Querida Argentina

The Flying Longhorns find a taste of Texas in Buenos Aires and Patagonia.

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“The eyes of Texas are upon you!” The group belted out, horns proudly raised to the Argentine sky. “All the live long day.”

The band of 14 Flying Longhorns travelers, plus Texas Exes producer Megan Clifton and their dedicated guide, Pedro Porqueras, had just reached Valle Encentado in Patagonia, and they felt the urge to sing the song of their alma mater. A local guide they’d just met told them it was the most beautiful school song he’d ever heard.

After singing the national anthem, they were whisked away for yet another asado lunch—not the first of the trip by any stretch—though there were no complaints, as the Argentinian national dish of some variation of meats, cheeses, and salad had been enjoyed by the Flying Longhorns thus far. It’s easy to see why: “Asado” means barbecue in Argentina.

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“They would come around with a plate of sausage, followed by another kind of sausage, then beef, chicken, then another kind of beef,” Clifton says. “There would be bread and salad and Malbec on a table, so you could serve yourself family style. It was great!”

While good food was a major theme for the Flying Longhorns in Argentina, it certainly doesn’t tell the entire story.

After arriving in Buenos Aires on their first day in the country, the travelers settled into the Recoleta neighborhood by taking in the sites of the city, a tango show, and a visit to the Recoleta Cemetery. The famous final resting place is home to such dignitaries as Carlos Saavedra Lamas, the first Latin American recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; 18 former Presidents; and Eva Perón. It’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

They also visited an estancia, which all the Texan travelers recognized as a bit like home.

“An estancia is like a Texas ranch, except a lot more high-end,” Clifton says. “The gauchos, or cowboys, are more ornate. All their horses’ bridles are encrusted with silver.”

They were treated to a special gaucho show, one in which, among other maneuvers, a gilded horse laid down and did yoga poses, draped in a UT flag.

It had to feel like home—sort of—until the group found themselves caught in the middle of a teachers’ protest against Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, regarding an increase in pay. Feeling the importance of education, some of the group walked with the teachers in a move of solidarity.

After their brief political moment, the group set out for Mendoza, Argentina’s wine country, a complete change of pace.

They visited the Norton and Toso Vineyards, where they were greeted with, as they had grown accustomed to, another delicious asado lunch.

The real takeaway for passengers in Mendoza, though, was the serene scenery. Upon arriving in Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, the guides navigating the terrain for the Flying Longhorns were taken aback. The group had picked a great time to visit Mendoza, as they saw no less than four condors, a rarity.

“Our guides were like, ‘We never see these,’” Clifton says. “It was like the Texas Exes were attracting condors.”

The condors soared around the mountain, the highest on its continent and in the Western and Southern hemispheres. Their local guide had climbed to the 22,837-foot-high peak numerous times, but the Texas Exes didn’t go anywhere near the top. They were just fine with spotting numerous condors from where they were, thank you.

The third and final leg of their trip saw the Flying Longhorns in Patagonia, the aforementioned site of their choral congregation. They flew into Bariloche, their entry point to the Northern Patagonia Lake District, where they checked into their hotel overlooking the glacially carved, dark-blue expanse of Lake Nahuel Huapi, surely the most difficult to pronounce lake in South America. Yet the operose moniker did nothing to detract from its elegance.

“It was easily the most beautiful place I’d ever been,” Clifton says. “The pictures don’t do it justice.”

The region was also a highlight of the trip for Carol Allbritton, who says, succinctly, “Patagonia was fabulous. It was a wonderful experience”

Albritton is no stranger to the Flying Longhorns, as this was her 15th trip with the group. She had previously traveled to Ecuador and Peru with the Texas Exes, and she wanted to visit South America again with them.

“It was very well organized, there were good guides in each location, we saw nice places, and it was very flexible,” Allbritton says. “You can always find something in common with the people on these trips.”

Argentina_group

One phrase the group had repeated at every stop was “make it happen.” Porqueras would repeat it at museums, hills to climb, and even restrooms when they were cutting it close on time; it became the Flying Longhorns’ mantra in Argentina. On their final night in Patagonia, the group enjoyed a meal followed by a toast from Clifton. She presented the Make it Happen award to a Texas Exes member who had planned to make the trip to Argentina many years earlier with her husband, before he passed away. Traveling solo, the alumna took initiative at every location, embodying the spirit of their new favorite phrase.

“You came on this trip just as you had planned to with your husband,” Clifton spoke, her glass of Malbec raised in front of a cluster of now-familiar faces. “You made it happen.”

Credits, from top: Pedro Porqueras, Megan Clifton (2)

 

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