I always knew that when it comes to travelling things go wrong. I was prepared for it to happen, knowing it was all just part of the adventure but I didn’t expect it to happen before I’d even left! On the morning of the 19th I woke up, looked at my nearly finished packing then picked up my phone and noticed I had an email from the airline company, flybondi, who my flight was with at 7:20 that evening. My flight was cancelled and there were no more available flights for another week!
After a stressful day of attempting to book bus tickets and being charged for 2 rather than one, then having my card blocked by the bank in New Zealand cause of ‘suspicious activity’, I finally had my tickets booked for the following evening. Unfortunately by bussing our 2 hour flight was now a 15 hour overnight journey but at least we were headed to Mendoza.
I can’t say I was surprised when our bus turned up and hour and half late because let’s be honest, that pretty much qualifies as on time in Argentina. I was able to grab a few hours sleep on the bus, even though the heating was turned up to 40 degrees celcius! I don’t know what was up with that but the bus driver must have been cold blooded or something because like, yes it was cold outside but everyone is dressed for winter. Or maybe he was trying to roast us for dinner, who knows, you certainly get hungry on 15 hour bus rides. However I’m pleased to inform you that I did make it in one piece and with only minimal heat exhaustion.
The first day in Mendoza we decided to do a bit of a hike on Cerro Arco, it was sort of on the foot hills and would have been super easy to get to if we’d got off at the right stop. As it happened, I forgot I’d set my google maps to the nearest town not the foot of the hill and so we ended up about 4km away from where we were meant to be, but by just following the road and going towards the mountains we made it, a nice little warm up before we set off up the mountain. We got to the base of the hill and there were all these people absolutely kitted out in outdoor gear and we were like okkk, is this going to be harder than Google made it out to be haha, but it was fine. Pretty steep but not too long, apparently 4.5km one way. The view from the top was pretty cool too.
I actually cannot explain enough my love for the mountains, they just have a feel to them, with the fresh air. I could literally feel the change as we went up from the city to the mountains and it made me miss home a lot. Memories of skiing and tramping in the Southern Alps with my family and friends, it was nice but also hard at the same time.
After our wee hike, we caught the bus again. I’d like to say from the actual bus stop but in reality we saw it driving down the road and ran towards it waving our arms but it worked! Back in Mendoza we got off at one of the main squares where there were some market stalls set up and so we spent about an hour wandering around.
Our intentions for Mendoza were to be busy, do something everyday and get up into the mountain but turns out that’s actually easier said than done. Once we were in Mendoza was when we discovered that we were in fact there at the exactly wrong time of year. Few tourist agencies offered activities in the mountains other than skiing during winter and unfortunately there was no snow so we couldn’t even do that. So the second day was pretty much spent going to every single tourist agency in town and asking what activities they had on offer. This made me so proud of my Spanish speaking skills because I could actually communicate! Finally we found a company ‘Argentina rafting’, that we decided to go rafting with. Shout out to Giselle for giving us a discount for being from New Zealand, if anyone wants to save a bit of money on your travels just tell everyone you’re from NZ.
So the next day we set off on our rafting adventure. It turns out that during that time of the year the river is only grade 1 and 2 Rapids but during summer it gets up to 4+! So it wasnt very hectic at all but what it lacked in excitement, It made up for with the killer view of the mountains and the cool guide we had, along with the other people we did it with.
One of my absolute favourite parts of travelling is the people you meet. Carlos had some family friends that we went out for dinner with that evening and then they invited us to go wine tasting with them the next day. I felt so sophisticated but a bit awkward because I don’t drink wine, so I just pretended to understand what they were talking about. Like ‘hmmm yes it is very dry’ or ‘wow I can definitely see the colour change indicating the age of the wine compared to the previous one’. Also it would be worth mentioning the absolutely amazing asado we had, I’m just sad at the fact I will probably never taste meat as glorious again.
Even though my experience in Mendoza wasn’t what I had originally planned for or expected I really really enjoyed it. In the end I feel like I got a really rich ‘Mendoza experience’, a day rafting, a day climbing a hill, a day wandering the city and a day wine tasting.
And this is only the start of the adventures to come!