Good evening my blogging friends from sun kissed Argentina.Mendoza is where I am at the moment in the shadow of the Andes on an arid plain about 800 meters above sea level.It is hot and for the most part dry here, though the heavens did open up last evening as I was walking home from having supper unfortunately. Mendoza gets 300 sunny days a year and it is in the center of an irrigated agricultural region,channeling snow melt from the mountains to nourish a rich wine,olive,fruit,vegetable and nut region.
The city itself is filled with trees planted along every street and all irrigated by a simple system of wide irrigation ditches that run along the side of the road which feed the tree roots.These ditches are deep and wide so you need to be very careful getting out of the passengger side of a car when parking in Mendoza.I read somewhere they call the ditches "Yanqui traps".All the water in the region is controlled by the government through water management departments.The water is diverted down every street on a scheduled basis,when it is not raining, to ensure everyone and every tree gets their fair share.This carries on in the country
side as well with the vinyards getting their share to grow the wonderful grapes and other wonderous things.There are many laws and restrictions to control people down here that are ignored,traffic rules are guidelines for example,but do not dare take water passing by your farm or vineyard if it is not your day and the water is destined for another farm downstream.The water police will be knocking at your door!
The streets themselves are beautifully tree lined and sidewalks are wide and tiled.Most buildings seem to have their own tiles in front so you do not have the north american grey concrete sidewalks going on forever but have a patchwork of tiles of different sizes,colours,disrepair and unfortunately elevations.Many a time I have stumbled on what should have been a flat surface changing elevation and droppingg or rising a few inches!
Another feature of Mendoza, which I also found in Buenos Aires ,are the wonderful parks.Vibrant gathering places with fountains,wide benches,green grass and in many cases musicians playing.Trees are everywhere and the parks are welcoming and wonderful.I am staying across from Parque Italia.It turns out though that there is another reason for the parks and that being earthquakes!Mendoza sits
on a fault line and in the 1800's a huge earthquake destroyed the city,there are no old buildings here.When the city was rebuilt the decision was made to distribute the parks around the city for not only the obvious community gathering places but also as emergency evacuation sites,safe from fallling debris,with water avaiilable and room to camp out until things stabalize.
The center of town has a large park called Parque Independencia with a great fountain.I walked through the other day and a young guy was sitting playing guiitar,playing well I should say!Hendrix,Santana,Knophler,BB king.It was great and people sitting around enjoying the music and the park,magic.
There is a Canadian connection to Mendoza as well.There are 74 old Vancouver electric busses travelling the routes down here.They no longer met Vancouvers accessibility standards so had to go and were sold to Mendoza and shipped down here,where accessibility is not such an issue and they are running still.
The city is laid back,"tranquillo", and siesta time comes every day around 2 till about 5:30.All the shops shut down and the cafe's and bars are full and even the fountain seems to be turned off for a few hours then
at 5:30 the city wakes up again till 9 or 10. People do not eat supper till after 9 and bars are open till the wee hours. Flower shops all over and pastry shops to tempt. Very nice.
Well it is late and I had a big day touring vineyards today of which I will tell you in another blog but for now it is time to say adios.xoxo
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