Argentina: New Places, Old Faces
I’ve been in the city of Mendoza now for over a week and will be here a few more days. This was the chosen meeting place for Lani and I to reconnect and in the weeks since we parted ways, we’ve added to people to the rendezvous. Lani’s sister Katie has joined us and our good pal from Denver (and fellow Iowan) Laurie is also here. I was the first to arrive and it was perfect timing to find a place to settle in for awhile because I hit a bit of a brick wall. It all started when I walked into Carrefour and nearly started crying because I missed Target – yes Target. I was tired of the abundance of daily traveler decisions and the lack of routine. I missed my Real Simple magazine and cooking dinner with my own kitchen supplies. I missed my chai tea in the mornings and walks through Cap Hill. As was inevitable, I was suffering from traveler`s fatigue and needed a good dose of doing a whole lot of nothing for a few days. Mendoza turned out to be the right place for that! I even let myself stoop so low as to go to Ruby Tuesday`s and I indulged and loved every bite of my ranch doused food!!
The good thing about arriving when I did is that I had 3 sets of traveler friends in town for the first part of my stay. So I spent the first few days being the social butterfly that I tend to be, which felt great! I went to a wine and cheese tasting function at a nearby bodega. I spent a day at the enormous central park pretending to be a Mendocino. There was a big soccer game going on between La Boca from Buenos Aires and the team from Mendoza. My friends told me about 8 times what the team name was, but I kept forget and decided to stop asking for fear of being lynched. Not knowing a thing about soccer is a health hazard in these parts. But it was feel the spirit of the game for a while and then be able to escape! Mendoza has a serious case of the siesta. Everything closes for several hours between 1 and 5 pm and it’s slightly annoying because those are the times when I’m out and about wanting to do things. But it makes it easy to be lazy! Mendocinos and visitors alike also love their asados. Nearly every night at my hostel someone was collecting money and lighting up the BBQ pit for a nightly feast. My first hostel had a rooftop patio for these BBQ´s and I spent a few nights up there hanging out and eating the goodies.
One day I signed up to go on the Alta Montaña excursion with my Spanish buddies. When we were picked up the following morning, we realized that none of us actually knew what the Alta Montaña excursion really was. I guess we all thought that the rest of us knew what we were doing. It turned out to be a lot of time in the car, but was still worth the drive. We went to several spots on the San Martin trail (a conquistador of some sort I guess) and the highlight was the Puente del Inca (see pics), which is a natural bridge formed by sulpher hot springs. We also had a good view of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas and one which others take 21 days to climb. I was satisfied with the drive-by approach. The rest of the day was just spent admiring the views from the dramatic road filled with gorges and colorful rocky peaks. We went as far as the border town (with Chile) of Las Cuervas before turning around and heading back to Mendoza. There are a lot of people I’ve met down here who say they don’t speak English, but in actuality, nearly everyone knows quite a bit due to hollywood and music. The Spaniards I’d been with for a week spoke very little….but they apparently play some war video game because they’d occasionaly come out with a “fire in the hole” or “cover me, I’m going in”. Or, I’ll say one word in english and they can turn it into a song they know. I find it completely hilarious. I suppose to a certain extent this works for English-speakers too, but since we don’t typically watch movies in other languages, it’s not as common. Anyway, that’s just a random side note on some of the cheap entertainment I experience down here.
So now that all 4 of us girls are all here, we are going to explore the area a bit more before heading north towards Bolivia.