What my favorite place in the world doesn’t have…
✔ Cultural conflicts
✔ An immigration crisis
✔ Political correctness
✔ High prices
What it does have will surprise you…
Reading the news while enjoying a cortado at a café in my favorite place in the world often causes cognitive dissonance.
How, I ask myself, can life here be so tranquil when the rest of the world appears gripped by madness?
As you might suspect, the café is located in Argentina.
Sure, until recently, we had to put up with the antics of La Presidenta, Cristina Kirchner. But she was largely a bad joke ignored by Argentines with any intelligence.
She’s gone now, replaced by the free-market-oriented engineer Mauricio Macri.
While one can never know how these things turn out, from what I’ve seen so far, I think he’s going to make a huge difference in pretty much every way that counts.
Maybe Argentina won’t return to its former position as the sixth-largest economy in the world, as was the case in the early 20th century, but the conditions are right for the economy to do a rocket shot.
That’s usually the result when a new team sweeps away the spaghetti string of truly stupid socialist policies and lets an economy breathe.
China’s decades of stunning growth following Deng’s liberalization provides a useful lesson.
An Embarrassment of Riches
Then there’s the proven fact that Argentina has an abundance of natural resources including gold, copper, oil, and natural gas.
And there’s the famed Argentine agricultural land stretching from one end of the country to the other.
There are few countries in the world with the ability to be completely self-sustaining—Argentina is one of those.
Of personal importance to me, it also has a well-educated population, the most sophisticated in South America. Anyone worth knowing down here speaks two, three, or more languages.
That is due, in part, to the country’s legacy as one of only a handful of immigrant cultures in the world. Just like the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
What these countries have in common (besides geographically secure borders) are that, in the early days, hardworking settlers from around the world flocked to the country’s wide-open spaces.
In the case of Argentina, the indigenous population was largely overrun (it happens) by Spaniards, English, Italians, Germans, Irish, French, etc.—rugged pioneer types who set out to the new world to make their mark.
Unlike the current mess in Europe where the immigrants have brought their bad habits with them and refuse to assimilate, in Argentina the newcomers culturally assimilated into the modern Argentine. Generally speaking, a confident, lively, and fun-loving sort who, like the Europe of old, work to live, not the other way around.
Returning to the beginning of this letter, Argentina is a “café society,” where people love sharing ideas over leisurely lunches and late dinners. They enjoy life a lot, even when saddled with a poor government such as the one we’ve just seen the back of.
There is a reason that, out of all the places in the world I really enjoy, Argentina has filled that spot for many years now.
There are other reasons I’ll get back to in a moment but first, back to the cognitive dissonance.
A World Gone Mad
Even a cursory glance at the headlines should give any thinking person pause.
While I consider myself an optimist over the long run, I am considerably less so over the short-to-intermediate period.
Of course, these things are all relative and, in many cases, based on geography.
Living in Aspen, provided you can afford it, would give you an entirely different perspective than what you’d have from living in the ’hood of Chicago or Detroit.
In Aspen, your biggest challenge of the day might be deciding which upscale hash house to dine at. By contrast, in Chicago or Detroit that challenge might be getting to the grocery store and back in one piece.
Likewise, living in Argentina, especially as an expat with a few bucks in your jeans, life runs to the idyllic with a rare cultural harmony.
In Europe, on the other hand, the citizenry is under siege from a politically contrived invasion from the Middle East and Africa.
Life(style) & Liberty
In Argentina, people enjoy an extremely high quality of life thanks, in no small part, to low prices and the excellent quality of the food (and wine, for that matter…) which is among the best in the world.
This is especially true in a small town such as that of Cafayate, where a group I am part of has built a truly exceptional lifestyle community. In Cafayate, most of what you eat comes from family farms in the valley or just beyond.
Back in the “first world” the opposite is true, with high prices and increasingly low-quality produce and meat, as often as not coming from industrial-scale operations.
Then there is the steadily encroaching police state in the United States and, increasingly, in Europe. In these places, people are actively afraid of the militarized police.
Here in Argentina, outside of some of the more densely populated barrios in Buenos Aires, the crime rate is among the lowest in the world.
In the scenic Northwest where La Estancia de Cafayate is located, crime is pretty much non-existent.
In the U.S., a dangerous meme has arisen that the military and police should be treated like a special class.
Here, as blowback to the excesses of the military government 30 years back, the police and military are reviled or simply ignored by the public, relegated to a far more appropriate role as night watchmen.
A Refreshing Lack of Political Correctness
Sometimes I can’t believe the articles people email me from the U.S. can be true, but they are.
For example, about how one public figure or another has their career ruined for the ginned-up “offense” of speaking their mind about a politically sensitive topic.
There is even talk about arresting people who doubt the bad science behind global warming. And a truly perverse culture has grown up around universities where even the slightest perceived slight, a “microaggression,” of a real or fabricated minority sets off a firestorm.
I’m happy to report that, so far, political correctness has gained almost no foothold here. I always find it amusing that people still call each other by nicknames such as gordo (fatty), negro (dark-skinned), flaca (skinny), pelado (baldy), and so forth. And no one gets offended in the slightest.
Just as it should be.
But I fear things in the degraded democracies are only going to get worse.
Fortunately, Argentina saw the light and got rid of its version of Hillary Clinton and, hopefully, won’t make that mistake again for many years to come.
It Gets Worse
Nobody would deny that there is the equivalent of a terrorist Olympics under way. No one can know where these malcontents are going to strike next, or how.
But you know the next attack is coming, and that they will continue to come, probably for decades.
Of course, the odds of you or anyone you know dying from a terrorist attack are approximately the same as hitting your head after slipping on a toad.
The real danger is from the inevitable overreaction of the Deep State, the thick layer of bureaucracy now running the world, to these attacks.
Imagine the immediate consequences of a large bomb going off in a major seaport? Or a successful drone attack on some high-value target? Or, or…
If the attack is serious enough, and sooner or later it will be, legions of security apparatchiks would slam the borders shut before your morning coffee hit the counter. Remember the empty skies after 9/11?
Personally, I just don’t want to live in that world. And, so, I don’t.
A Different Path to a Better Life
As you are probably aware, I have traveled a lot over the course of my life. And I continue to travel even though the experience of transiting airports is increasingly degrading.
Yet I do so for a few reasons.
First and foremost, I am naturally curious and learned long ago the only way to know the truth of something is to kick the tires on it yourself.
That applies to a potential gold mine, real estate investment, or even just the opportunity to upgrade your lifestyle.
On that latter point, I am here to tell you that having searched the world comprehensively, Argentina wins hands-down for lifestyle.
It was great even with the now-departed Presidenta in charge but, with her gone, it is about to go to an entirely different level.
Which brings me to a unique opportunity to challenge your worldview and maybe even reboot your life.
Specifically, I would like to personally invite you to join me and a group of friends and guests to spend a week together enjoying the community and amenities at La Estancia de Cafayate in Salta Province, Argentina.
As you would expect, during all my travels I always kept one and sometimes both eyes peeled for a place outside the U.S. where I would want to spend serious time.
When I discovered Cafayate, I knew I had found the perfect place.
I was already well-acquainted with Argentina at the time but, in addition to the cultural benefits of the country as a whole, Cafayate has what may be some of the best weather in the world.
There is a saying that any climate ideal for growing grapevines is ideal for people to live. An adage supported by the demand for property in places like Napa Valley and the south of France.
The valley in which the quaint pueblo of Cafayate sits is now covered in a sea of grapevines, as growers from around the world and from other parts of Argentina—especially Mendoza—have set off something of a land rush.
The up-and-coming wine industry in the valley—now the second-most-important wine growing area in Argentina—combined with the vibrant tourism industry have made Cafayate a singularly successful town.
As you’ll discover during your visit, this success has attracted a number of excellent restaurants and hotels, including the stunning Piattelli Bodega (owned by a friend from Minnesota) and the elegant Grace Hotel located right on the property at La Estancia.
Filling in the Gaps
Even so, given the small-town nature of the place, my partners and I decided that we needed to fill in the gaps with the sort of amenities required to live life to its fullest.
Which is why, in La Estancia, you’ll find…
- A world-class golf course designed by Bob Cupp, for many years the lead designer of Jack Nicklaus’s golf course design firm.
- A world-class athletic club, definitely the best in Argentina and one of the best on the continent. Big claim, I know, but as you’ll see when you get here, also completely accurate.
- Luxurious spa facilities complete with saunas, steam baths, whirlpools, masseuses and a variety of treatments. The cost of a one-hour massage? About $30, so you can treat yourself to one on a regular basis.
- A separate dedicated yoga room with regular classes.
- Extensive vineyards on property, enough to produce over 200,000 bottles of wine each year.
- A top-of-the-line resistance pool with two lanes.
- A Jack Zehren-designed clubhouse with an excellent restaurant.
- Equestrian facilities with gaited Peruanos de Paso, Criollos, and thoroughbreds available. Over 20 kilometers of trails crisscross the 1,250-acre property.
- A full polo field and practice field providing a rare opportunity for you—or your kids or grandkids—to learn to play this great sport at very low cost.
- Three professional tennis courts.
- A bocce court.
- An indoor professional squash court.
- And, as mentioned a moment ago, the Grace Hotel and Residential Villas, complete with gourmet restaurant and separate cigar bar.
Importantly, La Estancia sports a robust international community with over 260 property owners from 33 countries.
Though the owners come from every walk of life, they share a love of the freedom that life in this valley has to offer.
And they tend to be like-minded when it comes to matters of politics and economics—the less of the former, the more robust the latter—and so the sorts of political arguments that are a fairly regular occurrence back in the polarized U.S. rarely come up.
Thanks to this compatible world view, one of the most frequently commented-on aspects of visiting La Estancia is how quickly people form fast friendships.
So, despite living in a secluded corner of the globe, a place far from the madding (and just plain mad) crowds, you are surrounded by the best things in life—and philosophically sound neighbors you can share them with.
Getting Back in Touch with Life
Despite the many conveniences, or maybe because of those conveniences, for many, the “modern” world has become homogenized, predictable, and largely devoid of life-affirming challenges.
One of the distinct advantages of Cafayate’s secluded location is that the culture remains entirely authentic, where the sight of gauchos in full regalia riding down the street is not at all unusual.
No matter whether you visit as a tourist or later decide to spend part of every year here along with other residents, the experience of immersing yourself in a different culture means new experiences await around almost every corner.
“Do you have to speak Spanish to live there?” is a frequent question one hears. While you could get by just fine without speaking Spanish, learning a new language later in life is a great way to keep the mind sharp. And it’s surprising how much you can quickly pick up with a little help from your friends.
And the lifestyle is very active. In addition to walking more, the ready access to the extensive facilities of the athletic club and spa, as well as the golf course and hiking, biking, and horse riding offer abundant opportunities to get off the couch.
The more active lifestyle and the high-quality fresh food have a noticeable rejuvenating effect. Weight drops off, muscle tone quickly improves and, in no time at all, you’ll feel years and maybe decades younger.
Then there’s the direct health benefits of stepping away from the endemic presence of electronic media that has become a hallmark of everyday life “back in the world.” Entire days go by without hearing the news and you won’t miss it at all.
In fact, once you’re weaned from the constant blare of media, you quickly realize that 98% of what is presented as “news” is little more than fearmongering pabulum for the masses.
Instead, you’ll find yourself focusing on more relevant matters, such as what time to head over to the athletic club or which café to dine at.
But, as with all such things, the only way to truly understand what's going on in Argentina, and the huge step up in lifestyle here in Cafayate, is to visit.
And you are invited to do just that.
Much of the celebration focuses on the wine that is such an integral part of Cafayate’s culture.
Participants will spend time at local bodegas, receive hands-on lessons in winemaking, and, of course, taste a lot of wine!
Naturally, the event includes a number of memorable social events, including a morning coffee hosted by yours truly; a special “Al Fresco” lunch and wine tasting; a special wine tasting at the beautiful new Piatelli Bodega; an Andean-style farewell dinner and much more.
In keeping with the sporting aspects of the community, you’ll also find abundant time to enjoy golf on the world-class Bob Cupp-designed course.
And don’t forget to bring your exercise gear and swimming togs, as you’ll have complete access to the athletic club and spa at La Estancia de Cafayate.
Then there’s horseback riding, guided treks to local sites, leisurely walks, mountain biking, and more.
Then, at the end of a long day of activities, head back to the spa for an invigorating massage.
But most importantly, it offers a unique opportunity to spend leisurely time sharing ideas—and a glass or two of wine—at the clubhouse or on the picturesque town plaza with like-minded people from around the world.
Finally, for those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be a welcomed respite from the cold weather, as the seasons are reversed.
It will be an experience you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life and, who knows, may even set you on the path for a new and fully realized life as a member of the community here.
So be sure to mark the dates: March 14–19.
To reserve your space, please send an email to JoinNick@LaEst.com.
Because of the intimate nature of these events, participation is limited so you’ll want to register ASAP. Let them know you are an International Man reader for priority.
If you are interested, please reserve your space right away. By email you’ll receive more details including an introduction to La Estancia’s concierge who will assist you in making your travel and hotel arrangements.
On the topic of hotels, rooms at the Grace Hotel always sell out quickly… another reason to register right away.
You probably have some questions. In which case, drop an email at JoinNick@LaEst.com and they’ll help you get things sorted.
I am not sure what else you might be doing with yourself, but I sincerely doubt it will be as interesting or invigorating—and maybe life-changing—as joining me in Cafayate.
Hope to see you then.