Ski Bummin

"The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. the gift is yours- it is an amazing journey- and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins."
-Bob Moawad

Life has been wonderful since settling in Bariloche. Remarkable in the smallest of ways, no one event in particular to demonstrate my contentedness with this place, just a sum of daily highs and good people. Things are pretty simple when your only concern is the next snow storm... And though there is a great lack of snow, it is pretty silly to worry yourself over something so completely out of your control; thus my days in Bariloche are quite carefree!
I have lost track of time here, not quite sure when exactly I arrived, and I am pleasantly surprised that within this elusive two-three month time frame I have managed to create such a comfortable lifestyle surrounded by buena onda. I have had much help along the way and am incredibly grateful to the many people who have made me feel so welcome. Without even knowing me, people have opened their doors and hearts, inviting me into their lives like an old friend whom they haven't seen in years.

It's like a little integrated family in Cerro Catedral- everyone knows everyone, everyone is friends with everyone, all live for the snow, many living double seasons all year round jumping back and forth from southern to northern hemisphere. My first, and slightly dis-functional family lives in Mute; (self-proclaimed) 'the' bar of Catedral, watering hole of the rich and famous vacationing in Bariloche, and after ski mayhem for all the local snow shredders looking for a free beer or Fernet to wind down a day on the slopes. And this is where it all started...

Juan Carlos y Niko, like father like son

Cast of Characters:
Juan Carlos- Man in Charge/ Viejo Verde/ Tio Juanca. Jaunca hired me on the spot, offering me work, food and a place to live. I took a day to accept the offer and within two was moving into my new home at the base of the ski mountain. Juanca runs the ski rental, Travesia, and rents the upstairs to the owners of the bar/restaurant Mute.

And so we passed the next two weeks, drinking coffee, wine and mate, waiting for the rain to turn into, weird uncle Juanca and my six perverted step-brothers living, eating, working and sleeping Mute.
con Roman en Mute
Julio- 'el Negro'/ Mute manager/ only Argentine that to this day, I still cannot understand
Roman- chef/traveler/ music lover/ mad skilled dancer/ absolute gem of a person
Mute/Travesia fiesta After Ski
con Uri
Lucho- techie/ sound guy/ plant lover and cultivator/ friend to all/ hater of drama

Uriel-photographer for 'Caras' Magazine (Buenos Aires equivalent to Star)/ maca drinker/ always down for a good time
Marcus- quintessential profile of a NYC Italian/ wouldn't hurt a fly/ all around goof ball
Juani- boy in a hairy mans body/ light hearted/ socialite/ wanna be ladies man

frozen puddle

Hiked a little, smoked a lot, not exactly sure how I passed the days but I spent them contently and free of obligation. The first snow finally came and painted everything white (then came the rain and washed the powder out. 

The sun was shining on opening day at Cerro Catedral and Julio gave me his pass for the last couple hours of afternoon riding. Seeing the view from the top for the first

time is something I will never forget. How lucky I am to be in this place! How long I dreamed and imagined what it would be like-- it is everything and nothing like I imagined...

view of la luna from my room in Mute
Work started and all of a sudden the days got shorter. Wake up, get dressed, go downstairs for a coffee in Travesia, then back up to Mute for my 12:00 shift. At first it was fun- the work was easy and laid back, guests are in a good mood enjoying the mountain, fascinated by my strange accent. I was riding for a couple hours in the mornings when the conditions were agreeable, meeting a ton of new people, getting to know my co-workers, finally making some girlfriends, but life in Mute started to get repetitive. The tourists asked the same questions, Julio was in a bad mood, shifts got busier and longer, stress levels peaked and BooM, I remembered how much I hate this kind of restaurant environment. My mood changed, my smile faded and my friends started to notice the wear of just two weeks. I realized that I would never last and left on the best of terms after 15 days of Mute slavery. With my tips, half a months salary and $300 US in cash that I had left over, I bought myself a season pass, moved to the kilometros and got a new job that leaves my days free. Oh what a joyful feeling to return to my previous carefree, commitment free state!
Meet Esteban; Artist of glass, iron and metal, designer, builder, husband, father, snow shredder, plant lover. Another Villa Catedral year round resident that has the life figured out. House and workshop/studio with views of the slopes and a stream running through the backyard
Esteban con Luchito, another hermano y amigo de Mute. Farmer, future grower of fine culinary herbs. Long time Catedral seasonal resident. good people, good advice, toda la buena onda
caras de vidrio
Glass cactus and cuadritos de colores
inspiration to grow in the snow...
hilarious furry chicken. regular size, fun size only in foto
Meet Mauro Lopez: one of the first pro riders in Argentina/ cat lover/ enlightenment seeker/ positive thinker/ powder addict/ true friend to many/ my personal life sponsor. Without Mauro's hospitality life in Bariloche would be much less luxurious and certainly less interesting.
Cerro Bayo, Villa la Angostura. Brother Mauro and amigo Niko whose sense of humor is never tiring and usually slightly embarrassing in public...

front yard with Noah the neighbor dog
backyard with Gatito, crazy neighbor cat
Pelusa, queen of the casa vs. Gatito
 I met Mauro within a few days of moving into Travesia, drinking coffee and sharing snow stories. Mauro lives to snowboard, it keeps him sane and makes him happy. He has dedicated his life to the progression of the sport and is a fervent advocate for natural talent and drive. His passion and enthusiasm for the mountain is contagious and most conversations inevitably turn return to this topic. Mauro is graciously housing me in his office, where I have created my little nest and enjoy all the creature comforts of home. The boys live in the casita next door, and there is a constant stream of friends and clients stopping in to drink mate and buy snow gear. We have a grand cast of animals roaming the barrio grounds as well, always making for light hearted entertainment :)

Hiking en Cerro Bayo
Simon, the baby lion cub

I now spend my days surfing the mountain, trying to learn how to 'play' on the slopes, busting little tricks here and there to make the runs last a little longer (there is absolutely no sense in bombing the runs at Catedral; 1. your down in less than 2 mins only to wait in the lift line for 30, 2. the concept of 'grooming' here isn't quite up to par yet, the runs are often left with giant chunks of ice balls and unpredictable ridges that will try to kill you, 3. IIICCCEEEE, lots and lots of ice. That said, this is my first full season in eight years and I am thoroughly enjoying myself and will undoubtedly leave here a much better rider. Thoughts of double season floating through my head..... 
laguna lounge session
En la Laguna con Agusto: amigo and instructor,
drinker of fine whiskeys.Pauli, beautiful visitor from Buenos Aires and Fer, amigo de Cordoba
Cerro Bayo out of bounds bajada
con Carlita, Dey y Caro- fiesta Hawaiana
My only responsibility now is to make it to work by 8:30pm.And although I have three hours from the time the mountain closes, I still somehow end up running (literally) to work. Berlina has become my second family. 'Cerveceria Patagonica', brewed by three brothers; Chiqui, Guido, y Bruno. One is covered in tattoos and thinks he's an white American gangsta (in the best and most hilarious of ways), one has rastas down to his waist, and the other is quite unassuming comparatively. All three son muy buena onda, and they have created an oasis for local beer enthusiasts and are quite strategic in their staffing choices.

one Dey with a pineapple
mucha risa con Lau y Joy :)
 One might say that many clients come for the waitresses before the beer... The Berlina girls are amazing. They immediately join the ranks of some of the most wonderful females I know. The energy in this group in intense, made up of seven very strong hearted women, we could move mountains with this gaggle of ladies. Laurita: mother of two/ homebirth apprentice/ bad ass, you wish it was yours truck owner/ artesana. Dey: singer/songwriter/ mother/ follower of krishna. Carlita: avid skier/ lover of laughter/ bride to be. Joy: free spirit/ vixen. Caro: la andaluza/ world traveler/ snow shredder/intoxicating laughter. Ailen: contagiously joyful/ old soul/ born to dance/ transcendental. For all the time I was lacking female company upon arriving to Argentina, I am now surrounded by wonderful women. 

meet VickyLu ; las Cordobesas, promotoras de Mute, fellow snow bunnies. 
en la silla con Anita; rockstar, DJ, astrology sista

amigas lindas and my lady Lu 

meet Valeria (beside me), immediatly the sweetest most inviting women I've met. Mother of two beautiful babies, Uma 5 y Miko 2. Wonderful friend and confident, first of my Bariloche ladies. Virginia (front), sister #2 two, almost twin sister lookalike to Valeria. Hilarious and loving. fellow boarder and mountain lover. English translator and my personal Spanish/English dictionary. Amigas in the middle :)

tomando sol con Anita, Lu, Vicky y Manu

This is my fountain of feminine energy, filling me with positivity and a desire for introspection. I feel more womanly than ever before and am blessed to be a part of this circle of self empowerment and inspiration. There is a connection here that seems to transcend time, the level of trust and confidence seems to stem from a time long ago. As we passed again into the second full moon, I was reassured that there are profound lessons to be learned from these women and I leave myself open to their messages, inviting healing and self discovery.   

And so goes this journey of life. Familiar encounters with strangers, fresh tracks induced shrills, asado on an open fire, grapes by the glassful, chocolate covered raspberries, Patagonian starry nights, gusty winds and rippled lakes...
riding above the clouds