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    Even in Crisis, Argentina is Paradise. Here’s why…

    Right now, I’m enjoying my last few days in Mendoza, Argentina, the home to amazing wine here in Argentina. It’s a beautiful place with interesting layers that unfold the longer you sit in the experience.

    Riding into Mendoza after a 14 hour ride from Buenos Aires on an amazingly comfy bus, I was shocked to be reminded of the landscape surrounding Mendoza.

    Desert. Purely sand filled, rocky, desert. Dry yellow brush, rocks, and blazing sun as far as the eye can see.

    On first arrival, the most common thought is, “this is an odd landscape to produce the grapes that go into world class wine!”

    The Mendoza region rarely gets rain, is prone to drought, and I guarantee you that without an expert hand, nothing edible would grow here. But that’s the thing. Things do grow here in Mendoza. Amazing things.

    The wine that comes out of Mendoza is easily some of the best in the world, and a recognized global wine capital on par with Bordeaux, France, Porto, Portugal, Napa Valley, California, Verona, Italy, and more.

    Once you cross an invisible border from the province’s hundreds of miles of desertscape into the capital of Mendoza, and its wine country of Maipu, the rocky desert sand give way to endless rows of green with succulently sweet grapes sprouting under a blazing hot sun (I know…I stole some on our winery tour).

    Within the capital of Mendoza, you cross into a grid of well-kept streets and cool bars and cafes lined by towering, 100 year-old trees. A city of just over 1 million people, big enough to deliver every comfort you need, but small enough for a warm embrace on a social Friday night.

    Somehow, the Argentines have managed to transform a barren land into a wine soaked paradise with charm. From the vineyards of Maipu to the social row of bars and restaurants on Avenida Aristides Villanueva, the city of Mendoza is pleasant from end to end.

    Ultimately, the Argentineans took a less than optimal situation in the barren desert and carved it into a uniquely comfy paradise that not only survives, but thrives and produces one of the most pleasant things on the planet. Which leads to my next point…

    Laughing and fun at 2AM: The Argentines are making the most of what the world news is saying is a disaster

    You may have heard in the news about the economic crisis in Argentina that has been happening for the last two decades. Not only was the crisis of inflation and poverty reaching unprecedent levels, but supposedly, the incoming president, Javier Milei, was set to slash the culture, arts, and sciences programs throughout the country that arguably make Argentina, and the Argentine population, the place I and many others love.

    This was the constant chatter I’d heard for the months before my flight into Buenos Aires.

    Economic crisis. Poverty. Unsafe. Unknown.

    So, what is it actually like on the ground in Argentina?

    Late last night, around 11PM (early by Argentine standards) I wandered the city of Mendoza, to feel how the people here, 650 miles from the capital and economic epicenter are dealing with this crisis.

    In short…very well.

    On the “ritzy” side of Mendoza’s city center, next to the Medical University, a pristine boulevard was lined with huge sidewalks filled with welcoming streetside tables, chairs, strings of lights, and the sound of laughing and conversation. Everyone from dress shirt wearing businessmen to Mesi jersey sporting 20 something’s sat in groups of 2 to 10, sipping wine and beer, clearly jovial, with no smartphones in sight. Just clearly good times.

    Mind you, these aren’t tourists enjoying themselves. These are Argentines – local Mendocinos, Cordobesans, and Portenos enjoying one of their country’s many gems – making the most of the situation in front of them.

    I sat down at the Berlina brewery, proudly serving local Patagonia brand beer brewed in Patagonia, and enjoyed an old style ale brewed from the pristine waters of Patagonia, followed by a glass of wine crafted mere miles away and an amazing burger streetside.

    The waiter came by and asked if I’d like a happy hour beer.

    “When’s happy hour?” I asked.

    “Here, happy hour lasts all night,” the waiter replied.

    The statement was more fitting than I realized, not just the bar, but for the entire city and the entire evening.

    I spent the meal sandwiched between a playful couple on a first date on my right and a group of clearly old friends reconnecting on my left, all of them simply soaking up the vibes of this “crisis”. Every few minutes, live street musicians strumming guitars while singing and Tango performers stopped by to entertain as the crowd quieted, listened, and tipped graciously as the performers moved on.

    For about 10 city blocks, the lights, music, and celebratory vibes for just another Friday kicked strong.

    However, this was the “pricier” and fancier side of town. What was the “crisis” like in the normal areas of Mendoza?

    As I continued to walk, at just around midnight, I took an impromptu left to wander and explore exactly that.

    A few blocks away at Plaza Independencia, one of 15 or so parks in the city, teens, couples, children, families, and old folks sat out on the grass picnic style under trees, as loudspeaker played music to the fountain and light show just past midnight. Groups of friends shared pizza while teens eagerly shared bottles of Fanta and teased each other. Young couples fawned over each other as they sat in the park on a blanket for a date, sharing wine from a single plastic cup. Kids sang along with the song. Older people sat quietly soaking up the vibe. People smiled as I passed, even at midnight. Something almost unheard of back in the US.

    To finish off the night, I stopped by a Bar for one last glass of wine near my hostel (which was an oddly nice private room for $20 per night) to gather my notes and just soak in the situation.

    I’m comfortable having a drink alone in a bar, just people watching and listening to the music, perhaps chatting with a stranger but not often. It’s something I’ve done in hundreds of cities to close out my travels and evenings, and something I appreciate and enjoy. During which, I’m often left alone. But here in Mendoza, within 5 minutes of sitting down, two guys walked up and invited me to sit with their group of friends.

    “No one should drink alone here,” they said,” Please join us. Share our table for the night.”

    I politely declined as they repeatedly invited me cordially and bone sober. As I prepped for my bus onward to Santiago, Chile in two days, this was a perfect ending to my experiences in Argentina, during this “crisis.”

    Amidst it all, these Mendocinos, all of them I’d seen throughout the city, were finding things to smile about, and joy in each other’s company and what was in front of them. There wasn’t a hint of pain or anguish in sight in the tens of city blocks I walked.

    Just like the glass of wine that I was sipping, which made the absolute most of nothing, crafted from nothing but dry, rocky, desert earth, and heritage.

    Mendocinos, and Argentinians in general didn’t allow themselves to become victim to the “crises” forced on them and the labels from international media. Instead, they took every moment and opportunity possible to live their best life, and live in that.

    They don’t care what the international media is saying. They don’t care how you think they should feel about the situation. They only seemed to care about living in and making those moments I was lucky to observe the best they could be.

    From Buenos Aires, to Cordoba, and to Mendoza, that vibe stayed constant. It’s the lesson I’ll take with me. It’s the reason I’ll absolutely return to Argentina soon.

    Inspiration: Craft your escape plan, and put yourself where you want to be

    As I walked home last night, high on the ambiance, I was exchanging messages with a friend that was curious about the general situation in Argentina. In that exchange, I realized I was completely happy here. Of the 4 times I’ve passed through Argentina, each time left me feeling like, even with all its flaws, Argentina is a place that I could live forever, never leave, and have no regrets.

    Based on what I love in life – good food, the outdoors, music, and genuine connection with genuine people – Argentina is a place I can always run away to and receive exactly what I need. Not just to escape, but to recharge and thrive in a way I never fully could in the US.

    Something about being able to bike between wineries for tastings on a lazy weekend, followed by an evening of walking between bars, restaurants and music filled parks among happy, inviting people contributes to the kind of place I could live in indefinitely.

    But this fairly small, off the beaten path locale of Mendoza is far from the only place with this feel.

    As I chatted with my friend I realized, after years of travel I have a few “homes” that I could and will always escape to, in order to get back to my best life.

    • Japan
    • Thailand
    • Portugal
    • Argentina

    Japan is otherworldly and pristine. It’s a place where you are somehow in a bubble and isolated, but simultaneously immersed in an aware and empathetic culture that has managed to nearly perfect every aspect of daily life, elevating even the simplest tasks to an art form.

    Thailand feels naturally pure. From Thai Buddhism, to the peacefulness of the hill country, to the friendliness of the people, few places in the world will genuinely welcome you and treat your senses the way Thailand will. This is because it is how they naturally live and welcome you to. Yes, you have the exceptions of Pattaya and Phuket, but I promise that if you manage to connect with true Thailand, you’ll never want to break that connection. From the wilds of Bangkok to the peace of Pai, this place oscillates between being a drug and a haven, happy be what you need.

    Portugal’s classy, Old World feel is a gem, bleeding refinement and a different pace than most developed countries. At a time when most destinations – like Bali and Croatia – are evolving towards glitz and glam, Portugal’s draw is that it feels timeless. From the cobblestone streets and fishing villages, to the rolling hills and nature you’ll find everywhere.

    And, of course, Argentina.

    A place at the end of the world with a unique blend of cultures. I feel like in part due to it’s physical remoteness, the country seems to reject the inauthentic fleeting trends of the rest of the world and embrace food, wine, nature, the arts, and community, and a feeling that endearingly reminds of the best aspects from decades ago.

    All of these places deliver a daily life that leaves me feeling enriched and recharged. Each of these places leave me motivated to blast through projects and personal development goals. Each of these places leaves me, each night, feeling like those Argentines in the Mendoza plazas – fulfilled and satisfied in the moment.

    Each of these countries are options in my escape plan.

    Traveling is great. I love it more than any other activity in my life, but finding destinations that potentially fit in your “escape plan” as bases between travels can change the way you live. I highly recommend seeking them out.

    Start Now: Make a list of prospective destinations you could live indefinitely, test them out, and craft your escape plan accordingly.

    It took 7 years of bouncing around the world to find the places that suit me, my preferences, and my character, and that adventure was not only a dream experience, but a worthwhile investment.

    I now have a handful of homes that are more enjoyable (for me) to live than anywhere in the US, delivering a better quality of life for a lower cost, and resulting in much more happiness.

    So, if you wakeup every day dreaming of travel, wandering the world endlessly with no home, I highly recommend following that dream. Selling everything and buying a one-way flight to Thailand was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    At the same time, I encourage you to think, especially if you’re not satisfied with the rat race in the urban jungle you’re currently in, about places that naturally deliver the components that make you happy, and could contribute to your perfect destination, and your escape plan. Then explore them to find the place where you could easily smile through a crisis.

    In the coming emails, stories, and guides, I’ll share ideas for those destinations, how to try them out, and how to patch insights from your own adventures into escape plans for a life abroad.

    In the meantime, take comfort in the fact that somewhere halfway around the world, some lovely Argentine is genuinely smiling and laughing their way through an international news worthy crisis…because they’re right where they want to be and living in the moment that they’ve crafted, in a place they love.

    Soon, we’ll patch together your escape plan, and put you in your version of that impenetrable happy place too.

    Keep researching those flights.

    For now, I have a bus to catch.

    I’ll be in touch soon.

    Your Escape Plan Homework:

    1. Make a list of countries, and cities, that you think could better deliver the things you enjoy in life better than where you – like food, wine, music, arts, hiking, biking, friendships, spirituality, etc. Aim for a list of at least 5 countries and 10 cities.
    2. Research, when would be the best time to visit those cities for 3 months – based on your work schedule and tourist seasons (and the cheapest time to go).
    3. Research Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, and Colombia as places that you could live for 3 months or indefinitely
    4. Save these notes to come back to later.
    5. Let these ideas and new knowledge grow as the seed in your thoughts that we will grow in your escape plan.

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      About A Brother Abroad


      Carlos is a nomad, slow traveler, and writer dedicated to helping others live abroad and travel better by using his 7+ years of experience living abroad and background as a management consultant and financial advisor to help other nomad and expats plot better paths for an international lifestyle. Click here to learn more about Carlos's story.