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Published: December 11th 2005
During our last week in Mendoza, we finished our volunteer project and said good bye to the children at Carlos Gonzolas Elementary School. Each of the boys at Pathways chipped in their own money to provide a meal of empanadas and ice cream for the children at the school. Empanadas are a traditional Argentine pie usually filled with meat and potatoes covered in a pastry crust. The children were delighted by our visit and found it hard to say good bye. Some of the kids even asked for our autographs before we left!
Our next destination was San Rafael, a smaller town about three hours south of Mendoza. San Rafael is surrounded by fruit orchards, vineyards, and olive groves. We saw beautiful scenery along the way with willow trees lining the roads and an astonishing backdrop of the snow capped Andes in the distance. The town of San Rafael is noted for having a French influence and sure enough, bicycles filled the streets, their baskets filled with groceries and their riders sporting berets! The residents here see less tourists than Mendoza and are incredibly friendly and helpful to visitors in their city.
In San Rafael we spent three days
camping in the lovely Canyon Atuel, a popular recreation and resort area just outside the city. The water is clear and clean and every few minutes noisy rafters shoot by in the river, braving the cold water temperatures. Julio continues to spoil us with his asados, preparing tender steaks and chicken which we ate by lantern light next to our tents by the river.
In San Rafael we also toured the Bianci winery, where we saw how many of the people in the Mendoza province make their living. The Bianci winery is one of the biggest in San Rafael and the wine industry in this area employs many people in all facets of winemaking. We also enjoyed stopping at roadside stands to try dried figs, peaches, plums, and pears.
We are headed to Malargue next, and then will continue south on our way to Bariloche. The days are really starting to feel like summer and we are heading into some of the world's most untouched and incredible landscapes.
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