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La Estancia Cafayate

Interview with Dr. Lee Vliet

Feb 4, 2013

Big Plans for Small Life in Cafayate

Q:  What brought you to this beautiful part of the world and La Estancia de Cafayate?

We have been following Doug Casey’s writings for many years, and were intrigued with the location and rationale for his development in Argentina.  We had spent time in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego but had never toured Northern Argentina.  The more we saw of the photos, the more we realized Cafayate and surrounding area is strikingly similar to the stunning “red rock” country of Sedona AZ, Zion, UT and the mountains of Tucson – all rolled into one!  As things are changing in the USA with my individualized practice of medicine and the US economy, we have been researching places to take my medical consulting and have a home and business outside of the US in addition to my medical practice in the US.  After exploring options in Mexico, Central America and Europe, we realized we simply must get back to Argentina to see La Estancia and Cafayate as well as participate in the Casey Research conference with distinguished experts who could bring a global perspective to the issues that concern us.

Q:  How did this work out for you?

Amazingly well!  The Casey Research conference discussions were outstanding for the formal presentations,  plus we had lots of time to interact personally with the speakers for further discussion.  We really came primarily for the conference, since we were not really interested in buying property in Argentina under the current government policies.  But as you know, we were swept away by the stunning beauty of the entire Calchaqui Valley, beginning with the incredibly awe-inspiring drive from Salta to Cafayate and then enjoying the ambience and friendly people of the town of Cafayate, before discovering the beauty and impeccable amenities of La Estancia!  All of came together to provide what we had been searching for in an overseas home…. people of similar general interests, the majesty of the mountains and wide sweep of open sky, the softness of the air, the helpful staff, interesting and vibrant owners, the ability to safely walk wherever we wanted to go, a wide variety of physical activities available, the natural resources and productive farms and vineyards.  Oh, and the WINE!  We had never experienced such outstanding white wine as we had with La Estancia’s own Torrontes!  Not to mention, the outstanding La Estancia Malbec too.  We became buyers, not just lookers and are now working on our house plans!

What is it about the community that attracted you?

Contrary to Ex-Pat communities and developments in several other countries we had researched, the infra-structure at La Estancia was built to a quality standard better than we expected, beautifully designed, with homes were already built and the entire development debt-free.  The combination of the majestic, rugged mountains all around combined with the wide open spaces and restful, vibrant green of the vineyards stirred our souls in a way that made us feel “We have come home.” We loved the small town of Cafayate.  It reminded us of how Tucson felt to us over 30 years ago – friendly, helpful people enjoying life and each other and the wonderful outdoor spaces.  Lots of interesting local restaurants, wonderful locally grown food, and even two ice cream shops. Any town this size that will support two has got to be a good place! Cafayate felt very comfortable and welcoming to us as foreigners, even though our Spanish is limited to a few words.

Q:  You are a physician, how do you feel about the medical care available in Cafayate?

That was certainly a concern of mine, both as a physician, and as a patient who has had four major back and cervical spine surgeries that could have led to paralysis if not properly diagnosed and treated promptly.  I asked Fernando Torres, the Resort Manager, to arrange a tour of the local hospital and a meeting with local physicians so that I could assess what services and capabilities they had available.  He promptly set this up for me, and I invited two other physicians (an American cardiologist and his wife, a Developmental Pediatrician) to go with us.

From our various specialty perspectives, we were very favorably impressed with both Dr. Vasvari, the head of Adult Medicine, and the facilities and capabilities of the hospital.  We found the hospital is well equipped to handle the most common medical emergencies, orthopedic traumas, cardiac or stroke emergencies, and the common infectious illnesses.  For more serious injuries or medical problems, they have the ability to stabilize patients and then transport them to the major medical centers in Salta via either medical ambulance helicopters during daylight hours, or via well-equipped ambulances via road at night.  Salta is a large city with more extensive facilities and all the major specialists. The hospital was neat and clean, well-equipped, and the physicians we met seemed knowledgeable, professionally capable and pleasant.  It was reassuring and I felt we would probably have more personalized care here than many big medical centers in the US now provide.  The three of us physicians have written a review and posted photos at my website, under Medical Services, Cafayate Argentina.

Q:  Now what?  What is your vision as you think about relocating your medical consulting and your home to Cafayate and La Estancia?  

My medical practice in the US focuses on Preventive and Climacteric Medicine, working with men and women with problems related to endocrine aging from puberty to menopause or andropause and beyond.  I already do Second Opinion consults from people in many different countries and my consumer health books have been translated into other languages, so we are in the process of restructuring my medical consulting, teaching and writing to be based overseas.  Today’s technology, including Skype, makes it possible to spend more time in Cafayate and still do the professional work I love.  I have also proposed added services for LEC to assist homeowners and guests to find the most appropriate medical resources for their needs, to interpret medical tests and recommendations, and to serve as a liaison or “medical concierge” when people need help navigating the local medical care facilities if problems arise, and to design an annual health screening similar to the one I helped design for Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson.  We are in discussion about how to implement my ideas to provide added value to homeowners.  In the meantime, we are working on our house plans, and making arrangements to be there in March for the owners meeting and the Harvest event.  We can’t wait.  Save some Torrontes for us!

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