Home for the Holidays 2013

“To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance.” – Philip Andrew Adams

One of the real downfalls of living in another country is the time away from your family.  This year I was not going to go to the US for Thanksgiving but something unexpected came up and I needed to go back to the US and pick up some supplies which I needed for work and a very happy coincidence that it happened around Thanksgiving.

I was able to spend the 2nd Thanksgiving in Florida at my Dads house.  This time meeting new family and reconnecting with family members I had not seen in sometime.  The only downside was Nick and Britt weren’t there and I miss them so much.  The upside was I had just spent a week with them in Arkansas doing the things I love always with them.  But still the same I miss them no less.

Arrived in Miami super early Thanksgiving morning a relatively painless flight on American Airlines, immigrations could not have been more easy those self serve entry machines for US citizens I do not think I could feel anymore happiness in the airport…sorry tall Dutch man only available for US citizens.  Claimed our bags, breezed through customs and off to get our rental car with Sixt. The only thing I am not so fond of so far is the necessity to take the tram to the rental car center a bit random and more hassle than necessary.  We all know I have no patience to stand in line so the wise decision I made to prepay was a super fantastic idea which kept me calm early in the morning by avoiding the long line that was beginning to form.  I see now that Black Friday in Miami shopping is attractive to a lot of people outside the USA as if I needed another reason to avoid that insanity.

GPS route entered and away we go in less than a hour from exiting the plane.  The drive to Port Charlotte area is really interesting…because you get to go through part of the everglades and alligator alley.  Seriously, alligators everywhere large, small, sunbathing, sleeping…I am not sure why but these creatures intrigue me enough that I seriously contemplate stopping on the side of the road to have a closer look…yep that thought actually goes through my brain.  Good thing I was sidetracked by the Dunkin Donuts sign at which time my glucose deprived brain could only concentrate on how far is that exit.

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Arrived to my Dads, took a shower, changed into a summery sundress and sandals, now feeling like a new person and let Thanksgiving festivities begin.  Lunch was excellent for the first time in my life I was happy to be relegated to the “kids” table I think that means we all refuse to grow up.  Oh how I love traditional Thanksgiving food at the Never Land table.  One of my favorite things about family holidays is game night especially when real money is involved.


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Friday a day to hang out a bit on my aunt and uncles super sweet “boat” September Song for a little catching up and captain lessons.  Not that we actually moved the boat anywhere but I suppose someone well anyone else but me could have.  Sad to say good bye perhaps we should just say see you soon in the Keys…have I mentioned how tall the Dutchman is.

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Saturday off on a “three hour tour”  yes at times all I could think about was recreating Gilligan’s Island scenes and that song that theme song was permanently embedded in my brain.  Gilligan you know who you are!!!!  Apparently, I need to relate all my adventures with some movie/TV show…OK there could be worse ways to live out adventures.  But just check out the ominous sky how could you think of anything else.

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Dolphins even joined in with the fun.  Jill has an amazing video of them swimming beside the boat she thinks much quicker than I for I was lucky to even remember to take a photo.


Sunday we headed back to Miami a little early so we could eat at the Cheesecake Factory…yes I love it beyond all comprehendible imagination.  You know I cannot leave the states without doing a little bit of shopping but the crowds here were just too much for even me.  So with my to go bag of cheesecake sadly I boarded the plane back to Buenos Aires.

The few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best weeks of the year in my world.  Though I must admit when December is summer time in Buenos Aires and the temperatures combined with the humidity make the city seem as if you are dancing around the rim of hell it is quite difficult for me to get into the holiday spirit.

This year I had a new plan spending a few days in NYC at the Andaz 5th Avenue to get into the holiday spirit all those decorations, holiday markets, people shopping, holiday festivities complete with my own retail therapy and cooler weather just what I needed.  Well I got everything except the cold weather and snow.

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Cartier red snowflakes anyone well at least the store was close and open for visitors.  You see they knew I was visiting the city and wrapped the building as a present for me. Yes really they did!


Additionally, I managed to sneak a few meals in at some of my most favorite places:  Shake Shack, street cart for falafel and gyros, Trattoria Trecolori and my all time favorite Balthazar notice the smile on my face even early in the morning just waiting on the heavenly deliciousness to be delivered to the table.  Espresso and Pan de Chocolate oh I do think so perhaps an almond croissant as well or should I go with savory…..ahhh either way I cannot go wrong and I can always come back tomorrow which we did.


Designer handbag anyone???? How would you feel if you knew these handbags are created of CAKE….I felt a bit giddy and could feel a soon to be sugar rush induced by the actual purse not to be confused with sugar high induced by the hidden candy bar in my bag.


After the blocks and blocks of searching for the perfect gift for everyone and the most elegant Italian leather boots found at Barney’s.  It was really nice to have a foot bath complete with refreshing foot soak provided in room at our hotel.  A little extra was the fully stocked fridge and snack basket left in the room each day for our enjoyment.  The hotel had tons of little extras, the design was chic and modern and the staff was really top notch.  The location was unbeatable close to everything I wanted to do, see and visit; additionally, public transportation was within one block.  I would have no hesitations to stay here again and would totally recommend this hotel for anyone visiting NYC.


Christmas Eve early morning took a flight from NYC to Arkansas and my mom’s house where I must say I felt more than a little overjoyed to be.  She greeted me with a hug, a kiss, and sour cream cookies….my mom for sure knows how much I love those cookies as a super sized bonus there was also a chocolate cake with 2X the icing…a girl can be in pastry heaven in the house she grew up in.  There is something really comforting about lifelong familiarity that has been missing in my life this year especially when your world tends to be as crazy, unpredictable and nomadic as mine.  Christmas in Quitman (with a small detour down memory lane) along with Nick and Britt was just what I needed today.    Christmas day was a perfect holiday, early morning presents, mom cooking (I tried to help really…..I have new acquired cooking skills) and a delicious feast which could have probably fed three additional families.

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Love the photos don’t you?  Just check out how cool and funky they are with the added special effects.  My Christmas present was a Canon Powershot N forever known as happy snappy.  It is a small compact fun camera that takes one traditional wonderful picture and then adds 5 different effects for each one.  I love technology and how easily it makes me look creative.

Lumi had wonderful holidays under the tree at Cristina’s house in Buenos Aires I think he didn’t miss me at all.


We also were able to spend a few days in Northwest Arkansas just to be able to squeeze in more quality time with Nick and Britt.  I was able to show tall Dutch man around the region I worked and lived previous to my Argentine life.  Britt and I were able to have a spa day in Eureka Springs at New Moon Spa (a heavenly way to spend an afternoon) and then met Tall Dutch man for drinks in the bar at the Crescent Hotel and dinner at one of our all time favorites Rogues Manor.


Farewell brunch at Copelands and coffee at Starbucks before heading to the airport.  How these two make my life complete.


The last stop for us in the USA was at the Dads house in Florida.  Uneventful flight not even one good story landed in Fort Myers, Fl and off to the shuttle to take us to the rental car.  I had called earlier to confirm with Advantage Rental Car that we were going to be arriving on the late flight of the night everything was great and the shuttle would be waiting for us.  Waiting….Call….Waiting….Call you see the pattern here 45 minutes later the driver appears then tells us it is a 20 minute drive to the actual car which was filthy, had been smoked in and had scratches and dents all over the outside.  3 cars later they finally bring us an acceptable one.   Word to the wise just don’t do it there are other companies to rent from at that airport choose any of the others but Advantage.  You now have been sufficiently warned.

We spent a very quiet, leisurely few days with my dads.  The airboat ride at Nav A Gator was a first for me and I really enjoyed it. Lots of wildlife and birds around as we “cruise” through the canals. Alligator wrestling and buffalo hunting was just an added bonus to pass the time while waiting.  Tall Dutchman learning to play american outdoor games was a bit amusing the only thing missing is a beer in the other hand.  Yep using the new camera to create super fun photos…..you are starting to enjoy and love the idea of happy snappy!!!

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New Years Eve dinner out in Punta Gorda for a celebration of the previous year and a few cocktails in anticipation of the coming year.  New Years Day canal cruising in the boat culminating in a dinner of yummy goodness: prime rib, stuffed potatoes and asparagus followed by peanut butter chocolate cheesecake.  I am a busy girl on the go and calories are necessary all 8000 calories are a necessity. Well that was just today probably around 500,000 for the past 10 days.  I see nothing wrong with that.


For me, the holidays were really more special this year just to be able to come back to the USA and spend time with all the people whom I really care about and which are important in my life.  It means a lot to me the support I receive throughout the year from my family it helps during those moments in which my world becomes complicated, unfamiliar and I just want to hide out for a week in my blanket fort.

Side note:  Over the course of the holidays we had 14 flight segments (2 American Airlines, 8 United, 2 Aerolineas Argentinas, 2 TACA).  Aerolineas Argentinas the flights were surprisingly OK just a small issue of actually leaving on time which made me sweat if we would actually make the connecting flight between Lima and NYC.  The flights are reasonably priced (that is saying something here in Buenos Aires) and a bit basic but comfortable and the crew is really accommodating.   The only real downfall is if you have to be somewhere and it is necessary to stick to a schedule this is not the airline for you.  TACA was exceptional beyond all the good words I have for an airline.  United considering the amount of segments we had with them was really great every flight left on time, arrived on time….but (you know there is always a but) only one SMALL bag issue (more on that in the next post). Overall a much better expected airline experience than I could have predicted.  Look almost words of praise for the airline industry.

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