For as glamorous and wonderful as the EMB was for me, it was an environment that I really felt out of place in. Mark’s lodge was more in my comfort zone. Based on a log cabin design, I quickly was reminded of the warm, cozy feeling of my family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. Over the last twenty so years, Mark has been guiding up in Alaska and when he built his Tierra del Fuego fishing gem, he brought along the comforts and rustic looks of a lodge straight out of the northern hemisphere. It’s a place where you can still find all the creature comforts but the emphasis and bulk of the experience is based on the fish. Fishable waters here are plentiful. So much that Mark has only been able to explore just a handful of them.

My journey over to the Chilean side of TDF went over smoothly just at the last minute. With the lousy communication connections, I wasn’t able to connect with my transfer guy to my next lodge. A week had gone by since last hearing from the lodge owner and I had never set up a exact time and date when I would meet him. After a worrisome day of wondering if I would be stranded at the border, things fell into place and I was able to make my way over to meet him. It was a hard lesson in preplanning.

I spent the next ten days staying at Mark Kniprath’s new fishing operation just west of the Radman border crossing. The differences in the flora and fauna were imediately apparent. Where the Argentina side was wind swept and barrien, the Chilean side offered shelter from the wind. Trees. Huge beech trees packed in thick within the mountain scape surrounding the lodge. It is pretty incredible how an hour drive westward and a cross over through the Andes can change the landscape. It was a welcoming sight and a familiar return to the mountain fishing that I grew up on.

Throughout all the traveling that I have been doing these last weeks visiting all of these gorgeous fishing lodges, I am amazed at the continuity that the guest create between eachother. I would compare it to something along the lines of summer camp. A summer camp for adults. I think it is in places like the Maria Behety where people come to blossom into to their true selves again. Oh sure many of them live happy lives with well to do jobs, but it is here where they get to be a kid again. Playing with their new found friends, laughing at eachothers stories and sharing in the enjoyment of fishing. It’s as if the fishing part is a catalyst for freeing their minds of the stress of daily life.

As a kid, my parents were quick to socialize me with adults. Throughout my life I have been very comfortable doing it. More importantly, I thought I had seen it all. Only it was from a certain perspective. It was during time here that I observed baby boomers reconnect with their youth, flirting and acting as if they were sixteen again. I had to laugh at it all. Call me ignorant.

It got me thinking about the concept of aging. At the ripe age of twenty-five I realized that as time goes by the kid in you really never leaves you. Perhaps it just gets buried under the weigh of the work, kids, jobs, bills and the rest of daily life. That getting old is more a mindset and not a number. How nice that there are those that can unearth it with perfect strangers at the bottom of the world with a fly rod in hand.

To say the the Maria Behety Estancia is sitting pretty successwise is a huge understatement. The Menendez family was one of the first families to stake a claim in the barrien land of fire back in the mid 1850’s. At one point Alejandro’s family owned almost all of the Tierra del Fuego. Over the years plots of land were sold off and now they sit comfortably with more than 100,000 acres of prestine grazing land and an entire side of the best sea run brown trout fishery The Rio Grande. The goods don’t stop there. Upon this vast stretch of real estate, they boast the largest sheep sheering operation in the world with over 40,000 sheep and a couple thousand head of Argentina cattle.

We have our food covered.

Being in such a remote place as TDF the MB Estancia, which by the way is broken up into two fishing lodges, ranch offices, gaucho houses, barns, worker housing, a church, and numerous other buildings- must run off diesel generators. Convieniently, the estancia sits on a huge gas reserve underground where they drill for their own fuel.

No gas costs.

So what you’re left with is an almost totally off the grid five star ranching/fishing operation that caters to the upper class of North America and European society.

All profit.

Luckly, the guest reap the benefits of an amazing fishing experience. -M

For the few lucky individuals that can get a spot in {and afford} a week stay at the Maria Behety, the experience is nothing more than spectacular. Being at the end of the earth doesnt hinder the comforts of finding yourself in a 4 star lodge complete with gourmet meals, fancy rooms and “The best sea run brown trout fishing” worldwide. Our days began early beginning with a light breakfast and multiple cups of coffee. It was needed because would gather our things head to the wader room, boot up and be driving out to the fishing holes by about 8.30 am.

The guides would help clients gear up their rods, show them the runs and let them know the best routes to hook into some fish. Over the years, many fisherman especially those who have been before have opted for the casting power of spey rods over their typical single handed rods. Almost 99% of the clients coming here to the EMB have been fishing for years having this outing to Tierra del Fuego be the pinacle of their lifetime of fishing. They come for the huge trout. What they don’t realize it that is will be some of the most windy conditions most of them have ever seen. Their is no such thing as a good caster here. Half of the time you are juggling having to brace your footing in the water so that you don’t get blown down stream while at the same time you are trying to cast across the pool in hurricane-like conditions. The use of the spey rods, which can range from 10-15 ft in length, enable the caster to throw alot more line with less effort. It is tricky fishing but the results are worth while.

The more north you stray from the fishing port of Ushuaia, the geography of the land dramatically changes. The mountain peaks smooth out to rolling tundra, the lush evergreen canopy turns to grasslands and for someone that wasn´t looking more carefully they might get the impression of it being a wasteland of no importance. It is only when you get in close for another look that the Land of Fire truely grabs you opens your eyes to its wonder. Llama like creatures (actually related to the camel family) called Guanacos roam the plains and can often be spotted like a lookout sentinels at their post on a distant hillside. Curious gray foxes come in closer for a view while Ibus, Flamingos, and condors spy from above. It is a land unique all to itself.

For the past week I have been staying and the Estancia Maria Behety Lodge on the legendary Rio Grande in the Argentina Tierra del Fuego. The Rio Grande is considered by many to be the best sea run brown trout fishery in the world. The river gains momentum at it´s head waters in the Chile Andes and then stretches roughly 65 miles across the Argentina side of Tierra del Fuego and into the Atlantic ocean. When people in the states measure trout by inches, here the locals yawn at any fish less than 10 lbs. Just the other day a client landed a 27 lbs brown trout. Using a streamer striping method, the twelve visiting clients were regularly landing 15 lbs plus fish. Needless to say the fishing has been just epic.

So I have been away for a while. Let me bring you up to speed. I flew into Ushuaia from Buenos Aires and met up with Mike Mitchalak, the owner of The Fly Shop in Redding, CA. We were picked up by a man by the name of Aljehandro Menendez who then drove us to his 5 star fishing lodge on the Rio Grande. Aljehandro being in his mid-sixties, is the fifth generation Menendez to run the estancia. It was pretty interesting to meet some one with such a well known family history. Currently his 100,000 square kilometer estacia has the world`s largest sheep shearing barn and one of the biggest if not the biggest sheep operations in Argentina. His family was one of the first to establish a ranch on the wind swept Tierra del Fuego. Try googling the Menendez family in Argentina. The guy is a stud.

The ride towards the Rio Grande is comparible to no other place I have ever been. Every where you looked it was like staring at a postcard. Huge blue glaciers, lush meadows, and huge jagged peaks of the last great push of the southern Andes. Aljehandro wasted no time, speeding his way through the mountain passes, veering left and right around tight turns and punched the peddle to accelarate past a police car. “They never pull you over for speeding,“ he says, “We have fish to catch.“

I am alive and well and having an absolute blast at the end of the world. The unfortunate realities of being in such a remote and magical place is that it lacks reliable internet service. This is the reason that I have been unable to post anything for the last week or so. I will be in the sticks for one more week then I will be able to update and catch back up with my daily postings. I promise to bring the blog up to speed soon. Tight lines, -M

After a great week of meeting some amazing people and exploring a truely amazing city. I said goodbye to BA and left for Ushuaia. Tomorrow I will travel to Rio Grande for some of the best sea run brown trout fishing in the world.

So. Yeah pretty gross pictures. After a two week bout with stubborness, I gave into my discomfort and went into the hospital to have surgery on a really bad in-grown toenail. It is a very different experience getting health care in a foreign country. My initial visit to the ¨hospital¨ across the street from the hostel turned out just to be a place where a doctor looks at your symptoms. It was a little frustration, because I obivious knew that I needed to have surgery on it (having already had the procedure done on my other toe). So you see the first guy and he charges you 70 pesos to confirm what you already know.

I have an unfortunate bad habit of saving things till the last minute and this was no exception. At 4 pm I walked in hoping to have this surgery when I had a flight out of town the following morning. Luckily for me the guy makes some phone calls to a specialist and he precedes to inform me that the main hospital can get me in if I get to them within 15 minutes. It turns out that this hospital is 40 blocks away on the other side of the city. Ready GO!!!

Rush mode kicks in. I have to hail a cab but I have no cash on me and there is no bank in sight. With no other choice I took to jogging in the direction of the hospital. Long story short, I found a bank, was able to hail a cab, and convince the driver to drive like the wind. Argentina drivers regularly drive like a bat out of hell (completely ignoring lanes markers, other cars, people and even speed limits) and when I showed him the doctor´s note, he took it upon himself to push the limits of his small Volkswagon engine.

After almost getting clipped by a bus and dangerously coming close to nicking a couple pedestrians, we skidded to a halt outside the main hospital emergency room with just minutes until my appointment.

This is where the slight differences in patient privacy between the States and Argentina differ. I am on the cutting board and the young doctor is injecting my toe with novacaine. Then the next thing I know, my one on one patient doctor visit becomes a cafeteria and observatory room for all the rest of the doctors pointing, laughing and staring in disbelief at my infected toe. Don´t mind me. So with the peanut gallery taking a snack break around me my doctor regains his composure, forgoes waiting on the drugs to take full effect, grabs a pair of pliers and rips free a quarter of my nail out from my skin down to the root. Once that is done and to my uncomfortable belief he then cuts it right off. I suppose that is one way of doing it.

In all it was a relief to have it over and done with and I can rest assure that I woun´t have further problems with my feet. The best part is that I was able to have it done for the fraction of the cost of what it would cost in the states. Bandaged and feeling better. -M

After Taryn and Eric left BA for their journey north, I was left to explore the city on my own terms for a couple extra days before my flight south to Ushuaia. Through the hostel grapevine a couple of us heard about a Tango nuevo concert that was going to be in an outdoor venue called the Konex. The name of the band we saw was called Fernando Fierro. It was a group of about 10 guys (four on accordian, four on strings, a bass player and a pianoman). It was a great show. It sounded a lot like the music you hear in the movie ¨12 Monkeys¨. Dark and mysterious yet sweet and beautiful.

For the next month of our trip, Eric and I have decided to separate for a little bit. I am headed down to Ushuaia to fish the Rio Grande while Eric and Taryn are headed north to Rio in Brazil for Carnevale. Afterwards they will be taking a two week spanish class in Bariloche and I will make my way into Chile. Although I am bummed to not be going with them, other opportunities lie at the bottom of the world for me. We´ll meet back up in Chile soon enough.

It shouldn´t be any surprise that when you think of Buenos Aires, heat would come to mind. This place is a sauna for the majority of the day and many of the occupants staying here at the hostel have developed a habit of taking up to three showers a day just to cope with the heat and humidity. After Taryn learned of the Greener boy´s method of giving eachother haircuts with a beard trimer, she decided to fulfill a long standing curiousity of shaving her head. After a day of fermenting on the possibility of it, we convinced her to go through with it but not before she would rock a mohawk for a day or two. After we finished she was so impressed she decided to keep it going for a while. Rock on.

Everybody…this is Taryn. Taryn is a good buddy of my brother Eric. The two of them worked together in Crater Lake, OR fighting fires for the forest service. She´s great. I think Eric and I both agree that having a female traveling companion will be a great element to our trip. Already having her around brings new light to finding out random tidbits of knowledge that I never thought I´d ever find out about my brother. One of the highlight that she brought to my attention is a nickname that he gained while fighting fires. Eric Greener a.k.a ¨Hotpants¨. Long story short it came about when he was trying to dry off his wet pants by a fire and then before he could realize it, his pants heated up to the point of burning his holy parts. The name stuck and as a loving brother I feel compelled to share this secret.

Here are a couple more glimspes of the tango hall.

Eric and I returned to the belly of the beast and met up with a firefighting buddy of his named Taryn. She´s a really fun chica who laughs loud and full with her entire being and I think she will be a great addition for the next couple months of our trip. Our second time around in the country´s capital was a lot less daunting than the first. I think once you get past that intitial shock, things usually go a lot smoother. Now that we both had a little better grasp on the language and our bearings, we had a rejuvinated excitement about the place. We met up with Taryn at this great hostel called the El Sol right in the heart of the city. Were the first time in BA we were staying 45 minutes away in Tigre, this time we were in a third story hostel where the amount of people coming in and out increased dramatically. One of the benefits to this is a constant stream of information about things going on every night and numerous invitations to join people on their planned outings. This night we followed some friends out to a great tapas restaurant and then out for an evening of Tango dancing at a local hangout.

The Argentinean tango is known for being a beacon and great symbol of the local culture and, not surprisingly, it was the dance the Greener boys failed miserably at. This is not the kind of dance where you can´t just wing it like a box step. We arrived to watch the locals young and old make their way across the worn, wooded floor in the ellegance and grace that obviously took years of practice to perfect. The dance itself is lead by the man and he literally stears and suggests each movement to his partner and then she reacts off that. It is a beautiful union to watch on the dance floor. But being beginners in a sea of pros left us mostly on the sidelines to sip beer and study. I was intrigued to learn more about it.