Mendoza / Luján de Cuyo

Some photos of group/ art I forgot from the last entry in Cordoba shoe horned in here…. Carrafa museum and the law tribunales. Points for anyone who recognises the band depicted:

Next up was the bus overnight Mendoza. We had been super diligent in the station, splitting up and asking all the companies for the best prices. We were repeatedly told that all fares were the same regardless of company as the watched us scurrying around amusedly. Nonetheless, our efforts were rewarded, we did find two that were offering a promotional discount of about 25% and one of those provided food on the way as well as the ability to recline 10 degrees further – and so it was a winner. I didn’t get much sleep but I did get through a lot of Peaky Blinders and the food was pretty good! At the Mendoza terminal we realised the Airbnb we got was actually in a place further south called Lujan de Cuyo, plus side was it was nearer the Best bodegas (according to one article I had read…) but the down side was a long taxi or another bus plus short taxi.

We took the bus option which was an outright failure as we had no success getting a taxi from where the bus dropped us…. I got a number and phoned up a guy but he was busy picking his daughter up from school. So we decided to walk it, and in the heat eventually decided to split up into two pairs and attempt hitchhiking (for the first time in my life!). We got about halfway and were then picked up by a nice lady who had visited london and I think had a child there now. She was super helpful and gave me her number for any queries we had whilst in Mendoza. This was actually pretty handy as our hosts for the Airbnb didn’t really want to be bothered with us (uncharacteristic of the area!). The other two sacked walking off a bit earlier than us and had waited for a taxi. They eventually arrived and after a bit of wandering around with unhelpful house numbering (local:” la sistema es un lío!” = the system is a mess) and it really was not in any discernible order… we found our spot, and it was beautiful! A nice wood cabin in a gated community with a pool and trampoline! As well as a cute but pretty cowardly dog called Toby.

It was thanksgiving and so we prepared a nice feast. The cabin was not equipped with an oven (despite the advert…) but he hosts “kindly” let us use theirs… but I n their terms… so it had to be right now rather than later as we had asked. Oh well. We managed and it was awesome, each taking turns to say a piece about what we thankful for ahead of tucking in. The afternoon was passed chilling by the pool and then we headed out to a large beer garden type place with live music and had some coronas. I also received a good dose of Spanish chat with a couple of the locals sitting next to us, as well as another number should we need further assistance. People are really nice here! Then it was home via a taco bar, I had something similar to a taco and really nice called a gringa (white girl ‘white on the outside, but dark inside’… make of that what you will… !) and some wine and cards. Interesting Japanese game called Hanobi.

I spent the next morning Bodega planning, about two hours in bed researching, breakfast, then another two ringing around to try and get one to accept us late notice. The others probably got sick of hearing the same Spanish introduction over and over again but glad it got done. I got a hit from a free one run by the Lopez family and we headed over. It was awesome, we just about got there in time to catch up with the tour group and pretty much followed what they were saying about the process with some challenging translational work. What struck me most was the massive casks they have and how they get cleaned. Every five years you have to crawl in through the tiny door and scrub the gunk out, then a big machine rotated the cask and you do it again and again until all cleaned up. Given the fumes in there you can only do 15 minutes before having an hour’s break and repeat. The process takes a few days! Then we headed underground and had some tastings!! I also bought a little bottle of red which I’d forgotten about until writing this so can look forward to it provided still in one piece in the suitcase… 50:50 I reckon.

We had a quick lunch of empanadas as I rang around some more bodegas. My preference (another free one, highly rated) finally picked up the phone and we were set – Carmelo Patti. Apparently the dude himself was unwell, but his daughter did a sterling job in his stead and was generous on the pour so no complaints here whatsoever. Then for dinner we had ravioli and cobbled together whatever leftovers we could, drank more wine and played more games for the evening interspersed with the odd “deep, meaningful conversation” for good measure.

The next day the plan was to bus to Chile but one the girls had taken a turn for the worse re stomach so we all decided to chill for a day by the pool instead and recharge, as well as have a play with the underwater camera Victoria one of the girls had. She was German too so I spent some time refreshing what I used to know of the language and learned a song to add to my evergrowing Spotify foreign playlists. We left the place only to go as far as getting stuff for dinner, which included a visit to a super smelly butchers where we got some mince… and made some delicious tacos! I made the guacamole, first time for that as well… I think I’ve never done it before because buying it is probably cheaper in the UK given avocados are so costly.

The next day I was up to cook breakfast and we headed out, catching the bus to Santiago as I racked up country number 6 for my adventure. We arrived to our accommodation late and just got a papa johns pizza and some local beers (bear and escudo, both great actually) and watched dodgeball… the film… excellent. The next day we ate some nice food and got our affairs in order… boring stuff like sorting money owed and laundry before I said goodbye to my companions of this week who were heading off to patagonia. One of them is going to Guatemala for Christmas and invited me to join her for that leg. Central America wasn’t originally on the menu and I’m really keen to go to Colombia next…but it could be pretty cool… I’ll decide some other time!

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