Two PHWFF participants attended a “trip of a lifetime” to The Carrileufu River Lodge in the famed Patagonia region of Argentina earlier this year, February 3-12. This trip was made possible by PHWFF Patriot Award winner Ken Asbury, CEO for CACI who has been a stalwart supporter of PHWFF for many years. In 2016, Ken bid and won a trip to The Carrileufu River Lodge at a charity auction. Instead of saving the trip for himself and a guest, he generously donated the trip to PHWFF so that two disabled veterans could attend the trip in his stead.
The two lucky and deserving individuals that attended this trip were Raymond Fleischer, a disabled US Army veteran, and Rolando Rodriguez, a disabled USMC veteran.
Here is Rolando Rodriguez’ account from the trip:
Ray Fleischer and I met up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, having flown in from two separate locations. We cannot thank David Folkerts and the staff from Swan Turismo enough for coordinating our travel and having us arrive within minutes of each other. From meeting up at the airport, through the remainder of our journey, our itinerary ran as planned. This included the transfers between airports, and numerous flights.
Carrileufu River Lodge, owner Pancho Panzer and his entire team were extremely gracious and professional hosts. From our arrival in Patagonia, to our departure, we were very well taken care of every step of the way. The lodging and accommodations were excellent, as were the gourmet meals prepared and provided throughout the day. A cleaning staff was on site that provided daily room cleaning and laundry service on site. Food and drinks were plentiful throughout our visit. We spent a total of six days of fishing from a boat, which consisted of 5 days of river fishing from drift boat, and one day of lake fishing. We landed numerous fish throughout the week that exceeded our every expectation. The lodge had flies and gear to lend us, but we had brought our own gear and also some flies that we tied ourselves during PHWFF meetings. We both caught some of the biggest fish on our own flies, especially on one of the toughest rivers to fish on. The fishing was exceptional.
The guide and staff that prepared our daily outings were excellent and extremely professional. They created a very relaxed atmosphere that made every day on the water a memorable experience. For the entire trip, from our pick up at the airport, to our drop off, fly fishing guide Gustavo Segovia, aka Negro, was there with us at every turn. Beyond his guiding and fishing, what mattered to Ray and I the most, was our interaction with Negro about PHWFF. While on the water or at the lodge, we spent countless hours discussing the program, the activities, the volunteers, and the participants. Negro was always interested in learning more about us and how we had made the journey to Patagonia. We developed an enduring friendship with him.
After a day of fishing, my fellow warrior (Raymond) and I would discuss our day of fishing, the day’s experiences, the scenery, and our time on the water. We also talked about our experiences in the military, and our time with PHWFF. The trip alone to Patagonia is an unforgettable experience. However, those fireside chats in the evening helped to reinforce for both of us, the recovery made possible through PHWFF. We cannot thank PHWFF enough for creating the conditions and the environment that allowed us to talk about hardship and to realize there is a way past difficult experiences.