Published: December 28th 2011December 28th 2011
Day 73 –Friday 23rd
Today is going to be an easy day with the main task food shopping for Christmas, the first supermarket was the first one recommended by the hotel. It was a small dingy market with hardly anything in it, the second one was mentioned in the LP and it was much better so we picked up supplies. Nearby to the supermarket was a “central market”, which was where all the locals go to get there produce. There were lots of butchers, delicatessens and a couple of fruit and veg sellers. The deli’s looked fantastic with the glass counters over flowing with cheeses and meats but we just couldn’t face trying to do a pantomime of what we wanted, quantity and price. There was also a huge Christmas eve crowd frantically trying to get last minute food so it would have taken us an hour to get served so after taking in the vibe we retreated. In the afternoon we got an email from Ryan and Cassie so we will be meeting on Christmas day for a picnic at their hotel.
Headed out for dinner and whilst walking around we spotted the young
guy who was dragged away by the police on Wednesday night. And once again he was being questioned by police so we guessed whatever he had done he was still doing and getting caught for doing it. Later on we saw another teenage boy being heavily beaten by older man in the street, and after he managed to get off the ground he ran/limped past us with what looked like a broken nose and bloody face. Everyone in the street stopped to watch the commotion and we sort of guessed that the young kid had been caught shoplifting or pickpocketing. If this was the case we can only hope it was a lesson learnt, albeit a painful one.
Day 74 –Saturday 24th
Another quiet day in a quiet town. With nothing much to do we took the chance to sleep in and have a slow start to the day. Had another long walk around town taking the last frantic Christmas shopping which is great being an observer of and not a participant. To our complete surprise there is next to no Christmas decorations in town, there is a little
bit in the main plaza but otherwise it could be just about any day of the year.
After picking up some more food for tomorrow and some more money we headed down to the bus station to get our tickets out of town. Mendoza’s bus station is huge and we ended up walking the length of it before picking up our tickets to Cordoba. We had thought that our bus on Tuesday was going to be 7 to 8 hours so picked up tickets for the 9.30am bus but after getting our tickets we discovered that the journey is 12 hours long with a 9.30pm estimated arrival time….damn.
In the afternoon we headed over to our local bar and had a beer or two till 3.30 when the place started shutting up for Christmas and we headed home. For dinner Shelley knocked up a fantastic pasta dish from a whole bunch of improvised ingredients. Couldn’t get zucchinis so she used a squash, canned mushrooms instead of fresh and the only spice should could find was chillies; but in the end it tasted bloody fantastic.
Day 75 –Sunday 25th
and oh my god how has this trip and the year flown. For the first time in our lives together we didn’t have a single present to give and although we had also avoided a huge Christmas dinner we still had a small party to go to. We weren’t sure if we would get breakfast today and I actually thought that the ride down to the foyer was a waste of time till we got their and discovered 3 kitchen staff waiting to feed us. We wished them a Feliz Navidad (or something resembling that) and got a great Christmas breakfast feed.
We slowly got all our stuff together before heading off to Ryan and Cassie’s hotel. They were staying in a hotel twenty minutes away which wasn’t too bad except for all the food and booze we were carrying. We found the hotel without any dramas and Ryan and Cassie had set up a table outside by the pool in the shade of a palm tree where we spent the afternoon eating drinking and occasionally swimming. It was such a fantastic day just being able to relax with a pair of Aussies we had just met and yet
felt like we had known each other for years. We were joined briefly by Samir, an Algerian/Canadian who was over here and about to climb the 6962 metre high Cerro Aconcagua. He was telling us that it was going to take 22 days to go up and down and we just all marvelled at his courage/stupidity. A lot of the 22 days is spent going up and then back down the mountain getting acclimatized to the height before you actually push to the summit. Samir was part of a University medical team from America so I guess if they got into difficulties they could at least treat each other.
At 7.30 we had all had our fill so we said our farewells and vowed to catch up with each other in the next town, and we headed home. In the main plaza a reggae band had set up and was playing so we paused to listen to them for a while, wondering why reggae for Christmas?
When we got home we had a brief swim in our own hotel pool which is about the size of a large bathtub, before crashing for the night. Today just felt like
a great day with friends rather than Christmas, some of this was because of not seeing family or having to get presents or preparing food, but also there has been so little signs of Christmas around town. We spotted Santa in Santiago, and a couple of Santas little helpers in town (attractive young women in tight elf outfits handing out advertising) but hardly anything else. We had expected Christmas to be a big deal here but it doesn’t appear to be the case.
Day 76 –Monday 26th
Been in Mendoza a week now and today was our last day. The time here has just flown and this may be partly due to us not doing a great deal. Ryan and Cassie told us how they did white water rafting here and how good it was and we kind of regretted not doing it ourselves as it sounded fairly safe and a lot of fun. The only thing that may have stopped us was that they said the water was icy cold and by the end of the day they were having trouble even moving their fingers, and I just couldn’t imagine Shelley
coping with that sort of cold, damn her Darwin origins.
For our last day we decided to do a long walk to the other side of town and to check out the main park in town. The Parque General San Martin was nearly 3 kilometres from town but it was a beautiful day, we walked and walked looking for the lake in the park before eventually finding it we must have walked all around it within a few metres. We should have got a map of the park as it is 420 hectares, but we did get to see a bit of it and the locals having their picnics. At the entrance to the park is a huge cast iron gate that was fabricated by the poms for a Turkish Sultan Hamid II, and what was a bad habit at the time was given to the Argentinians. In our travels we have lost track of the things the poms were to give to someone but gave to others, they sure are fickle. The gate as would be expected was huge and ornate with lovely touches added by the Argentinians including an Andean Condor on top. The park is lovely but unfortunately roads criss cross it everywhere and one is a 4 lane road, so it isn’t exactly peaceful. It is also heavily polluted with most public areas covered in litter and the lake at one end is putrid, which is a real shame. On the walk back we checked out the houses in the affluent area of Mendoza which were behind large gates and razor wire. Back at the hotel we went for a swim in our bathtub pool and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon after all it is Boxing Day and that is what we would be doing in Australia. Dinner was another quick pasta dish cooked up at our hotel and a reasonably early night to prepare for the great bus journey the next day.
Day 77 Tuesday 27th
Moving on again today to Cordoba and 12 hours in a bus, got a taxi from the hotel and as usual arrived early about 8.50am at the terminal for our 9.30am bus. The bus journey seemed so long, and the only food we got was one biscuit and two cups of lemonade which was very annoying as this was one of the more expensive bus trips we have done, lucky that we now know not to rely on getting food and always carry snacks. At least there were some interesting towns on the way, just after San Juan I noticed a fantastic bike track beside the road which went for miles and miles with picnic huts and plaques this all ended at a town called Vallecito and the Difunta Correa Shrine. This is a shrine to a popular saint covering a small hill and surrounded by picnic and camping grounds, it was a shame our bus only stopped for 5 minutes as it looked very interesting. The next town we went through that was different was Capilla del Monte which is where the UFO freaks congregate as over the years there has supposedly been UFO sightings, unfortunately it was still daylight so we saw no little green men. The last town we passed through of major interest was Villa Carlos Paz which had continual amusement parks on the lead up to the main town. Finally we arrived at Cordoba bus terminus at exactly 9.30pm, this is a large station and we quickly found a taxi to take us to our hotel The King David Flat Hotel. We checked in and headed out for some dinner we passed a busy pizza place, but walked another block before we went back there. This was a great decision not only was the pizza pretty good, but there were 2 guitarists playing and singing very passionate music. The place was buzzing and everyone was getting into the music, with a local man with a great voice joining in for a couple of songs. This was a nice welcome to Cordoba on this balmy summer’s night.