We are now in Mendoza - the wine region! Since the last update we stopped in Cafayate and Tucuman, both of which were lovely and I will summarise in this same blog.
In Cafayate we hired some bikes and went on a 6km ride in the immense heat to find the River, only to find that when we got to the river bank there was a 2 hour trek to the waterfall (the interesting part). Due to time, and the fact we were already suffering from heat exhaustion, we passed up the kind offer from the locals. We did however stop to take a look at some caves which were just 15 minutes away by foot.
So, after our tiring bike ride in the hills of Cafayate we were due to hit the road again. This meant no shower (poo!) and a 5 hour journey to Tucuman. Of course we thought that we would be in Tucuman by the evening and could have a nice shower before going to bed in the hostel we had reserved previously. Little did we know that god had something else in mind!
We jumped on the bus around 6pm or there abouts and started our journey, which by the way was lovely winding through the mountains surrounding Cafayate and on to the lush green hills of Tafi del Valle at 2000 metres above sea level. Anyway, as we were reaching Tafi del Valle a storm began - thunder and lightening and gushes of rain. We pulled in at the bus stop to let the lucky people off out into the storm and continued our journey to Tucuman. It was then we reached a road block and were told by the police it was too dangerous to follow the road we had planned to! This meant we had to turn back and wait at the station until we had the all clear. This was around 10.30pm. We waited patiently for around an hour or more and we then got the message we could get through. This was unfortunately a false alarm, which was realised once we got to the 'check point'. We had to make our way back to the station again, and wait some more. At around 2am the all clear was given again, this time we were hoping it was the real McCoy.....unfortunately it was not, but this time we waited in a petrol station near the blockade ready to pounce! It wasn't until around 7am the next morning when we were allowed through (several hours later than scheduled)! We arrived at the hostel in Tucuman exhausted and slept until around 3pm before venturing out.
Tucuman was a lovely town and was the place where the declaration of argentine independence was signed on July 9, 1816. I had wondered before this why so many street names in Argentina were 9 de Julio, and it was then I got the answer....(you'll note I hadn't done much reading on the subject before hand)! You'll see in the photos of Tucuman a white building - this is where the declaration was signed.
So, Tucuman was lovely, Cafayate was lovely...now on to Mendoza and it's surroundings.
Mendoza was known to us as the wine region, and was a pretty big name on the map with Aconcagua on it's outskirts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconcagua (the highest mountain outside Asia) and various other activities nearby. I will talk about the trek to Plaza Francia in my next blog.
Back to Mendoza, we spent a few days covering the city (the photos of which I hope you will enjoy). We took a bike and wine tour which cost less than a tenner for all day bike hire and a tour of 4 separate wineries (including tasting lessons!) It was a great find and helped us discover the Malbec variety of wine (now my favourite). If you're in London (Ian, I know you might be interested in the this) look for a winery called Pampa - the old guy at this place was amazingly passionate about wine and a lovely man to boot!