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Published: July 30th 2016
Mevi Bodega Boutique
We sat on the opposite side of the bodega from the mountains, since there were clouds over the enormous peaks that appear to rise straight up from the valley floor.
Mendoza is an attractive enough Argentinian city on its own, but most make a stop there because of its proximity to the mountain crossing to Chile or to visit wineries in the nearby valleys. But on my budget, I felt trapped there, since most excursions required going on expensive guided tours, even the most basic of which cost 90 USD a day. This would feel inevitable in countries like the US and Australia, but it's difficult to pay that much somewhere where it is $10 for a dorm bed, $5 for an acceptable bottle of wine, and $3 for all the groceries I need for dinner.
So instead I booked four nights at my hostel and got a free bike rental in Maipú (pronounced My-poo, making for endless puns, considering how ugly it was), which is a suburb of Mendoza, about 40 minutes away, tagging along with Kate, an Aussie from the hostel.
Mr. Hugo's bike shop was described by our hostel as "the most famous bike shop in Maipú," if that's possible, but it must be, since when we got off the bus we were immediately harassed by a guy dissuading us from Hugo's.
The bikes at
Hugo's were pretty bad, but he was a friendly anciano, and part of the area had bike lanes, complete with piles of garbage as the paisaje in front of the roadside vineyards, slummy barrios that apparently get little benefit from the wine production, three-legged dogs and even a dead puppy in the bike lane, presumably from the drivers who treat the road as a racetrack, which was dangerous once there were no bike lanes or shoulders. It's surprising how poor the peripheries of Argentinian cities are- really only a small step above the slums in poorer Latin American countries.
But actually the wineries themselves in Maipú were far better than those in Cafayate, probably since they were thankful to have visitors that dug their way through the ugliness; there were no crowds or tour buses to force them into efficiency, lining up 40 glasses with no care. There were only a few other people at each bodega. At Mevi the waiter didn't mind when we ordered two separate tastings and the pours and the glasses were better, and the vino was just as fino.
El Paso de los Libertadores
I had happy times in Mendoza with all the
good people at my hostel, but I needed to get to Chile in the next few days and the pass is often closed in the winter. It had been closed the day before, so I probably should have waited to cross, to avoid the long lines of trucks and buses at the chaotic and poorly run border that I probably could have walked across without anyone noticing. A 6 hour journey to Santiago became 9 hours (we waited 2 hours at the border and another hour to get into the bus station in Santiago). The scenery was impressive, but the windows were foggy and the always action movies on the screens made it difficult to relax.
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