Jean joined the Knowmad family about a month ago now, flying all the way to Minneapolis with her husband and son so we could get to know her and share how we do things here at the office. Turns out we’re a perfect fit and it’s been an awesome couple weeks of learning and growing.
Aside from living in Argentina, Jean’s traveling legs have taken her near and far. Her knowledge of the culture, logistics and, not to mention, plain old experience planning trip, in more than ten countries in Central and South America including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay means the breadth of Knowmad’s destinations has expanded! If you’d like to pick her brain about any of these regions just give us a call at 1-877-616-8747 – Jean’s so fluent at English that you won’t even realize her Argentine roots until the passion she has for her country shines through.
Read on to discover how Jean ended up planning adventures anyhow, what a typical Saturday is like for her in Buenos Aires or her best kept travel secret revealed…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
The toughest question I ever get asked is “where are you from?” I was born in Illinois to Argentine parents, but then lived in California, Argentina, Italy, Costa Rica and several other places in Central America. So now I’ve started calling myself a citizen of the world. Buenos Aires is my home, giving me the mix of cultures and busy city life I long for. From moving around so much as a kid, I learned at an early stage how to adapt and interact with different communities. Traveling has always been a part of my life and being in the travel industry has allowed me to show people how great Latin America is through my own experiences.
How did you end up in the travel industry?
After receiving a degree at the California Culinary Academy in Hotel and Restaurant Management I worked at French Laundry, where my appetite grew for exquisite food and wines. As a manager at several hotel chains I always had the opportunity of traveling through work as well, eventually a position would take me back home to Buenos Aires where I started my wonderful life as a trip planner.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Saturdays are my favorites as this is the day when the markets are open to go produce scouting in Buenos Aires. I start by going to a little local coffee shop in my neighborhood called Casa Linda Deli. Nearby is Die Ecke which is always tempting me to buy something to bring home, as it has the best collection of vintage or refurbished furniture and design goods. From here, we head out to Sabe La Tierra Market, the best organic and sustainable market held in several neighborhoods throughout Buenos Aires. It features artisans, organic farm producers and healthy food stands. And I never forget to visit my friend Diego Armanini Chocolatier who is hands down the best artisan chocolatier in Argentina.
On our way back from the market we love to meet up with friends for a glass of wine in bustling Palermo Soho district at the new wine bar, Pain et Vin. After much discussion (and if we can score a reservation at this intimate sushi spot called Club M Omakase) then our night is off to great fun. As we Porteños tend to eat late and go out even later no one is really tired after twenty pieces of sushi, some glasses of wine and great conversation, so we head for the speakeasy Nicky Harrison which is the best kept secret in town.
Left photo of Pain et Vin by Allie Lazar | Right photo via The Harrison Speakeasy
For someone visiting Buenos Aires for the first time, what are some things they must do or see while they are there?
- Mataderos Fair on Sundays is the most authentic, out-of-the-box experience where you can interact with the real local culture. There’s music and food, but simply watching the people is the most fascinating part.
- A milonga, where both experienced and beginning tango dancers alike go for classes with live music, is the best way to see real Argentinian tango.
What are your favorite regions or places to see in Argentina?
- Buenos Aires is of course one of my top recommended cities in all of South America. It has activities for everyone, from the best architecture to restaurants and overall city culture.
- Patagonia is my ultimate favorite due to how vast this region is. From its glacial lakes to its green, lush forests to its arid steppe, you can find any kind of excursion imaginable.
And now for some more questions just for fun!
What’s one thing you have to have in your carry-on? Pillow, hand cream and a book
What’s the first thing you pack? My computer
What is one item you never remember to pack? Toothbrush
What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten abroad? Fried bull’s testicles and cuye on a stick
Best kept travel secret… Catching some waves at Morgans Rock – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Describe yourself in 5 wordsstrong-minded, sensitive, curious, smart, gentle
3 things you love… travel, maté, the feeling of the sun shining on my face
3 things you hatE…waking up, a messy desk, dirty dishes
Pick one or the otherHot or Cold | Coffee or Tea | Books or Movies | Beer or Wine | Early Bird or Night Owl | Spring or Fall | Cake or Pie | Write or Type | Sand or Snow | Silver or Gold | Fruits or Vegetables | Scrambled or Fried | Antique or New | Cats or Dogs | Sunrise or Sunset | Pen or Pencil | Adventurous or Cautious | Call or Text | Truth or Dare | Stripes or Solids
What is your favorite after work activity? Going to yoga, then playing with my four-year-old son and cooking dinner together as a family.
Now that you’ve been in Minneapolis for a few weeks, what is your favorite lake? Lake Harriet
What is your favorite cocktail/drink? Red wine, preferably from Argentina 🙂
Jean is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She has lived all over the world including the United States and Central America. Today she calls Buenos Aires, Argentina her home. Traveling has always been a part of her life and being in the travel industry has allowed her to show people how great Latin America is through her own experiences. Read Jean’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.