Ambitious Three Months Planned in Argentina

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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

(File Photo)

Argentina will be the last (new) country we visit on the Latin American leg of our around-the-world odyssey. We arrived here in Mendoza on Monday evening (it’s now Wednesday afternoon as I write this) and we’ll be back on the road this coming Monday or Tuesday. I mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph that Argentina will be the last new country, because we will be returning to Yucatan, Mexico for three months before heading back to the United States for a short visit (we will have been on the road for five years at that point).

Mendoza is a beautiful little city at the foot of the eastern slopes of the snow-covered Andes Mountains (the second highest mountain range in the world). It’s nestled in Argentina’s premier wine country famous for its robust reds, and we plan on visiting some of those wineries before leaving. The tree-lined streets provide much-needed shade in the hot summer months where temperatures can reach 45°C (113ºF). This time of year the weather is magnificent with sunny days and brisk evenings (averaging about 25°C or 77°F highs during the day)—PERFECT.

An interesting feature of Mendoza, and all the cities and towns running along the Andes Mountains, is their hours of business: every afternoon between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. businesses close for siesta (except restaurants and some small neighbourhood markets). This is a concession to the hot summer months, but is surprisingly adhered to in the winter months too. People go to work in the morning, then eat their biggest meal and nap during the siesta hours, and then return to work in the cooler evening hours.

We are in the land of premium beef and Argentinian beef is famous around the world for its quality (maybe second to only to Kobe beef of Japan). There is also a large German influence in Argentinian cuisine and most restaurants offer up knackwurst, bratwurst and bockwurst as well as sauerkraut and a variety of potatoes (we will be partaking of these delicious sausages during this afternoon’s meal). Tomorrow we have an all day tour of Alta Montana (7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and I hope to get some great scenic photos of this beautiful region.

We have a very ambitious schedule planned for our three months in Argentina, loosely outlined here: Mendoza, San Carlos de Bariloche (like the Swiss Alps), El Calafate and Los Glaciares (Patagonia), Ushuaia (the southernmost part of Argentina where ships leave for Antarctica), Puerto Madryn (where you can usually see whales up through September), Mar del Plata (east coast), Buenos Aires, Cordoba (Pampas) and Iguazu Falls. Whew, I’m tired already—but excited. Finishing up in late November we’ll catch a plane in Buenos Aires for the flight back to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (our original starting point).

Antigua Steve WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer, World Traveller

www.IndochinePhotography.me

Mendoza, Argentina

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An Invitation to Join the Quest of Don Quixote

Valle de Muerte Framed

Valle de la Muerte – Atacama, Chile

(Click on Image)

ADVENTURE LOVERS. Join me on my worldwide quest to experience and photograph all the natural beauty and people I see around me. I’ve been on the road with my backpack and cameras for five years, and I have only begun my journey to all the amazing places this world has to offer. Subscribe to my free newsletter here and visit me at http://www.IndochinePhotography.me.

Let’s Rumble Guatemala

An old blog post from a favorite location . . .

Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge

Antigua Ruins II WEB

Solitary Ruins

La Antigua, Guatemala

Guatemala is volcano country, and with volcanoes come earthquakes.  I’m a California boy, and as such I’m no stranger to earthquakes.  However, I must admit these are real shakers down here.  Strong and long-lasting.  Historically, over the years, they have killed thousands and thousands of people—typically from the accompanying landslides and building collapse.  We’re halfway through our second month here in Guatemala, and we’ve already experienced three powerful earthquakes so far (one just a few minutes ago).  The largest one was a couple of weeks ago when I was in [the] hospital.

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Streets of Antigua

La Antigua, Guatemala

We are starting week 2 in La Antigua, Guatemala.  Antigua is a favorite of travelers, and it’s easy to see why:  a beautiful, quaint little town of approximately 35,000 people, replete with fine restaurants, hotels, shops and sightseeing.  And of course the warm and generous…

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If I Had A Do-over In Life

An old blog post . . .

Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge

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Eddie Adams – Marine Corps Combat Photographer

While serving as a young Marine, in Vietnam 1967-68, I had the opportunity to meet a number of Combat Photographers, both military and civilian.  Even then I was envious—they were seeing and photographing the whole war, I was only experiencing a small piece of it. And they had some bitch’n cameras:  Most were carrying the relatively new Nikon F SLR (usually 2 or 3); a few were still shooting with the venerable Leica M-3.  Probably 80% of the images were taken in B&W (at least early in the war when I was there) with Kodak Tri-X 400 print film.  

If I had a do-over in life what would it be?  This isn’t about how I would change myself, because I’m not really convinced we can do that.  I could be wrong of course, but I think we are pretty much who…

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Indochine Photography Now Banging on All Cylinders

Steve in Antigua

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer, World Traveller

Founded in 2009 Indochine Photography is now banging on all cylinders. The numbers tell the tale. Some will find the business of photography uninteresting and boring, but I enjoy the business aspect of photography almost as much as I enjoy the aesthetic that is photography. I’m one of those rare 50/50 right brain/left brain kind of people—blessing or a curse? Here’s a recap of Indochine Photography’s growth over the last seven years—if you find business and/or numbers boring feel free to skip over this self-congratulatory post:

Indochine Photography – Almost 3,000 Facebook “Shares”

Indochine Photography Facebook Business Page – Over 6,800 “Likes”

Expat Journal Blog – Over 435 “Followers” in 125 Countries

Indochine Photography Newsletter – Almost 100 “Subscribers”

Published Articles at Northrup Photo – Over 500,000 “Subscribers”

Am I getting rich with my photography and writing? Absolutely not. Am I doing better now than when I started seven years ago? Yep—I sure am. Am I having fun? Definitely. Doing what I love and getting paid for it is the best of all possibilities. I take my pictures, I write my articles, and I travel the world. I live simple, cheap, and free. My time is my own, to do with as I please, how many people can claim that. Not many I suspect. If you’re not following my adventure yet please visit me by clicking on the links above. If you are then thank you very much indeed.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation

 Henry David Thoreau

The Convoluted Psychology of Relationships

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Stephen in the Jungles of Rio San Juan (Nicaragua)

How’s that for a title: The Convoluted Psychology of Relationships. It’s both a mouthful and rather pretentious sounding. I’m certainly no expert in psychology, or relationships for that matter. I’ve spent the better part of my life, a life spanning nearly seventy years, trying to figure out my psychology and relationship failures. It’s a personal ball of twine for each of us to unravel on our own and in our own time. Many never do. What brings this to mind is a book, a biography actually, about one of my early heroes Colin Fletcher. The title is: Walking Man: The Secret Life of Colin Fletcher.

Fletcher was arguably the father of modern backpacking as we know it today, and an early pioneer in what we now call ecological awareness. He came on the literary scene in the early 1960s and I found him, after returning from a combat tour in Vietnam and a stint in the Marines, in the late 1960s. His voice and message immediately resonated with me, and continues to do so after all these many years. Fletcher had a lot in common with another of my heroes Henry David Thoreau: both solitary men, thinkers, poets, and long-distance walkers.

My psychology tends to emulate men of this ilk: Fletcher, Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Meriwether Lewis (of the Lewis & Clark Expedition), John Steinbeck, and maybe even Ernest Hemingway. They are heroes prone to depression and self-destruction, but interesting men in their own right, they are: solitary and self-sufficient, sensitive with an overlay of hyper-masculinity, adventuresome, easily bored, and socially awkward. Non-conformists who continually flaunt the rules of society, rebel against authority, and challenge the status quo. Like them I am the proverbial pain-in-the-ass.

These personality traits are not conducive to good relationships. Ladies be forewarned—we are not good marriage material or even good boyfriend material. In the lyrics of Paul Simon (another of our kind): I am a rock, I am an island—and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries. That is not entirely true of course, but to most women it will feel absolutely true and unsatisfying. We won’t change despite your best efforts, and you wouldn’t like us if we did, so it’s better to not get involved with us in the first place. You should trust me on this and save yourself a lot heartache.

Thoreau famously said: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. I have found this to be a fact carved in stone and worthy of a place on Mount Rushmore. To deny our true nature is to commit emotional and sometimes physical suicide. I have spent my entire life looking for my true nature, my reason for living. I think I have it pretty well figured out, and have even reduced it to a Zen-like mantra: Photographer, Writer, Traveller; Live Simple, Live Cheap, Live Free. My most valuable asset is time and my biggest luxury is spending my time my way. It took a long time but there it is.

That’s not all of course—my life has many facets reflecting different moods, environments, and situations—but in a nutshell my mantra sums up my essence. The paradox is that the more I understand myself the less I’m understood; the more comfortable I am in my skin the more it pisses some people off. People, to a large extent, abhor change within themselves and others. To bring about change, even positive change, is to seemingly introduce a threat into their world as weird as that notion is.

Longterm followers of this blog will realize I have recurring themes and repeat myself often. Whether it’s my photography, writing, travelling, or lifestyle I repeat myself—ad nauseam. This repetition isn’t a comment about their ability to understand and absorb what I’m saying it’s more personally cathartic than that: it is my way of affirming and re-affirming the truths (my truths) I have so diligently sought out and discovered. Also, I am constantly adding followers and there’s a good chance they missed the original posts, though they can be found in Expat Journal’s archives.

My hard-won freedom and self-realization can’t survive a relationship and that’s a price I’m willing to pay—yes, that’s how important it is to me. Enduring years of others trying to stuff me into their preconceived boxes I just won’t allow it anymore. I don’t have an ounce of compromise left in me. Life is about choice and this is my choice. Freedom trumps acceptance. I don’t waste time trying to explain or justify my choices anymore, I don’t have to and so I don’t. I’ve grown intolerant of other people and their sanctimonious, holier-than-thou judgements.

Although this post might seem to be about explanation and justification it’s really about the affirmation and re-affirmation I mentioned. I write for myself because it helps me to think more deeply and clearly. If others can benefit from my process then so much the better. Like my heroes I thrive on adventure, change, and new experiences. If I’m not being creative and experiencing new things I get bored, and when I get bored it leads to dissatisfaction and depression. I don’t put myself in their league but I do share aspects of their collective psyche—and it’s nice to know I’m in good if dubious company.

Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is my caution to you. This is about me and my struggles, it’s not about you and yours. This is my story to live and to tell, it’s not yours. Live your own life and find your own truths, or don’t. I really don’t care anymore. Reserve your judgements, insights, and advice for those who ask for them. Truth be known most people don’t want your advice. I certainly don’t. That sounds harsh and probably is, but it’s called boundaries; if I’ve had one overriding failure in my life its in not setting enough personal boundaries. Think of yourself as a project, a work in progress.

Many people think I live too much in my head. The same was true of my heroes listed earlier. My relationships failed because I wasn’t given the freedom to change within their context—it was a perceived threat. That I allowed myself to live under those stifling conditions was my choice, to eventually escape those self-imposed prisons was also my choice. Life is about choice, and you often have to give up something to gain something. My lifestyle appeals to a very few and that’s okay—it appeals to me and that’s all that really matters.

The takeaway from this post might very well be: I don’t need you in my life but if you’re there it’s because I want you there and not because I need you there. Its been my experience that many women can’t handle that truism in their man (or maybe I just chose poorly). I’m a loner, a solitary man, intolerant at times, and I don’t share emotions easily. I’m getting grumpy and more curmudgeon-like (I have a lady friend who calls me her grumpy gringo), but I have to tell you although I’m not always ecstatically happy I am pretty damn content. And I’m done with apologizing.