2006 Roadtrip Mendoza, Argentina: The Mayol Family

Since we arrived in Mendoza we’ve been looking forward to Dec. 29. That’s when we meet Carlos Mayol and his family. Carlos was an American Field Service exchange student at Walter Johnson HS in Bethesda, MD in 1962 when I was there. I knew him then but we hadn’t corresponded for 44 years. In September I wrote a letter to him and addressed it to the address in Santa Fe, Argentina that was listed on the WJ Alumnae website. That was his parents’ home and it had been sold many years ago. The new owners, however, knew where Carlos lives and got the letter to him.

He e-mailed me and we started making a plan to meet. He has three children and seven grandchildren. One of his daughters is a lawyer and lives in Mendoza with her husband and eight-month-old daughter. Carlos and his wife, Ana María, drove 12 hours for the New Year’s weekend.

We were invited to their daughter’s house, in the campo (countryside), for dinner on the 29th and the 31st. Lucía and her husband, Chaco, are wonderful hosts. Chaco barbecued chicken for us on Friday night and at about 10:30 p.m. we ate dinner in the garden. The chicken was inspired, made with a delicious marinade called chimichurri.

Ana María and Carlos Mayol with the Mendoza contingent of their family
We had arrived at 9 p.m. and Carlos, Dimitri and I used the time till the meal to get to know each other. It was fun to hear about his life and his success, in spite of the catastrophic economic and political policies in Argentina. Ana María is a speech therapist in Santa Fe. We had a wonderful time with the family. Chaco’s mother, Patricia, was visiting and a friend, Alejandro, joined us for dinner. When we were eating the skies opened and it started raining very hard. We were sitting out under an awning and it was difficult for the people sitting on the side at the end of the awning to stay dry. Even so, we all had a great time together.

On New Year’s Eve, Chaco made a very special asado a la llama. The beef ribs are hung and the fire of the barbecue is built up on either side of a specially designed grill.

Chaco (Enrique) Prati makes an asado a la llama for us

The ribs were ready and we starting eating just at midnight!

Carlos Mayol and Audre feast on Argentine beef

The music in the background was a nuevo tango type by Gotan Project (and the next day we went out and bought 2 CDs it was so good). Friends of Lucía and Chaco arrived after midnight and we all drank champagne. Dimitri and I didn’t leave until 2 a.m., probably the latest we’ve ever stayed awake at New Year’s! Fortunately the drunks of Mendoza weren’t on the road and we got back to our apart hotel safely and soundly, having had an enjoyable and special time.

On Monday Carlos and Ana María drove back to Santa Fe and we did nothing all day! We leave to drive north in Argentina on Wednesday.

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