. The meat was so tender we didn´t believe that it was beef, we thought for sure it was pork, but the owner assured us it was beef. The best beef we had ever eaten. We had a very nice relaxing afternoon sitting in the shade and enjoying the scenery but it all ended when listening on the radio we found out the Paraguay had lost the world cup futbol game. Argentina had lost that same day and our driver was not very happy, every time he had to get out of the truck to open a gate he would stroke his head and say “que verguenza” , how embarrassing because they lost 4-0. That same driver drove us to the town of Mercedes where we would catch our bus to Buenos Aires. His truck was so old, and not in good conditions to be driving on the road to Mercedes. 4 hours on a dirt road going around 20 mph was very painful. I told my dad I would from now on never call him a turtle again for driving too slow.

The bus ride in total was about 16 hours to Buenos Aires. We had rented an apartment, so we took a taxi there where the owner was waiting for us to pay her and sign the papers. We did a lot in Buenos Aires because we stayed for 7 days therefore I am going to mention the highlights.
- The food, or steak to be more specific. We succeeded in eating our weight in beef, and pork. We even went as far as going to an all you can eat Parilla (grill) where we sat at 10 pm and ate our way till 12 am.
- Walking to all of the more popular barrios. Palermo, La Boca, San Telmo, Centro, Puerto Madera. Walking, walking, walking. David´s legs and feet hurt. He wasn´t ready for a Tippy family “Vacation” or marathon.
- We went on a tour of the Boca soccer stadium. One of the most popular teams in Argentina, where Maradona played.
- Tango at El Tortini. We saw a wonderful show of 4 couples tango and a live band.
- Shopping. Leather. Boots. Purses.
- Patrick cooked a wonderful lunch (stew) for us while we watched the semi finals of the world cup in our apartment.
- Eating lunch in La Boca, where my mother tango danced on the street with a stranger.
- Tango show at Bar Sur, a very intimate environment. My dad learned how to tango. David, my brother, and I also learned how to Tango. It is very difficult with all the kicking and jumping I was so nervous the whole time that someone was going to get hurt.
- Eating. Eating our way across Buenos Aires. Even when we weren’t hungry we ate.

We had a very wonderful time in Buenos Aires, but the time had come and it was time for us to move on. That meant sadly that David had to go back to Paraguay while we continued on the adventure. He took a bus from BA to Asunción Paraguay almost 24 hours. While we flew from BA to Salta, almost the same distance but it only took 3 hours.

We arrived late into Salta and went directly to our hostel where we had made reservations in March. We had to make reservations so early because it is winter vacation for the Argentineans and everywhere was filling quickly. We arrived and they had no record of our reservation. We even had a paper with conformation numbers and everything. Luckily the guy found another hostel for us to stay. The owner from the other hostel came and picked us up. But the room they had for 2 of the 4 nights was dorm style bunk beds, without heat, and we had to use the bathroom outside, literally outside. But it was probably the only place in town that had an opening that wasn´t super expensive. The first day we spent wondering around Salta visiting the churches, and went on a gondola ride to the top of a hill to see the view of the city. We ate delicious empanadas, and watched great street folklore street music.

The next day we had made plans with a tour company to go to a town called Cachi, which is up in the mountains on crazy windy roads. It took the whole first half of the day to get there, stopping along the way to take pictures of the gorgeous views. The guide gave us all coca leaves to put in our mouths to prevent altitude sickness and calm our stomachs from the windy roads. They seemed to work. No one got sick. Along the way is a national park that is filled with Cardons, huge cactus like the ones in Arizona. The driver had told us if we were lucky we would see Candors flying above. We had spent so much time driving and stopping along the way that when we arrived in Cachi we only had 2 hours, 1 hour to eat and an hour to see the sites. It was such a quiet and quaint town with a beautiful church and plaza. We got back to the hostel pretty early and went out to eat. We went to a wine bar first where we drank a bottle of wine and a sample platter of some of the best salamis and cheeses I’ve tasted. I was full, but that wasn’t dinner, we had made reservations at a place with a dinner/show. So we went, watched dancers dance and a man sing, all while falling asleep at the table. We left early to get some sleep before the next days adventures.

We left at 8 am and went north up to the hills of the 7 colors, purmamarca, humawaca, and miamara. The drive was spectacular. Every kilometer the scenery was changing colors and formations. Its amazing how beautiful the country side is. We had waited to do some shopping until we got up north ( almost in Bolivia) because people had told us tapestries and hand crafts were cheaper. We had a delicious llama lunch and went to the streets. Oh did I mention at this time it had gotten very very cold! My mother bought a beautiful tapestry with people woven in, all hand made. We didn’t have much time in humawaca either because we had spent so much time on the road stopping and searching for lost papers that we had to leave shortly after arriving.

From Salta we decided to make our way south, very far south, to Mendoza. My family was not going to miss out on lots of wineries and wine tasting. We hired a private tour company to take us south because it would have been a 24 hour drive in a bus, and there is gorgeous scenery and national parks a long the way where we knew we wanted to stop. We left Salta and it was starting to snow. Well the higher in elevation we got, the more snow there was. We first passed through Cafayete which is the northern wine country of Argentina where we tasted a bit of wine and ate lunch. Continuing on we passed through Quilmes, an old fortress what was made 400 years B.C. and has been restored. We were supposed to stay in Tafi del Valle that night on the other side of the mountain, but due to snow we couldn’t pass that night and stayed in Santa Maria in the only hotel whose pipes weren’t frozen, and that had heat. We got lucky. By this time it was VERY cold. I was not prepared. The next day the passes were still closed so we had to backtrack 300 km to Salta. No one was complaining because the scenery was beautiful, and we promised the driver we would only ask to stop 2 times to take pictures. That day we drove about 1,000 km to the town of Rojia. Stayed the night and left early the next morning to get to the National Parks. The first park was Talampaya, at this national park there were petroclifs and beautiful rock formations. The second park, I don’t remember the name, is where they have found some of the oldest dinosaur bones. We could not pass through because a lot of snow fell and made the sand very muddy, therefore cars could not pass. That night we stayed at nice hotel in a small town that I don’t remember the names of, but it was pretty!

We left the next morning to get to Mendoza. After 4 days of travel we arrived in Medoza around lunch time. We ate lunch with our three wonderful guides and then they were on their way to Cordoba. We took laundry to be washed and hit the town. It had finally gotten a little warmer so we were happy to be outside without 12 layers of clothing.

Day 1 wine tasting- Our first full day we decided to go to Maipu, one of the parts of Mendoza that makes wine. There we rented one speed bikes and decided to follow the guide that consisted of 12 wineries and 12 km. We went to the first one, La Rural or Rutini, where my brother knew he wanted to try the reserve wines. So we paid extra and tried 3 reserve wines, we got two servings to share between the 4 of us and it ended up being about 2 bottles, the pours were enormous. But we were off to a great start! After that we decided to go to the furthest winery and make our way back. Well it was an incline the entire way, and with one speed bikes wasn’t easy. My mom and dad decided to take it slow, and we made plans to meet for lunch. So Patrick and I continued on the journey. We went to one winery called, Serno, before lunch and sat outside in the sun tasting 8 different wines. After we got on our bikes, put the box of wine in the front basket and rode to where we were going to have lunch. We arrived very hungry! My parents had not arrived yet, but we decided to eat anyways. We decided to try two different glasses of wine at lunch and not do the tour of the winery. The food and wine were fantastic, and the brownie with ice cream at the end even better! We tasted at one more winery before running into mom and dad riding down the road. They didn’t make it that far but did taste some great wines. By this time it was almost 7, time to return the bikes. At the rental place we drank a cup of fruity not so great wine, while waiting for the taxi to come pick us up.

Day 2 wine tasting- We hired the boy who works at the hostel to drive us around the second day because the place where we went, the wineries were more spread out, and we wouldn’t be able to do it on a bike. We first went to the Pulenta Estate winery, this winery is at the foothills of the Andes. There is a huge long story about the owners, to make it short they are really rich sons of a rich wine maker who died and sold his enormous winery. So the all of the sons with that money bought their own land and started their own wineries. The two owners of Pulenta Estate are race car fanatics, they even have a label with Porsche, and Carrera written on them. Downstairs in the cellar, there is a business room that consists of glass for the walls, and while we were down there we got to see the owners, with their wine consultants talking about wine and tasting it too. We were the only visitors at the winery which was really nice and personal. The second place we went to, Villalba, we were the only visitors also. We decided to skip the tour and go straight to the tasting. Come to find out the owner is another brother from the family of wineries. The third place we went was Septima, which is enormous compared to the other two places. The export I think over 70% of their wine to the United States. The guy tried telling us quality was more important than quantity, but when you produce millions of bottles of wine a year…The last place we went was Ruca Malin, we had lunch reservations there. We arrived, and whoa, it was fancy. We were not expecting this. We sat down, they brought us the set menu for the day, which was 6 courses and with each course a wine or two that was matched with the type of food. We were ok with this it looked fantastic. First course we ate a quinoa and granny smith apple salad with foam that came in a little shot glass, with a nice white wine. Second course we ate a baked pumpkin empanada with a little meat skewer thing and a good wine. Third course was a homemade cheese with a cracker and delicious sauces, and wine. The fourth course was the main course. A steak with chopped veggies and a smoked eggplant paste, this came with two types of wine. The fifth we had a lemon sorbet, that was to clean our pallet. The sixth and the best was a fried banana and white chocolate dessert. Two and a half hours later we were Very satisfied. We had just eaten the most outstanding gourmet lunch, and realized that it was a once and a life time meal. Oh the best part, there were huge windows in front of our table overlooking the Andes. After that we got in the car fat and happy and went back to the hostel.

The next day was my flight home and my parents flight to Peru to continue on their journey. The Tippys succeeded to do it again, have a fantastic, unbelievable, perfect vacation. Thanks to the months of planning that my parents did, and the wonderful people of Paraguay and Argentina we had a great time. My parents say it’s a once in a life time vacation, that they planned so much to do because they will never come back to South America, but I say for sure they will come back!!!!


  1. what a happy holiday ^^!

  2. warm greeting for your lovely family 0_0