As I´ve come to expect, traveling anywhere is bound to bring about some unusual, and often inconvenient, experiences - it´s a journey. That being said, it can be hard to find the positive when you´re stuck on a bus 6 hours longer than expected and end up missing a pre-booked tour, which is exactly what happened to me this weekend.
Despite our bus departing from Santiago an hour and a half late, we had high hopes for the ride; however, as the hours and our altitude-affected minds wound through the Andes, our hopes and our bodies began to freeze. Perhaps the experience was made slightly worse by my book choice for this particular trip: ¨Alive¨ - the true story of the harrowing survival of a Uruguayan rugby team stranded following a plane crash in 1972 in the Andes, precisely the same mountain range we were currently traveling through in the dark. Regardless, the endless lines and biting winds at the border were well worth the views we recieved when we finally arrived.
Still, we had already resigned ourselves to the thought that wine tours were out of the question and relaxing and exploring the winery we had splurged to stay at would be our best option. In the end, though, we got the best of both worlds.
After exploring the town a bit and grabbing a beer (yes, a BEER!), we hailed a cab to take us to our oasis for the weekend. Our driver, Carlos, of course started by asking us the usual questions in Spanish, which were answered by my dear, nearly-bilingual friend, Ryan. After realizing we didn´t have a tour planned, though, he switched to almost perfect English and explained to us that he had lived in Mendoza his entire life, meaning that he knew all of the wineries in the area and could get us on last minute tours. We thanked him profusely and planned for him to pick us up the following day after breakfast.
Greeting Carlos with huge smiles and on our best behavior knowing we would be drinking wine the rest of the day, we were off! We visited a total of four wineries, paying only for our lunch at one and our tasting at the other. All of our tours were private and thorough, and provided more decadent wine than I could have ever imagined. In the evening, while re-hydrating, we watched the calm of the night creep over the vineyards and the orange-yellow hues of the sun setting behind the Andes.
Though brief, our time in Mendoza was unforgettable (including the to-be-expected wine headache our last morning) and provided me once more with a lesson I have learned oh so many times throughout my travels: sometimes the unexpected can lead to more unique and authentic experiences and embracing it is just as important as planning.