Mendoza: Wine and Mountains and Adventure, Dios Mio!

12 Apr

Hola Chicos!

Sorry for the extended absence- things here are becoming steadily busier, as expected.  However, no excuses- play like a champ, right?! In turn I have quite a story for you. Now usually I like to focus most of my posts on a certain cultural aspect of this country;  however, my  recent trip to Mendoza (Argentina), being just that, merits its own!

First off, I’m doing really well.  I had some more issues with classes, but I’m 95% certain (as sure as you can be about anything in Argentina) that everything is finally settled.  While I’m not conversing solely in Spanish, I’m speaking and studying it consistently and feel that I’m definitely improving!  My host family continues to amaze me;  they are incredible.  Saturday night we partially rented out a boliche for my brother’s b-day and danced the night away!  I’m also becoming enthralled by the music here- reggaeton, cumbia, cuarteto.  I’m even starting to adopt the subtle Italian traits that have infiltrated the Spanish here in Buenos Aires- I’m coming back partially porteno, amigos!

Like I said, last week I went to Mendoza during the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which actually only consists of 3 days and a weekend, but hey, better than nothing. For those of you that don’t know, Mendoza is a relatively small mountain city located to the west of Buenos Aires in the Andes, just a couple hundred kilometers from Santiago, Chile.   Because it offers everything the capital doesn’t, it has become a tremendously popular site for portenos and foreigners alike.  But what exactly does it offer, right?? EVERYTHING. We took part in a three day package that gave us a taste of each of its best facets- wine, mountains, adventure sports.

Day 1 – Bodegas

Two hours after arriving from our 15 hour bus ride (had to maximize every second!), we were picked up at our hostel by a mini bus and driven to two wineries.  We did the typical tour of the grounds and then went through a few wine tastings.  Having been to wineries in southern France before, I wasn’t too impressed with the tour itself, but the wine we tasted was great.  Malbec is by far the most popular variety here, and while I really like it, I’m still not sure if it beats out a good Cabernet!  In any case, after Mendoza and my other wine experiences, I’m becoming fascinated with it, and the nerd in me can’t wait to take the “Wine Appreciation” class offered at Purdue when I get back!  Oh and yes, I did buy a couple bottles of Malbec to bring back with me. Now, if one wanted to help influence who I shared my prizes with upon returning, I do have a list of things that I’m missing from the States.  Just ship them when you can; my address is 871 Lar…  haha

Day 2 – Andes

Just mountains, right? WRONG. For whatever the reason, I much underestimated their size and presence.  We drove for about three hours, slowly progressing around  hair-pin curves- those in themselves were a treat. Upon arriving at our destination (high up, but not the summit), we got out and walked about for a couple hours.  Let me say that clear skies and mountains make for quite the picturesque background.  I did my best to do the whole John Mayer “3×5” approach, but even I gave in and took my share of pictures, which I’m having trouble uploading at the moment but will post somehow or another! We then walked toward the base of Aconcaqua, the second tallest mountain in the world. “Climbing it” became the newest addition to my bucket list!  As I’m re-reading this, with my lack of details and pictures I realize that I’m not doing this excursion justice. Believe me though- breathtaking.

Day 3 – Adventure Sports

Before arriving in Mendoza,  I was most looking forward to this part of the trip.  We got up really early and spent the day trekking through the mountains, rappelling, and rafting.  Trekking was just that- walking up and down mountains- but the other two events won’t soon be forgotten, both for distinct reasons.  During “rappelling “we walked up an approximately 100 ft tall cliff and went down.  I had done that sort of activity before, but never “in the Andes!”  Not quite the same adrenaline rush as the skydiving I’ve been wanting to repeat here,  but an experience just the same.  Later in the afternoon, we went rafting.  While I absolutely love rafting, feeling like I was risking my life was not extremely fun. And no, I’m not referring to the rapids themselves (which were nothing more than a 2/3 out of 5). I’m talking about the water itself- coldest I’ve ever had to spend two hours in.  I was in the front of the vessel, got soaked, and though was trying to be positive, was honestly thinking about hypothermia the entire time. I can laugh about it now, but wow… crazy.

Aside from the excursions themselves, many other aspects made the trip incredible as well; our travel guides were all amazing; the hostel trio that sponsored the trip cooked us a great asado and threw a good party; and I met some fascinating people from all over the US, Europe, and South America.  I now understand why people love staying in hostels and am never planning on staying in a hotel again (while partaking in this type of travel).  From all that, maybe you can, or  still can’t ,see why I would call this one of the best trips of my life- regardless, it was, and I feel so lucky to have taken it!

On a side note, the World Cup starts in less than three months and I’m stoked – already have an official Argentina jersey and am only lacking the face paint and flag!!    Also, Go Chi Sox !! No excuse this year- you have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball…

Hope everyone is doing well and hasta pronto!

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One Response to “Mendoza: Wine and Mountains and Adventure, Dios Mio!”

  1. Steve in London April 12, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    skip the skydiving and go straight for the base jumping, argentina boasts some good spots. diego maradona is the man, but don’t forget about your roots this summer, dude!

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