Swim-ventures: The Argentina edition

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Before heading to Argentina this winter (their summer!), a friend who had spent the last year there warned me that pools aren’t easy to find. She scoured the neighbourhood we were staying in and found a few – most in hotels, but a few others and I went down with a suitcase full of bathing suits, all set to swim on the regular.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I swam at a palace and it was glorious, and then the baby got sick and I got sick and my pool hunt went on hiatus. And then when I dove back in (though not literally, sob), I was striking out left right and centre. Nearby hotel pools did not have day passes, not even outrageously expensive day passes and getting a room at a hotel within walking distance of our flat seemed ridiculous. There was a pool in the basement of the university’s law department – a huge, imposing building with a million columns, and another at a techno-heavy gym on the same street as one of our favourite parks, but my Spanish was terrible and figuring out schedules and passes was daunting. Despite the blazing heat and the 3 bathing suit stores on every block, there were no public pools, or splash pads to be found.


BUT, there was Parque Norte – a 30-hectare water park with a bajillion pools just a short cab ride away. It was my swimming solace. So, one morning, we sunscreened up and packed an epic picnic and took a cab over…only to discover it was closed for the season. END OF THE SEASON?! IT WAS 35 DEGREES! But it turns out summer ends at the end of February there, and it was the first week of March. Also, it turns out Argentinian websites are notoriously out of date/not updated. It was a pool fail of epic proportions and my fella had to flag down a cab on the side of a highway to get home.


There was one teeny little pool on a rooftop in the swanky Palermo neighbourhood I got to dip into briefly, and a short dip in Uruguay and after consulting with my Argentinian Instagram pals, we decided it was time to head to the ocean.

We drove for 5 hours past fields and fields of cows – it felt like we were in the middle of Saskatchewan, with the odd roadside parilla and queso-selling farm stand.  The ocean seemed impossible far away. But we kept on and drove through a thick pine forest. It felt like those cottage roads, where the sun is suddenly filtered through trees, dappling the dirt road. We drove until the dirt road gave way to sand and there we were, at our hotel for the weekend. The air went from smelling like pine to smelling like salt.

“You have to be patient, Mommy,” my 3-year-old kept insisting as my fella and the hotel employee traded Google translated sentences. 

The sun was already on its way down and I was grateful I had packed a bag with just bathing suits and towels. We grabbed the key to our room and grabbed the bag and headed for the beach, just steps from our door.

The Atlantic was loud and much rougher than I had imagined. This was not a swimming ocean. In true LZV form, I got in to my knees, the undertow pulling at my legs, and bailed. I took a break, watched the wind whip my baby’s wispy hair, and then went back in and dove through the waves. The water was warm, the air was cold and it was perfect.

That night, we walked home from dinner along the sandy road, and down to the beach. We held our babies under the Milky Way and listened to the crashing waves and showed the kids Mars, and marvelled at this glorious life we’ve made, our great luck, our great fortune.


The next morning, I woke up early, before the baby even. I could’ve settled in for another hour of sleep, but the sun was rising over the ocean and I could see it from our bedroom window, so I flung the curtains open and Adam made me coffee to take with me to the beach. It was far too rough to swim, and the water was filled with surfers. So many surfers in fact that I felt like I was living in that Keanu Reeves movie with the surfing bank robbers.

I’m used to calm water and fixed shorelines – northern Ontario lakes. The unpredictability of the ocean terrifies me, the churning white, the relentlessness of the waves.


We spent the day on the beach, and though I couldn’t swim-swim, it didn’t much matter. We made sand castles and collected shells and ran in and out of the water, my hair thick with salt. Both kiddos stood in the ocean for the first time and I beamed so hard my face hurt.


There was an epic storm that night, lightning, thunder, rain, the works and when we woke the next morning, the waves were so ferocious, there weren’t even any surfers in the water. The wind whipped so fast I was afraid it’d knock the 3-year-old over completely and we drove home without going for one final dip.

I didn’t see water again until I got home, slipping back into the centre lane of the pool I think of as “mine”. It’s boring and predictable and I’m already plotting my next ocean visit, but it’s also lovely and predictable and I’ve missed the muted, meditation of length after length after length.


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