Buffet of beauty

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South America » Argentina » Mendoza
January 9th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Breakfast - more of that great honeydew ... I also tried a chewy, jam-filled biscuit sandwich that was coated in powdered sugar, that seems to be sold everywhere. Not bad, though the jam had a bit of an odd flavour. I also had some kind of horrid, southern biscuit-like pastry, that was dry and hard. Some flavourless OJ that seems to be common here, helped wash it down.
Geo: -32.8927, -68.8331

Another crappy sleep ... hot ... a tiny bed ... luckily for me, it's a free day and while everyone else had planned spa days and excursions, I didn't, so there was no need to wake up early. Of course, I needed to wake up in time to have breakfast before it finished up at 10:00. I really didn't want to, because I was still exhausted, but I was also really hungry!

I was going to run some errands today - there were tons of things on offer today, such as white water rafting, horseback riding, ATVing, that sounded interesting. But really, I could do any of those activities at home - rappelling was offered and sounded intriguing, but there wasn't much information about it given. I decided against anything, because I need to sort out what I am doing for the rest of my trip, once the tour ends.

First errand today - I needed some cash! I'm not sure why, but when banks in Chile and Argentina get busy, they are absolutely PACKED with people. The lineup to use the ATM took 15 minutes! After that, I needed a haircut - I ended up waiting almost 40 minutes, but

Assorted cold cuts and cheese.
I wasn't complaining, as I sat writing in my journal, and enjoying the glorious A/C! Mendoza is HOT!

The haircut turned out MUCH better than when my hair was butchered in Groningen this past summer (see blog entry entitled "Butchers should cut meat, not my hair" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/6/1216089180/tpod.html ) Being able to speak Spanish meant that I was able to give some instructions, which I wasn't able to in Groningen since I don't speak any Dutch!

Though it still wasn't quite what I wanted, it was close enough, and I couldn't complain since it only cost me $7. But I think they could have improved their service by having senoritas do the hair washing - shampooing my hair, massaging my scalp, whispering things in my ear in Spanish ... I'd pay for that!

Time to find a travel agent - I had checked into flights to Iguazu falls back home, but saw that the prices were invariably the same, even for last-minute flights. Because of this, I figured there would be no rush to buy my ticket, and hoped that I could find a local deal for less once I got here.

The first place I went to only dealt with local

Lunch - ham, pineapple, and ... blobs of tar? Or was it dirty grease? I hope it was some type of balsamic reduction with crunchy bits of sugar, because that's what it tasted like. The pizza wasn't too bad, despite the sketchy appearance, and the crappy, seemingly pre-made pizza crusts that seem to be common here. It was a battle to finish off the pizza before the flies got to it, and after awhile, the sweetness of the balsamic reduction became monotonous. I struggled to finish, as it was a rather large pizza, and my stomach was nearing its maximum allowable stress. But hey, that's been par for the course on this tour!
tours, and referred me to an agency just up the road. I ended up waiting a while to see an agent, but didn't complain, because the receptionist looked a lot like a shorter, tinier, South American version of Shannon Elizabeth. Spanish and South American receptionists ... why are they always so darn attractive? It turned out that they couldn't find me a better price than I had seen on the internet, so I decided not to book. Though I would have, had I been dealing with the receptionist ...

One of my pet peeves about traveling in Argentina, is that nobody can ever break a 50 or 100 peso bill. Though only worth about $35 CAD, a 100 peso bill is a pretty large sum of money here. Why the hell do the ATMs only give out 100 peso bills if you can't use them anywhere? It'd be like using a Canadian ATM and only receiving $100 dollar bills. Of course, I've never tried withdrawing anything less than 500 or 600 pesos at a time, so maybe the ATMs would give me smaller bills if I only took out 100 pesos at a time.

The senorita situation here in Mendoza continues

After some walking, and having digested most of the pizza, I needed a gelato to cool off. The melon and green apple combination I selected was quite refreshing, but WAY too sweet, and of pretty poor quality. I struggled to finish the huge portion but truthfully, had this been good gelato, I would've found a way.
to improve, as I spotted several Spanish-quality females in a grocery store. I hope this bodes well for Buenos Aires - Mendoza is a town of only 100,000 people. So in Buenos Aires, with over 13 million inhabitants, will there be 130 times as many senoritas? Here's hoping that's the case!

I went back to the central market, hoping to find food this time. I realized that perhaps the food court wasn't closed when we were here the other day, it's just that we missed the entrance to the tiny food court, which was a little bit hidden. The options included grilled meats, seafood, Mexican, a sandwich shop ... none of these appealed to me at the time, so I settled on Harry's, a place that offered sandwiches, empanadas, and pizza. They ran out of calabrese, so I went for a Hawaiian pizza (or at least, a close approximation).

After, I strolled through the pedestrian zone, hoping to pick up some cheap clothing, but most of the stores were closed for siesta. I found that prices of international brands were almost the same as what we pay back in Canada, which would make them incredibly expensive here. For a local buying

The unique irrigation system of Mendoza - we read that it was designed mostly for cooling purposes, because it gets so hot here.
a $100 pair of Pumas, it would probably be like a Canadian spending almost $300 on sneakers!

I had seen a neat little fridge magnet when we first arrived in Mendoza, shaped like a tiny bottle of wine, with Mendoza written across it. I didn't buy it at the time because I wanted to scope out other fridge magnets that might be available, but didn't find anything better, so returned to pick it up today. Unfortunately, the place was closed for siesta, and I didn't manage to find the magnet anywhere else, so I've got no magnet for Mendoza 😞 The siestas seem a bit excessive here - this store was closed from 13:00 to 17:00!

I managed to find a place to unlock my Chilean cell phone today, which was made MUCH easier with Spanish. It was a bit of a wild goose chase, because I went to one place that sold SIM cards, but was told that they weren't able to unlock it. The guy suggested a place, but another guy said that they weren't reliable and after a long conversation, they suggested a different place.

So I went to this place, where they told me that they couldn't do

Walking around town, I stepped on a sidewalk tile, and mud shot out, all over my lower legs! WTF?!!?? It must have something to do with the unique irrigation system they have around town, but it was still bizarre. It was good to walk around so much today, because I've found the pace of the tour thus far to be pretty slow and lazy.
it for me, and directed me to a different shop. I had some difficulty locating it, and had to return to the previous place to get further instructions. The people here are quite friendly as well, as the lady practically walked me down the block to the shop. I managed to find it, but the guy told me that no, he couldn't do it for me. But he was able to refer me to somebody who finally could help me out.

Back at the hotel, I chilled the bottle of sparkling wine I had purchased the other day, and cracked it open with B&H, R&D, and Wade. VERY good stuff! I wish that I could remember exactly where I got it from, because I'd love to have it again.

We decided that it would be nice to have a meal sitting outside, on Mendoza's pedestrian street. We selected "Comida de Campo", a lovely spot, that turned out to be both good, and a mistake at the same time. While waiting for our food order, a few Canadian university students approached us. My first thought was "Scam!", and I thought they were going to hit us up with some sob story about

The evil tile!
not having money for a place to stay tonight, but with designs on using the money for beer.

Turns out that they were in town doing surveys on tourists in Argentina, to collect data for a University project back home. Feeling bad because they had piles of surveys that needed to be done, and they only had a few days left, I offered to help them out and complete one. Of course, after I agreed, everybody else was obliged to do the same! But there was a bit of false-advertising - they suggested that it was a very quick, simple survey, but there ended up being something like a hundred questions!

Darcie felt bad for them because it seemed like a very tough job, to be down here but having to work. I disagreed - what easier way is there for University guys to chat up tourist girls? Plus, these guys had already been here for a week, and had only completed a handful of surveys. What do you think the odds are that they spent too much time chatting up and partying with tourist girls when they first got here, and now were desperately scrambling to finish off the rest?

We came all the way to Argentina to do ... home work??? I love how Ha looks to be in deep contemplation, while working on the survey. Everybody probably hated me after, for agreeing to do the survey and sucking everybody else in. As if they didn't have enough reason to hate me, for capturing all their embarrassing moments and posting them on the internet for all to see!

Wade's steak came out completely overdone, even though he asked for medium-rare -he sent it back. Another steak was prepared, this time completely raw - it wasn't even blue rare! Though the waiter asked him to check it and told him that if it was too raw, they would cook it again, Wade said screw it, and ate only the outside portions of the steak. You can tell Wade has worked in some fine restaurants and has little tolerance for incompetence - I'm pretty sure he figured that sending it back would just result in another screwed-up steak, and that he didn't want to wait any longer for food.

It's too bad, because my steak was actually quite good - served with a pepper sauce and potatoes, the steak had great flavour and was perfectly done. R&D were already quite tired when we arrived at the restaurant, and a couple of times even considered leaving without eating, so they quickly ate and left. I could see they were about to pass out and told them just to return to the hotel now and pay me back tomorrow, because it would probably take forever to get the bill.

Though the majority of the

Even with all the time spent on the surveys, our food still hadn't come out. We tided ourselves over by munching on some terrible, hard bread. We talked to the staff a few times, but still ended up waiting over an hour for our food, despite the restaurant not being all that busy.
food was good, it was too bad that the brutal service ruined the meal. Once again, we left no tip - we've had some pretty shoddy service so far on this trip! As we were about to leave, some guy came by and asked if he could take Ranjit's leftover chicken. This was surprising, because the guy was quite well-dressed, and definitely didn't look to be in need of free food.

There was a bit of a surreal moment as we walked back to the hotel - a group of what appeared to be about twenty beauty queens, complete with sashes, were walking around, passing out fliers for an upcoming music festival. I've never seen anything like that before, in any of my previous travels. It was a veritable buffet of beauty!

Additional photos below
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My yummy steak.

The beauty queens - what can I say, I think I found a reason to return to Mendoza! Or perhaps more accurately, twenty reasons! I love Mendoza! Check out the men that are walking around - some of them have looks of bewilderment on their faces, as they are probably wondering "Have I died and gone to Heaven?"

The flyer that the beauty queens were distributing - unfortunately, I'll be leaving the country just as the music and art festival starts. But wait ... who cares? I should just come back for the days leading up to festival, and sit around, watching the beauty queens do their thing!

A light display over at Plaza Independencia. Nice, but not quite as beautiful or radiant as the twenty beauty queens!

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