Sunday, March 13, 2011

Malbec Country

Wow...I need to do this whole blog thing a little more often as I think it is easier to remember the little things that make the trip unique. Well, I will attempt to vomit the Mendoza encounter onto this keyboard but I am sure there are things I will forget and have to share later. The bus ride to Mendoza was pretty uneventful. I left Bariloche in the afternoon and slept most of the way. I was exausted after our asado escapade. I arrived in Mendoza in the morning and because I slept the whole time, I didnt read up on the town so it took me about a half hour to get orientaded once there. I eventually found my way towards the city center. While walking through the streets, people were selling bootlegged DVDs for a dollar, where each DVD had 5 different movies, but the 5 films usually followed a theme such as Jim Carrey, Black Comedy, Rocky, etc. After wandering for a while I found a really nice hostal, settled in and went to the commom area. Here I met a bunch of guys who had just returned from summiting Cerro Aconcagua, located right outside of Mendoza and the highest peak in the Americas which sits at 22,841 ft or 6,962 meters. I have begun to think about mountain hightes and distances in metric form, which is a system that makes so much more sense logically. Another discussion for another time but if you cant sleep you can call Joel and I am sure he would be happy enlighten. As I understand it, the summit of Aconcogua is not necessarly the most difficult to reach but because it is one of the Seven Summits, it costs around $4,000 USD for the entire trip. It was cool though because I got to hear some unique adventure stories. There was an older english man who was a Doctor and he told us the story of his experiences as an expedition doc. Apparently right after passing his medical exams this guy was hired on as an expedition doctor, so basically they paid him to climb a mountain, (not a bad gig) but he informed us that he had no idea what he was doing and was lucky nothing went wrong because he wouldnt have been much help. He told the story better but it was amusing.
Complete transition but in Mendoza during this time of the year, all of the local farms are preparing for the harvest of grapes, which will then be used to make wine. Mendoza is famous for being the wine capital or Napa Valley of South America, if you will. In preperation for the harvest, Mendoza throws a week long party or wine festival. I was there at the very beggining of this escapade and man... do these people love wine. In Mendoza, Plaza Independencia is a huge central plaza surrounded by four other smaller plazas, which form something similar to what a five looks like on a dice. The first night began by meeting an German guy by the name of Kamil and venturing out to the festivities. From the hostal it was a 30 second walk to the Plaza Independencia, where at this time the stage lit the night time sky with colorful lights while traditional music was being danced to by many traditionally dressed persons on stage. This night the Wine Queen of the Mendoza reason was announced. You see, every region who produces wine chooses a woman to represent them as their Queen and at the end of the wine fest, a single woman is choosen as the Wine Queen of Argentina for that year based not only on here beauty but the quality of the wine from that region as well. We watched this for a while before moving on as it was a little hard to see. The next step was the wine tasting festival. Some of you may be familiar with Brewfest in Fort Collins, and this was basically the same but only with wine. We payed 30 pesos each and got one glass and were sent down a multi block array of different vineyards supplying tastes of their wines. We got 6 tickets to fill our small glasses 6 different times. We met some others and tasted many a wines. The kiosks began to close and I still had one ticket. There was a rush to find a final place to exchange my ticket and the result of this rush gifted me with a crappy sweet wine to end the night...oh well. A moment or two later a firework show began which was pretty impressive. Who doesnt like fireworks?? The displays termination sent us back to the hostel to relax and go to bed.
Previously in the day, the German sisters had wrote me and told me that their plans had changed and they were coming to Mendoza so I looked forward to their arrival the following morning. The girls arrived during breakfast with Kamil and we decided to take it easy and head to the Parque San Martin. This park claims to be bigger and better than Central Park and I would be surprised if it w├ísnt true. The park had a huge lake where jet skies raced against eachothers times, a pool which sat lakeside, many a restaurants, a mini mountain from where one could view the whole park, and much more. This was a great day. On the way there, the world shrunk once again as on a street corner we ran into Jeff and Brittany the couple who I hiked with on the first day of my trek in Bariloce. Enjoyed eachothers company on the way to the park and decided to try to meet up later. The rest of the day consisted of philisophical talks, consumption of a couple beers, culture comparisons (apparently not every German loves David Hasselhof music), and much more. In a joking fassion we disscussed begginng a commune where no laws exist but neither does opression, segregation, inequality, or any of the -isms. All you need is love. Around the end of the afternoon we returned to the hostel, napped (essential in Argentina) ate dinner, hung out and went out for the night. Another cool thing about Mendoza is that they are serious about competition for business. So serious that they have all like services in same place so we headed to the street with more than 30 bars. It was a good night and during a conversation with a guy from Chile I think I found out that Carmelo Anthony was finally traded. It was Chilean spanish and they speak rediculously fast so maybe someone can inform me of what really happened here. As tradition in Argentina, we returned to the hostal no earlier than 6 30 am. The following day consisted of mozying around, booking our Bikes and Wine tour for the following day, napping, and of coarse a Argentinian Punk Rock Festival to top off the night. My buddy Kamil is a punk rock guy so this is how we found ourselves in this position. The first bands sucked, the German sisters headed back to the hostal and me and Kamil stayed and were ucky as there were some good bands after, my favorite the ska band as I love any band with a brass section. After a fight in the street and the police shutting down the party, we headed back to rest before waking to ride bikes and taste wine all day.
The following morning we said goodbye to Kamil as he informed us that he would be leaving that day. We boarded the van to Maipu, the little city right outside of Mendoza where the majority of the vineyards were located. On the bus we met some others and shared the day with them riding to many different vineyards, chocolaterias, and even an olive oil factory. The name of my favorite wine of the day is escaping me right now but it was good, so take my word for it. However, after all of this wine tasting I remain loyal to beer as my true love. I havent had a really good beer in a while which makes me appreciate being spoiled back in good ol´Fort Collins. On a side note, I have met a few from all over the US who admire the FoCo lifestyle from a far while acknowledging the fact that Boulder is just the place where rich families send their kids so they can party, waste money, smoke weed, and pretend to be hippies for four to however many years it takes to either run out of money or actually graduate. Haha, just kidding but the Fort Collins reputation made me proud so if these comments offend you then obviously you havent lived in the Fort. Down from my soapbox I return to the subject of wine tasting/bike riding and will conclude with the fact that a body can only take so much wine before it wears you down. We returned to the hostal to find Kamil still there. He went to the bus station and got a ticket for the following morning to Bolivia. I decided that in order to save time and money that I would do the same and move on the following day to Bolivia, a day behind him but meet him in Uyuni to check out the Salt Flats sometime in the near future. We hungout, went to bed and the following day we once again said goodbye to Kamil, and went about organizing our coming ventures. The girls were heading to Chile and me to Bolivia. I meant to Blog on this day but my extraordinary ability to procrastonate shined through so here I am two weeks later...Sorry Mom, I love you. The day passed, sleep came and went, departing words were once again exchanged and I headed on my way to Bolivia. I would love to begin to tell you about Bolivia but the differences between this country and Argentina are so colossal that it would belittle the experince to conjoin these episodes. Plus, I hate sitting in front of a computer for this long while I can hear the world pass by from the street outside. With this in mind, sorry if this is not proporly proof read and I fail to make any sense at all. I sit here in Bolivia for two weeks now with much to tell and will soon, but not until I arrive in La Paz, the highest capital in the world two mornings from now.

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