Aspen welcomes Bariloche, Argentina, to sister-city family |

Aspen welcomes Bariloche, Argentina, to sister-city family

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen is proud to announce an addition to the “family.”

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, will become Aspen’s sixth sister city today with the signing of an official “sisterhood” proclamation. The signing ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. tonight in the Maroon Bells Room of the St. Regis Hotel.

With this signing, Bariloche will join the ranks of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Davos, Switzerland; Chamonix, France; Queenstown, New Zealand; and Shimukappu, Japan, as an Aspen Sister City.

“Bariloche Week,” as the Aspen City Council has dubbed the five-day celebration of the signing, is an honor nearly two years in the making. The cities first agreed to explore the sister-cities idea in 2000, when a group of Argentine tourists visited the Rockies.

The pairing seemed like a natural one. Bariloche, like Aspen, is known primarily as a ski area, but has developed a reputation for a summer music festival and superb fishing opportunities.

The groups sealed their relationship with frequent visits, including two student exchanges. Bariloche’s medical community even received a boost late last year when Aspen Valley Hospital and shipping company FedEx partnered to donate a truck full of necessary supplies.

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The deal was sealed this week with the arrival of nearly a dozen Bariloche delegates, including Mayor Alberto Icare. The group landed at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport on Monday to begin a full week of friendship events.

The Barliloche delegation spent most of Tuesday on an official tour of Aspen, taking in the city’s major landmarks and, unfortunately, unpredictable weather. Though the group was surprised to see sun, snow and rain in a single day, they were quick to share an old Argentine saying that best describes an unexpected event.

“The old lady is getting married,” Bariloche delegate Reni Ezquerra quipped to her tour guides.

The Bariloche group and its Aspen hosts exchanged a few platitudes during Tuesday’s tour. (The Argentineans have already adopted one term as their own – they now request “pit stops” instead of bathroom breaks.) They also exchanged ideas on childcare, education and recreation during stops at Aspen’s schools, daycare centers and, of course, the brand-new Aspen Recreation Center.

“Muy mucho- it’s too much,” Ezquerra exclaimed during her tour of the ARC.

Ezquerra, an employee of a Challenge Aspen-like organization at Bariloche’s ski area, will join the Argentine delegation tonight for the signing of the official sister-city proclamation. The group will be on hand for the rest of the week performing official sister-city duties – namely, the promoting of international tourism. Representatives of Argentina’s tourism office have joined the Bariloche delegation to host a number of travel-related forums throughout the week.

Other “Bariloche Week” highlights include Aspen Mountain ski day on Thursday, which will conclude with “Argentina Night” at Jimmy’s Restaurant. The week concludes Friday afternoon, with the departure of the Bariloche delegation.

Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is