It’s a good thing we had a fat morning watching cartoons and were rested up before our two fiestas today.


First we took a colectivo to a campground at kilometer 13,5. (When you’re heading out of town on one of the two main streets, the streets running perpendicular start to be named by their distance from the city, for example, a woman we met yesterday said “I live in the forest, at kilometer 5.”) Pete had signed us up for a party hosted by Vertice 7, the gym we just joined. Several people were already at the campground when we arrived—a mix of gym staff and members—and Pete made small talk until delicious pizzas started to appear along with bottles of soft drinks and Quilmes. I tried to answer the question “Where are you from?,” got tongue-tied, and completely lost my confidence. So then I listened to the conversation in my head that went back and forth between “These people are SO nice! You have to try!” and “I can’t say anything! I need more time!”

One of the people Pete talked with was the gym owner, a Japanese-Argentine originally from Buenos Aires. (I have seen exactly four Asians since we got to Bariloche, all tourists and two from the U.S.) Pete joked that what Bariloche needs is a Japanese restaurant, and the owner said he’d already tried that and people just aren’t interested in sushi here.

The campground had a lovely beach on Nahuel Huapi, and a gym member named Fredy took groups out on his boat for short tours of the lake. It was a beautiful day and, again, we felt really fortunate to be treated so kindly and to have an opportunity like this.

We left the gym party well before it was going to wind down in order to make our next party, the end-of-year fiesta for Primeros Pasos.

Last Thursday, Pete accompanied Lou on a surprise (to us) field trip to Gymnasio 3, a city gym that is driving distance from school, to practice for the end-of-year celebration. But that sneak-peek in no way prepared him for what we experienced tonight.

DSC_0120The unpaved parking lot was jammed with cars, and I assumed that there was more than one event happening. When we walked into the gym, I saw Seño. Pato (the school owner and director) talking into a microphone in front of a professional video camera, and bleachers on both sides of the gym were crowded with people as well as the gym floor in front of the performance area. It must be the end-of-year celebration for multiple schools, I said to Pete.

No. It was just Primeros Pasos and its hundred or so children and their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

We were witness to a production requiring the vision, planning, coordination and expense of a professional theater performance. One involving a hundred children ages 2 through 5.

Lou's teacher Seño. Andre has a big heart and an even bigger smile.

Lou’s teacher, Seño. Andre, has a big heart and a big  smile.

There was Seño. Pato, a powerful and dramatic force, acting as ringleader for the Primeros Pasos Circo. There were hired acrobats and clowns, along with a DJ and videographer. Each class of children had coordinated costumes—animals, flowers, butterflies, ballerinas, mimes, and clowns—and choreographed movements to perform. It was something to behold.

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