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January 1st 2010
Published: January 3rd 2010
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Mendoza is a real treat but we´ll get there later.

Having spent Christmas in the Atacama desert and sandboarding down giant dunes on Christmas Eve (I was shit and looked like I was having a poo whenever I took to the descent), we headed for Salta, Argentina. The Argies have a knack of bigging themselves up when it comes to Latin American comparisons with other countries. They are described as arrogant by everyone else but we have discovered the truth. They are arrogant because they´re country is so much better than everyone else´s!

North West Argentina and down to Mendoza in the central Sierras is beautiful. Salta is a city full of character and excellent food. There is a friendly vibe about the place and people are the normal size (as opposed to the midgets running around the poorer countries). There is a sudden beauty to the people that is not mirrored anywhere north of the border and a confidence unmatched in the continent. They believe their country is the best in the world and I am beginning to agree with them. Although having said that, we´d only been there for a day at this point.

Mendoza is a small city of just 100,000 inhabitants and is made up of wide streets lined with trees in a Parisian style. It is like central London without any of the outskirts. There are fabulous parks and I have to admit it is my favourite city so far beating even Vancouver and San Francisco. It just has that small town character set amidst European style. It is so un-American. I want to live here. Oh and did I mention some of the world´s finest wineries on the doorstep and the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas just 3 hours drive to the East? Oh yes lovely jubbly.

We took a bike tour out to the Maipu Valley and cycled from winery to winery trying the produce and wandering around the grape fields. I won´t go into the fascinating processes of production but I became something of a wine buff (swilling my glass under my nose etc) for the afternoon. A bottle of the finest wine was around 20 quid! Sadly shipping is about twice that per bottle so don´t expect any early Christmas presents for next year.

On New Year's eve we bought Candy floss from an ex Prison inmate in New York. I think he was convicted of selling 'Candy Floss there too. Yesterday a bunch of Estonians rocked up to the hostel with two weeks worth of food and gin. They also have a guitar which they take everywhere they go and they play the same Estonian rock balad on the summit! They have played and sung above 7100m, so Aconcagua's 6962m should be a piece of cake. We are currently cohabitaing with some ýouths´in a dorm room. Yesterday night they got in half an hour before we got up and left. Tut tut. But then we walk outside a chap comes up to (we´re reading in the park) and he says "I just want to say that I am so impressed that people of your age are reading instead of texting", we reveal we are English "English people are so impressive"! We take that to mean, "You are boring bastards but most old people are I suppose!"

Next to Santiago.


5th January 2010

yeah another post
Today in Switzerland five people died in Avalanches. A huge snow hit them in the Alps. Great to hear from you two. Ask the Argies how many presidents they have had in the last ten years. It is because of the World Bank activities that frankly the Argentinas people stood up to them well. That country is a great country because of that. The people took over factories and said no more debt because of the bad deals of their former presidents. So have a great time with those people and I would love to hear more about them. Happy new year.
11th January 2010

Wine buffs
Hi Both, I must be slipping up cos Dave read this BEFORE me! Mendoza does look rather attractive... even we could hack it there! No photos of sand boarding ....disappointing... unless they are on your camera. There must be another memory stick due for posting! Heard about the communal keep fit in the park in Santiago.... wish I could have watched that... beats line dancing. Safe trip across the Pacific..... it's mighty big, even on Google Earth on the pc screen. Hear from you in NZ or Singapore. Temp in Nz around 24 and 12 at night but in Singapore 32 by day and 25 by night- phew. Hasta Luego mes amigos. xxxx

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