Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mendoza, Argentina!

Hey lovely people in my life!

So, in case you didn't read title of this post, I just got back from Mendoza, Argentina! (ok, maybe I just wanted to say that again). We had a long weekend with Columbus Day (although here it's called Dia de la Raza or Day of the Race) so we decided to jet off to holiday in another country. Have I mentioned I love my life?


We were scheduled to leave in the afternoon on bus. Unfortunately, we almost didn't make it because our same seats, which we bought online, had been sold to other passengers, who bought their tickets at the bus station. Turns out there is a lack of communication between the bus company and their website. Because that makes sense. Fortunately, after a bit of a scuffle (don't worry, it didn't have to get physical) we were able change our seats, board the bus and begin our vacation! The afternoon was an absolute delight with sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky during our 6 hour bus ride, 3/4 of which was in the mountains. I probably took 80 some pictures of the elegant Andes but here is one of my favorites:
Anyone else now have "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles stuck in their head?
We were unfortunately awoken early by the sound of a jack hammer out the window. Three out of the four blocks surrounding our hostel were under construction and apparently they didn't get the memo about the long holiday weekend. So we started the day a bit early. Before leaving the hostel, we attempted to pay for our rooms (for the cheap cheap price of $10 a night!) but the total kept coming out as more than it should have been because a friend of ours got sick at the last minute and couldn't come and we were being charged for her fee as well. Although I had previously emailed the hostel about this change and received confirmation, it seems the owner's son answers the emails and he lives in Buenos Aires and only talks to the family a few times a week, so there was a lack of communication. (are we sensing a theme here?) So, after a scuffle (which very nearly did get physical) we ended getting the price down to only $20 extra pesos argentinos which is the equivalent of $5 dollars. Thanks to my friend Victoria for her excellent negotiating skills!
Mendoza is smack dab in the middle of wine country, so what could we do but rise early (once again) and head to the vineyards? We arrived at 10AM at CarinaE to meet up with the ever so lovely Jessica Woll and learn about the process of fermentation. After a short tour, we were lead to the tasting room, where we sophisticatedly sipped three different types of Malbec wine (to all my WashU buddies, hope you all had fun at WILD and please know that I too was tipsy at 11 o'clock in the morning). I felt so adult and want to highlight that this took place 4 days before my 21st birthday!

After we were good and buzzed and had taken a delightful stroll through the vineyard, half of us chose to head back. The price of a taxi was ridiculous so we opted for the colectivo (Argentina's name for the bus system). Unfortunately, the colectivo only takes monedas (coins) or a magnetic fare card which we didn't have and are only available for purchase in downtown Mendoza, which was our final destination. We ended up going to a nearby kiosk/grocery store and begging for coins. After everyone in the store, workers and customers, had emptied out their pockets, we had just enough for our journey back to the centro (center of town).

Things to note: a) my ridiculous amount of excitement in this photo and b) while getting to the vineyard took about 25 minutes, the bus trip back was an hour and a half. O well, at least the views were nice.


After going out the night before, sleeping less than four hours and getting up early to check out of the hostel, what, you may ask, had we planned for the day? Paragliding! We signed up to do it the day before but after a night of partying and a lack of the sleeping, you'd think I'd be less than pumped. But, aside from a few nerves, I was ready and willing! A year ago, I would have never had the guts or the confidence in myself to do this but I found myself jumping at the chance!

We were picked up outside the hostel by a guy in a dusty jeep and drove about 20 minutes outside the city into the hills of the Andes. On the way there, our instructor asked us if we were nervous; when we shakily replied yes, he said not to worry, only about half the people who paraglide vomit. But don't worry he said, "Relajense y si se sienten enfermas, pueden vomitar tranquilmente" (Relax! and if you guys feel sick, you can vomit tranquilly/in a relaxed state). I put my life in this man's hands.

But hey, sometimes you've got to take risks in life. And I'd like to say, although I did feel a bit sick during the 30 minute ride, it was well worth it!

My friend Naomi and I were the last to go. After subiendo el cerro (driving up the hill) on a "road" which really was the equivalent texture of the rest of the mountain, we arrived at the top. I got strapped into my gear and to my instructor and the assistant asked me "Are you ready to run?" Before I could answer, he pulled on my jump suit and my instructor and I ran off the mountain and flew into the air. Honestly, it was just like a dream, nothing beneath my feet and soaring above the mountains with ease. Although we were blowing about in the wind, for the most part it felt like we were still, as though I were seated in a porch swing and enjoying the view.

Because we were the last to go, we were in the air right when the sun began to set. Well worth the wait!

We headed back on bus that night and upon arriving at my house in Santiago at about 6:30am, I promptly slept for 8 more hours, waking up just in time for lunch!

Shout out goes to Mary Vasquez, after this experience I just might be ready for sky diving with you after your graduation! Well, falling from the sky is a bit different than swinging about, so perhaps a bit more convincing will be necessary.



P.S. As I write this, they are beginning the rescue of the 33 miners in Copiapo. It'll be about an hour for each one so they'll be working all day tomorrow and won't finish until Thursday morning. Keep them in your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Paragliding! I'm impressed! I think it is the first step to jumping out of a plane!!

    Happy Birthday Beauty! Enjoy your day!
    Tia Mary