Arriving to Mendoza was a beginning of Dark Weeks – Mendoza, Salta and Calama. But lets not get ahead of ourselves…
The Scorching Heat
On the Chilean-Argentine border we met Federica from Mendoza. She promised that the climate in Mendoza is pleasant and colder than in Chile by a few degrees. Well, her promise did not work out completely. Both weeks in Mendoza it was around 38 degrees and we were feeling like an Argentine steak on a barbecue.
In Mendoza we spent two heated, sweaty, for half of our expedition sometimes little waxing, but still exciting weeks. The daily temperatures were around 38 degrees Celsius, while at night it got as freezingly cold as 29 degrees. 🙂 In our room we had only a fan and what is more its highest speed broke the second day. Only then it became really interesting. 🙂
Spanish Lessons, Swimming and Vendimia
We spent six days learning Spanish, made a trip to Cacheuta thermals, because the temperature in Mendoza was not going down, we played tennis, enjoyed the procession and voting of the queen of Vendimia (wine harvest festival), cycled through nearby wineries and also partied Argentine style!
There was really only one option for the Spanish lessons in the town – Intercultural. Luckily we had a perfect teacher with Italian roots. Unfortunately due to bank holidays and a conference in those two weeks we only managed 6 days of lessons.
On Wednesday we went out for a beer with Federica, who we met on the border. Argentines are like Italians of South America, gradually more and more people were joing the table and then more. At the table everyone speaks over each other, jump into others stories… just like in Viktor’s family. 🙂 You have to breath in quickly, otherwise you might not be able to finish your sentence. 🙂 This is enforces by the Argentine Spanish, which is lively and more like a song than a speech.
After the beer we went on zig zag style in a car to a club. Eeverybody jumps the queue to someone known so the queue was a total chaos. At about 3am, when we were already quite tired and sweaty so much that a shower would be drier (still 30 degrees), the main band went on stage. We listened for a while more and then went back home. It was no fun to wake up for Spanish lessons few moments later!
Bodegas – Valle Maipú
After Spanish lessons we made two tripss to wineries in Maipú valley, south of Mendoza. It is basically part of Mendoza and accessible by public transport. It turned out to be quite an experience:
First time that we tried to rent bikes the old man in the bike rental did not understand we wanted to rent them, so no success. So we walked about 3 km to the other side of town to another rental, but it was already too late to cycle anywhere. But we were saved by the Lopez winery, which is inside Maipú city and was still open. The excursion was free including the tasting! 🙂
So the next day we set off again right after the Spanish lesson. In the first rental all bikes were rented out. So we went to the old man rental again and this time successfuly rented the bikes – the old git did not rent us the bikes the day before, because we said “to borrow” in Spanish instead of “to rent” and he does not give them for free, right??
Anyway on our bike ride we visited two wineries with degustations and one olive farm. But again we had some fun on the way back – Viktor’s chain was falling down all the time and Karoline broke a pedal, so we had to walk the last km back.
In Mendoza the tango is danced on evening events called Milonga, similar to Buenos Aires all elsewhere in Agentina. It is danced on a street or little squares and literally anybody can join, we saw dancing old and young, dressed up or in sport shoes and sweatpants… And on the dance floor all milongueros went for it 🙂
We saw milonga at the Placeo Adameda Balcón de tango. It started at 9pm sharp and there was a live band playing during the first hour. At first only the “older” and more experienced danced, later the “sportsman” joined too. The second hour the music played only from a computer, but the milonga host was singing and dancing.
At the very end it was time for folklórico. A traditional pair dance with white scarfs in hand. Some people seemed to be waiting for that perhaps tango was too difficult for them.
For Karolina our time in Mendoza was special in other ways too. Apart from the heat, there were sexist bedbugs in the first hostel – they only bit girls. She also had some stomach troubles and tiredness. When we moved into another accommodation she could not sleep because of street noise this time.
And if that was not enough, a pigeon dropped his “load” on her 4 times! Well at least a good incentive to learn Spanish words for that: ‘Me cayó una paloma’.