[Mendoza V] December 15, 2011: Crossing the Andes

After a final hostel breakfast, we bid farewell to the sweet hostel dog Kata, and walked to the bus terminal. All three of us were strategically covered in flea and mosquito bites, and my shoulders had gotten very sunburned (which usually doesn’t happen to me), so my giant heavy backpack suddenly seemed like a less amazing idea.

We arrived at the terminal and boarded our bus. Once again, we were on a double-decker, but this time, we had booked the Very Best Seats ever. We had the front seats on the bus’s second level, so we had a normal bus window on our side, and a giant, unobstructed picture window in front of us. The Andes Mountains unfolded before us.

Best seat ever. I loved it so.

Since we were traveling during the day, the bus-people played a movie on a tiny television screen above our heads: The Hangover, dubbed in Spanish with English subtitles. Read More

[Mendoza IV] December 14, 2011: A Bicycle Built for Wine

Our last full day in Mendoza. Once again, we woke early, this time for a bicycle wine tour with Wine Tour Maipú Aventuras. We were picked up by a van, which took us to a dusty lot beside an old bodega. We met with our tour guides: a husband and wife, who took turns shepherding us between destinations.

It is indicative of the general linguistic atmosphere of this trip that I’ve started swearing, not in Spanish or even English, but in German. Of course, I know only the one word: Scheiße!

Our first stop was the Museo Nacional del Vino y la Vendimia (National Wine Museum). It is a large, ornate Italian villa, which belonged to one of the two immigrants who founded the winery “La Colina de Oro” in 1898. It sported large windows, two of which were shaped like keyholes, and there were flower motifs scattered throughout the decor. Read More

[Mendoza III] December 13, 2011: Rafting and Ziplining

We awoke early for our day of adventures. After a pleasant, hostel-provided breakfast, we settled down near the front door to wait for our tour van. On the hostel television, there was a Spanish-dubbed documentary about Mormon polygamists in Utah, for a morning dose of incongruity. The van arrived an hour and a half after we expected, but this turned out to be because the booking agency told us the wrong time. Once we were in the hands of the actual tour providers, everything went smoothly.

The company that provided our day of adventures was Argentina Rafting (enthusiastically recommended). We piled into their van to head towards Potrerillos, gazing out the window at wrinkly mountains and a crystal-blue lake.

Lake from van window. What a color.

The tour headquarters was a log building with slanting roofs and a diagonal glass front. Read More

[Mendoza II] December 12, 2011: Ciudad de Mendoza

After the bus conductor turned off the lights, I squinched my semi-cama seatback all the way back, curled up with my iPod, and attempted to sleep. I was completely unsuccessful. Instead, I drowsily watched out the window as we started to climb through the Andes. I saw towering, dusky mountain-shapes slide by us, and kept thinking, “That seems too enormous to exist.” There was an almost-full moon above us, which allowed a rare amount of detail for the dead of night.

Around 2am, we passed the Argentinian border (well, 2am as far as I could tell: the country-change confused my cell phone’s clock so much that it started declaring it was already 10am). We sat idle for two hours inside the bus as we waited for our turn through customs. When it was finally our turn, everyone on the bus shook themselves awake, disembarked, and waited in a giant line to show our passports and forms.

The customs area was located under a giant dome, making the whole experience quite surreal. Giant buses drove around freely and breezes whipped through, so we felt as though we were outside under the night sky, and yet the only thing we could see when we looked up was a geometric latticework. Read More

[Mendoza I] December 11, 2011: A Argentina

To Argentina we go!

I treated the packing for Mendoza as a dry run for my Patagonia trip. When I travel south, I will do a lot of walking on uneven ground to reach my lodgings, so I want to avoid rolling suitcases. Instead, I hope to fit everything I need for the week inside a ginormous backpack and small shoulder-bag. Based on what I could fit in the backpack for Mendoza, I think this will also work for Patagonia.

Before I left, I had a video chat with some of my Californian family. One highlight: my favorite sister EP was telling me about how she felt when reading my blogs, and said, “What’s the difference between jealousy and envy? Well, I have the one that’s loving. And not murderous.” It made me giggle.

After packing up and dealing with a few last-minute work things, I headed to M.’s hostel, to meet her and R. before our 9:30pm bus departure. Read More