Tuesday, March 25, 2008

last minute getaway...

Spring is upon us and we all have the itch to getaway. If you’re looking for a last minute trip, but don’t want your average experience, visit Estancia Huechahue (pronounced way-cha-way) in Argentina. But you better hurry up- they close for the season in April.

A working cattle ranch in Patagonia, Huechahue is the perfect place to have that authentic gaucho experience. Four generations of family have owned this self-sufficient working cattle ranch and oasis in the middle of the Patagonian Steppe. This is not a place for tourists looking to ride for an hour- it’s a real, working cattle ranch, and you get to go along for the ride.

This rugged and wild retreat offers, obviously, horse back riding, fly fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, relaxing walks, bird watching, pool and tennis, and a Jack Nichlaus golf course just 45 minutes drive away. The best thing is to take part in an authentic cattle drive, offered just a few times a year when the seasons change and the herds need to be moved. (no riding experience necessary, but you will get more out of the trip if you’ve at least done a bit…)

We love it for the rugged glamour, the gauchos in their berets and leather chaps, the intense aroma of meat cooking over an open pit asado style, and the complete peace and quiet.

One more reason to love it, as if you needed another reason- Huechahue is the epitome of genuine sustainability. They not only have a water driven turbine, home grown produce, and orchards galore, but they also plants all their own trees to use for firewood for heating and hot water, making the Estancia essentially carbon neutral. They implement natural grazing habits for their herds, and never use pesticides or fertilizer for the produce. They even choose riding trails in areas with soil stability- talk about going the extra mile. Huechahue says their sustainability rests not just on a love for the land, but on years of necessity due to the remote location! Call it accidental eco-tourism.

Visit their website to learn more about what they offer, and be sure to pack all your Cerulean gear- strappy leather thongs, sumptuous scarves, big totebags and exotic jewelry perfect for the jaunt southward.

Monday, March 10, 2008

dreaming of mediterranean marketplaces...

Last summer a friend brought me the most amazing straw tote bag from Tunisia and I’m obsessed. While shopping the fish market in La Goulette, which overlooks the stunning Gulf of Tunis, a local woman urged my friend to pick up one of these bags to do her market shopping. All the local women carry them like grocery bags- full of fresh fish, spices, produce and colorful handmade crafts sold in the market. As the most glamorous grocery bag ever seen, my friend snatched one up for herself and one for moi and brought them stateside where we have used them non-stop for everything under the sun- gym bag, beach tote, grocery cart, and oversized shoulder bag.

As THE absolute most complimented bag in my wardrobe (I have to apologize to every luxurious leather thing in my closet, but it’s true!) I have been dying to get over to North Africa myself and bring some of these totes home for those not so lucky to go skipping around the Mediterranean Sea.

The fabulous news is that I recently found an importer of North African goods who is bringing me these bags directly. A British ex-pat with a degree from Cambridge and a passion for North African craft and rustic Berber style is bringing three of the most amazing baskets to the States for Cerulean. The baskets are ecologically and socially sound products that are stylish and functional, according to our guy, and they are handmade in the villages of Morocco from palm leaf and water reed.

They've just arrived, and you don’t want to miss it. Add summer flair to every outfit. These baskets are rustic and un-fussy, but very chic and a bit exotic. You can honestly tell everyone that yours came from a Mediterranean marketplace, too.