A story told an infinite amount of times, crossing centuries, cultures and borders. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Love. Marriage. Kids. And, if you’re especially blessed, growing old together. And yet, there is always a sense of awe, gratitude, and sheer luck when one’s found it. Love, actual love.
Although having together founded on the eve of our marriage Knowmad Adventures, a travel company committed to crafting one-of-a-kind, authentic adventures in South America, we don’t talk about this type of love around here that often. We talk about our love of travel, our passion for the project, but naturally gloss over our love for each other in a work environment.
Last week we celebrated our 10th anniversary of both our marriage and our company with, what other than, a trip to South America and it gave us an occasion to talk about Love, the kind with the capital L.
Our story shares that same duality of ordinary paired with the extraordinary. Timelessness in turn with regular timing that somehow clicked into its right place. An orbiting of gravitational pulls that eventually snapped together just so, like two stacked magnets.
We met in high school, believe it or not, and further digging reveals we attended the same preschool even – probably shared blocks or playdough. From a small community in Minnesota, where everyone knows everyone, we were on each other’s radar for quite some time before we actually came together my senior year of college in Boston, despite geographical challenges. In fact, Jordan was sorting through an old box the other day and found a letter I had written him while he was studying abroad in Chile during high school. I was just 15, a child really. Likely not the only letter received from a girl then, but one of the few saved. What little impulse made us save each other away in the back of our minds for later? Something supernatural, cosmic? Or something just old fashioned and simple?
Fast forward through a year of long distance dating; Jordan sea kayak guiding in Alaska and myself exploring South America and returning to Spain; through a year of teaching English and traveling throughout Southeast Asia together; through seasons spent skiing in the Rockies; an engagement, and more long distance togetherness separated by continents but never by sentiment; a marriage and a year in Patagonia launching Knowmad Adventures; a return to our roots in Minneapolis, a cat, a dog, a house, an office and two children later and you’ll find a couple changed and unchanging.
Older, wiser, settled into a routine, maybe knowing each other’s aisle over window or mustard over mayo preferences among other little idiosyncrasies now. Yet, also driving each other absolutely crazy sometimes with espresso machines left on, or snoring, or the car always left on empty… We’ve weathered the bigger things too: the challenging early years of our company; mutual anxiety for the ‘what if we fail’ (not always accounted graciously); always so much to do and so little time; or worse, forgetting that all of that doesn’t matter as long as one is appreciated. Then, our world suddenly got reprioritized with our firstborn and we had to understand the changing landscape of our relationship amidst hormonal upheaval and sleepless nights. Yet, we found our love beholden to a pull that’s as resilient, fresh, and exciting as it ever was. Something worth celebrating.
Celebrate we did with a whirlwind of food and wine in central Chile and Argentina. Read on for a snapshot of our itinerary.
South America Anniversary Trip: Argentina + Chile Wine Country
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires, Argentina
I showed up to the Magnolia Hotel in Buenos Aires a couple of hours before Jordan and took a much needed nap after single-mommin’ it for the past couple of weeks (he’d been in Patagonia researching some new excursion and lodging options outside of El Chaltén and El Calafate). After what we call a ‘hotel inspection’ – where we view all the hotel’s rooms and amenities, making notes to pass onto the team about which room has the biggest balcony, or the best option for a rollaway bed in a triple scenario, etc. – we met our partners Rafa and Wendy for a bite at Guido’s, one of those hole-in-the-wall joints that you don’t want to tell anyone about less it changes with ‘discovery,’ but also that you can’t stop raving about because your mouth is still watering from that mushroom goat cheese penne weeks later.
Day 2 Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentine Wine Country
Morning flight to Mendoza. Arid and charming, this is the main wine region of Argentina, boasting full-bodied Malbecs and soft sunsets. We lunched at Azafran in town, making small talk and even trading bites with a local couple and their two year old sitting near us. Their two year old’s Spanish vocabulary very nearly paralleled our babe’s in English – “no” being the prominent word of choice!
A siesta followed our arrival to Entre Cielos, because when in Rome… And then, since one can never be too relaxed, we tried out a circuit at their famous hammam spa before another fabulous meal at their restaurant, of course squeezing in a hotel inspection too. We stayed literally in a vineyard, at one of their new contemporary casitas with a glass wall promising a beautiful sunrise and our own private porch, conducive to reminiscing and the making of future dreams alike.
Day 3 Mendoza, Argentina
The sunrise did not disappoint. We were slowly enfolded in the reds of oranges of our same sun awakening in time for a breakfast of fruit and medialunas (the word for croissants in South America, which directly translates to half moons).
Bags packed, we were met by Agustin and our guide Noemi shortly thereafter and started our climb up to Quebrada del Condor, or Canyon of Condors. Agustin and his father, Samuel, and their family have called this wild corner of the world their own for generations, greeting travelers for hikes, horseback rides and asados, or traditional Argentine barbeques for just about as long. Their practice has made perfect. The ride and vistas were bountiful, complete with the majestic circling of condors, and made even richer when followed with a long lunch of empanadas, grilled meat slathered in chimichurri, and fresh salads.
In the travel industry and when on exploratory and research trips, we normally do everything a traveler would do very thoroughly, but at hyperspeed to gain as much knowledge as possible. This usually also means changing hotels every night to really experience a place. Since this was meant to only be partly a work trip and mostly a 10th anniversary trip (the lines are blurred when your business partner is also your spouse), we attempted to slow the pace a little and get it closer to an actual planned trip for a traveler. So after the excursion at Quebrada del Condor, we retired to Finca Adalgisa for the next two nights (how very stationary!).
Day 4 Mendoza, Argentina
Vineyard tours and wine tastings! I had never officially experienced this and my knowledge was limited mostly to clips from Sideways. It was an absolute blast! And much more interesting than I envisioned. We started the day with an insightful story on the origins of the wine industry told by our guide Ana. She explained how the origins of wine consumption and the use of the concrete basins for the beginnings of the fermentation process were a result of poor water quality in the 16th century. Wine was mixed with water, even at breakfast, to kill the bacteria, much as watered-down ale was drank throughout Northern Europe in cities without freshwater springs or glacial melt rivers. Mendoza’s climate and intricate system of flooding the vineyards from the spring Andean snowmelt named it early on as the chief wine-making region and it had to make a lot of wine with the entire country using it for water purifying purposes (and otherwise!).
The bottling factories, however, were in Buenos Aires so trains would transport the barrels of wine and a little would get syphoned off at each town along the way. To get paid for the full load the transporters would subsequently add water and sugar to the barrels before the reached Buenos Aires, resulting in some pretty terrible vino! It wasn’t until the bottling factories moved to Mendoza that the wine was bottled in its perfect form and the international scene took note. Today, Mendoza’s known for its renowned Malbecs, Cabernet Sauvignon, full-bodied red blends, and the increasingly popular Rosés, harvested earlier.
After touring three vineyards, we ended the day with a cooking class back at Finca Adalgisa with the lovely Cristina. Her cooking was top notch, but her personality charmed us even more. No better way to end the day than with the smell of empanadas cooking over an open fire.
Day 5 Mendoza, Argentina to Colchagua Valley, Chile
We enjoyed one last lazy, long and quiet breakfast in Mendoza; these were some of my favorite moments to appreciate, since at home with kids ‘chaotic’ is an understatement for our mornings. Finca Adalgisa was lovely and my personal preference for accommodations in Mendoza. Its classic Spanish colonial architecture, combined with wine-making history, friendly staff, on-site eatery with cooking class, asado or just lighter fare options plus a great price point made it a real win, for me that is. It’s not a 5 star property, nor does it have amenities that some hotels include like a yoga studio or spa, but we were so busy with excursions that we really just wanted to come back to a charming place and didn’t feel it lacking in any way. We stayed in a suite, but the classic category of room were spacious and bright still and a better value.
There is a great range in traveler’s accommodation preferences, even within the same trip. Maybe you’ve come from a multi-day trek in Patagonia and are looking for extra pampering in Mendoza? Or perhaps you’re on your very own South America anniversary trip and a private casita is high on your list? Knowmad Trip Specialists shine in their knowledge of the variety and nuances of places to rest your head in South America. Our custom trip planning process ensures you find the perfect fit for you. Reach out at [email protected] or 612-315-2894 to get started.
After breakfast, we took a short flight over the Andes to Santiago, Chile and made our way South to the Colchagua valley, arriving at the almost indescribable Clos Apalta Residence in time for the sunset and a coursed Relais & Châteaux dinner, paired with the best Lapostolle wines, and expansive views of the valley with the twinkling lights of Santa Cruz on the horizon.
Photo via Lapostolle
Day 6 Colchagua Valley, Chile
The end of a trip always flies by and our time at Clos Apalta Residence felt even quicker because it’s the sort of place you never want to leave. A passion project of the heiress to Grand Marnier, she originally built the four casitas overlooking the vineyards for visiting friends and family. Casitas makes them sound a little simpler and smaller than they are; they are simply gorgeous. Luxurious, tasteful. A feeling of solitude, but with top notch everything at your fingertips. A place that can symbolize the culmination of so many things, a place meant to celebrate anniversaries or birthdays, love and life.
We were like kids in a candy shop – what to do first? Relax by the pool? Massages on our deck? Explore the vineyards by bike? Tour the winery? Hard to fit it all in, but like the travel experts we are, we managed.
Late afternoon we made our way to the next valley and another spectacular property with a Cabernet Sauvignon signed by the winemaker in hand, meant to be stored until our next big anniversary.
Day 7 Colchagua Valley, Chile
Photo on left via Daniela Paz
Viña Vik offered a completely different vibe; international, trendy and eclectic, the atmosphere is one for jet-setters and art-lovers alike. Another passion project, the Norwegian-Uruguayan owner sought to create the perfect wine, taking a unique approach in the richest wine country in Chile. The result: a wholly creative property complete with an infinity pool, yoga and workout studio, spa, phenomenal food and wine, hiking and horseback riding excursions, not to mention an architectural feat of a winery!
We went horseback riding in the morning and, for those of you experienced with equines, gallops are not off limits! Next up, some poolside rest and relaxation, followed by lunch, a winery tour, and a thorough hotel inspection of course (just another day in the office). Then we just had to try a spa service and so we ended the trip in wine-induced, happy giggles in an actual wine bath followed by a grape-seed exfoliation treatment and massage. At our last dinner that night, after a wonderful seven days of Chilean and Argentine wine country, we needed a beer!
Each trip Jordan and I take together seems to top the last, but maybe it’s more that, because they serve as a markers of the passage of time or space set aside to reflect on the cumulation of memories, that they just build on each other. This one, a South America anniversary trip to commemorate our own passion project, Knowmad Adventures, and our marriage attested that while there are many joys and growth to toast, it’s genuine love, worn stronger and alive after ten years of challenge and the hard stuff too, that’s really worth celebrating.
Un Beso, Tara
Tara is the Co-Founder, Marketing and Operations Manager at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She first traveled to South America in college and is endlessly inspired by the cultures, food, colors and idiosyncrasies she discovers there. Read Tara’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.