The trip was incredible and the wonderful rest that I needed. I flew out of San Francisco Airport on 28 March. I took advantage of a sale that LAN Airlines had. I flew business class. I got to stay in a VIP lounge and ride in the front of the plane with big seats that make down into beds, etc.
After eight hours int he air I landed in Lima, Peru. I changed planes and had another 4 hour flight to Sao Paulo. I landed and got through passport control and customs without problems. I was met by Anna Chagas. She was our exchange student when she was a senior in High school. She went back to Brasil and graduated from a great University in Sao Paulo. She now works at a big Brasilian bank and is on her way to great things. We hope to get her into Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is 24 now and is like our real daughter.
I was driven out to her home in San Jose dos Campos. It is Brasil's high technology center. The biggest company there is Embraer. They make airplanes. Boeing is the biggest airplane manufacturer in the world. Embraer is the number three airplane manufacturer int he world.
I went to her house. I took a shower and got cleaned up. We then left for a ride to a town called Campos do Jordao. It's nickname is "The Switzerland of Brasil." It is in the mountains and gets snow in winter. It's a charming [place. We had a late lunch at a German restaurant. We rode around and looked at all of the beautiful places in the area. We then came home and I went to sleep exhausted.
On Saturday we went to a barbecue or a churasco as they call it in Brasil. It was held outside of the town of San Francisco Xavier. It was at the ranch of a wealthy an from Sweden. He came to Sao Paulo and started some restaurants. He is now super rich. His ranch is literally an entire mountain. He has built three luxury homes on the mountain. Our party was at one of the houses. Our host was a dental surgeon who had graduated from the University of Michigan dental school. It was a rich house full of interesting people. We had some great food and drinks. I also had some interesting conversations with people.
Sunday was Easter. I was taken to lunch at an Arabic restaurant. Brasilians love food from the Middle East. Later in the afternoon I was driven back to Sao Paulo where Anna has her apartment. Sao Paulo is a huge city with somewhere between 16 million and 20 million people. It's a rich city.
Early on Monday morning I took a cab to one of the Sao Paulo airports. I boarded a flight to Buenos Aires. I cleared customs and immigration. I then caught a flight to San Carlos de Bariloche. I have loved this city of 140,000 for more than 20 years. It sits right beside a beautiful lake and is charming. I had rented an apartment for 8 days. It turned out to be nice. I spent the first days just walking around the town and relaxing. I then took a trip through a beautiful area in Patagonia called The seven Lakes. It was full of forests and beautiful lakes. My final destination was a charming snmall town of 40,000 named San Martin de los Andes. It sits right on a beautiful lake. Next door is a huge national park. For people like Elena and you it would be paradise on earth. I had a delightful day there. I literally thought that I had tied and gone to Heaven. I was so sad when I had to leave.
Two days later I went South deeper into Patagonia. We went past a town called El Bolson into a province called Chabut. (Elena has hiked here and loves it) We stopped at a national park. We hiked in a hiking trail. We then went to a beautiful lake that was freezing cold. After this nature adventure we went back to El Bolson. This town of 25,000 is charming. It was once a favorite of hippies. I had an incredible lunch at a restaurant called El Tomatian. I then walked around the town.
My final trip from Bariloche was to a small town called Llao Llao. It is famous for a five-star hotel that sits there. Years ago President Bill Clinton came to this small town. He liked it so much that he seriously considered retiring here. The scenery is incredible. It also has a port where one can get on a boat and tour the lakes. I went to the hotel. They literally make the best Margarita in the world. I had a gourmet buffet luncheon afterwards. I ran into an interesting couple from Midland, Texas. The man was in the oil business and was a personal friend of Bush II. The lady was from Argentina. We had a delightful talk.
I rode the bus back to the apartment. It was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. It was a glorious way to end the trip.
The next day I flew from Bariloche to Buenos Aires and back to Sao Paulo. I stayed at a nice hotel near the Sao Paulo airport. I then flew to Lima and stayed at a Ramada Inn right next to the airport. My final flight was a nine hour flight between Lima and San Francisco.
Overall people were wonderful to me everywhere. I had no problems with robberies or street crime. Food and services were wonderful. The big surprise is that all of these places have become just as expensive as the USA.