Leaving BA was now straight forward and we traveled at night again to make the bus ride more bearable. Our destination, Mendoza, is about 1100 KM west from BA and the over-night bus,
The landscape along the way is nothing to write about. Flat expanses left and right where trees have been planted for centuries to keep the soil in place. Former grass lands are now stabilized by mostly poplar, birch or pine trees. Not that it is woodsy but the endless flat terrain is now broken by those tree plantings. Still the landscape is nothing but a huge flat expanse, the Pampas.
We arrived in Mendoza around 9 AM on Friday morning and without difficulty the taxi took us to our already reserved Hostel Damajuana about ten minutes away. But at check in ….
“We do not have a room!” she said.
I am still sleepy, not comprehending the lady.
We have a reservation! See our slip of paper from the Travel Agent?
“Sorry, we booked the room to someone else; we do not have a room available!”
Well, I woke up quickly, the monotony of the trip, the landscape, the lack of sleep evaporated. What do you mean you gave our room away to someone else? This is not funny! A few phone calls to the owner of the Hostel and checking their computer system revealed that indeed, a new employee of the hostel made a mistake and gave ‘our’ room away. What to do? With some extra phone calls made we were given a room in the Hostel’s sister operation, just two long blocks down the street.
The ‘new’ hostel, Ítaka, is a backpackers place.
We stuffed our bags into the room and took a long walk to explore the town center of Mendoza. With a small city map as our guide, we walked to the main plaza and confirmed what we expected. Nice city! The city Plaza was filled with trees and little kids playing along its walks and blanket merchants, offering trinket jewelry nobody needs or even wants, from their blankets on the sidewalk. A small army of leaf cutting ants was our entertainment for awhile.
We walked for close to 4 hours and were tired so returned to the hostel for a siesta.
There is nothing to report from Mendoza, only that it is a city. Sure it has small drainage ditches, acéquias,
As an apology for ‘their’ freely admitted mistake, the Hostel owner gave us free lunches and dinners for the two days we were booked. A nice touch, yet those folks do not understand how ‘older’ people like their peace and quiet. Food is not the leading indicator of a ‘nice’ place. We would have much preferred the original place, especially since our first ‘free’ food event was a BBQ that evening in the court yard of the hostel Damajuana, our original hostel. Argentina eats late. So the BBQ was scheduled to begin at 10 PM and actually started at 10.30 PM or so, we are on Argentina time, remember that. In the court yard of the Hostel Damajuana, next to their small pool, a make-shift setting of assorted chairs and tables was set up. Using some long-staying clients as helpers, the Hostel put on a traditional Parrilla.
At our table we had a couple from Argentina, he was from Tierra del Fuego, she from Mendoza. A single Chinese man from Hong Kong but living in California, two women from Holland, a single woman from Oregon and a hitchhiker from Australia rounded out our group. The languages flowed back and forth, English being the most prevalent at the table but Spanish was tried and used, too.
The menu was meat.
Carol and I were the oldest people at this affair by far. In fact the age difference was driven home to me after the BBQ when we left the backyard. We stepped out of the sheltered environs of the Hostel Damajuana just after midnight, tired and wanting to sleep, but the street had converted itself into a party street. I could not believe how many people were about, eating, drinking, talking and looking for a mate, etc. non-stop. For block after block, the street was full of young people having a good time.
Mendoza is for the young, Mendoza is a party town; especially on a Friday night in the summer.
Even the advertised activities are for the young. I cannot see myself rappelling down cliffs or mountain climbing any longer. Adventure tours are offered in the mountains, daylong horseback rides stretching into weeks, if you want to do that, can be had.
Anyone want to raft on white water? Go Sky Diving?
I learned many years ago that my butt cannot take a day long ride in the saddle. I learned also that mountain climbing is very difficult; I got stuck on a wall once as a youngster trying to climb some rocks. I learned that white water rafting or kayaking is hard work. I do know my limits now.
We had booked a wine tour for Saturday afternoon and drifted along in the morning biding our time. I felt no interest in visiting more of the busy streets, just to look into shop windows. The weather, closer to 100 F, with no wind, did not help me to feel exuberant about daring to walk again. We zoned out in the backyard, listening to progressive music of 2012, with its repeating phrasing only a 20 year old can love.
Our tour began with the news that nobody spoke English. Great! Yes, of course we booked the wine tour in English but something along the way went wrong. So, perched among the folks in the bus, Carol and I listened to a descriptive tour, given by a jovial man with a beard, all in good Argentinean Spanish. I understood 20% of it, if that. Ok, at each actual visit to the wineries we had a guide that spoke Spanish-English but I felt we got a token tour in English even though we paid full price.
The first winery we visited, Baudron, was an antique affair,
The second stop on the tour was at an olive processing plant. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pressed on location was their specialty. It was an education since I had never before seen how olive oil was made. Our guide was thorough, explaining in English the selection of perfect actual olives as the main factor for getting good olive oil.
After crushing the fruit, after stacking the pulp into presses with metal filters in between each layer, and using a hydraulic press, the fluids were pressed out of the pulp and then pumped into successive holding tanks.
I liked this tour, it added something new to my knowledge base, and I just wished it had been in better English. The girl tried but her accent was heavy and made it difficult to understand.
The last winery visit for the tour was Pasrai, an organic wine maker.
Ok, Mendoza is a wine city. I am sure Argentina makes great wines. I just should not have taken any regular, tourist tour. I know too little about wines to be a good judge of wines. All around Mendoza are wineries, lots and lots of them.
Mendoza is for young people, for 20-somethings, for young and fit folks. I felt out of place in Mendoza. I have seen it, but I am moving on to Bariloche next. I am going South, again by bus, again at night.
See you in San Carlos de Bariloche!