Tuesday 30 July 2013

Staring down the map-making barrel

I love maps. Looking at 'em, using them, collecting them and - more recently - making them. Even before I even start I know that it is going to take hours. Lots and lots and lots of hours to make the map. That's the nature of the beast. Getting started is like staring down the barrel of a gun but once you get started - drawing in borders, building outlines, fences, walls and roads - then making the map gets less scary.

Next week I'm involved with the Mindworx programme at Sacred Heart College. It's the most wonderful programme where the primary school children spend the last week of the third term doing a variety of activities. They rotate through different activities every hour during the school day for the whole week. There's baking, drumming, singing, science, arts, wildlife, crafts, sports and many other interesting themes to inspire the children.

Back in 2005 and 2007 (only held every second year) I ran orienteering activities at the school for Mindworx, working with more than double the number of children in 2007 than previously. I couldn't make it in 2009 and I'm delighted to have been invited back.

I wrote about the 2007 Mindworx on this blog, mentioning a young boy, Dylan. As it turns out, he and his dad did come to orienteering for a while - until they immigrated. They returned to SA two or three years ago and they have returned to orienteering too.

So, for this year's Mindworx - as I'm older and wiser - I have a number of fun activities planned that are very different to those I did back in 2005 and 2007, especially as I've got a wide range of ages to accommodate. The classes range from 20 to 34 children each in Grades 1 to 6. And throughout the week I'll get to play orienteering games with 350 children! Goodness gracious!

I decided to update the school map, which was originally drawn by Ian Bratt. While there weren't that many changes to the property, I thought it would be nice to upgrade the map from the standard symbol set to the sprint map format, where things like corridors and underpasses are indicated. I've added quite a lot more detail too, with the aim of using this school for one of our Orienteering Schools League (OSL) events next year (or the year after).

Part of Ian Bratt's map, which was drawn many, many years ago. It's a good map and perfectly sufficient for orienteering. You're definitely not going to be confused or lost. You'll notice that the buildings are all in black. This is the standard symbol set. A few years ago a Sprint symbol set was developed - specifically for urban areas (schools, university campuses, towns) where building colours (dark grey and light gray) allow us to show canopies (shade cover, corridors) as well as passages through buildings.

My draft - and notes following second school visit to check out detail, alignment of buildings and such. This is a very wonky campus where nothing is inline with anything else. 
Almost there... I still have a few little bits to fix up here and there.
I've also received permission from the school to put in a permanent course. I'll leave maps behind with a number of course variations so that they can be used during Phys Ed lessons or as an extracurricular sports warm-up activity.

I'm almost done with the map, which has taken me about two days to draw plus two visits to the school to walk the terrain. Just to add the legend, logos, scale and all the prettinesses that finish it off properly. I've drawn the map in OCAD (most-used orienteering mapping software worldwide), which I'm not that good at - but getting better with practise. I used Google Earth for the base map (sections stitched together for better accuracy), which isn't great, but it works.

There's too much detail on the map for Grade 1s, but I think it will stand up to use for short-course and OSL events. And the little details, like the large cement flower pots in the main quad, allow for control locations.

I won't use the whole map for the Mindworx activities (keeping the kiddies close!), but I look forward to presenting it to the school with their permanent O course.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Veggie garden planning time

Although my first veggie garden did reasonably well last year, most plants went in a little late. And then there was the violation-by-birds incident, which set the schedule back even further. This year, I'm getting a jump on things and on Sunday I got my main bed prepped and put seeds into trays.

I've got three trays on the go with a variety of seeds; from cherry tomatoes (four varieties) to peas and companion flowers.
I've also started to create my new anti-bird-and-insect structure, which is an improvement on what I set up last year. The hoops are in - just need to get the right netting during this week.

On Saturday I'm collecting some heirloom seeds that I ordered from Livingseeds. I had so much success with eggplants last year that I've ordered a different variety as well as an interesting looking beetroot variety and, the one I'm most excited about, seeds for the Atlantic Giant pumpkin.

The Atlantic Giant is one of those super-size veggies and Livingseeds has a giant pumpkin competition that I plan on entering this year.

I should be able to start planting my seedlings in about three weeks.

Monday 22 July 2013

Fitness makes you... demented?

Howz this for a terrible magazine cover... Spotted on the current, July, issue of Fitness magazine.

If the Photoshop guy only spent as much time on the bags under her eyes as he did on her boobs...

Geez - I'm probably 15 years older than this woman and I don't have eye-bags like this.

And I don't really want to go there on the smile suffice to say that the guy on 'Lie to me' would agree with me that this here is not a genuine smile of happiness.

And as for the rounded bags of saline... *sigh*

Learning about learning Spanish

I'm back. And my feet are itchier than ever. That's the problem... One would thing that by scratching an itch (going to Argentina to learn Spanish) that the itch would be scratched. But no. It is worse than ever on my return and I've spent my awake-at-4am-with-jetlag mornings working on all kinds of schemes to get myself back there. My next aim is to pick up a six-month writing job in Argentina to really get this language sorted!

I bet your question is, "Can you speak Spanish?".

My answer. Yes - and no.

One-on-one, I'm doing ok. I had a good conversation with the guy sitting next to me on the plane - he couldn't believe I only had four weeks of Spanish. That made me feel really good. The rest of the time I feel totally inadequate. When listening in to conversations I'm not getting the whole conversation but definitely understanding more words and starting to get context. I can recognise the words and the tense of the verbs, which is good progress. But, if someone just starts to speak to me, catching me unaware, then I'm a bit clueless and I have to stop them, focus and then continue slower.

My experience at the Spanish school in Bariloche wasn't good and I wouldn't recommend this school, La Montana, to anyone! While I totally understand the concept of being spoken to in Spanish, the classes lacked structure and material.

In my first week, I had a language meltdown by the third day. Extreme disappointment after only two days! I was in a class with an American lass (similar level to me) and an Italian lass (higher level than us) and it wasn't a good mix because the Italian lass would chat away to the teacher and understand everything going on and we'd be sitting there with teeth in our mouths... Fortunately after this third day the Italian lass was moved to her own class. She was lovely but it was difficult for us having her there and way too slow for her being with us.

For my second week I was changed to one-on-one two hour sessions - with the same teacher - after the American lass returned home (her grandfather died). My teacher was sweet and what I liked about her was that we played interactive games, which I enjoyed for the practical opportunities. I think I made a little progress.

The third week was the worst. I got a new teacher and two classmates - an Australian woman (similar level) and a young Brazilian guy (better than us - had been doing Spanish in school for three years). I was back on to the four-hour group sessions. This teacher spoke non-stop, completely bombarding us with Spanish - full speed too. If we asked a question, we got 10 minutes of explanation - in Spanish - in words we didn't understand. It was just too much. Speaking more doesn't make people understand any better. The whole point of these classes is that we speak too and on some of these days I'm sure she spoke for three of the four hours (with 30 minutes break for tea). I felt like a bucket of cement had been dumped on my head.

And, even worse was that we were doing the same material that I did the previous week - only where I had it quite nice and clear in my head she totally messed it up for me. I pretty much shutdown. My mind just couldn't cope with the bombardment - and ever growing disappointment.

On the third afternoon I went skiing with Ella (the Australian woman) and I asked her what she thought, as she has done lessons in various South American countries (she travels to Sa.Am. every year). She said she'd never quite encountered this before and wasn't enjoying it either. She wasn't planning to go to the next two days (she ended up coming the next day - weather wasn't great - but not the 5th day). She said that she thought I was looking quite 'fragile' in class that day.

I spoke to the main woman from the school, Veronica, on this morning (after only two days with the new teacher) and asked to be moved - but it wasn't an option as there were about 30 Americans at the school on this week so all the classrooms and teachers were assigned and committed. I'd only get to change the next week. I have next to no notes for this third week - very little from the teacher and even less written down.

For my final week I'd requested the teacher who took us for an additional grammar class in the first week and I was back to one-on-one two hour classes. On the Monday morning I was in a state - before class had even begun - and I told her that I wasn't interested in learning anything new and that all I wanted was to talk and to practice and to construct sentences... So, we did this.

I'd read a newspaper article for homework and we'd talk about it the next day and we'd talk about all kinds of things. By the end of this last week I was feeling far more confident and was actually starting to speak. The American lass returned and was in my class on the final day and what was nice about this, for me, is that I could gauge my improvement.

I had a sit-down with Veronica to tell her how I'd really not liked the lessons. Considering that I booked in December to spend four weeks with them, I expected more progressive structure to the lessons. We didn't even go over basics in the first lesson to see where we were in terms of understanding...

A better approach may have been to focus on present tense in the first week - verbs, sentences, speaking, games, conjugations, vocabulary... I haven't got a single sheet of verbs or vocabulary lists from the school! Criminal!

Then, to focus on perfect past tense in the second week, imperfect past in the third and future in the fourth. All with vocab lists, drills, interactive games... I'm never going to command the entire Spanish language in four weeks but at least each aspect could be cemented instead of all of this - plus other aspects - in nine classes.

At the airport I had a good chat to another Australian lass who was at the school in my final week, but not in my class. Her perspective on the school was just like mine! She had done two weeks of Spanish in Costa Rica a few weeks before and said their learning material was superb and that classes were well structured.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing... but at least I now know what I expect from classes and I can request it. I had no idea beforehand.

I have already been to see my old beginner-Spanish teacher, Slade, about continuing classes. He has a teacher returning to SA in mid-August that he'll put me in contact with to keep up lessons every week or two. In the interim, I'm continuing to work on learning new words, reading articles in Spanish (great for new vocab) and working through songs by my new favourite group, 'No te va gustar' (I bought two of their CDs!).

This trip was a big thing for me - something I'd wanted to do for seven years. As a freelancer, I don't have paid leave and while I did a little work remotely in the first couple of days, I specifically planned not to work on this trip. And a good thing too as I found it difficult to be focused on learning Spanish, speaking to non-native English speakers all the time in slower and more simple English and then trying to write professionally in properly structured English.

I was also exhausted by bed time from spending the whole day 'living' in another language.

And, of course, there was the whole expectation of finally taking this journey.

Bariloche is divine and I loved being in this town. Hostel Achalay was very much a home-from-home and I got in a lot of running. I've love to return in summer to hit those hiking trails through the mountains. I also thoroughly enjoyed Buenos Aires and it felt very, very different from the city I visited 10 years ago. While the city has very definitely changed, it is probably me who has changed more.

I enjoyed meeting so many people over my five weeks in Argentina and made a number of friends that I look forward to seeing again in years to come.

All in all a good experience and I hope that I'll be back in Argentina in the very, very near future. If any of you have contacts in Argentina that may require the services of an English-language writer for a couple of months (and yes, I'm looking into TEFL courses too), please drop me a note.

Don't cry for me Argentina - I'll be back.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Last days in Argentina

I've had a few super days in Buenos Aires. First, the 30km race on Sunday and on Monday and Tuesday A LOT of walking around the city. I'm feeling quite comfortable here now.

The hostel I'm in is a big one. It's the same place I stayed when I first arrived in Buenos FIVE WEEKS ago. I can hardly believe it! Five weeks ago it was much quieter. It is now the main holiday time in Brazil and Argentina (school/university holidays) so the city is really, really busy. Most of my dormmates have been Brazilian guys and they've been super sweet. Although I find the Brazilian-accent-when-speaking-Spanish quite difficult, it has been a pleasure to speak to them in Spanish. Also a good number of people here from Mexico and Columbia. My one room mate of the past two days is from South Korea.

Florida Street - a walking-shopping road. My hostel is on a nice section of this road. Helluva busy now with all the peeps on holiday.
Corrientes Avenue. Every five blocks (each block is around 100m) there are major roads. Corrientes is one of them. At the 'end' of the road in the photo is the Obelisk - big landmark. On Corrientes are many, many theatres, restaurants, cinemas... Entertainment central! Great place to walk and look during the day and at night.
On Monday I went a-walkin' down to Puerto Madero, which is a V&A Waterfront-type set up a few blocks from my hostel (good location!). Very nice and fancy. There I went to see an old ship, the ARA "Uraguay" - built back in 1874. It's big expedition was down in the Antarctic in the early 1900s. Really interesting.

ARA Uraguay in the Puerto Madero harbour. Those are the new hotels and offices and apartments in the background. VERY expensive area to live. These buildings weren't here when I was last in BA 10 years ago.
I spent time walking around other roads and in the evening caught a movie (got lucky that it was in English, with Spanish subtitles - my favourite kind) and then I met up with my friend from Bariloche, Grisel, for dinner. A visiting German colleague had arrived the day before and she came along too. We had a most lovely evening walking around and talking and a delicious dinner down at Puerto Madero.

I don't know that there's a 'typical' Argentine dish, especially here in Buenos Aires, which has such strong Italian influences (coffee, pizza, pasta - big culture here). Sure, there are many 'steak houses' - beef being a big thing, but the rest really is mostly Italian and cafe-style eating.

Buenos Aires is built on the Rio de la Plata. Next to the river is the ecological park and between the park and Puerto Madero is a long (maybe 2.5 - 3km) open area where people run. They don't seem to like running on this gravel track, preferring to run on the grass next to it. Many people out and about during the day running and stretching, including small groups with personal trainers. There are also other sports facilities in this area. And, it was a beautiful day on Monday - temps in the low 20s - so people were out in numbers.
This has to be the funniest thing I've seen - this guy suntanning! There was also an old couple on deckchairs (with skins like tanned leather!) but I couldn't get a pic of them.
On Tuesday morning while having breakfast with one of my Brazilian room mates I met an Australian lass, Claire. And, howz this... She thought I was from a Spanish-speaking country because I was speaking to the guy in Spanish. How absolutely lovely ;) To my ear my Spanish isn't great, but to an ear that knows no Spanish I sound... Spanish. My morning couldn't have been better!

She'd arrived the night before so I invited her to join me to visit the National Museum of Fine Arts. Wow! What an awesome gallery and a superb exhibition - including a bunch of impressionist paintings (my favourite) including Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gogh and a bunch of Rodin sculptures. Plus a host more. Well presented and displayed and organised. A good amount of content but not overwhelming. I was very impressed - and entry is free.

After this (and more walking around looking at things) I went on my own to a museum I'd found online. Was meant to be the history of clothing in Buenos Aires - and it was - but it was really dismal. I was expecting fabrics and yarns and clothing going back 500 years but it wasn't - there was more from the 30s, 40s and 80s than anything much older than 120 years. And not much overall. Phew! A long walk and not much to see. I easily covered 17-19km yesterday!

And then I scoped out the cinema scene, picking a pretty good movie (in English, with Spanish subtitles) for Claire and I to see later. 'The Words' with Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quiad... very good.

And now I'm an hour away from catching my shuttle to the airport and definitely sad to be leaving but also looking forward to returning home.

Sunday 14 July 2013

30km Buenos Aires Sur (road race)

I'm back in Buenos Aires - as of Saturday evening - and already missing Bariloche, my new friends there and the hostel! In mid-May or so I had a look online to see whether - by any chance - there were any events on. I found this race - 30km Buenos Aires Sur - a 30km road run. I ran it this morning.

Not the most interesting route as the course is flatter than a pancake. I'd be hard pressed to say whether there was more than two-metres of elevation difference between the highest and lowest points on the course and we didn't run through scenic neighbourhoods. We started off on the local motor racing track (start/finish venue was the Autodromo) and ran on the roads around the track. But it was entertaining nonetheless to check out the people and because the route was 'out-and-back' on stretches we got to see people ahead of - and then behind - us.

I took a taxi from the city centre, where I'm staying, to the Autodromo - a 30-minute drive.

I loved this! Before the start they had music playing and then about 15 mins before there was this guy and girl on stage doing warm-up stuff with us. Pretty good fun to all jog on the spot and bounce around a bit with other people. It wasn't cold (like Bariloche!) but chilly enough that I was wearing my thin long sleeve top, plus run vest plus long sleeve thermal plus thin run jacket pre-start.

Gotta love self-seeding. And, here people seed themselves properly! Once we got under the start banner I didn't have to work through people to gain ground; I didn't spend 2 minutes walking... I was running next to people of similar pace from the get go! 

And, howz this for interesting... NOT ONE WALKER ahead of me! Actually, no walkers at all. While I don't have anything against walkers at races, I do have a problem with having to fight through walkers moving three-abroad on the road right at the start of the race. Really irritates me at home. As for the no walkers at all - I did find this strange...

A bit after 14km I could see the people at 10km and there were maybe like three of them only. I saw my first person walking at around 12km (calf cramp it looked like) - and he'd pulled off the side of the road (didn't just stop in the middle of the road). And then the next person walking a bit was maybe around 18km and then I saw two or three walking at about 25km and then a few walking in the last kilometre - and by I few, not even 10. And at about 20km when I could see people at 15km (very, very few) they were jogging, not walking. Interesting! 

Then again, for a race flatter than a pancake it isn't like you've got hills to 'justify' walking up them.

I'd say that 75% of the field were running a 4:45-6:00min/km pace.

Me, before the start.
Start! Heading for the start banner.

About 1.5km into the race - on the race track.
Just after I took the photo above this one, the guy next to me offered to take a photo of me. Very sweet.
Water points every 5km and no sachets... 330ml water bottles! Before the 24km mark they were handing out thirds of bananas (with skin on) and paper cups of Gatorade. 

At the finish. A really comfortable 2h44 for the 30km distance. My legs are feeling the after effects of the tar now - not used to all tar and the metronome-like repetitiveness of the road - I've been so spoilt the past month with my dirt roads, trails and mountain vistas in Bariloche. That said, I ran nice and comfortably - the type of comfortable where you can breathe through your nose easily and HR barely felt. Nice!

After the finish line people were handing out things - first a bottle of water, then a bottle of Gatorade, then a cereal-type bar, then a packet with a small packet of cookies and a banana and an apple. Sweet.
These guys were clipping the timing cards off our shoes.
At the last stop before exiting the chute we got these sheets of plastic. Being winter, they're given out so that you don't get cold. You can just wrap it around your shoulders as you go to your car or the bus. Nice to use to sit on the ground too.
My loot.

My race tee. We got them before the start and many people ran in theirs. It's a nice one.
So then, while I've got my loot on the ground to take a photo, the guy near me sees my SA flag and comes to chat. He came to SA in Jan for the half IronMan, and to travel for two weeks afterwards. He absolutely loved it there and says when he is old he has to decide whether he wants to retire in Argentina or to go to Cape Town. Lovely!

We finish talking, I pack up and before I leave I ask whether he knows about a bus (there seems to have been an event bus too from the centro - I only saw this online last night) going back to the Centro. He says he is from another city and he came here for this race (staying in the Centro) so he has his car and can give me a lift. What luck! His daughter and her boyfriend were waiting for him so I was in good company. He really, really loves South Africa. Even has an SA flag sticker in his car. 

Mariano y Lisa
Mariano mentioned a marathon that weaves through the Buenos Aires city centre - it's in October every year. I'll have to get my timing right one of these years because I'd definitely break my road marathon aversion for this one. He's running Chicago later this year.

So, a good morning out and pleasant re-entry to the city. I fly home on Wednesday evening so I've got three nights and another two-and-a-half days to play around here. I've marked down a few places to visit, including a road that seems to be a smorgasbord of yarn shops.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Back to Circuito Chico - to run the trails!

The weather had been overcast and drizzly for a few days - since Sunday-ish. So, when I was done with class yesterday and saw sun coming through the window... Yeah, that's right, I was outta there! I've been wanting to run the trails in the forest since I first spotted them. No time like the present to do 'em!

I took the bus through to Llao Llao (25km out of town) on the Circuito Chico route, which I ran the weekend before last.

My route, in yellow, starting from the green X and moving clockwise - first into the Bosque Arrayanes.
About 1.5km outside of town, on the route, is an information little-wooden-house-thing on the road side, at the entrance to the first trailhead. It's a short 2.8km trail that includes a small forest of Arrayanes trees - nothing like the forest of these trees on the peninsula near Villa La Angostura, but nice nonetheless. Except for this little gathering of Arrayanes trees in a small area, the rest of the forest has 'normal' trees.

Trying to show you this kind of 'tunnel-effect' on much of the trail - this area in particular. Most of the trails are quite wide and open.
Next point along the route was the view point of the Moreno Lake, looking out across the water. Approaching I saw these rocks - there was also a snowy mountain just visible in the background...

Up and over and...


I found two people here - took a photo for them. They took a photo for me.
And off I went again... but not before taking this panoramic photie to show you... Yes, it really does look like this here! A beautiful day too with little wind and blue sky in patches.

Then I wrapped up this section of trail, crossed the road and got onto the next section, which seems less used but even more fabulous.

When it comes to birds (and trees and plants and flowers), I'm a shocker. Saw a few of these sweet little birdies fluttering around me. Snapped a pic for my dad to give it a go identifying this little guy's family. I've seen condors up in the mountains - just beautiful - and all around town there are these hawk-like birds. Definitely a bird-of-prey of some kind - hawk / kite or such like. I have no idea and haven't been able to get a photo.
A feature on this section of trail is this Roman Bridge. Nah, the Roman's weren't here - the style of. The National Parks here commissioned its construction in 1937 - inspired by Roman bridge design.

And then I spotted this open 'glade / meadow' - only it isn't really either of these.

And what did I find? Apples! And lots of rose hip bushes. They're all over but lots here. Rose hips are turned into a rosa mosqueta jam (we have it here in the hostel at breakfast) and also rose hip oils, teas and such.

Now off to the Tacul viewpoint (mirador)
Schweet... weather coming in. Clouds in the distance and the wind picking up.
Then, up, up, up to Cerrito Llao Llao...

It was chilly up on top of Cerrito Llao Llao - light drizzle and stronger wind blowing. Good to descend and to get back on the trail towards Llao Llao.

My timing was pretty good too. I ran a few kays out of town, towards Bariloche. I saw a bus heading towards Llao Llao so knew I had at least 20 minutes to get to the next bus stop. I made it two stops along and didn't have to wait for much more than five minutes for the bus. A great afternoon!

Sunday 7 July 2013

Visiting Villa La Angostura

With the sun shining through my window by 09h00 and the sky looking clear, it was for sure a day for the bus trip to the town of Villa La Angostura. It's on the same lake as my town, Bariloche, just a bit more North and it seems a lot more protected from the wind that so often howls here.

Interestinly, despite only being about 80km North - as-the-crow-flies, from Bariloche, Angostura gets a lot more rain - like 2000mm/year (300 rain days/year) - than Bariloche (around 800mm/yr). All related to the Andes mountains.

Angostura is a pretty little town. Vastly smaller than Bariloche and looks to be purely a tourist town. Sweet little stores much like the main street here with bakeries, chocolate stores, knick-knack stores and restaurants. AND, lots of outdoor apparel stores with gear for purchase and hire.

I arrived in town after noon - it's a 90-min bus trip from Bari (I snoozed all the way - been really tired from this past week of lessons) and immediately headed for the tourism office (to get a map) and then to the forested peninsula, 3km out of town. At the office the guy said the peeps there wouldn't let us (an Australian couple also wanted to head down there) do the walk because it was too late. I decided to try my luck anyway.

Pretty, flat-calm little bay at the junction of the 'mainland' and the forested peninsula.
At the office the lady said I wouldn't be able to do the walk. I asked her why. Not enough time. I told her I couldn't do the whole thing to the 'Bosque Arrayanes' anyway because I had to catch the bus back at five. She said I could to the walk the viewpoints and that this was only about 1.5km and it was free (ARG$65 for the walk - around R130). And that if I wanted to walk a bit further, I could. So, I did ;)


The main trail (there is only one - straight through the peninsula from the top to tip - is wide and immaculate.
View from a viewpoint.
Me encanta lops bosques!
The forest (bosque) here is absolutely stunning. HUGE, tall trees and lush vegetation. Bosque Arraynes at the tip of the peninsula (11km from the park office) is an attraction because it is a forest of a certain type of tree, Arrayan. These cinnamon-coloured trees do grow in the 'main' forest but the tip of the peninsula is a forest of mostly these trees - many up to 600 years old. I didn't get down here but did cover around 4km of the main trail, which was magnificent.

Interesting, smooth and patchy bark of the Arrayan tree.
The first few hundred metres of the trail is steeply up and difficult - not for old people or children. The rest seems to be like this - very wide and open. Biking is allowed - once you've carried your bike uphill, that is! Sun shining and blue sky above - still, cold enough for base layer, two shells, two Buffs, warm leggings and gloves... And to keep moving. If I stopped too long at the viewpoints I got chilled - fast!

Likin' lichen
Some arrayan trees in the forest - just off the trail. I wonder what kind of furry creatures live in this forest? 
I wanted to check out the town too so I gave myself a bit over an hour in town to look around and stop in to say hello to some of Brian Gardner's friends (ARer - Team Red Ants). The team took part in the Terra Viva AR here in Feb last year and Brian returned with his partner in Dec to vacation and travel around. 

After a friendly hello (Brian - I saw the whole family and they send warm greetings back to you) and a look around, it was back on to the bus to head home.

An impression of the town. Neat, tidy, touristy, sweet. Snowy mountains on one side; lake and forested peninsula on the other. Nice place indeed. But glad I'm staying in Bariloche, which is bigger and has more happening and it's easy to pop through to towns like Villa La Angostura for the day.
Walking back from the bus station to my hostel, I discovered another yarn shop... going to go back during the week once I've decided what I'd like to make using their yarn. A feast of colour!