Stu & Amy See The World!
Mendoza 31st June - 3rd July 2006 Some people may question the logic of our return to Santiago, since we have been there already and didn't like the place much at all!. However, we would argue that one of the highlights of South America has got to be the numerous journey you can do on the bus through the Andes and hence our reason for returning. This strategy is a little dodgy seeing as it's currently the middle of winter and the high altitude pass from Santiago to Mendoza is often closed due to excessive snow, however, as has often been the case on this trip we have been lucky in our timing once again and the trip across the Andes was yet another unforgettable experience. Our 7hr flight to back Santiago was full and we efficiently sorted out a hotel and onward journey details before enjoying a hot-dog and beer for a stupidly low price. Thankfully the students in Santiago seem to have calmed down a bit for the moment so there were no teargas dodging moments. Once more we are glad to leave Santiago the next day on the 7.50am bus to Mendoza. The snow is really deep high in the Andes and the views are awesome. The bus goes underneath some ski lifts on the way up and Stu is desperate to get out there on the powder. We agree that the scenery is as good as anything we have seen in NZ. The border crossing at altitude is particularly freezing and we eventually arrive in Mendoza in the late afternoon. We sort out some accommodation in a luxurious 1 star hotel and book a hiking trek in the Andean foothills for the following day. The evening meal is another Superb Bife de Chorizo and the bottle of Mendozan red, although a little cold, goes down a treat. The following day we are up early and are soon on the bus to Porterillos where we eventually begin our trek with guide Mariano in the late morning. It's just me, the wife and the guide. The views of the Andean foothills are once more unbeatable and we stop for lunch at the top of a big hill. Just as we are settling down for a great picnic lunch, dutifully laid out by our guide, a huge Condor soares right past us on a gust of hot air, no more than 10-15m away. What a sight and how lucky are we!? It's a long trek down in the afternoon and some sections are decidedly dangerous with Aims understandably nervous. We make it down to a small little gorge where we have the option of doing a spot of abseiling (about a 25m drop). Stu takes up the offer and is soon all harnessed up with his privates nicely squeezed together. Just as he is thinking about ressurrecting his career as soprano singer (didn't I tell you about that?) he is off down the cliffs edge like a fully qualified member of the SWAT team. In fact he is so fast that Aims only catches the end of THE DESCENT (scary film by the way) on video. The trip back is highlighted by the fact that we meet some Argentinians (strange I know) who actually are pleased to see us in their country and want to get to know us (even stranger). We have a good chat and they offer us some Mate (the argentinian national drink) and it's all getting rather chummy. The Mate is actually rather good and it reputedly suppresses ones hunger (finally we understand why the Argentinians are so thin whilst eating so much crap!). In the evening we treat ourselves to possible the first decent Pizza we have had in SA and settle in for a night in front of the telly. The following day we check out of our hotel and book ourselves on a wine tour of the Mendoza region. We are a bit dissappointed as the tour doesn't really live up to the ones we have previously experienced in NZ and Australia. Still the sparkling white is pretty good even if they serve up the dregs at the following winery. In the evening we have possibly our last overnight bus trip to Tucuman (13hrs) and it's as uncomfortable as anything we experienced thus far. For some reason the 'flight attendant'seems to think that we need the heat turned up to full blast on the top deck and the seats whilst looking comfortable are far from it (let's face it we are just too tall). Lots of love and keep the messages coming. Stu & Amy